Hey Eleanor! I'm 64 & Love Getting Older! Model & Makeup Artist Cindy Joseph on the Pro-Age Movement

I think we can all agree: Cindy Joseph is hot for any age. 

I think we can all agree: Cindy Joseph is hot for any age. 

This week, I’m talking to makeup artist, model and entrepreneur, Cindy Joseph. 

At 49, Cindy decided to stop dyeing her silver hair because she wanted to show women that aging wasn’t necessarily a bad thing. The day after the last of her dyed hair was chopped off, she was approached on the streets of NYC to do an international modeling campaign for Dolce & Gabanna. No biggie. She’s been modeling ever since, and even launched her own what she’s dubbed a pro-age makeup line called Boom by Cindy Joseph. I talk to her about why she actually loves getting older, why women need to stop combatting their fear with makeup, plus how to be beautiful at any age. 


You can listen to our conversation on above media player or iTunes, or read a transcription below. Options!


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Thanks for joining me on the podcast, Cindy! I wanted to talk to you today about a lot of things, but mostly about this dirty little word called aging. I think it's a thing a lot of people, especially women, fear. 

Cindy: Oh, no you said the word! You said the word!

 

I know. I'm sorry. I said the word. Tell me a little bit about how you became like a pro-aging guru. 

Cindy: I started enjoying my age and telling people about it.

 

I’m allowed to ask you how old you are, correct?

Cindy: Absolutely. I am 64 and a half years old.


Happy half-birthday!

Cindy: Thank you, thank you. And I say that obviously a little tongue in cheeck, you know, just to make people aware the fact that -- or remember how we used to celebrate our age. I’m 7 and three quarters. I’m gonna be 13. We were so excited and we counted the days until we became 21. And then we just started rockin’ and rollin’ and having a blast, and somewhere around 29 we stop telling our age.

 

Oh, yeah. I sobbed on my 30th birthday. It was just sort of like, “Wow. I am a real adult.”

Cindy: Yeah. Being a grown up means responsibility. And we all like to shirk our responsibilities from time to time.


Oh, definitely.You have kind of interesting story of how you came to age acceptance. You’ve been in the beauty industry for a very long time, and you’ve even done a lot of modeling. I feel like those are two industries that seem very anti-age.

Cindy: Right. Well, it's our entire society. And, you know, there is history to it. For women, it really goes all the way back about a hundred years when we were valued only for child bearing. We were sold to our husbands by our fathers. We couldn’t vote. We couldn’t work. We were around to have children that could serve the family.

Well, that all changed. A hundred years ago can seem like a short time away and it can seem like a long time away. And we are now valued for many, many things far beyond childbirth. Yet, we still have this piece that tells us if we look like we’re in our child bearing years, that’s when we are the most valuable. Women’s currency is base on their looks.

That’s all make believe. It's something that society created and we’re moving out of, slowly but surely... You don’t need to go marching the streets and yelling and screaming and saying, “We are valuable our whole lives.” It's a matter of realizing and valuing ourselves for our entire life.

When women that start valuing themselves at every age and wearing their age proudly and showing how passionate and fun sexy and exciting life continues to be, people notice. They start seeing that gray hair as silver. They start seeing those crow's feet as beautiful age lines that reveal the vulnerability and the beauty of a woman. 

I decided to enjoy my life for the rest of my life. And so, I was seeking and looking for more positive view points about [aging].  And having gone through different personal growth workshops and schools etcetera, I collected a lot of information about living life.

At one point, I bumped into a group who were not only celebrating their age, but the women were being celebrated. It's like, okay what that about?

 

Was this in the United States?

Cindy: Yeah. This is -- this is in the US and I am now living with all of those people.


That’s amazing.

Cindy: Yeah. So, they just did a bunch of research. They’re a bunch of young hippies back in the 60s and decided to live in a commune [and still do!]. They met the changes that came with group living after growing up in a society that was all about two in a box, the nuclear family of the 50s. They had to confront a lot of things that you don’t have to confront when you’re living alone. And through that, they learned a lot about themselves and each other and what being human is all about. And one of the things that they discovered is that women are pleasure-oriented creatures living in a success and production-oriented society.

 

Interesting. So, what is that mean exactly?

Cindy: Well, a production, success and goal oriented is more on the trajectory of the way a man functions. Men are more linear and women are more random. We have hormonal cycles and men have stable hormones. They described all these differences [between men & women] and said we’re more alike than we are different. But those differences do make a difference and the way we’re socialized is hugely different. So when I heard pleasure-oriented I just -- I started thinking about what it felt like to grow up as a female in a male-oriented society. I always felt like I was a square pig trying to be push into a round hole.

I didn’t feel good about myself because I didn’t think I was disciplined enough. I wasn’t focused enough. I could never decide what I wanted to be when I grow up. I just wanted to play and have fun... Now, that can sound a little frivolous and kind of superficial on one level. But it pleasures me to care for people. It pleasures me to live in a happy society and, you know, things that are more important bring pleasure as well as things that are, you know, more mindless and frivolous and…

 

Right. You’re not living like a Jay Gatsby party goer everyday for the rest of your life.

Cindy: Yeah. And, you know, whenever anybody chooses is the right thing. I really think that people are perfect just the way they are, and that how different as part of what's so entertaining about relating with others.

The more I approved of myself, and the more righteous I felt about who I was as an individual, as Cindy Joseph as well as a woman. I started playing and thought, “You know what, this makeup and fashion stuff is actually fun.”

 

That’s what I think -- I was looking on your website and you had something on there about the thinking of makeup is fun and instead of thinking of makeup is a way to deal with your fear and insecurity.

Cindy Joseph: Exactly. So, you see the girl walking down the street. She’s dress to the nines, perfect makeup, perfect hair and she looks miserable. She looks uncomfortable. She's having a hard time walking in those five inches heels, and you know she’s doing everything she can to be attractive and it's not working.
 

And then the next one walks by. Her hair was greasy, you know, maybe she got a couple of pimples on her face and she's certainly not dress to go to a party, but she is just attract along and smiling. Maybe listen to an ipod and singing along and you can't take your eyes off of her. Because the joy she's experiencing makes her attractive... if you are enjoying yourself and being true to yourself, you emanate the pleasure you’re experiencing. And that’s what's attractive.

 

Absolutely. And I think that does lend itself really well to a different way of thinking about beauty as we age, because, you know -- what do you think it is joy like the best form of makeup there is?

Cindy: I found this quote and it was like it popped out of the universe and said exactly what I was realizing and that is, “Taking joy in living is a woman’s best cosmetic.” And, you know, having been a makeup artist--  I just wanted to give a little bit more history that-- I got back into makeup and all that because it was fun, and that’s what was motivating me rather than the fear that was motivating me previously. I decided to get in the game, the very game that I had rebuild against. It's kind of like working underground.

So here I am this -- you know, legitimate experienced makeup artist. I had the credibility. So people listen to me more readily. So when I told them the truth about beauty and attractiveness, etcetera, they listen to me because I had the credentials.

When I was ready to leave the business I had to have this, you know, discovery about my pleasure oriented essence and was enjoying that. And just really rockin’ and rollin’ and enjoying my life and I was approached my a casting agent and asked model at age 49 with silver hair, cross feet and a whole ball of wax, and to me that was absolute proof that what I was discovering was really true.

And I’ve been modeling ever since and that was 15 years ago.

Later, I decided to launch the cosmetic line. That was all sparked by a question from a young man who said, “Why don’t you create a makeup line? I mean you’re this makeup artist for so long, 25 years and now you’ve been modeling doesn’t make sense?” And my first response is, “We do not another tube of lipstick. Not in this world!” But then I started thinking about it and it was days later I popped out with this idea of a pro age cosmetic line. Because every other cosmetic line since the beginning of time has always been anti age.

