Yes, burnout existed 30 years ago – but how today’s hospital culture is making it worse… aka the “Twitter effect”

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Burnout, burnout, burnout.  It seems like that is all anyone wants to talk about these days.  And I admit, some days, I can get burnt out on burnout.  But, all the attention on the subject got me thinking… did burnout not exist 30 years ago? Why is this such a hot topic now?

And that is what brings me to this post – I came to the realization that burnout very much existed 30 years ago, but that the current “write-up” culture, and what I affectionately refer to as the “Twitter effect”, that is now prevalent in healthcare and most US hospitals has made it infinitely worse.

Let’s face it.  Surgeons have a reputation – bossy, mean, rude, impersonal, hard to work with, and difficult.  And, this reputation, just like Rome, wasn’t built in a day.  It wasn’t even that long ago (during my training years) that surgeons would throw instruments, throw nurses, medical students, even anesthesiologists out of their operating rooms, or yell, scream, and curse to their heart’s content.  Infidelity and extramarital affairs were rampant, paperwork wouldn’t be completed on time, and bad outcomes only had to be discussed at a weekly Morbidity and Mortality (M&M) conference and only with other surgical colleagues.

Clearly, most of the above described behavior is unprofessional, inappropriate, and unacceptable.  But, what it did do was provide a mechanism, a valve so to speak, with which to vent anger, frustration, sadness and fatigue.  And, for a very long time this behavior was viewed as a fact of life.  Nurses would talk amongst themselves, junior residents would get stuck having to operate frequently with the most malignant personalities, clerks and environmental services staff would just look the other way.

But then, over time, we became enlightened.  We became proactive in empowering any and every one to speak up against unprofessional behavior, sexual harassment, or profane language.    We began to focus more and more on ways to measure performance. How long does it take for a physician to complete their paperwork?  How many patients are you seeing in a day compared to your peers?  Hospital complications are now labeled as “never” events.   M&M’s have become Disney World vacations when compared to having to re-live bad outcomes over and over again in hospital-run root cause analyses and peer review sessions to examine the role of the physician in bad outcomes.

But somewhere in all this enlightenment, we have lost the true message of healthcare.  

Healthcare is about relationships, not write-ups.

We have now cultured a culture in which having a bad day, losing one’s patience, or not smiling enough can now lead to getting “written up” by anyone in the hospital – student, resident, nurse, clerk, patient, etc.  The filling out of paperwork, and the careful coding of certain physical conditions so as not to get dinged by the hospital for providing “suboptimal” care, are now fodder for write ups.  Physicians are held captive and measured by the electronic medical record, NSQIP, 360 degree evaluations, and quality metrics.

So what does being written up mean exactly?  It means meetings (often multiple) to discuss said incident or incidents, papers being placed in personnel files, and sometimes poor job evaluations.  I call this the “Twitter effect” – anyone can say anything at all about you, true or false, whether you have worked somewhere for 15 years or 15 minutes… and it gets attention.

Don’t get me wrong here. Professional behavior should be expected at work, and we should always strive to be better physicians, nurses, healthcare workers and humans tomorrow than we are today.

But, punitive attitudes and actions are NOT going to result in any of that.  I have never written anyone up in 11 years, and I pride myself on that because it does not change behavior.

Bottom line, if someone is an a**hole, writing them up is not going to change that.  And, if someone just had a bad day, or is having a rough week, having a relationship with them, being able to engage them in a conversation, will change their future behavior. A piece of paper will not.  Most times, people already know when they messed up, giving it undue amounts of attention only lead to feelings of defensiveness and self-doubt.  And the truth of the matter is bad days happen to all of us.

I am human.  Am I at my best after 36 hours of call inside the hospital with 60 patients on service, back to back emergency surgeries and emotional discussions with families about poor outcomes for their loved ones?  Absolutely not.  But am I still expected to smile, teach residents, make the medical students feel comfortable, get daily paperwork done within 24 hours, have the patience of Gandhi and not make any errors in clinical judgement?  You better believe it.  And, for the most part, I’m 100% okay with that.  I signed up to be a surgeon, I didn’t draw it out of a hat.  However, the feeling of walking on eggshells, the inability to have a bad day, lose one’s patience, or be anything other than perfect is soul-crushing.

I feel this especially as a trauma surgeon.  Surgeons in general are at a national shortage, and especially so with trauma surgeons.  Most institutions are not running fully staffed, leading to more call nights, longer hours, and more fatigue.  And no, this isn’t subjective. Being a trauma surgeon and the amount of call a physician takes have both been directly associated with the development of burnout.

