Thursday, January 28, 2010

The Big Bang Theory

Gloom, despair and agony on me
Deep, dark depression, excessive misery
If it weren’t for bad luck, I’d have no luck at all
Gloom, despair, and agony on me.

Oh, my lord – I’ve resorted to quoting from Hee Haw.

But I do it to make a point.

Too often, people merely sit around in tattered overalls sipping their moonshine from jugs waiting for something big to happen. (Okay, maybe not in overalls and perhaps no moonshine’s involved, but bear with me – I really intend to go somewhere with this)

They spend a tremendous amount of time thinking, If only I made X amount of dollars. If only I could lose X number of pounds. If only I could find a man. Then, all would be right with the world.

Of course, disappointment sets in because their desires were not manifested. Usually, this turns to bitterness, and ultimately these folks find themselves living in a constant state of negativity.

Here’s the lesson, boys and girls: things don’t just happen – we have to make them happen.

Our actions, thoughts, words, and even the way in which we present ourselves to the world determine just what will – and what won’t – happen.

In other words, we must dress the part and assume the role of a successful, happy individual in order to achieve or receive anything good. Sometimes this takes a little acting on our parts: we won’t always wake up in a good mood and rejoice in our tedious jobs, cluttered homes, insolent children, or detached spouses. However, we do have the power to readjust our mindset: yes, I have a viable source of income, a roof over my head, and am blessed with family. If we feel gratitude for what we do have, rather than a longing for what we don’t, that job won’t seem so bad, the kids won’t grate on your nerves so much, and that spouse…well, you may find he’s not so bad after all.

We must also discover elements of bigness in the little things. Rather than proclaiming, Oh, I can’t wait for (whatever it is one waits for) to happen!, we must relish small pleasures and each little blessing throughout the day: a quiet cup of coffee, a stroll through the neighborhood, an opportunity to merely chat with a friend.

We are magnets. Everything occurring right now is a result of our attitude and actions.

Those guys from Hee Haw sang that song every week for twenty years. Nothing changed. They didn’t relish in the fact that pretty girls surrounded them, ‘shine flowed like water, and Buck Owens was a resident of Cornfield County for a very long time – that’s good stuff, my friends!

The power for change lies within us, if we only focus on the positive and possess a clear vision for what we truly want out of life.

There is no big bang, but there are an awful lot of little bangs that go unnoticed.

Beth Newman
Image Consultant/Life Coach
Newman Image
Look, feel, and LIVE your absolute best!

Monday, January 25, 2010

The Herd

I’m not sure who Heidi Montag is, or why she’s famous, but I can tell you one thing: she doesn’t look like she did a year ago.

The other night, Kent and I snuggled in to watch The Late Show with David Letterman. When Dave’s guest, Claire Danes, took the stage, Kent commented, “She looks just like everyone else in Hollywood.”

What has Bruce Jenner done to himself?

I’m all for a subtle tweak here and there, but I fear our society’s obsession with youth, big lips, uber-golden-locks, and disproportionate boobs has reached an all-time, outrageous high.

I base much of my business on helping others look their best. I preach the gospel of Jackie O. Yet I’ve never suggested anyone go under the knife or have something injected in order to reach her style goals. People should look like …well…people.

I understand that celebrities must resort to certain measures in order to remain employable. In her book, Everything About Me is Fake and I’m Perfect, model Janice Dickinson discusses in great detail her ‘upkeep’ in order to keep working. With all due respect, Ms. Dickinson has crossed the line. Her once-gorgeous face now appears frozen, with only a slight hint of the beauty she once possessed. The same holds true for Meg Ryan. And I fear Nicole Kidman – one of my personal style role models – is dipping her toe a little too far into the scary plastic pool as well.

People with a little character to their faces appeal to me. My jaw literally dropped when Lauren Hutton guest-judged on last week’s Project Runway. She looked fabulous! Yes, lines have formed on her face, and yes, that famous gap between her teeth remains intact, but she possess a presence that so many models and actresses don’t.

And that’s what’s missing in the world of celebrity these days: a presence. It’s that sense of self-awareness and the ‘I’m somebody’ vibe that separates the delicious from the dull. It’s not about looking a certain way – it’s the confidence that one oozes when she (or he) knows she (or he) is fabulous.