 

What's different about what you're creating than most things on the market?

Cindy: Most cosmetics are design to fix things that are wrong. We are convinced that we have flaws. If your face is square it must be shaded and highlighted and contoured to be oval. If your face is -- any other shape as is in oval, you got to get it to oval because oval is the perfect shape face... We are just bombarded with products to alter the way we came out.

 

When I started my blog, I did a challenge where I went a week without makeup and...

Cindy: Okay. Okay, wait a minute. Before you go on we have to talk about that. That is brilliant. What inspired you to do that?

 

I mean, it just sounded scary to me quite honestly. And I’m not even a big makeup person, you know, but I would wear definitely mascara and like some sort of bronzer or blush or something. So I decided to see what happen if I went a week without makeup and I think -- and nobody notice. Nobody cared.

Cindy: Because everybody has their attention on themselves. They’re so worried about their own eyelashes and makeup.

 

Exactly. It's so funny. And then, what's funny is by the end of the week I started seeing my face differently. I started becoming more used to what I looked like without makeup.. It's funny, ever since I pretty much only curl my eyelashes now. And sometimes I put on some blush or fill in my eyebrows a little bit, but my skin looks so much nicer. I mean noticeably nicer.

Cindy: Yeah. Isn’t something -- you know, skin is alive. Powder is deadening. It -- there's no life there. There's no circulation there and foundation, people always want to make their skin evenly toned. Well, when you put it on you make your skin an even color, but you kind of kill the life that’s in your skin.


I think so often people think, “Oh, if I don’t put on my face I'm letting themselves go.” It's not like you also have to not shower or look your best. You don’t need to also wear sweatpants.

Cindy: Yes. Well, being healthy and -- is -- being well groomed is a part of being healthy. Getting your nails, you know, buffed and polish and, you know, taking that little extra effort primping is really celebrating yourself and what you look like. Taking care of your hair, taking care of your skin, it's a different category that actually adding on and making up etcetera and that can be really fun too. I mean if I’m going to a party to a really fun, celebratory party, I’m gonna throw on a little more color and a little more posses just because it's fun.


Cindy I have one last question for you. A lot of the messaging in our world is about all the things that get worst as you get older. But what gets better?

 

Cindy: Everything! Okay. So, let’s just look at the signs of it and the logic of it.

And, you know, this graph of life we’re given looks like a mountain and we’re told that we have a prime of life. Well, if we have a prime and we have a peak that means everything goes down hill from there. And I and all of my peers have proven that it's not true that the largest percentage of your life after you peak at 30 or 35 is downhill from there.

We have proven that it gets better and more. So take that mountain and turn it upside down into a V. We’re born at the base of V and life expands. We become more. You cannot take away educations, skills, wisdom, experience, soft knowledge, you can only add to that. So you become better as you age rather than worst.

I am healthier now than I was when I was 18. I am now 64. I can climb 14,000 foot mountains. I can run. I can play tennis. I can do all of those things. And we’ve just got this idea in our heads. It's been drilled into us so heavily that we go out to pasture after we’ve hit our prime. And it's all make believe we can just toss it in the garbage.

We are living longer and we want to know that our future that there’s hope, and that we’re going towards something positive rather than something negative. And we knew that when we were 13. We knew that life was gonna get more positive by the time we got to be 21. Well, ask people that look happy, that look like they’re living passionate, healthy, happy lives who are in their 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s and beyond. And you will discover that there is so much to look forward to.

And in terms of women and beauty, at every age comes another kind of beautiful. We don’t have the beauty that we have when were new born. We don’t have the beauty that we had when we were toddlers or adolescents. That goes away, that disappears. You let it go and you grab on to the new beauty that comes with every age. And I guarantee you that attitude going forth with enthusiasm and passion, and knowing that you are right and life is right.


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For more info on Cindy and her makeup line, check out Boom by Cindy Joseph, follow her on Twitter, Facebook, and PS she has some delightful & informative videos on Youtube


 

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What It's Like to Go 0-60 in a Tesla

What does zero-to-60 feel like? I was about to find out. 

What does zero-to-60 feel like? I was about to find out. 


"Do you want to drive a Tesla on Thursday?"


Usually our date nights involve dinner or drinks at some neighborhood spot (we're lucky that both Burch and Heyday are blocks away!), so when Josh presented this opportunity to drive a super-fancy car, I responded with an enthusiastic "DUH!"


My husband, Josh, is a mechanical engineer, who's currently a product manager for a new electric motorcycle. Bikes (the vroom-vroom kind), cars and motorized toys a la four wheelers/snowmobiles/dirt bikes are a constant topic of conversation around these parts. He's always test driving vehicles, and it's usually a work-sanctioned thing for research purposes. I figured that's what this Tesla stuff was all about: Some company-sponsored event that I was lucky enough to get invited to. 


Thursday rolled around and Josh told me he didn't have time to get home and pick me up. He shot me the address to the dealership. Hmmm... I didn't even know Tesla had a Twin Cities dealership! I figured I was heading to some Polaris event, where we drove the car around a parking lot or something. I called Josh for clarification.


"So this is for work, right?" I asked, clearly confused.
"No, I called and set up an appointment to test drive a Tesla," he said.
"You mean as if we're actually considering buying a Tesla?" 
"Yeah, so when you get here, just act like we're at least considering it."


Right. A $100,000-plus car. Of course we are.


I looked at my clothes: a four-year-old blue tank from Old Gravy; skinny jeans; TOMS. Clearly, this outfit reeked of money! Then, I thought about Mark Zuckerberg. He'd totally wear the male version of this. And I am sure he has a Tesla. Or like the sweatshirt version of a Tesla. 


I plugged in the dealership address into my GPS, which directed me to a very non-car dealership-y area of town. I turned off the highway and onto a series of roads that wound through a nondescript, very unsexy business park. You know, like boring cinderblock buildings with no windows that would feel really depressing to work in every day. Josh said to look for a small sign that said TESLA. 


I rounded a corner and saw it: Dance Xchange / Helmet Plaques / One Way Building Services / Tesla.


Curveball!


I parked my car, strategically leaving a full space between mine and one of the Teslas. I didn't want risk someone scratching my Jetta. 
 

Josh was already talking to the sales guy. Young, charming, nice watch, initials monogramed on the cuffs of his shirt. The perfect dude to be selling Teslas! 


He ushered Josh and I into their entry-level car, which he said costs about $65k. I was expecting a higher price tag (and mini-spoiler alert: the actual cost was about $85k... more on that to come!)-- that's only like four of my cars! The interior smelled of fancy leather and new car; the entire dash and center console was a computer, with an enormous screen in the middle that functioned as a map, music player or regular ol' computer screen. Sale guy did a quick internet search on the console screen and pulled up Rich Dogs of Instagram, which is a hilarious Insta-account, and totally what you should be looking at as you're barreling down I-94.


I really, really wished I had my dog with at that moment, just so I could send a photo of her in a Tesla, looking at Rich Dogs of Instagram. 


"Of course, you shouldn't be looking at Instagram when you're driving," sales guy said. Lawsuit averted!


Next, he asked if Josh wanted to take her out for a spin. Josh asked, "Can I drive the P85D instead?" which is the faster, sportier, more expensive big brother of the car we were currently sitting in.


I never would've had the balls to ask. God bless Josh.


The sales guy obliged, pointing us toward a sleek, black car a few stalls down. Josh hopped in the front, I sat in the back. Sales guy rode shotgun.


