Friday, July 31, 2009

Faith Over Fear

There’s a certain calm one experiences when one knows he or she has made the right decision. Even if he or she struggled in order to make that decision, peace comes when the decision is right. Peace remains even if there are elements of uncertainty about the outcome of that decision.

I believe that, unfortunately, our general society is fear-based. The news tells us the economy’s bad, so we hang on to jobs that make us miserable. The fear of being alone causes us to dwell in toxic relationships. We stop eating Oreos because we’re told they may kill us.

As a result, we’re afraid to take leaps of faith. Having faith in a greater power (God? The Universe? I don’t know, but I do know something’s out there and it’s a lot bigger and better than any of us) only leads us to those leaps of faith and to welcome change when it occurs.

So how do we get to that point of faith when struggling with decisions? I’m no expert, but I know that sitting in silence (prayer or meditation – we all have our own thing) is a starting point. Doing a bit of homework helps, too (after all, the aforementioned greater power shouldn’t be expected to do everything for us. I think that power likes it when we take some initiative).

We must come to know our true selves, our true passions, and allow that power to lead us toward living as we’re truly meant to live.

The fear disappears, and we can make decisions and make changes that will only allow us to thrive peacefully and positively…and to enjoy the occasional Oreo.

Beth Newman
Look, feel, and live your absolute best!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Living Art

I believe we’re artists, and as such we’ve the power to create the lives we desire. It’s a matter of tapping into our full potential, following our passion, and realizing that the universe will supply exactly what we need.
Too often, people allow fear to keep them in unhappy an unpleasant situations. They’ll endure an overbearing boss for fear of losing a job. They suffer through dysfunctional relationships in order to avoid living alone. Many are driven by ego rather than by passion.
Life is to be enjoyed, not endured. We must offer thanks for all that we have, and remain open to what we’re given and to receive those gifts graciously. We must realize our passion and follow it without apprehension.
I encourage you to view each day as a blank canvas. Each morning, ask yourself what sort of picture you’ll create. Will it be something bright, something concise, and something that brings joy to everyone – including you? Will it be something dark, something erratic, and something that does absolutely nothing for anyone – including you?
Pick up your brushes, dear friends, and create something fabulous!
Beth Newman
Look, feel, and live your absolute best!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Review, Renew, Rejoice!

Oftentimes, we find ourselves in a rut – merely going through the motions of the day. The same holds true for our style power. We become accustomed to wearing the same things, using the same products, and merely falling into the stagnant it’ll do mentality. This is your gentle reminder, dear friends, that a style in stasis is a style in crisis.

At the dawn of each new season, take a good, hard look at your clothing and accessories. Do they truly represent who you are now? Are they interesting or exciting? Is anything worn-looking or frayed? A new season should bring freshness to your look. Study the fashion magazines to determine what new pieces might rev up an old standby.

What about your beauty routine? Do you still apply makeup the way you did five years ago? Is your current skin-care regimen working the way it did once-upon-a –time? Mother Nature is a harsh mother; we’ve got to be on top of our game in order not to look dated.

A great hairstyle and color can do wonders for a gal, both physically and mentally. A bad hairstyle and color won’t do anyone any good. We’ve got to be honest about our hair and be willing to make changes when necessary. If you’ve not received a coiffure compliment in a while, it might be time to visit your stylist for an update.

Like housework, staying on top of the little things will certainly save you a tremendous amount of time and trouble down the road. Designate one night a week (at least) as beauty night. Lock the bathroom door, kindly tell the husband and kids to go away, and spend some time in front of the mirror. Study those facial-hair issues and do something about them. Give yourself a facial, manicure, and pedicure. Shave your legs properly. Deep-condition your hair. Do whatever it takes to keep those little style-stealers at bay.

