The View from My Window Telling Me to Take a Break

I Think I’ll Go for a Walk Outside Now…

The View from My Window Telling Me to go outside and take walk

A constant theme on this blog is that we, as humans, don’t take enough time for ourselves.  (especially as Americans – as I look at our European friends with 6+ weeks vacation and turn green)  We work longer hours, produce more (in theory!), and are tied to our smart phones. I’m sitting inside, right now, typing at my computer, staring longingly out the window at the beautiful trees, wanting to be outside with them.  (yes, they are the enemy of my sinuses for another week or two, but yet, I forgive them for their life-giving oxygen!)

Of course, there are lots of reasons why taking a break benefits us, especially during the workday. Even something as simple as walking is good for our health.  I’m sure we all know most of them – it clears our brains, stretches our muscles, and lowers stress. We probably hear it on the news at least twice a year. (This just in! A new study tells us the same things we already know….) So – if it only takes 10-15 minutes to get great benefits, why don’t we do it?

For me, there’s the guilt of losing productivity, which is pretty silly. Research shows (Yay! Another study!) that isn’t true. Breaks make us more productive. Yet my butt stays glued in the chair and my eyes are always on my screen. There’s also fear that once I go outside, I’ll keep walking and never come back. That’s probably not true, my stuffed animals are here*, but you never know. (Yup, Marc too…) Also, sometimes being outside and alone with my thoughts makes me anxious. If I’m concentrating on my work, I don’t have to think about all of the things I feel I need to do or problems that I need to solve.  Of course, federal guidelines recommend exercise to help lower anxiety (they found it in a study!**) but that never seems to be enough to coerce me.

I should put a reminder on my fancy digital device to remind me of something so important. After all, if I don’t have my health, I can’t do much and there’s much to do. We’re working on getting Extra-Strength Strap Savers in Black and Tan. We’re hoping to launch a new cart in the next few weeks. We all know the importance of Strap Savers, so I must stay in top condition!  (yes, I’m mocking myself) But, I do have ones that I love and that love me, so taking care of myself is important.  And, the more that we do here, the more we can support Jill’s Wish***.

So, if you’ll excuse me, I just can’t stay inside all day…  I gotta get out, get me some of those rays!

Will this persuade you to take a break?  If not, what would?  What’s your plan for taking care of you today?

*I should introduce you to Dudley.  You’d like him. He’s adorable.
**I’m not mocking studies. For some of us, it takes numbers and science to believe things that are counter-intuitive – like taking breaks makes you more productive. I’m mostly mocking the news organizations that tout a study of 25 people like it’s going to change the world. Read the fine print before you decide if all of life’s problems have been solved;

***As of 11/30/2017, 5% of all sales are donated to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation.

Defy Expectations, Define Yourself

Hakuna Your Tatas

Forget Stereotypes, Defy Expectations, Define YourselfRecently I went to an open house with a friend of mine. A female friend. Who is buying a house. By herself. Interesting facts, but nothing earth shattering.  Buying a house is great! Buying one by yourself, an impressive accomplishment! Buying one while female?  Eh.

About my friend – we’ll call her Audrey. She also races factory stock cars, can rebuild an engine, code a website and has raised chickens. I think these facts ARE a big deal; not everyone can do/has done these things.

A few weeks ago Audrey and I wandered into an open house and the (male) real estate agent descended upon us, preparing to “wow” us with all of the wonderful modifications that the “brilliant” owner had made to the home. (without permits, mind you, so who knows how he did it. It took 80+ pages of permits to get a Certificate of Occupancy from the town.)

At the start of our tour, Audrey and I walked back to one of the bedrooms out of curiosity, instead of his prescribed route, and his first instinct was to apologize profusely to his business partner because we walked in on her tour. (Yes, I understand that they were trying show the house to multiple people in an orderly manner and we didn’t realize that we were headed in the wrong direction but the multiple “I’m sorrys” that flooded out of his mouth made us feel like we were unruly children.)  We should have realized immediately that this was a bad situation and cut our losses.