I'm pretty sure all you have to do to start the car is put your foot on the break, then press this doohickey that's attached to the steering wheel up. The car remained silent, but was in drive. We started moving forward. Silently. 


Sales guy had Josh turn right out of the parking lot, then made a few more turns until we found ourselves at a light, waiting to turn left onto the freeway. I've test driven cars with Josh a few times and he has zero shame flying down an entrance ramp. As if you can't get a speeding ticket in a car you're just test driving. 


The light turned green and we ripped onto the freeway, Josh laughing, sales guy smugly enjoying the ride, and me in the backseat, rolling my eyes. But smiling. 


We tooled around for about 10 minutes, finally pulling on to an empty road in the business park. 


"Do you want to launch it?" asked sales guy.


Do I even need to tell you Josh's answer to that question?


Pedal, meet metal. Apparently this thing does zero-to-60 in four seconds. I can't say if that's exactly the case, only because I don't want to get anyone in trouble.


We pulled back into the showroom's parking lot.


Sales guy asked if I wanted to drive.


Sure.


[Gulp.]


Josh moved to the back, I hopped in the front. It's so weird starting a car that's completely silent. All of the normal cues are gone! 


"I think it's running, right?" I asked.
"Yep, you just gotta push that lever up and put it in drive."


And off we went, quietly through the business park, then on to the freeway. 


My ride wasn't as speedy as Josh's, or at least it didn't feel that way. This is one of those cars you could easily hit 90 mph in and wouldn't even notice. Smooth, quiet and really fun to drive.


Of course it was hard to fully enjoy it when all I could think about is the fact that I could buy Prince's Purple Rain house for the same price as this car. 


Don't scratch it. Don't ding it. Don't even breathe on it. 


At the end of my drive, sales guy brought us to that same empty bit of road. 


"Do you want to launch it?" he asked.


Kinda?

But I was already there. And the road was wide open. And when will I ever get a chance to do this again? Maybe never.


So I came to a full stop, took a deep breath and hit it. 


Here's the 42-second video:
 


I completely lost my stomach. And it was so fun!


We headed back to the showroom, where sales guy walked us through pricing. The one we drove was about $85,000... after a $7,500 tax rebate and what they calculate you'd save on gas over the next few years. So the actual price was around $105,000. 


Ouch. 


We said we'd think about it. I wonder how many times those guys here that a day!


Then I hopped into my Jetta, heard the familiar vroom of the ignition, and slowly and responsibly drove off into the sunset.

 

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What's the fanciest car you've ever driven? OR... have you ever gotten in an accident or totally screwed up a car you were test driving? That's what the comments are for!


PS Not my first car post: Here's one of my all-time favorite Hey Eleanor challenges-- the time a bought a car all by myself. There's also the time I jump started my car all by myself. Plus, what my friend Morgan learned when she & her husband quit owning a car (& they live in snowy Minneapolis!).



Hey Eleanor! I Pitched My Product to Target & Won! Amy Regan of Skinfix Talks Entrepreneurship

Amy Regan knows business & the beauty world. Also, she has really great skin!

Amy Regan knows business & the beauty world. Also, she has really great skin!

This week, I’m talking to Amy Regan.

Amy worked for L'Oreal right out of college, then eventually moved to Jo Malone in London (which is basically the only perfume I wear and costs a million dollars AND IT'S WORTH IT).

Eventually, she moved to Halifax, Nova Scotia, believing her days in the cosmetics business were over. While there, she discovered a healing salve, made locally by the same family for over 130 years. She loved the product so much, that she eventually bought the company. We talk about the responsibility of taking over an heirloom brand, her decision to do things the hard way, plus the big, scary thing she did: pitching her products to one of the world's biggest retailers and succeeding. PS the elevator pitch happened in an actual elevator. 

Here's an excerpt from our conversation. You can listen to the whole dang thing on iTunes.



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Thanks so much for being on the podcast. Where are you calling in from?

Thanks, Molly. I’m calling in from Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.


OK, please tell me where that is and what it’s like to live there.

It's the most northeastern tip of land in Canada. Lots of planes fly over Nova Scotia on the way to Europe from New York or Boston. It's a beautiful place to visit, particularly in the summer or the fall.


How long have you lived there? Are you from there?

I'm from the states originally, but have been here now 12 ½ years, so now this is home.


Tell me how you got involved in the skincare and cosmetics world.

I started my career in the cosmetics industry right out of university. I was really lucky that right out of university, I got  a job at L’Oreal, arguably one of the best training grounds in the industry.


Yeah, I’ve heard of them.

I still sort of don't know how I ended up getting the job there, but I learned a ton from the folks at L’Oreal. I’m still in touch with my first boss at the company. I really got hooked on the industry, and eventually ended up working for... Estée Lauder in London, England. I was in the industry for a long time before moving to Halifax.


When I spoke to you earlier, you said something about having gone to school for religion? How did you end up in the cosmetics industry?

I was a comparative religion major at university, which my father was very displeased with because he lent me a lot of money and thought I should be an engineer or a scientist. But I was just really drawn to the comparative religion department. And funnily enough, I think there’s actually a parallel between religion and marketing, because fundamentally you need a good understanding of human nature. How people respond to things, what drives and motivates them. Really, I think the comparative religion helps me out quite a bit. But I feel very lucky to have been able to take that leap from comparative religion into business. I had a lot to learn when I started at L'Oreal. I ended up spending a year at business school on their behalf to really build more of a foundation of financial skills in business, which I did not have. It's still my weakness, but it was a great segue.

 

Was it during that process that you had the thought of wanting to go into business for yourself? Had you always wanted to be entrepreneur?

It was really when I worked for Jo Malone in England. She is the owner and founder of Jo Malone Fragrances, which are now owned by Estée Lauder. I started working with her shortly after Estee Lauder acquired them and I was sort of the liaison between the head office in London and the offices in New York.

Jo is one of those exceptional entrepreneurs who is incredibly creative, visionary and tenacious. I learned a ton working for her. I worked with her for about four years, and I was lucky enough to literally work side-by-side with she and her husband.


Oh my gosh. I have candle envy right now.

Oh yeah, I mean it's such a brilliant concept and it changed the whole fragrance industry. They were the first to introduce stuff like basil as a fragrance. She really pushed the envelope, she’s a brilliant marketer and brilliant businesswoman. She really encourage me. She’d always say to me , You’re not corporate. You’re an entrepreneur and I know someday I’m going to be reading about you having your own business. I never believed her, but it stuck with me.

After moving to Halifax, I thought well that isn’t going to happen. What am I going to do from here?


You could've started a salmon business.

Exactly. Right! So I thought my days in the beauty industry were probably done. But then I discovered this woman who had this amazing formula in Nova Scotia. Her great-grandfather who was from the UK had developed this amazing balm. This family had immigrated to Nova Scotia and had been making this balm in their kitchen for years. It’s very Kiehl’s-esque. When I met her, it was evident that she had something really, really special.

 

So this formula, it was a balm? Like something topical you'd use on your skin?

The original formulator, Thomas Dixon, created it in the 1870s. He was effectively what we would consider today to be a compound chemist. He had a mercantile and he made concoctions to treat skin irritations. It was intended to cure everything from diaper rash to bug bites to any sort of redness or inflammation on the skin. People formulated things very differently in the 1870s than we do today. He put absolutely everything in it that he knew would treat irritated skin. There's zero percent water in it and just loaded with emollient oils and minerals that are healing and soothing. So it’s an incredibly effective formula. It’s like nothing else on the market. When I met the founder, she had a bank of hundreds of testimonials from people who had used this product for years to treat all kinds of conditions with tremendous effects… it’s so infrequently in the beauty industry you find something with a real healing capacity that's also a great product.