Gone are the days where a surgeon can throw an instrument or curse out an entire operating room… and good riddance, quite frankly.  But also gone are the days in which anyone can have a bad day, get frustrated, or maybe say the wrong thing, and have it understood or handled without a paper trail.  The relationships we form at work are meaning less and less, and paperwork is meaning more and more. And, until we change this – until we change the punitive and negative culture within healthcare – we will continue talking about, and becoming, burned out.

1 (usually growing) reason why every single man in America should care about maternity leave

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You all have prostates.

Seriously.  But let me explain further to those people who simply can not fathom as to how a woman could dare ask for maternity leave and expect her other team members to “pick up her slack, because she chose to get pregnant”.  (yep, check the comments section on my last post here, pretty entertaining, in fact!)

Life happens to everyone.

If my profession as a trauma surgeon has taught me nothing else, it has taught me this.

“Life happens to everyone,” and unfortunately, a lot of “life” isn’t pleasant.  Car accidents, strokes, heart attacks, broken legs, and ill family members are just a few examples of life situations that happen to everyone, whether or not you have a uterus.  And guess what they all have in common?  A need for time off of work.

Now, the distinct disadvantage here is that women usually need a set block of time off for maternity leave that seems relatively long (to some, at least) and at an age where they are usually young and healthy, but let me tell you gentlemen, people are going to be covering for YOU when your prostates need to come out and your coronary artery needs a stent.  No, you may not need 12 weeks all at once, but, between doctor’s appointments, procedures, recovery, and complications, or at some other point in time in your life, you are going to need significant time off of work, with your partners/coworkers/etc. chipping in and helping out.  And, oftentimes without the 6 month’s notice that your pregnant colleague is able to give.  And guess what else?  That is OKAY.  That is what life is about – building relationships and working in teams to get the job done, even if someone is having a bad day, a stroke, or a baby.

Oh, and just as an FYI, let’s just say you break your leg while skiing and you need at least 6 weeks off of work… I don’t think people will judge you and say that went skiing and break your leg – accidents happen.  So being judgmental and saying that every woman chooses to get pregnant is pretty inane.  You chose to go skiing, she chose to have sex. Get over it.

Maternity leave = family leave. (Or, hopefully will equal family leave at some point soon in the future.)

I have to admit, I was blown away by the responses I received on our blog, through FaceBook, Twitter, and even my own personal email from my last post.  Women from all walks of life shared their stories, and overall, as Americans, and as humans, we should both be encouraged and appalled.  Some female physicians wrote how supportive their partners were, but as a group, would have to sneak around HR to get her time off.  Some women went back to work in less than one week to preserve their family’s income and sometimes their job.  Office administrators refusing to allow 15 minutes breaks for new moms to pump breastmilk.  A new mom, forced to use a surrogate, being allowed zero time off because she wasn’t actually birthing the baby herself.  The stories unfortunately go on and on.

Yet, the stories of finding support from male coworkers was encouraging.  And, I do think most men and women without children also, absolutely see the value in family leave – whether it is paternity, maternity, sick leave for themselves or to care for an ailing family member.  Bottom line, every single one of us is going to need time off of work, expected or unexpected, and we are all are going to have to rely on each other, and a system to help us out.  Unfortunately, for most of us, that system does not yet exist… and at the end of the day, we can do this better – for ourselves, and each other.

Hypocrites in our own house: Maternity leave and American Healthcare

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Netflix listens to doctors.  Google, Facebook, and Apple listens to doctors.  The United States Navy and Marine Corps listen.

The above “companies” have updated their maternity leave policies – lengthening them all past 12 weeks… and all paid.

But yet, healthcare doesn’t listen to doctors.  And let me tell you how.

I am pregnant.  Which is a blessing in of itself.  In fact, this is my 4th pregnancy, but I only have one child living.  So really, this is an absolute blessing that I have had a healthy pregnancy so far.  I should be over the moon excited.  Yet, there has been a black cloud over my heart since I first saw the “yes” on the pregnancy test.

Currently, I am the sole income for our family while my husband is in law school.  And yet, my job does not provide fully paid maternity leave.  The thoughts and stress of how we are going to balance our financial needs with my family’s emotional need for me to spend that precious, once in a lifetime time at home with our new son has left me downright drained.

