Friday, June 26, 2009

Fond Farewells

Like every other little girl in the late 1970’s, I adored Charlie’s Angels. They were smart, beautiful, and kicked butt every week. I owned the dolls (still have a couple of them, too!), the lunchbox, and the trading cards. To call me a fan might have been an understatement: I loved the show, I loved those women, and I wanted to be just like them.

My sister and I played Charlie’s Angels quite often. She chose to be Kelly, portrayed by Jaclyn Smith, and I always opted for Sabrina, Kate Jackson’s character. I’ll let you in on a little secret, though, one I’ve harbored for over thirty years: deep down, I really wanted to be Jill, she of the bouncy blonde locks and gleaming smile, played by Farrah Fawcett. Farrah had already achieved style icon status: the infamous poster, the Six Million Dollar Man , her own brand of shampoo– she already seemed to have it all, a true Hollywood glamour girl.

I think the ultra-glamour that was Farrah kept me from taking on the role of Jill. Sabrina, so beautiful in her own right and undoubtedly the smartest Angel, just seemed more accessible to this little girl from the Texas Panhandle. I could get away with Sabrina’s no-nonsense style. I didn’t have the confidence to try to get away with the fabulousness of Jill.

Farrah remained an angel for only one season. She went on to star in movies, and her performances in them are some of the best I’ve ever seen (The Burning Bed and The Apostle come to mind). She proved to me that it went much deeper: more than a pretty face with awe-inspiring hair, she had some serious acting chops, and that made me admire her even more.

Farrah proved a point: a pretty gal can possess a number of layers, and that’s an extremely important message for women everywhere. As she bravely battled cancer, her courage and her faith remained intact. As I watched Farrah’s Story, the recent documentary chronicling her illness and her treatment, it hit me: she gave us girls something to shoot for. She made it ok for us to be beautiful and smart. I shall always love her for that, and for the way in which she handled life’s adversities with dignity – such a great lesson for us all.

Forever an angel, indeed…..

Part Two:

I had literally just stopped typing my tribute to Farrah Fawcett when I heard the news: Michael Jackson is dead.

Wow, talk about a double-whammy for a child of the seventies and eighties.

I don’t want to focus on the Wacko Jacko era of the past few years. I want to focus on the pioneer that was Michael Jackson -the Michael Jackson of my childhood and teen years…the
Michael Jackson that I loved.

An American success story to the highest degree, the Jacksons performed their way out of Gary, Indiana into super-stardom, with little Michael leading the way.

When Michael released Off the Wall in 1979, my young eyes and ears were opened to a whole new genre of music I’d not been exposed to much, music that I immediately loved. Don’t Stop Til You Get Enough to this day remains one of my favorite songs.

Then, of course, Thriller came along. Michael brought us all together with that one. I believe I was in seventh grade at the time, and the one thing we all agreed on during our schoolyard discussions was this: there was nobody cooler than Michael Jackson. Thriller sold a gazillion copies, catapulting Michael into what I can only describe as ‘beyond star status’. Nobody sang like Michael, and certainly nobody had his moves. Prior to Thriller, MTV never featured any black artists. Michael’s overwhelming talent and presence changed all that, and I still get a kick when I see the video for Billie Jean.

Time took a tragic toll on Michael. We could speculate all day long about “what went wrong”, but why bother? We don’t know what it’s like to grow up in the public eye, to suffer from various illnesses, to endure certain allegations. Let’s just remember how Michael, at his greatest, made us feel with his music, and thank him for sharing his gift with the world.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Cues from Cats

I feel there is no creature more magnificent than the cat. I’ve had cats as pets my whole life, and remain mesmerized by them.

In our quest for style and sheer fabulousness, we would all do well in following our feline friends:

Good, thorough grooming – a cat takes pride in her appearance, washing and ‘spiffying’ herself up frequently throughout the day. It’s so important to look one’s best.

Beauty sleep – a cat knows that sleep matters. Lack of sleep affects everything – our moods, our skin, our productivity.

Stretching – Have you ever heard a cat complain about a stiff neck or tight hips? Too little emphasis is placed on the power flexibility.

Playtime – We simply must find joy and silliness throughout the day. Active fun is the best. The more we move, the fitter we become.

Eating habits – a cat eats only when he’s hungry.

Graceful gaits – Unless it’s playtime, most cats walk slowly and elegantly.

Independence – though wonderful companions, cats aren’t totally dependent on us. There’s nothing more attractive than the self-assuredness and confidence that comes with independence.

Attitude – A cat knows she’s fabulous; you can tell it in everything she does. That mindset – I am fabulous does wonders.

Mystique – We never truly get to know a cat. He keeps a little something of himself to himself – always leaving us wanting more.

Of course, for cats these characteristics are innate. We humans must practice them. With such practice, we’ll unleash the magnificent creature that lives within.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Wives and Lovers

Hey! Little Girl
Comb your hair, fix your makeup
Soon he will open the door
Don't think because there's a ring on your finger
You needn't try anymore

I remember years ago a new wife telling me, “Why bother? I’m married now.” I was a kid then, but I recall thinking, “Wow, that’s kind of messed up.” Anyway, it stuck with me, and as I and many of my friends grew up and became wives, I really noticed the trend: once the ring is upon the finger, many women (and men – I’ll get to you fellas in a moment) don’t find it necessary to spiff themselves up any longer.

And this, in my humble opinion, is a true disservice to your significant other and to yourself.

