Ashley and Mel let you in to their weird little worlds…powdered cheese and all.
I always felt “wrong." I didn’t even realize it until I was well into adulthood. I was constantly guilt-tripping myself into caring about things I didn’t actually care about. Into doing things I didn’t really want to do. Into believing things I never really believed. I felt so out of place and I assumed it was because I was doing something wrong. I believed I just didn’t understand the world around me and I needed to work harder to do so. It was exhausting.
It wasn’t until I met Tyler that I learned it was actually okay to be different. He is a little quirky, so he made it okay for me to be a little quirky, and when I realized that he was attracted to the quirky instead of turned off by it, a whole new world opened up for me.
I’m going to use a Grey’s Anatomy reference here and say that he was like needing glasses. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, watch this clip. It’s actually a really cool analogy. For the sake of clarity I'm not coming out as a lesbian. There was just no way to cut this clip after the leaves part and play only the relevant section without violating a bunch of Youtube rules.
Meeting the man who is now my husband changed me, for the better! Tyler and I are similar in some ways, but for the most part we’re pretty different. He has worked to understand me over the years (and vice versa). At this point he can sometimes tell what I’m going to do even before I know it (and vice versa). He knows me so well. And I love him, and I really think he’s amazing (and hopefully vice versa, right?!).
But Ashley is my soulmate.
I had a conversation with my mom the other day. I expressed concern over a mutual friend's constant thanking me. I told her I thought it was sad that he felt so grateful for actions I consider to be simple, basic, and exactly what he deserves. I don’t believe thanks are required, and it hurt my heart that he felt the need to say it, as if he didn’t believe he deserved my time and attention. Mom told me I was overthinking it. She was probably right. She said that saying “thank you,” for everything, is simply this person’s preferred way to share his feelings of appreciation. Makes sense. (Moms are really good at putting things in perspective. Especially mine.)
In passing I mentioned this person to Ashley, and I told her that he thanked me for doing something I deemed an obvious “duh, of course I’m going to help you with that,” kind of thing. She commented EXACTLY as I did. That’s so sweet, but it makes me sad that he feels he has to thank you for it.
Nobody, not Tyler, not my mom, not any of this person’s other friends thought about it like that. But Ashley did. It made me feel so…relieved, pleased, less crazy?? I don’t know, exactly. Actually now that I think about it, I do. It made me relax.
She knows what I’m going to do before I do it, not because she’s worked to understand me, but because it’s what she would do, too. Do you know how refreshing that is for someone who feels as though she has always had to explain herself to everyone?
With this friend, for the first time in my life, I feel truly understood.
That is not to take away from all of the incredible people in my world who have worked to accept and understand me. Or from those for whom accepting and understanding isn’t work at all, it’s just how they roll. It’s easy for someone who thinks the way I do to get on board. It’s harder for someone who sees the world differently to be there anyway. So there’s something very special to those relationships as well, and I truly cherish them.
But for someone like me, someone who seems to have a take on life that’s slightly off-center, someone who looks at things a little bit differently...it’s like I’ve found myself in finding this friend. Meeting someone else so much like me has grounded me, built my confidence, and helped me learn to trust myself. These are things I kind of knew I needed in an abstract way, but never understood the power they would wield until I felt them first-hand.
Here’s another cool thing - feeling more grounded and being more confident has allowed me to just be myself. No facades, no going with the flow just because it’s easier, no pretending to care about things I really don’t, and no guilt about all of the above. (Okay, okay. Less guilt. Because old habits die hard. I’m working on it!) And you know what happened as I made that shift? I was able cultivate even MORE friendships with people who make me feel grounded and confident instead of the opposite. It’s a beautiful thing.
Perhaps if I'd had a sister, or just one friend on the same wavelength as me when I was younger, meeting Ashley as an adult wouldn't have been quite so impactful. But that's not what happened. And I'm here now, making it seem like friend is my lesbian lover. Which she's not, for anyone who's curious. Sorry if that disappoints you. She's simply my person and I can't imagine life without her.
So here’s to soulmates. I hope that everyone reading this has at least one of them. ♥
Ashley and Mel discuss their recent trip to the Korean Spa for za-hoon herbal steam treatments and nude body scrubs.
So there’s a reason our podcast is called Beauty and The Bleep. And I’m pretty sure it’s not difficult to figure out which one I am. It’s not just that I can curse like a sailor without thinking twice, but it’s also because I’m certainly not what most people think of when they think “Beauty.”