I am currently in “discussions” with my large academic health physicians group as to how much paid leave I will actually receive for maternity leave.  And let me tell you, their initial response was significantly less than 12 weeks.  I think for me, the most disheartening part of these “discussions” with my employers is that they keep asking themselves, “Well, what have we done in the past?” instead of, “What should we be doing?”  Despite the fact that I will need a repeat cesarean section.  Despite the fact that due to short staffing over the past 3 years, I have given up 8 weeks of vacation and worked extended hours for years – including in-house calls up to 62 hours in a row.  Yep, folks, you read that correctly.  I have literally come in to this hospital on a Friday, and not left until a Monday morning.  And I have done it, because that is what the job required, what my hospital needed.  Trauma surgeons are a national shortage, and my profession often calls for dedication above and beyond the imaginable.

I always felt like that dedication was well placed – for my patients, for my hospital, for my community.  And that this dedication was shared by healthcare in general.  However, I feel that maternity leave is an issue that highlights my belief that for many institutions and practices, healthcare has lost its focus.  Healthcare should be about caring for people – our patients and each other.  Healthcare should be setting the standard for how other companies handle maternity leave – yet we are amongst the worst hypocrites.

After all, we are the ones recommending that women exclusively breast feed for a year – yet practice administrators dictate whether or not physicians can build 15 minute pumping breaks into their schedules.  We recommend women not return to work for 8 weeks after a cesarean section, yet we don’t pay them.  Several studies have shown that women who return to work before 12 weeks have children with more behavioral problems in early childhood, yet, if she doesn’t come back by 12 weeks, we take away her job.  We know that depression is directly linked to a lack of time off after the delivery of a baby, yet we continue to point to the letter of the law and say that what we offer is enough.  I wish these examples and studies weren’t real, but they are.

The dollars and cents seem to matter more for those that employ physicians than the health of their physicians.  The disparity of how maternity leave is handled amongst physicians here in the United States is downright shocking.  Some institutions automatically grant 12 weeks paid, but these unfortunately are in the minority. Most pregnant physicians are in a similar situation to me, and are left to fight, scramble, and scrap together time off after delivery and even time to pump when we do return to work.

And the kicker of it is, the physicians are usually the worst hit by these policies.  If I were a nurse, or an hourly employee, I would be able to roll over or accrue my vacation days. Other employees could even donate paid time off to me.  I would be mandated lunch and work breaks so I could pump.  I would never be left wondering how I could safely store breast milk for up to three calendar days. But yet none of these options are typically available to physicians.

I wish this were one of my usually snarky, humorous, Gomerblog worthy posts, but it isn’t. Unfortunately, I am writing today from a place of hurt, a place of feeling abandoned by my own profession – the people that are supposed to care about my health the most, seem to care about it the least.

I hope and pray, for the future of healthcare here in America, that these policies will change – to the benefit of the physicians, and the patients for whom we care.  After all, if we can’t take care of ourselves, how are we supposed to care for others?

“I am definitely the arm candy, but she isn’t my sugar mama!” Confessions of a doctor’s husband.

This post is written by a anonymous member of the Brotherhood of the Doctoring Wives aka someone who is awesome enough and crazy enough to married to a fellow female physician.  Hope you all enjoy!

A few weeks ago, my wife and I received an invitation to THE premier charity event in our city.  The invitation made it quite clear to wear your most formal attire, guys wear tuxes with tails and women wear cocktail dresses.  When we looked closer at the invitation, the envelope was addressed to “Doctor and Mrs. ___”.  My wife quickly pointed out in her raised voice, “YOU ARE NOT THE DOCTOR!”  I rebutted even quicker, “Well, I’m sure as HELL NOT the MRS. EITHER!”  All too often, assumptions are made when there is a doctor in the family that the title belongs to the husband.  These minor assumptions, while we are able to joke and laugh about them, can be very irritating and offensive to both the husband and wife.  While I’m happily married to a physician, many do not realize the heavy burdens physicians and their spouses take on personally as a result of their profession, regardless of gender. As my wife would say it, “The struggle is real.”

My wife and I started dating as undergraduate students, so I’ve been there with her through every step – studying for the MCAT, medical school, internship, residency, and now private practice. Looking back, the last fifteen years have seemed to fly by, but at the time, the struggles of balancing marriage with medicine made some days feel like a lifetime.

On the outside looking in, a person might assume this couple has it all.  We are both highly motivated, goal-oriented people with successful careers. I earned my bachelor’s degree in Economics and earned my MBA while working full time in the banking industry. I even was recently named a Top Forty Under 40 by the local Business Journal. However, it can be difficult to balance my own career aspirations with the time and geographical restraints of my wife’s occupation. Each milestone in her profession seemed to produce a new set of challenges, both personally and professionally, for us as well as for my own life’s ambitions.

