Posted in Women Worth Knowing

Women Worth Knowing: Meet LynDee


LynDee is my cousin-in-law. When we first met (at my brother-in-law’s birthday party at Joe’s Pizza), she was the editor of a local newspaper, so she always seemed to know everything that was going on. That was one of the best parts of being around her–any topic, and LynDee can make it interesting. She has always been welcoming and warm, and is a true loyalist. Maybe it’s the journalist in her, but she is careful to get both sides of a story (or as much of both sides as possible) before making a decision.

Nine years ago, when we met, there were no babies and LynDee was a career woman par none. Avery came along a month after B and I were married, and changed the Walker World entirely. She shifted gears from the newspaper industry to the just-as-hard-maybe-harder-definitely-less-celebrated job of Stay At Home Mom, and the family moved from Texas to a coastal state. I can’t tell you how easy the changes were for her, but I can tell you that when Avery was three years old, she had better table manners than a lot of adults, and was already a confident, happy, obviously well loved little girl.

Because of geography, I haven’t been able to be around LynDee as much as I would choose, which means I haven’t gotten to meet Gabe or Kennedy, yet. And I haven’t gotten to pick her brain about all the interesting things in her world. A couple of years ago, LynDee decided to give Weight Watchers a try. The program worked very well for her, so well that she is a WW counselor now. I think that’s all really interesting. From journalism to thankless job of domestic engineering, to counseling women and men on how to have a healthy relationship with their food.

You’re going to like her, and you’re going to wish you got to spend more time with her, too. Meet LynDee.

Name: LynDee Walker
Age Range: 30-35
Preferred Job Title: Preferred? Goddess. But generally, it’s “Mom.” Which is pretty close.
Industry: Mostly, trying to raise good kids. But also health and fitness, and occasionally writing.

Who are you?
I am Avery and Gabe and Kennedy’s mom, and I’m Justin’s wife, but I am NOT “Mrs. Walker.” It has nothing to do with age – I’m 33 and proud of it. I’m just too laid back for all that “Mrs.” nonsense. I’m just LynDee – “Miss LynDee,” or “Auntie LynDee” to my friends’ kiddoes if their parents insist on some sign that I’m an elder. I’m a writer when I have time, and an amateur landscaper who still kills most of the things I plant. I’m the mom who springs her daughter from school early on a gorgeous February day to go to the park, and the wife who slow dances barefoot in the kitchen while the pasta overcooks because it’s the only three minutes I’ll have alone with my husband all day. And I’m still the girl who likes to roll all the windows down and sing along with Reba (or Madonna, or Janis) on a beautiful day – but now I don’t care when strangers give me the raised eyebrows at a stoplight.

You work for Weight Watchers, and have had great success following their program. What is the biggest difference the program has made in your thinking?

About food? That it’s all about balance. Flexible restraint is the key to lasting weight management – there’s nothing I “can’t have,” as long as I work it in the right way.

About myself? Most days, I am comfortable in my own skin, which is still a relatively new thing for me. I battled my weight all my life – and I was never happy with how I looked, which translated into not being happy being me. Which sucked. Do I think I have the perfect figure because I lost 100 pounds and can fit into a size 6? Pfffttt. Hardly. But I used to think I would. I also used to think all my problems would magically disappear if I was just thinner. Losing the weight taught me that no one is perfect – and it’s OK for me to love myself, whether I’m a size 6 or a 26.

Raising girls in the 21st Century…what are you doing to shore up their self-confidence against the constant barrage of media?

When I’m not worrying that there’s just no way to do enough, I tell my girls how beautiful they are. I think in this case, repetition is the greatest enemy of doubt. We shield them from the types of TV and movies that objectify women, and we don’t allow our daughters to dress like baby Britneys because other kids do. We also encourage them to excel in school and at sports – my oldest is an honor-roll student who plays baseball on an otherwise all-boy team and dives competitively – so that while they know they’re beautiful, they also know that there are more important things in life than the way they look.

As a journalist–because once a journalist, always a journalist–what do you think is the future of informative media?
The Internet. As sad as I am to see it happening, traditional newspapers are dying a slow death, and while I think TV news will live a while longer, it’s losing ground every year. More and more people, myself included, get their news via laptop or smartphone because it’s just easier. I think the most important thing for the industry is to make sure that the race to post new information first doesn’t cause fact-checking and accuracy to die with print.

