What Does Lemon Luster MEan ANyway? I Get This Question A Lot.

To truly have a zest for life, you must squeeze all the juice out of it….especially the lemons. Believe it or not, they make life even more delicious. The lessons you get out of them make you strong, resilient, and amazing. – Jenny G. Perry

On a trip to Nashville recently with a group of some of my very best friends. A young bride to be on her bachelorette party placed her veil in my hair. I jumped around in it for fun. But really I just felt so much joy being with beautiful and remarkable friends in a fun city on a gorgeous day. I always want to feel that joy and kick up my heels! It’s the epitome of what Lemon Luster is about.

I get this question all the time. What is a Lemon Luster, Why Lemon Luster….so many variations of questioning. Here is the short answer: all of the other names I wanted were taken. Of course, there is more to the story and here it is.

I hit menopause, went through a divorce, and my kids were in high school on their way to starting their own lives. My identity seemed unknown all of sudden. I felt old, nothing I used on my skin or hair was working anymore, I needed to start over in a career, and I wasn’t sure how to approach any of it. If all that doesn’t read like a mess imagine what was in my head.

I was talking to my mom one day about a piece of old furniture I have that is scratched and absolutely lusterless. It’s an antique from my grandmother. It just needed a good polishing to renew its shine and splendor. Cute Judy, my mom, went on and on about this lemon oil polish that she would bring over and we would give it new life and luster. Lightbulb!  I needed to bathe in the lemon luster oil polish. And that my friends became the name of my blog.

If you too are in a similar situation, here is the equation:

Cute Judy + lemon polish + aging + new shine + menopause + dry hair + new purpose = Lemon Luster

So really Lemon Luster is about being our best and thinking the best about ourselves. As well, being a source of light and love for others. With kids about to fly the coop I’m still wondering “now what”. I don’t have the answers but when I come up with something good, I’ll write about it. And if you think of something please let me know! We will figure this out together. This blog is like a virtual porch. Pour a glass of something good and come sit a spell.

Lemons really are one of my favorite things. Here’s a short list why:

  1. I love yellow. It is the happiest color on earth. Lemon yellow just evokes happy.
  2. I love lemons in everything – I can flavor my drink, add the zest to whatever I’m cooking, and then run that sucker around the sink to clean it with the same lemon. MULTI TASKING!!
  3. Lemons are healthy.
  4. Lemons symbolize shine, a refresh, zest for life.
  5. They smell good.

And that is the story behind Lemon Luster. I have more stories – about how I have started over and grown a career, turned dry as desert hair to lustrous once again – it took a while, and how I finally feel comfortable in my own skin. I’ll share. To me, middle-aged with an almost empty nest just means I’m walking through a new door to see what’s on the other side. It’s going to be good!

2022 – Grace carried me here and by grace I will carry on

Grace is the voice that calls us to change and then gives us the power to pull it off.

– Max Lucado

It’s a new year and like everyone else I’m thinking about my resolutions or intentions again. I’m also thinking about what didn’t go right last year. I gained weight. I exercised all of three times. Ok maybe 10 times. Maybe. Unless vacuuming counts and then I exercised when the dog went through shedding spurts. I let politics and COVID make me angry and stressed. I didn’t write like I said I would. I also held grudges that should have been long, long gone and forgiven. And now I’m dragging it all into 2022 telling myself not to mess up like I did last year. That is not very encouraging. Don’t Mess Up Like You Did Last Year. When did I get so negative? How about – let go of the past and look forward to a new year. My favorite word is grace and I seem to have forgotten what it means and the importance of giving it to myself and others.

The beauty and signature of God’s grace is that he does not give up on us – even when we give up on ourselves. So my priority this year is living a life full of grace. Aging gracefully and not just through fitness and serums. Aging gracefully also means being a kinder person knowing more about how life polishes us. Kind of like old rocks in a river that have been washed over and over to perfect smoothness. A better understanding of how people feel, who they are and exuding more compassion.

It’s easy to get caught up in competition with others or slip back into bad habits that aren’t healthy. It’s worse to beat ourselves up over it. Put it in the past and forgive yourself. Start over. Grace allows us a fresh new life which is not condemned by God. Through God’s grace we are forgiven which should change our way of thinking, renewing our mind and heart.

According to western Christian theology, God gives grace to us because He wants us to have it – and not because we have earned it. It’s like power for us to do what we can’t do for ourselves. In Corinthians, God says to Paul, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Paul asked God three separate times to remove his thorn in the flesh. I don’t know what the thorn was, but it was troubling, and Paul didn’t believe he could rid himself of it on his own. But God said he could. I know what my thorns are and I’m sure anyone reading this has their thorns. Regardless of what they are or how bad or different, God’s grace is sufficient for us too and His power is made perfect in weakness.

Grace is my intention. Diet, exercise and other goals won’t help if my mental state is not clear of my burdens. No more dwelling. More faith, more grace to ourselves and others. I love this quote by Brené Brown, “Grace means that all of your mistakes now serve a purpose instead of serving shame.”

