It Takes 4 of Us to Make Me Feel Whole

When I turned 40 last October, I asked my sisters for a gift – that they all come to visit me in Louisiana for Memorial Day weekend. And Memorial Day weekend is upon us. I can’t quite describe the feeling of having them all here with me, and I know the weekend is just beginning, but last night’s dinner was perfection. I tried to say thank you… with the following words.

First, thank you to you, Edwin. This weekend would not have been possible without you. You know what I want and don’t want. You knew having my sisters in Louisiana was the best gift ever, and you made it happen. You even bought a new boat and renovated your Hammond kitchen to prepare for “their”’arrival. Thank you. Thank you for loving me so well.

Second, to Bernard. You are the one “plus one” here this weekend, and for this I am forever grateful. Thank you for coming to be moral support for Edwin during the Polla sisters weekend takeover. I am so grateful for you and for how you love Rachel.

Thank you, Stern for being with us, for representing the extended Neill family tonight. Thank you for making the special trip from California just to meet my sisters (J).

To Roxane. You were the first of my sisters to fall in love with Louisiana, a number of years ago. You fell in love with New Orleans. With the boat and the river and the alligators. With Debra’s house which you still think is the most beautiful house you have seen in the world. Thank you for understanding why I love it here. Thank you for coming back. Please tell Guillaume he is missed, but here in spirit.

To Rachel. You host me, us, in Geneva every single time we come. You never say no when I send you my travel dates. You make sure there is champagne and gruyere in the fridge. You always make me feel like I am home. Your hospitality is the kindest and most generous there is. This weekend is a small attempt to say thank you.

To Cyrille. You came back to the US of A. I must admit I stopped believing it would happen. Last time you came to this country it was for also for me. It was to help the Alchimie booth at ISPA 2005 at the Dallas Gaylord (our first ever booth). You hated it. Hated the AC (oops sorry), hated not being able to smoke anywhere, hated working the booth and speaking to people, you hated everything. That was the trade show Edwin and I met at. Thank you for coming for me then. Thank you for agreeing to come back for me now.

Thank you for coming here together so we can show The Polla Sisters to The Neill Brothers. They have no idea what is coming…

Je vous aime. Mes sœurs. Merci.

The Polla Sisters’ take on baths

 

I recently asked my sisters to share with me their “unique, strange beauty routines.” Somehow, they all came back with information specific to baths – which is so timely given the recent Marie-Claire article about the return of baths (September issue). Apparently, baths are on our minds.

I was fascinated how they all independently went to the topic of the bath, and how unique and varied their (our!) routines are.

Roxane, the youngest, is a fan of baths. Long baths, in particular during exam time (she is in medical school). Candles in the bathroom; iPad in the bathtub; various oils or bubble baths depending on her mood. Did I mention long baths? Sometimes she will spend three hours in the bathtub reviewing her class materials. It’s her version of “me time.” When she comes out, she mixes a bit of Alchimie Forever’s Kantic+ intensely nourishing cream with her body lotion to keep her skin feeling soft, and looking young.

Rachel doesn’t really take baths. But when she does, it is because “it’s an emergency.” Meaning she is at the end of her rope and needs some quiet relaxation time. She will also keep her baths to the evening, and will also light a dozen or more candles. She will pour herself a glass of wine, and make herself some pasta – and enjoy dinner in the bath. This reminds her of when we were little and Mom would bathe and feed us simultaneously, because it was faster and easier than trying to have us bathe and then have us sit at the dinner table to eat.

Cyrille, on the other hand, never, ever, ever takes a bath. She hates how it makes her legs and feet feel swollen and tired. She is a shower girl all the way, and ends each shower with a frigid cold water on her legs, moving up from the feet towards the heart. “It’s good for blood flow, makes me feel as light as a feather, and prevents cellulite,” she promises. Like Rachel and Roxane, however, she showers in the evening. And similarly to Roxane, she uses an Alchimie Forever face product as her body lotion – the Kantic calming cream.

And me – well, I love baths. I take baths almost exclusively on the road. It is a wonderful reward after a long day of travel, and hotel bathrooms usually have a larger bathtub than the one in my tiny Georgetown bathroom. I love Kneipp bath oils and Aveda stress fix bath salts. No candles for me (I don’t travel with them), but yes to a glass of wine or champagne in the bath. And my post-bath product routine focuses on our body products! (Firming gel for neck and bust, Optimizing body contour gel, Dry skin balm, and Aveda stress fix lotion).

Now all we need is a photo of us in the bathtub looking as glamorous as these super models!!

Evening routines of the Polla sisters

It is not often that two of my sisters and I find ourselves on “this” side of the Atlantic. Yet this happened just a couple of weeks ago when Cyrille, Rachel and I met in NYC for a day of strategizing and brainstorming. (Roxane was with us in spirit of course). We mostly worked, but we also laughed and talked about non-work things. Specifically, given that they were both a bit jet-lagged, we talked about sleep and evening routines. I have written about my evening routines before, and loved hearing about my sisters’. There are definite common traits…

Roxane (who chimed in this part of the discussion by Skype) is probably the best sleeper among the four of us. Her evening routine involves changing clothes as soon as she gets home from “normal” clothes or scrubs, as she is in medical school, to something “comfortable yet sexy.” Her husband usually gets home a bit after she does, and their evening ritual involves cooking themselves dinner, during which time they share their respective days and unwind in the kitchen. Her tips for a quiet evening include “minimal screens” (computer, phone, TV, other), and none whatsoever in the bedroom. She goes to sleep before midnight (she says that is when we sleep the most restoratively – and since she is in medical school I have to believe her), and wakes up by 5:30 am.

Rachel also likes the ritual of changing clothes as soon as she gets home, and she is an evening showerer. Something about washing the day off of herself, she says (and of course she uses numerous Alchimie Forever products, for face and body). She lights multiple candles, puts on her Juicy Couture suit, spends special one on one time with her daughter before putting her to bed. That is followed by a good glass of red wine that she shares with her loved one, while sharing their day’s successes and challenges.

Apparently the changing clothes is either genetic, or something that we each took from our mother. Indeed, Cyrille also changes as soon as she gets home from work (she is very specific that even jewelry comes off), into one of her husband’s shirts. She then spends an hour in the kitchen, cooking vegetables while drinking a glass of red wine and munching on cheese. She always cleanses her face with Alchimie Forever’s Purifying Gentle Cleanser and applies organic hazelnut oil on her face (maybe a product I need to look into developing). She always place a big mug of herbal tea on her night table (fennel, chamomile or sage), and to full immerse herself in sleep mode, she plugs her ears and covers her eyes with a fluffy sleep mask.