Luxury Basics Blog
45 post(s) found
I am encouraged by so many good things happening in our economy, at long last. Now that it's Spring, for me, it's time to start looking in the closet and reevaluating what belongs and what doesn't. That's my next task. In my case, the closet, which my father refers to as "the tunnel" has a myriad of opportunities to go back in time - if I'm in the mood. If not, those beautiful clothes of a few years gone by continue to pile up and suck up the room that my new additions need. Every season, it's like this. What to keep, what to give up. For some, this process is not a big deal. For others, like me, there may be history in the clothes that I am not yet ready to part with. I'm sure that I do hold on too long to some things, knowing full well that I won't wear them again, yet I still want to see them in my closet. I try to choose a morning to start the "repurposing" process. It can sometimes take a few mornings to complete. Right now, I'm still sitting with all of my dark winter clothes in front of me, with 70 degree weather and sunshine outside. I'm very aware of my ambivalence about this closet purge - not quite ready to change. Maybe tomorrow morning. I have been dreaming of new jewelry designs, lately - surely a good sign that my optimism is returning. I'm looking forward to a much better second half of this year.
It's been a long slog through the past year of the economic roller coaster. Over time, it becomes difficult to live in the dark places of gloom and doom. I know that for many, things have only changed for the worst. For many others, things were never that bad but the mood darkened even the lightest of times. Like so many things in life, acting the part can often get you the part. Most people in our country pulled back drastically in spending, (including those that really didn't need to) and made things even worse. Understandable, we were all worried that the country was going down the poop chute. We pulled back and then almost drove it down that chute. In the most broad sense, our country has been traumatized with a severe loss of economic wealth and up until Christmas was acting like Scrooge on steroids. Thankfully, Christmas brought out a little reaching into the pocket, thereby rescuing what was looking like a retail debacle, with reverberations throughout the rest of the economy. Listening to the pundits, both economic and otherwise, it appears likely that our recovery will neither be easy, smooth nor fast. Instead, we are looking at a bumpy ride over the next couple years, as the country struggles to resorb lost jobs, lost industries and lost opportunities. Day to day may feel pretty similar to what it has been - mixed news on the economic front combined with the assorted political stalemates that are paralyzing our country. In spite of the upcoming uncertainty, there still can be room for a small bit of cheer. We have somehow averted cataclysmic disaster economically and we are on the long, windy road back from the brink. This is the situation now - better than the situation before. So what do we do about it? Try to develop a more positive attitude to the present and near term. Thinking positively will help in every way. I am dusting off my jewelry and creating some new designs. I will start to move my inventory into stores shortly. I am thinking creatively about my business prospects and considering new approaches. If the worst is behind us, then we must conclude that good is ahead of us. Many very successful businesses began at low points of our economy and built from there. It can be done. Just not overnight. So we need to get some sleep and start putting the pieces back together slowly and steadily, better than before. That's what I'm trying to do now and I feel better already.
I'm sure that this Chistmas, like the one that passed in '08, will long be remembered - for the misery, the uncertainty and the wholehearted lack of enthusiasm blanketing the holidays. Yes, I have been out at the malls, I have visited the main shopping streets in Pasadena, Beverly Hills, Santa Monica. I have heard the Christmas music piped in through the trees on the street and in the malls throughout. Looking around, though, without the music prompt and just looking at the faces of strangers passing me by, I get the distinct, gut feeling that many are deer in the headlights, frozen in Christmas space, wondering what to do next. It is definitely an anxious time for many. For some, it is even worse. Yes, I know that a large percentage of us are still fine, thank you and managing quite well. I'm glad. We can't all go to hell in a handbasket. Those of us that are better off need to step up this holiday season to contribute to the welfare of many who are hungry and unemployed. This season, I suggest thinking and doing something about what the Christmas holiday actually stands for - goodwill to others. Sorry to say, but lately I notice a profound lack of even basic consideration of others - in stores, on the street, everywhere. It's time to take a step back and consider that all of us occupy a place in this society. Common regard for others in the form of courtesy and respect is what a civilized society practices. I do hope for a better year in 2010. I know that I will have a part in making it better by doing and being the best person I can be. Difficult to do, but if you take it one day at a time, it is easier. Have a joyful and healthy holiday season. Here's to a more prosperous and stable new year.
Actually, shopping isn't the real issue, it's buying. So, rephrased - to buy or not to buy? My new motto for this coming Fall and Holiday season is, "Buy better, buy fewer." But, then again, I have always been a quality buyer. Over time, you do wind up with quantity, yes, but all of what you have is quality pieces. As a classic Midwesterner, this has been the approach that made the most sense. I really hate the idea of buying something, spending real money on it, and then essentially throwing it away because it was either too trendy and looked stupid two seasons later, or it was poorly made and didn't survive a couple of cleanings. Or, in the case of jewelry, was a piece of costume junk that broke or bled black or green on my wrist, neck, shirt or fingers. So, my interpretation of all of the financial calamity is to make more out of less. Pay off the credit cards and make a new habit of being highly discriminating in your purchasing behavior. I notice that most of the fashion magazines are focusing once again on investment dressing. Further, it appears that many of the manufacturers are starting to ever so quietly, ease up on pricing. The designer discount sites on the Web seem to be generating very substantial sales and that's good, because it does send a message to the designers that women don't want to be suckers. Last year, women sent the message that they were finished with stratospheric pricing and stopped spending (some had to, others simply got tired of being gouged). Even I was shocked at some of the typical markups on some of these items. Very excessive. On the other hand, there is so much competition and so much talent out there, in order to make a living, many thought that high prices would be a safer bet. Last year, that philosophy stopped working. So, it's on to a new season of still very expensive clothing, shoes and purses, minus a few key players in each category. Jewelry has taken the biggest beating, I think, because it is so unnecessary. I am hopeful that some rationality will ultimately prevail in the fashion industry, though I believe it will take time to recalibrate the designers, manufacturers and retailers to the "new normal" in women's purchasing behavior. It's been a wild ride this past year. On September 15th last year, the market began its collapse, and the world since then has changed dramatically, maybe permanently. Fingers crossed on getting through the rest of this year without more of the same.
I haven't been writing too much on this (mostly) unread blog, mainly because the "externals" have been so bleak. The world news, the economic news, the California strife etc. have not been very encouraging for the Luxury Basics jewelry business. Many of the fashion magazines have gotten the message that spending for frivolous items has gone by the boards - probably for a long time to come. Maybe this is the new normal, watching what and how you spend and making sure that you put something away for that rainy day. This behavior certainly characterized my childhood and growing up years. Materialism was not the center of our existence - not that we didn't crave certain items. We saved for them. Silly notion. I guess that has been where I have been coming from all along with my premise for this jewelry business. Buy quality. Real gold, real pearls, real jewels. Invest in the things that you really love and leave the rest behind. Of course, buying what's in fashion now is completely fun - but it's also an expensive habit to maintain. What's in today will be out tomorrow. Classic is always in, though not as much fun. Much easier on the pocketbook, though, and easier on your head when you go to sleep at night. Fewer wrinkles of worry. Less Botox. See, it does make sense. Adjusting your head to the new reality of limits will result in less worry and over time, more hopefulness about the future and your ability to be happy and satisfied with the life you are living.
Of course I love fashion. I love to see it in magazines, on the street, on cool-looking, well-put-together women and everywhere I go. This Spring's fashions mainly win my vote, with a couple of qualifications. First, the shoes. The platforms, hidden or obvious, and the sky high heels to me, at least, are at best, whimsical. They are only made for viewing, certainly not for walking more than a few steps, mainly for sitting, I think. The prices are as high as the heels, stratospheric - certainly hard to rationalize as a must-have wardrobe addition, given the limited use. I could be wrong, but it seems to me that the whole lot, including those sandals with a grid going up your ankle, can only last a season. By Fall, they should be well hidden in the back of the closet, if you broke down and got a pair. The same with the jewelry. So big, so chunky, most of it so unattractive, too heavy. Some of the pieces out there in the magazines and stores are so large and heavy, you would need to be a giraffe to comfortably wear them. Or maybe Queen Victoria, who was prone to large pieces. I am hoping that the oversized, excessively decorated pieces will also find their way to the back of the drawer by the end of the season, as well. I find that while being part of the fashion business, I still need to be true to my instincts and my talents as to what really, truly looks good on a woman. It's one thing to want to look fashionable and stylish, it's another to wear something that actually detracts from your attractiveness or looks just plain ugly and inappropriate. I believe that it's important to keep in mind what you are trying to achieve with any particular look. Also, it's important to keep in mind that others will be looking at you and forming opinions, just like they did of Susan Boyle last week. She had the opportunity to change people's minds when she performed. You may not get the chance. I do respect the talent and creativity out there in the fashion world. Not everything works. I don't think that the men designing the 7 inch shoes would be caught dead in them. Nor would the men designers of the heavy jewelry put one of those necklaces on for more than a second. It feels like wearing a ball and chain around your neck. I know that fashion can require sacrifice. Just have some perspective.