Happy New Year! Now go drink your two liters of water, hit the gym, write your book, eat more veggies, start your own business or whatever else you think your intentions or goals should be. But resolve to show yourself grace.

Here’s to a year more successful and better than ever simply by receiving and giving GRACE!

“For grace is given not because we have done good works, but in order that we may be able to do them.” – Saint Augustine of Hippo

What I have Learned From COVID-19

Life has handed us lemons this year. So I’ve squeezed them into cocktails, made divine lemon roasted chicken, and made my sink disposal smell like a lemon grove. Ha! Take that 2020!

– Me showing life who the boss is around here.

I’ve enjoyed reading about what others have learned from the pandemic. We’ve all gained something from it and much is with a silver lining. Certainly it goes without saying that COVID-19 is serious and the virus has caused much grief for so many. Humor and family always get me through tough times though! I have stayed sane laughing at ridiculous memes, the funny lessons learned from being stuck at home, and getting back to a simpler life where what matters the most is under your roof.

So here is what I’ve learned during COVID-19:

  1. I can eat an entire bag of Veggie Straws and not feel sick.
  2. My hair must be washed after four days. That’s the limit.
  3. My pajamas that I lived in for a while must be washed after four days. That’s the limit.
  4. Wearing a mask means it’s ok to talk to myself out loud in the grocery store.
  5. The 19 part represents the potential number of pounds you might gain.
  6. How much value people place on toilet paper. Should be distributed by the U.S Mint and priced like silver and gold.
  7. What six feet actually looks like thanks to the blue tape in stores. I have no spatial awareness and my guess would have been inaccurate and more like 10 feet.  We’d be lined up wall to wall in the store.
  8. I don’t like the word “unprecedented” anymore.
  9. People have VERY strong opinions.
  10. The importance of remembering manners and grace after reading opinions that differ from your own.
  11. If I wake up and can smell and taste my coffee I’m doing pretty good!
  12. Family and friends are everything.
  13. I’m a hugger.
  14. I make really good cocktails and elderflower and rose are delicious with gin.
  15. If I have lemons, flour, milk, eggs and cheese I can pretty much make anything into a meal.
  16. I don’t have to always go somewhere.
  17. How exhausting my life was. 
  18. How many people are medical experts with a side hustle as a politician! I am so impressed.
  19. What some people call prepping for a pandemic is also called hoarding.
  20. It is now necessary to announce to a group of people that you have allergies and try to convince them that if you sneeze no one will get COVID.
  21. It is now necessary that if you have allergies and might sneeze among a group of people that you might just want to stay home.
  22. The importance of supporting local small business owners. Shop small local businesses! 
  23. How popular puzzles are. I felt like I needed to run to Target to get one, slap half of it together, call the kids down to smile around it for a pic and post it on Facebook. “Look at us…..doing a puzzle! Together!”
  24. Nature and being outside is essential. Our country is beautiful!
  25. Not to take anything for granted. Be grateful for health, love, home, work, and each other!
Beaver Lake in Eureka Springs, Arkansas – A reminder of how beautiful our country is and that if you have love from those you love….you have everything.

This Too Shall Pass. Until Then……

“We fall into despair when the terrible gangs up on us and we forget the world can also be wonderful. We just see terrible everywhere we look. So what you do for your friend is you bring up the wonderful, so both are side by side. The world is terrible and wonderful at the same time. One doesn’t negate the other, but the wonderful keeps us in the game.”   – Catherine Ryan Hyde, Have You Seen Luis Velez?

How cute is this? Two little girls in my mom’s neighborhood painted and placed these on everyone’s driveway with a different word of hope for each family.

Keep making lemonade! I keep reading posts and articles right now about making lemonade out of the lemons being thrown at us right now. There is so much that is positive out there and people coming together….six feet apart and separated by phone screens and monitors of course. I do feel so much closer to people from so far away. Do you? All the references to lemons make me smile right now. Lemons are a symbol of well-being and positive surroundings. I don’t know about you but I could really use that right now! The stock market is down and the number on my bathroom scale is up. Shelter in place is in effect for the county in which I live. Oh, and the governor in the fine state of Georgia closed school for the rest of the year. It’s necessary I know. My kids miss their classes, teachers and friends. You don’t know what you have until it’s gone. The number on my bathroom scale is up. Did I mention that already? I think I did.

I have so many questions. Such as…..

  1. Can I get pulled over just driving to the grocery store? I don’t think I would have a problem if I did. One look at my crazed eyes, an ungroomed dirty dog in the back seat and two kids with home given haircuts should get us waved right on.

2. Are other people changing out of daytime pajamas to put on nighttime pajamas when it gets kind of dark? Asking for a friend.

3. Who is staying awake at night worried sick about loved ones getting sick? And keeping jobs and finances intact? Anyone else? I think I already know the answer.

