Category: Personal Care


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One of the benefits of being in the spa industry is that I deal with people everyday, who need to learn to relax – and I’m paid to help them do it.

But this means, I too need to be relaxed – after all, the teacher cannot teach what they themselves haven’t learned.

Lately I’ve been involved in a series of interactions which have caused some personal emotional stress. And it has me wondering – when people are angry, critical, or are just plain sharing their feelings, how do I process the information/interaction in a healthy way?

How do I Tame My Gremlins?

Of course, each situation is so different that there isn’t necessarily one surefire way of handling everything, so here are some ideas that help me cope and navigate my way through uncomfortable relational situations:

  • Be fully present in each situation – Breathe, slow down, and let myself feel whatever comes up.
  • Do more listening and less talking – While listening, let the other know they are heard and check in to be sure they feel understood.
  • Ask for permission to share how I feel – Not everyone is receptive to listening, and sharing when the other isn’t, can leave you in a worse place.
  • Be more curious than furious – Questions are helpful when communication stalls or becomes tense.
  • Be “in choice” rather than reactive  – If I start to feel uncomfortable in my body, it is a clue I need to listen – maybe the conversation needs to be rescheduled to a time when we’ve had a chance to calm down.
  • Don’t take it personally – Realize that each person has a very unique frame of reference/history that I have simply stumbled into with my words or actions. I’m not bad, it’s not all my fault, or all about me.
  • Be accountable – If you do or say something you regret later, or if the situation was unfinished, re-visit it if the other party is receptive at an appropriate time.
  • Check your heart – Intention is so important; I need to ask myself what will be the response that honors me as well as the other person.
  • Take care of yourself – If the situation doesn’t resolve well, or is drawn out over time, I can “ramp up” my self care. This is where a visit to the spa comes in!
  • Press on! – There is a verse in the Bible in the book of Philippians which guides me – it talks about pressing on toward the goal for the prize. What’s your prize, your high calling – happiness, joy, peace, harmony?

See you at the new spa!

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I like to think of myself as altruistic and have often felt disdain for narcissistic behaviors in others. Finding a sensible personal as well as professional balance is an ongoing process.

But before I waste too much of your time on my introspective ramblings, let me get my story out.

The other day I had a call (which was weird from the start) from a woman staying at a local hotel on Grand Ave. just blocks from me. I’ve seen the hotel – it looks sleazy, but what do I know?

Anyway, “Hotel Girl,” we’ll call her, shows up and is in the lobby looking a little “tweaked-out” frantically trying to activate a credit card. Rather an unusual scenario, as she was also already 15 minutes late for her appointment with me.

Earlier I had decided to stay late to see her because I was feeling guilty about taking most of Friday and all of Saturday off to go on a women’s retreat.

She talked me into seeing her, even though payment looked questionable. I had a sense of “knowing” in my gut that this was a shady deal. But feeling like I needed to gear up spiritually for the retreat, I decided to trust her, give her the benefit of the doubt, and not judge.

So the service, a facial, commenced. She continued crossing boundaries by pleading for a lip and chin wax despite the fact that I told her the facial wouldn’t be as effective if we waxed. I ended up doing the waxing she requested.

When the service was over, she came half naked into the lobby and proceeded to finish dressing at the desk…geez!

After another 10-15 minutes struggling with paperwork, cards, and the phone, she emerged payment-less. No surprise.

She then offered me an ID as collateral until she could get back with payment, that was five days ago.

I wish Hotel Girl well, wherever she is. And, as for myself, I need to remember that I am neither altruistic nor narcissistic, as these tend to be extremes on a continuum.  Next time I want to serve the indigent, I will purpose to do so, in the meantime a boundary-refresher course is in order.

Addendum: The service was done Thursday night, Monday I decided to call the GB Police department and gave them her contact info and her ID card. Tuesday her “assistant” called me and gave me a credit card over the phone. This time it went through.

See you at the new spa!

Image courtesy: Jordan Matter Photography “Dancers Among Us” project

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For Star Brow of the Week I chose Katy Perry, she is very “Old Hollywood” here, and it is stunning.

