I was bad last night...

I ate greasy, gluten-infested food and then I barely washed my face before I went to bed. I mean I used my beloved balm (see below) which is like magic and somehow zaps off all my makeup and leaves my skin feeling soft and amazing. But I didn't even bother going anywhere near my eye makeup (of which there was A LOT - when I don't feel well I turn to eyeliner and Pinterest smokey eye tutorials, sometimes layering on more than one) because I knew I didn't have the arm strength or the fortitude to tackle that mess.

I woke up this morning looking like a blotchy, panda bear. If panda's had pores that you could swim in and were a unpleasant shade of pink.

But fear not - because I have things. ALL THE THINGS. And I can fix this so that tonight, Friday night, a night when I want my skin to be at it's healthiest and most glowing, I will have recovered from my poor decision making.


READ THIS! IMPORTANT!

 I have done some horrible things to my skin and my skin self-awareness is master level. Beware overmasking!! If you're trying a new product do not layer it. To get to this level of insanity I slowly layered in additional products over, I kid you not, a year, so that I know that these potent ingredients all work OK together for my skin and won't cause some scary mixing reaction that ends up being even worse. Irritation and allergies are no joke. Seriously, do not try this at home kids. Pick one (maybe 2?) and then if you must descend to my level of spending an hour on a home facial, slowly add in additional products.






What I used:

They're Real Remover
Bobbi Brown Extra Balm Rinse
Glossier Mega Greens Galaxy Pack
Paula's Choice Resist Weekly Resurfacing Treatment with 10% AHA
NuFace Mini Facial Toning Device + 24K Gold Complex Brighten
Tony Moly Sheet Mask Multi Pack
Smart Water 6-Pack
Glossier Soothing Face Mist
June Jacobs Raspberry Recovery Serum
Kimberly Parry Organics Nourishing Serum
Glam Glow Pout Mud Fizzy Lip Exfoliating Treatment & Wet Lip Balm Treatment 
Glossier  Moisturizing Moon Mask

I Already Owned All This Stuff

Continuing my "spending cleanse" (more on that to come) I decided to shop my own closet for a "pin worthy" look. That's right, I went there. My beloved zara faux leather jacket never ceases to provide me joy, paired with this very old and therefore soft striped shirt and these Paige skinny jeans I got from Nordstrom Rack before I got my husband.

Obviously my Ditto Endless account helps keep things fresh - swapped out the Illesteva Palm Beach for these new Miu Miu glasses (how freaking cute is that case? Pink velvet is my jam) and I have to say I am glad I didn't "invest" in those because as much as I was obsessed with them, I got sick of them. Hence the beauty of this Ditto endless membership...

Paired with a super fresh blowout and the ankle-wrap pointed toe Eryn flats (other sizes can be found here) and some cool flag backgrounds and I felt pretty fresh in my very old look. I guess they call it classic for a reason.









VIDEO: Dewy Daytime Makeup with Natural Strobing



No I definitely did not wake up like this - but I love looking fresh and dewy. I only do it when it's fun for me and makes me feel good. I am a firm believer in the idea that playing with makeup is a treat, not a punishment for having the face you have. 
Let me know in the comments if you have any requests for more videos! 



And if reading a list is more your speed than a video, check mine out on List App: 



PRODUCTS I USED:

Arnicare Gel (only $5!)

Kimberly Parry Organics Nourishing Serum & Facial Massage



No photoshop - no filter - lots of oil 


Sometimes I am lucky enough to attract the attention of amazing emerging brands in the skincare industry who generously gift me their luxurious products. I never write about anything I haven't used for at least two weeks (but ideally a month!) so that I can truly see if the products change my skin. If they do, I write about them here. In deference to my new FOMOless life mission a product has to be truly exceptional to garner a mention. Like, I can't live without this product, brings me joy from it's texture/smell, AND makes a noticeable difference in my skin amazing. It's a big ask.

So it is with great joy that I can tell you about this serum. It's 100% USDA organic which is amazing since one kind of cancer is more than enough for me and I've been trying really hard to phase carcinogens and bad chemicals out of my skincare routine. It smells amazing, which is very important because if I don't like how something smells I won't use it. Skincare should be about pleasure and reward, not punishing your skin for doing what it does. The texture is thick and creamy, but it soaks up so quickly that I can put it on before makeup (a true miracle for an oil.) In the midst of a crazy winter with lots of dry/cold/constantly changing weather my skin has been remarkably well behaved - not dry or breaking out and this serum has been a big part of it.

