Do You Have a Beauty Schedule?

Kelly Cummings: Every Day is a Special Occasion

A couple of weeks ago, I told a friend that I’d canceled a haircut because a last minute meeting took priority. She said, “When you’re too busy to take care of your hair, that’s when you know things are getting serious!” We laughed about it, but later I got to thinking: how much am I letting self care slide for my business – and how does that, in turn, affect my work?

You might remember that I wrote a post about making time for yourself last month, and while I’ve been good about taking the time to work out, make dinner, and shower, it’s those slightly higher maintenance, more sporadic things that I have trouble getting around to. If you follow me on Instagram, you’ve probably seen the photo of me at BeStyled, the blow dry bar, last week. That appointment only happened because I looked in the mirror and realized that my shaggy ‘do needed some kind of help and my stylist didn’t have any appointments for another week!

This all boils down to a secret of adulthood that I’m finally beginning to grasp: it’s important to schedule things in advance. Recently, I’ve applied this secret to a few different things — we’ve loosely declared Sunday dumpling night and Monday pizza night. I wash towels on Tuesdays, we take the trash out on Wednesdays, and on Thursdays Kona goes to daycare and I run all my errands . While this may all sound dull, the scheduling leaves us less frazzled and with more time to play.

So now it’s time for me to apply the same kind of thinking to self care. I’m tired of feeling embarrassed about the state of my cuticles, and putting my hair up because it’s at an awkward length (not because I’m growing it out, just because I’ve been too over-scheduled to get to the salon). And when I’m in Hawaii, I don’t want to have to wear jeans because I forgot to shave my legs.  I mean, come on, otherwise they won’t see daylight until May!

It’s a little early for New Year’s resolutions, but my at-this-moment resolution is to plan ahead for these things and to see them as an investment in my own confidence, not a frivolous extra. As Tom Ford explained, “Looking your best is a show of respect to those around you.”

So now I’m really curious — do you have a routine for taking care of yourself? Monthly manicures? Haircuts every six weeks? At home facials each Sunday?


Image by Kelly Cummings of The Year of Lettering


Weekly Wish: Slow Down

Fluffy Corgi Kona Deflated After Bath

Every day, I try to get out of the house for an hour or two so that Kona gets used to spending some time alone in her crate. I put a dab of peanut butter in her Kong, throw it into her crate, and close the door. This is exactly what I did last Thursday as I ran out the door to Costco.

When I came back, I was struggling to get into the kitchen with my monster-sized pack of toilet paper, when I heard these little padded footsteps behind me. At first, I thought I was imagining things. Then I felt this soft fur rubbing up against my shins. When I looked down, Kona was sitting patiently at my feet, looking ridiculously pleased with herself.

I took a spin through the condo and didn’t see anything all that unusual. No signs of unintended bathroom breaks, no wires pulled from their usual places. I breathed a sigh of relief and reminded myself to check her crate door more carefully in the future.

The next morning, contractors arrived at our neighbors’ unit next door and began pounding on the walls, which was giving me an equally rhythmic headache. I went to my nightstand to look for my ear plugs. Only one was there – the other was nowhere to be found. Not behind the bed. Not under the bed. Not in the night stand drawers. I gave up and opted for my noise cancelling headphones instead.

Later, we went for our lunchtime walk and Kona did her usual #2 dance, which looks a little bit like a masculine hula move. She did her business and I noticed that half of it was hot pink. Creepy. Then I looked more carefully and realized that there, completely in-tact, was my lost ear plug! (It went in the trash. Don’t worry.)

Kona is teaching us a great many things, including how to slow down. While I’m still not used to waking up quite so early, I love that we’re witnessing the trees changing color just a little bit more each morning when we go for our long walks. Where we used to rush in and out of the building, now we stop and talk to our neighbors. We even know their (and their dogs’) names!

And now, whenever I leave the house, I stop for a moment to make sure everything is settled in the right place — including Kona.

Here’s to you, and to taking a few moments to slow down and enjoy the world around you this week.



Photo of Kona looking forlorn after her bath by Frock Photography.

How to Stop Comparing Yourself to Others

How to Stop Comparing Yourself To Others

Recently, I’ve been having a lot of conversations with my friends about the comparison game. You know, that incessant internal dialogue about how this person has done so much more, so much faster, in a much more organized fashion (or what have you). It’s a goofy game to play because, unlike playing chess or Monopoly with yourself, you’ll never win.

Martha Beck points out that the ability to compare is just instinctual, and actually important to our ability to survive, but that when we begin to compare ourselves to others it’s useless.

Here’s a challenge for you: Go outside and find the best possible stick. Why aren’t you going? Perhaps because the request is ridiculous. What do I mean by ‘the best possible stick’? For doing what? Digging? Toasting marshmallows? Poking a weasel? A stick that’s ideal for one purpose might be useless for another.

She includes a list of symptoms you might have if you’ve developed the comparison virus, including irritation or depression following someone else’s success, never feeling good enough, and only momentary happiness at your own successes. Does any of this sound familiar?

How to Stop Comparing Yourself To Others

I think many of us were raised to constantly strive to do better, but perhaps we only got half the message. Because doing better isn’t a solitary action; often, it involves everyone within your network. So if your friend is celebrating a success, you have to remember:

a) Their success is not indicative of your failure
b) In most cases, their success will help you reach higher ground in the long run.