Although medical school presented a social scene where medical talk and jokes predominated (Um, no, I DON’T Want to hear about all those foreign objects you have retrieved from a variety of orifices, thanks) which make me lightheaded by the way, I thought things would even out once she was a resident. However, that process presented its own challenges. Match Day occurs in late March, and this is when medical students find out where they will be spending the next 3 – 7 years of their lives in residency. No, they don’t really get to choose – they make a ranking list, the programs make a list of the students they want, it gets plugged into a computer, and voila, “Here’s your future!” Well, because of no knowing where we would be living until 3 months ahead of time was stressful to say the least. The year leading up to Match Day essentially meant I had to put my career on hold. I was going to have to find a new job, and I had no idea where it was going to be! To whom and where was I going to send my resume if I couldn’t even tell them if I was actually going to be moving there or not?  Oh, and let’s get married right in the middle of this…Find a job in 3 months or not be able to support my new wife? Yeah, no biggie. Luckily, I had job contacts in the city where she matched, and my job transition was as seamless as I could have ever hoped.

Sweet! Match Day – check, Wedding – check, new job – check, new house – check – all downhill from here… or so I thought… until July 1 came. Then I realized I was the most wrong I believe I have ever been.

July 1… a day of infamy in academic medicine. When medical students become doctors… the beginning of residency. As a man, one of the hardest things is to have a crying wife. 1. Probably because it’s my fault and 2. Because if it isn’t my fault, I can’t fix it. After my wife’s first 24 hour shift as an intern…. Well, let’s just say it ended with a migraine and sitting in the bathtub sobbing. Alright, I tell myself, here I go, I’m now a husband, not just a boyfriend, “I got this”.  I take a deep breath, channel my inner Lou Holtz, and give her a rousing pep talk worthy of a Super Bowl Halftime. Yeah, well, needless to say, that $hit didn’t work. And, I’m pretty sure I might have made it worse. That night, after she went to sleep, I remember distinctly sitting on the couch and mistakenly (again) thinking, “Okay, although my Lou Holtz impersonation might need some work, first shift is done, it’s gonna get better now.” Yep, you guessed it… wrong again.

One of worst fights of our marriage happened soon after.  We had just moved into our new house. I was setting up the stereo system in our new home and realized there was no way for me to hide the wires to my massive speakers.  Yes, remember those old speakers – the bigger the better.  My wife didn’t want our home to look tacky with exposed wires.  Well guess what, I didn’t care.  I rarely got to see my wife, and when I did, I swear she had been replaced by a human version of Grumpy Cat. Although I am well aware of the old saying, “Choose your battles carefully”, I just didn’t care. The frustrations of a resident’s spouse had taken on a life of its own. The pressures of getting married, moving to a new state, purchasing our first house, starting a new job, my wife starting her job as a resident and all of its resultant stresses just led to my breaking point. I huffed and puffed and cussed and pouted. Yeah I know, over some speakers. Anyways, that was one of those moments l should have just stepped away from and realized how stupid the whole situation was.  However, that’s what residency does to a young married couple.  It puts pressure upon pressure upon pressure until one day, someone breaks.  In this case it was me.

The strains medicine has on a relationship are not for the faint of heart. Company parties missed, birthdays “rescheduled”, and holidays spent alone. Our very first Christmas together was spent with me sitting on the couch all day watching movies… by myself… while she worked non-stop. It was one lonely Christmas. I knew I had to build a network of reinforcements. So not long after this, we adopted the smartest and coolest pound puppy ever and I quickly became friends with the other resident’s husbands. Thankfully my wife belongs to a specialty with a lot of other physicians with male spouses, I know that is not always the case – I feel for you Surgeon Spouses! Anyways, we became the brotherhood of lonely spouses and started going out for beers once a week to share best practices on how to deal with our tired, over-worked, stress-out wives.

Oh, remember those medical school jokes that I never got?  Well, it got worse in residency. I actually tried to inject my own humor in these social settings.  Each year, the director of the program would throw four social gatherings a year for prospective residency students.  The decision for a top candidate to come to the program is not only for the soon-to-be physician, but also the spouse; therefore, the spouses got the invite as well.  The program is extremely competitive so all interviewees are on their top notch behavior.  However, we, the brotherhood, we realized pretty quickly (after a few mishaps involving the bashing of other people’s football teams) we were such a minor part of the social gathering that we had t-shirts made up for these events which read – “Insignificant Others” on the front with a caduceus and on the back “Not A Resident”.  We wanted all prospective residents to know not to waste their time talking to the people that had no bearing on whether they got into the program or not.  It worked so well, that all the attending spouses wanted a shirt as well.  We all wore them to the rest of the social gatherings. If you would like one as well, just let me know… I’ll hook you up.