Such a horrible last three or four months, at least as we move into March, the days will get longer and things will start to bloom. Spring is really my favorite time of year. So what is there to say? I have been conspicuously absent these last couple of months, basically trying to assess the local, national and world situation, on an absolute basis and of course, on how it all relates to me. We all know what the news is. The question that remains is how to maintain a positive attitude, generate enthusiasm and move forward? Challenging.........but I am trying. I have created a new section in my webstore - The Must Have Work Week Wardrobe - where I have boiled down the items from my various Collections to the essential few that will take the working woman through her week, out at night and traveling. You can find it on the Home Page and click from there. I will be sending out a Press Release shortly. I'm still creating new pieces and have a fresh Collection waiting to be photographed. Maybe in late spring or early summer. So many of my friends are experiencing the trauma of the downturn emotionally, though not necessarily financially, the timing just doesn't feel right yet. In the meantime, this whole economic nightmare gives us all a chance to cultivate the notion of living each day as it comes and celebrating the small as well as the big. Spending a little money, or giving a little money (or both) also wouldn't hurt. What's important now is to take the control of the things that are within your control and stop ruminating over those that are beyond your control. Stay focused on the good, watch less news on TV, and hopefully, by the end of this year, things will start to improve. Fingers crossed.
The old saws of "counting your blessings" and "be thankful for what you have" may fall a lot short for many people this holiday season. It can be hard to live on lemonade when life hands you all those lemons. And for those of us that are more fortunate at this moment in time (and we all know that this condition can change) it is up to us to reach out to those that are paddling in a boat with some holes in it. If we all do a little, then the misery may moderate, at least a bit. A good thing to remember is that the ecomony does swing back and forth. Since we are currently in the "swing back" mode, it is really critical to keep in mind that at some point in time the economy will "swing forth." We just hope that the swing forth stage happens in our lifetime! But I believe that it will. So, instead of dwelling on the negatives this holiday season, and surely, there is plenty that we can dwell on there - I think it would be time better spent to assess how to "do your life different" this coming year. Focusing on the qualitative in life, not the quantitative. Deriving pleasure and satisfaction from good deeds instead of good purchases. Good purchases are fine, but the satisfaction is fleeting. I'm talking about sustaining an interest and involvement in an activity that generates the kind of satisfaction that is good for your soul and spirit and makes you feel good about yourself. So get out there and buy a toy for a child and drop it off at your nearest fire station, grocery store or police station. That's a very cost effective way of starting the season out right and paving the way for a new beginnning in January.
There is so much news out there, it's enough to make you gasp for breath. We have a new, historic President, an economy on the skids and heading further south, a world economy heading in the same direction as us, and lots of the same terrorist threats, ad nauseum. So what's a person like me, in the jewelry business, to do? Good question - I ask it of myself every day. Clearly, jewelry is a luxury, not a necessity. Further, adding to your jewelry wardrobe is, at best, a low priority. Wealthier customers may not feel like the timing is right to go out and blow thousands of dollars on baubles to wear to downscaled parties this season. How, then, to justify or rationalize an expenditure that you working women out there who are doing well, thank goodness, would like to entertain in the jewelry department? I will offer this. Buy what you really like and will use and enjoy for years to come. Buy things that are versatile, and can be worn in a multitude of settings. Try to avoid buying super trendy pieces that will look like yesterday's news by next month. Focus on pieces that don't repeat what you already have at home. Stay within your budget. There. Do you feel better? What I'm trying to say is, don't throw your hardearned money away on stuff that will just sit in the drawer. We all have tons of that. What we need to do now is use this downturn to rid ourselves of all the stuff that we have and don't need or use. In our closets, in our garages, in our drawers - you get the picture. We can and should donate these former treasures to others that are is greater need right now. Then, when you can finally see light in between the hangers in the closet, and space in the drawer, give some careful thought to the life that you are living - the lifestyle, the day to day. Try being realistic about what you really need to live your life happily and then try being practical about making your holiday list. Not an easy task, I know. Still, I think the message of what has occurred in our economy today, blended together with the issues relating to our planet should provide the underpinning of a new philosophy of less consumption, greater appreciation of the intangibles in life (love, friendship, family) and a giving an outstetched arm to others that could benefit. Buy less, enjoy it more.
I just got back from a quick trip to Neimans to pick up some skin cream (Darphin) that was on a special. Of course, I had a few spare minutes, so I circled around the first floor, with particular attention to the jewelry section, natch. I am happy to report that there was an unbelievable amount of gorgeous jewelry there - looked to me like the department had expanded, yet again. David Yurman had his own section of at least 6 cases, brimming with his signature stuff. Steven Dweck's star must be falling, since his once prominent place front and center, was now given to Ippolita. Dweck was now in the back, with only two cases. So it goes in the jewelry wars. One thing that I noticed right away that wasn't falling - prices. I guess the sky's the limit these days, for semi-precious jewelry. I didn't even make it to the back corner to look at the fine jewelry, I was too dizzy with sensory overload to have taken it in. The styles, the colors of the stones, the gold (mostly) the gigantic Tahitian pearls, the big, the small....I tried to absorb it all. One problem that I didn't have today, was getting a close look at each counter. It seemed like quite a while passed before I noticed another person in the whole department. A man on his lunch break, likely on the hunt, though he didn't look like today would be the day. Things are very quiet. With the economy in shambles and the election impending, it's hard to concentrate on bling. Still, there are many of us still lucky to be in the workforce, toiling away. Once in a while, a little reward is necessary, to remind us that we still count, at least to ourselves. We need to be prudent with our hard earned dollars, not waste them or throw them away on bling or things that don't matter or that only last (or look good) for a season. I noticed in the paper today that a woman was promoted to the CEO position of DuPont, a Fortune 100 corporation. Her picture showed her in a big black pearl necklace with matching black pearl earrings. Classic, power jewelry that won't need to be tossed next year, or any year. It's important to periodically be reminded that investments come in many forms. By investing in your personal style, you are also communicating to others that you are intentional, that you are responsible and pay attention to both detail and your whole look. In short, you are in control. Others will sense your aura of authority and respond. Something to keep in mind this season when shopping. Luxury Basics..........work.
Segment 1 came out last week on YouTube and is getting some decent viewership. We just added Segment 2 this afternoon, so if you have a spare 6 minutes and 50 seconds, you will be able to see the whole thing in one sitting! More later. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=69W360IjBus.
That's what I did this morning when I sent out the link to my new interview series on YouTube, called Fashion Styling Secrets from Zane's Sex Chronicles. In the 4 segment series, I interview Moonglow, the talented Costume Designer from the series who did a really terrific job, given the usual constraints of budget and deadlines. Luxury Basics (my jewelry) was prominently featured on two of the main characters in the series, which will air on Cinemax on October 10th. Filming the series, which we did in a great new restaurant and bar, The Oak Room Bistro and Bar, managed by my friend Sean Murphy, was a lot of fun, considering we're rank amateurs. Of course, I could use voice lessons and acting lessons if I want to continue to have lunch in this town, but since this is my first go at it, I do admit to a wee bit of pleasure that it isn't a total bomb. (Although if it was, I promised Moonglow that it would never see the light of day) The funny thing about the Zane's series is that, completely unprompted by me, Moonglow put my jewelry on the main character, who plays a CEO, and one of her best friends, who plays a doctor. He was completely unaware that I am designing for the working and professional woman, (as well as the "professionally retired woman") but I guess the jewelry spoke to him and guided him to the right necks, as it were. This season will be a busy one for me, thankfully. We'll see how this first segment does and we will be releasing one per week leading up to the show. I'm lucky to have Cheri Gerson working with me now in Marketing and Communications - so I will get getting the message out, finally, that Luxury Basics is ready and open for business. That's what this whole thing is about. I have many other things going on in the pipeline, so stay tuned. If you have a minute, tune in to my first performance. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=69W360IjBus
Considering it's still August, my life has suddenly shifted into the faster lane. I have been keeping a few important developments under my hat, so to speak, but very shortly, next week, to be exact, I plan to break out Luxury Basics from its semi-obscure state. As today's title may suggest, it has to do with TV. Let me not get ahead of myself. First, I can tell about the fun I had last week at the filming of a pilot online celebrity show, produced by two quite talented and savvy guys - Michael Yakovchik and Marcelo Alvarez, of the up and coming production company, http://www.greytv.com/ with whom I have had the recent pleasure of working with on another project. (To be announced) The star of this new show is Lauren Bergfeld, an adorable, infectiously happy young woman well connected in celebrity-land. Naturally, when I heard about the show, I offered to bring "a little something" for Lauren to wear with her debut outfit. Actually, not knowing what she would select to wear, I brought a wide assortment (that I could barely lift!). Once she settled on her look, her choice of jewelry was inspired. I think she looked great! Hope you agree.
No, it's not my favorite month. Beside the overall weather issues, which I try to dodge and deny, there seems to be a malaise that sets in with just about everyone I know. The accumulated exhaustion of the beginning of the year that combines with the knowledge that it will all crank up again the day after Labor Day? Maybe. The fact that half of everyone you know is vacationing somewhere and the other half has their brain on vacation? Maybe. August has never really been known as a month of accomplishment, so trying to get something done is challenging, at best. I have been working on a number of different projects, in the multi-tasking model, and hopefully, they will all start to come together - though setting an August deadline seems stupid, at best. Soon I will be working on some creative initiatives designed to enlarge the general audience for my jewelry. Along these lines, there has been some good news - my jewelry will be featured on an upcoming HBO series called, Zane's Sex Chronicles, based on a popular book of the same name. There are more things happening in the wings that I will announce in early September, when the general population awakens from the August stupor. In the meantime, enjoy the sleepwalk through the rest of the month and stay tuned.