Think about it: if your colleague gets promoted at work and feels your genuine happiness for their move, it’s likely that they’ll bring up your good work when talking to the higher-ups. Or another scenario: if your neighbors make their front yard into an oasis, it elevates the curb appeal (and probably the property values) for the whole neighborhood — and can set off a chain of inspiration that gives everyone a boost.

Comparison and jealousy stem from fear, just like we were talking about last week. And really, when we’re comparing ourselves to others, it comes from a fear of failure. So I love this exercise from Ms. Beck: to celebrate your failures.

Says Beck, “Have you ever wanted to hear the story of someone’s least embarrassing moment? Of course not. You want to know how people screwed up and lived to tell the tale.” It’s true! Failure makes you a more interesting person. The willingness to tell the tales of your failures makes you more charming. (The opposite — talking only about how pretty you are, how “interesting it is” that people have recognized your talents, etc., etc., — actually makes you a lot less charming.)

This all makes me want to throw a failure party, so that we can all laugh about our most embarrassing moments — and so that we can learn from each other. Because I think that by doing so, we can create an environment rich in affection, understanding, and support. When’s the last time you celebrated your most fantastic failure?

P.S. Some artwork to remind you who the boss is.
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Everyone’s Just a Big Kid

Dealing With Difficult People: Imagine Them as Kid Versions of Themselves

One of my worst habits is taking everything personally, and I’m working to stop it.

Last week, we had a bad experience with the dog breeder we were working with. She offered us the puppy but wanted to charge far above the highest price we’d seen for that breed. We wrote her a humbling note, letting her know that we were sad to say he was out of our budget but that we appreciated her time. Her response was short, snarky, and unprofessional. And I have to admit, we took it personally.

Lately, whenever people around me are acting rude or weird, I imagine what they would be like as kid-versions of themselves. The author of  The Four Agreements, Don Miguel Ruiz, explains that fear is what causes people to act in strange ways, and I find it so much easier to understand that equation with empathy in kids.

So I began to imagine the breeder as a queen-of-the-playground type (she was the president of the corgi club) and I understood that her fear stemmed from losing that power. I couldn’t be angry at that little girl, and I also didn’t have to deal with her antics. Suddenly, it was easy to delete her email and begin looking at other breeders and shelters.

The next time your boss, a neighbor, or even a family member gets on your nerves, you might try imagining them as kid versions of themselves too. Who would they be on the playground? And what’s that kid afraid of, that’s making them act like bullies or crybabies or tattletales? Imagining these people as children makes it easier to see their vulnerabilities, and that may even give you the ability to communicate with them in a way that slowly melts away those fears so you have an easier time getting to the meat of the issues at hand — which will make everyone happier.

Or it may just work on your end, but at least it’ll save a bit of your sanity.

How do you deal with difficult people?

If you want to follow along by email, I’ll be sending out a weekly newsletter roundup starting this week. Other ways to follow: Bloglovin, RSS, Pinterest.

Lessons From Dad: Take Your Time

Frock Files | Father's Day 2013 | Lessons From Dad: Slow Down

“Take your time. Especially when you’re in a hurry.” – Gretchen Rubin

For as long as I can remember, my parents have been telling me to slow down. As a little kid my sister and I were enrolled in a program in which we had to run through a number of math problems while a stopwatch tracked our time. Watching those digital numbers flicker by, I felt like there was a tiny drill sergeant in my head saying, “Go! Go! What’s 10,896 divided by 16? Come on!” So I’d rush through the worksheets, just trying to make it to the finish line, and inevitably get most everything wrong. My parents kept reminding me that life isn’t timed by a stopwatch, and so it’s always a good thing to go back and review, to take time and care with things that mattered.

But my impulse to rush still haunts me today. While reading the book Happier at Home, I was relieved to find that Gretchen Rubin also suffers from the same issue. She writes that she often hurries around the house as though a gun is being held to her back. To combat that instinct, she made an effort to take her time and to enjoy the small rituals of the day.

I’m not often home at my parents’ house in Hawaii — I only make it back once a year. But when I am, one of my favorite things to do is watch my dad clean the kitchen after dinner. When I finish cooking in my own home, I throw our dishes in the dishwasher (or, more often, James does) and walk away until the weekend, when we go to town on the counters and floors. Not my dad. He methodically scrapes off the ceramic stove top with a razor, picks things up off the counters to wipe underneath them, whacks the droplets of water out of the corners of the Pyrex lids until they’re dry.

Usually, while he does this he tells us about some amazing feat of nature. He loved the story of the Flight of the Penguins. Last time we were home, he fascinated James with the story behind the phrase “Eddie Would Go” which is emblazoned on bumper stickers above the rainbow license plates on lots of cars in Hawaii. My sister and I joke, “Dad’s a little stoney,” not as in stoney-faced, but because sometimes he talks with the kind of wonder that most people can only achieve while they’re high.

So these days, as I race to put away the dishes before the coffee is done (exactly five minutes – go!), I stop and remind myself that there’s time. I think of my dad in the kitchen, patiently and precisely scooping the seeds out of a papaya in the morning, or winding the louvers of the kitchen door tightly shut at night. And then I sit down and sip my coffee slowly.


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