Friday, September 27, 2013

Just My Friday Blog...

So... I wasn't really sure where to go with this blog tonight because my mind is on a million things other than a topic for my weekend blog, however I try to stay dedicated and on task so here I sit. When this happens, I typically do what I am doing right this very minute... I sit down put my fingers on the keys and just type whatever comes out. (look-out, this could get strange) Popcorn... the smell of it is filling the room right now; I was aching for a snack and although corn is something I try and stay away from, popcorn is still one of my favorite snacks. (Yummm) Rain... we have a lot of it during the summers in Florida, too much of it actually;  I find it ironic that it's really only the "sunshine state" during seasons when we would not expect as much sunshine. Pumpkins... they are everywhere! When in the world did everyone become so obsessed with anything pumpkin? Pumpkin latte's, pumpkin muffins, creamer, milkshakes, soap, lotion, facials, pedicures and the list goes on and on. I am seriously waiting for the day that they come out with a scratch n sniff pumpkin car to add to the craze. (Are people that gimmick happy?) I am just upset because if I carve one in Florida and sit it outside at night it will rot before Halloween because it's so hot outside. Halloween... it creeps me out and quite frankly is not the same without hay rides, bobbing for apples and sipping hot apple cider on a cool night. (Welcome to Florida) Christmas, they already have decorations out and it's not even October. Obamacare... I am tired of people that have no clue what it is or how it will affect them complaining about it. I wonder what they will say if once it goes into effect it actually benefits them or someone they know.Writing... something I love and it's looks like I will be doing a lot of it over the next year, because in addition to the book I am currently writing I just got hired by 2 celebrities to ghost write, so add that to my 2014 schedule. (How cool!) Ghostwriting... the hardest part is not being able to tell who you are writing for, especially when it's someone REALLY cool! Sleep... I feel like I need some although I have gotten more this week than I ever do. Makeup... my passion, transforming, life-changing, inspiring, beautiful, uplifting, motivating, creative, amazing and why I am spending my weekend in Orlando. Children... something I am very grateful to have, even on the days they drive me crazy; life would be so boring without them. Love... something that many seek but have no clue what to do with it once they have it. Ending... something that always has to happen, something we anticipate, something that we sometimes look forward to yet other times we dread. Happy... a choice.

Welcome to my A.D.D. mind!
Have an amazing weekend whatever you end up doing.


Follow me on Facebook

Follow me on Twitter

Get a copy of my inspirational memoir 

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

It's Almost That Time Again...

As October quickly approaches, I am finding it hard to believe that my littlest peanut Abrielle aka, "Brie" will be celebrating her 4th birthday next month. My, oh my... how time does fly. I remember the day she was born like it was yesterday. She was born a month early and was the tiniest little munchkin I had ever held at a whopping 4.6lbs. I remember how anxious I was when I was told that I was being discharged before her because I wanted so badly to nurse her. Babies with Down syndrome typically have a hard time nursing but the benefits are needed even more, so I was determined to teach her how but I lived over an hour away. I was devastated because I knew if she began with a bottle, it would ruin her chances of learning to nurse and I would not be able to drive myself back and forth every 3 hours to feed her. This is when a nurse told me about the Ronald McDonald House. The chances were slim... because it is typically a place for more severe cases, but I plead my case and they agreed to allow me to stay for a week so that I could go to the NICU every 3 hours to nurse my daughter. I felt so lucky to have this perfect little girl whose only issue was that she had an extra chromosome and could not hold her body temp because she was so small, yet I also recall feeling guilty for taking up a space at this amazing facility that enabled mothers and father's who were fighting for their children's lives to stay close to their babies. I still remember some of those horrifying and sad stories; one mother lost her son while I was there and I sat with her at the dining room table and cried. As my week quickly went by, I told Abrielle every day that she had to hurry up and stay warm on her own so that Mommy could be with her, and every day she fought harder to do just that. One week after she was born, my little trooper stayed warm and we went home together; I was never a day without her. I knew at that moment, I had a fighter... and also how lucky I was to be taking my baby home.

As several of you know (and then there are those of you who have no clue,) every October I raise awareness for Down syndrome in honor of my daughter who carries 3 copies of  Chromosome 21. My oldest daughter and I began her Youtube awareness channel just two years ago in hopes of helping others who may be facing the same diagnosis realize that they will be blessed each and every day by these warm and loving smiles. Each year, on Abrielle's birthday (October 16th) we post a birthday video sharing photos and videos of her year of accomplishments and milestones; this year will be hard because she has had SO many!