I was thrilled to get an email from Bahia, the gorgeous dark haired model on my website, informing me that she was a contestant on the new show "She's Got the Look." Essentially, the show is America's Top Model for women over 35. It debuted last Wednesday night on TV Land channel and the second segment was last night. Out of thousands of women who tried out, Bahia was in the first cull of 20, then blew through to the top ten. How I met Bahia is a small story in itself. I was meeting a photographer for the first time at a local coffee shop in Beverly Hills. I was bringing my jewelry and we were going to talk about a photo shoot for my website. He brought his girlfriend. Just as I was entering the door, I noticed sitting outside, Bahia, having a cup of coffee. I was truly captivated by her natural beauty in repose. I told the photographer and his girlfriend that the woman outside seemed to me, to be the essence of my jewelry designs and a beautiful representative of my company. In short order, the photographer's girlfriend walked out, introduced herself, popped the question and soon she was at our table, looking over my things. We have kept in loose contact since the original photo shoot, going our separate ways. At this juncture, though, I want to offer her all of the support that I can. She's not only a natural beauty, but a beautiful person as well. I believe that her inner beauty shows through, both on camera and off. Tune in next Wednesday night and follow the saga of these women contestants. You know who I'm cheering for!!
Semi Precious Jewelry is going to be a new area i intend to cover in upcoming blog postings. It will be very interesting to see the new trends developing out of India as they try to compete with the Italians. Stay tuned.
I am a pearl girl - anyone can tell that from visiting my webstore. Pearls are natural, one of a kind and have a beautiful feel in your hands, like nothing else. Although I have an affinity for most pearls, including the South Sea and baroque variety, there is a special place in my design heart for coin pearls. To me, they are very cool. They can be large or small and not quite round - but they look, well, counter- intuitive. Pearls are supposed to be round or at least round-ish, right? But here is something with the pearl luster but not the shape. Somehow, it doesn't bother me. I love the design opportunities they offer, I love the fact that they are really real. In June, I am hoping that my refreshed webstore will be finished and I will be showing a number of new designs, of course, a number of them with coin pearls of all colors and sizes and shapes. Stay tuned.
This post and the next couple of posts are connected with reaching out to more people who are shopping on the web. Many of you who are visiting my webstore may not be aware that I have many Collections now available, including a very beautiful and versatile Collection of Thai Silver designs. I am in the process of remodeling my webstore to make it even better for navigation. Just a word on Thai silver. It's hand made by a Hill tribe in Northern Thailand. The silver itself is between 97 to 99% pure fine silver. Sterling is 92.5% silver for comparison. As a result, the Thai silver has more luster, doesn't tarnish as quickly and it has a better heft. All around, a beautiful look. When you get back to my site, click on Product Line, then Thai Silver.
It is a lot more expensive to buy, we can all agree on that. Still, the gold jewelry which you can find in my webstore is 14k, which means that it doesn't fade or wear out like gold filled or gold vermeil. Because the cost of gold has more than tripled in the past couple of years, many designers have substituted the lesser quality and charged the same price as what gold used to cost. It's really not right - since consumers aren't really explained the difference. Gold jewelry, when it is 14k, will last a lifetime. Yes, it is expensive, but you won't have to throw it away after a year or two. Now, it's an investment. Because the price of gold has reached over $1000 per troy ounce, many women are taking their old gold jewelry that they don't wear anymore (maybe their grandmother's) and selling it for gold value. You see, there is a residual benefit to owning something of value. The other stuff, the gold filled, gold vermeil, etc. is actually valued only for the design, and for as long as the gold veneer lasts. Take a look at the modern pieces that I have in my webstore. They could be handed down or melted down - either way!
I've been busy lately. Not that I"m not usually busy, (of course, I am) but lately, busier than I would like. I have just designed a new men's line of "neckwear" and "wristwear" which is now displayed in the London Hotel (previously the Bel Age in West Hollywood) and will be featured on the men's side of my website by early May. (hopefully) I have also been developing a new collection for women that I haven't named yet. Actually, I haven't thought of a name for the men's line either. I'm working on both, even as I'm sitting here. Still in the mode of considering my life ( and the lives of my friends and loved ones) refracted against the daily grind for the masses. Naturally, some days, I feel like one of the masses, others I feel grateful not to be one. The other night, walking the dog with my husband, (a nightly occurrence) I just spontaneously said, "I regret that we're not ultra rich, but I rejoice that we're not poor." Lately, that's my perspective. And there's always the unexpected death of a friend"s close friend (yesterday) that concentrates ones thoughts to the essential ones. The redundant, not so comforting anymore, counting one's blessings. Doesn't work like the charm it once did. Could be I'm getting older, or just wiser to the game of life. If you live long enough and pay attention, at times, a person can see 20 -20. Clearly, that is. Hard to keep these moments of clarity uppermost in your consciousness. But I try. It's time to inject my sense of humor into this un-commented-upon blog. I promise, for next time.
Change is in the news these days. For the Democrats, change seems to be the imperative now. Change the ruling party in Washington, change the direction of the country, change the tone of government in general. For the Republicans, it's a little more difficult to assess what change might mean. Change President's, yes. Change policies, not so sure. Change the direction of the country, maybe, depending on which candidate you may support. It's a little funny to me, (not funny ha-ha) that change has moved from a threatening and potentially negative concept to a very very positive concept in a short time, at least for the Democrats. Of course, change can exist on many levels. I was reading this morning on my Yahoo news about a 400 pound guy that finally decided to change the way he was living, since he was suffering badly from carrying around all of his extra weight. He began to walk each day for an hour and adjust his diet by restricting his carbohydrates. He literally walked off 100 pounds in seven months and utimately lost almost 200 pounds. He was quoted as saying that he will never allow himself to ever gain the weight back. We may tentatively conclude that he first, changed his mind about his eating and exercise habits, second, changed his behavior to be consistent with his mind change and third, changed his attitude to preclude falling back to his old condition. Change, it seems, by it's very nature, requires consistency over time. To achieve true change in anything, consistent follow through is a must. Change is challenging at best. A rejoinder that is ringing in my ear right now is the oft-quoted, "be careful what you wish for." I agree with the sentiment of this notion because, change, being a process, sets in motion a number of things pertaining to that change which may spin out of your control and result in unintended consequences (sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worse). The issue with a candidate that runs on a platform of change is that no matter how clearly enunciated that idea of change might be, effectuating that specific change in a dynamic environment of competing visions for that change, will almost certainly result in something altered from the original. And that may not be a bad thing. But we don't know. However, many people riding on the bandwagon right now are likely setting themselves up for disappointment. Now we come to the point of expectations. Because with change, there are expectations of what the change will be - will the change meet expectation, exceed expectation or fall short of expectation? I believe this is the real rub. If you knew what the result of the change would be, then you could make some kind of mental adjustment for it during the process. But that is not possible, since the process is dynamic and the outcome of the change can't really be accurately predicted. This, then, is the nature of our humanity and what confounds change and forces it to be exceedingly gradual, even when immediacy is dictated. (I'm thing about global warming here) We want resolution, most of us don't really like surprises, we want to know what happens next. This is hard. Look at the guy who decided to change his lifestyle in order to lose a vast amount of weight. He set in motion a number of changes in his life that likely infringed on others. He said so in this article. He thanked his family for allowing him to be selfish. To put his need to exercise for an hour each day or more, ahead of his children and his wife, who may have needed or wanted his company at that time. What if his family had not gone along? We might have thought ill of them, for not helping him to achieve better health, but they may have had their reasons, maybe even a few good reasons. They may have made the guy's decision difficult to implement, or guilt-tripped him, who knows? The point is, the guy set his plan in motion, and at that moment, lost control of all of the variables that would contribute to his success. He was lucky. He had a great outcome. Although to read the article, which states that he now exercises 2 to 3 hours a day, you might think that he has gone overboard and may be jeapardizing his family relationships with such a substantial dedication. Maybe his wife is now thinking, be careful what you wish for. On the national level, change sounds good right now. There's a lot of frustration and suffering out there that needs hope for the future. Whether that hope for the future can become tangible to the individual in a reasonably short period of time remains to be seen. We still have nearly a year left of the change we picked last time, twice. We must be careful in what we wish for.
