Saturday, March 22, 2014

The Beauty Spotlight Team Q & A: Things You May Not Know About Helen from Lola's Secret Beauty Blog

The Beauty Spotlight Team wants you to get to know each of our members better by asking us a series of personal and blogging questions, and now it's my turn to divulge! I love interacting with all of you-- so please feel free to ask other questions if you have them. And no, I'm not missing part of my left eyebrow!

1) Last book you read? I confess that I am a rather voracious reader. This is, in large part, an occupational hazard, but there is always a rather fine line between what I read for pleasure and what I read for work-- they are essentially the same. I generally have lots of books going at the same time, but that is a function of being continually engaged in academic research. My recent reads just for fun: Just Kids by Patti Smith and Essence & Alchemy by Mandy Aftel. Both of these books are exquisite, and I highly recommend them!

2) What is your dream job? My real job is my dream job. It would be a sad state of affairs if I had spent that many years in grad school only to discover that my chosen field just wasn't for me. As it turns out, I really do love teaching. I love interacting with my colleagues, staff members, and with the undergraduate and graduate students.

3) Do you have a special talent? A photographic memory, an odd attribute that my sister, niece and I inherited from my dad. When I was a retail manager I used to freak out my employees because I could walk into the store and take a look at the shelves and be able to see what they sold while I was gone. However, much of the time I retained largely odd bits of otherwise meaningless information, but I gained a whole new appreciation for it in my last two years of college since it made taking finals much easier. That said, it was really in grad school that I learned how to harness this quirky talent, and I employed it for my MA thesis, all of my Ph.D. qualifying exams and for my dissertation. It made such daunting and difficult tasks infinitely more manageable, and frankly more enjoyable. For me it's not quite a point and shoot type of paradigm, but instead one where I retain and see what I engage with. I do often see entire pages of text in my head (right down to the most minute details on the page). However, my crowning achievement occurred one very late night after spending about 12 hours writing. I decided to turn off the computer and go to bed because I was so exhausted, and the oddest thing happened: I scrolled through the last 3 pages of my chapter in my head, and edited them with my eyes closed. When I finished I jumped out of bed, turned the computer back on, and completed the chapter. Oddly enough it was my hard-to-please professor's favorite passage. Interestingly, two other Beauty Spotlight Team members have photographic memories: Perilously Pale and The Pink Sith!

4) What makes you feel beautiful? Being confident and happy-- all internal things, but they manifest themselves externally as well. However, a good hair day, the perfect pink blush, and the perfect pinky nude lipstick doesn't hurt either!
5) Do you have a guilty pleasure? Chocolate, luxury face oils, lip products, and anything from The Organic Pharmacy, Radical Skincare and African Botanics! Truth be told, I don't actually feel too much guilt about any of these vices!

6) What time do you wake up in the morning? Generally between 6:00-7:00AM without an alarm clock.

7) When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up? Different things at different times. When I was about twelve I wanted to be a jockey (I was short and rode horses-- and someone tried to recruit me). When I was in high school my parents sent me to Paris, where my dad grew up, to live with family-- and I wanted to be a Psychotherapist like my dad's ├╝ber chic cousin with whom I lived. While in college I naturally gravitated toward Romance languages and the Arts and Humanities, and was encouraged by my very favorite professor to go to grad school. Because I was a rather rebellious professor's daughter it took me a little time to warm up to the idea, but once I did there was no looking back. While a child I was warped by academia because whenever asked my age I always responded in the number of semesters I had been alive rather than years. This endlessly amused my father's colleagues-- who were later thrilled when I chose an academic path. While I no longer give my age in semesters, I do gauge time via the academic rather than the Gregorian calendar.

8) Are you a cat person or a dog person? Well, I happily live with and love both, but I tend to prefer the feline sensibility in general. Though I have to say, I am partial to Pit Bulls, and Delilah utterly and totally melts my heart every single time I look into her lovely soulful brown eyes.
9) What was your first real job? Working in a restaurant at the age of 13.

10) If you were given a shopping spree at one store, what store would you like it to be? This is such an unfair question! That's simply too hard to choose. For luxury niche beauty products I definitely always choose Barneys New York and SpaceNK. However, I do also love to shop at Nordstrom and Neiman Marcus.

11) What is your most favorite discontinued item? Chanel Joues Contraste in Narcisse #44 (US version).

12) Finish this sentence: "Don't start a beauty blog if…." You are simply trying to get free products! That is such a poor source of motivation for blogging, and it always shows.
13) What type of product is the most fun for you to test and review? It really depends on my mood. However, luxury face oils always make me very happy. So does Tom Ford and Surratt anything!