What do I love about her look?

1. Beautiful brows are really only part of the picture, you can see that in this photo – the hair, the foundation, the lips, and her beauty mark – all help show off perfect brows.

I have a $24 service called Express Brow Design  that is supposed to be 10 minutes long, but in order to send perfect brows out the door, I need to fix up the rest, which can take a little (sometimes a lot) longer.

2. The arch is really stretched out here – it helps accomadate her big eyes, high cheek bones and long jaw.

3. The color and density of the brow shape are strong, which works well with the rich colored lip and blue-black hair.

4. There is perfect placement of the anatomy of the brow.

5. Her complexion and dress are very soft and peachy – nice contrast. Ten!

See you at the new spa!

The Star Brows Blog  Has Moved Please Visit this Link for the Post on the New Site. 

I started my dream business, Star Brows, in Arroyo Grande California four years ago, specializing in a unique “brow graphing” technique, which I developed at my Minnesota spa. Due to the success and popularity of that technique, I needed to expand, and now have a new home! Everything you know and love about Star Brows will stay the same, but better – I hope you’ll agree!

On April 15th I moved my eyebrow couture, skincare, massage, and body waxing spa to 1065 West Grand Avenue to Grover Beach (Shangri-La!) and have created a luxurious spa setting that I know you will love.

Originally, I really wanted to stay in AG, but then I found this amazing space with great exposure and plenty of room to grow. It’s across from Miners in Grover Beach. This location really fits my “brand.” You will truly feel like the star you are when you’re there. I wanted to create a more spa-like atmosphere so you could enjoy the full array of Star Brows services.

I’ve added two private treatment rooms with sound-proof walls and solid core doors :), a casual and open feeling makeup and waxing lounge, and an serene waiting area – and we’re closer to the beach! Who could ask for more? I’ll be posting pictures soon.

But, like any dream, there have been (and are) hurdles to overcome. In the end, though, it’s all worth it. I hope this encourages you to follow your dreams too. Turning dreams into reality takes guts, a lot of hard work, optimism, help from those who support you (thank you all!), and a generous pinch of the miraculous!

Next Sunday is Mother’s Day, and I am poised to help you celebrate. Hmmm, what would you really like? I come from a background of providing fabulous spa experiences, and now that I have the space and the environment for it, I’d like treat you.

Here is a sneak peek of a spa experience created to celebrate mom’s day, or “just because” – at the new location – offered for a limited time:

Spa Facial and Massage Treatment

Arrive a couple of minutes early so you can get settled and relax for a few minutes in the quiet environment of the new spa, and plan on staying for about an hour and a half.

When you enter the treatment room you will feel the warm air provided by state-of-the-art radiant heat. You’ll smell calming essential oils and be enveloped by the soft candlelight.

As you climb under crisp, clean, warmed sheets your body’s curves will be cradled by special contoured cushions.

Detoxifying and de-stressing drops of essential oils will be applied along your spine (Raindrop Therapy), to coax your body into a state of bliss and calm, followed by a back massage given at just the right pressure for you. When the knots are eased, you turn over and the Star Massage begins with Tu’el’s Cleansing Oils and Herbalizers chosen for your skin type. Puffiness, sinus pressure, jaw tension and all signs of stress dissipate from your face, neck and should – mmm, who knew it could feel this good?

Now the facial begins with warmed towels, gentle steam, and special masks and scrubs designed to alleviate your skin’s concerns.

And don’t forget those hard working hands and feet. They will be meticulously worked out, every finger and every toe rubbed until they are eased. Your feet will be wrapped in warm towel-like booties and a little Craniosacral work will be done to balance your body’s rhythms.

Later, plan on relaxing and drinking plenty of water with slices of organic lemons to complete a perfect experience.

Who knew Star Brows was about more than eyebrow couture? Now’s your chance to see! Limited spaces are available for this special offer, so call now – 805-722-8222  – and mention the Mother’s Day Spa Special. It’s not on the menu and is specially priced at $99. It expires on May 12th, but you can get a Gift Certificate for the service and use it anytime!