He continued on, pointing out every obvious thing as if it were the first home to ever built. The icing on this gingerbread house was when the agent was playing Vanna White in the utility room. (yes, I see, it’s a washing machine! Good for you!)  This was when he chose to ask Audrey if she was married or engaged. Umm…  no. He gestured to the furnace and replied: “Well, you can call a repairman to replace the filter”.  Excuse me? Is this guy for real?

At this point, I’d had enough of this man pontificating about the virtues of this home like no other man could ever fix up a home of this type better (which was not true, I live in the same model and it was merely OK) and then insulting my very capable friend by assuming that she couldn’t change a simple filter.  As soon as he was done telling her about the repair man, I interjected “Or, she could just do it herself”. He looked at me blankly for a minute and stammered “or she could change it herself” as if the idea had never occurred to him and tried to move on.

Another couple came into the room to ask questions and we took that opportunity to step back. Slowly. Quietly. Until we were out of the house. And then we both had to stop for a moment and retrieve our eyes from the back of our heads.

I’ll never understand the assumption that I can’t do something simply because I have girl parts.  I understand that some stereotypes were true for a reason (cameramen were men because TV cameras used to be crazy heavy and typically men are stronger than women, it’s just biology) but judging by gender should be long gone. Anyone can learn how to do anything, especially with the Googles and the YouTubes.

Starting this company was hard because manufacturers, who were mostly men, wouldn’t take me seriously.  I don’t know if it was because I was a girl but just the mention of the word bra horrified many of them.  I don’t think that they understood that lingerie is a $110 billion industry.  Although I know that someday I’ll want to tell them what a big mistake they made so maybe they’ll treat the next person nicer, it won’t be worth my time.

Thanks to the internet, I was able to keep moving forward and find suppliers that would work with me. There are also sites designed to help women (and men) overcome stereotypes and learn new things. (Women Auto Know is one of my favorites!) So the next time someone tells you to “calm your tits”, my thought is to turn to them and ask them “Why?”.

How did you handle the last person who tried to force their gender stereotypes on you?

It's important to be grateful for the things we do for us in 2015

The Importance of Being Thankful

It's important to be grateful for the things we do for us in 2015

We’re about to celebrate Thanksgiving in the United States and it’s a time that we reflect on what we’re thankful for in the past year.  I do a lot of this on this blog because I’m so grateful for everything that everyone has done to help us build this business.  Even science has shown us how much being grateful can help improve our mood and our outlook on life.  (I recommend it to everyone!)  There’s one thing that a lot of people don’t talk about when they list the things they’re grateful for in their lives – and that’s themselves.  I think there’s a stigma that the word ME somehow ties in with the adjective selfish.  I think it’s past time for us to stop thinking that way, especially when it comes to appreciate all of the things that we do – for others and for ourselves.  Too often, women put themselves second, third, fifth, last…  and ignore their own needs in favor of helping everyone else.  Well, no more!  In order to be at our best, we need to take care of ourselves and it’s time that we honor this process, so this Thanksgiving I’m going to send a little gratitude in my own direction.

So, here’s a little list of the things I’m grateful that I’ve done for me in this past year:

-For planning vacations, because I know I’m a better person when I travel and take a break from regular life

-For doing my best to limit chemicals in my life, so that I will be healthier.

-For continuing to work hard to take care of health, especially when it comes to my high risk for breast cancer.  It’s not easy.  It’s a lot of schlepping to doctors appointments and at times it’s scary.  But I’m worth the effort because I plan to be around for a long time.  I have a lot of things to do and places to go!

-For finding Michele, my hairdresser.  I hate messing with my hair – so much. And I’m more gray than you’ll ever know (or see, for that matter).  She’s awesome and I can always count on her to give me a great cut that will air-dry nicely – she makes me look good so I don’t have to be bothered.  (It’s about knowing what stresses me and heading it off at the pass – no pun intended!)