If you skin is a mess, you should probably try this out. 

If you skin is a mess, you should probably try this out. 


So these guys have literally been making this balm for hundred years at home and selling it word of mouth? Or how did that go?

They would make it in their kitchen. Most of them were pharmacists, so they would sell it out of the back of their pharmacy. People in Halifax knew that these people had this formula and they would just go to the back of the pharmacy to buy it.


I think we've all stumbled upon somebody doing something really cool, or find a businesses we see so much potential in and think, if only they would do X, Y and Z, this could be huge! So how did you approach this company about helping them grow, then ultimately about buying the company?

It’s funny you say that. I initially reached out to the woman who owned it to offer my consulting services. I sent her a note saying I love your products, love your brand-name, love the story, this is in my wheelhouse and I'd love to help you out in anyway that I can. They were actually looking for funding at the time and creating a packages to take to potential investors. So she said, great I’ll take any of the help you gave me.

We basically started working together. She showed me how to make a balm and we spent a lot of time just kind of hanging out. At the time, she was having lots of people making offers to buy the business because they knew the formula was incredibly effective. In the end, she told me she knew I would do what she would do with the business. She said, I want you to have it. Would you consider buying it?

Skinfix's Daily Lotion.

Skinfix's Daily Lotion.


At that point, I had not remotely considered it! But I started to talk to friends and family and started getting the resources together. I got really, really excited about the opportunity to buy the business and really take it forward.

 

Once you did end up buying it, what was it like to have someone else’s families hundred-plus-year-old heritage brand in your hands?

It was very terrifying. There was a lot of expectation in terms of what I would do with the business. Working for Jo Malone was a really good foundation for that because at the time I worked for her, she was being acquired by a big company and trying to maintain everything the brand had been about. I felt a sense of responsibility to the Dixon family to really carry on the brand heritage of Skinfix.

Interestingly, the product is an OTC or an over-the-counter, which means it’s a medicinal drug. There are active levels of ingredients and it actually heals conditions on the skin that are considered diseases. It's a really serious product. And I had never worked with OTCs before, so I started to investigate.

People would say to me,  you know Amy, you got a great story that a great brand. Just take the levels of active ingredients down and make it a cosmetic. It’ll be so much easier and less expensive. I absolutely was not going to do that. This product worked because of Is formula and worked for people for so many years. The testimonials were so incredibly heartfelt, so I felt it was completely unethical to change the formula... It’s not easy formula to make, and it’s an expensive formula to make, but it works incredibly well.


It’s really impressive that you took the extra time and effort to keep the brand what it's always been about.

Thanks. The team here is all women, and a lot of us are moms . And I think there’s something in that that really drives us to create the best product that we can. Women are nurturers and women are caretakers. One of the first lines we launched was a baby line… and we wanted a product that was absolutely going to heal a baby's eczema. That’s our mission. To heal the skin. The skin lifts the spirit, healthy skin reduces stress for mom. When a baby is up crying and scratching at their skin all night, it’s incredibly stressful. So it is our mission to truly heal the skin and help and do it with in the most natural way possible.


To find out how Amy successfully pitched Skinfix to Target, check out the full episode here

 

* * *


For more information on Amy & her amazing Skinfix products (you can read testimonials!), check out SkinfixInc.com. You can also follow them on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram



PS Want to win some Skinfix Products?

Clearly!

Stop itching, start Skinfixing!

Stop itching, start Skinfixing!


Amy will send one lucky listener their daily lotion, hand repair balm and body repair balm-- a $50 value. All you have to do is share a link to this post with your friends on Facebook & tag the Hey Eleanor Facebook page. I'll pick & announce a winner on next week's show. And by the way, are you following me on FB? You should be.
 

Follow me on social media:

Twitter: @mollymogren
Hey Eleanor Facebook Page
Email: heyeleanorproject [at] gmail.com
Hey Eleanor Hotline @ 651-964-2469

If you like the show, please rate it on iTunes. Want to leave a review? Excellent! Both help people find the show. 

Any specific feedback about what you're loving (or NOT loving) about the Hey Eleanor podcast? Please leave your comments! I want to make the show better and your honest thoughts really help. 

Where to Eat, Drink, Dance & Cry in Nashville


As a classic country music lover and food fanatic, Nashville is my Mecca.

Home of the Grand Ol' Opry, honky tonk bars and delicious, delicious southern grub, I've been dying to get to Music City. Plus, Patsy Cline lived here. And maybe you didn't know this, but I've got a thing for Patsy Cline. So when my handsome, thoughtful husband surprised me with a trip to Nashville for our anniversary, I about peed in m'pants. 

Even though our Airbnb sucked, this long weekend was one of the best trips I've ever had in my entire life. Sure, I had great company, but also the food! The music! The pop culture history! And we rented a Charger, which was so funny! Here's what we ate, drank, partied and cried. (PS I'm the only one who cried)

Hattie B's Hot Chicken

This food was way better than it looks. It was dark and late. 

This food was way better than it looks. It was dark and late. 


So it's 10 pm, you've just landed in a new city and you're so hungry, you could eat a dead armadillo on the side of the road. Whelp, that was us. But unlike our Minneapolis neighborhood, which basically only offers pizza and crappy bar food late-night, Nashville has Hattie B's Hot Chicken. Imagine: perfectly friend chicken, smothered in hot sauce. Pick your heat carefully: we did a mix of medium AND hot wings, and regretted the hot. We aren't even wimps about that kind of thing! Remember, you do not win a prize for eating the hottest chicken, so just chill out! We sampled the mac & cheese, slaw, southern greens and banana pudding. Josh literally had to whack the banana pudding out of my hand, saying, "What the hell is wrong with you? You're going to feel like crap if you keep eating that!" I didn't listen, and I did feel like crap, and it WAS WORTH IT.

 

Barista Parlor

You'd think they were performing brain surgery, but no. It's just delicious coffee.

You'd think they were performing brain surgery, but no. It's just delicious coffee.


We couldn't wait to get the eff out of our Airbnb, and thankfully the finest coffee shop in town was just down the road. Barista Parlor is one of those coffee shops that takes itself a little too seriously, but you still secretly wish your house looked even a third as cool as any nook in the whole shop. Or that you could pull off that mustache and suspenders look (even if you're a girl). We ordered fancy-ass pour over coffees and the most amazing biscuit egg sandwiches. I got mine on a gluten-free biscuit, because I'm clearly watching my gluten intake (see Hattie B's blurb above... yeah, that meal was T-O-T-A-L-L-Y gluten-free). Loved the sammy so much, we went back Monday morning before heading to the airport. 

 

RCA Studio B

Me & Roy Orbison's actual guitar. He was a lot taller than you'd think.

Me & Roy Orbison's actual guitar. He was a lot taller than you'd think.


I heard Jill Riley from The Current (the Twin Cities' awesome public radio station) mention that you can't check out RCA Studio B unless you book a tour, available only through the Country Music Hall of Fame. I made sure to get that shiz in order well-before our trip because it sells out. There was no way I was going to miss seeing the place where Elvis recorded 260 songs & Dolly famously crashed her car running late for a recording session!

We took a shuttle bus from the CMHoF to the studio-- about a 10 minute drive with 20 of our fellow music lovers. It's an unassuming cinderblock building, but once our guide let us in, it just felt like some place special. There were big black and white photos of all the greats: Elvis, Jim Reeves, and of course, Miss Dolly. Our guide started playing "Only the Lonely," over the sound system. A Roy Orbison classic! I love Roy! And then, the tears (PS in case you haven't heard, music makes me cry) started-- and this was just in the lobby!