I started the new year off with the news of the deaths of several wonderful people that I had the privilege of knowing and caring about for many years. On a more mundane level, over a two day period, my kitchen sink backed up, indifferent to Drano, and my roof sprung a major leak in my kitchen during a heavy storm, just as friends were arriving for dinner. There's nothing like death and finality to give context to your life and your petty woes. Which brings me to the topic of the day, actually, the topic of my every day, which is - making each day count for something.(Not just anything) Not so easy, this one more or less overarching goal of one's life, boiled down to chipping away at it, bit by bit, day by day. Yes, I do try. Some days I do better than others. Some days I try harder than others. Hell, just remembering to try can be elusive. The daily challenges are daunting. The detritus of a day can be wearing - kitchen sinks, roofs, running out of ink for the printer - you know the drill. These are not activities that can readily lend themselves to being elevated to some higher plane of philosophical meaning. Yes, I know it's all wrapped up in priorities - focus on the things that matter and the rest will "magically" take care of itself. To some small extent, this may be true. But there is still the need to eat, (not just me, but my family) to have clean clothes and a clean environment, a non leaking roof, etc. The simple stuff of life consumes a lot of time and energy. Yes, it does. Thankfully, I do have time left to dwell intermittently on the human condition. For example, why a mirror doesn't always reflect back accurately the image in front of it. Or, why so many people talk loudly on their cell phone about nothing in particular (at best) in the most crowded claustrophobic places. I try not to lose sleep over issues like these, but sometimes, it's hard. I can't figure people out these days. Somehow, looking around, I feel clueless about what I see. Partly, I'm a bit scared by it. Not recognizing anything inside the people I see wandering around my neighborhood mall. They look weird. Do I? I don't think I do, but then, they probably don't think they do either. When is the tatoo thing and the nose ring thing gonna get old, I wonder? What's going to replace it? I don't want to dwell on this subject too long. This is the part where I start realizing that I'm a grownup now and have the perspective of having "been there" myself, before. Easy to make a judgment, from a distance. So, I'm stuck with my life, like all of you are stuck with yours. I am going to try hard to keep my eyes open and my head up this year - a challenge for sure. And I will celebrate this crazy, stupid, ridiculously unfair, short term situation called life, for another year, in the absence of any better alternative. As the song goes, I will accentuate the positive...and try my best to do things positive because.......it's easier, and more fun, while it lasts. (Put that in your pipe and smoke it!)
Really, you can turn any activity into an anniversary occasion, as long as it repeats over some period of time. But let's be frank, some occasions are perhaps a bit more deserving of being commemorated, for better and sometimes, since you're counting, for not so better. For me, this 1st anniversary of the start of my business, Luxury Basics, is today, in the deserving category, but maybe not for the reasons a casual reader might expect. First anniversaries, you see, are way early in the game. Early in the game of knowing what you're doing, early in the game of being in the game, early in the game of your awareness of what the game actually is. All of these heretofore mentioned issues related to this game, as it gets defined, change over and over again, so next year, it may be that I'm still in the game, but differently. Who knows? Part of it is how you play your part in the game, how you learn your part in the game and then change your part, or how you define where you are in the game. It's very fluid, this game. It's not really about jewelry, as you might guess, although it appears that's what it's (the game) about. No, I would submit to you that any endeavor, whatever it is, if you're involved in it, being part of it and allowing it to be a part of you, is then, a reflection of you. Therefore, when anniversaries occur, (they sometimes arrive, or pass, depending on your point of view at the time), oftentimes there is an inclination or tendency to want to review, summarize, evaluate, take stock, or somehow mark the time as a stake in the ground for comparison before and after. After all, birthdays are anniversaries, and I had one of those recently, too. This is not the first business that I started from scratch, it's my second. The first one I started evolved into an investment banking business that became very successful and intermittently satisfying. I vaguely remember the passing of the first anniversary of that business. I was still clueless and struggling to pick my head up to see the real opportunities in front of me. This is actually one of the key conflicts. When you are actively engaged, your head is typically down, doing the work in front of you. But only when you can look up, can you begin to see what might be in front of you, a bit down the road, if only you could pay attention. I still don't have any idea how this new business will evolve. After all that I have experienced in starting and leading companies, there is still no shortcut available for that first year or so of being "head down" in the trenches. So, my head is up today, looking around. With the first year behind me, I can try to critically evaluate my progress at the same time as pushing ahead to the coming year with more and better thoughts about building my brand and my base. I have deliberately taken it slow - this creative side is still not fully me - but I am making progress. For example, I don't choke as often as I used to when I identify myself as a designer. Certainly a good and worthy sign. And my dreams are now punctuated with periodic pictures of new designs - I do get up and draw them. One year ago, I really couldn't imagine that I would be sitting here with a reasonable sense of pride and accomplishment. Fear was then the great motivator. (It usually is) Now, I am ready to move into the next phase of the game - expansion, then greed, then game over. Oh well, it was fun while it lasted. Hopefully, I will be stuck in the expansion phase for a good long time. I am sure it will be the best place for me. Thanks for visiting. Stay tuned.
I was cleaning out my closet today, shifting the summer clothes into the closet in the library and bringing out the winter ones, moving them into the closets in my bedroom. Yes, it is a ritual, done more or less twice a year. It is a big job and takes hours - usually over several days. I get allergies now from the dust, my back usually aches from shlepping too much at a time, the winter stuff always striking me as remarkably heavy. (Why should clothes weigh that much?) Of course, it should be noted that I live in sunny southern California, and have lived here for many years. The ritual of shifting clothes for seasonal use is a Midwestern and Eastern one, maybe a Southern one as well. Most native southern Californians that I know find this ritual completely foreign to them - their closets are filled with the continuum of clothing that responds to the not very large swing in season or temperature, compared to other regions. For me, the change of season needs to be acknowledged in a concrete way - one that I find keeps me connected to my childhood and to my awareness of the passing of time. For me personally, the Fall is a particularly challenging time. I hate the loss of warm, sunlit days and the advance of darker, colder shorter days which always foreshadow the imminent approach of my birthday in November. Damn, another year older. I change our blankets to warmer ones, and get out the space heater for the bathroom. I shift the lightweight jackets to one side of the closet that's less convenient, move my sandals and flip flops out, move closed-toed shoes, half boots (no full boots for me, it's southern California, after all) and suede shoes in. Straw purses put in bags, patents and leathers moved closer. Lightweight workout clothes and sleep wear moved out, velour and sweatshirts moved in. Sweaters and leather pants, suede skirts and jackets moved to prominence; shorts, capris, see-through skirts crammed into the back of the walk in closet that my father refers to as "The Tunnel." Why "The Tunnel?'' Mainly because I have become ingenious at filling this walk-in closet with a very full assortment of clothes that often make the rotation with no use in between and because I hide presents there which I may purchase days, weeks, months or years before I need them. Also, I must confess, since I have been the same size for most of my adult life, I still have some things that I can't yet part with from days long gone, including some dating back to college. So this is part of the subject of this post. Not that I have a hard time giving things away, because I have actually gotten much better at it over the years. No, the subject is my consternation at how little room there is left for the wardrobe that I am shifting back, necessitating me to examine the real nature of my life at present and my activities and what I should reasonably expect my wardrobe to be, both now and in the near future. Ah, this is a heavy subject. And it will most surely lead to other, heavier subjects. And I'm not quite sure that I will be able to consider all of its portent in one sitting. The symbolism of the closet and its contents bears careful scrutiny and consideration. There is really so much to consider. The first point that I mentioned, how little room there is left for the newly rotating clothes, is truly irritating. I don't recall adding that significantly to my "base." Also, I know that I did quite a bit of pruning on the last go round, so there really ought to be room for everything to fit quite readily - and yet, late this afternoon, it became quite clear that radical action needed to be taken if I was to make the shift completely into the other closet. I stopped work when this radical action became abundantly evident to me and sought refuge in the darkness that was falling in the library and dampening my spirits by 5pm tonight. What will I need to give away? What should I shift into under the bed chests (which I recently checked, not remembering what was in them) for use later on? (who knows when?) How should I prioritize? These are all questions that need immediate answers, if I am to get all of the clothes off the chairs and into some secure dark place soon, before my family arrives for the holidays. I went back to the Tunnel this afternoon to try to evaluate the potential damage and do some problem solving - to little avail. I put a bunch of things in, filling up virtually the rest of the closet. Yet, there was still a very large amount of stuff still laying on one big chair, not to mention a whole other chair filled with the "maybe this needs to go" stuff. Problems, problems. I unloaded the long sleeved blouses and button down sweaters and moved them into a staging area on a chair in the bedroom. Before putting them away, I first needed to unload the sleeveless and short sleeved tops and shirts in my bedroom closet. Eyeballing the two different sets of clothes and the spaces they were bound for, it seemed like there would be challenges in this area as well. Crap. Again, it started to get dark, leaving me with little alternative than to delay this transfer yet another day. Tomorrow morning, early, I will tackle the heart of this. In order to complete the full transition, I must next go into my daughter's bedroom, to her second closet, where there may be some additional space to offload some of the indecisions until next year. Lately, I notice that my husband has discovered this available open space, and has been secreting his sportscoats there. I noticed last night that he had snuck in two sportcoats into my Tunnel, knowing full well that they had no right there and I would be forced to scout a new location for them. Right now, however, they are only removed and parked in the library on one of the stools, with the jacket arms dangling in a sort of dead, disembodied way. They will have to sleep there until tomorrow, when I can have the daylight to create some more daylight - in my closet that is. Of course, I really don't want to make any rash decisions about my wardrobe, save for the obvious ones. You know, the things that you wore out or wore only once (or not at all). It's good to get rid of those. And the receipts I was saving in my bathroom drawer, just in case. (some are probably yellow by now.) Right now, the questionable pile is filled with a couple suits and about 10 pairs of pants, jeans, etc. Should I take the cuffs off the black and white herringbone pants and let them live another season? Or, should I chuck 'em and all of those memories that went with them? I will sleep on it tonight and decide in the morning. My car trunk is already full of about 5 bags of stuff left from the summer switch. After this go around, Goodwill will be high on list.
