How a Pimple May Have Saved My Life

It was annoying and wouldn’t go away. A mid sized blemish on my left breast popped up unexpectedly and just wouldn’t totally go away, even after using hypoallergenic soap and softer bras.

Out of ideas how to make it stop, I went to my doc to have the blemish examined.

“Hmmm. You’ve never had any like this before?” she asked.

“No. It’s the only one I’ve had on a breast, ever.”

“Well, it could be something for Dermatology to look at – but I’d like to get a mammogram done just to rule out things. When was your last one?”

My mind started to race. Did she think this was something serious? After I told her my last date, she continued. “I think it would be good just to have another mammogram done for comparison’s sake. Chances are, everything’s fine,” she reassured me.

Two weeks later, I stood at the not-intimidating-at-all mammography machine, ready to have my poor boob smushed.

“There! All done. I’ll have the Radiologist look at these real quick to see if he needs any more images. Be right back,” the cheerful tech chirped.

10 minutes passed. This seemed a little long. Then the door opened.

“Ma’am, we’d like to have a few more images done just to get a closer look,” the tech explained. “There’s nothing to worry about; the Radiologist just wantsto be sure of what he’s looking at.”  Well…ok, I thought. Nothing to worry about, I told myself.

After wincing through another smushing, I sat and waited a few minutes. I had gotten mammograms done before and have never had to wait around – usually, it’s pics done, go home, and they’ll call or send results.

Then the door opened. Three people came in.

The tallest guy introduced himself as the Radiologist. Another doctor accompanied him with the cheerful tech, who wasn’t so chipper this time.

“Ma’am, after looking at your images, I’m seeing an usual area in the upper part of your breast. It’s not a lump, but it’s a little odd looking. It could be fibrous or scar tissue, so would you be able to stay and have an ultrasound done? We could probably get a better idea that way.”

Ok, I said. But inside, I thought – is this really happening? Is there something wrong? This was supposed to be a pimple.

Though I calmly laid on the table as the ultrasound took place, my mind swam. Don’t let your imagination get away from you, I told myself. They’re just being thorough. I tried to study the radiologist’s face as he rolled the device over me. I looked to the monitor to try and see what the others saw. The doctor pointed out a tiny area which looked like what I could best describe as “tentacles.”

“This doesn’t resemble a mass or a lump, but it is unusual,” the doctor said. “We are looking at a few options. One, we could do nothing now and do another ultrasound in a few months. Two, we could try and get a MRI to get a closer picture. However, we may not be able to get you scheduled for a month. Third, we could do a biopsy and have the tissue tested.”

“Do you think it’s cancerous?” I asked.

“That’s something a biopsy could rule out,” the doc said. So, I agreed.

Crazy enough, the area of concern wasn’t even the pimple in question! That pimple was most likely a clogged/infected hair follicle.

Jesus, I thought. What if I didn’t get this checked out? I wasn’t due for a mammogram for another eight months.

Unfortunately, the biopsy didn’t give a definite answer (and let me tell you – even though you are numbed up for the procedure – it is NOT fun. I was sweating buckets the whole time!). “Benign with unusual markers” was the official report.

My doctor, however, wants to know what those unusual markers are. I do, too. It could be nothing – but it could also be precancerous tissue, or Stage 0 breast cancer. She, along with my husband and I, decided it’s best to do another biopsy where a larger sample is taken to be tested (thankfully, I’ll be put under for this one!). The surgery takes place in a few days and I should know results in a week’s time.

I have never heard of Stage 0 before, but with the new technology available to several hospitals, images can be seen in 3D now, versus 2D. The hospital where I go has this technology, and it’s possible to catch cancerous activity in its earliest stages. Though I’m nervous, I am thankful this can be caught quickly.

My biggest takeaway from the whole situation is – Trust your instincts. When your body is doing something different from the norm, get it checked out! Though my annoying pimple had nothing to do with this situation, it was probably God’s way of sending me a signal before things potentially got out of hand.

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Women Over 40 – GET YOUR MAMMOGRAMS DONE. 

Here are some resources to find free or reduced cost mammograms: Free or Low Cost Mammograms

Or – try The National Mammography Program for facilities in your area: National Mammography Program

I share my story to spread awareness – don’t put off something that doesn’t feel right.