Next, we moved into the actual recording studio-- still home to the Steinway Elvis used to hammer on for hours before he was finally ready to lay down some tracks. Our guide played Skeeter Davis's "The End of the World" and The Everly Brothers' "All I Have to Do is Dream. Tears and tears. And then she told this awesome story about Elvis recording "Are You Lonesome Tonight?" in that very room, in one take, in the dark, at 4am. Then, she shut off the lights and played the whole damn thing. Let's just say my eyeballs and ugly cry face were thankful for the darkness. 
 

Standing in the room where Elvis cut his records& probably pissed a lot of people off with his diva-like antics. 

Standing in the room where Elvis cut his records& probably pissed a lot of people off with his diva-like antics. 


One of the best tours I've ever taken. Who needs to see the Roman Colosseum when RCA Studio B exists? 

 

Country Music Hall of Fame

Pasty's cute little outfit. PS her mom made it for her. 

Pasty's cute little outfit. PS her mom made it for her. 


You can't get to Studio B without buying a ticket to the CMHofF, not that I minded because it was awesome! Tons of cool memorabilia-- like a purple fringy number Patsy Cline once wore, Elvis' gold Cadillac (crushed diamonds in the paint! WHAT?!)-- plus an entire exhibit dedicated to Dylan, Cash & the Nashville Cats. It runs through December of 2016. So if you have ears and love music, go, go, go!
 


Mas Tacos

Mas Tacos greatness. Eat here for sure. 

Mas Tacos greatness. Eat here for sure. 


We waited in line for about 30 minutes for five tacos, a horchata and an agua fresca. It was so good, I would've waited an hour. Probably.  

 

Rodriguez & Brian Wilson at The Woods Amphitheater

Me & my boo, celebrating year one of marriage. 

Me & my boo, celebrating year one of marriage. 


This concert =  whole reason Josh planned the trip. The Beach Boys are my favorite band (super normal for a person born in 1982), but the only musician I might love more is Rodriguez. And here they were, on tour together, going everywhere but the Twin Cities. So Josh surprised me with tickets to the show and guess what!? I cried. 

Amazingly, I didn't cry at the actual show. Not even sure how that's possible, but it's true. The amphitheater is wooded and fairly small, and the weather was perfection. A bit out of town, but a great place to see a concert. Brian Wilson & his huge crew were great (is there anything better than listening to the Beach Boys on a summer night?), but Rodriguez's acoustic set completely stole my heart, just like I expected it would. 
 

Beach Boys!

Beach Boys!


If you're wondering who in the hell is Rodriguez?!, do yourself a solid and watch Searching for Sugar Man. One of the best documentaries of all time!

 

Robert's Western World

Robert's Western World: My most favoritest bar in all the honky tonk land! 

Robert's Western World: My most favoritest bar in all the honky tonk land! 


We were so not ready to go back to our crappy Airbnb, so Josh and I headed to the bars on Broadway. By 10:30 pm, literally every person we passed on the street was so shit-faced they couldn't even walk. Excellent!

There's literally dozens of bars blasting live music and they all look the same-- think Bourbon Street in NOLA or Dirty 6th in Austin, Texas. However, I had it on good authority that Robert's Western World was THE place to go. We weren't disappointed: dark, divey and full of people dancing their pants off to Brazilbilly-- the best house band of all time. They played lots of classic country and I even convinced Josh to dance.

We also mowed one of their famous bologna sandwiches, which all of a sudden is my favorite food. WHERE HAS THIS BEEN ALL MY LIFE? Also, throwing a shout-out to their bathroom, which was the messiest I've seen since my college days. So bad that I was inspired to take a photo. 
 

Animals!

Animals!

One sweet, sweet bowling alley.

One sweet, sweet bowling alley.


Cool space, overrated everything else. Josh and I split this hash that I definitely could've made myself. 
 

I could've made this at home.

I could've made this at home.


Oh well, they have a neat bowling alley AND swimming pool. Plus, there's an awesome view of the skyline from their parking lot, which is where we took this sexy photo. Most chicks splayed across the hood of a [rented] Charger kick off their Birkenstocks first, right?
 

Next stop: the Playboy mansion.

Next stop: the Playboy mansion.

My kind of church. 

My kind of church. 


Confession: I haven't been to church for, well, awhile. But the Mother Church of Country Music fixed that. What I wouldn't give to see a show at the Ryman-- built in 1892 and eventually home of the Grand Ol' Opry for 31 years. The biggest names in country music graced this stage, Patsy included. Since we were tourists and everything, we sprung for the backstage tour and relaxed in the Jonny Cash dressing room for a hot minute. I heard Sturgill Simpson is playing here in October. Who wants to go with me?

 

Union Station Hotel

Union Station... a great place to look at. 

Union Station... a great place to look at. 


We wanted a mid-afternoon snack and cocktail and heard this hotel was an absolute stunner. So we dropped in and yep, the building and lobby were gorgeous. The food and drinks? No so much. They rave about their four-star restaurant and craft cocktail program, but seriously: terrible service, dirty bar and half our food never even arrived! There were only two other people in the place, which would make you think service would at least be speedy, but no. I would've rather eaten McDonald's. 

 

Third Man Records

Jack White was kind enough to take this photo of us. 

Jack White was kind enough to take this photo of us. 


All memories of Union Station vanished once we entered the crazy world of Jack White. It's unlike any record store I've ever experienced-- mostly because the guy who owns it is a kajiliionaire instead one of those enthusiastic but broke music geeks (but I love those guys, too). There's a booth where you can record your own quickie vinyl album, a bunch of cool old instruments and I'm pretty sure I saw some sort of vintage arcade game that involved a chicken that lays eggs(?) There's not much inventory, but what they have is amazing! Check out their selection of albums recorded live at Third Man. We spent $70 on music, no problemo. 
 

Josh, listening to tunes at Third Man Records.

Josh, listening to tunes at Third Man Records.

Giant gold statue, blah blah blah. 

Giant gold statue, blah blah blah. 


Nashville has a full sized replica of the Parthenon. I might get some flack for this one, but not worth your time. It's concrete, and has a bunch of art and crap. Also, this really tall statue. I for one wish I'd have taken a nap instead. ZZZZZZZZZZZZ.


Martin's Bar-B-Que Joint

Martin's BBQ, a Nashville treasure. 

Martin's BBQ, a Nashville treasure. 


This order at the counter spot had a line out the door, but we didn't mind waiting because we knew it'd be good. The dry rub ribs were ridonk, pulled pork smothered in all their sauces ridic, as was the broccoli salad and slaw (I tried to eat some veggies to fend off the meat sweats). 

 

Patsy Cline's House

Patsy Cline's dream home. 

Patsy Cline's dream home. 


While at dinner, I decided to smear bbq sauce all over my phone while Googling "Patsy Cline's House, Nashville." I stumbled upon this Facebook album that not only had photos, but the actual address! Josh and I made the executive decision to do a drive-by and prayed we'd get there before the sun set. We made it, and her home seemed so nice and normal... unlike us weirdos who were driving through a neighborhood at a snail's pace, checking out the home of a celebrity who's been dead for 50 years. The house is so not a tourist destination, but it was a highlight for me. I love Pasty. 



Dino's

Pie me, asap!

Pie me, asap!


After creeping on Patsy, we headed back toward our crappy Airbnb, deciding to make one last stop. Apparently Dino's, Nashville's oldest dive, recently came under new ownership. They only do burgers, fries and handful of other things you dip in a deep fryer or cook on a flat top grill.
 

Fogged up windows and armadillos. This is my kind of place. 

Fogged up windows and armadillos. This is my kind of place. 