See you at the new spa!

The Star Brows Blog  Has Moved Please Visit this Link for the Post on the New Site. 

Birthday Discounts

This is my second annual March Birthday post! Here is last year’s.  Why do I do a blog post about birthdays, you ask? First of all, it’s fun. (And fun is one thing I need more of.) Second, did you know that during your birthday month you get 20% off the service of your choice. Just remind me. (That’s part of turning 56 this month: I need reminding.)

Seriously, I love birthday celebrations. The one I remember most vividly is my 18th, when I got a brand new VW bug from Mom and Pop. Wild times in ’73…too wild!

And of course there are the birth days of our four children, who will remain anonymous for the purposes of this post. I will simply talk about my pregnancy and birth experiences, hoping that, in sharing, I can speak to and help even one woman out there.

Birth Day Lessons

Birth #1

My firstborn’s special day was a medical “circus sideshow” – a scheduled Cesarean birth filled with IVs, monitors, lots of onlookers, needles, gloves, gowns, machines, and an abundant supply of powerlessness and inexperience on my part. (WHAT? I’m the customer – and isn’t the customer always right? It’s my body, my baby, my birth. You’re just helping, right?)  I had no power, not much of a voice (they called me “Mom” the whole time. Hello, I have a name), and very little choice at the hospital. (After all, this was the early ’80s.)

I beg your pardon, truly, if you are in the medical profession – but puh-lease!

But, I digress. My first birth in 1981 cost over $20,000. Big business, huh? After that harrowing experience, I joined VBAC (Vaginal Birth After Cesarean), vowing that would never happen again. Wrong.

Birth #2

I thought I had grown so much smarter with the advent of my second child’s birth in 1986. I went into labor – a first! – and 48 hours later was still in labor (kind of). They had started to “pit” me (a stupid abbreviation for a Pitocin drip). Yeah, “failure to progress” they called it. I call it “I went to the hospital too soon.” The drug ravaged my body all night, and after two days of no sleep, the uterus (being artificially stimulated for so long), had lost its ability to expel the baby. (It’s a muscle, you know – the uterus, that is.) Uncle! I let them cut me wide open again.  (BTW, try getting a VBAC in Santa Maria today. What a crock.)

Now if you are reading this and have had a Cesarean, I mean no disrespect. Every woman’s journey is different and I AM NOT JUDGING YOU! I’m just telling my little story – that’s all.  OK, that’s that. Women don’t need anyone else weighing in on their personal birth story. After all, we all do our best.

Birth #3

For my third birth in 1988, I promptly told the hus that I would NOT be operated on again. (I’d rather die, I said.) D-r-a-m-a. I had a lay midwife at the house and tried to “sneak” in a home-birth (“Oops, honey, the baby is coming”), but Paul stopped making homemade chicken soup just long enough to pop in on Jeanne (my midwife) and me and find I was moving into “transition.” He got in his car and started honking. (I’m not kidding!) We had, after all, previously agreed that if I did a successful vaginal birth in a hospital, he would support a home birth next time. But I was so afraid to set foot again into those hallowed hospital halls.

When I got to the hospital, I told the nurse that she could do a physical check to see how much I had dilated – or not, once (pick your time) and that I would sign off on anything I needed to, but I wasn’t having any interventions.  The doctor showed up very late. (He was at the same Arabian horse show after-party that my dad was attending. Nice.) When he did show up, he promptly told my husband to speak privately with me about going with the program and not “rocking the boat.” But even though I had to assert myself pretty strongly (we’re not taught that as birthing women in this culture), voila, success at last!

Birth #4

Our last child was born in 1991. I was planning a home birth with doctor backup just in case. The lovely doc made it clear that it was a “secret” that he privately supported home births and that if his staff caught wind, he could not be involved.  One week before I was to go into labor, his staff “caught wind”.

That seemed a deal breaker for my husband, but dear old dad told him, “This is like climbing Mt. Everest to Linda. She needs to do it.” My husband idolized my dad, and pow! he agreed. Mom let me clean and cook for her to earn the measly $500 out-of-pocket expense for the home birth – a $15,000 savings from birth #1!

