Sunday, November 29, 2009
Indeed, this time of year many of us find ourselves caught up in a whirlwind of parties. It’s fabulous, to be sure, but can cause undue stress. It shouldn’t; whether you’re hosting, guesting, or both, remember that simplicity saves one’s sanity every time.
Each year, my much-better half, Mr. Kent, and I host a simple holiday soiree, and these are the things that work for us:
The Layout and Mood
Because our home is small, we make the entire downstairs(living room, dining room, kitchen, my office) available for our guests. I even set up an additional serving table in my office to encourage our friends to mill about.
I’m not a fan of overhead lighting, especially during parties. Utilize those dimmer switches, lamps, and candles – it just makes for a far more intimate setting (plus, we all look better underneath a subtle glow!)
Our music tastes are quite broad, but I do enjoy playing the standards (Sinatra, Bennet, etc.) during a party. It just seems to lend an element of class to the occasion.
The Guest List
We limit it to our nearest and dearest.
Nibbles are far easier than sit-down dinners. Party trays found in most grocery stores work well. We pick up several varieties (however, we do place the food on nicer serving trays) As far as adult beverages go, we’ll have wine and beer on hand, and invite our guests to bring their spirit of choice.
RSVP as soon as possible
Follow the requested dress code, if there is one. If there isn’t one, you still need to make the effort to look your best (no sweats or tattered jeans, please!)
Bring a small token for your host (a bottle of wine, candles, etc.)
Phone or email your host the next day to thank them, again, for a fabulous time
Get tanked up – limit yourself to a couple of drinks
Overstay your welcome.
Make a mess. If an accident happens, clean it up.
Keep the hostess to yourself. It’s her job to mix and mingle with all of her guests.
And another thing…..
It’s perfectly acceptable to invite only a few of your closest work colleagues to your party; however, do stress to them the importance of keeping mum about it.
If a Babbling Betty does spill the beans, be gracious and do your best to accommodate. Think twice, however, before inviting Babbling Betty back to any of your future shindigs. She has committed a huge breech of etiquette and, honestly, do you really want to associate with such an offender?
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
What’s that you say, dear friend? Aren’t I the gal who’s always yammering on about finding joy, abundance, and peace? Yes, I am, but I feel the need to shed some light on certain behaviors that are sure-fire ways toward an unhappy path:
10. Not taking the time to spiffy up. It’s a fact: when we look our best, we tend to feel better about ourselves. A little lipstick can go an awfully long way.
9. Spending time with social vampires. Social vampires are those folks who drain us mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. They may come in the form of a boss, a companion, or so-called-best friend. No job or relationship is worth dealing with one. Surround yourself with positive people.
8. Unhealthy living. Bad diets, too much drinking, too much smoking, lack of exercise, weight gain….these will lower your happiness factor tremendously. Get out, get active, and get some good food into your system. You will see and feel results!
7. Watching too much news. It’s all bad, so why spend an entire evening glued to FOX News or CNN? Too much negative information about our world never serves us. Yes, stay informed (check the headlines daily), but don’t get mired down in it all.
6. Watching too much television in general. Sure, we all have our shows (and I’m still in mourning about the cancellation of Guiding Light), but if we’re viewing more than a couple of hours of tv a day, we’re wasting precious time we could be spending with family, friends, or in beautiful meditation and solitude.
5. Comparing yourself with others. It doesn’t matter what you look like or how much money you have, there will always be someone prettier than you who more money than you. Get over it, and focus on YOU and what you can contribute to society.
4. Lack of spiritual awareness. There is a higher power, and we must appeal to that higher power often. We can’t just attend church for one hour a week and consider ourselves done with the spirit. It requires daily nurturing through meditation and prayer.
3. Anger at situations we’ve created. We are the artists – everything that happens to us is a result of our thoughts and actionS. We’re magnets; what we focus on the most is going to come back to us. Be mindful, always, of what you’re thinking and doing. Let’s not blame others for our problems.