Describe your family: Organized chaos. Myself, my husband, three young children, and one toy Pomeranian learn, laugh, squabble, play, and love in a suburban home complete with a picket fence. And I wouldn’t trade one molecule or millisecond of any of it.

What does the first hour of your day look like?
Fuzzy. I am not a morning person. I am blessed to live in a school zone where my daughter doesn’t have to be on the bus until 9, so my day begins at about 8:15, when I sit up and swear because I overslept again. I come downstairs and shove a cup under the coffee maker that has been “ready to brew” since 7:30, then add some splenda to my Green Mountain Colombian Fair Trade Select and take a few sips. Then I’m ready to help Avery (who has been up since 7 so she could say “bye” to daddy and usually gotten herself dressed) brush and style her hair, make her breakfast, pack her lunch, and check on the still-sleeping babies before I walk her two doors down to the bus stop. We talk about what she’s looking forward to about her day. I kiss her and nod as she forbids me to leave before the bus is out of sight. I wave as the bus heads for school, and smile because she’s busy with her friends and she doesn’t see. I creep back into the house and make another cup of coffee, then call a friend or check my email before the babies wake and my day really starts to fly.

The last hour?
Cuddly. I settle into the glider and feed Kennedy, then rock her to sleep. I often sit with her for longer than necessary, studying her perfect little nose and rosy little lips and trying to commit to memory the way she looks as she sleeps in my arms, because I know from experience that she will, indeed, grow way too fast.

What makes you feel successful?
Little things. Kennedy’s face lighting up when I come in from a meeting. Avery’s grin when she nails a dive she’s been working on or finishes an upper-grade math worksheet and gets most of the answers right. Gabriel skipping from “s” to “y” in the ABC song because “s” and “x” sound similar, and then throwing his hands up and belting out “next time won’t you SING WITH ME?!”

What brings you joy?
All those same little things. And seeing the first buds on the Bradford Pear in the front yard that mean spring is coming. My husband, looking at me from across the room, or the backyard, or the dinner table, his expression still that of the lovestruck teenager from a decade and a half ago. When he sneaks in from work and slips his arms around my waist and whispers “hello, beautiful,” as I chop tomatoes. The children piling in bed with us to watch a movie on a Saturday night. Summer days at the pool. An Icee with the kids on a random afternoon, and a glass of wine with a good friend on an impromptu moms’ night. My azaleas blooming. Dressing up for date night. New shoes. Sunny days. Joy is in the simple things – especially when you realize that the simple things are often the most miraculous.

What women do you admire?
I sort of have a thing about First Ladies: Eleanor Roosevelt, Jackie Kennedy, Hillary Clinton, Michelle Obama. Eleanor was smart when it wasn’t chic for a woman to be smart. Jackie was style and class and beauty – but she was also strong and determined to hold her family together through heartbreak, philandering, and tragedy. Hillary is brilliant. Michelle is graciously juggling an often-harsh media spotlight and ridiculous political environment while keeping her children as “normal” as she can and advocating for everyone’s children with her war on childhood obesity.

Closer to home, I admire my friend Pat, who has survived two battles with cancer and one with a neurological disease, but has never let illness keep her from what she loves – she just returned from a month-long cruise to continue volunteering with an animal advocacy group she founded almost 20 years ago. My friend Corby is an Air Force wife counting the days until her beloved will be stationed in Korea for a whole year, while she and their three young children move to Hawaii. I can’t imagine the strength it takes, not only to be a single mom for so long (Justin goes to Texas for a week and I’m so ready for him to come home I could burst) but to withstand the stress of having her husband in harm’s way. I’m in awe.

What do you like best about your closest friend?
That I’m always proud to tell other people “that’s my friend.” She’s a good person, with a generous heart and an always-ready ear (or shoulder). She’s funny, and smart, and a great mom who loves her kids to bits – and loves mine right along with them. She loves cheesy old movies and bad pizza (because, really – there’s better pizza, but there’s no bad pizza) and we always have a great time, whether we’re painting the proverbial town or doing nothing at all.

What do you like best about yourself?
That I’m genuine. I may not always be cool, but I’m never fake.

What advice would you give boys about girls?
Pulling hair is not a sign of affection – it’s annoying. Don’t chase the ones who won’t chase you back. When you find the right one, no one will be the pursuer – she’ll run beside you. Dance with her now and then. Hold her hand whenever you can. Bring her flowers for no reason. Tell her she’s beautiful every day. Tell her you love her more often than that. And always hug her when she cries, even though you think she’s nuts for crying at the diaper commercial.

