showing 31 - 40 of 40 post(s)
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.