Although residency was four years of working crazy hours, not seeing each other for weeks at a time, and a general cloud of stress hanging over our heads at all times, we pushed through and now were ready to get started on our real life together.  By this time, I was smart enough to realize how bad this was potentially going to suck.  We were going to have to move… again…right in the heart of the worst recession since the Great Depression. And let’s not forget, I’m a banker.  Jobs in the financial services industry were almost non-existent.  I had worked my entire career to get to this point and now I was possibly looking at being a stay-at-home dad to a dog.  This would be the worst possible outcome for someone who loves the thrill of working towards a goal and reaching new milestones in life.  Fortunately, I had great mentors and found a great job. But again, I was starting over… again. And starting over in your career is tough enough the first time… This was now going to be my 3rd job in 5 years. You continuously have to prove yourself and build relationships from scratch.

Today, my wife and I are quite settled in at our jobs, our home, and normal routines. She still works odd hours, but I sleep quite comfortably through her pager going off in the middle of the night or when she has to leave at 2am to deliver a baby. I frequently get a shocked reaction that I didn’t even know she had left in the middle of the night and come back. Many people are astonished about her crazy schedule or how we balance our lives and calendars together, but it’s normal to us now. Compared to the craziness of the first ten years of our relationship, this is a piece of cake.

I have found there are many benefits to being married to a doctor, but I guarantee you the benefits are vastly different from what an outsider might think.  In fact, the financial implications that are routinely made aka I have a “Sugar Momma”, I find to be insulting and degrading. Although I know I am piece of insanely sweet arm candy, I hold my own, peeps. I make my own money, have my own successful career, and my own identity. This is one of those implications that is just as irritating as getting a piece of mail addressed to “Doctor and Mrs. -”.

I am a better man for being married to a physician.  I have a wife that pushes herself each and every day which makes me want to do the same.  When you have a partner at home that pushes you emotionally, spiritually, and physically (yes, she does crossfit and has run a marathon), then you become automatically better yourself.

I wouldn’t trade the years with my wife for anything in the world, and I am a better man for being married to a physician.  She is my best friend and I love her dearly. The stresses medicine place on a relationship are real… both for the doctor and the spouse.  I am proud of her accomplishments and to be called a physician’s husband.  I hope the next time you see your doctor, you have a better understanding of what it took for them AND their families to wear that long white coat and the sacrifices they make for your better health.  And for any budding members of the brotherhood, a few pieces of advice:

  1. Buy some stock in Ben & Jerrys or become a part owner in a winery. In other words, unless your wife’s tear ducts have been surgically removed, tears are likely going to be involved, and at the very least, stress is going to be involved… And YOU need to have a strategy that probably doesn’t involve channeling a college football coach. Figure out how to best to reassure, soothe, and encourage your wife.
  2. Prepare your dog house… because you will probably be spending some time in it. While you are trying to achieve #1, you will mess up, and you both need to return to your corners and give each other some space. So, you might as well deck out your space with some nice speakers, for example. Which leads me to #3…
  3. Channel your inner boxing champion. You don’t see prize fighters going at it without sleep, adequate food, or preparation. Not fighting is not reality, and just leads to a lot of baggage later. Learn how and when to fight – and right after she is finishing up working 30 hours in a row is not going to lead to a good performance by anyone.
  4. Brotherhood, Unite!  Fighting off loneliness is the key to success, and building a good support system is a huge part of this. And this is sometimes easier said than done, it is still commonplace for the majority of physician spouses to be female… we are in the minority, and finding similarly situated guys can be difficult. But with a little effort, you will find us. We are out there, and we are growing in numbers.
  5. The backseat is the best place to makeout, in my opinion. In other words, your career, hobbies, and sometimes your life will be taking a back seat to medicine at times. But as stated above, the backseat isn’t always a bad place to be. And, you need to understand that being in the backseat does not mean you are unimportant or that your wife doesn’t value you, your career, hobbies, etc.
  6. Join AA. Okay you don’t really have to do this, but the point is to take step 1. Admit the problem. Not that having a spouse in residency is a “problem” per se, but recognizing that you both are going to be stressed, unhappy, and lonely sometimes (or a lot) helps you prepare and recognize when you, or your spouse, have reached the breaking point.