I am also so thankful for my rock, my partner, my love – he has been so supportive and  lets me cry, vent, or gets silly with me. I am blessed!

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Love, laughter, and shoes –

xo, Melanie.

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Please Stop Hating Yourself!

Hello Lovelies,

Tonight I chatted with some friends in my Facebook Messenger, and the topic of our bodies came up. Some of the conversation went like this:

“I think I look gross. I did a boudoir for last year. And Had to wear something that covered my stomach and still hated how I looked in all of them. The photographer was amazing but ya…”

“I don’t have the balls to do a shoot-

I barely have sex with the lights on.”
“I’m just not comfortable with my body.”
These are mostly 20 and 30 something women who are absolutely gorgeous. Being good friends, we were telling one another how crazy we were to talk this way about ourselves (which was true! These ladies are HOT!).
But I remember that loathing. The feeling of not being good enough; judging myself in dressing room mirrors, cringing at the slightest extra few pounds on my stomach. Endless dieting. As a performer, I felt that extra pressure to achieve that coveted size 2-4 (and I did – but developed an eating disorder in the process).
I’m no longer living off the coffee and protein bars to stay small (thank God), and I’ve stopped the size obsession. It’s exhausting. Could I stand to lose some weight? Of course. I’m working on dropping some pounds, but I really just want to be healthy.
How did I stop the loathing? This quote from RuPaul did it:
“If you can’t love yourself, how the hell you gonna love someone else?”
(can I get an “Amen” in here?)
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It’s true. Mama Ru knows a little something about acceptance! I finally had to learn to accept who I was, right then – not the “someday” version of Melanie I fantasized about. I deserve to be happy.
As women, we are fantastically hard on ourselves. We’re not tall enough, thin enough, curvy enough, busty enough, young enough, bootylicious enough. If it’s not our bodies we’re hating, it’s feeling like we don’t measure up as mothers, wives, or deserving of success.
PLEASE STOP.
Generally, men don’t do this to themselves. They work on their “trouble” areas, but the self loathing is not nearly as much as what women do to their self-esteem.
So, what do we do about it? Focus on things which we love about ourselves. Start by playing up those legs if you love those. Enhance your beautiful skin. Show off your shoulders. Let your hair hang down.  Give back to others. Surround yourself with those with good energy. Realize that all those models are airbrushed and photoshopped!
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If there’s one advantage to being a forty something, it’s that knowing that I am comfortable and fine the way I am. It took me a long time to get here, and I want to face the second half of my life feeling good.
Let’s give ourselves a break and enjoy life!!
Until next time –
Love, laughter, and shoes –
xo Melanie
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Top Five Best Items I Packed for Our Cruise!

Hello lovelies!

In my prior post I discussed the things I would and would not do again on a cruise, but here I want to let you know about the items I’m so glad we had on board!  I highly recommend:

  1. Magnetized Hooks. One thing about staterooms is that’s handy is that the walls are magnetized and since there’s not a lot of counter space, having magnets will keep your room free of clutter. I opted for these magnet hooks so we could hang our hats, bags, as well as post notes and invites! These are the ones we bought (holds up to 18 lbs.): https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B018LEN67U/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o03_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

2. Passport Holder. On a ship, you need to have your passenger card on you at all times and the last thing I wanted to do is bring my purse everywhere. So this holder solved these problems perfectly! I could hold not only my passenger card but also my passport, lip gloss, credit cards and tissues. I was surprised how much it could hold! https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01GZJHS6I/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o09_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

3. Dramamine. Yes, sea sickness is a thing. Now, I usually don’t get motion sickness but there were a couple of rocky days when my stomach was not so happy. Don’t think that it won’t happen to you!  I popped a non drowsy Dramamine and I was fine.

4. Pop Up Mesh Hamper. 13 days at sea will cause an accumulation of laundry, and having this foldable mesh hamper made it much easier to deal with dirty laundry! The hamper fits easily in the suitcase. Speaking of laundry – be sure to pack a stain pen, a few dryer sheets, and a couple of sample sized laundry soap. You don’t want to pay ship prices for those items.

