Cocokind, a great find

Since leaving New York two years ago now for the west coast, one thing that has remained true is my love for beauty and skincare. To say that I am a junkie would be an understatement. I try lots of products and brands and occasionally stumble upon something great. Cocokind Organic Skincare would qualify as great. Produced in San Francisco—where I now live—it was formed nearly three years ago by former finance guru Priscilla Tsai. A whip smart product of the Wharton School of Business, Priscilla spent her early career working in finance while nurturing her passion for skincare on the side. Finally taking the leap in 2014, she created Cocokind, which is distributed in more than three thousand outlets, including Whole Foods.

What makes Cocokind so amazing is that it is powered by superfoods. Her products contain such ingredients as matcha tea, chia seeds, kale, ginger root, aloe vera, among other ingredients. I had the pleasure of working with Priscilla as a model in a campaign for her new primer drops that silkily blend into the skin and the Cool In The Dark shade was a perfect match for me. It was nice to put something on my face that was, in fact, good for me, and that contained healthy ingredients. I am all about clean, healthy living—as anyone who follows my instagram  can attest to—so this collaboration was a match made in matcha heaven! 

Priscilla is an inspiration. Her passion for wellness, lifestyle and clean products are benefiting women everywhere and we're all lucky to be on the receiving end of her creations.

Herewith, are a few of Priscilla's picks!

Cocokind's organic chia facial oil is an affordable luxury at only $15.49.

Cocokind's organic chia facial oil is an affordable luxury at only $15.49.

At only $13, this Facial Cleansing Oil is a must have. Gentle and perfect for all skin types.

At only $13, this Facial Cleansing Oil is a must have. Gentle and perfect for all skin types.

An absolute steal at $16.99! You must try the Rosewater toner.

An absolute steal at $16.99! You must try the Rosewater toner.

This Matcha stick is a game changer that won't break the bank at $8.99.

This Matcha stick is a game changer that won't break the bank at $8.99.

The Tumeric spot treatment is fantastic for blemishes and only $8.99! 

The Tumeric spot treatment is fantastic for blemishes and only $8.99! 

Five reasons why you're not getting results at the gym

Working out can suck. I get it. There's always a million other things to do than go to the gym. Working late, reading, sleeping, shopping, eating - while all valid activities - are just some of the excuses we use not to get to the gym. But yet we still want the results and wonder just why we don't get them when we actually do go.

Here's a few reasons why.

1. Dicking around. Ever go to the gym and see that guy way more engrossed on his phone texting than powering through his reps? Or the people behaving like it's happy hour, excessively yukin' it up instead of thinking about that second set? Not focusing and getting it done will not help you achieve your fitness goals. (I'm as guilty as the next person on occasionally Instagraming myself at the gym, but the key is keeping it brief and not getting too distracted.)

2. Not pushing yourself. As much as we'd like to try, it's just too easy not to add that extra weight or do that third set. Unless there is a drill sergeant (or trainer, as they're more affectionately known) pushing us beyond our limits, it can be far more appealing to just do what we normally do and not exert any additional energy. LAME. You're not doing yourself any favors by not giving it at least 110%. A half-assed workout gives you half-assed results. (Or no ass if you're trying to get one or lift one.)

3. Not going. Enough said there.

4. Eating poorly. It's easy enough to forget that diet is actually more important than exercise. Regularly chowing down on burgers, candy, fried and processed foods and soda will do nothing to improve your waistline, no matter how many planks or crunches you do. Small changes make a huge difference (i.e. subbing almond milk for regular milk, grilling instead of frying and ditching the side starch dish for veggies (not drowning in sauces)) will help you reach your goals and much faster. Diet is as important and exercise and not doing both in tandem is really just a waste of your time.

5. Going too infrequently. Everybody's busy and no one has time to go to the gym, but it's critical to our health that we make time in our day to work out. A consistent schedule of 3-4 times a week of working out (in conjunction with clean livin' meals) is the key to fitness success. Those who are dedicated to their bodies and being healthy will put in the work. And dispel the notion that you need to workout for at least an hour in order for it to be effective. My workouts rarely last that long; 40 minutes is typical. The trick is to just focus and get it done. If your schedule prohibits you from going to the actual gym a few days a week, get some home equipment (bands, light weights, pilates circle) and find 15 minutes in your day to hammer out out a quick high-intensity workout. This is better than skipping the gym altogether and can help you with consistency. It also goes without saying (but I'll say it anyway) that it's better than only hitting the gym a handful of times a month. A little bit of something is better than nothing and frequent micro workouts are fantastic and keep you engaged.

If the gym isn't your thing, and it isn't for many, then do something else. Anything else. The options are limitless: hiking, pilates, soccer, yoga, running, dancing, walking, swimming, basketball...I could go on and on here...do whatever you enjoy doing that brings you peace. Doing something you actually like will get you off the couch and onto the field, court, or wherever. Just do it! Mix it up, push yourself and be consistent and you WILL reach your fitness goals.

Now GO! (Okay, maybe tomorrow after that holiday. I, for one, will be eating like a horse today but not before a bit of yoga and a hike before commencing my Forth of July festivities...)

Yours in fitness,

T

Living in Portland, I'm fortunate to have a plethora of bike trails at my disposal. A spin on my hotwheels is always a fun way to get some exercise.

Living in Portland, I'm fortunate to have a plethora of bike trails at my disposal. A spin on my hotwheels is always a fun way to get some exercise.

Boxing is a great way to get fit and relieve stress. (Yes, I know I used this photo in a previous post.)

Boxing is a great way to get fit and relieve stress. (Yes, I know I used this photo in a previous post.)

I know you can't tell here, but I was actually burning a lot of calories! Another fun activity.

