Tuesday, August 16, 2011

How Do You Stop Trying?

My beautiful, brilliant daughter has a blog called Travels Down The Yellow Brick Road. Her recent post, How Do You Stop Trying? got me thinking about coping with life‘s challenges, specifically when dreams don‘t materialize, and when plans don’t turn out as planned. Because, as we’re all painfully aware, plans often go awry and dreams don’t always come true. Disappointed, frustrated, and disheartened, we’re left standing alone, reeling from the blow, not knowing which way to turn or what to do when the game plan changes mid-game. We pick ourselves up by the bootstraps and muddle though. Life goes on. A change of plans won‘t kill us. Literally. But figuratively, a small, symbolic death occurs when a dream dies.

And there are times when that symbolic death doesn’t seem so small. Sometimes it’s devastating. Sometimes it feels like your whole purpose for living has been altered forever. And sometimes, the pain is so unbearable you wonder if you’ll ever wake up again without that inescapable mind-numbing, sense of failure and loss hanging around your neck like an albatross.

Rather than try to explain my daughter’s dilemma, I’ll let you read her post; travelsdowntheyellowbrickroad.blogspot.com

The truth is, she may never conceive another child. Many women who desperately want children will never have them. Life just doesn’t always go according to plan. We may never take that trip around the world, or have that fabulous career. Your husband might turn out to NOT be the love of your life. There are people who’ll never cross the finish line in the marathon that they trained so diligently for, and others who will never walk at all without assistance. And there are babies born everyday who won’t even live long enough to have plans and dreams….

Life is short. Life is hard. Life isn’t fair. Life’s a bitch…then you die. No one get’s out alive. We’ve heard the cliché’s. And life is all of those things. So why try at all?

Well, because trying is what we do. Plans and dreams are what life is all about. But they can’t be etched in stone. We have to learn to be flexible. It’s like the tale of the oak tree and the willow tree. The strong, upright oak tree snapped in the wind because it couldn’t bend, but the flexible willow tree bounced back as soon as the wind subsided. When a tsunami hits our plan, we have to know when to bend, or to quote Paul Simon, “make a new plan, Stan…drop off the key, Lee…and get yourself free.”

Without plans and dreams, there’s no motivation. However, when the plan has snapped and the dream has flattened out, How do you stop trying? At what point do you put a dying dream to rest?

Unfortunately, I can’t answer that question, because there’s no standard answer that applies to every situation. I only know what’s helped me deal with life’s circuitous turns, and these are my suggestions…

Give yourself a timeline, with a deadline. In that allotted time, give it all you’ve got. Try like hell. But when time is up, if you haven’t reached your goal, or accomplished what you’ve set out to do…give it up…let it go…and don’t look back.

Be flexible. You might not get what you want, exactly how you want it, when you want it, and where you want it, but that doesn’t mean you won’t get something worth getting.

Pay attention. Don’t be so hell-bent on grasping a dream “out there” that you miss something right under your nose. The road of life is full of signs if we can just learn to read them.

Don’t compare yourself to others. You’ll be angry and bitter if they have more than you, and you’ll feel depressed and guilty if they have less. Just don’t go there…

Don’t put all of your eggs in one basket. Have lots of small to medium plans and dreams, don’t have just one gigantic dream that your entire happiness and well-being hinge upon.

Count your blessings. Seriously. Everyday I write down at least ten things I’m thankful for.

When do you stop trying? No one else can answer that question for you. One day you wake up, and you just know. You didn’t die. Literally. But figuratively, a symbolic death has occurred, and there’s a void where a dream used to be. You’ll always feel a twinge of pain when you touch the edges, but life goes on…


Monday, August 15, 2011

Kelly Wearstler Designs...Everything!

44-year-old Los Angeles designer, Kelly Wearstler, is known for her bold design style and glam interiors. Her résumé includes the Viceroy hotel chain and boutique projects like Maison 140 and the Avalon hotel in Beverly Hills.

Then there are her product lines: home furnishings, sold at Bergdorf Goodman; sheets for Sferra; rugs for the Rug Company and wall treatments for Schumacher. Not to mention her three books on décor: Modern Glamour, Domicilium Decoratus and Hue.