-For my hard work on this company.  Sometimes I’m in awe of all that we’ve done and I have to give myself credit for a lot of the behind-the-scenes sweat.

-For my perseverance.  A few years ago, my dream career fell apart due to the economy and I was able to pick myself up (and continue to do so) to find something new that I love.

-For my problem solving abilities.  It may not always look the prettiest or be the fastest or the cheapest way to do something, but I can usually figure out a way to get myself out of almost any mess.

-For knowing when to take a break.  Sometimes I have to stop to take care of me.

What are you thankful about you this year?

a photo of Shari with the text they're counting on you

An Ounce of Prevention…

Protect Your Girls from Breast Cancer, They're counting on you.

As breast cancer is the topic du jour (well, du mois), we’re going to focus on education as we’re pretty sure that most of the people with access to the internet are well aware that breast cancer exists. If not, here are some great resources at the American Cancer Society.

Sometimes looking into the future can be a really scary thing, especially when the reason you’re doing so is because history wasn’t so kind to the ones that you love. In order to make sure that my future is different, I going to take advantage of every opportunity available to me.

As many of you know, I lost my mom earlier this year to breast cancer. I also lost my grandmother to this awful disease and I’m insistent that I’m not going to let it take me.  With that in mind, I’ve taken advantage of my proximity to New York City and enrolled myself in the Memorial Sloan Kettering’s RISE (Risk Assessment, Imaging, Surveillance, and Education) Program for women with an increased risk of breast cancer.  The program offers access to some of the best doctors and facilities, before there’s a problem. Many of the major cancer hospitals have similar programs, so if you have a family history like mine, I would recommend that you check it out.

I had my first appointment with Dr. Debra Mangino in June. It felt very much like a typical doctor’s visit. She looked over my family history and did the usual breast exam. We talked about my health, my family, my mom’s care, and my frustration over her lack of interest seeking a second opinion. (Dr. Mangino said that wasn’t uncommon and the important part was that I was there now.) Given my medical history, she assessed me at 35% risk of getting breast cancer. I honestly don’t know what that means yet, I was too overwhelmed with being on the oncology wing of a hospital again to ask too many questions. I did later find out that the general public’s risk is 12%, according to the American Cancer Society. She prescribed a mammogram and an ultrasound for me (as I’m over 40).  She will assess my situation after the results (my mammogram is clear, I haven’t had the ultrasound yet) and we will meet to come up with a plan. There are so many options these days (yay!), it was a matter of deciding what was best for me.

It was tough being in a cancer hospital so close to the loss of my mom. In the waiting area, I spoke to one woman who was 6 months into her treatment – and she was hopeful. I didn’t ask too many details, it is none of my business, but I do know that the survival rate is 100% if it’s found in stage 0 or 1, and 93% if it’s found in stage 2. I remain hopeful for her. It was a combination of sad and inspiring to see so many women in one place, in different stages, with one common purpose.

Breast cancer has been a fact of my life since I was 10, when my grandmother was diagnosed. In some ways, my fight began then. (although I do not compare myself to the women who are taking chemo every day… my heart is with you!)  My lifestyle has always been focused on prevention although sometimes it feels futile. I know I’m doing the right thing, although it isn’t easy. I’m also stubborn about this and I’m not going to let fear stop me from living, from understanding my options, and doing what needs to be done – and then helping others do the same. We one of the reasons that we started The Strap Saver was to put ourselves in a place to fund research and education campaigns. I can’t wait until cancer becomes another “nothing” disease and we talk about “remember the old days when this use to hurt people? That must’ve sucked!”

Visting the Sweetest Sin in Red Bank, NJ

When It’s Time To Change…

Shopping for New Bras When you no longer have big boobs at Sweetest Sin in Red Bank, NJ

A Quick Guide for when You Discover You No Longer Have Big Boobs.