The Birthing Journey

The process of birthing is a journey. Mine was spread out over a 10 year period. (My oldest is 30 this year. My youngest is 20.) I went from the most costly and doctor/hospital-controlled birth to the cheapest, totally couple-centric birth ever. I’m not necessarily a home-birth advocate, but for me it was the right and only option in the end.

In this culture women give birth alone – not as a village. Our moms, aunties, and friends aren’t usually in attendance, and we aren’t at other women’s births either. We give birth in strange places in the midst of strange people (well meaning hospital staff). Try getting an animal to give birth under bright lights with all kinds of people around poking and prodding. You’d have to drug the animal to make that happen. They naturally choose a secluded spot.

What I learned about birth is this:

  • It’s your body and your baby. You know best.
  • You need to be surrounded with the familiar so you feel safe, relaxed, and secure.
  • Since our culture doesn’t teach us about birth, we need to educate ourselves.
  • You need to take responsibility. The outcome for yourself and your child is based on the choices you make, and it’s you who will have to endure the consequences of those choices. Others can’t and shouldn’t make the choices for you.
  • You are strong enough, brave enough, and smart enough to do what you need to do to facilitate the best scenario for yourself.
  • Have a Douala or Midwife around who trusts the natural birthing process and your wisdom, even if you choose a hospital birth.
  • Listen to other women’s birth stories and learn from them.

Pregnancy and Spa Service: The Perfect Pair-Up

Here are a few ways spa services helped me during my own pregnancies:

  • Spa services like massage empowered me and helped me learn about my body.
  • Facials kept me feeling beautiful and radiant through the arduous process of pregnancy and birth. The skin changes and really takes a beating during this whole process.
  • Working with and learning about essential oils for relaxation and good health helped tremendously – even after the baby was born.

How do the services at Star Brows support pregnancy and birth?

  • Special Body Contour Cushions are used to cradle the curves of an expectant mom. They allow you to lie face down through the ninth month – what a joy!
  • Pregnancy Massage addresses the special needs of each mother and her baby-in-utero.
  • The ligaments and muscles change as the baby grows within. Regular massage gives greater understanding to the woman of how to deal with and support these changes.
  • Facials and massage are nurturing, comforting, relaxing, and calming – needed to support a healthy, vibrant pregnancy.
  • Brazilian waxing is great during this time. Even those who shave may find it increasingly difficult to do so. One of my most popular posts of all time is Ladies; 10 Reasons why Brazilian Waxing Is Worth it.
  • Getting onto a good system for skincare – both face and body – is important to supporting the “skin” organ during a very stressful time.

See you at the spa!

The Star Brows Blog  Has Moved Please Visit this Link for the Post on the New Site. 

The lovelies at Eva’s Esthetics offered a special yesterday on their creams, so I thought I would “pay it forward.” Here is an educational video about the creams offered, from Tu’el’s President Lori Nestore.

The Product Feature this month will help get your skin ready for summer! There are four creams for four different skin types in the Tu’el line: Vitamin, Chamomile, Lipo-Gen, and Regeneration.

Vitamin Cream– a protective cream with Vitamins E, A, and B to lubricate and seal in moisture for dry skin

Chamomile Cream – a soothing, healing, day and night cream for dry, product-reactive skin

Lipo-Gen – a revitalizing lotion with a deep liposome delivery system to help calm and heal combination, oily, or impure skin

Regeneration Cream– a rich concentrated cream with antioxidants and vitamins to rejuvenate mature and/or sun damaged skin

Many skin care products you find on the market today contain chemicals that can be harmful to your skin. Alcohols, dioxane, parabens, mineral oils, phenol (carbolic acid), and artificial fragrance are very commonly used in today’s skin care products. Experts warn against long-term exposure to these chemicals as it could lead to health problems. Our government doesn’t regulate the use of these chemicals either. Check out www.safecosmetics.org for more information.

