Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Goodbye to a treasure

The weasel went out with the garbage.  It was an important member of our family but it had seen its day.  It had been sewn up so many times, that there was nothing left of its face.  When I found more stuffing hanging out of Cookies’ mouth, I decided the time had come.

It wasn’t an easy decision.  The weasel had been beloved for almost three years, from the day our two-pound puppy arrived.   Since then, we have accumulated a basket of toys and each one has a specific purpose.  There’s the comfort toy, the squeaky toy, the catch toy and the run-around- proudly-with-it-in-our-mouth toy and then toys that are fun to dig through while we look for the really useful toys.  The weasel was the tug-of-war toy.  It was perfect.  Light, long and easy to grasp.  It had a resilient spirit, a bit like the British during World War II.  Even so, there were times when I hated that weasel.  For instance, when I’d collapsed into a chair after a long day and was nursing a cup of tea.  The intrusion of the weasel came with a tap on my legs and a look down into round, brown beseeching eyes and tiny teeth clamped onto the weasel’s neck – always the neck.  The tail was left for my outstretched hand.  

As soon as I grabbed the weasel’s lower extremities, my sweet little, now seven pound, dog, would turn into a ferocious competitor, snarling, growling and holding her own.  The book said that I should only let her win 10% of the time so that I can show her who’s boss – alpha dog and all that – and so the game went on until she let go and I threw the weasel as far as I could manage without spilling my tea.  If I were lucky, she’d chase after it and turn her attention elsewhere.  If I were unlucky, the weasel would return with agonizing regularity.

Still, you have to love an object that makes your dog so happy, which is why the weasel had so many remedial stitches in it.  I often tried to shift Cookie’s affections to the latest green toy – organic materials, water-based dyes, nothing harmful to swallow – but she has a strong loyalty gene and overlooked all the weasel’s shortcomings.  She loved it, warts and all.

It was a Thursday night when I decided it had to go.  I knew the garbage was being picked up early in the morning which ensured that I wouldn’t be tempted to try any messy retrieval.  I looked Cookie in the eye and placed the weasel in the bin.  It was the end of an era.  An era that had included two near-death experiences for my puppy but an era that also included falling in love with her older sister, learning how to swim, traveling on a plane, sleeping on the conference table so she wouldn’t be excluded from meetings and relishing a raw food diet.  

The garbage trucks were there early.  Cookie and I both woke at 6:00 am to the dragging of the bins and the reverse siren.  I said a silent goodbye to the weasel; Cookie headed towards her toy basket.  After a few rummaging sounds, a turtle appeared on the bed.  It was small and light with four dangling legs.  Not a bad substitute.  Since then we’ve tried a number of animals – a frog with an elongated mid-drift, a mouse, a duck, an octopus and a camel.  So far, nothing has quite hit the mark but I know we’ll get there.  It’s clear that Cookie isn’t living in the past; she’s moving on with life.
Cookie with her comfort toy, an ancient lion.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Makeup and You

We’ve always assumed that we know who our customer is and why you buy our makeup but last year we decided to clothe that assumption with some certainty and so we communicated with you in a variety of ways from social media to focus groups and everything in between.

What we found out confirmed a lot of what we knew but you also had some surprises for us. What you told us was that, yes, you wanted a makeup that looked great on the skin and that you knew was healthy and clean but you also told us what makeup meant to you and how it impacted your lives.

You didn’t use the words “beautiful,” “glamorous” or “red carpet” for example. You more than anything else described the way makeup makes you feel. You described how it lifted your spirits and got your day going in the right direction. It not only affected the way you felt about yourself but it affected how you interacted with the world.

And we learned that most of you don’t wear makeup for someone else; you wear it for yourself. Applying it is your “alone” time when you can shut out the busy-ness of life and enjoy who you are.

I began to understand what was at the core of recent studies that connect the way we look to our immune system. That sounds very strange but the evidence is in to show that when we feel good about the way we look; our immune system gets a boost. So we can actually affect our health and the healing process.

I was explaining all this in Stockholm recently to a group of salon owners who carry our line. Fortunately, everyone spoke such good English that I could get carried away without having to use a translator. I find that when I speak to a group, there are always a couple of people in the audience who give me something back, and so it’s hard not to keep making eye-contact with them. There was one young woman just like this in the front row. She was warm, bright and had long thick, auburn hair and beautiful skin. I was feeling very pleased that I could count her as a customer.

At the end of the session, we were taking photographs. She waited patiently in line and then came on stage for her turn. We smiled for the camera and then she aid: “What you said about makeup is really true.” “Do you see it with your clients?” I asked. “Yes, and with myself. I’ve just come through chemotherapy and radiation.” Stunned, I held her hand and admired her skin knowing what havoc chemotherapy inflicts on the skin’s condition. “It’s your makeup,” she said, "it doesn’t really look like this. When I go to the hospital with no makeup and no hair, I walk with my head down and don’t want to look at anyone. When I put my makeup and wig on, I throw my shoulders back and I’m ready to face the world.”

She’s 25.

So, to all of you who toil for long hours to help people feel better about the way they look, what you do is important and integral to the way we relate to ourselves and with each other. And that goes for getting our roots done to covering up under-eye circles.

And for those of you whose lives are full of caring for other people and don’t have time to do something nice for yourself, try to make the time; your immune system could use a boost.