The main ingredient in this serum is Helichrysum, which apparently has mythical properities and is called the “Fountain of Youth” due to its potent anti-aging properties, giving this potion a super-charged boost. 


Kimberly Parry Organics Nourishing Serum

It's also awesome for facial massage, which I'm all about for the detoxification/muscular workout/pure indulgent relaxation. You can watch me do my mini massage, or for a more advanced tutorial from an expert check out this amazing video on Into the Gloss (this is where I learned to do it.)



Don't Buy This Romper








Or do. I don't care. I mean I care about you - but really who am I to tell you to buy more things. I think I'm basically a hoarder and I should be a role model to nobody. Don't get me wrong, I love this romper - it makes me so happy. It makes me feel really beautiful and a little sexy. But I'm working on a new practice, a practice of not buying so many things. Of imagining a world where I already have everything I could possibly need. Of not shopping or acquiring to make me feel better. I love my things. The idea of a capsule wardrobe makes me a little sad (and a little envious.) I dream of a closet with a couch in the middle of it and slots for all my shoes. I don't ever want to be able to fit everything I own in a suitcase. When I travel I get homesick and miss my things. There is nothing that gives me more confidence then knowing I am wearing "the right" outfit. Dressing for my body is one of my special life skills. But I've realized that in blogging there is this consumerist insanity of new, more, FOMO, get this and I don't want to pressure anybody to do anything. The best shopping advice I have ever gotten is to only buy things you are absolutely crazy insane in love with. So if you feel that way about this romper (or this bag) and you love it so so much, I totally understand. But maybe you already have everything you need?

Striped Ruffled Romper (seen before here) | YSL Pink Mini Monogram Camera Bag | Lace Up Leopard Flats (similar) 

OMG I have a Zit


I rarely get them anymore but when I do, well I freak out. Fortunately I've come up with a 3-step solution that keeps me from making it worse, and sometimes even makes it go away.

1. Electrocute

Technically it just "oxygenates" and kills bacteria, but it feels like touching one of those static electricity balls at the exploratorium. Works incredibly well if you catch them early enough.

Portable High Frequency Machine ($28)

2. Mask

Anything with sulfur, which is my healing agent of choice. Some favorites:

Peter Thomas Roth Therapeutic Sulfur Acne Mask ($40) | Murad Clarifying Mask $38 (FYI this one is so popular it's SOLD OUT on Sephora.com)

3. Put on a sticker and leave it alone

It's so hard not to touch that throbbing, swollen mess on your face. This keeps my dirty fingers away while also delivering a dose of Saly' Acid.

Acne Clear Invisible Dots | Anti-Trouble Blemish Patch  (both $12 for 24)

Whatever Happened to the Girl Code? THE COMPLETE STORY


This is a picture of me winning - that girl with the perfect profile is one of my best friends... None of this would be possible without her.

I first released this post in series form, because it seemed too long to post all at once. Then I realized that was kind of annoying, so now that they are all out there, I decided to release them as one very, very long post. 

Lots of love,
Dena 

Introduction

I am constantly amazed by how lucky I am to have the female friends that I do. Somehow, I managed to acquire a truly remarkable set of them - each one more impressive, fun, and gorgeous than the next. Not only are they stunning - they are also brilliant, compassionate, funny and interesting. They have profoundly interesting jobs, sparkling conversational skills, exceptional dance moves, and killer style. I feel humbled and honored to know them, to be included in their activities and invited to their homes. Their visits inspire me, carry me through hard times, and keep me going when I think I cannot make it through another day. They are the reason I am a feminist - proud to be a girl, comfortable in myself, able to be open and raw.

But not all girls are like this. Some of them compete with each other. They make themselves bigger by trying to make other women small. I'm often reminded of the line from one of the classics of my youth - Drive Me Crazy - "When guys compete it's overt, ringing a bell with a sledgehammer or luggie chucking, the size of your engine or whatever. When girls compete, it's art. And Alicia, she's an artist." Melissa Joan Hart is of course describing her wicked BFF, the scheming/lying/sexually aggressive character who tells the star basketball player's girlfriend that he's in a cult to end their relationship so she can have him for herself.

Watching this movie again as an "adult" felt too contrived and vicious to be real. The plot mechanism of a charming, ABC Family movie from the last century. The sad truth is that it exists as a cinematic trope because it happens. Women do nasty things to other women.