(This is meant to be lighthearted, tongue-in-cheek commentary on how our bodies change
and is no way a comment on the rough journey of dealing with a mastectomy)

First, don’t panic.  It happens sometimes, even to the best of us.  After all, it happened to me and I’m surviving. (first world problem!)  I’ve recently lost some weight, partially due to effort and partially due to stress.  It’s not as if I’m a petite person, I don’t remember measuring under 5’,  (I’m 5’10” now) and my change certainly was not as drastic as Jennifer Grey after her nose job*, for me, it was just enough to make me look twice in the mirror. It’s always an adjustment as our bodies change, especially when we feel it’s one of our more prominent features. It’s not just that we need new clothes, sometimes it can change how we think about ourselves.  

Second – buy new bras.  So, with my identity crisis in hand, I decided to take this opportunity to try something new – an independent bra store. I’d never been before. I always assumed that the bras would be too expensive and too frilly for me. Given my recent vow to up my lingerie game, and my recent friendship with some amazing women in the lingerie industry (hi Erica! <- the very awesome owner of A Sophisticated Pair), I decided to give it a try.

I could tell as soon as I walked through the door at Sweetest Sin in Red Bank, NJ that I had been mistaken in my opinion about independent lingerie stores. Angela has a beautiful selection, and the prices really vary – from the very affordable to the I’d-really-love-that-and-I’m sure-it’s-made-well-but-I-can’t-justify-the-rent prices. (but they were great to look at!)  

The first thing Angela and I did was assess my current bra situation. Given my recent change, there was some room in my current bra. Next, she measured me and informed me that I’m now a 32DD. Wait, what? (I’ve varied from a 36C to a 36D to a 34DD) Then, it was time to try on something new.  Angela handed me a beautiful selection of bras across price ranges. One of the prettiest was one of the most inexpensive, but it didn’t fit right. (hey, boobs have different shapes, you can’t win them all!) I ended up buying 3 bras, one that was in the splurge category, but it was a fantastic color and felt great. Just because it’s under my clothes, doesn’t mean that it shouldn’t be pretty!

I have never had such personal experience in a lingerie store. It’s almost enough to help me adjust to my new look. I’m not going to knock some of the mall stores, I’ve had good luck in a few of them, but this small business experience lived up to the hype: great selection, quality merchandise, a variety of prices and personalized service. So, crisis of body or not, I highly recommend that you find your local lingerie store and stop by. Supporting local businesses is awesome, because the money goes right back into your community and, of course, the perfect bra is (almost) priceless.

*This is not a commentary about plastic surgery, one way or another.  Jennifer Grey looked very different after the procedure, although she looked lovely before and looks lovely now.  NOBODY puts Baby in a corner.

**Yes, the title of this blog is a Brady Bunch reference.

Dana, Shari and Beth in Philly

An Inspiring Afternoon with Dana of AnaOno

Dana, Shari and Beth in Philly

This weekend Beth and I had the pleasure of meeting up with Dana Donofree, the founder of AnaOno Intimates.  Dana is a clothing designer and breast cancer survivor.  She found that the market was missing bras for women who have had reconstructive surgery after breast cancer so she did what any of us would have done (HA!) and started her own lingerie line.  I wanted to meet Dana for several reasons, she’s new to the industry like us (somewhat, anyway!), her bras are gorgeous, we both have a connection to breast cancer, and she’s been all over the media (The Today Show, Refinery29, Mashable to name a few)  and I was curious how she’d done it.

Meeting her was an absolute delight.  One thing was clear: her passion, for her business, for helping women and for climbing the next mountain in her path.  We got to see her studio, which looks exactly like I pictured, with sewing machines and lots of fabric and inspirational pictures on the wall.  Our conversation covered bras,  body image, the demands of social media on a new business, websites, empowering women, obtaining inventory, family, culture, religion…  it was a wonderful afternoon.  (And, there was brunch!)

The most memorable part of the conversation was talking about the need for line of bras like this.  I was surprised to find out that she has detractors!  Someone claiming that the Jennifer is simply a sports bra.  Yes, it is.  But, it’s not.  These bras aren’t designed for natural breasts, although Dana says that many women who haven’t had reconstruction wear them and love them.