Worries will continue but so will so many good things and lessons we take away from all of this. I see on Facebook and hear from so many about how it’s brought their families back to the kitchen table for dinner each night. I have always insisted on family dinner at the table but sometimes it was a snack at 9:30 after lacrosse practice and we were too tired to really talk. Now we have dinner every night together and talk, walk the dog around the neighborhood (not a rushed somebody please take that poor dog out right now plea), play tennis, cards (we are trying to learn to play poker – $1 buy-in), or just sit and watch television. Together.  It’s not perfect….we bicker, I try to cheat at cards, ghastly inappropriate things are expelled from both kids at the dinner table, I get mad and then laugh. Because I don’t care what anyone says – a fart is funny. And they work so hard at it and we should celebrate everyone’s God given talents during this difficult time.

I have friends making masks, inspirational jewelry with sweet messages to send to those who need it, dropping off desserts, cards, anything to help lift spirits. There was a drive-by birthday celebration for a neighbor in my neighborhood. Singing happy birthday out of the windows of cars. It brought joy to the entire street! My daughter and I went to a very large parking lot, sat six feet apart from dear friends and celebrated a 16th birthday. There were less than 10 people congregating. It was simple – balloons, bubbles, and singing happy birthday. It was awesome! I received this beautiful package on my doorstep. Lemons of course! With lemon macarons – I’ll share the recipe.

We are all in it together! I read this on LinkedIn from businesses, Facebook from friends, and tell my kids that. We will get through this together. From six feet apart, through FaceTime, Zoom, prayer, texts, funny memes, etc…. The memes! Hilarious videos and memes that I love sending to friends. We all need a laugh! Anyone have a favorite? Here’s a few of mine. Share yours in comments. Please!!!

So stand on that blue tape in the grocery store, wash your hands, stay home and I hope you all feel more connected than ever before. Life is precious and I don’t know many who aren’t waking up each day grateful for what they have right now. Our time with our children and loved ones is precious too. We will look back and remember when we had to stay home, play games, and just come together. That’s what I’ll remember about this when it’s over. How we all got through it together.

I can’t sew masks and I don’t make jewelry. I have never been a crafty person. But I love telling stories, writing and cooking. So that’s what I’m going to do! I have made delicious dinners that my kids have actually liked and I’m trying to compile recipes. I have to take time to write them down because I cook without them and I’ll share them soon. I think we all could use easy recipes right now and I hear people are running out of dinner inspiration. I’ll share mine!

I hope you’ll check back for stories, recipes and whatever else I come up with. It’s the least I can do to help us all get through this…..together!

Thanksgiving! Giving Thanks For The Good, The Bad and The Ugly.

“And now, dear Mr. Worthing, I will not intrude any longer into a house of sorrow. I would merely beg you not to be too much bowed down by grief. What seem to us bitter trials are often blessings in disguise.” ― Oscar Wilde, The Importance of Being Earnest

This is the time of the year when I turn into a mushy ever flowing fountain of feelings. Anyone who runs into me during the season of thankfulness and merry everything knows they will have to endure listening to me tell them how thankful I am for their friendship and all the love in my heart. I can’t help it! It’s how God made me! My children walk in wide arcs around me avoiding arms reach. As my daughter says, “You’re so extra, mom.” Extra cool! I’m pretty sure that’s what she really means.

I am literally thankful for every little thing including the misfortunes. In fact, it is misfortune that led me to some of my greatest blessings. Blessings have come into my life that changed me in ways I cannot even describe. Let me tell you that you never know when something amazing will come into your life. Call it a prayer answered, a miracle, blessing, whatever you want. Just don’t stop believing. Hold on to the feeling. Ha! Tell me you don’t have this song in your head right now.

So many people have this thought that if something hasn’t come into their lives at a certain point, it never will. There is a chance that this is true – but there is also a chance that it could happen. I am thankful for so many things especially my children and my family. My amazing boyfriend Kevin is included when I say family. I have the most supportive and loving friends I love with all my heart. I’m always thankful for these people and even though that’s a given, I still make sure to say it out loud. Over and over. So, along with giving thanks for the amazing people in my life, I am also giving thanks that it’s never too late in life to start over. And on top of that for all of the bad things I’ve endured as well.

I have found that no matter my age life experiences are still unfolding. Not wrapping up. Just because my children are wrapping up childhood (weep! weep! weep!) and soon starting their lives out of the nest doesn’t mean that anything comes to an end for me. It’s a beginning. I’m thankful women at any age can start a new career, new relationship, new beginnings with anything!

I am thankful for closed doors. I am thankful for the things that didn’t work out even if they made me desperately sad. For whatever reason, certain things just weren’t meant to be in my life. As a result, other things, blessings for sure, came into my life. Some I worked hard for, searched for and others just fell into my lap.