Our personal style should represent who we are at this stage of our lives. We change over time, and our style should, too. We must be cognizant of our authentic selves, and let that joyfully come through in our clothing and grooming. It’s not shallow or silly to care about these things – it’s necessary. I encourage you not to use mommyhood, age, or lack of funds (believe me, we can be chic on the cheap) to keep you from your true style potential. We all have potential for stellar style power; let’s do a little work in order to make it work!

Beth Newman
Look, feel, and live your absolute best!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The High Cost of Beauty

In Emile Zola’s short story, Complements, we as readers get a tongue-in-cheek look at the price of beauty. In it, Parisian woman seek the services of old Durandeau, who owns an agency that rents out less attractive girls. The theory behind Durandeau’s scheme is simple, really: women will appear more beautiful if they’re accompanied by an unattractive companion. The business proves to be a smashing success for all, except, of course, the hired “complement”. At the end of the day she removes her finery, stares in the mirror located in her tiny apartment, and realizes she’s nothing more than a pawn in the game of attraction.

Though a work of fiction, Zola’s story sheds a light on the ugly business of beauty. Women and men spend thousands of dollars every year on creams, serums, and potions to battle the signs of aging and to conceal alleged imperfections. Botox is mainstream, and it’s quite easy these days to have something removed or inflated all in the quest for attractiveness.

How did we get here? And why are so many of us starting to look the same?

I love what Simon Doonan has to say about it all in his book, Eccentric Glamour. Doonan, the creative director for Barney’s New York, questions the current “Bleached, Botoxed, Booby” look that is so prevalent today. He encourages us to embrace our own style and to (gasp) have fun with it!

I guess what it boils down to is confidence.

Knowing oneself sure makes it easy to don something that others may view as unfashionable. That same self-awareness makes it okay to keep that bump on the nose, or to allow those wrinkles to form. Focusing inward certainly takes the pressure off what’s going on outside.

Too bad the ladies in Complements didn’t realize this. So sad that so many don’t realize it today.

Friday, July 10, 2009

The Little Things

When it comes to tapping into our true style potential, sometimes we forget those small things that can make or break our fabulous image:
Shoes – you simply can’t go wrong with a great pair of shoes. Shoes must fit properly, remain scuff-free and clean, and be appropriate for the occasion (that means no flip-flops in restaurants, churches, cocktail parties, etc.) I’m big on budget buying, but I’ve found that it really is for the best to spend some money on shoes. A high quality pair is worth it and will last a long time if cared for properly.
Nails – this has become a bit of a pet peeve for me. I don’t like super-long nails (a tad tacky and harbor all sorts of dirt and germs – ugh!). When selecting polish, age does become a factor. If you’re hands are starting to show your years (as mine are!), opt for very subtle or clear polish; darker colors do age our hands, and all the funky neon stuff is better left to the younger set.
Hair – I’m amazed by how many people I know who don’t bother to style their hair each day. It’s pulled back, piled on, or simply just left limp and lifeless. And don’t get me started on those who leave the house with hair that’s wet. Find a hair stylist you trust and spend a good amount of time explaining to him or her who you are and what your lifestyle is like. If the stylist isn’t interested in getting to know you, move on.
Remain cognizant of the fact that cut and color do matter. Again, you’ll need a thorough consultation for this. A recent episode of What Not to Wear featured a fifty-something woman sporting big blonde hair (she was from Texas, wouldn’t you know!). She fought with Nick Arrojo about cutting it, but finally caved to his suggestions. Nick’s work – a shorter, darker style – made her look ten years younger. She hated it and went back to her regular stylist for a bleach job and extensions, thus making her look twenty years older. If you’ve got a whole room of people telling you your hair looks good – as she did – listen to them!
Handbags – You need more than one purse. Your everyday bag simply won’t do for every function. Invest in variety. Structured purses are quite elegant; just make sure they’re not bursting at the seams with all the stuff you lug around. Oversized, slouchy bags are best for casual outings. Bring out the small clutches for evening.
Accessories – Subtlety is the key. If you’ve ever been compared to a Christmas tree, you might be overdoing it on the bling. Select one or two interesting pieces (a funky necklace paired with a chunky bracelet, etc,). Years ago, someone told me that before leaving the house, remove one accessory. It’s far better to be chic and understated than blindingly over-the-top.
I encourage you, dear friends, to take time each day to insure that the little things are in order and are working in your favor. Life is too short not to live up to our fabulous style potential!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

The Seeds We Sow

We reap what we sow. This is something we hear as children, but of course it never registers completely until we reach a certain age and gain a little experience.