I know you can't tell here, but I was actually burning a lot of calories! Another fun activity.

Can't be in Oregon without being a hiker. (Or a lumberjack, as I, apparently, am now, too, with my tree splitting abilities...)

Can't be in Oregon without being a hiker. (Or a lumberjack, as I, apparently, am now, too, with my tree splitting abilities...)

Swap those hash browns for fresh fruit with your next omelette. It's all about clean' livin', folks!

Swap those hash browns for fresh fruit with your next omelette. It's all about clean' livin', folks!

Feelin' good like a lady should, post-workout.

Feelin' good like a lady should, post-workout.

Faith, Faint style.

It's been awhile since my last blog post and for that I do not apologize. Life has been busy throwing me curveballs and showing me that I'm more resilient than I thought I was. There was the final end of a relationship and the not so fun months of heartbreak that followed, the seemingly never-ending financial struggles, the professional uncertainties and majorly missing my east coast friends. It's been an introspective time that left me asking myself more than once just what I'd done in moving here.

But then a funny thing happened: a light started to emerge at the end of the tunnel. About the time we started coming out of the apocalyptic rainy season, I started to come out of my own one (there is most certainly a correlation there, I'm sure). Almost as if a switch had flipped, I just decided I was tired of being sad about my ex and literally snapped out of it. My financial woes did not go away but became more manageable and slightly less stressful, my job at Nike started to take better shape and I finally felt like I was beginning to wrap my head around the complex nature of the company, and my best friends from Boston came to visit me making me feel better than I had in ages. (That's the thing about true friends, they will make the effort to go see you and bestow so much love that your heart aches with joy.)

Hanging with my besties Kelly and Rachel on an epic hike, AKA the best day ever.

Hanging with my besties Kelly and Rachel on an epic hike, AKA the best day ever.

While in New York I'd felt drawn to Portland and continued to have faith that whatever the reason was that I'd changed my life and moved here would reveal itself in time. One thing I did know was that I'd moved here for a lifestyle change and for the peace and quiet to write with far fewer distractions that the city allowed. Beyond that, I was struggling with understanding why I was really here. Then it slowly dawned on me that here I had morphed into the person I wanted to be but had struggled to be in New York: a model, makeup artist, writer and person who works at a top global consumer brand with a lifestyle I could never have in New York. No one said this transformation of mine would be easy or without its financial hurdles, but I have become who I wanted to become. In New York I'd go on the occasional casting where every girl would look like me, thereby increasing the already steep competition, but here I'm usually the only "one" of my type, which makes me stand out more. I have gained more confidence here as a makeup artist, and my writing has gotten noticed as I've recently landed a freelance copywriting job for an Italian skin care company (thanks to a good friend in NYC). And, remarkably, unlike New York where I, along with the rest of the city, commuted to work by subway, here I live so close to campus (Nike) that I often walk or ride my bike. You just can't beat a 10-15 minute door-to-door commute to work by feet or wheels while enjoying the lush beauty of this place.

Me on my hotwheels.

Me on my hotwheels.

Doing a lil makeup magic.

Doing a lil makeup magic.

The writing piece is key because my belief that sticking to my love of all things beauty and skin care would somehow come to pass in a tangible way is doing just that. All the hustling I did in New York for years (covering events, doing press, writing about different brands) outside of my corporate finance job, which supported my creative hustle, has manifested itself here in Portland of all places. New York is the center of the world in most every industry, but having secured my new writing gig far away from New York proves that the world is bigger than that city and you can actually do what you want to do anywhere else with the added benefit of a holistic healthy lifestyle. Ironically, the brand I'll be writing for is holistic in nature and lifestyle and sustainability are core to it, and as those are principles that I adhere to [more now] that I'm in Portland, and the fact that I work in sustainability at Nike, makes it the perfect fit.

As much as I love New York, Central Park has got nothing on the parks here.

As much as I love New York, Central Park has got nothing on the parks here.

Doing what you love is often a bumpy years-long road with an unforeseeable path. It forces you to rely on your gut and have blind faith that things will work out at some point. But know that listening to yourself is the only compass you need to make the right decisions for you and you alone. Trust your instincts and listen. When your many sacrifices start to pay off and things begin to fall into place—and they will if you stick with it—that will be all the validation that you need to know you are own the right path to creating the life that you want.

Avery loves her new natural lifestyle.

Avery loves her new natural lifestyle.

This is all to say that I'm feeling more at peace about being in Portland and my purpose is revealing itself more by the day. (And keeping time with a special someone new isn't hurting either. Mmmhmm.)

Keep the faith, live in the moment, treasure your friends, be open and don't be afraid of change. You never know what lies ahead for you.

Yours in faith,

T

Nature dog.

Nature dog.

Breathtaking.

Breathtaking.

Don't think Avery could do this at Far Rockaway beach in New York....

Don't think Avery could do this at Far Rockaway beach in New York....

It just doesn't get any better than this.

It just doesn't get any better than this.

Simply beautiful.

Simply beautiful.

 

  

The power of positive thinking

If life has confirmed for me anything these last few months, it is that you are capable of anything you put your mind to. We hear this all the time, yes, and it's nothing new, but it really does ring true. There is no obstacle too great, no problem too difficult that we can not solve if we believe in ourselves and work towards change. That means different things for different people, of course, but whatever your endgame is, you will not get there without a lot of positive thinking, confidence, self-love and laser focus.