Something tells me Ms. Montag, and so many like her, lacks that security. Thanks to reality TV and the internet, we live in an age where darn near everyone can achieve fame. As a result, those who may not necessarily have the talent to maintain that status may resort to some disturbing measures.

The overly-peroxided-blonde, big-boobed, bigger-lipped gals bore me to tears. I’ll take a flat-chested, red-haired Debra Messing over them any day. And while you’re at it, pass me Penelope Cruz’s nose and Catherine Zeta-Jones’s hips. Oh, I’ll take a few Mick Jagger crevices, too. Throw in a Tina Fey scar while you’re at it. It’s the little (and sometimes not-so-little) things, after all, that set us apart from the herd.

Beth Newman
Image Consultant/Life Coach
Newman Image
Look, feel, and LIVE your absolute best!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

An Open Letter to Parents

Dear Parents,

I must preface this note by admitting to you that I don’t have children of my own. However, after teaching middle school for a good number of years, and because a good portion of my clients are children, I believe I am somewhat qualified to offer the following:

Many of your kids are much too loud in public.

I apologize if you take offense at this, but it’s true, and the rolled eyes and dirty looks thrown your way by others in restaurants, churches, and stores confirms my observations.

Last night, whilst enjoying a burger at my neighborhood spot, several of you sat on one side of the restaurant, and allowed your children to sit away from you. Granted, these children were old enough to sit alone (or so I thought). Those young people were unspeakably rude – their volume was much too loud and their conversation was questionable. You were too busy enjoying your $2 margaritas to notice, but I, and others, did. We were not amused.

A while back, you took a small group of children to one of my favorite haunts. You sat with them, but allowed them to run amok, make messes, and generally create chaos. You also left the mess for the busboy to clean, and I couldn’t help but notice you didn’t leave a tip.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I love children – I absolutely adore them. I’ve dedicated a good portion of my life’s work to them. I need some help, though: I can’t teach them proper behavior if you don’t back me up on it.

Most likely, you simply don’t notice their shenanigans, and I understand – they may, in fact, behave far worse at home, and their raucous actions in public are actually a break for you. I gently remind you, though, that your family is not the only one frequenting these places. Please show respect for other patrons by expecting your children to behave in a civilized manner.

Years ago, I had the very good fortune to accompany a group of middle school students to Italy. While strolling through the quiet, lovely streets of Florence, I lost my cool vibe when I was forced to tell one of my students to lower her voice. Her mother stood right next to her as she wailed, moaned, and generally made a spectacle of herself. Mom didn’t say a word, so it was up to Mrs. Newman to do so. Mom then took me to task for not allowing her daughter to express herself.

Please trust me, Mom; no one finds your daughter quite as amusing as you do.

Again, my apologies for the harsh tone. I really do love your children; I simply ask that we join forces to instill in them good manners, and the recognition that the world does not revolve around them.

Kindest regards,

Beth Newman
Image Consultant/Life Coach
Newman Image
Look, feel, and LIVE your absolute best!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Common Ground

Great relationships exist due to one thing: a shared outlook.

It’s true for any relationship: romantic, family, friendly, working, and such. Too often, relationships fail because they were never really based on common ground. Perhaps, initially, common ground existed, but one, or both parties, changed over the course of time. This happens. That’s why I think it’s vital for each of us to learn – sooner rather than later – who we really are, what we stand for, and where our passions lie.

Too often, relationships fail because many of us depend upon others for our happiness. We ultimately set ourselves up for failure when we rely on another person to make us happy. We must take ownership for our own happiness in order to succeed in any relationship. Yes, my husband brings indescribable joy to me each day; however, we were both happy individuals before we met. Finding each other was merely icing on the cake. As a result, we bring out the best in each other, through love, support, and yes, sharing the same priorities and outlook on life. Go, Team Newman!

It’s important to realize when an outlook is no longer shared. After a number of years, I left a job I initially loved because circumstances surrounding the job changed: it went from a mom-and-pop organization to a corporately owned institution. The family-like atmosphere no longer existed, and I was no longer comfortable there. In hindsight, I realize that my priorities there had changed over time, so it would be really unfair of me to place the entire blame on the corporation. Leaving was one of the hardest decisions I’ve ever had to make, but it was the right decision for me.