Stitch Fix Review: June 2015

As some of you may know, my last two Fixes were a total Fail.  However, I was willing to give them another chance, and this is why: their customer service.  It is awesome.  Ladies, if you are having the same issues over and over again (don’t like paisley but every box contains it, said not to send jeans but you get jeans everytime, etc), please please email them.  Stitch Fix has been incredibly responsive, and I truly feel like as a company they care about customer satisfaction.  However, I do wish they would carry a more consistent quality of clothing.  I don’t expect by any stretch to have a perfect Fix every time.  I do expect there to be learning curve with your stylist… meaning it should get better and better over time.  I definitely had been on that trajectory for awhile, and then it petered out leaving me frustrated.  I emailed the company, they responded promptly, and assigned a different stylist (whom if I remember correctly, has styled me before).  And, this Fix definitely reflected their efforts: Only one piece they sent I felt to be low quality, and almost all of the pieces were in my style wheelhouse, so to speak.

For those of you who aren’t sure about how Stitch Fix works and want to learn more, including about referral links, click here.

 

1. RD Style Samsem Spaghetti Strap Blouse $38

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This thankfully was the only piece which wasn’t good quality.  In fact, it came with the closing stitch in front already pulled off – which I didn’t notice at first and left me puzzled for a few minutes as to how this top was supposed to work.  The material was also so transparent that you can see clearly at the top hem where the fabric is folded.

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This is how it is supposed to look, but instead here is how it actually came:

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2. Le Lis Benito Mix Material Knit Tank $44

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The cotton material in this blouse was nice and thick… and very soft.  I like the idea of this – the split back, but this blouse lost me on 2 accounts – the chiffon just didn’t mesh with my style, and the aline + horizontal stripes + open back resulted in a very blousy top which was not flattering at all.  Which is unfortunate, because I do love open backed blouses, but just not this one.

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3. Street Level Klaine Roll-Over Clutch $48

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I immediately loved everything about this – the quality, the design, the style of it…everything but the color.  It was described as a teal green, but actually just seemed more of an “electric blue” color.  Although I initially didn’t see myself using this as an accent color very often, I love this clutch.  Perfect sized to fit a wallet, keys and a phone without being bulky, and the leather is so soft… so I talked myself into keeping it 😉

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4. Liverpool Raphael Denim Jacket $88

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Although I had been pinning and wanting a faded denim jacket – preferably with some distressing and a little bit of stretch mixed in with the cotton, I did like this jacket – and ended up keeping it.  It is darker than what I was looking for, but the material and fit were great – very soft cotton with some stretch, fitted, comfortable, not cropped and not too long.  This is perfect for the summer as a throw on over an outfit – either for an outdoor event at night or for sitting in any and every restaurant which invariably has its thermostat set to 58 degrees.  In regards to the color, it is in fact darker than pictured in the close up photo…

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5. DL1961Celia Distressed Boyfriend Jean $168

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Love, love, love.  This is a great brand, and this pair is exactly what I was looking for and perfect for summer – faded, soft, baggy, perfect length when rolled for that true, but flattering boyfriend look.  Definitely quality and my style.

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So, in conclusion, I am very glad to say that Stitch Fix redeemed themselves from the past 2 fix slump… I kept 3 out of the 5 items, but even more important than that, I think, is that the Style of the fix is more in line with my style than almost any other fix I have received.  This better reassures me that Stitch Fix has the inventory and the stylists for what I like – so much so that I have already signed up for a fix next month… stay tuned to see if they can keep the ball rolling!

 

And, if you would like to try Stitch Fix for yourself, click here!

Refresh for May Day #31: My Favorite Makeup Applicator

Okay, so drumroll please…. last product in our refresh for May series!  And I am saving the best for last… it is the BeautyBlender.  This product has absolutely changed how I apply my makeup.  It’s quick, it’s easy, and the results are flawless – perfectly blended – no streaks or brush marks.  It literally will give you an airbrushed look in less time than other makeup applicators.

Yes.  It is a makeup sponge.

Why is it any different than any other makeup sponge?  Short version is the material and how it holds water, leading to really good results.

How do you use it?

Take the dry sponge and completely saturate it under running water.  The sponge will double in size during this process.  Then, squeeze the excess water out of the sponge.  I take it one step further and do one and only one quick squeeze of the sponge inside of a towel.  You want the sponge to be damp, not wet.