My father-in-law gifted me with the most amazing book for xmas.  Cancer Vixen is a stunning "graphic memoir" of breast cancer. The author, Marisa Acocella Marchetto, is my spirit animal. My only regret is not getting this book sooner. Nobody warned me about the weight gain either.  I wish I had been so precise about documenting the outfits/shoes I wore to each chemo.  Most of all, the very real fears and struggles of going through cancer while in a new, exciting romantic relationship with a much sought after man. A man, much like my own, who has girls throwing themselves at him constantly. 

This is such a part of my cancer love story I was shocked to realize I had never written it down. When it comes to the list of indignities I suffered during my diagnosis and cancer treatment, this one still invokes one of the most painful gut punches. It's one of the few stories I have about breast cancer that shows how humanity let me down instead of lifting me up. I struggle to understand it, to reconcile it with the love, positive energy and constant support that the universe sent my way to get me through this nightmare.

So, like all things I struggle with, I decided to write about it here. To see if by documenting the story I could finally put an answer to this question: What happened to the Girl CodeEspecially when the other woman in question is going through cancer. 

Chapter 1: Meet Cute


My husband is a dreamboat. In the early days of our relationship I used him as a testimony to my skills at shopping. I joked that I ordered him online. He checks all. the. boxes.

Tall? 6'5. Smart? He went to Stanford, then worked as a research assistant at Harvard. I guess that will do. Good looking? Um, he modeled for a Crew catalogue once. Successful? Well, he was in "the first 50" at a publicly traded company that everyone has heard of. So we'll go with yes. Athletic? He rowed crew at the aforementioned fancy school. Kind & Generous? Yup. Yup. Yup. 

To say that my husband is a catch is like saying fashion girls like black. Nobody is going to argue with you. He's a human being, so he's not perfect, but in a world where such a thing as checklist's for human beings exists, he's a winner. 

We met in an adorable way. I was writing a book about online dating for a startup, doing my research and messaging guys while also seeing someone IRL. He was not the one for me, but I wasn't ready to admit that yet. I messaged with my husband a lot but I refused to meet him, which probably drove him crazy as such a thing had never happened to him before. 




Then I stopped seeing that other guy. I was finishing up edits on my book. I decided to message the guy who would come to be The Hubs. He asked for my number. I gave it to him. We talked on the phone for 3 hours. We arranged to meet that night for drinks. He was late (he's always late, see previous imperfections) and when he walked in, he walked right up to me, grabbed me and kissed me. We've been together ever since. His version of this story is, "We met for the first time at a bar and 90 seconds later we were making out." Men. 

Our early relationship was basically one long date. From that first kiss we became inseparable. He was very honest with me that he was emerging from a very, um, single phase. There had been some drama. Lot's of girls thought that they could "change" him, but he wasn't ready to date. They said they understood, but then they flipped out when they realized he was serious. He warned me. He told me he felt differently about me. I believed him. I've always known I'm something of a catch, even if I occasionally acted like I didn't. 

The walls in my apartment were very thin. We would have a date that would last for days.  He would tell me he needed to leave for some kind of "work thing" later, but then we were having too much fun and he wouldn't want to go. He would see if he could "work something out." I would hear him in the other room canceling dates with other girls. The work thing would disappear. I would pretend I didn't hear, all while smugly smiling to myself and going about my life supremely confident that if he was the one for me everything would work out the way it was supposed to. I credit my mother with this rare and elusive confidence, which has always served me well. 

About 3 weeks into this blissful, never ending hang we started going out in public together. His friends seemed to like me a lot, and I would find myself included in lots of social activities. Never a clinger, I would wander around on my own, having conversations with other people, going to the bathroom by myself. I'm a rebel.

I started to notice a strange phenomenon. Whenever I left Hubs, other girls would materialize at his side. If he beckoned me over, these same girls would dissolve. Disappear into thin air. Ghostly apparitions. Was I crazy? Hallucinating? Who were these phantoms haunting my consciousness?

But of course, they weren't phantoms. They were the ghosts of "girlfriends" past. Hubs was emitting what we like to call "taxi light on". They say men are like taxis, if the light isn't on, no matter how awesome you are, they just aren't going to take you home. Once the light comes on, well, it's open season. 


Chapter 2: The Haunting


OPEN SEASON. 

Never having been a woman who found taken men appealing, I was astonished to learn about this behavior. Realizing that hubs was starting to get serious about me, they thought to themselves, why her? Why this giant, size 10 brunette? Look how crazy she dresses. I am blonde, I have never eaten a carb in my life, all my shoes are from Tory Burch, we belong next to each other in the J Crew catalogue. ** If he's willing to get serious it should be with me and not her. 