This past Sunday, in the New York Times, I read a review of a guy who has become popular with the techies in northern California. His popularity stems from his notion that people nowadays spend too much time with their email and techie toys and don't prioritize enough in their everyday life. I know I said the very same thing a number of posts ago. But he wrote a book about it that has become a bestseller, so he wins. Book or no book, it is still a subject worth revisiting often, since life can be nasty, brutish and short. His contention is that too much time is spent doing things that essentially waste time or can be delegated. He recommends conducting more business over the phone which is more direct and faster, as opposed to by email, which can be tremendously iterative and time consuming. Duh. He conducts his business in four hours per week and has a lot of time to spend traveling and promoting his new book and theories on how not to waste time. Good for him. My question is, why has so many people fallen in love with communication tools that by their nature, are more distancing? For me, I grew up on the wonders of the telephone and the human voice and I wouldn't trade that for anything. I like the immediacy, the sound of the other person's voice. I feel like I can read between the pauses and sighs, the deep breaths. You can't get those in email. The interactive humanness is wrung out and replaced by intentionality and careful thought. Not really the same as conversation. But back to prioritizing. The point he is making is that at the very end of the day, (or at the very end of your life) what do you really have to show for all that time spent emailing and fucking around webspace?? Probably not much, when you consider that all of that time might have been used to engage in other more fulfilling activities, whatever they might be. Problem is, blackberries are addicting, iphones are addicting, being needed by someone who is urgently emailing or IM'ing you is addicting. His solution is simply not to respond. Unless it's urgent, that is. Ooops, there's my phone. I need to answer it. More later.
I just got back today from a short trip to Memphis, Tennessee. The air was crisp and at times blustery, but being there for the first time and looking around, I had such an immediate sense of things familiar and things foreign, all at the same time. I have traveled to many places in the South, both recently and over many years, yet I couldn't quite put my finger on the familiarity aspect - the vegetation, the brick and stone used extensively there, reminiscent of my childhood in the midwest, the trees changing color. The old buildings, homes, downtown area a bit dilapidated but showing signs of coming around - all familiar to me, all like or at least similar to home in Chicago. Of course, I just said home in Chicago, right? Interesting slip of the type, since I haven't lived there in over 20 years. There were aspects of the city that were foreign - how the city is laid out, for example, encircled by highways. How many of the buldings and roads were named after people famous in the city. Danny Thomas is everywhere in Memphis, on buildings (St. Jude) and others, on roads, at the airport, to name a few. And then there is the "small time" celebrity of Elvis (he doesn't need a last name) where almost every store you walk into has a picture on the wall with him and the owner or other celebrities. In certain parts of the city, it really feels like Elvis is still there, since his name and image are plastered all over. One store I happened into was a famous men's store called Lansky's, downtown. In addition to a major guitar collection (BTW, Memphis is the home of Gibson guitar - tours available) of famous performers, there are blown up pictures of Elvis being fitted by the much younger version of the owner with some new duds. I asked the owner, Bernard Jo, about the pics. "Oh", he said, "Elvis came in all the time before he was famous" - real nonchalant. "He was a good boy." In a soft southern accent, of course. I was there with my brother and my parents for a business event and so together we were able to compare and to contrast our experience of a new city with the one we knew closest and best. It's funny how all of us had these resurgent feelings of Chicago - maybe it was the change of seasons that was informing our perceptions. Whatever. It was clear that being together as a family, without spouses and unfortunately, sans our sister, who lives far, far away, the soothing experience of what is familiar combined with the stimulation of what is foreign engendered that long ago but not forgotten feeling of being a family for the first time, as kids. Discovering the city for the first time together. You never know what things bring you back - smells, fall leaves, old red brick houses. But it all comes rushing back, just like it was yesterday. Of course, it was many yesterday's ago. But for a moment or two, there is that memory and illusion of how it all was. In Chicago. I mean, in Memphis.
Lately, in my new jewelry business, I spend a bit of time reading fashion and fashion-related magazines. Trying to keep up with what's happening in the fashion worlds (Paris, Milan, New York, LA) and boil it down to the reality of the world in which many, if not most of us, live. What strikes me lately is my awareness, certainly over the past several years, of the tremendous proliferation of specialty stores combining now, finally, with a concomitant tremendous proliferation of designers of all kinds. I'm not actually trying to be dramatic, only observational. There are literally hundreds of webstores with particular specialties, retail stores -ditto, and designers that by hook or crook, manage to squeak out a small following in some of these venues. (Hopefully, I will not be in those footsteps) So here is my point. Most of the magazines spotlight differing "looks"; some spotlight "looks" that ought to look good on you; many feature interviews of happening people on the fashion scene talking about what's in their closet. It hit me last night, wading through an Elle mag, that just about everyone involved in these mags is wearing something else by somebody else, famous or about-to-be-famous. Very little overlap in designer or brand - maybe only Christian Louboutin, noticeable,(now that I think about it) a profound lack of Manolo mentioned. OK. So there is some unity there, somewhere. Otherwise, chaos. Really. Everyone is striving to be very individual, and reflect individuality in the choices of designers chosen. And yet, after all of the individual pieces are put together by all of these disparate designers on all of these disparate models, the end result really does look remarkably coherent from look to look. Not that different, after all. So, maybe we don't want to look thaaaat different? We want to stand out, we want our choices to be noted and respected, we of course want to look good, but at the end of the day (as they say) we don't want to be so different that we're really out there, alone, as it were. Those "out there" among us can wind up being really, really with-it and ahead of their time(but not too far ahead) or they might just be a little "kooky" (old word) or "nuts" (whatever fits). It's always just a little too difficult to know which way it will tip, so emulating them would be a bit risky. What is happening in our world now, more that ever before, thanks to the Internet, is an amazing ability to see what's going on all over the world and partake of it, directly and immediately. It's a dizzying thing, visiting places worldwide from a sitting position, having conversations, ordering things you like that you see, anywhere. Still, fitting in can be a good thing, while we assert our very individual essence. Somehow, we must yet find commonality, whether in choice of shoes, choice of world view, choice of leader, choice of living on the planet. Differences are a good thing, unity can very satisfying as well.
I don't know about you, but for most of my grown up life, my product choices in the beauty category were made long, long ago as a teenager in high school. For the most part, they were never really challenged. I was more or less happy with my skin care, cosmetics and hair care products and used them loyally for years and years. That all changed this past year as I began to notice that most of them were suddenly, not working anymore. This unmistakeable fact led me to the makeup counters of a myriad of companies, some old and some new in several department stores searching for products that worked for me. This was more of a process than I originally thought, with trial and error the order of the day. Of course, all of the beautifully coiffed and made up women behind the counter were convinced of the quality and value of their product line. In truth, we're all different in our attitudes towards make up and being "made up" and what we are willing to invest in terms of time, effort and dollars to the daily "toilette." For me, I want maximum benefit for minimum of effort. Period. Money is less a factor than time. Ten minutes in the shower, ten minutes to blow dry, five minutes in the morning for make up, five minutes at night to remove. Of course anti-aging is critical, but it better not take too long. So I thought that I would share some of my new product discoveries with you. They are all really great to use and they do deliver. Skin Care. My skin is now resting comfortably in the domain of Darphin, a small French company recently bought by Estee Lauder (since they buy almost everything). I use Stimulskin Plus, which is expensive but supposedly has anti-aging agents, or almost any of their moisturizers - they're all really excellent. I also alternate with skin care products from Fresh, called Creme Ancienne, another expensive one with anti-aging, and Rice Creme both really great. To remove my eye makeup, I rely on Pond's cold cream, deep cleanser. I still haven't found anything better. To remove the face makeup, I go back to Darphin, to their Intral Cleansing Milk for sensitive skin (even though my skin isn't that sensitive). I just love the smell of the cream though it doesn't linger too much, which is nice too. Cosmetics. For foundation, I am really happy with Bobbi Brown Foundation Stick. It is so nice to put it directly on your skin without getting your fingers involved - it goes on just exactly how you want it. Really an innovative product. For blush, again Bobbi Brown - Pot Rouge for Lips and Cheeks. I have only used it for cheeks with a sponge. Great natural color that doesn't look fake. For mascara, here is a must try. And I was definitely not a believer, me, of the make-it-fast school of makeup. Somehow the combination of the Lancome lady and piping-in of my teenaged daughter compelled me to buy Lancome's Booster XL, a mascara base which is white, to be followed immediately by the application of Lancome Definicils, high definition mascara. Yes, it is a two step process. It doesn't take much extra time. However, the results ARE something to write home about. You will be amazed at how defined your lashes become. Your friends will notice, even strangers. Try it. For eye pencil, I realize that this category has a lot of personal taste. I like my pencil not to smudge or sink into my skin and make me look tired at 10 in the morning. The pencil of choice in this category, after sampling dozens and spending a small fortune, is, hands down, by MAC - called the Technakohl Liner in Graphblack, made in Germany. Nothing better. I'm sure that you can smudge if you want, but you would have to be intentional about it. For lips, Bobbi Brown, SPF 15, Lip Shine, Rouge Brilliance. Looks great, feels great. Stays on. Doesn't smell or taste. For lips and hands at night, before going to bed, Vaseline. It is truly my beauty secret. Put it on religiously every night. It works. For hair. No conditioners. My hair stylist forbids it. Instead, he uses, and now I use, Chihtsai, Olive Instant Treatment, on wet hair before blow drying. It leaves my hair soft, not dry, and manageable. It's expensive, but used very sparingly. My jar is almost one year old. For soap. I love soap. I could go on and on here. But for now I will only mention Fresh, the Sugar Lychee and Lemon scents are fantastic. Any of the others they make are wonderful as well. So there it all is. I could do a commercial for any one of these products. That is, until they stop working for me.......
