Saturday, November 27, 2010


Now that the hoopla surrounding Black Friday has died down – a bit – I think it’s time for us all to sit down, have a re-think, and really take a moment to prioritize our values.

Priorities… values…two concepts that many folks have tossed out the window, it seems.

I’m all for saving a buck, but at what cost? Do we really need to drag our behinds out of bed, don a ball cap and sad track suit, and hit the stores at 3AM?


Nobody needs anymore stuff.

Gadgets, gizmos, and bright shiny things ain’t what it’s all about.

It’s about connecting with one another. It’s about taking care of ourselves so that we may take care of our loved ones. It’s about realizing that everything we need already exists inside of us – if we take a moment away from the media-driven ‘you’ve got to have this or you’re a total loser’ mentality to find it.

Stuff is merely our egos talking.

Every day is Black Friday for those-so-many souls in our society who don’t have enough to eat. Nobody gives two hoots and a holler for gigantic TV’s when they have no home to hang them in. Neglected and abandoned children prefer a hug and a little quality time with some caring soul as opposed to a hand-held device that makes noise. Instead of behaving like untrained animals, why aren’t we spending a little more time helping God’s other creatures find good, loving homes?

Now, hold on there, Ms. Elegant’ you may be interjecting right about now, ‘aren’t you that same gal who stresses the importance of clothing…of surrounding ourselves with lovely things….and all that jazz?’ Yes, that’s me, and I’ll gladly share a little insight as to the workings of the fabulous little universe I’ve created for myself:

I don’t own that many clothes. People are quite shocked at the few items I actually have hanging in my closet. I don’t buy it, unless I know I’ll wear it – a lot! God gave me the talent to mix and match, so I ran with it. I drive a ten year old car that doesn’t look so great any more. It gets me from Point A to Point B, and that’s really all I’m concerned about. My home isn’t large, but it serves its purpose for the two people and the two very spoiled cats who inhabit it. We don’t have a lot of junk taking up space on walls or on shelves. The couch has definitely seen better days, but we all wind up snuggled happily together on it each evening. Nobody’s complaining. My house is clean, peaceful, and full of love and laughter, and that’s really what matters most to me.

Now, didn’t you even make an offer on Black Friday for your Facebook friends? Something about saving a little money on those Holiday Style Certificates you keep harping about?’

Yes, I did, for two reasons: I like to offer discounts to clients and future clients when I can. My main intention, however, was to keep at least one person from hitting the stores before the crack of dawn. In my humble opinion, knowing how to put an outfit together is a skill that will last a lifetime. It’s a confidence-builder, and will carry a person much farther in life than a twenty dollar bracelet marked down forty percent of its original cost.

The news reported that a local Wal-Mart lost power for a few hours on Black Friday. I can’t help but think that it may have been God sending us a message. Let’s take heed of these little signs, my friends, before it’s lights out – for good.

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

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Tis the Season

And so it begins.

Here we find ourselves, a week shy of Thanksgiving, and already the holiday spirit has grasped us. Many shopping centers, aglow with twinkles, blast Christmas tunes in order to add to the seasonal vibe.

I’ve a bad feeling, though, that the seasonal vibe has devolved into something less-than-joyful, for I’ve heard too many complaints already about the headache of shopping, the headache of family, and the fears of actually losing one’s house in order to buy his kid the latest high-tech gadget.

Enough, already, I elegantly and humbly ask of you.

It’s the time of year in which we first and foremost must count our blessings. Be grateful for all those folks on your shopping list; there are so many among us who have no one to shop for this time of year.

Oh, and I’ll let you in on a little secret: those on your list will benefit far more from a small gift from your heart rather than something bright and shiny that will add undue stress on you. I hope to never receive something that would put my loved ones into debt (even though I put a $1600 couch on my Amazon wish list. I did it to make my sister laugh. She did. My job is done). I have far more than I’ll ever need, and really the greatest gift I could ever receive is the opportunity to spend time, good cheer, and a lot of laughs with my loved ones this time of year (preferably on a new couch, so if you’d like to contribute to the Beth Newman Sofa Fund, feel free to do so. I’m kidding, of course. My current couch, though old and cat-clawed, suits me just fine.)

