Make Up Isn’t What Makes You Shine

by Ilinap on August 3, 2015


We have such messed up ideals of beauty. There’s been lots of hubbub in social media showing photos of women with and without makeup. I have always found that I never really learned to wear make up, so I stick with my staples of under eye concealer, liquid eyeliner, and mascara. I have a collection of lip glosses that are stashed in the pockets of all my purses, but it’s rare that I remember to swipe anything on other that lip balm. I much prefer a natural pallet anyway. I never have worn much make up myself. Never mind that I don’t even know how to apply eye shadow and I don’t own blush. It’s not called rouge anymore, is it? Natural beauty is much more wondrous than a painted on face.

A stranger stopped me recently to compliment me on my foundation and wanted to know what brand I use. I don’t even know what foundation is, and the woman was shocked when I told her I didn’t have anything on my face. At first she thought I was making it all up and wouldn’t divulge my secrets. She was trailing me down the aisle chattering about my coverage and coloring. I was this close to giving her a tissue to wipe across my cheek.

I’m not being judgy, mind you. It’s fun to play around with make up. What I lack in make up I make up for in nail polish. I thank my genes and my sunblock for keeping the wrinkles at bay. I have a small scar that’s imperceptible so I never had to think about covering up anything other than my dark under eye circles (another gift of motherhood!). Sometimes I wish I had a knack for make up to mix things up and paint on a pretty face for a special occasion. But I admit, I do worry about not looking like myself. I also cry easily so there’s that risk of black streaks running down my face at any moment.

Make up is the least of what makes people beautiful anyway. We know this. We preach this. Yet society’s beauty ideals continue to make women feel ugly for not fitting into some Sephora Barbie mold.


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International Tiger Day

by Ilinap on July 29, 2015


Today is International Tiger Day. It comes on the heels of the news of Cecil’s brutal killing. Granted, Cecil was a lion, but still… Big cats are a thing of beauty. I cannot wrap my head around the killing of these animals for sport. I cannot fathom finding joy in death. Big game hunting is a preposterous hobby, especially when it involves endangered species and dwindling populations.

The “sport” reeks of privilege as mostly rich, white men pay tens of thousands of dollars to kill animals in a swell of testosteroney hubris. What must they be (over)compensating for here? They prey on communities that face economic hardship so the promise of crisp, green dollars is enticing to those who would otherwise barely eek out a living and earn a living wage. There are both people and animals who are taken advantage of. Walter Palmer is not alone in this heinous activity of killing for fun. North Carolina’s own Representative Gary Pendleton gets off on making a game of killing big game too.

Cecil’s murder by now infamous Minnesota dentist Walter Palmer has struck me because I have just been to India on a jungle safari myself, armed with only two cameras and big sunhat. I’ve also gone on safari in Uganda. Both were riveting experiences that left me in awe. On both safaris we used reputable outfitters with guides who very clearly put the animals first. We followed strict protocol and were confident we were in good hands. To see God’s creatures up close with no bars or barricades is breathtaking in the most literal sense. I had to remind myself to breath.

I have seen tigers in the zoo. They are gorgeous creatures with features and mannerisms akin to my smaller domestic cats that used to purr atop my chest when I was reading. Their expressions are more sweet than savage. Watching cats, big or small, is mesmerizing.



My family and I traveled to India recently. We enjoyed a visit to Ranthambore National Park, where we took a safari in an open air jeep that looked like a relic from the Indian army. We were joined by a Ukrainian wildlife photography enthusiast whose quiver of cameras put us to shame. We were armed with five cameras among us, mine with a pretty decent zoom lens. The safaris are timed so that all the jeeps don’t converge upon the animals at once. We saw a couple other groups during our safari, but for the most part it was just us, the arid land, and the animals.

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The day was blazing hot, with temps climbing to 104 degrees. The breeze of an open air jeep provided no respite as the hot air swirled, blowing dust in our faces. Yet the experience was grand. My sons were silent, which speaks volumes. Our hope was to see a tiger. We were told the tigers were elusive, especially after the incident and controversy surrounding tiger T-24, aka Ustad. We were lucky to have an experienced guide and driver who did indeed lead us to a tiger. We sat in the jeep and stared in awe for what simultaneously seemed like several minutes and a blink. We knew this was one of those much touted once-in-a-lifetime experiences. We snapped away and eventually just set down our cameras, soaking in the tiger, noting how its expression mimicked those of our sweet long gone kitties Casey and Capote.


Let’s remember all creatures great and small. Consider donating to sanctuaries that protect animals rather than ravage them.

Wildlife Conservation Research Unit (the group that was tracking and studying Cecil and mentioned on Jimmy Kimmel)

The Wild Animal Sanctuary 



Good Manners Matter

July 13, 2015

I was recently at the grocery store where I was patiently waiting in line at the meat and seafood counter to place my order. It was Saturday just before dinner time so you can imagine everyone was there for the last-minute-oh-crap-we-don’t-have-anything-to-eat rush. The workers behind the counter remained pleasant and helpful, answering questions of place of origin for […]

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I Wasn’t Born in America But…

July 4, 2015

I wasn’t born in the USA but I do love Bruce Springsteen. I wasn’t born in America but I was raised an American. I wasn’t born in America, but my sons are first generation American. I wasn’t born in America but I proudly have an American passport. I wasn’t born in America but I vote […]

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SCOTUS Marriage Equality Strengthens My Own Marriage

June 26, 2015

  I cannot get through the first sentence of that gorgeous piece of writing without crying. I was in the midst of 100 bicycle crunches while watching TV with my 10-year old son this morning when the screech of breaking news punctuated the airwaves. After waking up to news of the horror in France this […]

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All My Son Wants for His 10th Birthday is to Support Education for Girls

June 19, 2015

We’ve just returned from an extended trip to India. I hadn’t been back in 20 years, and this marked my husband and sons’ first trip there. It was a momentous experience, one that I have yet to capture in a manner that is comprehensive or cohesive. I’m working on it. It’s quite a chunk to […]

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What Matters to Kids Today Part II

June 17, 2015

As the short-sighted GOP legislators in North Carolina continue to dismantle public education and undervalue teachers, I carry on my fight to advocate for public schools. I spend a lot of time in schools and with kids. Volunteering in my son’s classroom is the highlight of my week. You might say that my week leaves […]

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Farewell Phineas and Ferb

June 12, 2015

  Phineas and Ferb are going on a permanent summer vacation. I am sad to see this duo go. Phineas and Ferb have been an almost daily laugh fest at our house since Bird and Deal were little. It’s the first kid show that left me laughing instead of groaning. We all imitate Candace, and […]

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What Matters to Kids Today

May 11, 2015

My laugh lines deepen every week. I know I’m in for a spiritual facelift when I spend time in my son’s fourth grade class. I help the students with writing, and as with everything that centers around children, they teach me more than I teach them. These students are astute, insightful, and curious. They pose […]

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(More) Gun Safety Shenanigans in the State House

May 4, 2015

  Have we become inured to or outraged by the daily reports of children killed by guns left unattended by adults? “Overall, the C.D.C. numbers indicate that gun deaths are trending somewhat upward as motor vehicle deaths continue on a steady decline, thanks in large measure to serious government safety regulation aimed at reducing fatalities […]

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