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Monday, June 22, 2015

SELF Magazine Beauty Awards


Talk about blending bravery, business and beauty. Exactly two months ago today, I did something I promised myself I would never ever do: return to the World Trade Center site if and whenever they were to be rebuilt. Why you ask? I am a 9/11 survivor, I was working there five months when tragedy struck on September 11, 2001, losing many co-workers and boss. Where was I that day? Inside 2 WTC, 35th floor, an Administrative Assistant at ABM & American Express (my position was split between two companies.) Many assume that I only have experience as a Beauty Editor, but I actually have 15 years of corporate experience under my belt - completely unrelated to the beauty and marketing world. Details of that day are an entirely different story, which is why I came up with my book title three years ago: (not yet published, soon, chapter added regulary) "From Dead-ends to DEADLINES!™", because that is exactly what my life has turned into: I'm growing every day from tragedy, I'm resilient and loving every minute of my deadline filled world.

SELF Approved Beauty Awards - April 22, 2015 One World Trade

Feeling both elated and deflated, I was torn when I received an invite from Condé Nast, inviting me to attend the 2015 SELF Approved Beauty Awards. It would be held on the 34th floor of One World Trade, practically the same floor I worked on at 2 WTC in 2001. My first thought was "absolutely not, no way - I'm not going!" But then I thought that I had to get over my fear, especially since Condé Nast (mecca, magazine mother-ship) moved into One World Trade last November - there was no way I could keep avoiding it, especially now that I am a Beauty Editor.

Getting there wasn't the problem, going upstairs was. I froze outside the building for 30 minutes, needed encouragement from a police officer (I don't blame him for being cautious when he saw I wouldn't enter the building..a few times) and a handful of One WTC security guards. When the police officer asked me after I turned back twice: "miss, are you okay, are you coming in or not?", I simply answered "I'm here for the SELF Beauty Awards, but forget it... I can't do this - I'm a 9/11 survivor!" The officer's response, followed by a huge grin was: "of course you can, you got this, come on in!" He then told the security guards inside the building the situation, who quickly stepped in to assist me further (because once I got inside, I wouldn't move, lol.) I even got an escort upstairs on the elevator, all the way upstairs to the event. They may not read this, but if they do: thank you so much. I truly appreciate it guys, I mean that.

Elevator, going up - next stop 35th floor..WAIT WHAT??

The elevator ironically stopped on the 35th floor (Oh no.. why, I thought we were going to 34th floor?) but then I walked down the spiral staircase, which led me directly to the event. It was at that moment that I left my security escort, right at the top of the stairs (and no, I didn't fall down, I actually made it!) I took me a few minutes to take it all in (liquid courage definitely helped), even daring to peek out by the window. It was my first time ever looking at the reflecting pools memorial and the aerial view 34 stories up, took my breath away. Didn't seem like a good idea at first, I thought about the events of that day: imagining what many felt as they looked out their window, from this floor and much higher, stuck and unable to get out or worse the jumpers (I recall counting 25 that day before looking away.) 

I needed that, that moment of reflection because after that, I realized that I made the best decision in returning to One World Trade. I couldn't stop thanking all the SELF Magazine employees enough for helping me get over that enormous fear that had tormented me all these years, turning down numerous job offers in the area. It somehow felt like the home I lost nearly 14 years ago and I was no longer afraid.

Evelyn Lugo

What a view: Reflecting while looking over the Reflecting Pools

Found these after the event, hiding in a safe box: (top) visitor ID card from my interview, followed by my work ID cards for ABM and American Express

Maybe it's a sign, who knows - that I am coming full circle. NOW, let's talk about the event, which was stunning: with all the beauty products that made the list for SELF Approved Beauty Awards 2015 (many of my personal faves.) I had an amazing time, I could not stop smiling even staying until the event ended hours later. Everyone took home one of every product showcased (and that was a lot, let me tell you) so thank goodness I brought my flats along: holy heavy haul! 

I had a great time, didn't want to leave

My personal picks from the SELF Approved Beauty Awards..

...selected from this table.

My SELF Approved Beauty Awards haul (back massage not included.) 

One WTC is BEAUTIFUL! Night-time, headed home 
happy and heavy - but with products, not pain

Today, I'm very busy with events, my writing and reviewing countless beauty products, forever remembering that fateful day on 9/11/2001 (never forget.) I'm aware of how far I've come, I'm following and living my dream. So tell me, I'm sure you see a few of your favorite beauty products here, which are they?

~Evelyn Lugo

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