The Bikini Box

It may be considered strange by some people, but I perform scheduled purges of my belongings on a regular basis. Why? Because they enable me to stay organized, and they also force me to get rid of items I don’t need. Recently, I decided that as part of a household purge, I would go through every single bikini in my bikini box.

The bikini box I am referring to is an underbed storage box which holds all of my bikinis. I established this system several years ago when I began to accumulate bikinis and would use them in photo shoots. After struggling to sort through my collection when I packed for a slew of photo shoots over the summer, I realized that there were suits I had never worn, suits which had been shot too many times, suits which no longer fit, and suits which had never fit.

I tried on every single suit, assessed fit, and determined whether to keep it or give it away. If I decided to keep a suit, I then made sure the top was tied securely at the neck, and also secured the side ties on bottoms, to make it easier to put it on when at a shoot. I also cut off tags so that they wouldn’t poke at me or stick out and create extra editing work for photographers. I also labeled the bags I stored the bikinis in so that the styles could be easily identified without me having to remove the suit from the bag.

It took me five hours to go through that bikini box, which means I averaged about 20 suits per hour. I gave away close to 20 suits and kept the rest, making sure that each suit was in a slide lock sandwich size storage bag. The suits are organized by color, making it easier for me to select suits for a shoot.

Now I am ready to shoot!

Keeping Pace With A Crazy Schedule

George Kontaxis shoot

The last few weeks have been NUTS. I am talking about day after day of so many shifts in my schedule and demands on my time, that I am torn in many different directions, and cannot focus on a darned thing. When this kind of chaos ensues, I begin to lose items, certain basic vocabulary terms escape me, and I feel like I am rushing by everything and everyone, like a bullet train zooming through a bustling cityscape.

For the life of me, I can’t find a gray tank top which I had recently purchased and put…somewhere. I honestly can’t remember where. This isn’t like me, because I am VERY organized, to the point of having all of my clothing organized by color, sleeve length, etc. So why can’t I find that gray top?

I literally run around in my bedroom, grabbing for clothes, rushing, trying to keep up with the stressful demands of being in so many places all the time. It’s starting to get old. Forget about having time to read a book, or watch a TV show, because by the time the dust settles from the crazy days I have been flying through, the notion of blissful sleep is so seductive that I don’t want to do anything else.

What keeps me from unraveling is the consistency I demand with my eating habits and my workouts. I am not joking about this. Despite the insane schedule I have been juggling lately, I still weight train six mornings each week. I attend lyra class one to two evenings during the week. My meals consist of clean foods like chicken breast, salmon, tilapia, green beans, asparagus, brown rice, quinoa, avocado, almonds, oats, and Greek yogurt. I have been drinking plenty of alkaline water. I have also been consistent about consuming MitoXcell every morning (I LOVE this supplement and intend to post more about it when I get a chance to breathe!), and I also take my regular supplements (like turmeric, CoQ10, folic acid, etc.) daily. My energy levels have been decent, and my mood has been generally great, with only a couple of stark exceptions.

There are two days next week which I have designated as clean up and organization days, and I desperately need them. During those days, I will perform the deep cleaning throughout most of the house which the housekeeper always neglects, I will reorganize cabinets and drawers, clean up the garage and patio, and find that gray top!

Depotting MAC Eye Shadows Is Not Fun

Mac-Depot-Before

Despite the fact that I hardly wear any makeup in my daily life, I have an enormous collection of makeup which I accumulated mostly during 2006 through 2010, when my love for MAC Cosmetics was at its peak. My collection of eye shadows is particularly impressive, with over 80 MAC eye shadows, about a dozen NARS, Chanel, and Chantecaille eye shadows, and roughly 60 MAC loose pigments.

My collection of eye shadow pots was neatly organized in bins, but because I had so many, the shades at the bottoms of the stacks were neglected because I couldn’t see them without digging through the plethora of pots. I kept thinking that I would eventually depot these eye shadows and organize them into palettes, but my busy schedule prevented that from happening for years.