I think it’s really important to be thankful for things we sometimes don’t even realize we have been given. Hardships, failures, missed opportunities, a bad day, any inconvenience that led you to something better. I have heard that good things fall apart so better things can fall together. Things happen out of our control and we have to trust that everything happens for a reason. Although, I will say that I can’t think of a reason that makes sense for losing friends at a young age. I know several who have lost their children. The lesson and reasoning will never be clear to me. All I can do is be grateful for the short time they touched my life and remember that life is a gift not to take for granted.

In this season of thankfulness, I am grateful for the good, the bad and the ugly. They all shape who I am, what I have, and the people who are in my life. I wouldn’t change a thing. And for that feeling, I am thankful.

50 Things I Finally Know Now That I’m Almost 50.

The first 50 years of childhood are always the hardest.  – Unknown

I don’t feel old. I think aging has taken on a whole new meaning and you are only as old as you feel. It’s very liberating to turn 50 and look back at all the things that happened that have shaped me into who I am today. All of those lessons, good and bad, have led me to choices I have made. These choices are helping me make my dreams a reality to create a new chapter in my story. I have learned a lot about who I am and what I like. The best part….I don’t care what anyone else thinks. That’s the gift you get when you turn 50!

Here’s my list of 50 things I know for sure as I turn 50:

1.I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and doggone it, people like me. Thank you Stuart Smalley. I know you said it back in 1992 and I should have listened but I was dumb then. I miss the muscle tone I had in my legs when I was 22, but not the low self-esteem, over-thinking, and anxiety I had trying to figure out the realities in life.

2. The grass is always greener over the septic tank. Oh Erma. Read one of Erma Bombeck’s books! She is so very funny and her words make me think about what I take for granted. I don’t want to be in competition with anyone and I just want to be happy for the Jones family. You know, those people we all try to keep up with. I am content. It’s taken me 50 years to say that.

3. I will never interview well at Hooters and that’s ok. I don’t have what it takes if you know what I mean. I’m over it. I’m going to love my body as it is. We know we are getting older but it’s like our bodies want to make sure we are aware. My body: Oh hey! Down here! I know I used to be perky up there but I’ve moved! Yep. These are your new knees now. We have folds! I’ve decided that if my knee skin and other areas can shift around then my perceptions can, too. I’m going to be kinder and more accepting to myself.

4. Growing older is a privilege.

5. It’s not scary to put yourself out there. Would I have started a blog when I was 25? No! My instructions for my written thoughts were adamantly told to my sister, “Crawl under my bed and burn everything you find under there.” Try new things, take risks, and don’t be afraid to fail.

6. I can’t rock a Dorothy Hamill haircut. Or a Anna Wintour bob. I have tried both and I looked like Little Boy Blue. I know this now. Stick to what works. Long straight hair it is.

7. Who my people are. Carefully choose who gets your time and heart. Choose those who are beautiful on the inside who let their light shine out. Bask in their glow and give it back!

8. I’m not a runner. That’s all I have to say about that.

9. I don’t like beer. I’m not going to pretend I think it’s good anymore. It’s the beer. It’s definitely not me.

10. There is no shame in asking for help. Never suffer alone. Too many people are willing to listen and help.

11. It really is better to give then receive.

12. I’ll never like quinoa and I won’t die if I don’t eat it. Blech.

13. I’ll never like kale and I won’t die if I don’t eat it. Blech.

14. Sunscreen really is important. Not sure? Come over and I’ll show you my neck. My dermatologist:  “Ummmmm, not much I can do there. Should’ve worn sunscreen.”

15. I like being over-dressed. You wear your cut-off jorts and be happy. I’ll wear my dress and be equally happy. And style has no age.   

16. You can’t say I love you enough.

17. My mom was right. That’s all I have to say about that.

18. Use the good china every day. My grandmother gave me at least three sets of china. They were all to be used every day she said. What good are things if they are hidden away and kept for a special occasion she said. Every day is a special occasion. Wear your good jewelry. Use your china. Eat in the dining room even if it’s not Easter, or Christmas, or Thanksgiving. What are you saving it for?

19. Fear of missing out is a waste of time. Want to stay in? Didn’t get an invite somewhere? So what! Stop sulking, put the phone down and resist false comparisons. Be where you are and enjoy every minute of it. JOMO. Joy of missing out. It’s a thing now.

20. My humor is off-color, inappropriate at times, and some people don’t like it. I’m not sorry. It’s who I am. A fart in church is funny I don’t care who you are.

21. Life really is too short to drink bad coffee.

22. Life is not too short to drink bad wine. Bad wine is better than no wine. And if all that is available is just so-so wine I’ll drink it and be thankful for it. This does not apply to coffee. This is my list. If it doesn’t make sense to you then you make your own list.

23. You can make dreams come true. By doing. Not dreaming.

24. Anxiety and stress is normal. Figuring out how to handle it and manage it for a healthy, happy life is hard but can be done.