2. Waiting for the big ‘bang’. Some people await one single ‘thing’ to bring them happiness. That’s not how it works. Things don’t just happen. We have to go out, make them happen, and create our own bliss.
1. Lack of gratitude. When we aren’t thankful for what we have then, sure, we’re going to dwell on those things we don’t have. It doesn’t matter how many material possessions you own; offer thanks for that ten-year-old car, tiny apartment, or hourly-paying job. You’ve got it better than many folks do.
It’s Thanksgiving, and I can’t think of a better time to re-evaluate how we’re getting by. I’ve said it before: a huge difference lies between really living and merely existing. My sincerest hope is that we’ll realize the power of our thoughts, actions, and intentions. We must reprogram ourselves to focus on all the positives and not dwell on the negatives. We must offer thanks for all we have. Only through these steps will we find our joy, our bliss, and our authentic selves.
I wish you and yours an abundant Thanksgiving!
'Look, feel, and LIVE your absolute best!'
Sunday, November 22, 2009
During a recent discussion about the upcoming holiday season, one of my dearest friends mentioned the stress that always seems to befall her this time of year. “The shopping, the cooking, traveling, planning outfits for parties and dinners….it’s just too much!” she proclaimed. I agreed with her, of course – it is too much.
It doesn’t have to be, though.
Through sheer determination and trial and error, I’ve discovered a few tricks that can make for a hassle-free holiday:
Early online shopping
My family and I post wish lists on Amazon.com and other websites. That way, we know what to get each other, and we can relay what we’d like to have (it’s a much more refined way of saying, “Buy this for me, please.”)
Do consider gifts that keeps on giving. Wine.com proved to be a big hit with my mother last Christmas (she receives a couple of bottles from around the world each month). Magazine subscriptions are also a nice option.
Fabulously easy feasts
Unless you enjoy spending most of the season in the kitchen, I encourage you to consider catering Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner. Many restaurants and grocery stores offer some sort of prepared fare at reasonable prices. I’m not allowed in the kitchen, so this is a necessity in the Newman house.
Mr. Kent and I travel a great deal during the year, and we’ve finally reached that comfortable position of letting family know we’ll spend the season at home, and those who wish to join us are more than welcome to do so. No more “We spent last year with your mother, so this year we must visit my folks…”
If this isn’t an option for you (loved ones unable to travel, etc.), please realize this: December 25 is merely a date; the spirit of the season can fall wherever you chose. I knew a woman whose daughter was stationed in Iraq during the holidays. When the daughter returned on leave – in June- the family celebrated Christmas then, complete with a tree, wrapped gifts, the works.
The point is to work around various schedules, and to make time whenever you can for stress-free family visits.
If you don’t know yet what you’re wearing to holiday parties, decide now. It will save you a tremendous amount of agitation to already have your outfit in place. Remember, too, that you need not accept every party invitation – this will certainly help in the wardrobe department. I learned this the hard way a few years ago, so I now limit myself to one Christmas bash hosted by friends, the bash Mr. Kent and I host each year, New Year’s Eve, and my birthday, which falls right after the new year. That’s only four party frocks I’ll need. I will be wearing three from previous seasons, and one new splurge that I’ve yet to find.
A carefree holiday season can exist. It just requires careful planning and going easy on oneself. It is the most wonderful time of the year - enjoy!
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
As I sit here working on outlines for my upcoming online course, New Year, New You, I obviously begin thinking about my own resolutions for the upcoming year. Yes, I realize we’ve not hit Thanksgiving yet, but I like to plan ahead….
Actually, I don’t like the word resolution. I much prefer to use the word goal. Goals are important. They offer guidelines on what we want to do, and who we want to be. Without them, we wander aimlessly - from job to job, friend to friend, etc.
Life is too precious for that.
Now, I'm not saying set a goal and allow no room for flexibility, dear friends. Flexibility is key when striving to reach whatever it is we're reaching for.