Wrinkles and dehydration may appear at any age, which is why  caring for your skin needs to start early. There are different ways to help prevent the appearance of wrinkles, but first you need to know what caused them to appear so you can effect a lasting change. Some possible triggers are overexposure to the sun, stress, depression, poor diet, smoking, excessive drinking of alcoholic beverages, and poor skin care regimen.

One of my favorite ways to treat my skin is facial massage. That’s why I developed my award-winning service, Star Massage. And, in Facial Treatments like the Spa Facial, you not only get head, neck, shoulder, and face massage, but your hands, arms, feet, and legs as well!

But, you can do facial massage at home too. Massage improves blood and oxygen circulation, which prevents the clogging of pores. It also relieves stress and tension within that contribute to the appearance of wrinkles.

Massaging the face with the appropriate face cream for your skin type will tighten the skin’s tissues, improving elasticity, building collagen, and relaxing the muscles of the face. What’s great about facial massage is that as it exfoliates it allows moisturizers, essential oils, and serums to penetrate more easily.

Start massaging the face from the neck upward and end at the forehead or temples to improve blood circulation through the veins, tissues, and lymph vessels of the face. Begin slowly, using little circles, and vary speed and pressure as you work, stopping to focus on pressure points and making up massage techniques as you go that feel good to you.

Facial massage offers many benefits in addition to preventing wrinkles. Try it now and see how it works on your skin. It will give you a glowing complexion.

If you’re new to Star Brows, you may not know about The Product Feature or Rewards yet. To put it simply, 10% of all your product purchases, all the time, go toward free Service Enhancements, like Raindrop Therapy, Lash Tint, Chemical Peels, or Star Massage.

When a product is the Monthly Feature, however, you’ll get 20% back in Rewards! This month’s Product Features, Chamomile and Vitamin Creams, are $41, so that’s $8 in Rewards. Lip0-Gen and Regeneration Creams are $63, and that means $12 toward a Service Enhancement.

See you at the spa!

The Star Brows Blog  Has Moved Please Visit this Link for the Post on the New Site. 

I was going to write a post about Know-It-Alls, but found a post on another blog that said lots of what I wanted to say. Here is an excerpt from what Sue Rock calls Open Letter to Little Miss Know-It-All.

“It’s easy to look down on life from a high, I-got-it-all-figured-out horse; to judge others and pass out advice like you know everything (which of course, you clearly do). You’ve got it all figured out, right…If we’re really, really lucky, we find people along the way who are willing to help us find our own answers, instead of always trying to give us theirs.”

There are many reasons I ponder this subject about advice-giving and the attitude of pretending to know it all.

My calling in life is definitely about relationships, and home as well as work gives ample opportunity to hone my communication skills. I spend lots of time one-to-one with clients discussing life issues. I’m always studying, writing, and reading about effective communication. Right now my husband and I are reading Harville Hendrix and Helen Hunt’s book: Getting the Love You Want. And, I have four adult children and a son-in-law who all provide ample opportunity to listen and learn.

I partially attribute my obsession with the workings of relationships to my dear mom for going back to school as a psychology student during my formative years. Actually, I think it may go back even further to the frustration of the demise of intimate relationships in my family of origin and my drive to “fix” those ties through helping others.

But instead of having all the answers, I have questions I’d like to ask:

  • What drives people to put on the façade that they know it all?

This question may strike at the heart of the issue. When I slip into this behavior, or observe other people doing it, I think, “Is this an over-compensation for feelings of inadequacy? Are they trying to solve their own problems by attempting to fix others?”

  • Do people really know how to listen?

It takes time and deliberate intention to really listen. If I respond before I am clear about the message sent, I am really just responding to my own thoughts, and this could spell trouble. This is where projection can happen.

  • If your prime directive in life is to solve your own problems, is listening to others even important?

What value do you place to being there for others, sacrificially, selflessly? I’ve found that in giving I receive.

  • Do you really have the answers for someone else? Have you walked in their shoes? Do you know all the nuances of their situation and history?

Questions, really smart ones, can help people discover their own answers. I believe change is only possible when people take ownership of their problems. You may be so caring and loving that by giving your opinions about their issues, you actually disable the very people you’re tying to help, preventing them from finding a solution by taking what’s theirs and making it yours.