These women, some of whom had access to his phone, were omnipresent. One particularly aggressive one would see him at these events, WITH ME, and then have her friends yell at him while I was gone. Upset, he would tell me about this, filled with remorse at hurting them but confused because he had never been anything but honest with them about his intentions. He still doesn't understand women. Then, usually between the hours of 11pm and 2am, these same chicks would text him - apologetic, telling him they needed to talk in person, asking him to meet them. Lying next to him I would see these texts and feel nothing but pity. Why didn't these girls have friends who would take their phones away? My friends would never let me violate the girlcode this way, would never let me send late night texts to a man I had seen several hours before on a date with another woman.

These texts continued once we'd moved in together. "Oh, I saw a (insert kind of dog you like) at the beach this morning. Now it's 11pm and I thought I'd text this picture to you in a super casual way. What're you doing right now?" We laughed together at their fecklessness, but in my stomach I just felt sad. 

Who were these shameless girls? What happened to the girl code? When did it become OK to send late night texts to men you knew were in committed relationships? 

I cannot say I have lived a perfect, innocent life, but going after someone who is seriously taken seems like a gigantic karmic misstep to me. It's just asking for trouble. There are actually enough men to go around. Every pot has a lid.

For the first time in my life I was in a totally committed, loving relationship where I felt 100% confident that this man had chosen me, so of course we were going to be constantly tested.

Women in bars would approach him and stroke his face. The late night texts continued. I took it all in stride - after all, he was mine. I had won. I hadn't tried to change him even a little bit, and because of that we were so happy, so confident in our rightness that even these blatant violations of the girl code seemed like nothing to me.

Then I found the lump

**I have absolutely no evidence to support this except their aggressive behavior 

Chapter 3: The Ultimate Betrayal 

So I had cancer. It was really hard. Choosing to go so public with my diagnosis and my experiences was overall such a positive experience. It was like I was a thirsty woman in the desert and sharing my story turned on this amazing faucet of love, positive energy, support, attention and everything else I needed to get me through the nightmare that is being 29 and having breast cancer. The end.

Just kidding.

If only life was like that, it would be so wonderful. But of course it's not. Life is nasty and hard. Just when you think you can't handle anymore, something else comes along to show you just how strong and resilient you truly are.

The hubs is a much more private person than I am. Since sharing my story is also sharing his story, it's just another reason he's such a saint. I think given the choice he would've shouldered the burden of my diagnosis with stoic, waspy silence. His boho, hippie, diarrhea-mouthed writer of a girlfriend didn't give him an option. Everyone knew I was sick. Everyone who knew him knew that he was standing by me, even though I tried to respect his privacy but not writing about him too often.

Is there anything hotter than a guy who stays by his (new) girlfriend's side during a cancer diagnosis? As if he wasn't perfect enough, he was also a truly good human.

So, let's review. Dena has cancer. Everyone knows that she's sick. She's blogging about it on the reg, getting some traffic, getting to write for some amazing publications, her boyfriend by her side. Everyone knows they are staying together, that they are living together while she goes through chemo.

Seems like the perfect time to send him a text message and hit on him, right?


Let's set the scene.

Bald headed, pukey Dena is lying in bed next to hubs. It's a random weeknight. Suddenly his phone pings. All she can see is a text message that takes THREE screen swipes. That's a lot of text for a text. Hubs seems confused.

Who is it? Dena says. "It's her." he replies.


I know who her is, she of the late night texts and amazing disappearing acts. I've never met her, but I know who she is. I've seen all the texts she's sent him during our relationship.

I wish I had saved a screenshot, but I was too angry to do anything but cry and force him to delete it.

I will have to paraphrase it here:

Hey, you. Congratulations on your beautiful girlfriend and cute dog. She seems amazing, talking so publicly about being sick. I think you are amazing for staying with her. It seems like your life is about to get super tough and awful taking care of her. You are incredible for putting up with how terrible it's about to get. I just want you to know that if you ever left her, I would understand and I would be here for you. Like HERE for you, like sexually available to be your wife. I think you are the best guy ever and way too good to waste your life on a sick girl, and I don't want you to forget about me or the fact that you have other options besides staying with her. Did I already mention how horrible it's going to be for you taking care of her while she goes through this? xoxo


Time for a flashback. I tried to end things with hubs several times during all of this. Privately, secretly, I cried as I told him I loved him too much to subject him to this. I clung to him, then pushed him away. The fertility preservation hormones made me crazy. Then I lost my hair and fell apart. It was so hard. I knew how noble, how truly good he was, and that he would never abandon anyone who needed him.