Studies show that it takes three weeks to develop a habit, and I know that to be true. Several years ago, a good friend - a coach- noticed that several within our group were starting to get a bit "doughy" (her word, not mine, but quite accurate in my case). She organized a workout group, and showed no mercy when we whined, begged, and pleaded with her to let us skip a day or indulge in those foods she deemed "naughty". The workouts were simple but tough - thirty minutes of cardio one day, thirty minutes of weight training the next, repeat, and on the seventh day, rest.
Three weeks later I was ten pounds lighter.
Six weeks later I was down to the weight I had in college.
Almost ten years later, I still rise at 6 am to exercise.
It's a habit that my body won't let me break.
Those first three weeks were, in fact, the toughest, but they were vital in helping
me become the person I am. The physical changes, obviously, were great, but more importantly I learned discipline. I learned the value of teamwork, and I learned that good friends - true friends - will encourage you to be the best you can be.
I encourage each of you to think seriously about your goals, or resolutions, or whatever you choose to call them. I'm here for you - just a click away.
For information about New Year, New You, feel free to visit the Classes and Seminars page at www.newmanimage.info.
Fashion and Lifestyle Advisor
Look, feel, and LIVE your absolute best!
Sunday, November 15, 2009
What happened to Thanksgiving?
If your town is anything like my town, you’re probably already bombarded with Christmas decorations and signs reading Sale! Start Holiday Shopping Now! On October 30, I popped into my local Garden Ridge to stock up on last minute Halloween supplies; it took me 45 minutes to walk through plastic Christmas trees (in purple and pink, no less), to find one tiny, sad little aisle dedicated to tiny, sad little ghosts and goblins.
I fear the spirit of commercialism has taken over, and by the time Christmas actually does roll around, many of us will have rolled our eyes and asked, “Who cares?”
Now, don’t get me wrong. I love the holidays; it truly is my favorite time of year. I just feel that the sense of urgency to buy gifts as soon as possible has overshadowed the reason for the season.
And we seem to have forgotten about Thanksgiving altogether.
Many of us are too caught up in the bright, twinkly lights and the twenty percent coupons to pay attention to the one day set aside for reflection and gratitude (we really should set aside a time each day for reflection and gratitude, but I’ll save my thoughts on that for another time).
I’d like for all of us to take a moment, take a deep breath, and focus on what this time of year really means.
It’s a time to count our blessings, and to share with others just how much they mean to us. It’s a time to offer up thanks for every good thing we’ve got, and realize the bad things are merely lessons to help us grow.
In the grand scheme of things, it really shouldn’t be about how many gifts we buy or how many decorative Santas we can place in our homes. It’s about spending our time – and money – wisely, and enjoying ourselves and the company of our loved ones.
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
We continue our look at words and wardrobes:
Loud and Proud
You say, “I’m scared of boring.” I say, “Do you fear that others may think you boring?” You say, “I love bright colors and outrageous accessories.” I say, “Do you fear growing up?”
Consider this: the looks you get from the general public are not ones of admiration. Clashing colors and misshapen garments do you no favors, my dear, for we don’t really see you at all. We’re too focused on your outlandish wardrobe to really get a sense of the authentic you.
A death-defying dress sense won’t make you a more interesting person. Do you truly possess the confidence of someone who doesn’t give two hoots what others think of her, or are you a little shy and vulnerable, and use your fashion senselessness to hide who you are?
Your current state of dress misrepresents you. Don’t you think the time is right for us to meet the real you?
Advice for the Loud and Proud
Go bold with one accessory and keep everything else, including your outfit, on the conservative side.
If color is your passion, spend a little time each day drawing, painting, or collecting something that catches your eye. You’ll create a vibrant journal of your life!
Something tells me your wardrobe is not the only chaos that surrounds you. Rid your home of clutter, and get yourself organized. Hire someone to help you if you must – just do it!
Take a little time to simply people-watch. It’s far more entertaining than anything on television. You’ll learn better how to read people and pick up on the subtleties of human nature.