The key to it all, of course, is self-awareness, and knowing what we truly want out of life, independent of people, situations, and stuff.

We must realize ‘when to hold ‘em and when to fold ‘em’. Hold on to those relationships that are based on a shared outlook. Keep those people around whose priorities are your own. Rid yourself of those relationships that simply won’t work for you.

Discover your own passion, and live your life accordingly. Take a stand for your beliefs. The right people and circumstances will find you, rest assured.

Beth Newman
Image Consultant/Life Coach
Look, feel, and LIVE your absolute best!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Review and Revive!

What you wear tells the world how you expect to be treated. I love Clinton Kelly for that line, and I’ve adopted it when working with clients, friends, family, and myself. Here lies the cold, hard truth about the world: if you look like a train wreck, no one will take you seriously. I’m here to help, and, as this is a brand new year, I say let’s get this party started right now!

If you can convince yourself that you look fabulous, you can save yourself the trouble of primping – Andy Warhol

Plan your wardrobe a day in advance. Really study each garment to insure that it’s clean, wrinkle-free, and fits properly. If an item doesn’t make you feel fabulous, don’t wear it!

She wears her clothes as if they were thrown on her with a pitchfork – Jonathan Swift

Fit is absolutely essential. We must really come to terms with our body shapes (It requires standing in front of a full-length mirror, naked, for a very long time. I realize this can be a painful process for some, but it’s vital – you can do it!).

Too many people simply beg for comfort, thus the oversized sweatpants and t-shirts that blast into our field of vision daily. My personal philosophy is this: if your goal when dressing is to feel as if you never got out of bed, then don’t -get out of bed, that is.

Additionally, there are no fewer falsehoods with apparel than that it is too small. I don’t know anyone who finds sausage casings attractive. Actually, it’s visually painful to see a woman bursting from her clothes.

Know your proportions and work with them. If you don’t know your proportions, call me!

Have a hairstyle that is flattering to some and offensive to few – Amy Sedaris.

I included this quote because it makes me giggle. However, unflattering hairstyles are no laughing matter, nor are untended nails. Spend some money and invest in a good haircut and weekly manis/pedis. This surely ups your style quotient.

When in doubt, wear red – Bill Blass. Not if it doesn’t suit you – Trinny Woodall and Susannah Constantine.

We take color for granted. Not everyone can wear every color of the rainbow. Certain hues may appear too harsh or wash us out completely. Know your colors! And if you don’t know your colors, revisit what I said about proportions.

You can’t have style without being inspired – Isaac Mizrahi

The first step toward style is knowing who you really are, and know what gets you going. Find a style role model (mine are Jackie Kennedy and Audrey Hepburn). Before dressing each day, ask yourself, “Would Jackie wear this?” or “Would Audrey pair this belt with those shoes?” Study your role model diligently, and try to think like her. If your role model has ever appeared on reality TV, or in public without her underwear, please reconsider your choice.

Evolving your style is good for your psyche. Knowing yourself and dressing the part results in sheer fabulousness in all areas of your life, as far as I’m concerned. Simon Doonan asks, “Why wouldn’t you want to be one of the fabulous people, the life-enhancers, the people who look interesting and smell luscious and dare to be gorgeously more fascinating than their neighbors?”

Well, why wouldn’t you?

Friday, January 8, 2010

The Role of a Role Model

In one of those sad magazines I’m addicted to, I happened upon an interview with actress Megan Mullally, who portrayed the awful – and awfully funny – Karen Walker on Will and Grace. In the article, Ms. Mullally recalled a fan who joyfully told her that people often compare her to Karen. Ms. Mullally’s response: why on earth would you want them to do that?

For those of you who didn’t watch the show, Karen Walker was an uber-rich alcoholic, pill-popping, mean-spirited woman. She did, however, spout off some of the show’s most memorable and hilarious lines – the character’s only saving grace. I say character because that’s what she was: a work of fiction, the creation of someone else’s imagination.

She was not, nor ever should be, considered a role model.