Last summer when I decided New York was no longer the place for me and decided on Portland to work as a fitness model and makeup artist, I had no idea how I was going to make that happen. (I mean, how does one go from New York corporate finance to that?) Moving is not cheap and there are so many details to manage, but I just tried to stay focused on my endgame. Knowing that was the west coast for me, I did everything I needed to do to make what I wanted to do out here a reality. I already worked out plenty, but I increased my workouts knowing that I would soon be working with my modeling agency here and needed to be ready on day one. Doing the New York happy hour that turns into dinner hour that turns into late drinks hour...stopped in its tracks. Basically, I had to pump my own breaks to save money to reach my goal. But no matter how much you try to "save" in New York, it's damn near impossible, so as much as I freaked out about money and logistics, I just visualized my new life and calmed down.

How I felt most days in NYC about the reality of making a move: exhausted. But I thought about my endgame, like Avery is doing thinking about climbing more stairs to get to the top of the mountain, and just powered through. (She pulled me up to the top!)

How I felt most days in NYC about the reality of making a move: exhausted. But I thought about my endgame, like Avery is doing thinking about climbing more stairs to get to the top of the mountain, and just powered through. (She pulled me up to the top!)

None of this would have been possible without confidence and a positive attitude. I really just had to hand it over to God and let go. And wouldn't you know that as soon as I did that everything, and I do mean everything, started falling into place. It was almost freaky how things started clicking with little to no effort from me. Up until I boarded my flight the morning of August 30th at LaGuardia for O'Hare (where me and my folks would drive out from), I knew everything would be okay, and it is. After a few hiccups getting settled here, my bumps soon smoothed and, again, things have fallen into place and I feel very much at peace with my decision and with living here.

Us on one of our many hikes.

Us on one of our many hikes.

So whatever major decision(s) you are wrestling with, if you remain calm, positive and optimistic and consciously work towards your endgame, it will all be okay. Sometimes you have to jump without a parachute and trust that the universe will provide a soft landing, and with a bit of faith, it will.

At my agency's party with one of my bookers, Jenna. They are beyond awesome.

At my agency's party with one of my bookers, Jenna. They are beyond awesome.

With my fellow Bobbi Brown makeup artists at a recent event. The best crew ever!

With my fellow Bobbi Brown makeup artists at a recent event. The best crew ever!

And feelin' good like a lady should on a test shoot! Photo credit: Kimmie Fadem

And feelin' good like a lady should on a test shoot! Photo credit: Kimmie Fadem



New York to Nature

First of all, I will admit right off the bat that I'm overdue for a post (or two, or three...). Why the delay, you ask? Well, I've been a wee bit distracted with settling into my new life in Portland, OR.

With Moma T at Mt. Rushmore on the drive out.

With Moma T at Mt. Rushmore on the drive out.

My choice is not as random as you think. Needing a major reboot and life change, as many New Yorkers sometimes do, I picked Portland. Why? A number of reasons, but the main one being that I needed to be someplace where I could actually hear myself think again, and where I could get back to my creative self. I know what you're thinking...that New York is creative and how could I leave, and yes, you're are right. New York is creative, but it is also frenetic, exhausting, expensive, irritating, dirty, and claustrophobic. Basically, for every positive attribute that is New York - and there are many - there are just as many that are counter. For me, New York was becoming untenable and I found it hard to focus because there was always so much going on. So much activity in the city, too many thoughts in my head, just too much of  everything. I needed to step back and reevaluate the course of my life and get some breathing room.

Enter Portland. Ah.

New view from my window! Much better than a brick wall, AKA, the New York view!

New view from my window! Much better than a brick wall, AKA, the New York view!

Me and Avery on the town in Portland!

Me and Avery on the town in Portland!

I'm not the first concrete jungle expat here, nor will I be the last, but I'm pleased as punch to call Portland my new home. The lifestyle is chill and relaxed, the food is amazing (as you may have heard), and it's super dog-friendly. So dog-friendly, in fact, that I feel Portland's tag line should be: Portland. Where dogs are people too.

Avery enjoying her new leashless life with her new cousins.

Avery enjoying her new leashless life with her new cousins.

Avery checks out a park ranger in Bend.

Avery checks out a park ranger in Bend.

It's also nice to sleep at night without the white noise of the city (i.e. sirens, loud music, voices, etc.) While this New York soundtrack is totally fine during the day when you're out and about, it grows a little tiresome when you're trying to have a quiet night at home reading, writing or otherwise, or when your neighbor decides to start his or her merengue party at 11pm that doesn't end until 4 or 5 the next morning. Sigh.

Channeling my inner monkey in Bend.

Channeling my inner monkey in Bend.

Avery  tickles her grandmother pink in Portland.

Avery  tickles her grandmother pink in Portland.

I've got nothing but love for New York, but it was time for me to move on. 

Nom nom nom! Tall T EATS!

Nom nom nom! Tall T EATS!

In addition eating my way through the city, I've been working with my sports and fitness modeling agency, which is headquartered here. (Oh, not to worry. I plan to crush it, Tall T style, and be the new face of Nike before long. :))  I've also been getting back to my beauty roots, as it were, and working as a Bobbi Brown makeup artist. I'm so honored to be a part of a brand that I love so much and it makes me feel so good to make my clients happy when they leave my chair. (Hugs goodbye are regular and are so very nice.)

A fun day working for Bobbi.

A fun day working for Bobbi.

Speaking of beauty, this post would not be complete if I didn't let you in on some of my Tall T fav's for fall. This arsenal of products have been invaluable and are seeing me (and my transitioning skin) through this season.

My hair would be a hot mess if it were not for Nuxe's Huile Prodigieuse oil. I spray this on my hair at night and in the mornings and it keeps it so soft and is non-greasy. It's a dry oil and is also good for the face and doesn't clog your pores.

