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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Friday, April 18, 2014

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All made up and ready to take on the world.
All made up and ready to take on the world.

War paint

War paint.

Warriors decorate the skin of their faces and bodies to prepare for battle, to intimidate the enemy and to rev them up for combat.

Makeup is no different.

The days I apply a "full beat-down," I am a shaded soldier in the crusade that is life.

I am a painted Jedi using the cosmetic Force to defeat daily Darth Vaders.

A beautified ninja throwing glittering blows wherever I go.

An embellished superhero able to leave lipstick behind in a single kiss. (Cursed be the long-wearing formulas that have started to diminish the S.W.A.K. effect.)

My application of cosmetics allows me to transform into my alter ego: the confident, cool, charisma bomb that is my public persona.

In my private life, I am a bare-faced, socially awkward, stuttering geek fest that wears the same (often sweaty) sweats day in and out and maybe washes her hair once a week.

I displayed my first swipe of crimson colored cherry ChapStick in fifth grade (although Mrs. Martin promptly removed it from my possession and instated a classroom "no makeup" rule) and have never looked back.

The ritual of embellishing my eyes with shimmery shadows, my cheeks with a bright pop of color and my lips thick with gloss is a comforting, enjoyable part of the days I take the time to do it.

"In psychology, the term ritual is sometimes used in a technical sense for a repetitive behavior systematically used by a person to neutralize or prevent anxiety; it is a symptom of obsessive–compulsive disorder," says Wikipedia. 

For months after my brother passed away I would stare into the mirror at my naked face, stunned that he was gone. Gussying up was my defense, my transport into an alternate reality where everything was OK. My made-up visage gave me the strength to face many a day.

The motivation behind wearing makeup is a moot point. Makeup creates a "mask;" it is "fake," but the freedom to adorn a human canvas with bright colors, sparkles and fluttering lashes is a form…

What happened to the "hairway to heaven?"
What happened to the "hairway to heaven?"

A public plea for pubic styling

The televised pop culture magnifying lens, Showtime Network's "Californication," true to form, brought up a tantalizing personal preening issue a couple of episodes ago.

Season five, episode three examines the disappearance of pubic hair from younger generational nether regions.

The topic is first illustrated by compulsive masturbator Charlie, who has taken to watching "vintage" pornography because he has become so desensitized by the graphic nature of what's available now. He is shown partaking in some "old skool" porn complete with real boobs and ample "bush."

The fictional prophet of Los Angeles, envy of men and bed wish of women everywhere, Hank, then brings up the topic again in a bar exchange where he ponders (and I must paraphrase here), "if your father loved your mother's parts any less because they had more hair on them?"

Yes, a full plume of pubic hair has become a thing of the past, like VHS tapes and home phones.

The hairless wonder was also recently showcased in an amazing article in The Atlantic, "The New Full Frontal: Has Pubic Hair in America Gone Extinct?"

A friend brought this piece to my attention and when I told him I hold Esthetics licenses in three states and have administered these dos down there – he thought I should expound on this.

I started self-administering Brazilians and was quoted saying that "hair only belongs on my head" long before Kim Kardashian said something similar and showed the world her pubic styling preference. I committed to the permanent option a decade ago when lasers were not as advanced as they are today, making for a ridiculous number of excruciating treatments. Tattoos or a traditional Brazilian are nothing when compared with the snapping sizzle of a laser on your lady bits.

But, it's not women's lack of hair down below that fascinates me.

Women do as other women do when it comes to beauty trends. Competitiveness, curiosity and fear of not measuring up to other females (or their lovers' expectations) have c…

I don't wear a dark, pulled-down hat and glasses to the gym because I want to talk to you about form.
I don't wear a dark, pulled-down hat and glasses to the gym because I want to talk to you about form.
Skip the gym and cultivate an at-home workout just for you.
Skip the gym and cultivate an at-home workout just for you.
Trampolines make for great cardio - just make sure you have the ceiling clearance.
Trampolines make for great cardio - just make sure you have the ceiling clearance.
Break a sweat and stay germ-free.
Break a sweat and stay germ-free.

Gyms are icky

As January comes to a close, I've got one more fitness-themed blog for you. Hopefully, your resolution is still holding steady. If you've been stealthy, you have most likely established a new habit – so, congrats! Whatever you resolved for 2012 – keep it up and make it happen.

Gyms are icky.

I don't even need to physically step into one for the sensory recall to kick in. The feeling of the damp air stewing with germs, the smell of sweat mixed with weight plates and mats, the sounds of grunting, panting humans and clanging metal all set to a vomitous soundtrack that, if I'm lucky, won't leak through the playlist I've got pumping through over-sized headphones into my auditory system in order to protect me from this assault.

I've had more than my share of gym "ick" in a personal and professional gym-going odyssey spanning over the last 20 years.

I've had enough of wasting precious minutes of my day commuting to a communal bacterial stew that could instead be spent ACTUALLY working out and getting it over with.

The gym is not my social hour. I am there to get my fitness on and then get on with my life. I signal this with a dark baseball cap pulled low over my eyes and headphones protecting my ears before I even walk through the door. (YES, to clarify, wearing a low cap and headphones means I don't want to talk to you or get your advice on my workout form.)

I realize there is a culture of gym rats out there that multi-task gym time as social time, but isn't that what bars are for?

I will occasionally go to yoga shalas and boutique fitness studios for classes like boot camps, barre method, specialized yoga and indoor cycling. I suck it up for the motivation of a group atmosphere every once in a while. But, the time and gas wasted commuting makes the issue of practicality start sweating out of my pores more than the actual workout would.

I've come to the conclusion that unless I can walk to the gym in under 10 minutes, (warm up and cool down – check) I'm just n…

When life taps you on the shoulder, you might just have to turn around, steer in another direction and accept your new path.
When life taps you on the shoulder, you might just have to turn around, steer in another direction and accept your new path.

A change of course

I had all of these fitness resolution blogs planned for the month of January, but a repeated message from the universe is making my fingers redirect their path across the landscape of my keyboard.

It's becoming very clear to me that my lesson in this lifetime is that life can change in an instant.

I have gone about my business for 35 years constantly reacting to this phenomenon. I've chosen to be flexible in terms of adjusting my personal life plan for the people who are dear to me. When circumstance has made it necessary for me to be in one place or another to support my loved ones, I am instantly on a plane, train or automobile to be there to help.

Sometimes you cannot plan everything. The outcome is unknown. Life can throw a curve ball at you so fast you never see it coming.

That's what happened to one of our close family members two weeks ago. The picture of health and an active lifestyle, this 60-year-old "can-do" guy had a sudden, massive, physically debilitating stroke. He went from a "normal" life to an unknown prognosis in just moments. And so did the lives of his loved ones.

All plans seem up in the air. Everyone has had to adjust to this new reality and to digest what will be a much different day-to-day life for this previously independent man.

I visit the hospital each day and see families like ours, dealing with illness, whether sudden or progressive, a mystery or fully diagnosed, emotions plastered across their faces and expressed in their body language. The worry, the stress, the anger, the despair. The hope, the strength, the love, the prayer.

I can also see them modifying their game plan, accepting the circumstances and calibrating their new trajectory. Their situations make trivial mush of my daily worries, my perfectionist obsessions and disciplined routine.

There are also brighter moments that can transform us forever. It's not just tragedy that can provide drastic life alterations, but surely certain unforeseen joyful events can redirect…