14) When you shop for makeup, skincare and perfume, do you do it with the blog in mind first and foremost-- or with your own use in mind? Both actually. I have become far more selective in my purchases, but I always have the blog in mind.

15) How has your relationship to beauty products changed since you began blogging? Well, I wouldn't say that I am any less obsessed with beauty products than I was in my pre-blogging life, but I would say that I have way more products now! I would also say that I am far more discriminating about what I use, and what I spend my money on.
16) What is your greatest joy about blogging? Interacting with people and forging friendships in this amazing community.

17) How much time do you spend blogging per week? That depends upon how busy I am with work. I do post something every single day, though. There is so much more to blogging than one can imagine-- you are basically the researcher, the editor, the writer, the publisher, the IT Department, the photographer, the social media manager, the PR manager, the product tester, and the troubleshooter. Additionally, one has to allocate time to respond to emails and comments, and when you put all of these things together it takes a considerable daily commitment. As any blogger will attest, you have to wear lots and lots of hats to do what needs to be done to run a blog, and for most of the bloggers that I know this is done while having a career outside of blogging.

18) If you could start your blog all over again, what would you differently? That's hard to say because the choices that I made brought me where I am now, and I like where I am.

19) What is the best piece of advice that you would give an aspiring beauty blogger? Don't write about what you think other people want to read- instead write about what truly interests you. This is the best way to find your voice, and then like-minded people will be drawn to your blog. This is the way to best engage with the blogging community, not by doing derivative work or mimicking the work of other bloggers. It's also important to take time to edit what you write, and to spell check your work. Articles rife with mistakes don't inspire confidence, or repeated visits to the author's blog.

20) Do you consider your blog a hobby, or is it part of a larger career objective? A happy hobby that has taken on a life of its own. I guess that some might call it a second career based upon the level of commitment and consistency necessary to keep a blog going. That said, I am and always have been very happy in my career choice.

21) How do you find the motivation to keep making the effort to keep the blog going? I love interacting with those who read my blog, and love interacting with other bloggers. I have also forged some amazing friendships with brands, the owners of brands, Sales Associates, Reps, PRs etc., and it is a very gratifying part of the entire blogging experience. Also I still get super excited about new skincare and makeup finds-- so remaining motivated comes naturally.

22) What are your favorite TV shows? My current favorites are: House of Lies, Shameless, Episodes, Ray Donovan, Being Human, Justified, Homeland, Veep, Covert Affairs, Elementary, Mad Men, Castle, Suits, Big Bang Theory, Perception, and White Collar.

Do you have questions that I didn't address? Feel free to ask!

Copyright © 2014 www.lolassecretbeautyblog.com All Rights Reserved.

16 comments:

  1. Helen! I love this past and all your answers. Somehow it all relates to each other and your sense of self becomes apparent in your posts too. You are just wonderful all around. I am so happy I found your blog and you :)
    xxxxxxxxxxxxx

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    1. Thank you, wefadetogray! I'm so glad that you love this post-- it's not that easy figuring out how to respond to questions like these-- especially the personal ones that don't always feel as relevant to the blog. Yet on the other hand, it is nice to reveal bits of myself that might not otherwise be seen by the readers of this blog. Your kind words, as always, mean the world to me. I am so happy that you found my blog and me-- because I'm thrilled to have found you. Not only do we share a love of fabulous skincare and makeup, but we also share that whole chosen academic path! Have a lovely weekend! xoxox, Helen

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  2. I loved reading this. I have no memory, especially not a photographic one, so I'm extremely impressed by that. Your answer to #17 is so right on for bloggers. To have any quality you need to be able to do everything you mentioned plus have the passion for what you are writing about.

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    1. Hi Marcia!! You are absolutely right-- you really do have to have passion about the things that you write about! I'm so glad that you loved reading this! It was so difficult figuring out how to answer some of the more difficult questions. The photographic memory is a weird thing to have, but my particular variant is completely unimpressive compared to my dad's-- which was unlike anything that I have ever seen. I am, however, grateful that I inherited some small fraction of his talent because it has definitely helped me traverse some of my greatest school related challenges. xoxox

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  3. Helen, I thoroughly enjoyed reading your articulate and expressive thoughts. Your writing is always a joy--clear, descriptive, and fluent :-) Your obvious intelligence and perceptiveness illuminates your writing effortlessly. Never pretentious, your writing voice is genuine and sincere. There are a number of bloggers who could learn much from you. Well done!

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    1. You are so kind, Eileen! I'm so glad that you enjoyed reading this! Your generous and kind words are so very meaningful to me, and that you should deem me (and my writing) worthy of such praise deeply touches me! <3

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  4. It's great to know you a little bit more! I'm glad to have found your blog!