Plant-based Clarins' Exfoliating Cleanser with Orange Extract is my jam. This gentle cleanser sloughs off those pesky dead skin cells and leaves my skin radiant and fresh. This is a great hybrid product in that it's a two step in one. (The scent is yummy too!) Their Eye Contour Gel works wonders too. This glorious eye gel addresses dark circles and puffiness - which the stress of a move will give you! - and works its magic while it goes on nice and cool. And I can't forget the HydraQuench cream. I use this gem at night and looooove the way it melts into my skin and gives me a nice, luxurious glow. I have terribly dry skin and this cream handles my situation.

My fall skincare staples.

My fall skincare staples.

My newly discovered Angelina Organic Skincare has quickly become a staple. This Bend, Oregon brand contains all organic ingredients and is made right in the back of Angelina's shop.  She has an array of fantastic products and I've been grooving on the Coconut Bliss Exfoliating Cream Mask (for, ahem, "mature" skin...can't deny it!) and the Youth In Bloom Hydrating Cleanser (I'm recapturing my youth with this!).

And no routine is complete without Bobbi Brown skincare. One of Bobbi's essentials, her Hydrating Eye Cream, is a must for everyone. It not only preps the eye for corrector concealer - the secret to the universe - but it works for all skin types and contains her enriched mineral water base, along with avocado oil and jojoba seed oil and balances and revives the skin. Another jam is the Hydrating Face Cream. This is my morning go to before applying my makeup. In addition to the enriched water mineral base, this cream contains caffeine (soothes the skin) and algae extract. 

These products keep me camera ready! (Photo by Kimmie Fadem)

These products keep me camera ready! (Photo by Kimmie Fadem)

So, in a nutshell, that's what's been keeping me so busy. Extracting myself from my old life, and integrating myself into my new one.

At heart, I'm just a girl from the midwest, a child of Joliet, and don't claim to know more than anybody else, but what I do know is that if you want to change your life no one is going to get you out of your current one and hand you a new one on a shiny platter. You have to dig deep, do the work, find the courage to change, and just effing do it.

Smooches!!!!!

T

 

Crazy for Clarins

I've been a lazy blogger as of late, I'll admit it. Summer sidled up again and between traveling and being social, my blogging has falling by the wayside. That all changes today because I want to share with you the amazing experience I had with the iconic French skincare brand Clarins at Saks today. I was fortunate enough to be their guest and received a facial, makeover and treats and can not thank them enough.

With Tony Losavio of Clarins before being whisked away to the spa.

With Tony Losavio of Clarins before being whisked away to the spa.

My facial was given by Elaine Farmer, one of their best aestheticians, and it was as educational as it was cleansing. She explained everything from the history of the brand, to the product's ingredients  and all points in between. It was great getting schooled about the brand's gentle plant-based products while she cleansed me to perfection.

Ah. So very relaxing.

Ah. So very relaxing.

After my dreamy facial, Tony, a lead educator of the brand, gave me a makeover, also explaining the makeup's ingredients and benefits as he worked on me. Tony had so much passion for the brand and made the makeover one of the most fun I've ever had. From receiving a lymphatic massage during my facial (highly recommended) to discovering their now greater range of colors and shades of makeup (they are listening to women of color demanding more!), it was a most excellent experience.

Tony works his magic.

Tony works his magic.

The finished product!

The finished product!

I left Saks ready to take on the world with my clean fresh look, and am beyond excited to try all the beauty booty they sent me home with. I am certainly crazy for Clarins and you will be too!

Feelin' good like a lady should!

Feelin' good like a lady should!




Getting camera ready

As a model, when I know I have a shoot coming up it's not unusual to start prepping days or weeks in advance. Knowing I had a shoot this past weekend, I got a jump on things a few days prior to get myself ready.

First stop, the gym. In order to feel and look my best for a shoot, I tend to intensify my workouts and focus on varying them so my muscles don't get bored and stop responding. For example, last week I did a mix of yoga, weight training and strength training, aided by RockTape as I've been dealing with tennis elbow for the past few months. (Apparently it is brought on by "overuse" - as if we don't all overuse our forearms - and comes with a "very long recovery period," according to my doctor. Ugh.) Although this tape didn't completely alleviate the pain, it did lessen enough to help me get through my workout.

Trying to get it done on the TRX.

Trying to get it done on the TRX.

Following a tough workout comes a good shower and shampoo, and I like SoapBox's Coconut Oil one. This affordable sulfate and paraben-free shampoo (available at Target) is especially good for black hair as it's properties envelope the follicles, thickening and moisturizing in the process. Plus this company also donates a month's supply of clean water to a country in need for every bottle of their products sold, so you can feel especially good about your purchase.

And the last stop to getting camera ready for me is La Mer's The Concentrate. (I won't pretend this isn't expensive, because it is, but having good, nourished, clean skin on which to apply makeup is crucial as a model.) This "supercharged serum" calms any irritation, melts easily into the skin and gives a matte finish that provides a perfect base before applying makeup. La Mer is definitely a luxury purchase, or an investment, in my view, but their products do deliver.

Getting my body, hair and skin in shape is just as important, if not more, than wardrobe or makeup. This maintenance is an on-going process - along with so much more - that go into being camera ready. Modeling is notoriously unpredictable and requires me to be on point in all areas for those last minute castings and photo shoots. And being in my fourth decade - heeeeeeey, it becomes increasingly more important to constantly look after myself and maintain!

A silly outtake. (Photo credit: Maureen Bridget Photography)

A silly outtake. (Photo credit: Maureen Bridget Photography)

Getting my vitamin D during the snaps! (Photo credit: Maureen Bridget Photography)

Getting my vitamin D during the snaps! (Photo credit: Maureen Bridget Photography)

(Photo credit: Maureen Bridget Photography)
(Photo credit: Maureen Bridget Photography)




European beauty

While on my recent holiday to Rome, Paris and London, I took the opportunity to stock up on some beauty booty as well as relied on some existing favorites to see me through the trip.