5. Travel Adapter. Since we were on a ship out of Australia, we needed an adapter for our electronics. This small adapter not only had a way to charge phones and my hairdryer, but has a USB drive for charging tablets too! This particular one comes with a little case for easy packing and is very affordable ($15)!

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B06Y62QPDS/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o09_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

This is based on my experience and not sponsored, so I’m not getting any kick back on these items:)

What are things you’re glad you had on your cruise? Things you wish you had? Also, where are places you cruised?

Until next time – love, laughter, and shoes-

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xo, Melanie:)

 

What I Learned from My First Cruise!

Hello Lovelies!

It’s 2018 and I have not written here in months! It’s safe to say I got pretty busy with various projects- but I have missed blogging and since I’ve had an amazing experience travelling, what a better time to begin writing again? We went on our very first cruise and though I researched the “do’s and don’ts” of cruising, we learned what things we would and would not do again, so I’ll share it with you!

We thought that since we were north of Australia, we should see it while we are on this side of the world. You’d think that living in Guam it would be fairly easy to travel to Australia.  WRONG.

For one thing, there are no direct flights to Sydney or ANY Australian city. The quickest way would be to fly north to Tokyo and then down to Sydney – but ahem, at $2000 per ticket, that was not happening! We ended up booking a flight to Manila in the Philippines for considerably less, but we’d have a LONG layover – I’m talking 12 hours! I decided to rent a hotel room near the airport (for just $35 USD!) so we could at least be comfortable.

If you are active duty military, military family, or a vet, I HIGHLY recommend going through militarycruisedeals.com.

Without their help, we would have never secured the deal we got for a 13 day cruise with Princess Cruises from Sydney to around New Zealand! Regardless of which travel agency you use, it is ideal to book at least six months ahead to pick the type (and location) of your room.

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What I Would Do Again on a Cruise: 

  1. Stay in a hotel the night before sailing. Since we were flying in super early in the morning, there was no way I wanted us to be exhausted and trying to make our port in the same day. Having that night before allowed us to relax and begin “vacation mode.”
  2. Get a Balcony Room. The deal we got with Princess allowed us to afford a balcony room, and I have to say it was definitely worth it. Just being able to walk out and feel the breeze and see the waves while having breakfast is awesome. Booking early also allowed us to choose a room away from the elevators and not on the lower level (less rocky).
  3. Talk to Others! It sounds bizarre, sure – but don’t be afraid to do a couple of dinners at a shared table. People are on vacation and are relaxed, more likely to keep conversation light. This is especially fun if you are on a cruise with lots of people from other countries! The Aussies we met were incredibly nice. We also talked to people while playing trivia, at the bar, plus our servers -meeting Canadians, Brits, Phillipino, Serbs, Russians, and Chinese along with other Americans and Aussies!
  4. Do The Activities! You can only lie in the sun so long, so check out the activities going on. Every evening we would get a newsletter about the next day’s port stop and onboard activities. From trivia, to karaoke, to attending an art auction, to game shows – there is something for everyone!
  5. Dress Up for Formal Night. Don’t groan at the thought of this; it’s actually pretty fun to see everyone all dressed up for dinner, plus if you want special pictures taken the ship photographers will be doing portraits (for a fee of course). It’s like Prom for Adults; but you’re allowed to drink alcohol! On our cruise, servers passed out free champagne.:)

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6. Explore Every Port. Princess’ reps were great with handing out maps and information on “where to go” at every stop. Plus, there were always shuttles to take us into a main area so it was simple to get around and make our way back. Don’t let a new area intimidate you from checking out the scene!

7. “Pre-Booking” the Next Cruise. Now, this is something that Princess Cruises offers – I don’t know if other lines do this (check with them), but before our cruise ended we were given the option to place a small, totally refundable deposit on a future cruise in order to receive extra onboard credit. Since we could still use our travel agent and use it with any sales, we went for it. If we didn’t book a cruise within two years, we would be refunded the money, so it was a no-brainer!