I finally decided last month to depot my MAC eye shadows, and also thought it would be a good idea to depot my MAC blushes, MAC Mineralized Skinfinish bronzers and highlighters, and press the pigments. For those of you who know what all that means, I am sure you are groaning at the idea of depotting that many eye shadow pots, 12 blushes, 17 MSF domes, and all of those pigments. Nevertheless, I was determined.

Before I began the project, I asked a number of professional makeup artists if they had any tips on how to easily depot the eye shadows, and every single one of them told me that it was very challenging.

I decided to start with my MAC blushes. An hour later, I had depotted six of them, but not without denting the pans they were in and crumbling a couple of them, which meant that I was forced to master the art of re-pressing crumbled powder makeup pans. Oh joy. I was so frustrated that I took the rest of the blushes off the list.

MAC blushes depotted and in a MAC Pro Palette Duo.

MAC blushes depotted and in a MAC Pro Palette Duo.

About a week later, I decided to depot my MAC eye shadow pots, which meant sorting them out in groups of 15 by color family, then heating up the pots on my straightening iron. The setup for this project took up the entire dining room table:

Here was my setup for the MAC eye shadow depotting session I had.  The larger pots in the top left of the image are my MAC Mineralized Skinfinishes.  The other pots and small palettes comprise only about half of my MAC eye shadow collection.  The knives, cookie sheet, rubbing alcohol, and magnet sheets you see in the image were used in the depotting process.

Here was my setup for the MAC eye shadow depotting session I had. The larger pots in the top left of the image are my MAC Mineralized Skinfinishes. The other pots and small palettes comprise only about half of my MAC eye shadow collection. The knives, cookie sheet, rubbing alcohol, and magnet sheets you see in the image were used in the depotting process.

The pans were so difficult to wedge out that the pans became dented once again, and shadows crumbled. So I once again had to re-press some of them. I spent about two hours working on the palette pictured below, and became so frustrated with the poor design of the MAC palette and inserts that I moved all the pans over to the Makeup Forever palettes I purchased.

The first palette I attempted.  No more MAC palette nonsense for me!  I got rid of this MAC palette duo, and switched to Makeup Forever palette tins, which are great for the standard MAC eye shadow pans.  The Z-Palette brand is excellent for pressed pigments and domed makeup pans.

The first palette I attempted. No more MAC palette nonsense for me! I got rid of this MAC palette duo, and switched to Makeup Forever palette tins, which are great for the standard MAC eye shadow pans. The Z-Palette brand is excellent for pressed pigments and domed makeup pans.

My first Makeup Forever eye shadow palette with MAC eye shadow pans

My first Makeup Forever eye shadow palette with MAC eye shadow pans

After completing the first eye shadow palette, I got lazy and removed the inner tray from the pots without bothering to remove the pans from them, and placed the trays into the palettes. Less work, and much less frustration meant a happier Stacey.

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I spent a third day using my lazy depotting method on the domed MAC eye shadows. I thought it would be easy and safe. I was wrong. I sliced my fingertip and jabbed my right hand three times with the knife I was using to snap the domed shadows from their pots. But after placing them in the domed Z-Palettes, I was a pretty happy camper.

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Finally, on my fourth day of makeup organizing hell, I pressed all the small sample jars of MAC loose pigment which I had collected over the years. Those turned out beautifully:

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After all that, you would think I was done, but I am still planning to press a portion of the full sized MAC loose pigments I have:

My collection of MAC full sized loose pigments

My collection of MAC full sized loose pigments

I am also considering depotting the MAC Mineralized Skinfinishes, but the thought of them cracking and crumbling worries me. These things are beautiful!

One of my MAC Mineralized Skinfinishes

One of my MAC Mineralized Skinfinishes

A long row of MAC Mineralized Skinfinishes

A long row of MAC Mineralized Skinfinishes

Being Spontaneous Is Good For The Soul

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Most people who know me well would describe me as pretty organized and on top of things. I am also so busy all the time that I honestly have to put everything in my calendar so that I know what is happening. As a result of having so much on my plate, I am rarely able to make last minute plans. I often give people the impression that I am all work and no play, and that I am always serious.