Commericialism has gotten so out of hand, particularly around the holidays. A dear friend of mine once told me that she’d informed her children, when they were small, that they could have anything they wanted for Christmas provided they didn’t see an ad for it on television. As a result, her children asked for musical instruments, art supplies, and such, and grew into three of the most loving, giving, and interesting young adults I know.

Perhaps if we related the concept of charity early on to our children, their desire for so much stuff would dwindle. Perhaps if we, ourselves, had been denied a few things as children, we’d be a little more focused on the actual reason for the season.

Here’s my challenge for you, dear friends: this year, take a portion of what you’d normally spend on loved ones and give it to charity. Spend some of that holiday shopping time volunteering in a homeless shelter, animal shelter, or senior citizen facility. Make the kids come along with you so that they can see just how good you’ve got it.

Heck, make this a practice throughout the year.

Remember, it’s all about our feelings and intentions this time of year. Stress, resentment, and worry should never factor into it all.

I truly wish for each of you a holiday season full of love, faith, and charity.

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

Friday, November 5, 2010

Project REALLY?!

I’ve had a week to mull it over, and I’m still feeling no better about Gretchen Jones’ win on Project Runway.

Aside from the fact that I didn’t particularly care for her designs (hippie mama just isn’t my bag), I was actually more upset that questionable behavior and a generally snarky attitude reigned over the acceptance, support, and encouragement demonstrated by the other contestants.

I truly believe in having confidence in oneself, but at what cost?

True, Gretchen won a couple of the challenges early in the season. From that point, she adopted the role of Queen Bee in the workroom.

Yet it was the team challenge in which Gretchen displayed some truly appalling behavior. Not only did she coerce team members into following her lead, she then proceeded to throw them under the bus when the judges questioned them about their poor designs. This came right after Gretchen made them all vow to stick together in front of the judges.

This is the only episode I can recall in which Tim Gunn actually scolded a designer. He didn’t hold back and, according to his vlog the next day, Gretchen went to the producers insisting on a private (i.e. - not intended for television) meeting with Tim. The producers informed her that any meetings would be filmed, and Gretchen dropped the subject.

Another incident that stands out regarding Gretchen’s behavior occurred when the designers were instructed to create a new look for Heidi Klum’s sportswear line, available on Amazon. Gretchen created an item that wasn’t even close to what the line offers. In the workroom, Heidi questioned Gretchen’s choices, and Gretchen informed Heidi that her line was missing something. That’s basically telling the boss that her vision just isn’t quite good enough. Big mistake.

Oh, and let’s not forget the fabric tossing scene, either. Throwing things is a no-no, in my humble opinion.

Another thing that resonated with me with regard to Gretchen was how often she mentioned that she needed to win because she needed money. Of course, that’s the point of the whole contest, but I don’t recall any other designers speaking about their financial woes. Personally, I think talking about money is crass.

Although I don’t agree with the final decision of the judges, I do accept it. I’m not taking to the forums to complain, nor am I going on Michael Kors' Facebook page in order to tell him he’s an idiot, as hundreds have done. I’ll just muse elegantly about this one time.

I take comfort in this: good deeds, kind words, humility, and hard work will always overcome in the end. Sure, Gretchen may have won this season, but time will tell just how far she really goes. I am hopeful that if we do see more of Gretchen, it will be a much kinder, softer version of the one we met on the show.

I also take comfort in the fact that some past Project Runway designers who did not come away with the top prize have created quite successful careers for themselves, such as Austin Scarlett and Santino Rice. With that in mind, I think we’ll see much more of Mondo Guerra.

And if I’m being brutally honest, the only winner of Project Runway who’s consistently kept his name in the magazines and his clothes on the runway is the fabulous Christian Siriano. I looked back over the list of winners, and I can’t recall most of them.

Next season, I’m hopeful that each contestant is required to read Tim Gunn’s latest book, Gunn’s Golden Rules. It might make for a much nicer season for them, the judges, and us viewers.

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