Don’t get me wrong. I certainly don’t wear my little black dress to vacuum floors and scour the tub. In the general day-to-day, though, it’s important, I feel, to make that bit of effort while at home. A nice pair of jeans and a fitted t-shirt are far more visually pleasing than a ratty pair of sweats and an oversized shirt.

Day after day
There are girls at the office
And men will always be men
Don't send him off with your hair still in curlers
You may not see him again

Let’s face it: men are visual creatures. They like to look. Why not give them something nice to look at when they get home?

For wives should always be lovers too
Run to his arms the moment he comes home to you
He's almost here...

Now, some of you gentlemen may be feeling a bit smug at this point. Get that grin off your faces and heed this carefully: you, in turn, owe your lady the same. She most likely works outside of the home, too, and busts her little behind to keep the house in order – it’s not easy. She is definitely worth the effort. My much-better half is casual by nature (heck, he makes his living playing rock and roll), but he is the epitome of what I like to all “casually cool” Even when we’re just hanging around our home, he looks fantastic, and that’s just one of the countless things I appreciate about him.

Hey! Little girl
Better wear something pretty
Something you'd wear to go to the city and
Dim all the lights, pour the wine, start the music
Time to get ready for love

The feeling we get when we look our best (both in and out of our homes) carries over into other avenues of life. We might find we’d prefer to use the good napkins rather than paper towels. We might find ourselves turning off the TV and going for a walk in the neighborhood (can’t use the ‘but I look too bad to leave the house’ excuse anymore!). We might find we generally enjoy each other’s company more because we’re not distracted by lack of lipstick or mustard-stained shirts.

You may think me shallow for today’s little entry, and that’s okay. I ask, though, that you trust me on this: recognize that when we’ve made an effort on our outer image, we feel much better about ourselves. You don’t have to be a supermodel for this to work – just take that extra bit of time on yourself; you will see and feel results.

Time to get ready… Time to get ready for love

Wives and Lovers (written by Burt Bacharach & Hal David. Recorded by Jack Jones)

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Feminine Mystique

It seems that a growing number of women are entering into bolder and bawdier territory these days. At first I thought it was just me being a bit picky about proper behavior, but a remarkable number of friends – most of them male, have noticed it as well.

Now, please don’t get me wrong; I strongly believe that women must assert themselves. There is a difference, however, in asserting oneself and in coming on too strongly. Perhaps there’s some sort of misguided movement out there, leading women to think that the louder and raunchier they are, the better. It’s an attempt at getting attention, but what these women don’t realize is that they’re attracting negative attention. I’m no expert, really, but I’m told repeatedly by men of all ages that what they really want is a lady – someone who possesses that certain something known as feminine mystique.

In a world growing more outlandish all the time, to stand calmly apart from the din and clatter is quite appealing. Feminine mystique takes practice; learning a quiet confidence will certainly take a girl much farther in life than revealing outfits and obnoxious dialogue will. It requires, too, study and observation of those who have mastered that graceful position. Feminine mystique is possible, but it takes work.

It behooves a woman to dress and groom herself tastefully. It’s vital that she speak politely, without brass. Consistency is key, too – many women seem to fall more quickly into bad behavior whilst traveling in packs. We must always remain cognizant of who we are and what message we want to convey to the world.

I don’t mean to come down too harshly on my sisters. I’m merely trying to take what I’ve observed and what I’ve been told and to help empower women. We can be fabulous without being flashy. We can be strong without being salty. We can attract all good things through grace.

Designer Diane Von Furstenberg says, “I didn’t know what I wanted to be, but I knew the sort of woman I wanted to become.” It’s that sort of thinking that will lead a woman to ultimate success in all areas of life. We must know ourselves, and make sure that we’re representing ourselves as the women we want, and deserve, to be.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Living Elegantly in a World of Oblivions

While driving the other morning, I found myself behind a swerving vehicle. The man driving it was shaving.

Last night in my yoga class, I could not salute the sun effectively because two women next to me chatted nonstop.

To this day, I cringe when I recall a former boss telling me about her suffering from a disease only she, her significant other, and her gynecologist should know about.

I’m always amused, though, when someone assumes he knows my political or religious views and attempts to draw me into a conversation in order to express his own beliefs. Imagine his surprise if he knew where I stood on certain issues.

These are the oblivions – those in our society who, through their words and actions, show precious little consideration for the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being of others. They’re the line-butters and traffic cutters. They’re the loud-talkers and reckless walkers. They’re the greatest violators of the “You didn’t ask, but I’m going to tell you, anyway” policy (not an official policy – just my personal one. You’re welcome to adopt it, if you’d like). The oblivions have permeated our world, and their numbers seem to grow considerably each day.

So how do those of us committed to excellent, elegant, and abundant living deal with them?

We don’t.

Say what?

Sure, we’d like to tell them how it is, to tell them to be quiet, and perhaps even knock a few upside their heads. We can’t, though, for we’d then run the risk of becoming one of them. Our only obligation is to remain focused on bringing good vibes into the world. What we offer to others does, in fact, come back to us.

We can, however, lead by example – to remain that calm force within the societal storm. Our elegance remains intact when we discover our joy, follow our passion, and simply let others ‘be’. Meditation and appealing to a higher power is important, too, as is gratitude for our blessings. It really is as simple as following the Golden Rule: treating others as we’d like to be treated. that said, I do recognize the difficulty of this sometimes. We can’t always keep our frustrations to ourselves. During those truly trying situations, those in which you’ve reached your limit and you feel your cool demeanor slipping away, a simple raised eyebrow works. Just ask the two women from my yoga class.