I needed him so badly, but I was also full of pride. I didn't want to be with someone who only wanted to be with me because he was too ashamed to leave.  He was a good guy. Good guys don't leave their girlfriends because they have cancer. I checked in with him constantly, assured him regularly that I would defend his decision to leave me with every public breath in my body. Acted awful to try to drive him away. None of it worked. He loved me, too.

Slowly it became too exhausting to feed that much self doubt. I trusted him. I loved him. He loved me. Life was making things hard enough without me trying to make things harder. We just worked. He was there for me in every way I needed to and in exchange, I gave up trying to push him away and let him love me. Let him take care of me. Let him be the good guy he was, my good guy. Maybe possibly my soulmate. It wasn't how normal people figure out if they are meant to spend their lives together, but it was how we did it. Slowly the ugly, "noble" monster who wanted to spare him from this cancer nightmare was wilting inside of me.

Then this text message came and it was like being hit by a car. While on chemo.

Of course I knew there were other girls who wanted him. Of course he could find someone easier, healthier to love. Of course taking care of someone with cancer, who you love, watching them suffer and being rendered totally helpless, is awful. Nothing she said was not true. Hell, I had been thinking it on repeat for months.

Who was I to deserve this amazing guy? I was so many awful things: bald, sick, helpless, fatter than ever, a hormonal mess. If people are checklists, I was winning at losing.

But to see it, written there, a proposal, from another woman... It made me furious.

How. Dare. She.

Where is the girl code? I have FREAKING CANCER... Using that as an excuse to steal away MY BOYFRIEND. Of all the nasty, crappy, horrible things to do to another woman.


reenactment of the horrible text*






Chapter 4: Anger + Acceptance 

How. Dare. She.

DEEP BREATH. LOUD VOICE.

I was shocked. I felt like the ugly "noble" monster inside of me was just thrown a big fat juicy steak. She was growing, banging angrily against the cage inside of me where I locked her. I wanted to lash out at Hubs, punish him for being so desirable.

But of course, it wasn't his fault. This was another challenge from the universe to teach me that I can control absolutely nothing. Except how I reacted. That was mine.

My anger at this violation of the girl code reared up inside of me. I knew her behavior was abominable. That my hubs was too good of a man to be with a woman who could throw me under the bus like that. I was not threatened by her - I was only threatened by my own monsters: insecurity, fear and the worst one, the one that eats my gratitude.

Hubs could love me, could see how viable and amazing I was. It was time that I did, too.

I would not let this poor creature drag me down. I would only pity her and then let it go. I would count my own blessings, instead of hers. I would channel my anger into a fire that would scorch my insecurities out of me until all that was left was space for more love.

So I made a very bitchy list.

Here's what I had that she didn't:

I had the strength to know that cancer was not my fault. It wasn't something I could control. Being a nasty, competitive clinger who went after other people's men was something she could control. She chose not to. Points: Dena

I had friends who would never let me send a text message like that. Who would protect me from my own big mouth and the seeming ease of communication that is the ill-advised late night text message. This girl had nobody taking care of her, had nobody saying - "You are the villain in this story. This is not you offering a comforting friendship to a guy going through something hard. This could be screenshot and put on the internet. Give me that phone." I did. Points: Dena

I know that this is not the kindest, most positive thing I have ever written. I know this poor girl would be ashamed if I outed her, something I would never do. I know she's in a relationship now, that years have passed and I am happily, blissfully, confidently married.

But this sad reality has haunted me. Why do women compete over love? Why do they let romantic love bring out a part of them that allows them to tear into other women? Who's truly winning with this behavior?

If we all strived to be the best versions of ourselves, celebrated each others triumphs, relished each others happiness and bolstered each other where would we be? If we didn't let subtle, petty manipulations suck dry our energy, feed our insecurities and weaken us, what could we accomplish?

Girl Code, as I have taken to calling it here, is just a kind of morality that says that we will feed the beast inside of us that gives instead of taking. That grows us bigger when we can be the person growing other people bigger.

Over time my anger at this girl turned to pity, then understanding and finally hope. Yes, I "won" but what I really won is not my husband - it's my friends. The girls I have the pleasure of knowing, who form the network of love and support that enable me and hubs to have such a full and happy life. Who hold me to a higher standard of morality, enforce in me the desire to be less competitive and more supportive of each other. Without them, there is no winning.

Let's bring back the Girl Code. Are you with me?

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