Unfortunately, some people, though aware of this concept, never really take it to heart.

Not too long ago, I encountered a man who, according to several reliable sources, throws a great deal of negativity into his world. He’s verbally abusive, quick to judge, and makes snap decisions based on “What’s in it for me?” rather than “How will this benefit everyone involved?” Needless to say, he’s not respected nor much liked by the majority of those who know him, which is unfortunate. Oddly enough, however, he thinks that he is, which is sad.

This poor man has no idea of who he really is and how he’s perceived. He’s yet to develop the tools for gaining true happiness and success. He claims to be enlightened, but he isn’t. He’s driven purely by his ego, and is genuinely surprised when things don’t go his way. He’s yet to make the connection that the unpleasantness and hostility he’s bestowed upon others comes directly back to him. When obstacles appear, he’s angered and plays the victim. It’s apparent to those of us in-the-know understand what’s happening, but this poor soul just doesn’t get it.

Happiness and success come when we tap into our authentic selves. This takes reflection, honesty, and time. We must check our ego at the door and let go of those negative thoughts that only weigh us down. With an understanding of our true self, we are free to pursue our passions, free to live happily, and free to sow those good seeds that will help others succeed.

Friday, July 3, 2009

The Donkey and the Racehorse

In an episode of the BBC comedy Absolutely Fabulous, Patsy (deliciously portrayed by Joanna Lumley) proclaims that in all two-party relationships, one person is the racehorse, while the other is the donkey. Patsy’s best friend, Edina (the wonderful Jennifer Saunders) immediately assumes she’s the donkey to Patsy’s racehorse.

If you’ve never seen the show, Edina’s history is this: she battles her weight constantly, has been divorced twice, and enjoys an incredibly unhealthy relationship with her daughter. She makes desperate attempts to find herself, and even more desperately wants others to find her fascinating. Patsy’s history, on the other hand, is a bit vague; we do know that she dabbled in modeling during the 1960s, had close relationships (if you catch my meaning) with members of the Rolling Stones, and works for a fashion magazine. She’s always been gorgeous and thin (“Patsy hasn’t eaten since 1974” is a running gag throughout the series.), and it’s those two physical traits, I think, that led Edina to the conclusion that she’s Patsy’s little donkey.

Although a comedy – and hilariously portrayed as such – I couldn’t help but feel sad for Edina. As she states, “Why didn’t I have the confidence to assume I was the racehorse?” I think many women feel this way. No matter how well things are going for them, or how great they look, there’s always that little voice inside telling them that a friend has it together a little bit more than they do.

Edina didn’t recognize the good things she had going for her: her family, although dysfunctional, was always there for her – including the two ex-husbands. She lived in a gorgeous home, and had the potential and connections to establish a successful PR firm, if only she’d had the focus and discipline. It escaped her that Patsy was essentially alone in the world and depended on Edina and her own magazine job for everything she had – clothing, connections, and champaign.

So many today don’t stop to realize just how good life is; they’re too focused on what others have to appreciate all that’s been bestowed upon them. As a result, they feel like the donkey that’s constantly in the shadow of the racehorse.

I believe we could all be racehorses if we only took the time to treat ourselves a little bit better – greeting each day in the spirit of gratitude, realizing our full potential, and making every attempt to look, feel, and live our absolute best.

The result of our efforts? Something absolutely fabulous.