How do you overcome adversity?
First, I cry. Then, if there’s information to be had, I gather it all and organize and process it. I ask questions, and I pray, and I make a plan. Then I pray that the plan works. Then I find a way to make it work.

How do you want to be remembered?
As a good wife, and a loving mother, and a leader who helped people see that they could do something they thought they couldn’t. As an occasional writer who wrote something really profound once. As a loyal friend, and an amateur gardener who finally figured out how to grow a hydrangea. And as the great-grandma who still danced in the kitchen, and celebrated her 90th birthday by riding Space Mountain with her husband.

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Posted in Health, Women Worth Knowing

Probing Thoughts


A couple of years ago, my mother went in for her first routine colonoscopy and was diagnosed with colo-rectal cancer. Today, with 3/4s less colon than she had in 2008, she is alive and kicking, and otherwise very healthy. I am certainly thankful. Her ordeal is one of the reasons I have my own anal probe scheduled for Monday.

I am also having an endoscopy to check out the damage of 40 years worth of reflux action. That should be really exciting. I’ll be honest that I’m a little worried about that one. I have a badly deviated septum, which causes me to be a bit of a mouthbreather sometimes, and I don’t like the idea that my secondary airway will be impacted. (Now that Thor is old enough not to fracture my nose with his head (again), I should get that septum fixed. I should also get my upper wisdom teeth out. It’s amazing how much of my own health I have put off, or straight up neglected in the past six years. From the time I got pregnant, it all went on hold. My world has been completely Thorcentric. If it didn’t have to do with him, it didn’t get looked at.)

My mom is taking the day off to schlep me around to surgery centers, and has promised she won’t let me go shopping while still under the influence of anesthesia. She was always pretty funny after her c-scopies–all five of them. I hope I’m at least amusing. I am just twisted enough that I am considering doing a video post, but then I might tell you things you don’t want to know.

I mean, I will end up telling you those things anyway. I always do. But probably best that I do it outside the influence of a medication, huh?

In other news, I have several WWK profiles in the pipeline, and hope to start posting those next week. I know some really incredible women. I have also reached out to women I don’t know, and have had great responses from those who…responded. No one has said no. Some people just haven’t answered at all. Of course, I am reaching out to women who are incredibly busy. I take that back. I’ve had one no. But that was a fashion journalist celebrity, and I got a very kind response from her PR flack, saying that the project was too small for her consideration. That sounds harsh, but it really was a kind response.

I’ll just keep plugging away.

Posted in Howling Sea Lane, Lancient History, Women Worth Knowing

Sleep Paralysis! Awesome!


I should have blogged about my night terrors years ago! Stephanie just linked me to a treasure trove of information about sleep paralysis. Sleep paralysis! Of course!

According to this site
:

Sleep paralysis is a condition in which someone, most often lying in a supine (face up) position, about to drop off to sleep, or just upon awaking from sleep realizes that s/he is unable to move, or speak, or cry out. This may last a few seconds or several moments, occasionally longer. People frequently report feeling a ‘presence’ that is often described as malevolent, threatening, or evil. An intense sense of dread and terror is very common. The presence is likely to be vaguely felt or sensed just out of sight but thought to be watching or monitoring, often with intense interest, sometimes standing by, or sitting on the bed. On some occasions, the presence may attack, strangling and exerting crushing pressure on the chest.

Thank you, Dr. Seery-Murphy. Many, many thanks!

Posted in Style, Women Worth Knowing

Women Worth Knowing: Meet Shrinkle a/k/a Sugarpill a/k/a Amy Doan



I love makeup. Love it. Love, love, love it. A few years ago, when I was looking for a particular shade, I came across a girl selling loose kryolan pigments on Ebay. Shrinkle, as I knew her then, had a robust store that included cutesy-pie dresses, vintage slips, and accessories I coveted. The cute clothes of her own design and a revolving door of vintage are still available on the Shrinkle etsy store, but the makeup is long gone.

Why, you ask? Because Amy Doan, Shrinkle herself, developed her own line of cosmetics called Sugarpill.