This has more to do with personality and mindset than physical attributes. First, I’m clumsy as hell and grace has just never been my strong suit. This week I hit myself in the face with the phone receiver at work so hard that I ended up with a bruise under my eye. I don’t even know how that happened. I waddle, I don’t walk. It’s because my thighs need to move around each other with each step. Plus I’m the girl who can trip over her own two feet while stone cold sober.
Add to it that I’m not a makeup girl. Unless there’s some big event looming in front of me, my make-up routine lasts three minutes, max. I'm not a person who gets up in the morning and does her hair. In fact, I realized on the fourth day of my recent vacation that I hadn’t brushed my hair since the day I arrived. Heck, I'm not even a person who feels the need to shower every single day. For the record I DID shower on vacation, daily. We were in Florida. It was hot and I was sweaty.
See, hadn’t brushed my hair. I went looking for my brush before we left and found it buried under all of the cute clothes I brought but never bothered to put on.
In general though, as long as I look fairly presentable and I don't smell, I’m usually pretty okay with it.
When Ashley suggested I give eyelash extensions a try, I laughed. “That’s SO not me,” I thought. But she was starting her business and she needed the practice, so I figured she could use my eyelashes as test dummies. No big deal. Then, as I considered it more, I thought about why I’m not a “makeup" girl or a "do my hair" girl. It’s not because I don’t care or because I don’t enjoy how I look once I’m done. Truly, I love feeling pretty. I just don’t love it as much as I love my extra half hour of sleep, my morning meditation routine, or spending time with my favorite men (aka my husband, my dog, and my cat). Typically I just don’t feel like putting the effort in. But when I do, I relish the results.
So, maybe lash extensions didn’t deserve the eye roll that was my knee jerk reaction. And then she put them on me and I felt like a whole different person. Waking up and looking pretty without having to do anything (and yes, eyelash extensions do have that kind of power) was f***ing amazing.
From there, and for the same reason, I had my eyeliner done as well. Again, I loved the results. Now on the days that I don’t feel like thinking about makeup (which is often), I at least look a little more presentable. Plus, that’s an extra 60-90 seconds of sleep I can get!
While the eyebrow trend has grown and grown over the past few years, I’ve sat in my little bubble and wondered what the big deal was all about. I was "blessed" with some pretty bushy eyebrows. Please enjoy this glamor shot circa 1996 as it is the best photo I can find to show off my caterpillars.
Due to some recent thyroid issues, some over-plucking issues in college, and probably just age in general, they have thinned out quite a bit since my 20’s; however, I never really considered microblading, even with The Beauty in my life, because in my head I was still the girl who had to control the mess growing above her eyes.
Then I had a make-up trial for my wedding and the first thing my make-up artist did was fill in my eyebrows. I looked like a whole new person immediately.
I called Ashley that day and told her I finally understood what she was doing with her life, and that now I knew I needed to have my brows done, too.
One of the things that I love about my friend, is that she is very realistic. She didn’t just jump right in and start microblading. She insisted that I think about it. As a self-proclaimed eyebrow-ignorer, she wanted to make sure that I’d be comfortable transitioning into the the upkeep required, however minimal it might be (i.e. plucking the areas not tattooed, coming in for my follow up appointment, and eventually touch ups, too). I think she wanted to be sure that my enthusiasm for her semi-permanent technique wasn’t semi-permanent.
I've spent a few months filling my brows in to confirm that yes, this is something that I actually want to do. At this point I’m pretty obsessed with them - I feel like such a different person when I take the time to pencil them in - and am patiently waiting for my appointment.
Please, people. Stay tuned because I can’t wait to show you the finished product! Maybe I’ll even have her do my lashes again so I can literally roll out of bed this summer and say “I woke up like this!"
Welcome to Ashley & Mel's new podcast series, Beauty and The Bleep! Join them as they introduce each other, talk about the start of their friendship and more!
So this is a little strange for me. I'm not quite sure how to do this introduction, but I feel it's necessary.
My audience at My Life My Normal has already known me somehow - my friends and family in real life, my acquaintances, and those already connected to me on social media. When they click the link to read my personal blog they most likely already know the basics about me: I’m a bit of an oddball, with a much odder husband, an obsession with my pets and my nephew, a few close friends/family members, and a love for great food and wine, preferably together.
Also, if you know me in real life you know that I’m a consistent over-sharer, and that I'm proud of that fact. So let’s get the Indellibelle Family up to speed so that you have some context for when I start over-sharing with you, too!
And my husband. He's the man behind the curtain at Beauty and the Bleep. Engineer, editor, marketing mastermind, aka all around podcast geek!