When we talked about the need for AnaOno bras – I thought about the ravages of cancer.  Unfortunately, I’ve seen it up close a few times.  It is a brazen thief of a disease, stealing everything that it can manage.  Dana echoed the sentiment and agreed that when the fighting is over (if it’s ever really over) and the recovery begins, sometimes it’s about figuring out which pieces are where and how to put them back together, if they still even fit.

Where does normal start again?  Why not with something as basic as getting dressed every day?  A survivor should be given a chance to be whatever she wants – and pretty underthings are part of that.  (especially given that pretty lingerie is related to an increase in self-esteem)  It’s about being beautiful.  It’s about having choices.  It’s a step back to being like everyone else, if that’s what she wants.  I think AnaOno is offering that opportunity to women in a way that never has been before.

I tried on the Jennifer, and it’s wonderful.  Very comfy, the bamboo fabric is lovely.  It fit great, although with my 34DD, I’m used to a wire.  I also tried on the Rachel, which is beautiful.  That’s the one that I wanted to fit, but it didn’t.  Natural breasts don’t always lay the same way that reconstructed breasts do. (I actually learned that from a stripper named Buffy in Vegas, maybe we’ll tell that story another time… or, not.)  If all breasts, regardless of their origin, were the same, then Dana would not have started AnaOno Intimates.  So the Rachel might work for some women with natural breasts, depending on their shape, but it didn’t work for me.  (bummer)

It was very inspiring and humbling to learn more about Dana’s business.  And to learn about all of the intricacies of a lingerie clothing business.  Yikes.  Her pieces are amazing, but it’s a very complicated process to get them from her drawing pad to your body.  The slogan on her site say “You Are Never Alone” and I got the impression that is her plan, to continue to advocate for women in a way that no one has before.  We definitely feel like we found a friend!


Shari in an ugly turquoise bridesmaid dress with the text just say no to bedazzled bridesmaids

Friends Don’t Makes Friends Wear Bows with Rhinestones

The Bedzazzled Bridesmaid

This weekend I went to a wedding in Maryland and it was quite lovely.  The bride was, of course, gorgeous.  I was also impressed by the beautiful pink bridesmaids dresses.  They were cute and likely something that could be worn again.  I don’t have photos because the couple wanted an unplugged wedding, no cameras or cell phones.   I thought it was a great idea, we were all more present during the party.  (especially at the open bar…)

It made me think back to my times as a bridesmaid.  As you can tell by the photo, I was never as lucky as the women at this wedding.  There’s an important part of the dress that you can’t see in the first photo – that rather large bow from the second photo is on that empire waist.  I know it was the late 90s, but a bedazzled bow under my boobs?  I’m pretty sure I held those flowers strategically for the picture. (and what on earth was I thinking by SAVING that bow after all of these years???  I dug it out of a drawer last night.  If you have any suggestions, please leave them in the comments.  The dress is long gone, I assure you.)  The top of the dress was satin and the bottom chiffon (read: polyester).  And, of course, there were also dyed-to-match shoes.  (I’m convinced they are still in the Take Me PLEASE bin at a thrift shop!)

I’ve been a bridesmaid 5 times and I’ve only ever been able to wear one dress again.  It also had the ubiquitous bows, but they were far less obvious and I removed them as soon as I got home.  I don’t understand the draw that some women feel to dress their friends in highly flammable, unflattering, matching outfits.  They could all take a cue from this bride and choose pretty dresses and let people wear their own shoes.  We love you brides!  Help us keep it that way!

There was one bonus about this turquoise train-wreck – I could wear a regular bra.

The Power Lurking Beneath the Suit

Are You Underestimating The Power of Your Underwear?