I either place the foundation/BB Cream, etc on the BeautyBlender or dot the makeup directly onto my face.  The moistened BeautyBlender is then used to bounce or stipple the makeup onto the face, which blends while applying.  I use the larger, round base for cheeks and forehead, then use the tapered end for around the eye and nose.  Because of its shape, this one product will work to blend and apply makeup anywhere on your face.

After you are finished, you clean the sponge, then leave out to air dry and it will shrink back to its original proportions 🙂

The link I am including is to the set that I purchased – which includes 2 sponges and the cleanser.  It’s a great deal (I have one at home and one at my office) and it includes a great cleanser which can be used for any other brush or makeup applicator you might own.

Hope you all enjoyed our Refresh for May series!

Link to product and image from Sephora.

beautyblender

Dear GAP: Stop torturing Moms

Dear GAP and GAPKids executive,

I am not sure if you are a male or a female, or whether or not you have children.  Since that is the case, I would like to share with you a little bit about the shopping experience you have created for mothers.

I work outside the home as a full-time trauma surgeon.  Therefore, I do most of my shopping online (and also because you have better sales online that your stores do not honor, but that’s a whole other story).  Anyways, well, a month or so ago, I needed to go into one of your GAPKids stores with my almost 3 year old to try on some clothes, and see what sizes I would need for the summer.  I planned this shopping trip out – brought toys, the requisite iPad, limited his fluid intake that morning to prevent a “clean-up on aisle 4” moment, and even timed the trip so as not to interfere with his nap.  I found some items on sale, and joined the line to purchase them.

And that is where it all went downhill.  The young mother in front of me stepped up to the cashier, juggling a clearly unhappy baby, a stroller with a carseat attached, her diaper bag, and other shopping bags.  As she places her items onto the counter, and attempts to calm her infant, the salesperson asks, “Will you be using your GAP card today?”.  The mother replies “No, thank you”.  The whimpering has now turned to outright crying, and the sales lady asks again (before even beginning to ready or ring this poor woman’s purchases) “Would you like to open an account today?”  This mother, clearly frustrated, replies again, “NO thank you.”  The screeching then turned into all out red-faced bawling interspersed with moments of silence required for the small human to regain its breath.  The volume of the crying then requires the salesperson to actually raise her voice to be heard over the probably hungry and forced to breastfeed in a bathroom baby (sorry, that’s another story)  in order to launch into the spiel on “Don’t you want to save x percent on your purchase today, and here are all of the benefits of the card, blah blah.”  This mother, who is much more patient than I, as she is juggling her bags, her hungry baby, and her stroller, replies “NO!”

Then, and only then, does the salesperson begin to ring her purchases.  This wasn’t even happening to me, and I was beyond irritated.

Throughout this, my almost 3 year old starts to get antsy, and is upset by the wailing baby.  So, after watching this interchange, I figure I could bypass the credit card crap, get my purchases, and be out the door before Niagara Falls suddenly appears from my kid’s shorts and onto your floor.

I ready myself.  I step up to the plate, place my purchases on the counter.  The salesperson begins, “Will you be using your GAP Card today?”  I respond, “No, and no I don’t want to open one, and yes I am aware of all of its benefits, Thank you.”  Polite, but firm.  In my head, I’m like, “SCORE!”.  But yet, I underestimated my opponent.  She responds, “Oh, well I’ve never had someone do that before.”  In my head I reply, “Oh, well I’ve never watched someone torture a baby before”, but instead I just simply smile and begin to de-hanger the clothing I want to purchase as a hint to move this along.  Yet again, I have underestimated her.  She then says, “Have you ever worked in retail?”.  And since I in fact have, at 3 different clothing stores during college, I respond in the affirmative.  “Well,” she says, “Then you understand – we get in trouble if we don’t ask all these questions and say these things.”  Although I am lucky enough to have not worked for a company that requires the torment of their customers, I didn’t respond to this insane comment other than to simply smile and bite my tongue in half.

So here is where I am going to break it down for you, GAP executive.

Moms are the ones doing the shopping for their infants and young children.  Moms represent a more than 2 TRILLION dollar market.  The vast majority of the time, moms bring their children with them to shop.

There is no running in and out of a store when you are shopping with your children.  Shopping with young children is like shopping with ticking time bombs… filled with tears, pee, poop, breast milk and/or formula… which at any moment could explode and send bodily fluids onto any and every possible surface.  Shopping with young children is like a military expedition with a ticking time bomb: There are checklists to confirm supplies; timing of naps, feedings, and potty sessions are carefully considered; local nursing and bathroom facilities have to be identified… and God forbid, the iPad isn’t fully charged.