What We Wouldn’t Do Again:

  1. Purchase a “Unlimited Soda and More” package. Neither of us drink that much soda (I don’t at all), and it was disappointing to realize that this “unlimited” did not include coffee, tea, and juices in all bars/restaurants. I think we could probably save money on it in the future.
  2. Go to the salon. We decided to renew our wedding vows on this cruise (which was totally worth it!) and thought getting ourselves pampered on the day of would be nice. Honestly, I didn’t get service that was any better than what I usually do (in fact; my stylist and nail tech are better) and the prices are too much for what’s offered.
  3. Book excursions with the cruise line. We quickly realized that we could have saved quite a bit of money booking excursions in the port. One thing that made me want to book the excursions with Princess is that they guarantee getting back to the boat in time. Frankly, the agencies are parked right by the port and it would be bad business to not guarantee the same. We’ll definitely do it differently next time!

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Most of all, the biggest “DO” is go with a upbeat and “go with the flow” attitude. Little things might pop up, so don’t sweat those little annoyances.

In upcoming posts, I’ll profile various ports we visited plus the packing essentials for any cruise! Where have you cruised? Cruise lines you traveled with? What would you do differently? 

Until next time – love, laughter, and shoes:)

xo, Melanie.

Lady Gaga and I Share Something in Common

Hello Lovelies,

I recently watched a fantastic documentary on Netflix called Lady Gaga: Five Foot Two, which chronicles the recording of her Joanne album, her prep for the Superbowl, and her struggle with chronic pain.

I cried along with her when she was in her doctor’s office, saying “I just need someone to fix me.”

I wanted to stand up and yell that as well.  “Please, just FIX me.”

Chronic pain is one of the most unpredictable, stressful conditions one can have.  I could feel fine one day, but the next can be an entirely different story- depending on what my activity level Is, or my stress factor, how much sleep – or even what I eat.  It’s hard to pin down and tricky to diagnose and treat nerve damage.

What’s the most frustrating part of having chronic pain is that many times I can be like Gaga- working out, performing, dancing- then it hits like a ton of bricks. Strangely enough the sciatic attacks (which feel like fire running up my leg) have happened when doing every day things like grocery shopping. I was literally stopped in my tracks with my shopping cart and had to call a friend to get me. While waiting, I flagged down a store clerk to get me a motorized cart. I was so embarrassed and upset. Not only is this pain messing with my life, but I have to involve others with my struggles.

I don’t wrote this post to elicit sympathy or bring attention to myself.  This is something that I’ve been told that I may need to deal with this for the rest of my life (which I’m not exactly accepting; we’ll see about that). But I write this because chronic pain is something many people are silently dealing with, and some are in real dire need of help. Some have turned to narcotics to try and get through the day and unfortunately end up hooked. Others drink. Some grit through it with basic pain meds. I’ve been dealing with it with basic meds, but I would just love to not have to take medicine anymore.

In the meantime, I’m enjoying all that I can and seeking that something that will fix me.  Lady Gaga- I feel ya, girl.  Hang in there. We’ve got this.  

September Makeup Launches I’m Stoked About!

Hello Lovelies!

Fall means so many things: back to school, cooler weather, pumpkin everything, and NEW MAKEUP!!!

As a makeup artist, I am stalking the You Tube beauty community, searching out the latest makeup launches….and holy moly, there are so many exciting launches going on!

So what is getting my attention?

  1. Kat Von D’s Saint and Sinner eyeshadow palette. (Launching Sept 19) This palette – probably the most interesting design I have ever seen! When I saw the video on You Tube, I got REALLY excited over these colors – a nice variety of matte and shimmer in lots of colors. You can bet I’ll be getting this!

2. Fenty Beauty – Killawatt Highlighters

RiRi seems to get what we are coveting – foundations in several shades and highlighters as well! I am loving how these are looking in the videos, as they can be subtle or the blinding effect that Jeffree Starr loves.

3. Too Faced x Kandee I Want Kandee eyeshadow palette

Sometimes influencer collaborations with companies go well, sometimes they don’t so much. However, popular YouTuber makeup artist Kandee Johnson seems to get it right. This new palette is full of lush color and I LOVE the candy inspired names! Can’t wait to pick this up!