It's no secret that the Icelandic skincare brand Bioeffect is my jam, and their day cream kept my skin hydrated in-flight as well as throughout my stay. This well-regarded brand is the secret of many European women and the cream includes the active ingredient EGF cellular activator, which is key to increased collagen and elastin production in the skin. Their eye serum also contains this ingredient and was a godsend on my trip as it kept my jet lag from showing in my eyes.

My European beauty kit.

My European beauty kit.

My hair is grateful (and soft as silk) for the Rene Furterer products I picked up in Rome. The Carthame hydrating hair mask is just what my hair needed after this past winter in NYC, and their Karite leave-in treatment has also given my hair the extra moisture it was starved for.

I'm also loving my newly acquired Nuxe Huile Prodigieuse. This multi-purpose oil contains six plant oils (macadamia, hazelnut, borage, sweet almond, camilla and St. John's Wart) and can be used on your face, body and hair. (I've been using after showering for extra soft skin.) For it to be as luxurious as it is, this French brand is still affordable and will have you, too, feeling soft and supple before long.

Next up, my L'Ombre dans l'Eau solid perfume by Diptyque kept me smelling like a lady - heeeeeey - and traveled easily, as it solved the problem of having to pack another liquid, and I also picked up a tube of the Italian toothpaste, Marvis, in Rome. This stuff is like a mint explosion in your mouth. Intense!

And lastly, Dukesy the dog came home with me from the Dukes Hotel in London and my Porter was excellent in-flight reading.

Glowin' in all my European booty glory in London.

Glowin' in all my European booty glory in London.




One is the magic number.

Inspired by Courtney Colwell's piece, No, I Don't Date. Here's Why, brought to my attention on Facebook by my friend Kristin Lajeunesse, I felt compelled to weigh in on this matter as it relates to self-love.

I found Ms. Colwell's story very relatable and spot-on on so many levels. She talks about her fulfilling life as a singleton and the happiness she has with it. I could not agree more. Like Ms. Colwell, my life is chock-full of amazing experiences, great friends, awesome travel, and professional success. And like a lot of women out there, I'm sure, I have not measured my life within the confines of a man's acceptance or let one define my worth. (I love myself too much to give someone that kind of power over me.) If, while dating, someone isn't showing enough interest or making an equal effort, then I will happily walk away. I don't need to be with someone so badly that I resort to desperation or insecurities. Or as my friend says in such a case, If it doesn't stop, it's not your train. There will be another one.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not a prude, man-hater, or otherwise, but rather, I think, exercise a good amount of common sense. There are many wonderful things about being in a relationship, but also just as many about not being in one, and if you're NOT in one it's no reason to be treated as a leper. My mom raised me well in that she encouraged my independence long ago as a kid. There were times when I couldn't find a friend to go with me to the movies or to the mall and I would whine that I then could not go. She was never one for that attitude and encouraged me to go alone. "Don't sit around and wait for anybody. If you do you'll never go anywhere or do anything. If you want to go somewhere and no one can join you, just go by yourself." Can you imagine what great affect the wisdom of those words had on me? To a young girl? Amazing. Those words contributed more to me subsequent development then anything else she could have said or done. She gave me the confidence and courage to take on the world myself - even if we were only talking about a quick trip to the mall. I also have her to thank for my big city street smarts as she eventually let me go into Chicago (from our home in Joliet) alone as a teen model. Or if she was with me I would inevitably be a block ahead of her on the streets (due to my long legs and lengthy strides) and I would wait until she caught up at the next corner. But what she never did was tell me to slow down and wait for her. She let me walk at my own pace and kept an eye on me up ahead and let me deal with all the catcalls, hisses and whistles from men on the streets. But not to worry, when she reached those same men after having witnessed them harass me, she would give them a piece of her mind. It was amazing to watch! This little bitty thing serving a construction worker a new asshole. All of these experiences were invaluable as I developed into a woman and had a positive affect on my self-confidence, which, in turn, has fostered my self-love and resistance to just be in a relationship for the sake of being in one. The skills I learned as a kid taught me that I was enough as I was and did not need the validation of others to make me feel whole.

IMG_5304.JPG

With Moma T the night I won Harper's Bazaar's Fabulous At Every Age contest.

Hellz yeah!

However, I am not immune to heartbreak or from finding myself in a less than desirable or unhealthy situation (child, have I got stories!), just like everyone else. The difference - and I believe this is what Ms. Colwell was getting at - is how I handle such romantic obstacles. It's taken some time but I can now better see much earlier on if something isn't right for whatever reason, and if it isn't, I'm okay takong the solo Tall T road. Like Ms. Colwell, I know that that road is paved with gold and warrants many rewards and is just as fulfilling as any other. It is a peaceful autonomous space where I always have my best interest at heart and can do whatever the heck I want with my time. I travel freely and often and have wonderful loving friends and family in my life, including my four-legged daughter Avery, who gives me so much unconditional love that it's crazy. She is not a substitute for a partner, but we have a good life, the two of us.

Funnin' with the pooch.

Funnin' with the pooch.

Of course, I am open to dating and relationships but will not make it my life's mission to finding The One because as far as I am concerned I've already found The One. Myself. I am secure and am largely happy where I am in life and love myself and accept me for who I am, and isn't that what we look for in someone else? For that person to love us unconditionally and be secure in that love? We are all fine as we are and are our own best Ones. You just have to believe it. The second you go about your business and live the life you want, is usually the second that other person will appear to enhance your journey.

Or he or she won't. And that's fine too.

Jill Scott's One Is The Magic Number. Damn skippy it is.

Avery poses with my novel.

Avery poses with my novel.

Visiting my lovely friend Margot in Australia.

