Happy New Soap Day

Today is one of my favorite days: new soap day.  You can look for it on your calendar, but you won’t find it because new soap day isn’t planned.  It  begins with anticipation as the soap in the shower becomes a sliver and one day slips right down the drain: the soap fish swimming to freedom is the harbinger of new soap day!

Remember the last time I featured this bathtub in my blog?  Much scarier!

This time the tiny soap disappeared on a Wednesday morning which meant I got to look forward to new soap day for two full days- exercise and the start of soccer season means I don’t shower on Thursday.  It’s been a crazy week filled with moving everything out of our basement to allow for upgraded wiring, presentations at work, the aforementioned beginning of soccer, and the normal ebbs and flows of balancing work and life.  Having a little celebration was a gift at the end of a hectic week.

My sad, blurry, empty basement.

New soap day isn’t a holiday that everyone celebrates, in fact I may be the only participant.  The soap day festivities begin with opening the medicine cabinet and evaluating all of the odorous soap options, which I love, but may be overwhelming to the more casual soap user.  This morning I had handmade, Zum, and pre de Provence soaps to select from – options from Colorado, Missouri, and France.  I had hoped for a bar of Saje, but I must have used my last bar of my favorite Canadian soap this winter.  (I may further celebrate soap day by placing an order, but that would be an atypical deviation from the normal soap day.)  I sorted through my piles of soap sniffing and touching to find the bar that spoke to me.  I selected a round bar of mint Zum soap because of the shape, the minty ambiance and the festive bow left over from Christmas.

I hope that you have your own celebration this weekend, whether it’s wine day, latte day, moonlit walk night, or extra long shower morning.  Me, I’m going to scrub up and head out for my gold party tomorrow.  I think mint goes well with gold, don’t you?  That kind of foresight is key to the successful end of soap day!

The troll mirror 

Remember the magic mirror at work?  The one that makes this aging wrinkling expanding lady feel a little bit pretty?  Well, I found its evil cousin this week.

Prior to the beginning of my two-day meeting I used the public restroom at the Residence Inn hosting us.  After washing my hands I went to check that my dress wasn’t tucked into my tights.  There before me was a fat squat version of myself.  I gasped and checked to see if I had an evil ugly twin sister standing behind me, but no, this reflected troll was me!  I raced out in horror, but did check to see if my troll underware was showing before I fled.

It was a scarring experience, but I am brave so immediately told a friend, “I am either a hideous troll person or the mirror in that bathroom is horrible.”  She is brave too and went to investigate.  Thankfully she also reflected a squat version of herself.  (Well, I was thankful anyway.  I don’t think she was.)

For two days I warned all the women at the meeting with whom I had even a passing relationship.  Why?  Because this was one of those dress-up meetings.  A meeting where you try on your outfits at home before you pack, and bring coordinated accessories.  A meeting where you check a bag because you want your full sized products.  It wasn’t a beauty pageant or a meeting about how we looked, but it was a business meeting with posturing and politics and one of our female weapons is looking good. Nothing can diminish that power like the fear that our carefully prepared shell is ugly.  No one else deserved the self-esteem hit I took.

Something magical happened with the sharing.  The mirror became a joke, “the troll mirror.”  A joke shared only between the women of the group.  The men heard about the horror, but claimed they had no portal to the bizarro world in their bathroom.  We would laugh with each other in the restroom as our features gently expanded, stretched and shrunk if we moved in front of the mirror.  We all celebrated that we didn’t really look like that.

In the sharing of our secret worries about how we look and our insecurities we grew closer. The inside joke will make us evaluate mirrors at future meetings.  The experience made me bolder at the meeting: more willing to ask hard questions and risk embarrassment.  The troll mirror had a different kind of magic then my office mirror.

In the end, it made me really brave.  Brave enough to take a troll picture of myself and post it on my blog.  In my hipster troll outfit of jeans and my winter coat the effect is diminished, but not entirely.  I am not this squat.

Oh, and the sunglasses I have on?  Those are my rose colored glasses.  So while I might look hideous, the colors were bright and beautiful to my eyes.  Tomorrow I’ve got to get a picture of myself in the work magic mirror in the magic sunglasses to heal my self image.

Rose Colored Glasses

My friends and family who know me best know that I have two really big fears in life: broken glass, and my lack of self awareness.  The glass fear is just a normal fear, but the lack of self awareness fear impacts every aspect of my life.

We all know someone who thinks they are the most important person on every project they are on, while everyone else is cleaning up the messes they leave behind.  We all know people who think that everyone likes them because they are always the center of every social situation, when really they just push themselves to the center and refuse to give up the position even if others roll their eyes behind their back.

I am terrified of being that person.  I am terrified of not seeing the world as it truly is.  I am terrified of thinking I am smart, talented, attractive, funny, good at my job, a good writer, whatever, when everyone around me exchanges knowing glances.  I am not an extrinsically motivated person.  I do not need others to tell me my worth.  I am an intrinsically motivated person who is afraid that her internal compass is completely out of whack.  Every time I hear someone confidently exclaim their talent I cringe a little.  Not because I don’t agree with them, but because I would never be so bold.

Two things have happened recently that have made me doubt my fears: a mirror at work and some new sunglasses.

There is a mirror in the women’s bathroom at work.  It is a large mirror, almost floor to ceiling, and it is wide.  I think the proportions may have something to do with it’s magic.  I, like most people, am not getting more attractive as I age.  My middle is getting thicker.  My face is getting wrinkles and rounder.  My posture is stooping a bit.  I dress to hide my flaws, but I am not the woman I was twenty years ago, or ten, or five.  However, I am always amazed by my image in this magical mirror.  I don’t look skinny, but I don’t look fat.  I don’t look young, but I don’t look old.  I really look like the best version of me in that mirror.  It might be the light, it might be the mirror or…maybe I really look like that?  Is it bad to think that I really look like that?  Is it bad to think that maybe the mean mirror in my bedroom is the flawed one and what other’s see when I walk around is the work bathroom mirror lady?

My new sunglasses have a rose tint.  They are cute sunglasses, and I do love wearing sunglasses.  My contacts stay dirt free, my sensitive eyes don’t squint, and I have a face that works in sunglasses.  (Oh, that last part was so bold.  Someone is saying, I’ve seen you in sunglasses and…well….I hate to tell you…)  That said, these new sunglasses are extra special because they make the world more beautiful.  They have a rose tint, and when I wear these sunglasses the sky is a blue I’ve never seen before.  It’s darker and deeper than the normal sky and the contrast of the clouds is beautiful.  Any orange or red colored flower or leaf pops with a brightness that is dazzling.  The world is bright and different when I wear these sunglasses.  It’s not how the world really looks, but it is pretty and it makes me happy.  Rose colored glasses really do make the world better.

It’s a slippery slope this false attractive version of the world.  Pretty soon I’ll be waltzing into meetings in too-small hot pants and my sunglasses and proclaiming that I am the smartest person in the room.  If I appreciate the work mirror me and the brilliant orange flowers offset by the deep blue sky, where does it stop?  Or, am I building self awareness appreciating the beauty of the sunglass mirror world, but not accepting it as truth?

Wait a second.  I’ve never looked at myself in the work mirror with my sunglasses on!  Gasp!  What a vision I will be.  I need to go plan my outfit appropriately.  I need something red or orange….and something sky blue.  Maybe hot pants?