LFM #2: Learning Makeup & Making Yourself Feel Good with Natalie

Every morning, Facebook lets me know that my friend Natalie is at it again. She has posted a daily inspirational quote for her "A Mom, Makeup, and Motivation" group every day, unfailingly, since July of 2016, and her community (and the world at large) are better for those good vibes she sends out. 

Natalie is a Younique Independent Presenter, a blogger, a mother of two boys and advocate of special needs because of her son, David, who has You-Hoover-Fong syndrome. She's also an all-around lovely person who lights up the room when you talk to her. 

INSPIRED

Natalie began her makeup business, through Younique, two years ago, when a friend began selling and introduced her to it. "I knew nothing about makeup, at all," Natalie says. "I live with all boys. I didn't even wear mascara when I started! But I've learned as I've gone along, and I still like to play with it. It was something just for me." Natalie knew that as she started this business, she wanted to do it in her own way — and help other people as well. "I never thought I was pretty. It takes 1,000 photos of my makeup done before I'll post one — and then I STILL question it," she laughs. "But it's been fun, and it's given me a confidence, but a different kind of confidence. Not a pretty confidence, but an empowering confidence."

She began the quest to share daily in the Facebook group she runs for makeup (and motivation!) and even when her son David was in the hospital for 10 days in January of 2017, she still posted. "We truly didn't know if he would make it," she says. "But that's when I needed the inspirational quotes and that feeling of connection. I had friends tell me, 'I can't believe you're still posting... but I'm so glad that you are.'" 

Her most recent favorite quote she's shared is one by Jon Sinclair that reads, "Failure is a bruise, not a tattoo." "I keep the group small for a reason," Natalie says. "We've all become close, and I'd like to think they would miss the posts if I stopped. Each morning, before I get out of bed, I choose what feels right to me for that day... and I hope that it's right for everyone else in the group as well, and touches them. I don't think makeup is what makes people pretty... it can enhance it, but it's what's in your heart that makes you pretty. And I think the people in the group feel that." 

Natalie has also been blogging for seven years, on "Raising David and Kyle." Natalie's oldest son David, who recently turned 18, was recently diagnosed with the very rare genetic disorder of  You-Hoover-Fong syndrome, after years of testing and looking for answers. "I started the blog when Kyle, my younger son, was five," Natalie says. "It was a way to help myself process what was going on with David, how Kyle was feeling, and how I was feeling in all of it... and so I've always posted when I have something to say. I didn't even know how to put photos on when I started! So it's come a long way." Blogging has helped connect a group of people Natalie never knew she'd connect. "David was one of seven cases of You-Hoover-Fong when we finally got his diagnosis in 2017," Natalie says. "But from my blog, one of the original six with the syndrome found me, then someone with a child with it from the U.K., then someone from Alabama... it was incredible to have that support and for everyone else to feel heard and supported. With You-Hoover-Fong, it's just like with any other person, in that the kids are all so different... even though they have the same diagnosis, they're all their own people." Natalie felt a responsibility to keep the group together, and started a Facebook group for the parents of these kids to share. "I have the oldest child with this diagnosis... so I felt like I should take on that role." 

Natalie begins each and every day, after her inspirational Facebook post, with a glass of grape juice ("I don't drink coffee!" she protests) and takes an hour to care for David and get him started for his day. "David is 100 percent care," she says,  "I have to change his diaper, put his stuff away, take care of his G-Tube, feed him through his feeding tube, brush his teeth, and more, all while asking Kyle to please get ready," she says. "Then I'll take him to the bus, finish my hair and makeup, and take Kyle to the bus. Sometimes I have breakfast, sometimes I don't. But I always have my glass of grape juice. And regardless of the day, I always show up — for my boys, for my family, for my groups. I don't always feel like I have it all together... but I do always show up." 

You can learn more about Natalie on her blog: https://raisingdavidandkyle.blogspot.com and follow her on Instagram at @nataliew1978

I’ve learned that I can make myself feel good.

LFM #1: Photography, Rock Climbing, and of course, Coffee with Maria Salova

The best conversations begin with coffee. I was thrilled to catch up for coffee and brunch in downtown Chicago with my friend Maria, a photographer and digital marketing professional from Norfolk, Virginia. 

COZY

Like me, Maria always starts her morning with coffee. 

"I always make a pot of coffee as soon as I wake up," Maria says. "I start the kettle and like knowing it's going as I'm getting ready... I like to set a foundation of positive energy, a clear mind, in my mornings, and that first cup of coffee is the catalyst. Like, ok, I’ve got my day going."

She also loves breakfast (did I mention we have a lot in common?) and says she loves the routine of making it, switching it up on the weekends. "On the weekends, I always make a big breakfast — I go all out," she says. "Right now, I'm trying to perfect the smoothie bowl." 

She also listens to a playlist. "It's pretty much alternative music, and my current one is called 'Get Over It' and helps me get over, well, anything I have going on," she says. "Beach FossilsHazel EnglishDay WaveReal Estate... they're my favorites right now." 

INSPIRED

She is currently focusing more of her time on her amazing portraits and photography — for friends, for clients, always capturing the amazing architecture and cool Norfolk vibe that seems to surround her. “Photography is my guiding light… it’s the one thing I do that’s truly just for me.”

MOVEMENT

Maria used to be really into weight lifting, and while she still is, she's recently found her new inspiring movement within rock climbing. 

"I was surprised! I went with former co-workers, who told me I was a natural," Maria says. "Rock climbing is fun because it’s working out, but so much more. It's a physical and mental challenge. It's like figuring out a puzzle. And it's totally new for me, not anything I previously thought I wanted to do or ever thought I would do... but while you’re up there, you can only focus on one thing at a time. When I go to the gym, I do weight training, cardio, I think too much, but with weights, I’m counting each rep and able to really focus. I’m so focused, that this — my rock climbing, my weight lifting — is my meditation. Meditation is so important, and I never felt like I could do it before, when I pictured myself just sitting in a room. But now I've found something that allows me to still meditate but satisfy my athlete’s heart." 

Maria has always been active, pursuing ballet and track and field as a child. "Now that I've found rock climbing, I feel like there could be even more options I love I just haven't discovered yet, which is exciting." 

"One thing I love about rock climbing and the gym is that there are such communities there," Maria shares. "It's a mini-culture. It's inspiring. Enthusiastic. It brings people together. It helps women feel that strong is beautiful, which is such a movement right now, and that movement, that feeling, has really helped to inspire me." 

If you'd like to learn more about Maria, you can follow her photography on Instagramat @mvsalova and visit her website: www.mvsalova.com

Photography is my guiding light... it’s the only thing I truly do just for me.