It occurred to me last week, when we were on the way home from Mexico, that there are really only a few human experiences that really concentrate your thinking tightly on the things that matter. Just about all of these "experiences" are horrible, terrible, tragic or at best, unpleasant. They include the usual: death, terminal or life altering severe illness, chronic pain, natural disasters, accidents or a flu that keeps you in bed for a few days. Have I missed any? All of the foregoing certainly do remind the survivors and death dodgers just how lucky they are and reinforces the necessity for blessing counting on an everyday or twice a day basis. I am a firmly committed counter - at least once a day. Traveling, however, can be one of those singular, potentially pleasurable experiences, that allows you to refract your own life and belief system against the one that may generally characterize the place that you're visiting and provide ample space for reflection on the positives and negatives. In other words, getting away sure can stimulate you in unpredictable ways. This trip to Mexico, for example. My husband and I had vowed on our last trip there over 25 years ago that we would never voluntarily return. We had spent three vacations there of about 3 weeks each, in different parts of the country, when we were first together. Each time, we had enjoyed many aspects of the trip, and had been scrupulous in watching the food and water. Each time we were paid back with a virulent tourista that on the third trip, caused us to leave 5 days early. After that, we decided that parting company was the best thing. We didn't look back. That is, of course until this past month, when against our better judgment, and after a multitude of friends' recommendations, we booked a trip to Cabo San Lucas. Nothing bad happened. Surprise! So we had time on our hands to look around, talk to the locals (I speak fluently) and generally hang out. Since there was not much to see and do, and we did those things early on, we walked around the two Cape towns, which were quite different and visited the very highest end resorts for dinner. The Cabo area is currently experiencing a major real estate boom. (Maybe you received an invitation in the mail to visit their numerous time shares). Everywhere you looked, there was construction, real estate magazines (free), marble and stone cutters, kitchen stores, etc. We stopped at the Costco to see if there was something we were missing. Down the street, a Walmart and Sam's Club were being built, not far from the Home Depot and Office Depot. A little like Orange County 25 years ago. But not quite. You're probably wondering where I'm going with this. So here it is. We drove around a lot - all over, in neighborhoods far away from the tourists and cheap tee shirt stores. We got lost there and wound up in the prototypical dirt roads and lean-to's of cardboard and found objects from the garbage dump. And, as you may guess, there were plenty of places that wouldn't look good on a postcard home. We were told that over 200 people per day moved to Cabo to work. We were also told that there was essentially full employment there and it sure looked like it to us. Boat loads of hotels built and being built, condos, apartments, strip shopping. We also learned that there for most of the local people, there were still no basic services available such as medical care, child care, decent schools and transportation. The higher end hotels had their own buses to pick up and deliver their workers. The weather was hot, over 90 degrees and yet, at least half of the stores did not even have a simple fan. When we headed to San Jose del Cabo to reconnoiter, on what seemed like the hottest day of my life - it was a Sunday, the church was crowded and many stores were closed. It was a short trip around the town square, which was completely torn up, with no way of crossing the square except at both ends. Very inconvenient. We found it difficult to be outside in the open air of an oven for more than 5 minutes at a time. We needed to stop for air and water wherever we found a place that had both. Back at our hotel, I mentioned to our concierge that many stores had been closed, which I attributed to it being a Sunday. The concierge laughed out loud and told me that Sunday had nothing to do with it. It was too damn hot and the store owners wouldn't or couldn't work in that heat. One way of looking at this surprising (to me) response, is, great, they're the boss, they can do what they like. Another might be, can't they afford a fan? Maybe, maybe not. Whichever way you slice it, being in a third world country has many aspects that are seductive - the unspoiled beaches, the beautiful unobstructed sunsets, life in the easygoing, margarita-saturated slow lane. Just don't get sick, get into an accident, be there during an earthquake or hurricane.......................in short, appreciate what we take for granted here at home, whatever it is. It ain't perfect, for sure - but it's darn better than just wishing for it.
Yes, I have been running around a lot in the past month, trying to move my business forward, get my daughter off to overnight camp, attend to the normal daily activities of house and husband, etc. And I have not been braindead while I have been moving through my little life - no, I have been picking up lots of material for my writing here and elsewhere, when I get a chance. So here's the thing that I have noticed lately. The world is a crowded place, a competitive one, and a critical, judgmental one. I know you know that. But here's what I mean by this observation. Lately, because I have been multi-tasking at such a rapid rate, I have found it difficult or should I say, lower priority, to plan ahead for certain activities. For example, the other night, my husband and I decided at the last minute to go out for dinner. We hopped in our car and drove down into Beverly Hills, which has a multitude of restaurants. Since parking is at a premium, we found a space first, and then decided which direction to walk. We chose a street that has many restaurants and started walking. The first restaurant we came to was a very popular one, very crowded with people waiting outside. The one next door, owned by the same chef, was more than half empty, still very good, so we walked in. The hostess greeted us and asked us if we had a reservation. When we said no, she gave us this look of utter contempt and haughty consternation. My rejoinder to this untoward, unwarranted putdown was to look her straight in the eye and say, "So shoot me." My response was so unpredictable to her, that she broke out with an uncontrolled smile that seemed to come from the inside out. After I set her straight, things moved along nicely after that. Yesterday, I was on the phone with American Airlines and American Express travel desks, trying to arrange for a "last minute" vacation in July or August. You would have thought, by the response that I received that I had just asked them to move heaven and earth to get a reservation, somewhere, anywhere. Again, the remonstrating tone, the sound of disbelief at my nerve and naivete (not me!) to think for one instant, that there might be airline seats and hotel rooms to be had at this late date for a summer getaway. Of course, much to their shock and disbelief, there were. But that was after I had to pull out the refrain,"I know this is last minute, so shoot me" line to knock them off their high horse. In fact, serendipity seems lost in this world. Especially during prime time. It's great to be able to plan ahead and I am a planner. On the other hand, there are times when planning ahead is not top of mind. Other times when planning ahead means that cancelling is a distinct possibility, even a likelihood when the planning is so far ahead. It's important to have things to look forward to and to get things on your calendar periodically. But I still cling to living today and enjoying the day I'm having now. The future is always out there, but I'm here, now. So shoot me. I haven't booked my vacations for next year, nor have I planned which retirement community I will repair to (as if....). The furthest out I'm thinking right now is this afternoon. Later today, I will consider making a dinner reservation for tomorrow night. But that's my limit. Thanks for visiting. Stay tuned.
I'm tired. I wake up that way most mornings at 6:30 am when my alarm goes off. Have to drive my daughter to school each day, be there before 8 am. She's not fully awake either, but she's not supposed to be - she's a teenager and needs endless amounts of sleep. I remember well the Saturday mornings waking up after noon, not really sorry that half the day had already passed me by. I was happy sleeping then, just like I would be happy sleeping now, albeit, now the idea of half the day slipping away under the covers is actually unacceptable. I have to live more of each day now, since I'm way over 40 and the days seem to count more. One of the reasons that I may be tired, since I'm not exactly sure of the reason, is that I am in a constant mode of juggling. Nothing new to most of you women readers, and I bet you're tired too. Each day presents a long list of disparate tasks and activities that I must accomplish or complete. Otherwise, someone may suffer, starve or at least complain. When I was a busy CEO and running large companies, somehow the juggling didn't seem as drastic, although I was working pretty much from morning until 11 at night when I would collapse. Only to wake up and repeat. I was tired then too. Now, I have a business that I am in the process of launching and building, which really should be a full time business and some days it is. I also manage the social and business calendar of my husband, as well as all of his financial activities in his business as well as mine and ours. Then there's my daughter's school and social schedule, periodic doctor and orthodontal visits, travel schedules, home related issues such as repairs, groceries, garden etc. Then there are larger family issues which include my parents and my husband's mother, both sides living in different cities. The sandwich generation somehow doesn't capture the experience. Am I the ham or the cheese or both? Feeling consumed bit by bit may be a little closer to the periodic feelings that wash over. Time for myself? When I'm sleeping, naturally. And I count myself among the very lucky ones. Currently, there are no pressing health worries to pimplify (my word) the rest of the enumerated above. Nor are there two families with one divorced parent and two sets of kids to add to the mix. We don't have older family members living with us or across the street. Nor do we worry about our mortgage. (Paying for college may be another story.) So there, I counted my blessings, as I do routinely and daily, when I wake up tired. Eventually, the tiredness does yield, either to full fatigue or oftentimes, if I'm engaged in a stimulating activity, a full remission in the feelings of tiredness. Energy returns, I feel alive. Like right now. I'm thinking, writing, communicating, getting something off my chest. Now, off I go to visit 4 hotels and see the rooms they have to offer for a trunk show that I'm planning. Then, a stop at the grocery, post office, go exercise, home to make dinner. A typical day. I guess I can rest when I'm dead. Stay tuned. I have several more posts that I will be adding this week.