25. I know so little. There is still so much to learn and know. I used to think I knew most everything. Because when you’re between the ages of 5 and 29 you just do and you make sure everyone knows it. Now I keep my mouth shut (well, more than I used to anyway) and listen.

26. It’s ok to say no.

27. Pay yourself first. Allocate money to savings, time to yourself, and schedule things that bring you joy FIRST, instead of trying to fit these things in if there’s time or anything left at the end.

28. My kids are going to be all right. Even if they fail at something, get their feelings hurt, don’t get into their dream college, are rejected by who they thought were their friends, get a bad grade, are sad when things don’t work out, etc…….my kids are going to be all right.

29. It’s ok to have 15-20 bottles of perfume and you don’t have to use one up before you buy another. Because I said so.

30. It’s ok to have 15-20 lipsticks / glosses and you don’t have to use one up before you buy another. Because I said so.

31. I don’t have to wear jeans to work on Friday just because it’s casual Friday. I’m wearing the cutest dress I own on a Friday. Unless it’s January. And then I’m wearing jeans. Unless it’s over 55 degrees. Then I might wear a dress and boots. Wear what you want!

32. Friends might not stay your friends. It’s always hurtful when someone decides they don’t want to hang out with you anymore. It happens to all of us throughout our lives and not just in third grade. Sometimes they come back and you pick up just where you left off. Sometimes it just ends. Always be thankful for that friendship and remember it fondly.

33. It’s not too late…..for anything. Ambition, creativity and growth are lifelong journeys.

34. I have the power to shape my future. I am not a victim of any circumstance. Regardless of what happens, the power to change is up to me.

35. Marie Kondo, a capsule wardrobe and minimal anything is not for me. Stay true to who you are. Don’t throw anything out that you will want back. That’s what storage boxes, shelves and bins are for. Don’t be a hoarder either. That’s bad.

36. Quality beats quantity.

37. Learn from the past. Don’t live in the past. Be present here and now.

38. What grace really means. Show grace, be gracious and forgive with grace.

39. My problems are not the worst. Neither are yours. I know now that if I saw everyone else’s problems laid out on the floor along with mine, I’d likely grab mine and run.

40. Everything can be figured out and there is a solution for everything. You may not like what it is but no one is stuck.

41. Yield. Pause. Breathe. Passing time allows for so much to take care of itself and lends clarity for how to easily approach anything.

42. I haven’t had my best days yet. I just think I have! I’ll have this on repeat on my 50th birthday. Say it over and over.

43. Money is crucial but health is the real wealth. I can always make more money, but once health is gone…..it’s gone. Exercise, water, sleep and good nutrition.

44. You can wear white after Labor Day. Open toed shoes, too. Do it! I dare you. Break all the rules.

45. There are no rules in dating. Single women – you can call first, text first, message first and even *gasp* suggest a date first. Make your own rules that fit your personality.

46. Good things may be gone for those who wait. If you want something – go get it! Make it happen! Now go!

47. The senior discount is cool. I will ask for it loud and proud. Movie theater tickets are a gazillion dollars! I’m as old as dirt! Give me the discount!

48. Give more compliments. Now when I see someone in the store or out and about and think to myself “what a cute skirt, pretty hair, skin, blah blah blah” I don’t keep it to myself. I love hearing compliments – I’m so vain! Everybody does and it makes their day a little better.

49. Radiate positivity and let your light shine. Smile more. You will feel happier and it’s such a great feeling knowing those around you feel more at ease and happier because if it.

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50. Have a zest for life! We only get one so make it count!

Hello Fall! Goodbye Heart. And Happy New Year!

Life starts all over again when it gets crisp in the fall.  – Taken from The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Balloon Glow Festival before the start of school.

It really isn’t fall but my kids went back to school and back to school means it is fall in my book. However, it is 96 degrees in the middle of August, which is very much summer. What I mean to say is, Happy New Year! Yes, the heat has gotten to me but I can explain. Back to school feels more like New Year’s Day more than New Year’s Day sometimes. It’s a new beginning! A new school year means new notebooks, sharpened pencils, new clothes, a blank slate and a fresh start. We make goals and look ahead towards all things promising. I make new resolutions as summer turns to fall to make sure I finish the year strong. I ask my kids to make goals appropriate for the grade ahead of them. My son will be a junior and my daughter a sophomore in high school. Each school year I know my kids will change so much between the first day of school and the last. It’s so exciting and heartbreaking all at the same time. Let’s clarify – heartbreaking for me! I have a hard time letting go and loosening the apron strings.

My kids resolutions are typically the same – get good grades, not read any more than required (ughhh), try to not procrastinate, know where socks, shoes, keys, etc…are the night before vs. five minutes before walking out the door already five minutes late. Mine are very different every year because my kids are so different every year. On my list is to start the plan for college admissions for my son. It’s killing me. Because we are talking about college my other resolution involves being true to who we are and making decisions that are right for us – not comparing what others are doing and getting confused and caught up with what we THIINK we should be doing vs. what we KNOW we should be doing because it fits our circumstances. Our circumstances – not our friends, not what we think social media is telling us we should do, and not the rumor mill based on the perception of what is required to make it to college and be successful through adulthood.