But I am a spunky one and thrive on variety. Though I like consistency and stability, I am always keen on new adventures, and much like a horse in a corral, I go a bit stir crazy when I am cooped up in a place or a situation for too long. As a result, the spontaneous part of me sometimes takes over, and I will do something out of character. I honestly wish I had more of a chance to do something on a moment’s notice, but I am a grownup, with a career and some pretty big goals which require my focus and attention.

Every once in a while, I have to contend with last minute schedule changes which usually make me feel anxious. It is pretty challenging for me to have to completely rearrange my schedule when one event shifts, because a domino effect occurs. However, I have been more adaptable in recent weeks, and have even found myself changing things up without having a compulsion to resist the changes. Instead of rushing home after work to do even more work, I have recently allowed myself to visit friends, lounge on the sofa with a cat or two, or take myself out to dinner after a particularly long day.

I also love finding a gap in my schedule and throwing a weekend getaway into the mix, because it enables me to recharge my batteries, escape the rhythm of my regular schedule, and have a little fun. There is also a part of me which yearns for international travel, so much so that I am willing to move everything around to accommodate a visit to another country. My attitude is that life is short, and that you only live once. I have no intention of waiting until the “perfect” time to travel or take a vacation, especially since I was stuck in that mindset for far too long during my 20’s and 30’s. If I can visit a different country ever year or so, I will be a happy camper.

Who knows, you might see me visiting a new country very soon!

I Love My Six Pack Bag Mini…

If you don’t have a Six Pack Bag to carry your meals around in, you really should get one! I have had the Innovator 500, the Innovator 300, and I also have the Innovator Mini. I ran the Innovator 500 into the ground from using it constantly over the span of several years. I love the Innovator 300 and use it when I travel, but the Innovator Mini is absolutely perfect for my daily needs. It’s compact, yet it holds everything I need for a day. I put my alkalizer in one beverage chamber, my BCAA’s in the other chamber, and also have three full meals neatly packed on the shelves inside the bag. The bag is lightweight, and has a thick, cushioned strap, so it won’t dig into your shoulder when you cart it around.

You can check out the review I put together when I first got the Innovator Mini right here:

How Hoarders Process Information

I found the following article to be incredibly fascinating, and concur with study author Jennifer M. Sumner’s statement that hoarders have difficulties with establishing bulk categories for their possessions. This results in a complete inability to organize items, so they accumulate. I have included a link to the original post for reference.

mind of a hoarder

https://www.braindecoder.com/inside-the-mind-of-a-hoarder-1378787672.html

Inside the Mind of a Hoarder
A new study hints at the real reason behind the mess.
By Agata Blaszczak Boxe

When Paul Hammond, a resident of Mobile, Alabama, started collecting used cars and appliances to sell for scrap metal, he probably did not suspect that his habit would one day turn into a serious hoarding issue and land him in jail.

But, over the years, random items kept piling up in his yard, and Hammond just was not getting rid of them. After numerous complaints from the neighbors, who accused him of turning his property into a junkyard, county authorities got involved and cited him for criminal littering. They also threatened to put him in jail if he did not clean up.

When Hammond’s brother came to visit him for the Fourth of July several years ago, he saw about 90 cars, about 50 refrigerators and 100 lawn mowers in the yard. The brother quit his job for four months to help Hammond get rid of the stuff. But the county officials were not happy with the job the men did and they put Hammond in jail for five days.

“I thought I was a law-abiding citizen,” Hammond told A&E’s show Hoarders. Although he was released after the five days, he was still facing up to 90 more days in jail if he did not clean up around the time the TV crew came to film an episode about him.

Hammond is one of the many people with hoarding disorder who end up being overwhelmed with possessions they can’t organize or get rid of. Hoarding is a disorder that may be present on its own or as a symptom of another disorder, for example, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and depression. To try to understand what mechanisms in the brain may be responsible for hoarding behavior, researchers have recently begun to look at the neurocognitive aspects of the disorder, but studies have yielded mixed results.

For example, one study looked at people with obsessive-compulsive disorder and found that those who had high levels of hoarding behavior performed significantly worse on tests of decision making, planning and properly shifting attention, compared with people with OCD with lower levels of hoarding. However, it’s difficult to conclude that these cognitive traits are responsible for hoarding because another study found people with hoarding disorder actually performed better on the same type of test than participants with non-hoarding OCD.