Last night I jumped into bed early and opened Nora Ephron's new book, I Feel Bad About My Neck. I spent the next hour laughing to tears, her observations hitting, unfortunately, a little too close to home. Then, I turned on the news to hear about the tornado devastation in Alabama, with 8 high school students killed. Sometimes the juxtapositions of life are really hard to contain. Being a grownup and trying to find explanations for the inexplicable and the random is frankly impossible. Call it bad luck, God's will, fate, karma, your time, whatever; bad things happen. What to do about it? First, I think it's important to reconcile yourself to death, your own and that of everyone you know and love. This is the hardest thing. Most people I know, including yours truly, are still in this process, struggling. Many of us don't really want to deal with this issue at all, and actively defend against it, deny death, and deny lots of other things as well. On the other side of the spectrum, there are others that taunt death as a way of coping with the ultimate. These are the mountain climbers, race car drivers, sky divers, rock climbers, etc. In the middle are those that initiate mid-life affairs, divorces, change of career, move out of state, country, etc. There's no doubt that getting a year older each year brings you closer to finality. So, after you complete suggestion number 1, reconcilement, (which may take most of your life to actually do) I guess the next thing to do, after making sure that you imbibe at least a half glass of wine daily to delay the inevitable, (and the other half to impose a daily minor anesthesia), is to carefully examine your sense of humor. Do you have one? What kind is it? This requires examination. Do you only laugh at other people's jokes? Do you find things to laugh at that aren't really funny? Do you laugh at all? Smile? Grin? A good sense of humor will carry you through life much better than a heavy heart. Not that grieving or sadness aren't part of the human experience. Of course they are. But those emotions need to balanced, at least by irony. So get out there and have a good laugh. And while you're at it, do something to enjoy yourself, however small. After all, we have to LIVE while we're living. And you can quote me on that!
It's hard to listen to the news these days. Not that it was ever easy. But now, with crises abounding here, there and everywhere, coupled with impending crises that haven't yet happened but could or might, or will depending on your mood or point of view, I am feeling a sense of percolating frustration that just won't go away. At times, the frustration gives way to anger and downright rage that surprises even me. I have always been a quiet champion for causes, for peace not war, for doing the right thing and being consistent about it, politically, domestically, personally. It doesn't help that I was a history and political science major in school, or that I was in college during the Viet Nam war and was an honorary member of the VVAW (Viet Nam Veterans Against the War), and was an active protester during those years. But that perspective was also informed at the time by my half time job working for a professor, Dr. Wesley Fishel, who had been the head US advisor to Ngo Dinh Diem, then the President of South Viet Nam. Actually, I helped him edit his books on Viet Nam, and spent many hours talking to him about his experiences there early on. He was a very controversial professor. Unbeknownst to me when I enrolled in his class, he was on the cover that month of Rampart magazine in a highly negative article, presented as a major hawk of the war. When I showed up for the first class, there were hundreds of Viet Nam war veterans picketing his class. Wesley, in his first of many surprising moves, invited them all in to his class. Then began one of the most interesting learning experiences I had. Learning about the history and political environment of a small, remarkably complex country refracted against the life and near death experiences of students and professor alike. So why do I bring this up? What makes that experience relevant to now? Simply this. Knowledge really is power. Societies are complex, history is important. By the end of the class, most, if not all of the Vets, understood the mistakes of Viet Nam. They also understood that Wesley Fishel believed that if you start a war, you better know how to win it. It was clear to him then that the US did not have a clue how to win the war in Viet Nam. Our elected officials did not remotely understand what they were getting into. We, as Americans, suffered greatly for their folly, ignorance and arrogance. Allowing yourself the openness to consider learning by hearing more than one point of view is not in vogue right now. Many people have hardened opinions based on little actual knowledge but voice them anyway and loudly. It's not easy to define issues for yourself especially when we have leaders trying to shape our thinking by framing the discussion in a way to play into their selected strategy. Of course, that's fine, when the strategy works..... Now we have many issues on the table to consider. What are we willing to suffer greatly now and in the near term future? Again, we have leaders that have led us into a dark corner, not just with the Iraq war, but with failed leadership on many fronts - energy, health care, climate, worldwide terrorism, to just hit on some key areas that need immediate attention and action. We have much at stake and many reasons to consider stepping outside of our protected remote-controlled cocoons to see where our contribution might make a difference. Which is why I will using my just-born and launched jewelry webstore as a platform to provide assistance, monetary and otherwise to issues and organizations that I support as a woman, and others that I support as a citizen of our great country. (Though many of us haven't been feeling too great about it lately) I am currently working on several projects, some longer term, some imminent, that will shine a light, raise awareness or simply provide enthusiastic support. Individual effort can be substantial and can and does make a difference. Particularly when it coagulates with other individual efforts. But it takes doing it. The first step is the most difficult. I'm taking it. Stay tuned.
January 12, 2007 This concept should be the motto of the Oh's or aughts, whatever. It's my new adopted philosophy for the rest of my life, however long that is. The short story is this: when you do something good for some one or some organization or some business then the subsequent goodness that you bring comes back to you, and voila! you feel better as a human being, better as a participant in this crazy experiment called society. And, not inconsequentially, other people regard you as a human being as well. It's an unavoidable good feeling, after doing a good deed. Kind of like the feeling that pervaded Ebenezer Scrooge when he did his abrupt about face and started helping Tiny Tim. What a concept! And it works. The news of the day, any day, is filled with stories, most you really don't want to hear. It's hard to avoid hearing about the daily disasters that affect countless thousands around the world. I'm sure that each one of us has a disaster of some kind that affects us, whatever it is - medical, family, job, etc., a sort of microcosm of the ills that we face as a society. There are instances when we are affected by the situation but not in a position to affect the ultimate outcome. Sort of like watching a train wreck in slow motion. My prescription for these unfortunate situations is action of some sort, whatever it is, that may positively impact those around you or just yourself. It's easy to get carried away by all of the negativity out there. It is important, therefore, not to screen out the positivity that is happening at the same time. Recently, there has been coverage of Oprah building a school in South Africa for girls that will emphasize leadership. When asked why she got personnally involved in the school, she replied that she was (I'm paraphrasing) tired of just writing checks, she wanted the satisfaction of knowing the people she was helping. I agree with her. Scaling down doing good to the individual level is more personal and more personnally gratifying. Look at what Bill Gates spends his time doing. And lots of noteworthy others. So I leave with this optimistic note for today. Feeding your soul gives you strength. And we all need strength. Thanks for visiting. Stay tuned.
January 4, 2007 Seems simple enough. Be yourself. Get up in the morning when you want, get dressed in the clothes you like, have the body you want, look the way you want to look, work where you like, talk to people you like, live the life that you want to live. Well, maybe not so simple. It seems to me that being yourself is a complicated subject. To begin with, it helps to know who you are antecedent to actually living a life consistent with your identity. Many of us women get stuck right here. Many of us define ourselves in relation to others ie, I'm such and such's daughter, sister, friend, mother, wife, girlfriend, colleague, etc. It's a bit intimidating to define ourselves individually, as a unique person in the world with a unique constellation of talents and abilities, personality traits and physical attributes, interests and needs. Many women aren't really encouraged to think this way, as an individual. Yet, that personal assessment is key to living in a harmonious state of being. Many women that I know, both well and not so well, are living in situations, working in environments, having friendships with others that aren't satisfying to them, or are downright stultifying. It can happen to any of us and does, more often than we would like to admit. So the next question is, how can I be myself and find myself doing things I don't want to do, looking the way I don't want to look, living my life the way I don't want to live it? I believe that a good part of the answer lies in the ongoing difficulty of actually being yourself, actively living in the world and at the same time, not allowing yourself to be engaged by those people or situations that can cause you to veer off your course. Or you find yourself having made decisions that, in retrospect, have impacted your life for long periods of time that are inconsistent with your fundamental sense of self. This can happen in the relationships that we choose throughout our lives, particularly long term ones. Some of us know the path we want to pursue when we're young and are able to follow it. Many more of us simply don't develop that compelling direction early in life and get carried along with the current of life, not really steering ourselves in a specific direction. And sometimes those that were on course, suddenly veer off, for whatever reason. It's this veering off that presents the challenges of being yourself, I think, because once you have veered off, it's very hard to achieve that harmony within yourself that I referred to above. You can find yourself living a life you may not like or want. Some of us are able to convert a wrong turn into a right situation. For example, taking a specific job in a company that in the cold light of day, doesn't really suit you, but quickly assessing the situation and identifying a better fit within the company or exiting instead of trying to force yourself to fit in. Like exiting a marriage before kids, not encouraging a friendship that you early on perceive will be troubled. Many of us get mired in situations that aren't consistent with the true self we know and it takes a long time to do something about it. Still, I think that it's better to act more in keeping with your self and to keep moving in that direction. As we get older, this becomes more complicated and usually involves more people than just yourself. Some of us change careers. Some of us move away to somewhere else. Some of us trade in husbands or wives. Or go back to school. And some of us don't have the luxury of even contemplating change, until their responsibilities (children, sick parents, etc.) change. My conclusion is that being yourself in the environment of your choosing is a function of having an ongoing and deep understanding of yourself coupled with an equally deep appreciation that decisions made early or hastily can redound for years to come. Of course, I haven't mentioned the issue of luck, a pivotal thing that no one can count on. But with luck, that's just it, you can't count on it. I don't have any answers, just observations at this point. What I'm doing now is very much involved with expressing yourself in your appearance and being more deliberate about the message that you are communicating. It's all part of having a keen awareness of ourselves and meeting the outside world face first. Stay tuned and thanks for visiting.