However, this year in addition to her inspirational video, we will be doing something else and we will need your help. Without the Ronald McDonald house, I would not have been able to be with my monkey every day while she was kept in the hospital... this place is amazing and operates solely on the donations of others. With that being said, I will be hosting a donation page in honor of Abrielle's 4th birthday for the entire month of October... which is also officially Down syndrome Awareness Month. All proceeds will go directly to the Ronald McDonald House of Tampa, where I stayed for 7 days. I not only feel she was born a month early on purpose... I believe that I was supposed to do something with that.

Please watch for my special blog post on October 1st. I ask in advance for you to help us make October a month of giving to a wonderful cause in honor of the many lives that are lost while parent's hope for good news in this special house for the families of ill children by sharing this post as well as the one I will post on October 1st. Please, help us gain momentum before it even starts...

In honor of this upcoming cause, here is the very first inspirational video we ever posted on Abrielle's Youtube channel... 

click here to watch



Follow me on Facebook

Follow me on Twitter

Get a copy of my inspirational memoir 

Saturday, September 21, 2013

I Bought Him a Coke and Got a Smile

Yesterday ranked in my top 10 of all days; it was a day that left me with a cement smile and a wonderfully euphoric high even after only having 3 hours of sleep the night before. It began with 4 wonderfully creative hours with Randy Van Duinen and Lee Burgess, two of my photographer clients and Martin Gudz, President of the Florida Professional Photographers Association. It was an incredible day of photography magic and a ton of fun that ended with Martin being so impressed with my talents that he asked me to speak at next years photography convention. I was blown away and incredibly honored as I accepted the invitation.

When I arrived home, I kissed my kiddos and sat down to check my email. I received a message in my inbox that I had been waiting for. It revealed GREAT news about the new book which I am currently writing for photographers. This email was the game-changer of a lifetime and quite frankly... I can hardly believe it. Needless to say, the smiles and happy emotions were swirling around inside of me so strongly that it was beaming through my chest like a beacon in the night.

I quickly packed for a weekend trip to Orlando and left the house in terrific spirits. Little did I know that my quick stop at the bank would allow me to pass this feeling of joy on to someone in need, but it did. As I was waiting in the line for the drive up ATM to make my weekly after-hours deposit, I heard a man screaming angrily but could not see where it was coming from. As I turned my head around to see if I could figure it out I saw a disheveled young man... probably in his twenties frantically roaming the parking lot of the Walgreen's next door. He was randomly going up to people and as words were exchanged he would walk away shouting as he ran his hands through his sweaty hair. My initial thought was that he must be mentally disturbed and perhaps dangerous as I am sure many would have thought, but as I sat there listening to my favorite Christian radio station.. my thoughts quickly changed. After completing my transaction at the ATM, I drove towards this young man, now sitting with his head in his hands on the curb. I stopped, rolled down my window and asked if he was okay. He said, "Ma'am, I am just so hungry.... I have not had anything to eat in 3 days, and I have nowhere to stay." He was sweating profusely, as the heat outside was tremendous. I said... "I can't give you a place to stay, but what would you like to eat?" He smiled and said, if you could just get me a Coke... that would be great. I told him I would be right back.

I walked into Walgreen's and grabbed a Coke... then loaded up on various hearty snacks packed with protein such as nuts granola bars and checked out getting $10 cash back at the register. With a smile, I walked out of the store and walked right up to the young man as I said... "Nobody should go hungry, here are some snacks for you and also $10 for dinner, DON'T buy alcohol or drugs with this money do you hear me?" A smile came upon his face and a tear came to his eye as he said "Ma'am, thank you SO much, and don't worry, I will buy dinner, I promise." I looked him right in the eyes, smiled and said "you better not" and walked back to my car. A beautiful African American lady that witnessed my kind gesture looked at me as I got into my car and said... "May God bless you lady." I said back to her... "Thank you... He already has." When I looked in my rear view mirror, that young man was devouring what I bought him; and I was left with a whole new meaning to the phrase  Have a Coke and a Smile.

This is what I want you to take away....

