Monday, June 15, 2015

Of makeup and confidence

My goal is not to judge nor to criticize anyone who enjoy makeup. I love it too. I just wanted to share my thoughts and concerns about makeup and its influence on my image and my confidence.

I started using makeup every day when I started working every day. Somehow, it’s seemed a lot more important than when I was in class. I implemented a morning routine that included makeup. When I discovered YouTube make up tutorials, I felt the need to start using foundation when I didn’t really need it. Even the makeup artist at MAC told me so. Then it was filling my brows that became a necessity.

Little by little, my routine got longer, more complicated and less natural. I’d wear makeup every day and wouldn’t feel good going out without it. I felt slightly envious of the women who didn’t care and skipped most of the steps I forced myself to follow.

One Sunday, I went to my best friend’s and realized in the car you could clearly see I was wearing (lots of) foundation to a summer BBQ. It was not natural and seemed foolish when I knew it was a casual event. I started wear less makeup from that day on.

I took advantage of my coming holidays to stop wearing makeup altogether for a few weeks. Back to the office, I started to apply less foundation, layer less, fill my brows less and skip smoky eyes… I was back to natural, lighter makeup that suits me a lot more. Moving abroad also helped this process as most of my makeup stash spent almost two months travelling.

Today, I skip makeup altogether during weekends (or do my eyes only).  Same goes during holidays: if I’m not doing anything fancy and/or if I’m not feeling it, I’ll let my face bare. I traveled with my colleagues not so long ago and sported a bare face (which I wouldn’t have dared a few years ago).

Those breaks help me remember what my face looks like “au naturel” and to limit the amounts of makeup I apply on week days. They also let my skin breathe, which reduces my need for foundation. I discovered in this process that my “bad” skin was actually due to a bad foundation (a high end one, mind you). But most of all, it boosts my confidence. I’m not less beautiful without makeup, not less feminine. I still get compliments from my husband. My skin tone is even enough, my dark circles only reflect my energy level, my cheekbones are defined enough, and so are my brows.

I am worried for young girls when I see more and more people using drag queen techniques as their daily makeup (mostly heavy contouring). Not because I have anything against drag queens (because I don’t, I believe in freedom and happiness), but because those techniques are not used to be natural but to change the shape of your face. They are on purpose over the board. They are made for partying and having fun, not for every day.

How can you love your face when you’re distorting it every day by applying layer after layer of contouring bronzer and highlighter? How can you like your eyes when your changing their shape with liner and false lashes? How can you have healthy self-esteem when every ad, every magazine is modified to reflect a so called perfection?

Don't let the media, the fashion and makeup industries dictate how you should look. Just love yourself as you are, strengths and flaws.

Edit: I just watched a powerful TED Talk on image, self confidence and makeup. You should take a few minutes to watch it too:

Thursday, June 4, 2015

MS OneNote, my new favorite tool

Ages after everyone else, I finally discovered MS OneNote a few months ago. During a meeting, one of my colleague used it to store meeting minutes, project details, charts and graphs... I thought it was brilliant and used it every day since then.

Here are the main sections I currently use:
  1. Projects: I create one tab per project. For each project, I have a status page (DMAIC phase, deliverable list, next steps) but also a meeting notes. After each meeting, I add my notes and the date, which means I have a unique spot for all information relative to one project. I also like to add a "data play" tab where I put key information, summary of findings, tests to performs, questions to ask... 
  2. Mentoring: I have one tab per mentee with meeting notes and action items. I often send the page to my mentee so he/she has it as a reminder of his/her progress and next deliverable. You can clearly see the progress made and it's very encouraging for them to review.
  3. Liaison:  Each member of the team acts as a Liaison to a number of SLT members. We review results, key projects, resources. It's a good way to make sure I don't forget any of my Liaison.
  4. Personal items: It goes from a work to-do-list to a daily recording of my water intake and meetings and includes random lists and links. I even created a Kaizen packing list that should be useful for the year to come.
  5. Archived projects: I don't want to delete any old project, so I group them under an archived tab.
I love that it's stored on the cloud and can be used with my phone or from home. I find information a lot quicker and find analytics a lot easier this way (I use it as some would use a whiteboard I guess). I've also stopped taking notes in my notebook (except for face to face meetings).

To make it easier, I've created a "cancelled" tag (for cancelled meetings, specialty of some mentees of mine) and a project status template. I try to use reminders as much as possible, as they are linked to Outlook. It's not rocket science or super fancy, it's just a matter of opening OneNote first thing in the morning and keeping it updated as long as you work on a specific topic.

When you work on half a dozen project, mentor as many people and act as a Liaison for a few SLT members, you really need to know where you're at, what you've done and what you have to do. I feel a lot more organized and I don't forget as many action items as I used to. I empty my daily and to-do list on Fridays, add items on Monday mornings.