Friday, December 15, 2006 Yes, of course it's a play on words. But it does make sense. We're living in the 0's or the aughts? or whatever you may want to call them, but the fact still remains, OH! Or Oh brother, or Oh, shit or Omigod, (as may daughter says very often) or Oh, no............ The last few years have been a trip for everyone, I'm sure you will agree. Although, not everyone has been on the same trip, that's for sure. What matters to me, lately, and actually, before lately, is why all of us are so busy? I have been giving the matter considerable thought, trying to somehow get to the bottom of the problem, which I might frame as follows: Why do I have less time now to do the things that I like to do than I did when I was: a. 10 years younger with a small child b. 15 years younger, running a company c. 20 years younger, running a different company d. any time before that. I believe that I have the answer, ladies and gentlemen. Actually, in my opinion, there are two key reasons for why we are all so busy - Scale and Communications Access. I have come to these two points in attempt to boil down the myriad issues to the largest most embracing conditions in our society, from which everything can be assigned or at least blamed. Let me summarize my two macro-anchors as follows: Scale is the tremendous evolution of our society into a global one. Communications access is the ability of any single individual to tap in to any particular aspect of the global world as it may pertain to him or her. So how do these two concepts converge on our daily lives and deprive us of our valuable time? To start, living locally in a global world means that our awareness is being stimulated to take in events, assimilate them and potentially, do something about them. For example, Darfur, Afghanistan, Somalia, New Orleans, Aceh, to name just a few spots around the globe that are household, recognizable places in our personal reservoir. Five years ago, these places and names might have been substituted with others, such as Eritrea, Kandahar, etc. Communications access, in the form of the Internet, cell phone, fax, PDA's, video conferencing, go to meeting. com etc. has blown the lid off boundaries between work life and home life, leisure time and paying-attention-to-what's-going-on-in-the-world time, personal time and personal improvement time, family time and private time. We are bombarded constantly with external "dangers" and catastrophes on a global basis, thanks to 24 hour news feeds via TV and the Net. We are working more and vacationing less. Increased competition on a local, regional, national and global basis also has us worrying more or at least thinking more about work related issues. These thoughts alone absorb a lot of time and mental energy. Acting on the thoughts takes up more time. And then, there's all the distractions that suck up tremendous amounts of time on an ongoing basis. Here's a list of the ones that spring to mind immediately, that are part of the implications of scale and communications access: 1. Reading blogs (Yes, more of us are doing it) 2. Lots of time on the Internet, surfing and shopping 3. Fixing or replacing your computer, printer, fax or cell phone 4. Choosing music to download to your Ipod 5. Downloading music to your Ipod 6. Checking and responding to your email at work 7. Checking and responding to your email at home 8. Checking and responding to your voicemail at work. (At least 5 times a day) 9. Checking and responding to your voicemail at home. (At least 3 times a day) 10. Learning how to use your equipment, ie. new cell phones, new cameras, photoshop, Ipods, PDA's, new software, blue tooth in the car (including programming), learning the navigation system on your car, learning how to work your TV, and actually record something, figuring out TIVO. And lots, lots more. Most of the above activities did not really exist 5 to 10 years ago. Now, they form the structure of our day, and leave us with precious little time left to think or relate to our close friends and family. I left out driving, with the idea that some of us are accomplishing things during this protracted "down time" to chisel away at the above list, so that there's time to eat dinner when you finally arrive home. It does no good to try to hark back to those halcyon days free of cell phones, hundreds of urgent emails and spam. Those days are truly gone. Now, the trick is to learn how to function and be happy in today's scenario. Especially with all of our "time-saving" devices at our side ready to assist us. We are living in a 24/7 world and we must adapt. But how? I'm going to think about it in my spare time. Stay tuned.
For those of you who have seen the beginning portion of my new webstore, Luxury Basics, you know that “Personal Style” is really the premise of both my theme within the site as well as my jewelry collection. Early in my career, when I was working in my first job as a corporate banker, I called on many companies in southern California in the consumer products sector. A fast-growing company at the time was Vidal Sassoon, Inc., founded by the famous hair stylist and salon owner. Though I never did meet him in person, I was struck by how his charisma permeated the company. Everyone in Vidal’s company was fond of quoting him, but the one quote that has stuck with me for all of these years is the following, “ You never have a second chance to make a first impression.” The implications of this statement are truly far-reaching. Many of us grow up watching a steady diet of TV and reading a steady diet of monthly fashion magazines. It really doesn’t matter which ones. But what does matter is that the images of women pictured on TV and in print do have a subliminal (at least) influence on our idea of beauty and style. After all, these women get the men, wear beautiful clothes, become rich and famous, etc. Many of us are really adrift when it comes to actually knowing what our individual personal style is. Some of us try to avoid the subject altogether by professing to NOT have a personal style. But, I would submit to you, based on what Vidal said often, first impressions are had by everyone, universally. Most people, on meeting someone for the first time, or even seeing someone across the room, look at them first, before talking to them. (And likely decide whether to talk to them, based on that first impression.) So. There is the first impression. Not having a personal style and the implicit part of that decision, not caring about it, is a decision about yourself and your style, as well. And not necessarily the best one. Have I made my case? Another side of this coin, is the side that has someone adopting the personal style of someone else, for whatever reason. Yet, it is clear and obvious that the style doesn’t suit them. I’m sure you see this all the time, women dressed in a “style” that doesn’t : 1. Fit their body type, 2. Seem appropriate to their age, 3. Look good. Many adopted personal styles project an image actually contrary to the fundamental personality of the person, engendering confusion to the observing ones forming those first impressions. Examples abound among celebrities, and on the streets where you live. I’m brought back to a comment by Halle Berry, in a magazine I read some time ago. Halle is a beautiful woman who is consistently acknowledged as someone with class and style. She was asked by the interviewer how she selects her clothes or chooses the designers she wears. (I’m paraphrasing here) She essentially said that she learned a long time ago not to pay too much attention to the trends or trendy styles. She concentrated on finding clothes that fit her and looked good on her. Of course, she has a personal style which pulls her in a certain direction. But she insists that whatever she selects to put on and be seen in, (and make the scene in) show her off to advantage. This is the crucial point. Be discriminating for yourself. Face the observing world with your face and your style, and be deliberate about it. You never get a second chance……… Stay tuned and thanks for visiting.
A surprising number of my friends have expressed the notion that birthing a business is akin to having a baby. Having done both, (this is my second startup), I can honestly say that birthing a business and birthing a baby are definitely two different kettles. And yet……there are compelling similarities. To state the obvious point that first comes to mind, both are painful! (in their own way, of course.) The pain of pushing out a baby, however, doesn't last nearly as long as the excruciating, tedious process of pushing out the launch of a business. Yes, the nine months of planning, dreaming and preparing for the big event does correlate well with the planning, dreaming and preparing for a new business, if you're doing it right. And, in spite of all the preparation, you're still essentially flying blind, not knowing until the moment of "delivery" what the end "product" will look like or how it will be or how you will feel about all of the foregoing. Yet, there are many differences, right off the bat. A baby is the product of two and a genetic reflection of those two. A business begins, at least in my case, as a singular vision. The process of implementing and then executing that vision, in some ways, (though only in some) is straightforward thereafter, as opposed to raising your child, which is analogous to climbing Mount Everest, without oxygen. (There are many occasions when I feel short of breath in this effort.) My thoughts and feelings about launching Luxury Basics have probably mirrored some of those that I had newly pregnant, (now that I think about it). Decidedly mixed, with a lot a trepidation. Or, put another way, highly stressed, with a calm exterior. Hard to know how it would or will, all turn out. Kind of like a slow burning fuse that before you know, blows with a bang! and then it's too late anyway to change it or go back and start again. So here I am, at the beginning of a new business. My baby is 15 now. The early part of her upbringing is giving way to the really difficult and challenging teenage years. My new business is in its infancy. I have to be careful not to push it too hard or expect too much too soon. Sound familiar? Still, I can take a firmer hand with my business. I can try to bring my self into it, without worrying about any genetic predisposition. At the same time, I need to step back, and pay attention to the signs of both life and death in my product line. I have to bury the products that don't sell and blow life into the flickering ones that could go either way. But certainly, I can't get personal with these sparkling adornments. Cling - on doesn't work, in business or anywhere else. I guess I'm ready for the bumps along the way, baby and business. It's what I've been doing and what I know, in my heart of hearts, that I'm really good at. Stay tuned and thanks for visiting.
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