 We have become a society that turns our back on our own people, I wonder how many people turned this guy down thinking what I had initially thought. My earlier years of struggle has not only changed who I am, it changed how I look at things and the situations of others. Maybe this guy was crazy... but if I don't eat for 8 hours I turn into a nut myself. 3 days without food? Can you EVEN imagine? I ask that you stop judging situations with a fearful eye; start looking at them with empathy and compassion and perhaps put yourself in that situation. My euphoria continued as I drove to Orlando and I felt something amazing stirring inside of me, I want you to feel that feeling too someday!

Have a GREAT weekend! It's time for me to make a bride and her maids beautiful!!!



Follow me on Facebook

Follow me on Twitter

Get a copy of my inspirational memoir 

Monday, September 16, 2013

Dedicating My Life....

As I sit here on a quiet Sunday night typing this blog post, a flood of emotions fill my heart as I glance back into my life over the last 39 years. I have so many things to be thankful for despite the fact that I have experienced grief, sadness, pain, confusion, anger, animosity, bitterness, hurt, fear; just about every emotion that many of us go through at some point in our lives. For some of you, traveling through these emotions may have been short and sweet; however in my life, I traveled extra long journey's through many of them with an emptiness inside that even I did not understand at the time. It wasn't until many, many, years later that I would find what would fill that spot.

When I was a little girl, about the age of 6 I think, I was baptized at a small Baptist Church in North Brookfield, Massachusetts.

I actually remember that night; I was dressed in a small white robe as I was escorted down some stairs into a water filled "bathtub" which hid behind the pulpit where Pastor Branham stood to deliver his biblical messages each week. I recall being a little scared but draw a blank beyond my toes hitting the water. What I do not know is whether or not I really understood what I was truly doing that night; I was young, and understanding that kind of commitment is a little much for a 6-year old to wrap their brain around.  However my family was very active in the church, and I went to a Christian school; I have many memories of attending both, including that of a boy named Dohrias that used to eat the candles from the birthday cake we would make for Jesus at church every Christmas season. (Lick the frosting... sure but EATING the candle? Weird!) Anyway....  being baptized was something we were taught to do. (Sorry... I got off track with that candle memory.)

Fast forward to 1981, when my sister Teresa was killed in a drunk driving accident; my family and everything around us...devastated. Years went by and as my world continued to crumble, I lost faith in God, my "protector" and eventually stopped believing in Him altogether; I did not feel protected. After losing my sister, moving away from the home I always knew, watching my brother lose total hope, my parents divorce...  I found myself asking "Where is this God I have learned about through all of this?"... my mind was made up, He was not real.

Fast forward again to 2006. I had been through many, many years of adversity, confusion, emptiness and grief, and as I may have mentioned in previous blogs, I was in a situation that involved one of my children and I had exhausted all of my efforts and still had no solution. I needed help, my Mom was with me and told me to give it to God. I chuckled knowing I had prayed all week long and he had not answered them but took her advice and yelled out asked for PROOF that their was some reality to this "man in the sky," I told him to "take it." Well... my life was changed for good in that moment, because my "situation" changed; literally overnight. (If you know me at all, you KNOW I don't make this stuff up.)

Since that night in 2006, I have been through a lot more adversity... more pain, more grief, more resentment and absolutely more confusion but one thing was different through it all. My faith was growing stronger and I was no longer carrying the weight of my load alone. Although as a child what I understood was that HE would "protect me" that did not mean that I would never feel pain, suffer from grief, or fall on my face. What it meant was that when I did... if I had Him in my heart, he could ease the blow and help me through. I get that now. There were times when I began to doubt, but I was quickly reminded of that night and that doubt was quickly replaced with hope. 

Then... 3 years ago as many of you know, I began writing my book during a very sad, confusing and scary time for me. I was honestly at my lowest low but I knew there was a plan for me so I pushed through the circumstances with FAITH on my shoulder. The turn-around in my life over the past three years has been nothing short of miraculous. As I think about it all, I am overcome with emotion because I never would have believed it if I had not lived it. 

Now... I am going to share something with you that I may not have ever shared before; I don't even think that I shared it in my book because I was saving the story for the sequel, however it is in my heart to share it in this post tonight. I have issues with commitment... I easily commit to things related to my career, my kids, or my immediate family... but I have had issues committing to people who I feel may hurt me based on remembering the pains of my past. I was so happy last night as I sat in Saturday night service at Grace Family Church; (the non-denomination church which I attend.) I had missed going for the last month with all my traveling and the moment I walked through those doors I felt a blanket of positive energy surround me as I always do. During the praise and worship portion of the service (my favorite) I was unexpectedly brought to tears during one of the songs as I was reminded what life for me had been like before I let this part of my past back into my life. It was then announced that this weekend was a baptism weekend and that they would be doing them in the courtyard after service. 