Visiting my lovely friend Margot in Australia.

Celebrating my birthday with friends in Mexico City.

Celebrating my birthday with friends in Mexico City.



The best body butter

I have to say that the one body product that has saved my skin over these last dry, chilly weeks in NYC, is Fresh Market's Body Butter. It is so soft and luxurious and melts right into the skin and leaves you smelling like a slice of heaven. I'm an big fan of the Bergamot Clementine "flavor" and apparently so was a fellow gym-goer as she commented in the locker room today how someone smelled so good and citrusy. I proudly raised my hand and proclaimed, It's me! It's me! I shared some with her and she was as hooked as I am.

 

I know I talked about Fresh Market's products on my last blog post, but trust me, there's a reason why.

Yours in moisture,

T

Get your hands on this!

I'm not a resolutions kind of girl, but I am seemingly always resolved to improve my skin in one way or another, and my latest find, The Fresh Market's health and beauty line, has filled this need for me nicely. I have extremely dry hands–not to be helped by winter weather–and their hand creams provide a ton of organic shea butter-based moisture that last through a hand washing or two. They come in yummy interesting scents (bergamot clementine, fig olive leaf, vanilla cardamon) and will keep your hands smelling as good as they feel.

Don't forget to pick up the body butters too!

Don't forget to pick up the body butters too!


Fightin' Faint

Okay, ladies, this one is for you. We all know that we need to have the skills to protect ourselves on the streets and having never taken an actual self-defense class before, I signed up for one at the Chok Sabai Gym in midtown. Taught by the gym's owner, Natalie Fuz, and her colleagues, the 2.5 hour class was empowering, enlightening and very necessary.

Her colleagues demonstrate how to remove someone's hand from your neck, twist their arm down and get past them.

Her colleagues demonstrate how to remove someone's hand from your neck, twist their arm down and get past them.

And as someone who has been verbally assaulted endlessly throughout my life (and can more than relate to the recent Hollaback Catcall Video, as I'm sure most of you can) and twice physically so–once in Denver after a Broncos game where someone grabbed my ass and ran off, I gave chase but lost him in the crowd, and once on the streets of Savannah when my tush was grabbed again. This time he could not escape. I turned and confronted him, got in his face (looking down at the coward) and yelled at him so viciously that I thought my my reddened face was going to explode, to the point where he went from denying it to finally admitting it and apologizing. (The entire incident was witnessed by a group of women who'd gathered around and watched me annihilate him and clapped loudly after I'd finished with him.) As awful as those two situations were, they could have been worse and I should have taken a self-defense course much earlier in my life, but better late than never, as they say.

Sadly, I, along with countless women, can relate to this. Men, please STOP doing this. Stop. If you don't want someone speaking to your mother, sister, daughter, wife or girlfriend like this, do not speak to other women in this way. It is a turn-on to no one but you.

Natalie simulates an attack from behind.

Natalie simulates an attack from behind.

Trying to free myself from her grip.

Trying to free myself from her grip.

I don't need to provide you with the stats on how many women (and men, too) are attacked on a daily basis–you can imagine how high they are–and for as big and bad as we think we are and can "handle anything," let me tell you that after taking this class I can say that there is nothing further from the truth. Natalie and her colleagues taught us moves that you may have never dreamed could get you out of an unpleasant situation (I'll just say that the same bridge pose that's practiced in yoga holds its own merit here). But the most important thing that was stressed is that when you create a window to get away, do not continue to engage, but take your opportunity and go. Run. And holler like you mean it. And while you're taking down the coward who has chosen to attack you, also remember to breathe and kick and punch as audibly as you can. Whatever sounds you make, make them loudly to the best of your ability.

Throwing some elbow punches to her solar plexus region to inflict pain and get free. (Finally, my pointy elbows have found their purpose, as she can tell you!)

Throwing some elbow punches to her solar plexus region to inflict pain and get free. (Finally, my pointy elbows have found their purpose, as she can tell you!)

Natalie protects herself from my punches used to break away.

Natalie protects herself from my punches used to break away.

Freed enough to push her off of me before running away.

Freed enough to push her off of me before running away.

My acting as assailant, taking my victim to the ground. (We also learned how to break your fall in this scenario.)

My acting as assailant, taking my victim to the ground. (We also learned how to break your fall in this scenario.)

But a deterrent from initially being attacked is confidence. If you walk with your head held high and shoulders back, aware of your surroundings (i.e. not lost in your phone), with your keys in your hand if you're going to your car or home (they make an excellent weapon), you are less likely to become a victim. You are a strong woman and carrying yourself as such can prevent problems before they happen. Not always, of course, but it can help. So the next time you're walking around, walk with purpose and meaning and don't be afraid to make eye contact with strangers. If they know you SEE them, they may be more inclined to keep their bad intentions to themselves.

My personal protective weapon of choice, when I feel it's necessary, is a Swiss Army Knife with the cork screw between my fingers. Walk with this as such and you're bound to keep your personal space in check.

My personal protective weapon of choice, when I feel it's necessary, is a Swiss Army Knife with the cork screw between my fingers. Walk with this as such and you're bound to keep your personal space in check.


Breakfast beauty

If there's one thing I like it's a beauty-themed event in the morning. I'm an early bird anyway, so it's great to get a dose of beauty to kick off the day. This morning was one such day. As a guest of More Magazine, I attended Lancome's Secrets of French Beauty event this morning at Saks Fifth Avenue.

Genevieve Monsma, More's Beauty Editor-at-Large, and Andrew Armstrong of Lancome filled us in on just what makes French beauty so captivating and alluring. We should take the following tips, dispensed by Genevieve, to heart.

With Genevieve from More Magazine and Laura from Lancome.