My third resolution is to promise not to try to do everything. Balance is going to be my word and theme for the next 12 months.  While my high school kids may sometimes need a micromanager at times, it’s not the right tactic for their growth and my sanity. At 15 and almost 17, they need to figure out how to do things themselves and learn the hard way. I resolve to guide, support, continue to teach them life skills and maintain balance in our home. Did I mention college? College bound kids = stress = pressure. We are going to dial it down in our house so we can succeed. We have started some school years like race horses right out of the gate, overscheduled and with the message of “do your best” but unintentionally phrasing it more like get perfect scores, stay organized, take out the trash, have a great attitude, be social, and stay focused on the sports field. I have found we can’t do it all. Balance. More balance.

I used to compare my kids to others when they were toddlers and elementary aged based on whose kids were taller, shorter, lost their teeth first, their reading level and other things because I was worried about development. I constantly worried if I felt they were “behind” other children. Now I know better. Teachers and pediatricians told me not to compare – they all grow and develop differently and at their own pace. Did I listen? No. But, I remember what they said and now I know they were right. My daughter’s kindergarten teacher told me this after one teary discussion, “My boys were average students at best. They came home and played outside. We knew they would find their way. One is now a pilot and the other a doctor.” The message is this – we give our kids our love, support, and the tools they need to be great adults. They will take that and do exactly what fits best for them.

Now that mine are about to leave the nest in a few years I finally get it. Despite my worries, comparing, fretting, and over analyzing my kids have done exactly as they should. They have grown into who they were destined to be based on their own interests and mindset. Now my attention is turned inwards. I also take solace in talking to parents whose children have graduated from high school or college and are on their own. They don’t talk about AP courses or GPA’s. They tell me the college they are going to or graduated from and how everything worked out exactly how it should. Bumps in the road, delays, failures, successes, lessons – some of it expected and some surprises.  Not much advice just well wishes for the best of luck to all of us and most always this parting message, “It will work out just fine. You’ll see.”

So while my heart aches a lot, I also feel joy knowing that my kids are starting a new year with endless opportunity. I can’t wait to see where that leads them. I also feel like I am learning and building personally and professionally. I’m excited to start this new year along with my kids growing and moving towards the future.  

Cheers to a fresh start and infinite possibilities! I’d love to hear if you feel the same way and if the arrival of autumn has you making resolutions.

Think You Can’t Go Back To Work Because You Are Older? Stop That And Think Again!

A lot of people think it’s made up of a million perfect decisions and luck. But in reality, 90% of success is a combination of failures, picking yourself back up, persistence and HARD WORK. 

– Sara Blakely, Founder of Spanx

At work with my lucky lemon charm bracelet! Wearing things I love keeps me motivated.

I was a stay at home mom for 13 years and loved every minute. I am very thankful that I was able to have this time with my children and never felt that it interrupted my career. This time in my life gave me so much in return.  I went back to work when my son started middle school and my daughter was in the fifth grade. It seemed like the perfect time knowing they would not be home the majority of the day. My then husband had been laid off around that time and even though he was back to work, the idea that it could happen again weighed heavily. Did I return with the same job title and salary as I had 13 years prior? No. Not even close. Did I have the perfect career wardrobe ready to hit the streets? No. Not even close. Resume? No. LinkedIn profile? What? 

I was in my mid-40’s and had a “who is going to hire a middle aged woman in her 40’s” attitude. My mindset was focused on every obstacle in my way. So I did the only thing that made sense to me. I bought a lottery ticket. When that didn’t pan out I decided on plan B. Find my old resume and bring it back to life. Just finding my old resume felt like a huge step and I realized I needed to add and change very little. Taking that one baby step forward felt so productive and empowering. The lesson – just dive in. Start somewhere. Baby steps still move us forward.

If you are a woman 40+ needing or wanting to go back to work but feeling like I did – not so confident with no idea how to start – the best thing you can do is simply change your mindset. College tuition costs were in my near future. I ended up getting divorced making a substantial income crucial. Plus, people live longer, healthier lives that demand increased retirement and savings. The most important reason – the self-fulfillment and identity after spending many years taking care of others. I changed my attitude thinking about all of the benefits in store for ME.

The good news for us “older” women is that according to the Department of Labor, the population of working women over 55 has increased 4.2 percent to 17 million over the last year. This is compared to a 1.8 percent increase in employment for all women and a 3.3 percent gain for men over 55.

