Tuesday, January 17, 2012

A Stylish Book Report: Classy by Derek Blasberg

Classy, the bestseller by Derek Blasberg, is a guide to help the youth of America avoid a downward spiral into an embarrassing adulthood.  It is light hearted in its presentation but filled with valuable words of wisdom.  This is not your Emily Post etiquette guide but it just may be the perfect book to give as a gift to the teen (young enough to listen but old enough for curse words and serious topics) that seems destined for disaster.  Derek approaches important topics each guardian would want to broach with an impressionable mind, like the importance of learning, what appearance says about a person, responsible texting, tattoos gone bad, sex tapes, smoking, drinking, drugs, art, culture, and much more from an alternate direction.  If your stern words of caution don’t work in these areas perhaps Derek’s reasoning will appeal to the vanity of youth. 
Reading this as a more experienced person you may feel the guidance is not teaching you much you do not know but you also will find the compilation of humorous essays an amusing social commentary.  The personal experiences and opinions from Mr. Blasberg peppered throughout the book are enough to intrigue as they provide an interesting look into the fabulous and folly of the New York fashion scene.   Just learning or reviewing there is something for everyone to enjoy.
As anticipated, after completing the book and quizzes, I can confirm I am more “lady” than “tramp” by Mr. Blasberg’s definition.  I found many of his thoughts to be familiar to my own, and after reading “A lady goes abroad” and the declaration that “the airport is one of the few remaining places where you might randomly meet a good looking guy,” a point I have been reiterating (despite having no lasting results to speak of) for years, I am convinced we could be friends. Not to say there were not take a ways for me as well.   I found valuable tidbits in each of the chapters.  “A Lady gets dressed,” “A lady receives an invitation,” “A lady throws a party,” “A lady goes abroad,” “A lady makes friends,” “A lady looks for love,” “A lady faces temptation,” and finally “A lady is always learning” were all quite informative and illustrative, even from a “Lady’s” perspective.
Personally, I appreciated several specific areas for the following reasons:
  • -“What your eyebrows say about you” indicated that “an arched brow is for the girl with a slight rebellious streak,” (p38). Coming from a family with a dominant arched brow, almost to a point, I feel this could not be more accurate.  Yes I, and my entire line of family with our genetic peaked eyebrows are all a little rebellious (in a good way).
  • -Providing the accompanying playlist for many situations from dinner, to “getting your dance on” was much appreciated since I never remember the titles of songs.  Thank you Derek.
  • -“A lady throws a party” I appreciated, as the area I think will help me learn the most.  Derek you didn’t need to tell me but that party I threw where people showed up and I was still icing a birthday cake was especially embarrassing.  Sure I have thrown some successful parties and people seem to have fun but his tips can only help me add to the next one.  Now on the list of 2012 action items: “throw the perfect party and be ready on time.”
  • -The aforementioned “A lady goes abroad” chapter was awesome all the way around!  First, I agree with pretty much everything in this chapter, and secondly, I felt like I, for the most part, have it down.   This chapter gave me a nice feeling after replaying my missteps during my last fete in the proceeding chapter.
  • -I also loved the lists of movies, artists, plays, and book recommendations in “A Lady is always learning.”  It may take the dedication of an undergraduate degree in art history, film, and/or fashion to fully review all of them but it is nice to have some reference points to come back to as time permits. 

Scariest part of the book, as a Lady that has made it through the angst of youth, a person that has younger relatives, and hopefully a future mother at some point, is “A lady faces temptation.”  So many scary things in the world that have amplified since I found myself first exposed to temptation.  Just looking at one before and after meth addict photo makes me want to run to my nearest middle school to organize a PSA.  These topics are important but yuck.
As a refresher, a learning tool, or point of quick reference Classy is something to check out.  With short chapters, pictures, and illustrations it is a quick read, or easy to put down and pick up to accommodate a busy schedule.  Whether your perspective is enlightened agreement, or youthful sponge there is something to take away from the humorous yet insightful tales from Derek Blasberg. 

Sunday, January 15, 2012

2012: The year of self-actualization!

2012 The year of self-actualization

2012 is going to be a good year.  I felt it in anticipation of the New Year and continue to have a feeling of optimism several weeks in.  Some feel concern for the possibility of this being the year for the end of days.  I feel, in a slightly new age-y kind of way it may be the end of life as we know it but this is not necessarily bad.  Contrary to many commonly accepted interpretations of the Mayan calendar, the Mayans believed 2012 to be the starting over of a long period of history not the end of forever.  I too believe it is a new beginning, perhaps for a new way of thinking or being.  I believe it will bring good things and so I am dubbing this “the year of self actualization.”