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    1. Thanks, Kath! The feeling is completely mutual! <3

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  5. Hi Helen, I silently read your blog daily, and have never commented. I just had to reach out to you after reading this post. Thank you so much for sharing more about yourself! Your blog is my very favorite in the beauty blog universe for so many reasons. The products that you review and your posts about your feline and canine friends are always so fun to read. I also really love the narratives that you include when you post about your cats (especially Zeus)! It is really your articulate and cultivated way of writing that keeps me coming back every day. Your intelligence and beautiful writing truly sets you apart. Also your photographs are always stunning and look like works of art rather than being regular pictures of makeup and skincare.

    I completely agree with everything that Eileen said so beautifully, and it is very impressive that someone with your credentials is so humble and never in the least bit pretentious. I have noticed that so many beauty bloggers use their blogs for self-aggrandizement which is so boring (and a real turn off). You don't do this in the least, but instead let your talent speak for itself. I loved your blog before but this post makes me love it so much more! Thank you for all of the hard work that you do and for letting us know a bit more about the woman behind the blog. :) Ella

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    1. Hi Ella! Thank you for loving my blog so much, and for deciding to leave your first comment! I am truly honored that you feel as you do, and that you take time out of your busy life to read my blog daily! I'm so glad that my animal posts and product reviews keep you amused and interested in coming back! I am touched that you enjoy my writing and pictures-- kind words such as yours give me motivation to keep doing this! Your generous and kind words are very meaningful to me! xoxox, Helen

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  6. Helen! Gah, I'm so jealous of your photographic memory! That must be super useful! My memory is very much auditory, which means I experience my life like a radio program.

    I also follow Covert Affairs, Castle, Suits, and The Big Bang Theory! Otherwise I don't watch too much TV :p

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    1. Hi Sunny! Trust me when I tell you that I squandered that skill for so many years, and my version is pathetically unimpressive compared to my dad's. It was definitely helpful with grad school though!! An auditory memory is an impressive skill, and it makes so much sense to have for translating!

      I love those 4 shows, and you are a wise woman not to watch much TV!!! <3

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  7. Oh Helen, as if I could love you any more :) Love the glimpse into your precocious semester-counting childhood, your quirky clever mind, and your TV schedule! My favourite academics are always the sequential tv addicts. :D My current telly obsessions are Les Revenants and My Mad, Fat Diary (gone a bit soapy in the second season, but still nails so much about adolescence) -- have you come across those?

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    1. Oh Kate, the feeling is completely mutual!!!!!!!!

      You would think that I would have had the sense to turn and run for the hills in an effort to avoid continued academic warping-- I mean who among us who calculated their age in semesters would intentionally sign up for a lifetime of continued warping?!

      I know lots of academics who love to watch TV as well! I think that it serves as a nice diversion from the rigors of work. I don't watch excessively, but I definitely record my favorite shows and watch them at night. I have not come across those shows, but am going to do a search to see if they are available in my area! Several of my shows are in their final season-- so I just might have a little room to record a few new shows! Have a lovely week! <3

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  8. Fascinating! My father had a "photographic" memory. He was a doctor and researcher (with rare multiple specialties). To this day, I have doctors tell me stories of his incredible recall. He repeatedly stressed, however, that true photographic memory doesn't exist, and superior recall is unconnected to IQ. All of his children have some of his ability, including our developmentally challenged sister, who is probably the most impressive of all. I ended up with the Trivial Pursuit version-- I have impressive recall of random facts and faces, but can't remember where I put my keys and spent two years thinking I was older than I really was.

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    1. Wow, it sounds as though your father and mine were cut from the same cloth. My dad was able to walk into a library go into the stacks and go to the volume and page of a book that he had looked at only once before and many many years before. I could never in my wildest dreams do anything like that. My dad's colleagues and students had lots of stories about my dad's incredible recall as well. Interesting that true photographic memory doesn't exist, but I am not in the least bit surprised that it is unconnected to IQ. On their face they seem totally different. It's also interesting that you and your siblings all received some variant from your father. Same with me and my sister, but what's more interesting is seeing the very crisp and concise version that my niece possesses-- who sadly was born after my dad passed away. As for never remembering where you put your keys-- I do the exact same thing. Though I seem to often have more trouble finding my car than my keys! I find it so fascinating that this trait appears to be passed down so frequently. I have heard of so many others who inherited it from a parent or grandparent. Thanks so much for sharing! :-) Helen

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I love reading all of your comments and interacting with you- so please do not hesitate to share your thoughts, and to ask questions. Remember that what you have to say is of interest to all of us! Always feel free to email me directly as well. SPAM and advertising links will not be published.

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