We’ve been together pretty much since the day we met, eight years ago. We were married last summer. He’s smart and funny and goofy and quick witted, and did I mention funny? He has an undercover love for animals that rivals mine. He can Macguyver the shit out of almost any problem. He challenges me in ways that I didn't know I needed until I met him. (Sometimes the challenge is simply to NOT KILL HIM, but that helps me practice my self control, right?!).
And my favorite thing about him - he encourages and supports me in ways I never knew I wanted until he was there by my side, encouraging and supporting. He’s an incredible partner and I’m super excited to go through this life with him.
We’re not having kids, so I obsess over my pets like a parent obsesses over their child. Seriously. Worrying about their health and happiness has kept me awake many nights. And of course I constantly share photos of them on social media. I mean come on. JD, the dog, is the most adorable thing you’ve ever seen. He’s a lab/chow with a bridle coat, black tongue, and the fiercest loyalty to his humans I’ve ever seen a canine. And Blinkin the cat, HE HAS NO EYES! How can you not be in love with a blind kitten you found at six weeks old and have taken care of ever since? They are the cutest things in the world.
I rest my case.
I have an amazing nephew who is a mini-me in so many ways. Of course I think he’s super cool, and of course I really love hanging out with him.
And I have a baby niece who is undoubtedly NOT like me (except for her thunder thighs). You can already tell what an extrovert she is. I can’t wait to get to know her as she gets older, too. I have a feeling she’ll be teaching me so many new ways to look at the world once I can start having conversations with her.
I’m super close with my mom and few amazing friends, including Ashley.
I LOVE food and wine. Love. Like I spend most of my disposable income on these two things. However, I’m working on cutting back on the wine because apparently when you turn 35 wine turns to cellulite in a way it simply did not before this glorious age.
Lastly, I love to write. I always have. It’s always been a way to help organize my thoughts and work through my crap. I have found, over time, that by sharing these thoughts (and the crap I am constantly working through) that the people I share with become inspired to do the same thing. Which in turn inspires me to dig deeper, continue to challenge myself, step further from my comfort zone, write more...and the cycle continues. It’s such a beautiful thing, and I’m so excited for the opportunity to share it with the Indellibelle family.
In January of 2015 I packed myself up into a little Ford Focus and drove from Utah to Maryland
to take the next step in our relationship with a man I loved dearly. I was kind of starting over, so
if it didn’t fit, it didn’t ship.” This means that literally everything I owned made that four-day
trip, though a blizzard, to the East Coast with me.
I knew one soul in Maryland when I left Utah, and driving away from my home state and
everything I’d known for so long was one of the most frightening things I’d ever done at the
I tend to be a bit of an introvert so one of the things I was most concerned about was how in
the world I was going to make friends. It’s not like I was in school and could make friends there.
It’s not like I am the type of person who likes to hang out at bars and make conversation with
random strangers. However, one thing I DO like is drinking wine. So before I left Utah I found a
group of women in Maryland who held a monthly wine night/happy hour, and I joined.
It just so happened that their January event was on the same day that I arrived in Maryland. I
stopped by what would be my new home, dropped off my stuff, took a quick shower, and
hopped back into the Focus to go drink some wine and meet some Maryland women
I had no idea at the time that this group of women would very quickly become my village. I had
no idea that they would be the people who help pick me up when I’m down, who make me
laugh all the time, and who support me in all of my crazy endeavors such as starting a business
from scratch and becoming a physique competitor.
Within this village of amazing women, I found my best friend. We met that first night in
January, but it was in May that Melissa (or Mel, for short) and I discovered that our list of
favorite things was very similar, and very specific: Jillian Michaels, Grey’s Anatomy, new and
delicious foods, deep conversations, and alone time! We’ve been two peas in a pod ever since.
She’s my rock. She’s been with me through the entire roller coaster ride that has been my first
four years in Maryland: Personal relationships ending, Indellibelle starting, floods, expansion,
physique competitions...she’s been there for it all. She’s endured frantic middle of the night
text messages and phone calls, teary talks over wine, carb-starved craziness, my need to dress
up her pets, and my inability to make decisions that don’t relate to Indellibelle. She even put
together a very nice funeral service for my fish, Blue, who died while I was at home in Utah a
couple of years ago.
She’s always been the one in the wings making sure I’m ready for what life has to throw at me
and then cheering me on with all her might.