While I am sure you agree this is great news, maybe you are thinking what about that career gap? What about it? I proudly exclaimed that I made the decision to stay home with my kids. It was a plan that worked. In an interview, share how much you accomplished and how ready, excited and motivated you are to return to work. I added church volunteering, National Charity League, Girl Scout Leader, PTA roles and school volunteering on my resume. All of it was received well in interviews. It helped prove my point that older women returning to work are more mature, react well to challenges, make excellent mentors and know how to professionally communicate with people at all age levels.

I started back working for a local magazine selling advertising. I found the job online and applied. It was not my dream job but it was a reentry into the workforce. I was able to be home to meet the bus and it allowed for flexibility with the kids. It ended after the magazine was sold. I bounced around a bit, survived a lay-off and another very unhappy situation. Closed doors lead to new opportunities and now I have a job that I love. I’m career focused and enjoy being in the office around smart people who are inspiring. I started this blog thanks to the confidence I’ve achieved and what I have learned.

I have heard people tell me that I make it look so easy – being older, divorced, raising teens, and working a full-time job. I’m so lucky everything fell into place they say! I smile and say thank you! The truth? I made many mistakes, interviewed and was turned down countless times, and have had many hard days. Changing my attitude, persistence, and HARD WORK paid off. If I can do it, you can, too!

Here are a few suggestions that worked for me:

Resume and LinkedIn Profile: Write a strong one and focus on your skills, attributes and accomplishments. Include your strengths and what makes you successful. As I mentioned, I added church volunteering, Girl Scout Leader, National Charity League, PTA roles and school volunteering on my resume. I had people mention they loved that as it shows I have a strong moral character and work ethic.

Network:  Tell your friends! Talk to people. Let everyone know your plans and you’ll find that you learn something from almost everyone you talk to. LinkedIn is a must and an excellent way to find people in an area of interest. Once you connect you will eventually want to send them a direct message. Send a brief to the point message. The worst thing that will happen is that you won’t hear back. If you do hear back, ask for a few minutes on the phone or face to face to learn more about their career path, their take on the industry, and if they can help connect you to others.

Interviews: Don’t talk yourself out of going on one because it’s not the job you want. It’s interview experience! And who knows…maybe it’s different than what you thought and maybe you’ll change your mind. Regardless, go on as many interviews as you can. Understand your strengths and weaknesses and how you like to work. Do you like to collaborate with a team or work better alone? What was a challenge you overcame in a past job? What was one of your biggest success stories? Are you a strategic thinker? Knowing who you are and how you work will clarify a lot and help with interview questions.

Wardrobe and makeup: Feel good about yourself on an interview. If you know you look put together and are excited about your outfit, your confidence will soar. You don’t have to break the bank. I bought a few dresses that were professional and comfortable. I didn’t want to mess with skirts, pants, waistbands or matching blouses, belts, etc…when getting ready for an interview. One great dress and a pair of stylish, professional shoes was all I needed. Once I started working, I shopped sales at J. Crew, Banana Republic, Anthropologie and Nordstroms for clothes that I could wear to work and dress down for any occasion. I found dresses and other clothing on sale for less than $50 that were made well – don’t buy cheap clothing! Buy clothes that will last and save money. I still enjoy a bargain but I love to budget for a really great piece from Tory Burch, Ted Baker and I so love Stuart Weitzman and L.K. Bennett shoes. Get a job, save some money and reward your hard work from time to time!

My best advice? Don’t doubt yourself! Be fearless – and if you are scared, do it anyway. You will feel on top of the world after getting that first job offer! Good luck! I’d love to hear comments with suggestions and stories to inspire.

The reward at the end of the day? Being greeted by my biggest fan!

Shine On!

There are two ways of spreading light: to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it.  -Edith Wharton

POPULAR: Lemons are one of the most common fruits grown in Tasmania, but they are also a target for pests of all sorts.

I love lemons. They smell good and I can’t resist the vibrancy of the color yellow. It is the happiest color ever! Not only do lemons make me happy just looking at them, but I put them in everything from water to my delicious meatballs. Yes, meatballs.  I’ll share the recipe with you. It’s so good. If the color didn’t make me happy enough the smell makes me believe every little thing really is ok. That’s what this blog is about and why I called it Lemon Luster. Lemons are restorative and associated with cleansing. Not just to my sink that sparkles after I run a wedge around it to disinfect or an old piece of furniture that needs a lemon polish to restore it’s luster. Lemons restore our souls and well-being, too.  In fact, essential lemon oil is known to provide antioxidants to combat things determined to make us sick and grouchy. The mere fact that lemons can bring back shine and re-energize the spirit is why I have a bowl full in my kitchen all the time. I love that feeling I get when I see that happy yellow and smell that beautiful refreshing scent. I want what lemons give. I haven’t lost my shine, I just need to polish the tarnish to regain the luster once again. I’m on a mission to reinvent myself for the next half of my life. And it’s going to be good!