However, rumor has it former Husk pasty chef does their pies and desserts. So we stopped in for a slice of pie and beer, which might sound like it doesn't go together, but trust me: it does. 


In total, we spent three nights and two glorious days here. I'm usually the kind that requires a lot of downtime, but Josh and I didn't stop moving the entire trip. If you're looking for an easy, fun US travel destination, THIS IS IT! I'd go back for the bologna sandwiches alone. 


* * *


As you may or may not know, I am all obsessed with traveling in the good ol US of A these days. Here's why.  

Advice: what's the next American destination I should visit? The Carolinas are definitely on my list, as is Savannah. What am I missing?
 



Hey Eleanor! I'm a Solo Lady Traveler, Ft Sarah Von Bargen of Yes & Yes!

Sarah Von Bargen loves traveling alone AND baby goats.

Sarah Von Bargen loves traveling alone AND baby goats.

Welcome to Episode 11 of the Hey Eleanor podcast. This week we're talking about the joys (and panic-attack inducing moments) of being a solo lady traveler with Sarah Von Bargen—the babe behind YesandYes.org.


Sarah writes about pretty much everything— how to stop wasting your likeability on the wrong people, great vegetarian recipes and interviews with all sorts of people-- for example, a 99-year-old woman living on her own, or a woman who’s dated on AshleyMadison.com. The Internet loves Sarah, especially people who travel (or want to travel) a lot. She spends three months of the year traveling—easy to do when you can take your business on the road. Since her job is way more flexible than most, Sarah often finds herself hitting the road solo. I talk to her about the biggest advantages to traveling alone, how to take most of the fear out of solo travel (hint: use your brain and plan ahead), plus her favorite travel gear.

Here's an excerpt of our conversation.


* * *

 

Sarah, I already know all about you, but for those who don’t, tell me what you do?

My name is Sarah Von Bargen. I’m a full-time blogger, ghostwriter and Internet consultant.


I thought you’re going to Internet sensation.

Yes, correct. I’ve been writing at Yes & Yes for about eight years, and self-employed for almost five. I travel a lot, I lived abroad a couple times… I usually travel about three months out of the year. A lot of that is by myself.
 

Does this lady look sad & lonely? I don't think so.

Does this lady look sad & lonely? I don't think so.


Your business is structured so that means you can pretty much work from wherever. That’s intentional I’m assuming?

Yes, that’s very much intentional. Although one of the "problems" of being self-employed is that you can work from anywhere, but you can work from anywhere. You can get the Grand Canyon still be fielding client calls. Something to be aware of it you’re interested in a location-independent career. This is just a fair warning that it comes with its downfalls. It’s super awesome, but certainly has its drawbacks as well.


You write about a lot of stuff, but frequently about solo travel, especially solo lady travel. What was the first trip you ever took by yourself?

I don’t know if this really counts as going by myself, but when I was 18, I did a foreign exchange student program. I didn’t know anyone and I went to Germany by myself and stayed with a host family. When I was 22, I taught in Brazil and again was at the home host family. But I went by myself. And from there, I took a trip to Amazonia completely by myself… And I should also clarify when I say by myself, that often means that I do the actual transportation travel by myself. About half the time, I meet a friend or I’m doing a volunteer or work program. Often times, I’m under the umbrella of an organization. So there are some people looking out for me and people to hang out with. I’m not wondering around Kuala Lumpur by myself.


It’s not like an Into the Wild kind of experience?

No, it’s not like that.
 

Cutest picture of a person eating pizza in the history of the world. 

Cutest picture of a person eating pizza in the history of the world. 


When I was younger, I remember talking to my dad about traveling by myself. While he had no problem letting my younger brother go places alone, it was a really different situation. A lot of my family and friends expressed worry. Have you dealt with that?

Good question. I’m very fortunate in that my parents have always been travelers. They’re both schoolteachers, so every summer, we’d travel as a family. My mom traveled by herself and when was young, and my dad lived in Europe for several years. My mom was sort of intrepid, and so if there any concerns about my safety, they know better than to say anything about it, honestly. They didn’t raise me to be afraid of things.


I feel like a lot of people would say things like, aren’t you afraid? Aren’t you scared? Sarah: how many times have you been murdered?

That’s an excellent question! Next time, I’m going to say, well I have been murdered yet. Knock on wood!
 

To me when you travel by yourself, there are a lot more precautions you have to take. What’s the planning process like?

I try to walk the path between paranoia and preparedness. At the risk of sounding like a total hippie, I don’t want to spend my time thinking about all the bad things that could happen to me.
 


I don’t think that’s too hippie-dippy. Who wants to do that?

Yes, exactly. And I look back on certain precautions I could’ve taken but didn’t when I was 20. And now I just want to go back and shake myself for not traveling with a cell phone and travel insurance.

Oh sure, stranger, I’d love to take a ride with you.

Yeah, sure stranger, I don’t need a helmet and will ride with you on your motorcycle down that dirt road… Cool. Awesome.

I just got back from a six-week road trip. Before I left, I made a Google calendar that I shared my parents, my best friend and my partner. The Google calendar estimated where I would be each day, if I was staying with friends or had already made a reservation somewhere, and included the name and phone number of those places. I installed a tracker on my cell phone, which is just a free app, so my partner could see where I was. That may sound weird, but there was a five-day time period where I was completely by myself in between North Dakota and Portland.


That's pretty desolate part of the country.

The Bakken oil fields are no joke, in terms of female safety.


Yeah it’s a bunch of horny dudes living up there in dorms.

I went up there specifically to look at it because I was curious. But that’s another story. So I put the tracker on my phone. I have a self defense keychain. Encourage all you ladies to Google cat self-defense keychain. It looks like a cat, but it's actually basically brass knuckles... [Also], I actually decided to rent a car instead of taking my car, because my car has 130,000 miles on it a rental car doesn’t. Plus you're not putting the wear and tear on your own car. I had AAA and an roadside emergency kit.


Do you have a paper map?

Yeah, I had a paper map. I also wrote down all of the important phone numbers onto a piece of paper in my glove compartment. Then, when I dropped my phone in the water and it broke, I had all the numbers because I’m a stupid person from 2015 who doesn’t know anyone’s number.


I only know my grandma’s phone number. And she’s dead!

Yeah exactly! I don’t know my partner’s phone number! So I had it all written down on the piece of paper for when my phone crapped out.

Honestly, the most important thing to do is just trust your intuition. We’ve all got it. When you get the fear stomach, just leave, even if it’s awkward. Who cares if you make the scary killer feel awkward?

You know, the sad thing about being a woman traveling by yourself is that you know you shouldn’t probably go to a bar by yourself. It’s just not a great idea to Say, “Oh, I’m in downtown Detroit on a Saturday night and I want to go to a show.“ You can do that, but I personally didn’t. I don't feel like it was worth the risk. The amount of fun I could potentially have versus the amount of anxiety I would have made it not worth it for.
 

No, I totally agree. Sort of frustrating. Guys will have to think about that.

No, guys never have to think about that. There was a situation when I was checking in into a La Quinta Inn. It's a decent hotel. It’s not like a stabber hotel. In the south, instead of having hallways and the hotel they have these sort of balcony walkways. As I was opening my car door, I could feel that I was being stared at. I looked up and there are these two drunk dudes leaning over the balcony, staring at me. And they were like two doors down from the hotel room I was checking-in to. As I was bringing my stuff to the room, they were staring at me the whole time. I was going to put on cute tight running gear and go for a run, and now I don’t want to. Because there are two drunk dudes staring at me, literally in the room next to me. So I locked myself in my hotel room, which is so stupid that this is reality. And that totally sucks, but I would not not travel because of that situation.