Mel isn’t just my cheerleader, though. She’s her own person with lots of opinions. She stands
up for what she believes and encourages all of the women in her life to do the same. She can
curse like a sailor and is unapologetic about it. Mel will tell you that she wasn’t always this way, that it took many years and many painful missteps to find her way. But now that she has, she’s
passionate about helping others find their own confidence so that they can find their way, too.
Now it’s time for her to step out from behind the curtain so we can team up in a new way.
We’ve both got so much we want to put out into the world and we’re going to do it together!
Please stay tuned for more from Mel and for OUR NEW PODCAST: Beauty And The Bleep!!!
A diamond is a precious stone consisting of a clear a colorless crystalline form of pure
carbon. It's the hardest naturally occurring substance known to man. Without intense
pressure and heat over an extended period of time, a diamond would never form. This
is what I had to remind myself of throughout pretty much all of 2018. To be honest,
there were so many times I thought that I might not be able to withstand it all. Every
time I thought I might break, I just told myself, I can survive. Pressure creates diamonds.
Indellibelle started as a home-based business in 2016. By the end of the year I moved
my one-woman operation to a basement storefront in downtown Frederick, MD. By
January 2017 everything was up and running, the clients were coming in, I’d hired an
additional employee. I had accomplished the first step of my dream to own and manage
a chain of permanent cosmetic shops. I was so happy! Of course, anytime you start a
new venture or put yourself out there in any way, you’re going to feel some pressure. I
thought I was under pressure at this point, but I had no clue what 2018 had in store for
Once the shop was established, I brought my sister across the country from California
to help me run it. The better part of Spring 2018 was spent scouting areas and rental
space for a second Indellibelle location. It wasn’t just me anymore who needed the
business. Indellibelle had become a family of three, who were all counting on me to help
them earn a living. Talk about pressure!
Let me tell you…it was a roller coaster. I had my hopes up so many times, and was let
down so many times. It was hard, frustrating, stressful, exciting, and exhausting. As it
turns out, though, it was a good thing nothing came to fruition because mid-May began
the most intense period of my life. Little did I know, a diamond was beginning to form.
The evening of May 15, 2018 Frederick saw a ridiculous rain storm. I woke up in the
middle of the night to a message from a fellow business owner informing me that
Indellibelle was literally under water. Several businesses were flooded, but ours was
one of the worst. My dream, my shop, my life, everything I’d poured my heart and soul
into over the previous year was under two feet of water.
Thanks to the love and support from our friends, family, and community we were back
up and running within two days, right back in the house where it all started just a year
before. Furniture was cleaned and set up, new stock was rush-ordered and had arrived,
the entire space was organized, and we even managed to create a reception area -
something I hadn’t had before when the home-based business was just me doing my
We worked out of that little space for about six weeks while I tried to figure out what the
heck I was going to do and how the heck I was going to do it. Oh, and I hired our fourth
employee during this time, because hey…why not?? Talk about pressure!
I still had a lease at the flooded basement location, but I just couldn’t imagine moving
back in there, even after all of the repair work was completed, so I decided to find
something new…above ground. After much panicked searching, and trying to balance
that panic with logic, we found the spot, signed the lease, got the permits, and planned
Indellibelle’s third move in less than a year. Talk about pressure!
But wait…there’s more! Just a week after the flood my Real Estate Agent contacted me
about an opportunity to lease a storefront in Columbia, MD, about forty-five minutes
east of Frederick. Because this is just the way the world works sometimes, of course the
opportunity and location were too good to pass up. So I didn’t. I figured I’d be in
negotiations for the second location for a while, which would give me time to focus
drying out in Frederick before I had to really think about what was next. And as I’m sure
you can guess by now, it didn’t quite go that way.
Four, yes I said FOUR, days after I signed the lease for the new location in Frederick, I
was signing a lease for the location in Columbia. You want to talk about pressure?!
Starting two shops from scratch at the exact same time while keeping the clients coming
in and trying not to have a mental meltdown every other hour was the epitome of
But, once again, we pulled it off. The new Frederick location opened in July of 2018 and
Columbia (along with our fifth employee) opened in October.
To be honest I look back and wonder what I was thinking and how I managed to stay at
least semi-sane throughout it all. All I know is that there were so many times that I
wanted to crack under the pressure, and all I could do was remind myself “Without
pressure diamonds wouldn’t exist.”
2018 was a hell of a year, and I’m not gonna lie, I’m pretty happy it’s behind me! Yes, at
the time I wished the pressure away, but in the end that pressure helped to create
something amazing. Something that wouldn’t be here otherwise.
So…here’s to 2019, to Indellibelle, to our amazingly supportive clients, and of course to
shining bright…like a diamond.