  • And finally, have you ever really felt “heard”?

It can be frustrating to come from a place of not really feeling understood, validated, or empathized with. I’ve found that the business of growing up, healing, and knowing yourself is an arduous journey that is very personal. There is a time and a place to do this work, and there is also a time and place to just listen, question, and be with others in their journey.

Some people are listeners by nature and struggle instead with doing the personal work that is theirs. Somehow escaping into someone else’s problems seems easier for them than looking within.

Whichever camp or end of the spectrum you find yourself in most often, either being too introspective or too other-focused and living in a state of denial about your own issues, the simple question to be ever mindful of remains the same:

What is mine and what is not?

See you at the spa!

The Star Brows Blog  Has Moved Please Visit this Link for the Post on the New Site. 

This time of year, it gets dark so early and has been so cold lately – even in California! I just want to snuggle up in my PJs and one of the afghans mom made me and read a book as soon as I get home from work.

But before “I in my cap settle down for a long winter’s nap,” I need to get my bedtime beauty rituals done.

You know the drill. My dad used to call it “wash, brush, and comb”! I wish it were that fast and easy, but I do love being a woman…in the beauty business. Still, as I’ve said before, “Faut souffrir pour être belle”:  One must suffer to be beautiful.

Here are my 4 bootylicious bodycare favorites;

1. De-Tox Bath Gel by Tu’el is a refreshing, stimulating eucalyptus-scented gel for bath and shower that tones, cleanses, and exfoliates skin tissue. It’s invigorating, fresh, and very “spa feeling”.

2. Hydrating  Body Tonic by Tu’el is a toning liquid that helps retain your body’s natural moisture and improves skin elasticity. It’s essential to capture and retain your own body’s natural moisture after a dehydrating hot shower or bath.

3. Hempz Body Lotion by Supre is enriched with 100% Pure Organic Hemp Seed Oil and blended with natural extracts to provide dramatic skin hydration and nourishment and help improve the health and condition of skin. Use this over Hydrating Body Tonic. Men and women like the smell too – choose from Pomegranate or Original.

4. Smooth by OPI is a deep-penetrating, alpha hydroxy acid treatment for the feet that softens calluses while you sleep.

Good bye dry winter skin!

See you at the spa!

I’m reading a book called Receiving Love by Harville Hendrix, PH.D and Helen LaKelly Hunt, PH.D that I’m finding fascinating. I’m sharing it because I am an avid student of the connection between a healthy mind and a healthy body and I am a healing arts professional, working with hurting people every day.

We are social beings, we are in relationships, and we grow through intimate connections and interactions with one another. The ideas approached and discussed in this piece are only a small representation of the work of these two pioneering authors, I hope that in explaining a few of the ideas in the book, I’ve done their work justice.

The premise of this post is to reiterate the authors’ six steps toward realizing that the characteristics you despise most in others are clues to discovering your own “lost self.”

Didn’t know that you had a “lost self”? We all do. Parts of our being and personality have had to be suppressed/disowned as we were growing up to be accepted and literally, to survive.

Before you begin, make a list of the annoying traits of your spouse – or if you’re single, those found in a significant other – that irritate you most.

1. Acknowledge that your partner or loved one has traits that activate “your energy” (you become irritated, angry, impatient, etc.) and that you are personally connected to these traits in some way.

They are a mirror of the things you have rejected in yourself. What you make up about them, project on them, and invest energy in, is also true of you.

The book’s authors say that “Below your level of self-awareness or self concept you are the things you judge in others.”

The more you try to protect yourself from yourself, the more your projections will seem to bear no resemblance to your self, and the more you will tell your self that you are not like that in any way.

Example: All your brother ever talks about is himself and what he wants. You see him as selfish and self-centered.

Now, you on the other hand, are totally “other” focused. The last thing you would want is for someone to think you are self-centered. People always tell you what a good listener you are, how giving, and how kindly you treat people.