Right. That’s one day of a million good ones. On this most recent trip, you road tripped for six weeks by yourself. What experiences did you have that you don’t think you would’ve if you'd been traveling with your partner or friend?

It’s really a good question. A drove through the Rockies and definitely had some moments where I stopped and sat by a stream and ate lunch, which is obviously great to do with your partner, but it’s also a special experience to do that on your own... I had a lot of really lovely and pleasant interactions with people that I think happened because I was by myself. Not like men hitting on me or anything, but I'd meet other women we talk for a half an hour. I would sit next to somebody on the subway and strike up a conversation. When you’re by yourself, you’re more interested in the people around you. With a friend friend, partner or family member, you're looking at them, talking to them about what we should do now, or what do you think about this? Are you hungry?

 

Certainly... I think it's interesting to see the types of activities and stuff I want to do when I’m by myself. When I'm with someone else, I fall into my people-pleasing tendencies. I’ll say things to myself like, I'm not sure what I want to, but you seem like you want to do that, so let's do what you want to do. What were some activities you did that surprised you?

Having traveled enough, I know there are certain things I am patently not interested in. Generaly speaking, I’m not interested in art museums, anything historical. This makes me sound so unintelligent! I don't care about history or art, you guys! But I love factory tours, I love creepy weird things… A specific socioeconomic cultural experiences. For example, I drove to northern  North Dakota because I wanted to see what's up with the Bakken oilfields. They are 100 percent not a tourist destination. They are actively dangerous and kind of unpleasant, but I've been reading about them for the past five years. They've dramatically affected the socioeconomic climate in the town I’m from. So I drove four hours in the rain to look at oil derricks and fire coming out of the ground. Which is a very much something most people would not be interested in.


Yeah, but now you know!

Yeah, it was fascinating.


For the rest of our conversation, listen to the entire Hey Eleanor podcast episode here



* * *
 

Sarah Von Bargen is awesome on the Internet! Check out Yes & Yes, follower her on Twitter, Facebook & Instagram. And for all you travel geeks: here's her Wanderlust workbook & Adventures in Lady Travel ebook. 


Other stuff I talked about on this week's show:


Here's FREDDIE!!!

Our foster dog, Freddie the Bassador.

Our foster dog, Freddie the Bassador.

See... he's HUGE!

See... he's HUGE!


He's a sweet bassador & available for adoption. Check out his profile on PetProjectRescue.com


Also, Margie's shelf project for Urban Bean:

Marge, using some tool I didn't even know existed.

Marge, using some tool I didn't even know existed.

A serious work in progress.

A serious work in progress.

Almost done, 60 hours later...

Almost done, 60 hours later...

Installation. 

Installation. 

DONE!

DONE!

That shelf is a SERIOUS Hey Eleanor! Nice work, Marge! Want her DIFY services (that means Do It For You)? Email her at mgstack [at] gmail [dot] com.

 

Follow me on social media:

Twitter: @mollymogren
Hey Eleanor Facebook Page
Email: heyeleanorproject [at] gmail.com
Hey Eleanor Hotline @ 651-964-2469

If you like the show, please rate it on iTunes. Want to leave a review? Excellent! Both help people find the show. 

Any specific feedback about what you're loving (or NOT loving) about the Hey Eleanor podcast? Please leave your comments! I want to make the show better and your honest thoughts really help. 
 

31 Page-Turning Summer Reads

Sunscreen + sand + book = heaven. 

Sunscreen + sand + book = heaven. 


Last week, my friend Allison shot off an email asking for reading recs from a big group of super smart, fun and well-read friends. I love reading, but go through phases of page turning mania, followed by reading droughts, usually due to lack or time or lack of ideas on what to read. While friends can't help with the time issue, they can help with suggestions. Here's an epic list of our current favorite reads.

PS Totally coincidently, today is Prime Day, meaning tons of exclusive deals for Prime members. You can try Amazon Prime FREE for 30 Days and get free 2-day shipping on great stuff. For example, all these books. 


* * *
 

Two Books that Look Eerily Similar:

All the Light We Cannot See  |  Anthony Doerr

All the Light We Cannot See  |  Anthony Doerr

The Light Between Oceans  |  M.L. Stedman

The Light Between Oceans  |  M.L. Stedman


1. All the Light We Cannot See

Will reading about WWII ever get old? Doubt it. Here's the story of a blind French girl and a German boy whose lives collide in occupied France


2. The Light Between Oceans

A couple, living in a isolated lighthouse post-WW1, really want a baby. They can't have one... and then a boat washes up onshore carrying a dead man and a living baby. Instead of reporting said baby, they keep her... and things get complicated. Steven Spielberg is currently turning this into a movie, so you know it's gotta be good. 
 

Memoirs, Memoirs, Memoirs

Beyond the Surface  |  John Hargrove

Beyond the Surface  |  John Hargrove

Not That Kind of Girl  |  Lena Dunham

Not That Kind of Girl  |  Lena Dunham


3. Beyond the Surface

Because just watching Blackfish wasn't horrifying enough! But for real, I heard it's a gripping account of the behind the scenes stuff at Seaworld. PS Remember the 80s, when you didn't realize Shamu was being tortured and that young, attractive trainers were fish bait?!
 

4. Not That Kind of Girl

Mixed reviews from our group (my friend Hil said, "eh, it is very coming-of-age-if-you-are-self-obsessed."), but probably great for a beach or cabin


Fun, Light & Effervescent (whatever that means)

Where'd You Go, Bernadette?  |  Maria Semple

Where'd You Go, Bernadette?  |  Maria Semple

Yes Please  |  Amy Poehler

Yes Please  |  Amy Poehler


5. Where'd You Go, Bernadette?

Helicopter parents, Seattle mudslides and a disappearing-reappearing genius. You'll tear through it in a day or two
 

6. Yes Please

Amy Poehler wrote it. What more do you need to know?


Kinda Mostly Based on History

11/22/63  |  Stephen King

11/22/63  |  Stephen King

In the Garden of Beasts  |  Erik Larson

In the Garden of Beasts  |  Erik Larson

7. 11/22/63

Stephen King's epic novel about trying to prevent the Kennedy assassination. PS James Franco is all set to star in this mini-series.


8. In the Garden of Beasts

Erik Larson writes non-fiction like fiction, including actual quotes pulled from personal letters. This one is about the US Ambassador in Berlin in the years leading up to WW2. I loved this book.
 

Reallying Effing Long Books

The Goldfinch  |  Donna Tartt

The Goldfinch  |  Donna Tartt

The Luminaries  |  Eleanor Catton

The Luminaries  |  Eleanor Catton


9. The Goldfinch

A kid steals a painting. Then, other things happen for 700+ pages. My friend Lys calls this book "the most anxiety-inducing thing I've ever read. Pretty sure it shaved years off my life." Our pal Flo added, "I had a perpetual feeling of being in elementary school and I hadn't done my homework... the entire book made me feel like I was going to get in trouble!" But they did love it. PS This one won a Pulitzer Prize, which I used to think was called a "Pullet Surprise!"

I still call it that in my head. 


10. The Luminaries

As Amazon summarizes: "It is 1866, and Walter Moody has come to stake his claim in New Zealand's booming gold rush. On the stormy night of his arrival, he stumbles across a tense gathering of 12 local men who have met in secret to discuss a series of unexplained events: a wealthy man has vanished, a prostitute has tried to end her life, and an enormous cache of gold has been discovered in the home of a luckless drunk." What happens next? Lots and lots and lots and lots!


Two Books People Absolutely Cannot Recommend Enough!