Moms and Daughters
You say, “I look as good in my daughter’s clothes as she does!” I say, “Are you trying to reassure yourself that you’re still young and slim?” You say, “These funky jeans are the latest and greatest!” I say, “You seem desperate to hang on to your youth.”
Midlife could certainly be a tough time for women, particularly those with teenage daughters who are now getting the attention the moms once did; however, there comes a time when we must grow up, move on, and accept that we are no longer the spring chicken of the coop.
Aging should bring about a sense of empowerment. This can be an incredibly positive time for us, and a sexy one to boot. Just ask Demi Moore!
Advice for Moms with Daughters
You can feel youthful through the power of clothing. Find fun, age-appropriate accessories to rev up an outfit. It also sets a great style example for your daughter.
Create a to-do list of things you want to accomplish, none of which have anything to do with your family. Choose one thing and go for it! Sky-diving, anyone?
Re-evaluate your home. If it resembles anything from Barbie’s Dream House, redecorate!
Find a role model, someone who is strong, respected, and chic. Scour the magazines if you must – there’s absolutely nothing wrong with emulating the style of Nicole Kidman or Cate Blanchett.
Married To It
You say, “After so many years of marriage, why bother?” I say, “Do you have moments of utter disappointment, ones you never verbalize?” You say, “The thrill is gone.” I say, “Are you and your husband intimate? Physically or emotionally?”
After years of marriage and raising children, many women blend into the background and are oftentimes mistaken for furniture. Peering into their closets, we might find clothing inspired by images they have of their mothers or grandmothers. They feel that because they’ve reached a certain stage of life, they must adhere to the role of the invisible woman.
They seldom realize the difference between being needed and wanted. These lovely women have reached a crossroads. I encourage them to rediscover and reestablish themselves, their style, and their sex-appeal.
Advice for the Married To Its
Avoid matchy-matchy like the plague! Colors and accessories should complement one another, not reflect as mirror-images of each other.
Even if you don’t have the body of a twenty-year old, invest in good, sexy lingerie. Your husband may not take notice (the bum), but it will make you feel sexy, and that’s really what it’s all about.
Where the mind leads, the body will follow. Visualize yourself as a healthy, vibrant, and interesting woman, and by golly, you’ll become her.
Put yourself first. The kids are grown, and your husband is certainly able to help out around the house. Take an evening class, join a gym, spend a day at the spa – you deserve it for your wonderful years of service!
For the Boys
You say, “If you’ve got it, flaunt it.” I say, “Do you think that’s really all you have to offer?” You say, “I get hit on a lot.” I say, “You know what they’re really after, don’t you?”
Ah, the good-time girls! Merely out for a laugh, a drink, and any sort of attention they can get. Of course, it’s easy to get attention when one’s fruits and vegetables are on full display.
Most of them have never considered the fact that they way they dress sends the opposite message of the one they hope to send. “Look at me, I’m easy to love!” could easily be misread as “Look at me, I’m easy!” I’ve found that deep inside most of these girls resides a longing to feel true love and a fear that they’ll never find it. They use their scantily-clad ways as a defense mechanism to protect themselves from a past hurt they’ve endured. Usually, they blame themselves for the hurt, and as a result, they’ve an incredible amount of self-loathing.
Advice For the Girls Who Do It Strictly For the Boys
Reveal just enough of your physical assets to keep them guessing. Show a little cleavage, but keep the rest covered. If your legs are to-die-for, wear that short, slinky skirt with a turtleneck and boots.
For one month, stay out of the clubs. Go to dinner with your girlfriends, call your mother, or simply sit at home alone with a good book. Trust me; you’re not missing a thing by not being out there every night of the week.
Set goals. What do you hope to accomplish in five years? Twenty years? By the end of the week? Write your goals down and study them each day. This is a great method for helping you get what you want out of life, and will also help you think twice about questionable behavior now (behavior that could very well come back to haunt you!)
Realize that you are smart, charming, and gorgeous. You have more to offer the world than the gossip surrounding your drunken, unseemly behavior.