One possibility of why this trait in him is irritating to you is that you don’t feel very important, maybe you would like to be “selfish,” or maybe, like all of us to some degree, you really are.

When you were growing up, your family was very poor and you started chipping in on household bills when you got your first job at 15. On top of living in relative poverty, your dad was sick a lot, so there needed to be a lot of attention and energy spent tending to him.

Can you see why you had to become “selfless” in order to survive? How you would resent your brother for “putting himself first”? Children need to be a priority to parents. Their needs are important. The adults should not be relying on their children for support, emotionally or financially – in a perfect world.

2. Ask yourself how these traits help your significant “other” function or survive.

All behavior is an attempt to control something, or get something done. No one does anything that doesn’t help them survive. What positive purpose are these behaviors serving?

Example: When your brother was little, your dad (who was also sick), always told him how stupid and worthless he was.

Now, to compensate, he needs to tell himself and others all the good things about himself.

He went the opposite way you did in response to not getting the appropriate love, attention, and focus in his childhood.

3. Develop compassion when the person does things you don’t like.

When you give, you get back. Every time you take a different attitude toward the thing that irritates or annoys you most, you change your attitude toward yourself. Compassion comes from understanding.

Example: When you hear your brother go off about how great he is, you understand that this is an attempt to balance the scales of his own deep self-loathing and neediness.

Now you can begin to go easier on yourself when you have feelings of unimportance.

4. Ask yourself how you are like the traits you dislike.

Assume that the traits you dislike in another or that are unsettling to you are behaviors you needed to get rid of or hide at one point for security in your important primary relationships.

What can you learn about your missing self?

Ask the other person, if possible, what he or she wishes you had more of.

What purpose could these “missing” traits be serving in you? What do you get out of NOT being like that?

Example: You can see why you had to adopt a giving, sacrificial way to survive, right? Your needs unfortunately had to be subjugated to those of your family.

But, it is important that you recognize that you do have needs and that they are valid – and important.

We can also see how this adaptive response has served you: Who doesn’t like someone who always puts them first? You can feel good, humble, self-sacrificing – even godly – when you give. But, in reality, as the giver, you’re the one in control (a place of perceived power). You decide who, what, when, and where to give. The receiver is never the one in charge (a place of perceived weakness). This is the way you maintain a measure of control, while outwardly assenting to allow the other person’s needs to take precedence over your own.

It may be helpful to look at your relationship to both giving and receiving, as they are equally important and need to be in balance in any meaningful relationship.

5. Adopt more of the person’s disliked traits in a constructive way.

Stop judging and condemning the traits you see in the other person, and see their value in perhaps a modified way.

End the exile of your missing self, and integrate it back into your conscious self. Stop demonizing these aspects in the other person, and make them your own.

Every trait, characteristic, or quality is a double-edged sword. How can you use the positive edge of the blade for the good of yourself and the other person?

Example: You can now view your brother through the softer lens of understanding and compassion. Not that it is healthy for him to keep those behaviors, but that is his work – not yours.

How can you learn to integrate the same acceptance toward yourself and your own inherent neediness?

6. Plan how you can attain the goals you’re trying to achieve by exercising the disliked traits in a more constructive way.

How can you broaden your behavioral repertoire? Sometimes simply noticing, or recognizing that you want to integrate more of a particular quality will be enough. But, other times, you must intentionally plan a program with goals and schedules.

Example: You may spend a couple of minutes each day making a list of how you are feeling and what you need. You might tell someone close one thing you need each day and request that they help you achieve it. Maybe you create a list of affirmations about how important you are, how you have needs that are valid – and at times take precedence over the needs or desires of others. Practice receiving. Dare to say no to someone else and yes to yourself today!

When the “other” behaves in ways that cause you the most anxiety, you can greet the negative feelings with the countervailing thought that now you can begin to make positive changes.

You will move from hatred to understanding to empathy to active reintegration.

If you feel you need a professional helping hand to better understand and apply these concepts to your own life, Andrea & Bob Kamm have a practice in SLO called The Relationship Institute, where they offer training with Imago Relationships International, an organization founded by Harville Hendrix and Helen LaKelly Hunt.