For most people, that would be enough (Ms. Wearstler is also married with two young children). But most people are not Kelly Wearstler. Her ready-to-wear and jewelry lines, reflections of her modern, but classic and opulent aesthetic, will make an impressive debut this month in outlets such as Neiman Marcus, Holt Renfrew and Net-a-Porter.

Although Ms. Wearstler's whimsical designs hit stores soon, she isn't nervous. "My motto in life is take risks...you don't have a voice if you don't. You have to venture outside your boundaries. That's what life's all about."

I like her style!

Check out Kelly Wearstler's website - www.kellywearstler.com
And I especially enjoy her blog - myvibemylife.com


Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Grilled Watermelon Salad...

Here’s a summer salad that’s unique and unexpected…light, fresh, and healthy…and it’s tasty and easy to make! What more could you ask for in a summer salad?

Grilled Watermelon Salad

Ingredients -

- 1/2 (5-pound) seedless watermelon
- 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
- Extra-virgin olive oil
- Kosher salt (specialty salt is great here, if on hand)
- 2 cups fresh baby arugula, washed and dried
- 1 cup goat cheese, crumbled, preferably a French Chevre
- Fresh finely cracked black pepper

Directions -

Stand the watermelon half cut side down on a cutting board and slice away the rind, leaving a solid block of melon. Turn the block on its side and cut it into 8 squares, roughly 3 by 3 inches and 1-inch thick.

Pour the vinegar into a small saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Cook until reduced to a thick syrup consistency. Set aside.

Heat a nonstick grill pan over medium-high heat. Drizzle just enough olive oil over watermelon slices to thinly coat and place on hot grill pan. Grill each side about 2 minutes until grill marks appear; transfer to a plate and season with salt.

To assemble the salads, put about 1/4 cup of baby arugula on a serving plate, followed by a grilled slice of watermelon in the center, and top with a tablespoon of crumbled cheese and another 1/4 cup arugula. Add another watermelon slice and another tablespoon of cheese. Repeat with remaining ingredients. Finish each salad with a very light drizzle of olive oil and balsamic syrup. Dust with black pepper and serve immediately.

Serves 4

Enjoy! C

Sunday, August 7, 2011

The Mystique of Les Femmes Françaises...

I’ve been reading a book called All You Need To Be Impossibly French. Pourquoi? Because I grew up loving classic French novels like Claudine and Cheri by Colette, and Bonjour Tristesse by Francoise Sagan, and enjoying movies like Funny Face, An American In Paris, and Gigi. Not to mention my obsession with French films like A Man And A Woman, Jules et Jim, And God Created Woman, and Belle du Jour. I’ve always found the mystique surrounding French women, especially Parisian women, kind of fascinating. Why are they so different? What makes them so special? Are they really more sophisticated, chic, elegant, fashionable, and sexier than we are? Or is the myth of the French woman just that…un mythe?

So much has been said and written about the French mystique, but I experienced it close-up-and-personal several years ago on my first trip to Paris. After an hour or so on the Champs-Elysees, I realized that Parisian women truly were in a class all their own. Clumping down the Avenue in my sensible shoes, among “le petit femmes” in their stilettos, I felt like an awkward giant. While I was stumbling over man-hole covers, they were navigating the sidewalks in their five inch heels as if they had wings on their feet. And not one of them was larger than a size four. I, on the other hand, could have rented out my butt for billboard space. I’d never seen so many slim, fit, attractive, well-groomed, fashionably dressed women in one city. No, they weren’t all beautiful by any means, but they BELIEVED they were. And that radical, unequivocal, self-confidence…one might even say arrogance…goes a LONG way.

Here are a few of the well-documented myths about French women…

They’re all thin…

Of course they’re not ALL thin! Please! But according to European Union statistics, French women are the slimmest in Europe, weighing an average of 126 lbs. I can attest that I saw very few overweight women in Paris…and I’m pretty sure that most of the chubby ones were tourists.

They don’t like to exercise…

They hate gyms and they loath sneakers, but they walk everywhere…in stilettos. And they spend more than 91 million dollars a year on slimming creams and gels. I have no idea what those creams and gels do, but they swear by them.