Station 11  |  Emily St. John Mandel

Station 11  |  Emily St. John Mandel

Cutting for Stone  |  Abraham Verghese

Cutting for Stone  |  Abraham Verghese

11. Station 11

My very smart, funny friend Hil recommended this book, stating "everyone needs to read it." Something about actors, art and a deadly virus that's related to the Russians. It's sounds so crazy, I just might read it!
 

12. Cutting for Stone

"The best book I read last summer." - RB, friend of mine whose taste I trust. Marion and Shiva Stone are twin brothers born of a secret union between a beautiful Indian nun and a brash British surgeon. Love, betrayal and randomly tied to Ethiopia 
 

I'm Not Crying, Uh, That's Just Sweat Rolling Down My Face.

Still Alice  |  Lisa Genoa

Still Alice  |  Lisa Genoa

Me Before You  | JoJo Moyes

Me Before You  | JoJo Moyes


13. Still Alice

You've probably already read this or bawled your way through the movie, BUT if you haven't, pick it up. A heartbreakingly honest, first-person account of dealing with Alzheimer's, love, family and why you need to feel gratitude for every GD day. It's fiction, but it's almost too real seeming.
 

14. Me Before You

As far as I can tell, every person who's ever read this book cried like a little bebe, but can't recommend it enough. I keep looking for it in the little libraries in my 'hood (they are the best!), but haven't happened upon one yet. Who wants to lend me a copy?!


Currently on my Nightstand

The Vacationers  |  Emma Straub

The Vacationers  |  Emma Straub

Room  |  Emma Donoghue

Room  |  Emma Donoghue

15. The Vacationers - Emma Straub

The Post family reconvenes in Mallorca, Spain for a few weeks of relaxation... or, more accurately, family drama. 
 

16. Room - Emma Donoghue

I've got this one on deck! The premise gives me the willies: it's written from the perspective of a 5-year-old boy who's lived his entire life in the room where his mother's been held captive for seven years. Chilling, but heard it's amazing. 
 

Young Adult Novels that Definitely Work for Regular Adults

Every Day  |  David Levithan

Every Day  |  David Levithan

Paper Towns  |  John Green

Paper Towns  |  John Green


17. Every Day - David Levithan

Every day, A inhabits a different body, living a new and different life. However, every day, A's also in love with the same girl. Recommended by my friend who's a 9th grade English teacher. Read it & share with your favorite angsty teen. 
 

18. Paper Towns - John Green

A mystery from the dude who wrote The Fault in Our Stars.


Here's an Upper: Stories About Death Row!

Just Mercy  |  Byan Stevenson

Just Mercy  |  Byan Stevenson

The Enchanted  |  Rene Denfeld

The Enchanted  |  Rene Denfeld


19. Just Mercy - Bryan Stevenson

Bryan Stevenson, the lawyer who founded the Equal Justice Initiative, created a legal practice dedicated to defending those most desperate and in need: the poor, the wrongly condemned, and women and children trapped in the farthest reaches of our criminal justice system.powerful & true story


20. The Enchanted - Rene Denfeld

One of my gfs said this was a "dark, mystical, quick read." Amazon says, "For the narrator locked inside an ancient prison, waiting for death, life is full of magic... That the enchanted place is a death row matters less to him than the people he watches from the bars of his cage: the lady, an investigator hired to help the men escape execution; the fallen priest, brought by shame to work the row; and the kindly warden, who ushers men to death." Reminds me of a Game of Thrones episode!

 

Two Books with Train in the Title

Orphan Train  |  Christina Baker Kline

Orphan Train  |  Christina Baker Kline

The Girl on the Train  |  Paula Hawkins

The Girl on the Train  |  Paula Hawkins


21. Orphan Train - Christina Baker Kline

So apparently a large number of orphan children were sent from the east coast of the US to the midwest between 1854 and 1929. Some ended up with great families, others... well... not so much. This novel tells the story of the once orphaned Vivian Daly, who moves back east as an adult, bringing vestiges from the past with her. 


22. The Girl on the Train - Paula Hawkins

I haven't read this one yet, but am DYING to because it sounds like a modern version of my favorite movie, Rear Window. A girl on a commuter train sees a lovely couple breakfasting every day. They have the perfect life. And then one day, she sees something shocking. What happens next? I don't know, but I want to know so bad! My friend RB called it a "major page turner."


Epic, Global Love Stories

The Art of Hearing Heartbeats  |  Jan-Philipp Sendker

The Art of Hearing Heartbeats  |  Jan-Philipp Sendker

Americanah  |  Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Americanah  |  Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie


23. The Art of Hearing Heartbeats - Jan-Philipp Sendker

A love story set in Burma, spanning the 1950s through the present. The Cliffs Notes: A New York lawyer suddenly disappears & neither his wife nor his daughter Julia have any idea where he might be…until they find a love letter he wrote many years ago, to a Burmese woman they have never heard of. Uh-oh... busted, New York lawyer man! 


24. Americanah  |  Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

A love story taking place in Nigeria, London and America, written by an author I'm fairly certain Beyonce is obsessed with. And if Bae can make the time to read such things, I suspect we all should make an effort. 
 

7 More Books I'm Too Lazy to Create Clever Subcategories For

Let the Great World Spin  |  Colum McCann

Let the Great World Spin  |  Colum McCann

Dear Daughter  |  Elizabeth Little

Dear Daughter  |  Elizabeth Little


25. Let the Great World Spin - Colum McCann

A bunch of fictional stories from 1970s New York, all loosely tied to the French dare devil Philippe Petit's very real (and totally nuts) hire-wire high jinx betwixt the World Trade Center's two towers. 

26. Dear Daughter -  Elizabeth Little 

This summer's answer to Gone Girl
 

Life After Life  |  Kate Atkinson

Life After Life  |  Kate Atkinson

The Astral  |  Kate Christensen

The Astral  |  Kate Christensen

27. Life After Life - Kate Atkinson

My friend Lys says Kate Atkinson can do no wrong, and this book is just one of the many ways she proves it. This novel explores the question, What if you could live again and again, until you got it right?
 

28. The Astral - Kate Christensen

A family livin' their regular ol' lives  in newly gentrified Greenpoint, Brooklyn... until all o sudden daddio, Harry, is suspect of cheating by wife, he's thrust from his longtime home and into the wild of NYC. 
 

Pilgrim's Wilderness  |  Tom Kizzia

Pilgrim's Wilderness  |  Tom Kizzia

Summerlong  |  Dean Bakopoulos

Summerlong  |  Dean Bakopoulos


29. Pilgrim's Wilderness - Tom Kizzia

Soooo right up my alley: This is a true story of a family, choosing to settle in the Alaskan wilderness. Find out what happens when people stop being polite, and start getting real.
 

30. Summerlong - Dean Bakopoulus

Jonathan Franzen-ish. Kind of sad, but as one of my pals said, "kind of sexy, too."
 

Rosemary's Baby  |  Ira Levin

Rosemary's Baby  |  Ira Levin

The creepy cover art for the even creepier movie!

The creepy cover art for the even creepier movie!


31. Rosemary's Baby - Ira Levin

This wasn't on my radar for one million reasons... mainly because it came out 1967. Regardless, my friend Lys recently read it and this to say: "Totally wonderful and terrifying... and not because of Satan babies, but because of the ways women are manipulated and allow themselves to be manipulated. Still hits freakishly close to home in 2015. *shudder* Ladies, don't let your fear of making a nuisance or "being difficult" hamper your instinct! You will end up impregnated by Satan... if only in the metaphoric sense!" EEEEEEK! Way scarier than the movie. PS I hate when the book cover is from the studio movie/TV show, so I had to add the creepy cover art from the movie. 

 

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Please add to the convo: What are you reading this summer? More suggestions, please!