In a new study, published in Neuropsychology, researchers looked at neurocognitive functioning in 26 people with hoarding disorder and 23 people without the disorder. The researchers thought the discrepancies between the results of previous studies could have been caused by the effects of medications used by some of the participants, so in the new study, they decided to only include people who were not taking any medication that could affect their brain functioning in any way.

The new study found no significant differences in how people in both groups performed on tests examining their verbal memory, attention, or executive functions such as planning, organization and decision-making.

But the researchers did find a difference between the groups: when they asked the participants to categorize different stimuli in a separate test, the people with the hoarding disorder appeared to use different learning strategies during the categorizing task, compared with the controls. Namely, they tended to use explicit learning, which is about developing and verbalizing rules to remember something, explained study author Jennifer M. Sumner, of the University of California San Diego School of Medicine. In contrast, most people without the disorder used implicit learning, which is an unconscious, non-linear and non-verbal way to learn new information.

The researchers don’t know for sure how these results should be interpreted. But the findings do make them wonder whether, in people with hoarding disorder, the inability to organize and sort through their possessions might have something to do with how they process information, Sumner said.

It could be, for example, that people with the disorder try to come up with rules as to where different objects should go, but because they may end up creating too many rules, “it ends up being chaotic and cluttered,” Sumner said. Conversely, people without the disorder “might look at objects in their home and have this implicit, intrinsic subconscious ability to know where objects go, to know what is not important and what they can get rid of,” she told Braindecoder. “So they don’t have that clutter.”

In fact, previous research has suggested that people with the disorder tend to be under-inclusive in how they categorize the things they have, Sumner said.

“If you give them 10 objects to sort, they may put them in 10 different categories because they are all unique and complex in their own way,” Sumner said. But if a person without the disorder is given the same 10 objects, they may be able to put them in just two different groups, so they are easily organized and there is no clutter, she said.

“So we have this ability implicitly to decide where things should go,” which many people with hoarding disorder may not have, Sumner said.

R.I.P. To My Palm PDA

Palm Pilot

After relying on Palm and Palm Pilot PDA’s to organize my calendar for the past 14 years, I was forced to walk away from a deeply entrenched habit. Why? Because my most recent Palm finally gave up on me, and since I hadn’t been able to back it up this entire year, there was no point in holding onto what is now considered obsolete technology.

I received my first Palm PDA during my medical residency training, and was instructed to enter my patient clinic schedule on it, as well as anything hospital-related. My obsessive-compulsive need to be on top of my schedule all the time fell in love with the technology, so I continued to use the Palm after I completed my residency training.

I would regularly HotSync with my computer, safely backing up the data on the Palm. However, my Mac stopped supporting the sync software due to 2015 Mac operating system upgrades, and since my Windows 7 laptop didn’t support the Palm OS, I was pretty much screwed this year. I kept dreading dropping the Palm or somehow damaging it. What happened, though, was so weird. I had the Palm with me, and at one point when I had it on a tabletop, it beeped, turned on, then off. After that, I discovered that ALL of my data, my entire calendar as well as notes, were deleted. Thanks Mercury retrograde! I then spent about two hours on Google Calendar, trying to remember everything which was on my calendar. Not fun!

Over the years I have become completely accustomed to using the handwriting tablet on the Palm, and have considered the Palm a sort of security blanket. I loved not having to rely on an internet connection to access my schedule, and I loved having my calendar separate from my phone, especially since my phone has a horrible time holding a charge. Unfortunately, I have been forced to abandon my trusted Palm, and must now get used to using Google Calendar, then accessing it either on my Android, or on a tablet which I reluctantly purchased for the sole purpose of holding my schedule.

I am also ready to stop being teased about carrying a Palm around! For those of you who have engaged in the teasing, I just want you to know that I am updating my life with the tablet and Google Calendar. I know, it’s about time! But guess what? Palms are considered the predecessors to Smart Phones, so have a little respect for the technology! 🙂