I’m in my middle years with many, many left ahead of me. I’ve raised two amazing kids who still need to be raised. They are 15 and 16 and I’m in a different mindset from the toddler and elementary years. They are enjoying looking ahead to their lives and what makes them happy. I’m trying to figure out where my life is now and what truly makes me happy. I want to shine from the inside out and make the most of every day. Curate my evolving style, enjoy my passion for cooking, and learn to take the lemons that life gives me and add vodka. Or make lemonade. Either one.

This blog is how, as an almost 50 year old woman, I go about doing just that. I’ll share life lessons that shaped where I’m at now. How I found my job that I love and never thought I’d have. Why I started a blog. Aren’t there enough already? How I shop, dress, and products I’ve discovered that has people stop me to ask where did you get that and why does your skin glow? Because I’ve stopped others to ask the same questions and I have read many blogs and pieced together what works for me at my age. I wear what I want and I don’t care if everyone else is wearing jeans or shorts. If I want to wear a skirt I’ll wear the skirt! And just smile when someone says “well, you’re all dressed up”.

Are you a mom with older kids or a women 40+ trying figure out what in the heck you do now? Has life thrown you lemons? Me, too. I have learned to squeeze all the juice out of each one to become stronger, resilient and shine! I’ll Take what comes my way and decide for myself what to do with it. Good things, bad things, surprises, heartache, blessings, you get the picture.

Join me and I promise you these things…..you will laugh (I’m funny and ridiculous things happen to me), you’ll learn all kinds of delicious ways to throw lemons in recipes and cocktails, and I’ll share all the products and clothing that has truly changed my life. There are a few lip glosses that if discontinued will cause me to throw a running, barking fit. Never heard of a running, barking fit? Stay with me. I’ll tell you all about it.

I don’t have all the answers, but I have some. Sure hope you have what I’m missing and will share your experiences and lessons learned that helped you pave your way.

Join me on a journey to find our best, most lustrous selves. Let’s shine on!

What You Put IN Your Body is More Important Than What You Put ON Your Body!

The first wealth is health. -Ralph Waldo Emerson

I am an absolute product junkie! I love pretty packaging and anything that smells good. If I could afford La Mer I would buy it and I’m sure I would be thrilled with the results. The truth is, though, you can spend as little or as much as you want and will obtain similar results. I haven’t splurged on La Mer but I have tried everything from Chanel to Lancome skin products and thought they made my skin feel and look fantastic. Glowy, soft and dewy. I’ve ran through the drugstore in a hurry and bought Cetaphil or Oil of Olay and was so pleased to see the same glow and dewy complexion. Many dermatologists I’ve visited have all recommended the same thing – Dove, Neutrogena, Oil of Olay, La Roche Posay. If I asked them if expensive skincare was ok they would say sure! But the truth is the simplest of products or brands found in any drugstore work just fine. It’s up to you what you want and can afford.

Not negotiable? What you put in your body and how much sleep you get. The right foods and water feed and nourish our skin and hair. Unhealthy eating and sleeping habits take a toll on our skin and hair and there isn’t a product out there that can fix poor nutrition. Beautiful skin and hair can be yours simply by eating fruits, vegetables, drinking water, and getting plenty of sleep. Not to mention more energized and focused.

There is a long list of brain foods that boost concentration, memory and our moods. They have even been linked to helping combat dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. At my age I know it’s not an option but a necessity. I also know to keep it clean and avoid unnecessary supplements and additives. Natural seasonings and fresh ingredients. Smoothies with very few ingredients. Fruit and ice. Maybe a little honey or yogurt.

I have researched online, asked nutritionists and my doctor how to feel better and lessen my anxiety. This is what they said – Good nutrition, exercise, water, sleep. Not one of them said expensive creams, supplements, juice cleansing, or fad diets. Feed your body and your mind. The results are beautiful from the inside out!

Here are my favorite brain foods that taste delicious and keep me looking good:

Blueberries – super brain food! I like it in my yogurt for breakfast.

Avocadoes – squeeze lime on it and call it guacamole. I love it on a salad or toast.

Spinach – in place of lettuce on burgers and sandwiches. Spinach salad with avocado is my favorite!

Cucumbers – in water, salads, alone. I love them!

Salmon – grilled, blackened, sauteed, baked. I love it so much alone or on top of a salad.

Dark chocolate – helps to de-stress and it’s so delicious. A small piece or two each day improves focus.

Nuts and seeds – almonds, pomegranate, pumpkin seeds, pecans, and sunflower seeds are my favorites to add to yogurt or sprinkle on a salad.

Green tea – add honey to make it extra good. I like a cup in the afternoon. My mornings are reserved for coffee!

PIneapple – 85% water and excellent for skin. I love them in smoothies with coconut and ice.

WATER – all caps. Alone or with lemon. Just drink it.

It’s not an effort. All can be purchased from any grocery store. Don’t let anyone tell you it’s expensive to eat healthy. It isn’t. Healthcare and doctor visits are expensive. Eat right, stay healthy to avoid falling ill from poor nutrition habits.

You glow girl!