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Embracing Turning 40

Posted By Communications Manager, Tuesday, October 11, 2016
Updated: Tuesday, October 11, 2016

It’s what we’ve been led to think for years…….. that once we reach 40, it’s all downhill. This summer, I turned 40 and I definitely had my moment.


Let me take you back a few weeks. I was driving on the 101 in heavy traffic, passenger seat stacked with errands, my impatient 4 year old co-pilot in the back. For some reason my fingers landed on my chin. I thought a stray hair from my head must have attached itself to my chin -- but NO, it was a CHIN WHISKER! And that’s not all, it was pretty long, so obviously been growing for quite some time. 


According to Google, this is due to an increase in male hormones and decrease in female hormones. Well, isn’t that just what I DON”T want to hear!


I have starting noticing a myriad of hormonal issues that have come with getting more mature. As if spending all of my 30’s having babies didn’t plague my body enough. Besides my new friend, whom I have affectionately named Chinny Chin Chin, PMS is hitting me like a tonne of bricks. I mean, I come up with some insane (that sound absolutely sane at the time) thoughts. Bless my husband each month as he treads lightly approaching Day 28.


My passion project is about creating a positive body image, and I know that it sounds like that should make me immune to freaking out at such moments as finding a chin whisker. But alas, no.


I do know that as we get older, we feel so much pressure from our environment and media to look and age a certain way. Women aren't given the same freedom as men to age. Men get rugged, women are told to find a way to get rid of their wrinkles. I’ve come to learn there is not much we can do but change ourselves, and that means embracing yourself in the skin you're in -- chin whisker and terrible PMS and all! 


I know there are much more pressing issues to discuss, but it’s good to take light of things and realize we are all the same. Chinny Chin Chin is very fair and blonde, so it’s hardly noticeable. But it’s good to keep around for those moments when I am in deep thought and stroking my chin!


Melissa Menzies is a Australian Mum to three young ones and lives in Palo Alto. Check out her fashion blog YummoMummo.


Tags:  musings 

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Member Musings: Declutter Your Space

Posted By Communications Manager, Friday, March 25, 2016
I am embarrassed to say my house was very cluttered. My closet was overflowing — it was a struggle to physically access the clothes that were hanging. I could no longer see the floor in my home office. I had piles of things in every corner; I felt like I lived in a flea market. My shelves and flat surfaces were filled with Legos. I was one step away from being featured on an episode of Hoarders.

Then in spring, my husband purchased “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing” by Marie Kondo for my Kindle. I had not heard of the KonMari method described in the book and was unaware of the popularity and hype around the book. The book was an easy read. I read the book twice but was scared to take action. The method is so extreme but if you follow through and thoroughly tidy your space, Ms. Kondo alleges that you will never relapse and have to do a thorough tidying again.

Her purging process is very simple. She gives you an order for purging — clothes, books, household items and then mementos. You basically go through each item and throw out (or donate) those that do not spark joy. What an easy subjective standard, right? For those items you purge, you are supposed to thank them for the memories and then dispose them guilt free. Gifting your discards is also a “no-no”. You are not supposed to transfer your “burden” to another person.

While the method was really straightforward, I found it very hard to start the purging process. For clothing items, you are supposed to unhang each item, put it in a big pile, touch each item and then listen to how your body reacts. It is supposed to be obvious if the item sparks joy. With a lot of encouragement from my awesome mommy friends, we decided to “group” KonMari. We encouraged each other, shared our before and after photos and my friends even offered to come over to gauge my joy sparks.

So I did it. It took about 12 hours with help from my kids but I managed to clean out my closet and dresser and those of my 3 kids. I even folded the clothes in my dresser so they were visible at a glance (they sit vertically stacked against each other). I untucked my socks and instead put them in a relaxed sushi roll to minimize their stress. I questioned my pants as to whether they were more comfortable being hung or folded. Since I work full time and have 3 kids, the 12 hour task involved working when my kids were asleep and being up an entire night. Once I started it was easy to skip sleep and finish.