With Genevieve from More Magazine and Laura from Lancome.

1. Relish your regime. (In short, luxuriate in your skin care processes and do them religiously and with purpose.)

2. Get a guru about maintenance. (Be it a facialist or dermatologist, find one to assist you in the maintenance of your skin.)

3. Treat your skin kindly. (It will thank you.)

4. Take your skincare south. (Don't neglect the rest of your body in your process.)

5. Get your beauty sleep. (Enough said.)

6. Adjust your attitude. (This is most important and applies in every aspect of life.)

Testing Lancome's luxurious Absolue L'Extrait line was a beautifully glorious way to start the day and I thank them and More Magazine for giving me the opportunity to do so.

With Chris Manciavalano from More Magazine.

With Chris Manciavalano from More Magazine.

With writer Janice Schacter Lintz.

With writer Janice Schacter Lintz.

Genevieve and Andrew impart advice.

Genevieve and Andrew impart advice.

With reps from More Magazine and Lancome.

With reps from More Magazine and Lancome.


Classically Clarins

One thing I love about being a beauty expert is that I am constantly learning about different brands–especially when I thought I knew most everything about a particular brand. Case in point: Clarins. This classic French brand has been around for sixty years and I thought I was well-versed on it until tonight. I attended their beauty party at Saks Fifth Avenue, in conjunction with W Magazine, and in talking with reps from the brand, got a great education on all things Clarins. For instance, I learned the proper way to apply their award-winning Double Serum to achieve maximum effect (note: it's all in the way you apply pressure to your face, directing the pressure down and back to get the blood flowing), and learned that all their products–including makeup–are plant-based. (Who says plant-based is just for the kitchen?)

With Tony Losavio, Education Manager of Clarins.

With Tony Losavio, Education Manager of Clarins.

Checking out the products.

Checking out the products.

With Clarins makeup artist, Jean Fayard.

With Clarins makeup artist, Jean Fayard.

In addition to gaining better insight into the history of the brand, it was great fun to try the various products and learn different tips and tricks that make Clarins unique. But most importantly, the energy was infectious as the passion of the brand was crystal clear when talking with seasoned employees whose own great skin was a testament to the effectiveness of the brand.

Dawn Cassara, VP of Sales, Clarins, discusses the brand.

Dawn Cassara, VP of Sales, Clarins, discusses the brand.

A bit of bubbly with Susan Small of Bella PR.

A bit of bubbly with Susan Small of Bella PR.

Dawn and I after having a robust convo about beauty and skincare.

Dawn and I after having a robust convo about beauty and skincare.

Jean gives her fave tips and tricks.

Jean gives her fave tips and tricks.

Thank you Saks and Clarins for a wonderful night. (And for my treats!)

Thank you Saks and Clarins for a wonderful night. (And for my treats!)

So excited about my Clarins takeaways!

So excited about my Clarins takeaways!


The comfy carry.

Ladies, how many times have you been out and about and wished you weren't bogged down with so much stuff on your person? In NYC that's me nearly everyday.

Well let's all bow down to Sherry Goff for she has given us a solution. As the creator of the Pocket Bra, it's now possible to carry a few things in your bra and be hands-free when you need to be. I can attest to how comfy the bra actually is and undetectable the contents are hidden away in it.

Sherry Goff and her amazing invention.

Sherry Goff and her amazing invention.

Perfect for running errands when you only need a few things, or for a night out dancing when you only want to carry the basics and not a bag. Give it a try and experience the ultimate freedom of being bag free!

 

The importance of being present.

Sometimes we go through our days being unsatisfied or indecisive for whatever reason, unable to make a choice about the smallest things put ahead of us. I had one such day today. In my case, I was diddling about town looking for a place to write that also served the precise meal I was looking for. As I wasted nearly two hours (!) trolling through the village and in the meatpacking in my quest, I finally decided to bag the entire mission. Either the place was too noisy, there were no outlets to charge my computer, or the food wasn't tickling my fancy, leaving me highly frustrated. (Laughable first world "problems", I know.) In the end I decided to swing on over to Whole Foods and just buy the ingredients for my elusive meal and prepare it at home.

Starving by this point,  I navigated the crowded aisles like a woman possessed in search of her grass-fed local organic beef. Provisions in basket, I got into the long line and was about to reply to a text when a handsome guy in front of me asked if I'd save his spot while he ran to grab something he'd forgotten. Of course, not a problem. After thanking me upon his return, he struck up a conversation and I immediately put away my phone. We were having a nice conversation as the line inched slowly along when I noticed he was wearing the male version of the exact same t shirt that I had at home that I'd five-finger-discounted from my bestie in Boston a year or so ago. What a funny coincidence! Neither of us had ever seen anyone else in that shirt and we had a good laugh about it which led to more chatter. Eventually, we were talking about modeling (he is a former one too), about what nuts we like to use in our pestos (pine nuts), about where we were from, and whatever else that naturally flowed during our crawl to the front of the line. But most importantly he confided in me that I'd made his day as he'd literally had a relationship end a few hours prior and that talking to me made him feel better. (This led to a brief talk on relationships and made us both question why so many people do not want to commit. More commiseration.)  And I disclosed that my meeting him gave my day the purpose it had lacked. I filled him in on my aimless wandering about earlier and that our connection turned my fruitless day into a meaningful one.

When our line was called and he was to head to a register, we both–nearly simultaneously–offered each other our cards and vowed to continue the conversation.

What a kawinkydink! (And yes, he let me take this photo.)

What a kawinkydink! (And yes, he let me take this photo.)