They eat rich, fattening foods and drink fine wines…

Well duh…wouldn’t you if you lived there? How could you not partake in le vin, champagne, baguettes, jambon, pâté de foie d'oie, fromages a la stinky, and patisseries? But apparently they’re capable of extreme discipline and portion control. And they smoke…a lot.

They love luxurious lingerie…

According to Helena Frith Powell, author of All You Need To Be Impossibly French, French women “wear nice underwear for themselves, and not for men, love to unwind around the house in sexy lingerie, and don’t think twice about spending $150 on a pair of panties and a bra." And, every single French woman she spoke to agreed that “underwear must be matching.” Hmmm, I must be at least part French, because the bra I’m wearing matches the panties under my bed…

Also, did you know that the dressing rooms in the lingerie department at Galeries Lafayette (an upscale department store in Paris) have two buttons on the wall…one to summons an assistant to help you with styles and sizes…and the other to change the lighting inside the cubicle from day to night, so you can see how your new undies will look when you lover undresses you? Seriously…

And speaking of lovers…

They don’t have a problem with lovers. The French differ hugely from Americans when it comes to fidelity, in that they view adultery as a fairly normal pastime. They certainly had better examples of sex and seduction in their literature. While Emily Bronte was fictionalizing her sexual hero in Wuthering Heights, George Sand was trying to get laid. And while Elisabeth Bennet was trying to bag a suitable husband, Emma Bovary was in the back of a carriage with young Leon…

Their role models tend to be writers and intellectuals, rather than movie stars and fashion models…

When Helena Frith Powell asked the French women she interviewed for her book to name the woman who had most inspired them as a role model, they almost all nominated writers or intellectuals. The top five were; Simone de Beauvoir, intellectual icon; Louise de Vilmorin, one of the grandes dames of French literature; George Sand, journalist and writer, born Amantine Surore Lucille Dupin; Francoise Sagan, who wrote her brilliant first novel Bonjour Tristesse at the tender age of eighteen; and Colette, one of the most important figures in French literature. Not an Angelina Jolie or a Heidi Klum in the bunch! French women see intellectual rigueur and culture almost as important as their beauty regime. They view knowledge as much sexier than a short skirt and a pout, merci beaucoup!

They’re not obsessed with “youth” and looking young…

French women are generally against botox and cosmetic surgery, and don’t seem to have the insecurities about aging that we Americans do. According to French actress Elisabeth Bourgine, “To erase the passage of time is a mistake…the most beautiful thing in a face is expressions…it’s better to have a few wrinkles than a face with no emotions.”

However, they do see beauty as something to work on. They start from a very young age by protecting their skin from the sun and eating well. They maintain that regular and healthy habits are far more effective than layers of concealing makeup. And, French women…and men…feel that age has nothing to do with sexiness. Maturity and experience are sexy! It’s not uncommon for French men to enjoy sexual liaisons with older women. It seems that, in France, there’s something much more honest about growing old gracefully than desperately clinging to youth. It’s just common sense!

So, are French women better than you or I? I wouldn’t go so far as to say THAT. But they do have a lot going for them. They’re attractive, smart, and sexy. They age realistically and are comfortable in their skin whether they’re twenty or sixty. They dine sensibly on fabulous cuisine, dress fashionably, wear expensive underwear, and can walk gracefully for long distances in really uncomfortable shoes. They have amazing role models. They take excellent care of themselves, and believe that they’re worth it. And let’s face it…believing in yourself is half the battle!

au revoir! C

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Say It With A Tee Shirt...

Summertime…and the livin’ is easy! We socialize more…hit the parks…the malls…the outdoor cafes…the road. And summer is when the tee-shirt people come out. You’ve seen them. Heck, you might even be one of them. They have an opinion, and they want you to know it. So they wear their heart on their sleeve…or rather emblazoned across their chest…so you can’t miss it. Here’s a selection of some of my favorites from this summer…so far…ranging from cute…to in-your-face…to tasteless,…to…well…even more tasteless…

The woman wearing this one was large and in charge. Don’t challenge her…she’s headed toward the buffet and she looks hungry and pissed-off.