I laughed... feeling that I was being spoken to. I have been living my life to the beat of a different drum for the past several years, I have been "engaged" to my faith and life has been much easier and fulfilling because of it... but I had yet to make that final step and commit my life as an adult. I had not yet sealed the deal with a dunk in the water and a prayer; it was time, and this time I KNEW exactly what it meant. So... after service, totally off the cuff (Yep that's me) with no change of clothes (they gave me a shirt) I committed my life to the "Big Guy" by sealing the deal and saying YES! It was a long engagement but since I know this "marriage" will last for the rest of my life, I jumped in with both feet and didn't even care if I looked like a wet rat in front of everyone.

I am not really sure what the lesson for you will be as you let this post sink in; I am not one to push my opinions on others, I am just simply sharing "Another Day in the life of Shells" with you, as I always do; it's just another day, another story. I have always said the timing for everything is on purpose, it's the key, and to each his own. You will have to your live life the way it was intended for you, but you ... like me will have to figure out what that is. What I will say is that I hope you don't take as long as I did to understand what it is you are missing... whatever it is you are missing. 

Have a great Monday... a wonderful start to your week, and fill your life to the rim with positive people, positive things and positive reading. 



Follow me on Facebook

Follow me on Twitter

Get a copy of my inspirational memoir 

Friday, September 13, 2013

Short and Sweet

As the weekend starts I am feeling a little excited... for many reasons actually, but the main one is that I actually have the weekend off. (Well,sort of. I do have one quick hair client in the morning.) BUT for the first time in months I can relax, perhaps unpack my suitcases from Vegas and just CHILL; no rush... no plans and quite frankly, my body may not leave my pajamas this weekend.

I am tired... I have been going non-stop like the Energizer bunny since before I went to California a month ago and I am finally feeling it. It has HIT me and I need to settle down before my next round.

So, tonight's weekend blog is going to be a short and sweet reflection of this... I am going back to my writing roots for you tonight and breaking out the inner poet. At this very moment I have no clue what's going to transpire but here it goes.... (cracking my knuckles and letting it go)

The Hush...

In the wild nature of life 
I oft forget the moments of peace that I need to survive
So busy building a life, a future, a nest for my being... 
silence is forgotten.

Serenity is rare where hustle and bustle breeds, 
where living strong and living hard is a ride
So busy building a life, a future, a nest for my being... 
silence is forgotten

Quiet moments bring us peace, 
serenity, comfort, clarity.
So busy building life, a future, a nest for my being... 
silence is forgotten.

This is a reminder of this wonder, 
a thought provoking memory in my moment of downtime; 
I am weary
So busy building a life, a future, a nest for my being  

I will now enjoy the silence that was forgotten.

Have a safe, relaxing weekend!


Follow me on Facebook

Follow me on Twitter

Get a copy of my inspirational memoir 

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Photoshop World 2013 Las Vegas: Makeup, Family, Flash Mobs and Book Deals

It's been a little over a week since my last blog post and as always when this happens... you know it's because this girl has once again been out of town and unable to blog on the spot, so instead of giving you some lame pre-written, no-heart-in-it blog post, I just refrained from it all together so I could come back and give you the real me, off the cuff as usual. Last week was my fourth year in Vegas for the Photoshop World Conference, and just as years before, it was a GREAT time... despite the smoke-filed air and low humidity that always makes my eyes water and nose run. I recall the first year I was hired as a makeup artist for this event. My client, Scott Kelby, shared with me the "KISS" inspired theme and asked me if I could do that kind of makeup. Without a hitch (and without ever doing that kind of makeup before) I said SURE, and quickly went home to research where to get that kind of product so I could order it and prove myself right!

You see, I have a Cosmetology background... and I graduated beauty school in 1991; long before "makeup schools" as we know them today existed so I did not learn makeup in a classroom as many of today's makeup artists have. In fact... there were only about 7-8 celebrity artists back then and the big "brands" were Max Factor, Maybelline and Cover Girl. Department store and independent brands were not the hype as they are today and makeup schools were predominantly California based schools geared for film and creature creations. Therefore in my day, a Cosmetology degree was the ticket to a makeup career if you lived outside of California, so that is what I chose to do. I always loved makeup and fashion and knew I wanted to make people feel good about themselves, so it seemed the right  path for me to take. I never knew what direction it would truly take me in exactly, I just knew I wanted to succeed no matter what.