Since I’ve been following Amy’s stores and blogs for years, I have watched from afar as she made the transition from simple seamstress to sylph of a makeup mini-empire (Sugarpill is the official makeup brand for the 35th Anniversary of Hello Kitty.) Amy’s photo filled blogs are always full of color and energy. She is positive and exciting, and I love her story. I love her makeup. I want to hang her eyeshadows on my wall as art because they are so pretty.

You should get to know Amy and all her enterprises. Shop her stores and read her tutorials. I thought I liked Amy before she responded to my WWK inquiry, but reading her answers to all my silly questions…I want to put this girl in my pocket and take her everywhere with me. She is just fabulous.

Meet Amy.

Amy Doan aka Shrinkle
Age Range: Just turned 30, wooo!
Preferred Job Title: Fashion designer and owner of Sugarpill Cosmetics
Industry: Fashion and Cosmetics

(In a departure from the usual WWK interview, I added some very Amy-centric questions that I thought would be interesting.)

How did your business evolve from you making outfits for yourself to a new beauty empire?
I started out making clothes for myself because I had nothing to wear. I was a broke college student and couldn’t really afford to go shopping much. I got lots of compliments whenever I wore the outfits I made, so I began selling them on eBay. It kind of just took off from there, and before I knew it it had become my full time job! I decided to branch out into cosmetics when I realized that makeup can really make or break a fabulous outfit. A super awesome outfit never looks complete without the perfect makeup to compliment it.

What designers do you like?
I don’t really have a favorite big name designer. I don’t care too much about labels, I mostly just wear vintage flea market slips! But I do love to support my friends who have their own indie clothing and accessory lines, like Jessica Louise (www.jessicalouise.com) and Cutie Dynamite (cutiedynamite.etsy.com).

<What inspires your colors for Sugarpill?
I love obnoxiously bright colors that sparkle and shine in dark clubs! No subtlety here.

How do you pick names for your colors (because that just sounds like fun!)
Whenever I think of or hear a word that I like, I write it down on this giant master list I have on my computer. Then when it’s time to come up with color names, I pull up the master list and start mixing and matching a bunch of the words together. I am also a super nerdy bird enthusiast and love to name colors after birds. And my cats!

The usual Questions
Who are you?
I am a crazy cat lady and the owner of Sugarpill Cosmetics and Shrinkle clothing!

Describe your family: I’m the youngest of 3 girls, no brothers. We all live within an hour of each other, so we see each other quite frequently. I am really close with my sisters and we share all our secrets. My parents are pretty cool too, although I don’t really tell them anything. But I think my mom already knows all the scary details about my life because I found my Twitter and blog bookmarked on her computer. My mom is also my favorite shopping buddy. We love to hit up the senior discount days at Ross and Savers! My dad is awesome and can beat anyone at tennis, even competitors half his age!

What does the first hour of your day look like? I usually wake up covered in warm purring cats, so I’m a slow waker upper. I spend the first hour of my day laying in bed with my cats, reading my emails.

The last hour? I answer work emails until I can’t keep my eyes open anymore, then I pass out!

What makes you feel successful? I am terrible at keeping track of my finances, so unlike most people I’m unable to gauge my success with dollar signs. I guess I feel successful when the people around me are happy. Whether it’s my customers, my friends, or my family. It means I’m doing something right if people around me aren’t complaining, haha!

What brings you joy? Sewing, being around animals, cuddling with the boyfriend, and discovering super amazing vegan food even though I’m not vegan.

What women do you admire? I love and adore all of my female friends. They are adventurous, creative, talented, funny ladies who inspire me!

What do you like best about your closest friend? That we’ve been best friends since the 3rd grade, know each other’s flaws inside and out, and still like each other! Also, we’re so over impressing each other. We are the hugest scrubs when we hang out!

What do you like best about yourself? I can finish a foot long burrito in less than 10 minutes! It’s 100% true, I have witnesses.

What advice would you give boys about girls? Just because girls are more independent now than in the past, it doesn’t mean you should stop doing nice things like holding doors open for us or offering to carry heavy objects if we’re obviously struggling with it. Common courtesy and gentlemanliness never go out of style!

How do you overcome adversity? I’m an optimist! Whenever things look shitty, I remind myself that it can only go uphill from there. Wait it out, it will always get better!

How do you want to be remembered? I hope people remember me as someone who was happy and made others feel good about themselves.

Find Shrinkle and Sugarpill Cosmetics on Facebook and follow for updates on new product, and just to have pretty pictures pop up in your feed now and then.