Was there ever any doubt?

(Two faces of King Tut, strategically placed over the girls)
Actually, this one was mine. I got it years ago at the King Tut Exhibit in NOLA. Obviously a desperate cry for help…

(A happy face with a straight line for a mouth, instead of a smile)
Also mine. For those days when I really want to bitch slap those clueless, bright-eyed, eternally optimistic people who apparently aren’t aware that it’s 110 degrees outside, and that I’m in the throes of a raging hot flash.

(Cute little green pea happy faces)
A shout out to potential vegetarians everywhere. Less effective than a bloody lamb strung up by it’s hind legs, but still compelling.

A thinly veiled slam at those annoyingly, pretentious creeps who avoid St.Tropez in the off season. Read between the lines…it’s says, “Get a job! Oh, that’s right, you don’t need to work…you’ve got people to do it for you.”

Is it reciprocal, or are you just asking for more stuff again?

A job that sucks AND a chip on her shoulder. Chill, Babe…

- THE MAN - (arrow pointing up) THE LEGEND - (arrow pointing down)
You just KNOW this guy hasn’t been laid for months.

I don’t know if it’s a real whorehouse or just a gift shop, but I’m all about coming first, regardless of what they’re selling.

No, that’s not a tee-shirt! I really mean it!


Monday, August 1, 2011

Ralph...Lifestyle Guru and Style Icon...

We all know them. The “bon vivants” who inspire us with their looks, personality, charm, and attitude. They’re the ones who just seem to get more out of life…who have that special “joie de la vie.” We don’t want to BE them, but they do have those admirable qualities that we desire.

My inspirational role model is Ralph. I met him last November, at the Dallas SPCA on Industrial Blvd. As I walked by, he shot me his most intense, charismatic gaze. That come-hither look that said, “Baby, I’m yours.” I was bewitched. So I signed the papers, purchased a collar for his tags, and took him home.

Did I mention that Ralph is a dog? An exuberant, mixed-breed terrier who, as it turns out, has an intoxicating love for life that’s contagious. Ralph has the ability to make even the most mundane act an adventure. "Wanna take a walk?" Tail wag…leap…spin…frolic! "Dinner-time?" "Time to go to bed?" "Want a treat?" "How about a few pistachios?" Tail wag…leap…spin…frolic! His enthusiasm knows no bounds. And he always wears black, with a little white at the neck…very Georgia O‘Keeffe. So he’s my style icon as well.

Ralph is the WalMart greeter at his local dog park. People and dogs alike, he doesn’t care. He’s at the gate welcoming them to his world. No face goes un-licked…no crotch un-sniffed. His absence of discrimination and complete lack of prejudice are legendary. Everybody knows Ralph. And in Ralph’s eyes, everyone is beautiful and all is right with the universe.

He likes to run. Just run. Tethered to a bike, he’ll run alongside said bike for miles…through the neighborhood…down the bike trail…around White Rock Lake. Ears back, scraggly facial hair blowing in the breeze, he races to nowhere with the boundless energy of an Alaskan husky in the Iditarod. His destination? He has no idea. His purpose? Just to run. His reward? An ice cream cone at McDonalds, which he devours with relish. He really doesn’t need a reward though, because Ralph is all about the journey. But he does love that last little bit of crunchy cone…

Whenever I feel cranky, Ralph’s my guy. A few minutes of having my face licked, and looking into those soulful brown eyes, is enough to make me pull my head out and realize that life really isn’t that bad. Ralph walks the walk, and lives the dream. He wakes up to a new day, everyday. He eats dog food and filet with equal enthusiasm. He finds absolute delight in the most inconsequential pastimes…chasing a Frisbee, chewing on a rawhide bone, or playing with a bug. He drags his blanket around to the shady spots, and when there’s no shade to be found he simply revels in the sun. Ralph’s capacity for joy and love, minimal needs, and zest for life inspire me daily. You could say he’s my lifestyle guru!

Gotta go make coffee now and get ready for work. Tail wag…leap…spin…frolic!