The process was exhausting and I can see why her method requires that you unhang all your clothes. It is so much effort to rehang everything. After I thought I was done discarding my clothes, I realized in the hanging process that there was even more to discard. If I am too lazy to hang it, it probably doesn’t meet the joy threshold. In the end, I yielded 5 yard waste bags full of clothing. I am now selling some items on ebay and the rest will be donated.

I have also KonMaried my Lego collection. This took a lot longer. Maybe a week to sort, rebuild and sell. Most recently, I am working on my household supplies and home office. I don’t know if I will relapse, but I do feel happier and much more together when I am home. Many testimonials in her book note that KonMari will change your life — causing one to want to be surrounded only by things that spark joy. As a result of the process, some changed careers, lost weight and even dumped their spouse. I haven’t experienced anything so dramatic but I am happier and am excited finish the purging. I also find that I shop less. I contemplate purchases much more carefully before purchasing. Overall, it was very freeing! Most of us live with too much stuff, anyhow.

I highly recommend the book and the method. If anyone has questions or need moral support or ebay advice, please email me at I found myself stuck at certain times. For example, I found myself repeatedly asking if clothes that no longer fit can spark joy? In the end, I decided yes! It brings hope that one day you may fit and I realized that my favorite pieces were the teeny tiny ones that make me feel so happy to look at.

by Big Bunny

PAMP gladly accepts member blog submissions, including anecdotes, advice, confessions, recipes, outing suggestions and more! Want to join in the fun? Submit your own musings.

Tags:  musings  organizing 

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Member Musings: Turn Off Your Inner Critic

Posted By Administration, Friday, March 18, 2016

My butt was plastered in the newspaper recently. Talk about a moment to take a deep breath and exercise turning off my inner-critic and practicing self-love. In all honesty, who DOES love having their butt plastered in the newspaper, for school parents to show you and say “Look, it’s you!” They are looking at me — and I am looking at my rear end!

Self-doubt, self-loathe, self-critique — it’s within all of us. It’s like that little devil sitting on one of your shoulders ready to get in your ear the first chance it gets. Well, I’m going to share with you some tricks I use, some pointers, to help you turn it around and shut down that self-doubt. Believe me when I say it’s a constant work in practice and I think it always will be. I was recently told by a fellow body image advocate that  “It’s a daily commitment to being better every day. Confidence is something you have to put on and wear. Sometimes we have to touch it up throughout the day like lipstick.”

5 Tips to Shut Off Your Worst Critic (YOU)!

  1. Shut it down. When you hear that critical self even open it’s mouth, shut it QUICKLY. Don’t even let it get its first breath out. Immediately switch it. E.g. “How cool, I’m in the local newspaper!”
  2. Tune out. Change of scene, change of topic, whatever. Getting out and about in nature brings you back to a quieter state of mind. Notice the trees, the sky, the birds or whatever you might be surrounded by so you can provide your mind with the necessary space to unwind and get back to the present.
  3. Good sleep. I have always said that good sleep is absolutely paramount . It’s like a domino effect. You sleep well, you make better choices, you are nicer to your kids (in my case), you eat better (and drink better) and your state of mind is at it’s best.
  4. Focus on the positives, not the negatives. Ok, time for an actual exercise. Stand in front of the mirror and say three positive things right off the bat. E.g. “I like this color on me” or “I’m proud I got my 8 glasses of water into myself today” or “It felt good to give some food to the homeless man in the park.” Then walk away and get on with your day.
  5. Learn to take a compliment. Why not practice this in that mirror at the same time as step 4! If someone says something positive about you, they might actually mean it, don’t you think?

What do you do to turn off your critical self?

Melissa Menzies is a Australian Mum to three young ones and lives in Palo Alto. Check out her fashion blog YummoMummo

PAMP gladly accepts member blog submissions, including anecdotes, advice, confessions, recipes, outing suggestions and more! Want to join in the fun? Submit your own musings.  

Tags:  health  musings 

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