The term “Self-actualization” has been used in different psychology theories over time in different ways.  To boil it down however, in some way, all iterations of self-actualization involve people realizing their full potential, to become all that they can be (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Self-actualization).

In perhaps simpler terms, this is the year I am actually going to do all of the little things I have been meaning to do, that matter, and this is going to help me achieve my best.  I believe the air is right and this is possible for anyone that wants it.

In my opinion there are several parts to this process that need to be addressed (not necessarily in this order but it kind of makes sense):

First, determining what really matters.  What do I want to achieve?  What things are taking up time and are not important?  This does not have to be an end-all be-all list but a general notion.  This is not easy.  I am trying to listen to my heart, think it through, and not to be too influenced by other popular opinions.

Second, address the clutter that weighs on you as you attempt to be your best.  These are the little things that you have been meaning to do.  Either they are not important so you get rid of or forget them, or you decide they would still be beneficial to you and you just do them, no fuss, just done.

Third, determine the needed steps to get you from point A (now) to B (the best you).  Map these out and be stoic in your process to get there.  Be realistic in the time line and the goals.  Nothing is out of the question but some goals may not really matter, and some may require a lot of steps.

Forth, take it one step at a time.  The air is right not to let fear or ego or discouragement get in your way.  Just take it one step at a time and if the path changes that is ok because you feel when you have reached your full potential.

Perhaps once we have all reached our full potential we will be able to communicate without phones or computers but telepathically.  Haha are you still reading?  Ok, that last part I do not actually believe, but I am going to throw it out there in the event it actually happens you may think I am prophetic and if not, hey just funny…

If you are following me on twitter (pause for effect as you have probably just realized you are probably not following me on twitter.  That’s ok but if you are interested in my sporadic tweets: foundrym) you may already have heard about my early 2012 self-actualization baby steps.  If not here are some early successes:

-January 1, 2012: Actualization item #1: Washed the basket of delicate hand washable items that I have been shuffling around my bedroom for the last few years.

-Actualization item #2: Finally put a flashlight in my car in case of emergency.  Have been meaning to do this for years.  MacGyver would have a flashlight in his car.

-January 2, 2012: Actualization item #3: Stocked up on incandescent light bulbs over 40 watts.  After the shelves are cleared we will no longer have access to purchase the warm butter lighting that brings me great calm.  Purchased 186 boxes of 60 to 100 watt bulbs, and am hoping this lasts me the next 85 years (yes I know this would make me 115years old; once I am actualized I am going to want to be there for a long time).  I might buy more, still haven’t decided.

-January 3, 2012: Actualization item #4 in process: Scrapbooking all of the photos I have been housing in boxes under my bed for the last 5 years, and printing out the more recent photos I haven’t printed because the boxes under my bed are full.  This is going to take a while, as I like to take photos.  I am going to focus on really good photos; life is too short for bad pictures that do not have artistic or humorous value. 

Here is where my actualization plan started to get derailed a bit.  I was making good progress at home and at work but then started to get sick.  I spent the last eight days laid up with Pneumonia.  Have you ever had pneumonia?  Whoa.  Not to be dramatic but I usually work through illness and rarely have fevers.  With pneumonia, literally there was a 24hour period I did not move.  Scrapbooking was definitely not an option with pneumonia.  It was a challenge to make it to the restroom.  Then the walk to the restroom required a four-hour nap to recuperate.   Had it not been for my mother bringing a variety of chicken noodle soup and tea I probably would not have eaten.  I started feeling really sick Friday tried to just fight through it over the weekend but by Monday with fevers ranging from 99 to 102.7 that didn’t seem to be receding I went to the doctor (in the most embarrassing ensemble I may have ever worn out of the house), had the chest x-ray, the whole thing.  Thankfully I was not hospitalized but was threatened with that or worse if I didn’t continue my sleep/soup/tea regimen for another five days.  I thought this extreme but having just made it through day six, while I am now able to move about, fever free, and managed a short trip to see Tim Gunn, I could still sleep for 16hours out of the day.