I'd had the most natural, organic, spontaneous conversation with a total stranger than I'd had in a long time (the last being 2 years ago on a train from Boston to NYC when I met another handsome interesting man from Brooklyn, who I remain friends with to this day) and it was a good reminder of how important being in the moment is and of the value of actual human conversations. Had I chosen to engage with my phone instead of with him once he'd returned to the line, I would have missed the opportunity of speaking with a really nice person. We are so "connected" and wired these days that we sometimes miss what is right in front of us. It is crucial to remember that the world does not revolve around our phones and that the connects we make in person are just as important, if not more, than the ones made virtually.

So the next time you're standing in line or on a train, resist the urge to disconnect and lose yourself in your phone and try saying hello and smiling at your neighbor. You never know, you could meet someone really fantastic.

Farm to skin...perfect for Tall T

As a frequent traveler with dry skin–which dries more at 36,000 feet, I have to worry no more thanks to the "farm to skin" line, Board and Batten, for it has got my back–or my face, as it were.

Such beautiful simple packaging too!

Such beautiful simple packaging too!

Created by Patricia Walker, this Florida-based handcrafted organic natural skin care line offers an incredibly nourishing line of products for your skin, including a wonderfully moisturizing eye cream that I am in love with.

Board and Batten's Eye Revive with Olive Squaline, my new jam.

Board and Batten's Eye Revive with Olive Squaline, my new jam.


With Patricia Walker, creator of Board and Batten.

With Patricia Walker, creator of Board and Batten.

Having just flown to the west coast and to the pacific northwest, I spent a lot of time in the air but didn't need to worry about my eyes because they were nourished with Board and Batten's Eye Revive with Olive Squaline. Never greasy, the skin under my eyes was supple to the touch and I did not look worse for the wear when I deplaned.

As I tend to travel a lot, this is one line that I do not have to worry about reapplying throughout the flight because it delivers adequate moisture for the duration. Learn more here and check it out for yourself today.

Styled, simply.

If there is one good reason for being put together when you leave your apartment in NYC is that you never know who you're going to meet.  I didn't meet anyone new or exciting today, but by the reactions I received from my outfit, it felt as if I were the celebrated one.

I had no idea my simple Helmut Lang jersey knit charcoal dress was going to illicit the amount of positive response that it did when I dressed this morning.  And I certainly never thought that wearing my glasses instead of my contacts would add to it.  (The specks were a utilitarian choice as I just didn't feel like wearing my contacts.)

Styled, simply, in Helmut Lang.

Styled, simply, in Helmut Lang.

I received so many compliments today from friends and strangers alike, that it made me wonder if normally I look so bad that everyone would comment on how good I looked. I may as well have been in a Dior gown, the response was so great. 

Being in New York I try to make a point of looking my best when I leave the house because, but I never put too much fuss into my dressing.  Today was a reminder that the effortlessness of a simple dress and minimum accessories can speak louder than a seemingly purposefully-crafted outfit.  (It is this simplicity that I adore in my favorite brands–Helmut Lang, Theory and Comptoir Des Cotonniers–that their clean easy elegant lines create statements beyond anything I could ever say.)

So if you didn't have a reason before to pull yourself together when you leave home, the unintended consequences of being complimented (not cat-called)  can provide a nice ego boost when trudging your way through a Monday.

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Get your green on with Motto Sparkling Matcha Tea

As important as exercise is in maintaining a healthy lifestyle, what you put into your body is just as important, if not more.  All too often it is assumed that simply working out a lot will help you get the results you want, but it's really about giving your body the proper fuel it needs in order to achieve optimum results.

I have always been a big proponent of drinking a lot of water (we all know the many benefits of doing this, so I don't need to list them here), but every so often I like to mix it up with something equally as refreshing and healthy that is not soda.  I have found my answer in Motto Sparkling Matcha Tea. Created by Tom Olcott and Henry Crosby in Boston, this drink gives you all the health benefits of Matcha Green Tea, one of nature's best sources for health and wellness.  Crafted using clean, simple ingredients (apple cider vinegar, fresh lemon juice, honey and organic agave), Motto Sparkling Matcha Tea packs both a refreshing and invigorating punch, and with it's smooth mild taste, is a compliment to any meal or is great alone. 

Incorporate Motto into your clean livin' lifestyle.

Incorporate Motto into your clean livin' lifestyle.

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Check your local Whole Foods for this tasty drink.

Check your local Whole Foods for this tasty drink.



PiperWai, naturally dry.

As a beauty expert and blogger I get to try a lot of products; some blow me away, some less so, but I'm happy to report that a product I was recently introduced to, PiperWai Natural Deodorant, really impressed me. 

With PiperWai Natural Deodorant founders Jess Edelstein and Sarah Ribner.

With PiperWai Natural Deodorant founders Jess Edelstein and Sarah Ribner.

Like a lot of women, I have been a devotee to traditional antiperspirants, but I thought I'd give this one a try on an especially humid night earlier this week, and to my surprise, this product really worked.

I was at the Bon Appetit Hot 10 party the other night and boy was it hot in there! 

If you look closely enough you'll see me. (Hint: I'm the tall black girl.)

If you look closely enough you'll see me. (Hint: I'm the tall black girl.)

The place was jammed with fashionable culinary types and I soon found myself dancing the night away. (Granted, there were only a handful of us boogieing down, but trust me when I tell you I danced like there was no tomorrow.) 

Gettin' my boogie on!

Gettin' my boogie on!

At some point between my two-steppin' and twirlin', I realized that my armpits were dry as a bone despite my body's every increasing body temperature.  I could not believe that this natural deodorant had kept me drier under my humid dancin' circumstances than my traditional one would have.  (I dance a lot, so I know.)

Pit check! All good.

Pit check! All good.

 Every girl deserves a non-smelly dry pit and I know PiperWai will work for you as it worked for me.

Read more about this remarkable product here.