4. TOM FORD Girls Lipsticks (launching September 15)

Oh yes – these are on the pricey side ($36 a pop!) but if you treat yourself to a little luxury, these lipsticks have been getting raves from beauty editors everywhere. Tom Ford decided to create a large collection of 50 shades, each one with a woman’s name. Who knows – maybe there will be a Melanie?!!

5. Estee Lauder x Victoria Beckham

Estee Lauder has been in the business since the 1940s and this company knows how to make a luxurious product. It seems fitting that Posh Spice herself would align with this company! The collection is simple, on the higher end of price, but if I were to buy one item I think it would be the Morning Aura Illuminating Creme. It is supposed to do double duty as a primer and moisturizer, so I will be interested to see the reviews!

What launches are YOU excited about? 

DISCOUNT ALERT! : I am excited to announce I am now a Brand Ambassador for Unicorn Queen Cosmetics, a distribution site for brands such as Too Faced, Tarte, Kylie Cosmetics, and more! Go to unicornqueencosmetics.com and save 10% with my code: Crazyhrgal

Love, laughter, and lipstick –

xo Melanie

The Truth About Direct Sales

Direct Sales. Some people love it; others roll their eyes at the idea. I have several friends who are consultants for direct sales companies, and I belong to two companies as well. If you have thought about joining a company to make a little extra income or to expand on a hobby, read on.Or, if you are curious why your friend is selling bags, scents, makeup, etc., you’ll find this interesting. I will share my experience, lessons I’ve learned, and things to consider before signing on.

  1. They are not all pyramid schemes. Yes – there have been a few companies who have got into legal trouble for basically being pyramid schemes and leaving people with a lot of inventory on their hands with not much to show for their efforts, but this is why it’s important to research a company before signing on. Many direct sales companies are reputable and have been in business for awhile due to a strong customer base. If the company you are looking at seems to value recruiting more than the products, watch out. Recruitment should be a bonus, not the focus.
  2. What’s the true cost of joining? That cheap introductory kit will be more than what you’re paying for. Most companies will charge a one time technology fee (anywhere from $10 – 25) and sometimes a monthly website fee to stay in business. Do you need to meet a quota to stay active? Is there a yearly fee? These are not negatives, but real factors to consider. Depending on your intent, the cost could add up if you are not planning to actively sell.
  3. Who are you signing up under, and do you get training? Personally, I want to talk with the consultant a bit before I join her team and feel out her intentions. Will she be a supportive guide or a “ghost sponsor?” Are there resources to learn how to be successful with your business? I am blessed to have great sponsors for both of my businesses, and they have become good friends. Both companies I work with have supportive networks and plenty of resources for me to get ideas and information. You are making a business decision, so treat it like such and do the research.
  4. What is the track record for customer satisfaction? The last thing you want to do is piss off your friends and family if the company doesn’t deliver on their promises! Does the company have a good return/exchange policy? An easy way to contact? Are these quality products?
  5. Is this something you want to dedicate time towards?I would be really wary if someone told me, “all you need to do is share pics and make money in your pj’s!” Oh, if only it were that easy! The truth is, you need to establish your credibility with people. Your customers will buy if they feel they can trust you and that you care. Building a direct sales business takes time – so please don’t think you’re going to make thousands of dollars in a matter of months. BUT, if you are consistent,  positive, and offer great service, you will build a strong customer base.
  6. Family and friends might not be on board at first. Of course, you will have friends who will be excited for you and love the product you are selling. However – don’t expect your sales to come from just those close friends and family. Sometimes people feel funny giving money to their friends, or family members are nervous about showing favoritism. Let them know you do not expect them to buy, but if they could refer your name if someone is looking for your product/service, that’s all they need to do.

These are the main things I’ve learned over the course of a year in the direct sales biz! Most of all, find something that you are passionate about. People will feel your authentic love for what you do.

And friends who have friends in the biz – don’t roll your eyes at her. She is trying to do something to better her situation. If you don’t like the product or are not interested, just be honest and say so. Don’t “ghost” her! I can tell you that being ignored is MUCH WORSE than being told no. Chances are, she is a big girl and can handle it! I do!

I hope this was helpful! Enjoy your new adventure!

Love, laughter, and makeup (my new tag line!) –

xo, Melanie.