At first I was completely bummed by this forced slow down, however, I am choosing to look at this in a positive way.   While I had not intended to address these items so early on in 2012:
-Unintentional actualization item #5: Caught up on my sleep
-Unintentional actualization item #6: Caught up on my FX channel action movie watching,
-Unintentional actualization item #7: Finished three magazines and one book I started but never actually finished reading in 2011 (with more to come)
-Unintentional actualization item #8: Haven’t actually measured but I think the pneumonia may have cause me to drop some water weight and in combination with mild muscle atrophy may help me squeeze into some of the vintage skirts I found in my attic.
-Actualization item #9: in progress but with very good headway: planning of blogging topics, outfits, and exercise regimens’ all to be put into action once physically able.

An organized space and self-reflection will help me prepare for moving forward with becoming the best me I can be.  Preparing for every situation also gets me ready for any unexpected issues that may arise on the way.  Listing my small bits of progress helps with the sense of accomplishment and just may keep me accountable for continuing the progress.  These may be small steps but they are all actually getting done! 

Yeah for 2012!

Tim Gunn is the best!

Well it finally happened!  I had the opportunity to meet one of my favorite inspirational public figures Tim Gunn!  He is every thing I expected him to be and meeting him was totally a pleasure!

The first male speaker to take part in the “Smart Talk: Connected Conversations” speaker series, Tim Gunn regaled a diverse crowd with his experiences, insight, wit, and inspiration at the Arnoff Center for the Arts.  To an auditorium full of people Tim maintained the genuine and personal communication style that has placed him in the hearts of so many.

Tim described stories of the excitement and challenges of his career path. Knowing he was influential at Parson’s school of design it was interesting to hear of the polarizing nature of the reinvention and the rarely heard challenging side of this work. It was an opportunity to hear about his friendships with a number of notable fashion figures in a way that was humorous and endearing.  He provided the back ground for Project runway, and colorful behind the scenes instances.  He also spoke a bit about his upcoming show “The Revolution” (http://abc.go.com/shows/the-revolution) starting Monday on ABC at 2pm EST.   Just as Project Runway was the first style show of its kind and filled a void in evening television for the fashion focused, “The Revolution” is a collaboration of inspirational figures with a common goal to bring out the best in people that, in my mind, is poised to fill the inspirational void left on daytime with Oprah’s retirement.

While Tim is most noted for his knowledge on style, his consistent message during this engagement, and woven through his books and other work, is a broader focus on helping people realize their full potential.  This evening he described his passion for making style work for women above a size 12, and making good fashion accessible to all.  He highlighted his focus on embracing what works for each person.  He also described the growing need for manners and mutual respect; a topic that is a focus in Gunn’s Golden Rule (expect a future stylish book report on this one in the future).  This evening Tim continued to prove he is not just stylish but full of relatable good taste for all areas of life.

With so many experiences to speak of it would be easy for a person to develop a cavalier attitude but not Tim.  Consistently he expressed gratitude for the opportunities of his life, the people he has worked with over the years, and the student relationships he valued through his career as an educator.  The unintentional take away lesson from these stories was the benefit of being honest, authentic, and the best person you can be.  Tim has achieved success while continuing to be honest, authentic, and truthful.  Tim not only demonstrates this but also encourages each person that it is possible to carve a path to success and maintain your best self.

The speaking engagement concluded with a question and answer session with Amy Tobin and an impromptu meet-and-greet session as fans approached the stage and formed a line to shake hands with Tim.  Being absolutely awesome Tim crouched on the stage until it became evident crouching may be uncomfortable for the line that was forming.  He hoped down off the stage, still maintaining his pristine suit and composure, continued greeting, and then there was an announcement the meet and greet would be moved to the lobby.  Not sure what to do we all shuffled around until a location was designated and a line quickly formed.  Tim took time to chat with each group, no time limit or process specified he was open and calm. 

When it was our turn for a visit I continued to be totally impressed.  He made sure to shake each of our hands while looking each person directly in the eye with a personal moment, as if the line did not exist.  My friend, God love her, pointed out that I was a jewelry designer and had auditioned for project accessory to which Tim responded, “You know what about that show?  You are a jewelry designer, how are you supposed to make a shoe?”  Yes!  Didn’t make sense to any of us at the audition either!  He is totally logical as well as gracious!  I think I stammered something about learning to make a shoe and trying again before we took a picture and I reiterated, “You are the best.  Just the best,” about three times.  It’s the truth.  Tim Gunn is the best. 
"What a good looking family!" -Tim Gunn thinking we may have all been related.