Hard Times and Makeup

The last month has been one of the craziest of my life. First, my 2nd favorite website published an article I wrote about the super-fun time when I won a tiara in the Ms. Pittsburgh pageant, which people loved! And which led them to Wear the Shift! All of which was so awesome I could hardly stand it.

A week later, I got up bright and early to start a new job that I'm perfectly suited for, with lots of nice people to work with and interesting problems to solve. Excitement AND money, yay!

Then, later that very same day, I got a call that my grandma was having a heart attack. The world absolutely stopped as we wandered around the hospital and waited for Ma to stabilize.

I am happy to say that she did, and she's at home now recovering ... but she's still quite weak and needs a good bit of help. And our parents are gone, so her care is up to our tiny little family of grandkids -- me and my brother and our partners. We've all been hustling to get her what she needs while also keeping our own lives going.

For me, the last few weeks have been a blur of driving around parking garages, attempting to decipher doctor-ese, drafting and sewing, filling up pill boxes, writing articles, making many decisions, worrying on a variety of topics, figuring out new routines, learning a new software system from the bottom up so I can document it, A LOT of practice in being diplomatic when I feel like being dramatic, and, oh yeah, trying to get some sleep.

In short, I have been stressed, friends, in a way I don't recall ever having been stressed before.

Of course, amazing things have come out of all of this insanity -- crisis leads to growth and all that. But I would be lying if I didn't admit to breaking down in tears at least 50% of the days. All this growth has been hard as hell.

There are things that have saved me ... my fiance the super hero who has been right beside me in the thick of it ... my new colleagues who have been more than understanding ... the doctors and nurses who saved Ma's life in the hospital and the visiting staff helping her get stronger now that she's back at home ...

And makeup! Makeup has saved me, too!

Is this silly and superficial and am I slightly ashamed? Umm, yeah. But when I've been geeking, nursing, and entrepreneuring all day long, nothing relaxes me like a glass of wine and a tutorial from Makeup Geek Marlena or my girl Jane Marie. I pull out my brushes and primers and powders and for an hour or so, I can rock out to Beyonce and lose myself in figuring out how to do a smoky eye that works on me, or playing with my crazy matte shadows from Sugarpill, or perfecting my blusher technique.

Yes, sometimes I do end up looking like my makeover was done by Cyndi Lauper's stylist for "She Bop," or maybe a 5 year old, but it doesn't matter! Because what is really happening is that I'm reconnecting in a small but powerful way to the fun side of life. There is a simple joy in swiping on hot pink lipstick. Add my favorite shitkicker motorcycle boots to the mix and suddenly I'm strong enough to face whatever needs facing. Feeling cute has its own particular magic.

In the big picture, perhaps slanted-eyeliner-brush-fu is not the most important thing. But, as I remind my grandma every day while she struggles to get her strength and independence back, we need to look out for and appreciate the little things. Especially when times are tough. Every day she can walk a little farther and do a little more for herself ... add that up over a week or a month and we are looking at real progress.

On my end, if I can find a minute to feel the sunshine on my skin and put something colorful and cute on my face, that's enough to keep me going ... sometimes even cheerfully!

When you've gone through hard times, were there any dumb little things that totally got you through it? Share, won't you? (I'm hoping someone has something even shallower and sillier than me!)

Also, just for fun: Google image search on "80s video makeup"