The Power Lurking Beneath the Suit

About six months ago, Beth and I were discussing how to feel more confident at job interviews, meetings and networking events. We both concluded that most of how people perceive you is in how you present yourself. I told her about the Ted talk on Power Poses, and how I’d used that as a tool to feel stronger before important meetings. Somehow, it moved from that to the idea of wearing Wonder Woman Underoos (under our clothes, of course!). There’d be no choice but to kick butt if we had indestructible bracelets and a lasso of truth at our disposal! We never found anything bigger than junior sizing for our experiment, but I’m still holding out hope.

A few weeks ago Beth and I went to CurvExpo – and it was amazing. It was like a candy dish of underthings – with gorgeous colors and textures; every piece was interesting and different. It brought me back to a time when I paid closer attention to my own underwear. I think I started in the early 90s, when a certain store began moving into all of the malls. Whenever my mom and I would go shopping, we’d stop by and I’d buy a matching set. I don’t remember her exact rationale, but I always remembered that it felt nice. (and my mom knew nice when it came to clothes, the woman had flats, heels and matching jewelry to go with every designer work outfit) I stopped buying matching sets sometime in my mid 20s. I’m not sure if it’s because I gained weight or if it’s because I was broke, but I stopped. I’ve since returned to buying nicer bras, but I never got into matching again. After spending the day at CurvExpo, it reminded me of that feeling of wearing beautiful underwear and I told Beth needed to step up my game.

Last week I came across this article by Veronica Granja-Sierra entitled It’s What’s Underneath That Counts: Why Women Should Embrace Lingerie. She explains how lingerie had become about either utility or sex but it is really about neither. It’s about self-expression and how we feel about our bodies:

“Matching bra and panties have been proven to actually impact a woman’s self-esteem.

When you devote time and effort to adorn your body in beautiful lingerie, it affirms your self-worth and boosts your self-confidence. It ignites feminine creativity, and also helps you take yourself seriously because let’s be real: Do you even take yourself serious when you’re lounging in PJs all day?

It is proven that you feel your best when you are at your best, and then, people will naturally gravitate to you. Confidence in what you are wearing not only makes you feel good, but it also attracts people who appreciate those qualities.”

(but read the whole post here, it’s really good)

The memory of that feeling propelled me to find something for myself (off the clearance rack, not everything has to be about spending a ton of cash!) and I feel good about it, beyond the basic retail therapy high. I’m inclined to think that Veronica’s on to something.

Do you wear matching underwear? If not, after reading this, would you consider starting? And what do you think of our Wonder Woman Underoos idea? (especially you, Veronica!)



Also: Our blog has been on hiatus for the last month, we’ve been dealing with a loss in the extended Strap Saver family. We’ll be doing something to honor their memory and hopefully make a difference in the world. More information on this coming soon.

Two woman looking at something in horror with text once seen never unseen

What did one saggy boob say to the other?

Once Seen Never Unseen


ANSWER: If we don’t get support soon, people will think we’re nuts!


Last weekend I was working on our marketing plan by using the Google Keyword Planner.  For those of you that not familiar with Search Engine Optimization (SEO)/Search Engine Marketing (SEM), it’s a great place to pick out highly rated key words to improve your search engine ranking.  I searched the obvious ones of “bra repair” and then “stretched out bra straps” but they weren’t yielding much results, only about 70 searches a month.  A friend was visiting and she suggested that we get creative.  I’m not sure how we arrived on it, but soon I was looking up keyword ideas for “saggy boobs”.   We found that “large saggy boobs” was coming up at cost per click (CPC) rate of $6.37.  To explain CPC:  if you google “large saggy boobs” (Do not.  You cannot unsee that – especially the tumblr…  according to my friend) and click on one of the ads, it will cost the advertiser $6.37.

All amusement and business strategy aside, I always assumed that “large perky boobs” would be much more valuable –  which may be what advertising tells us, but clearly what not what many search for when no one is watching.  It’s fascinating to think about all of the other things that we are shown vs. how we may really feel.  I wonder if those two will ever match and how it might change how we perceive ourselves.

What is it that we really want?  It’s a shame that only Google knows for sure!


How would you search for The Strap Saver?