After I graduated beauty school at the young age of 17, I quickly fell in love and became comfortable with cutting, coloring and styling hair. Makeup became a side note being that we did not really learn much about it beyond  face shapes, eye shapes and  how to highlight and contour. I do not even recall learning the chronological order of placing products on the skin, but I learned to apply makeup in the 80's... so I knew you used foundation first, powder, then blush; you applied a lot...and then a little more. We had foundation sponges which were typically thin, flat and rectangular used mostly for "pancake" makeup, a powder puff, a blush brush and an eye shadow pad glued to a plastic stick... THOSE were the essentials of my day. Brushes were not known by numbers, hair type or fancy names. Frankly, it seemed kind of boring, so I spent several years of my career focusing on becoming a platform artist doing hair while continuing doing makeup on the side. Then in 2002, just as I made it to "Platform Assistant", the company I worked for got bought out by L'oreal and I jumped ship. By then, the makeup industry had started to shift in my favor and I had jumped back on the wagon with very little "schooled" knowledge, lots of hands on  practical knowledge and a basic set of makeup brushes.

So... back to the initial story... (apologies...I was reliving a memorable time in my life and took you with me) Fast forward many years later to 2010, I was asked to do this "Kiss" inspired makeup on a bunch of Photoshop guys... (never saw that coming) and I said yes, and was introduced to this incredibly inspiring and creative event called Photoshop World. I was nervous the day I was called in to come create my magic on Scott Kelby, Matt Kloskowski, Felix Nelson, and Dave Cross at the home headquarters. They were shooting their production and keynote videos for the event and I had to paint some faces; tackling something totally new for me... but I had the products I needed and the guts to give it a shot. That day... for the first time I did theatrical makeup, with products I had never used on people that had trusted in my talents for a few years already.  I successfully painted "KISS faces with "Photoshop tools" instead of the iconic stars and flames.

The feeling was amazing and I realized that not only could I do beauty and glamour makeup, which is what I had mainly done... but that I could do any kind of makeup that I wanted if I just put my mind to it; I felt like a real artist. That year I was able to attend both the Orlando and Vegas Photoshop Worlds as part of the Kelby team and I have traveled with them every year since! It has been truly amazing meeting and working with some of the best photographers in the world, and mingling with the fans... some of whom have become great friends. Every time I go it feels like a family reunion.

The highlights of this year include having my oldest daughter there as an attendee as she begins her photography and design career, being interviewed by well-known Netherlands Fashion Photographer Frank Doorhof, being a key part of Kevin Ames pre-con class, being asked by Scott to start a flash mob at the Adobe booth as a prank and having a pivotal meeting with Peach Pit about the new book I am writing for photographers. Overall Photoshop World Vegas 2013, was the best one yet.

As I close today, I want to say something that I say to you all of the time... Whatever you do, NEVER give up on your dreams. We all have circumstances, hiccups, hills, valleys and hurdles... but all of those things can be overcome with the right attitude. Always believe that you can do whatever you set your heart on, and never give up an opportunity to grow, learn and mold yourself into the best that you can be. In 1991, I had no idea where this career would lead me, there were times when people around me tried to get me to quit and get a "real" job with predictable income and normal hours, but I never gave up because there was simply too much to lose. I stuck with it, and here I am 22 years later still loving what I do. If I had listened, I can guarantee I would not be as fulfilled in my heart as I am today. I am not rich, wealthy, or financially free... but I am happy, fulfilled in my career and I never work a day in my life because I LOVE what I do for a living.

Keep those chins up and those hearts strong! Have an awesome week!

Here are some more pictures from my years at Photoshop World
The look I created for Daniel Presedo with Adobe

Me and Randy breaking it down PSW DC 2012 

                                                              Me and Daniel Presedo

                                                              Photoshop World 2012
                                                                Photoshop World  DC

                                                         Me, Corey and Joe Glyda 2012                                                                    
                                                            Me and Mike Kubeisy 2012


Me and my daughter PSW Vegas 2013
                           My work on the big screen in Frank Doorhof's Friday session 2013

                                              2013Another look for Kevin Ames' Friday Session