making over a fighter

“I lost my mom, my brother, my sister, and my dog all in a four-year time span,” began Starr. “I went into survival mode to manage all of it, and then 2020 hit. I remember looking in the mirror and deciding that with all that loss, self-loathing, and self-medicating, I wanted to live.”

Can you relate to that moment of clarity when you realize that, despite the challenges and pain, you deserve to thrive and embrace life in its fullness?

It’s at those tremendously challenging times that we make life-altering choices that either derail us, or send us down a road of renewal and metamorphosis. When I met Starr, I saw the incredible strength in her choice to live. I saw it in her eyes and in her aliveness to plunge into seemingly overwhelming situations like moving to a foreign country, learning another language, and becoming fit and healthy at 68 years old.

That’s when I asked if she would sit in my makeup chair and tell her story. Happily, she agreed.

How did she get here from life as an art director for a major company while caretaking everyone else except herself, a mind-numbing divorce, and an international move? (And how can you make-up your eyes to look like hers?)

Let’s take a journey together into Starr’s life-changing transformation!

How to Receive Forgiveness and Let Go

As I started to apply Starr’s makeup, I asked how she moved through losing so many close relatives, a pet (which can be just as hard), and a divorce?

“I knew if I wanted to live, I had to forgive myself and my childhood. I was my mother and sisters’ caretaker, so I never learned how to listen to my own voice and guidance. I became a disconnected rescuer, and this habit influenced every area of my life.”

I was astounded that when these revelations hit her, she was able to acknowledge their truth and make changes that she couldn’t make earlier in life. It was an about-face, a 360-degree turn around when she could’ve been wallowing in self-pity and grief. As she forgave, she began to be able to receive love, acceptance, and joy from herself and those around her.

MAKEUP TIP #1: Starr’s best feature is her blue eyes, so I had her wear a cornflower blue top that matched her eye color. If you wear a shade that matches or is lighter than your eye color, your eye color will pop! I used a navy/black eyeliner pencil and blended it with a pencil brush so that the outside edge of her eye was darkest. In the crease, I used a neutral brown, and in the outer edge of her crease, a grey blue to open up her eye area more.

48 Pounds Lighter, One Step at a Time

“How did you lose that much weight?” I asked as I worked on her bronzer.

“I actually knew what to do to lose the weight. I knew it, I just didn’t do it. To help me, though, I hired a dietician so that I lost the weight in a healthy way while adding fitness and the mental aspect of self-approval and care to my agenda.” The mental space of making such huge changes to our lives can be more important (and difficult) than the practicality of eating right and exercise.”

“I had gotten so negative, and so full of anger that I had to work really hard on my thinking,” Starr continued. “It was hard, but I wasn’t going back to how I had been. I knew that road, and I wasn’t going down it.” Slowly, and with deliberation, Starr changed her diet, stopped drinking (her dad was an alcoholic and she didn’t want to end up like him), and began taking time out for physical exercise.

“It was 2020 when I began to lose the weight, so there was nowhere to go, and nothing to do besides focus on myself – something I had never done. All my relationships were caretaking relationships, so not having anyone else to look after was very helpful.”

MAKEUP TIP #2: After adding some vitamin C serum, hyaluronic acid, and fulvic acid to hydrate, plump, and nourish her skin, I added a thin layer of foundation to her face. If your skin isn’t hydrated, any foundation will look bad. I focused on applying foundation to the T-Zone, and then blending it out from there. As we age, less is more, and the secret to looking natural is in using emollient products and softening and blending everything into a seem-less (and seamless) look.

Time for Change: The Move to Ecuador

“To me, being in the US felt like a million voices talking at me so that I couldn’t hear my own thoughts. I felt if I was to work on myself and listen to my higher guidance, I had to leave the country,” said Starr. For many of us, this would be a drastic step away from the familiar people, places, and culture around us. For Starr, it was survival.

“I didn’t research for long, I just found Cuenca, Ecuador, and knew that was where I wanted to be.” To me, Starr seems like a person who, at long last, is doing not only what she wants to do, but also what she is meant to do. It’s as if, after a lifetime of running, she stuck her head up out of the mayhem, and felt at home with her life and choices.

“Being in Cuenca is magical. I love it here, and when I was ready to find an apartment, the perfect one showed up. It’s like life is giving and I can now receive.” After celebrating her one-year anniversary in Ecuador, Starr is just getting started.

MAKEUP TIP #3: With Starr’s blond hair and warm skin tone, it would be easy for her to look monochromatic. Because of this, I opted for a peachy lipstick, neutral lipliner, and bright peachy blush. By choosing saturated colors like these, her facial features popped and her complexion brightened. Many of you can do orange/peach tones and the determining factor is the saturation and brightness levels.

Beyond Grief and Life Abroad

“I am still grieving the loss of my family,” Starr confessed. “As I adjust to life in Ecuador, make friends, and feel settled, I am able to relax and move through the sadness.” Perhaps this is the hardest leap when anyone moves abroad; will I make lifelong friendships and meet people I trust? Will I be homesick and lonely?

In Starr’s case, the near 10,000 strong expat community provides a welcome support system, a plethora of fun activities, and a gang of likeminded travelers to enjoy. Her complete about-face in life has opened her up to a fresh start and renewed perspective on life and what it means to be happy.

Have you ever looked in the mirror and had a deep revelation like Starr? It can be terrifying, and also cause powerful changes and renewal, not to mention a really wonderful new makeup and hair look!

Together, let’s embark on a journey of self-discovery and transformation, inspired by Starr’s remarkable resilience and unwavering spirit.

Let’s Have a Conversation:

What is the best decision you made in your life? Where did that decision take you? What obstacles and challenges did you conquer along the way? Were the physical or mental ones the more difficult?