See you at the spa!

In Beauty On The Cheap! Part 1Straighten Up, we talked about how sitting, standing, and walking straight strengthens and beautifies. Beauty On The Cheap! Part 2Put A Smile On Your Face talks about how smiling and laughing makes us more beautiful inside and out.

This installment of how to be more beautiful without having to spend a dime, is about giving. Giving is, in my opinion, one of the most important elements of “being beautiful” that I can think of.  How, you ask, can giving make you more beautiful? I know, and you probably do too, but I’ve never tried to explain it. Let’s get right down to it: Real beauty emanates from the heart.

When you’re giving, aren’t you happy? We are wired to receive unadulterated pleasure when we give. So why don’t we give more? Some do. They’re called Philanthropists.

You’ve seen the hideous attempts at sustaining youthful, physical beauty as Father Time marches on into the 40s, 50s and so on? I find this a rather sad, misguided effort to be happy. Does an eye lift, tummy tuck, lipo to the thighs or nose job really make someone happier? Maybe in the short-term, but the discontentment within that drove the person to such measures will reappear, it’s just a matter of time. The message the culture gives is that beauty is only skin deep – but we all know that’s not true.

I am in the beauty business after all, but it’s really just a front for the real business of  caring for people, and helping them realize their true beauty within. Sounds corny? Maybe, but it is a way I can give – and it brings me immense pleasure.

When we are young we posses natural beauty: our skin is taut, gravity hasn’t pulled any body parts down, 😉 we have a full head of “colored” hair, and you know the rest. Well, after the bloom begins to fade, inner beauty begins to shine more and more brightly. We become wiser, our hearts have healed, virtue is strengthened, and hopefully we have learned to give – not just of our excess, but sacrificially…till it hurts sometimes.

I guess 2 Corinthians 9:7 says it best: “Each one must do just as he has purposed in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” That verse combines part 2 of this series (smiling and laughing) with today’s topic of giving!

Now if you are under 30-something, don’t think you’re going to get by on good looks alone! Your beauty too depends on the quality of your heart, and your ability to both give and receive love.

There are, as you know, MANY ways to give: yielding to another driver, holding back a well deserved rebuke when you’ve been offended, calling or visiting someone who is alone, being kind to those who serve you – like the grocery clerk! –  helping the poor among us, volunteering at a shelter, or promoting a cause and raising global awareness about an issue like Water – which is today’s topic.

I was inspired by Jeanne, a friend of mine who is a professional writer, to do a post about the issue of Water, as October 15th 2010 is Blog Action Day and this year’s theme is Water. Did you know that less than 1% of the world’s water is drinkable? We actually flush our toilets with drinkable water – ever thought of that? There is a big monster behind a curtain for us as Americans, we can’t (or don’t choose to) see the impending crisis of our diminishing water supply – but I digress.

My connection with the theme of international awareness being brought to the issue of Water is three-fold:

Our oldest daughter Valery and her husband Jonathan are expecting their first child, and our first grandchild – they will name him Carter – from Ethiopia. Part of the inspiration to adopt a child from this country came from their association with WineForWells.org. My Dad has a vineyard and Winery in Paso, and we live in wine country, so there’s lots of interest in wine. Not to mention that we live minutes away from one of the largest bodies of water in the world, The Pacific Ocean, and daughter Angela is studying at San Jose State to be a mechanical engineer specializing in the desalination of salt water.

Speaking of water – I need to remind “us” that we would not be as beautiful as we are if we didn’t have plenty of clean water to drink, cook, clean – and even wash our faces with. You know, you’ve seen the pictures of those unfortunate people without enough clean water. We assume these resources will always be there, but for millions they already aren’t – and who knows what the future holds for us?

Maybe Star Brows will host a Wine For Wells event! Their mission is to provide clean drinking water, sanitation and hygiene education to those in need around the world. Hosting an event is part of their business model. I’ll keep you posted. And remember: “Faut souffrir pour être belle.” “One must suffer to be beautiful.”

See you at the spa!

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