So why are you making it more difficult for us?  Why are you slowing down the checkout process?  Why are you ignoring your customers who are juggling at least 5 humans and/or objects at once?  And WHY are your employees getting in “trouble” if they don’t harass and harangue us?

You are not the only clothing store with fashionable clothing for children.  But you are the only store in which the checkout process is slowed in order to harass the customers.  I’m not sure what your marketing plan is, but this doesn’t work.  Trust me, moms would be way more enthusiastic about a rewards program.  Just ask Gymboree or Carter’s – I think they are doing pretty okay financially.

I don’t need to be bullied into getting your credit card.  Guess what?  If I want it, I will gladly sign up for it, and don’t need to be talked into it.  And when I say “No”, guess what?  I mean it.  You guys are worse than my 3 year at listening… but at least I can put him in a time out for making me repeat myself.

In closing, please re-think your checkout process.  Please put yourselves in our shoes, your customers with offspring.  I think you can do this better.

Sincerely,

A non-GAP card holding customer

Refresh for May Day #27: My Favorite Finishing Powders

Finishing powders are like the decorations on a wedding cake – the cake may taste great without them, but with them, the cake becomes sensational.  I don’t necessarily use finishing powders every day, but you can bet that if I know my photo is going to be taken, both of these products will be used!

Links and images from Sephora.

Make Up For Ever HD Pressed Powder

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This sets your makeup beautifully – giving you a believable, not too matte finish.  Makeup lasts longer, prevents it settling into any fine lines you *might* have, and imperfections are blurred.

Hourglass Ambient Lighting Palette

hourglasspalette

So this palette is another travel-must for me, and can be used in conjunction with the Make Up Forever powder as well.  This is different, however, because it gives more of a luminescent finish.  The three shades are perfect for highlighting, bronzing, and contouring.  The goal of this palette is to give you a “candlelight glow”… Since OR lights can not really be compared to the glow of candlelight I can’t necessarily tell you if that is the look achieved, but I can say that this gives a very flattering finish to your skin, with or without makeup underneath.

Refresh for May Day #26: Best Eyeshadow Palette

Eyeshadow palettes are a bit like a season of “The Bachelor” for me.  Even though I bought it for all the “right reasons” (multiple awesome colors allowing you to obtain a variety of looks and ideal for travel), after you become acquainted with it, I am invariably disappointed by its relative uselessness.  In other words, I end up not using all, or even most, of the colors, the formulation is not great resulting in the staying power of an engagement from “The Bachelor”, and I overall end up feeling like I have wasted my money.  Until, I met the Urban Decay Naked3 Palette.  It has become my Holy Grail of eye palettes.  It contains a mixture of finishes – matte, shimmer, and metallic and I have used every single color!  I can get a smoky eye night out on the town look as well as a subtle natural look all from the same palette!  There are 3 other versions of the Naked palette from Urban Decay  –  original Naked, Naked2, and the Naked Basics.  All of the palettes are slightly different and work with probably any variety of skin tones and eye colors possible.

Brief description of each:

Naked  – combination of warm and cool undertones, variety of finishes

Naked2 – taupe and beige with cool undertones, variety of finishes

Naked3 – all warm undertones, variety of finishes.

Naked Basics – 6 shades, all matte

I do like all of the palettes, but for my green eyes, the warm hues in the Naked3 mean that every single shade is flattering.  Although the $54 price tag can seem a bit daunting, for 12 eyeshadows that are all used regularly and a quality double ended eyeshadow brush, it definitely is worth the price.

 

Link to product and image from Sephora

Urban Decay Naked3 Palette

urbandecaypalette

 

 

 

Refresh for May Day #25: My Favorite Care Product for Sensitive Skin

As many of you know by now, my skin can be pretty sensitive.  I flush terribly with exercise and heat – and that flushing can stick around for awhile.  A friend of mine, who also happens to be a pharmacist, sells Rodan and Fields, and she mentioned this product to me.  And no, I do not sell Rodan and Fields or get any reimbursement whatsoever for my humble opinion.  I know, it’s sad.  Anyways, back to the product.  This product is used after cleansing but before moisturizing, twice daily.  I have to admit, they named this lotion very appropriately – it is indeed soothing to my skin, feels cool, and has definitely improved my redness and flushing even with my imperfect use (i.e. not twice daily).  So, for anyone who has some baseline sensitivity or redness issues, I highly recommend.

Link and photo to Rodan and Fields company website.

Soothe Sensitive Skin Treatment

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