I do hope this little series has provided some food for thought. When I tell women I want them to look, feel, and live their absolute best, I mean it!
Fashion and Lifestyle Advisor
Sunday, November 8, 2009
Our wardrobe selection reveals a tremendous amount about who we really are. Stop snickering…it’s true! When working with clients, I hear tons of excuses for not making an effort, fashion-wise. I also receive loads of reasons why one makes too much of an effort. I suppose that’s how I stumbled into mentoring as well: clothing merely scratches the surface of what’s going on inside. Below are a few excuses – and remedies; see if any may ring a bell:
You say, “My children always come first.” I say, “That’s fantastic, but do you feel as if you’ve lost your identity in the process?” You say, “I spend most of my money on my children.” I say, “Again, that’s fantastic, but are you afraid that you’ll appear selfish if you spend a little on yourself?”
Motherhood is the greatest job on earth – no doubt about it! I find, however, that too many moms get caught up in that role and loose themselves. Then, when the kids have flown the nest, moms struggle to find themselves again.
I encourage moms everywhere to take that little extra time to look chic (and yes, you can find chic looks that are durable, stain-resistant, and easy to maneuver in). Nothing sends a more powerful message to children (particularly daughters) than a mom who takes pride in her appearance.
Advice for Moms
Your eight-year-old cannot drive to the supermarket, but he can certainly make himself a sandwich and clean his room. Tap into resources and stop trying to do it all yourself!
Go out with your girlfriends at least once a month, and don’t talk about your children. This is your time to be you!
Make time to be alone with your husband. Schedule a date night, or put the kids to bed early and enjoy a cozy evening at home.
You say, “Black works with everything.” I say, “You fear standing out at the office.” You say, “I have to maintain the corporate image.” I say, “Do you prefer it to your self-image?”
Our jobs play a huge role in our lives, at times infiltrating the very essence of who we are. Word to the wise: dress in a dull way, and rumors will fly that you’re a dull person. Yes, you must maintain a professional image at work, but professional doesn’t mean dull-as-dishwater.
Advice for the Working Girl
Pants are practical. Why not indulge in a skirt, or even a dress, for the office?
Find tailoring to suit your body shape.
Take a break during work. Leave the office during lunch hour, and do your best to leave work at work!
You say, “I’ve got more important things to think about than my clothes.” I say, “You might fear you won’t be taken seriously if you dress up.” You say, “I’m not materialistic.” I say, “You’re unsure how to keep up with the times.”
You could possibly pass yourself off as an interesting intellectual. Hair driers and mascara are sheer frivolity as far as you’re concerned. You’re all about the mind and spirit, but appear as if you’re stuck in a time-warp.
Advice for the Natural Woman
Invest in a decent and flattering haircut. If you’re sporting the style you sported at Woodstock, you’re long overdue for a visit to the hairdresser.
Look to nature and find colors that will suit your complexion.
It doesn’t take long at all to apply a tinted moisturizer and a bit of lip stain.
You say, “It’s important to be somebody.” I say, “Do you feel like a nobody inside?” You say, “I’m surprised by how many things in my closet I’ve not yet worn.” I say, “Are you buying things to fill some sort of void?”
You spend a fortune on the latest trends, and the labels displayed proudly across your chest, butt, and on your handbag prove it! With all those names strapped to your body, however, you look like a billboard announcing you have money, but don’t know how to spend it in a classy way.
Advice for the Material Girl
Get out of the boutiques and into the community. Volunteering takes away any gnawing feelings of emptiness.
Do something fun and messy! Go for a run in the park, or spend the day lolling about in the sand. A little dirt will do you good.
Learn to love what you have by keeping a gratitude journal. This is a sure-fire way to make those desperate Prada purchases not so desperate anymore.
In order to become truly fabulous on the outside, we must come to terms with who we really are and what we want out of life. Coming soon, we’ll discuss Loud and Proud, Moms and Daughters, Married to It, and For the Boys.
Enjoy a stylish week, dear friends!