A role model must be someone we admire and whose traits we strive to adopt as our own. We should feel some sort of connection to our role model. Sure, we can select a fictional role model, so long as she possesses something that’s real -compassion, wit, charm, etc. We must prepare ourselves, though, for any fall-out that might occur should we place certain expectations upon our selection.

Years ago, after the release of Bridget Jones’ Diary, several women I know jumped on the Bridget bandwagon. They felt connected to her because Bridget was a ‘real woman’ who struggled with the same issues that they did: social-awkwardness, dating, weight struggles, etc. Bridget gave them hope that they, too, would find their Mark Darcy (smart, handsome, charming). Problems arose, however, when Mark Darcy didn’t show (one friend called me in tears upon discovering that Colin Firth, the actor who portrayed Mark, was actually married to the absolutely stunning Italian filmmaker, Livia Giuggioli). I gently explained the difference between movies and real-life. In real-life, Bridget never would have stood a chance with Mark – harsh, but true.

Let’s keep an element of reality with regard to our role models, and focus only on those characteristics toward which we aspire. Let those characteristics include charm, grace, and intelligence. Strive to find someone who contributes positively to society. Strive to find someone who’s never appeared on reality TV. Strive always to be your best, for you may very well wind up being someone else’s role model someday.

Monday, January 4, 2010

They Say It's Your Birthday....

Success is like reaching an important birthday and finding you're exactly the same. ~ Audrey Hepburn

I think far too much hoopla surrounds birthdays. I’m not just saying that because I’m celebrating one today. ‘A big one’, some call it. It’s my fortieth one, and I’m quite happy it’s here.

People, particularly women, I believe, get too hooked on a number. I know a lot of gals who break down upon turning 40. Perhaps they feel as if they’ve lost their looks, youth, vitality, or just lost out on some grand opportunity that they’ll never stumble upon again. We live in a youth-obsessed society: fashion…entertainment…it’s all geared for a younger crowd. I’m fine with it, though. I’ve no desire to dress like a teen, fill my face with toxins, and attempt to act younger than my years. (Side note: I’ve no problem with Botox; in fact, I may take the plunge – ever so gingerly – someday…just not now! I also don’t buy Demi Moore’s recent proclamation that she’s never had any work done. If you’re going to do it, own up to it!)

A number doesn’t change anything. A friend called me the day after her fortieth birthday party in tears: she felt the same as she did before her birthday. “I just thought things would be a lot different,” she cried. “Why?” I asked. “Well, I don’t know. It just seemed like a big deal, and everyone makes a big deal of it.”

And that is where many of us lose sight. We naturally assume that something magical happens once we reach a certain age. We fail to realize that we must make the magic happen.

Whoever, in middle age, attempts to realize the wishes and hopes of his early youth, invariably deceives himself. Each ten years of a man's life has its own fortunes, its own hopes, its own desires. ~ Goethe

Regret, too, rears its ugly head for some of us on our birthday. We fear we’ve missed out, that ‘life is passing us by,’ and such. That’s why I tell every twenty-something I know to get out and get to living. Have your fun. Make your mistakes. Wait a while to settle down. Get it all out of your system. I certainly had my fun, but I wouldn’t go back to my twenties for anything.

With experience comes confidence, and many of us – again, particularly women- struggle with confidence. We’re too concerned with the outside stuff (how we look, what we own, how others’ feel about us) to take a look inward and really reflect on who we are and what we want out of life. That’s why I tell every thirty-something I know to settle down now, focus on what you truly want out of life, and get your priorities straight.

The first forty years of life give us the text; the next thirty supply the commentary on it. ~ Schopenhauer

I’ve been incredibly lucky these past forty years. My parents raised me with a strong work ethic and taught me the concept of gratitude. I’ve pursued and even found success with various careers (radio disc jockey, television news producer, school teacher, image consultant). I married a wonderful man who has positively influenced me in more ways than I can count. I’ve learned from some amazing mentors, and I’ve learned an awful lot, too, from people who bungle even the simplest task. I’ve traveled to oh-so-many amazing places (England, France, Spain, Italy, Greece, to name a few). Not bad for a girl from Dimmitt, TX!

So I must say, these last 40 years have proven to be quite a ride. I’m quite excited to see what the next 40 years will bring!