Lesson 14- Starvation is Overrated!!

“Skinny is as skinny does.”

diet-and-exerciseBut wait my friend, contrary to what you may be expecting, this little lesson is not about diets or exercise or dress size. It’s about filling up on life.

I saw the movie Auntie Mame starring Rosalind Russell at a auntie-mame-posterdrive-in theater at the highly impressionable age of ten. I went to see it with my Auntie Alice. She was the kind of aunt who was excellent at letting children be children, and she always did special, individual things with my brother, sister and me. She didn’t lump us together into group activities we couldn’t all possibly be interested in. And I loved her dearly. (She passed away several years ago and I miss her great observational wit and wisdom.)

Aunt Alice was actually a great aunt-not because of her personality which was indeed great, but because she was my mom’s Aunt first. Alice was a cook by profession (I’ve had the good fortune to have had two aunts who were professional cooks—YUMMY!) and I loved going to Auntie’s house. egg-beaterLoved watching her bake cakes from scratch, whipping egg whites with a whisk, not a beater (not the kind you plug in, the kind with the handle you turned) and gently folding the fluffy mixture into the batter. She always put a little coffee in her chocolate frosting—which my mother never did and I thought that made it sophisticated and extra delicious. She told me silly stories about her own childhood in a small rural town in western Pennsylvania. I was fascinated by the details of her preparations for Uncle Al to come home from work—he was a Pullman porter for New York Central Railroad and was often gone several days in a row. Aunt Alice always made his arrival back home something special, always. She was the sweet, kind, loving, gentle, buxom, sturdy shoe, flowered apron wearing kind of aunt you always saw in the movies—and she and Uncle Al always drove a Chevrolet–which she unfailingly pronounced “Chivvy.”

cars-drive-in-movieUncle was working and I don’t know where my brother and sister were, but the Auntie Mame movie night was one of “my special nights” with Auntie Alice. Just me and her and plenty of popcorn in the Chivvy on a warm summer night. It was my idea of perfect “Auntiedom”—until Mame Dennis burst onto the screen.

From the moment Mame appeared at the top of the stairs of her Beekman Place townhouse, in auntie-mame-staircase-611x343her black lace Chinese-style pajamas with a Mandarin collar, gold duster carrying a mile long cigarette holder and talking a mile a minute, I was hooked on a new kind of Auntie. Mame rushed down the stairs, but moved like she floating –her dramatic bejeweled jacket flapping and flying out behind her like wings as she descended into a party already in full swing. The guests were an eclectic bunch—by 1950’s standards. There were men wearing turbans, thobes and kufiyas, women dressed like men, all sorts of things that at ten, I only “sort of” understood were different from the normal party scenes in movies. mom-dad-and-the-godwinsMy parents gave parties where adults got dressed up and drank whiskey sours, daiquiris and munched on canapes and everyone smoked and talked and laughed and listenedvintage-canapes1 to music. Other than the fact that the guests in my house were black instead of white, my mom and dad’s gatherings looked pretty much like any other party I’d seen on TV. But Mame and her party were not like anything I’d ever seen before.

Growing up, I had a host of aunts. Most were really family. Others were the adult women with whom my family was close—too close for us children to call them Miss or Mrs…sup-hose1you know, we all have those aunties (and uncles.) And they were, to a one, all kind, good women. They wore good simple, dark dresses to church on Sunday with coordinating sesnsible-spectator-shoesmodest hats, sensible shoes and Supp-Hose or too beige stockings over brown legs. They kept neat houses. They made potato salad, fried chicken and pot roasts. I even had a much younger aunt who was in college in the 50’s and she dazzled me with her cherries-in-the-snowcircle skirts and sweaters and the pouffy strapless dresses she wore to dances. She had a manicure set with Revlon Cherries in the Snow—very very red nail polish on the dressing table in her bedroom. My other aunts didn’t wear nail polish—red or any other color. They were too busy snapping string beans, scrubbing floors, ironing sheets and dealing with their children.

But of all the aunts I had known, mine and those of friends, of all the aunts I’d read about mames-bedroom-1-611x343in books I’d never run into an aunt—or anyone else for that matter, who wore black lace pants, ate with porcelain chopsticks, had white Austrian shades in their bedrooms, slept in bias cut satin nightgowns with matching sleep masks or just seemed so totally, utterly happy and free. “I’m your Auntie Mame!!” she shouted with enough joie de vivre for a host of aunties.

And I was smitten.

I was charmed by Mame’s style. Yes, she was rich—at least for part of the movie, but that’s not what won me over. I was intoxicated by her unabashed, exuberance for… EVERYTHING. I had never, in my short ten year life span, seen an adult act quite so—full-out ALIVE. Where was her reserve? The caution of editing herculon-50s-sofayour speech because “little pitchers have big ears”? The mature, mellow tones of warning about appropriate, inappropriate or ladylike behavior? Where were her sensible clothes? Where was the sturdy furniture upholstered in Herculon fabric meant to endure a lifetime of indignities and abuse from dirty sneakers, cookie crumbs, crayons, Elmer’s Glue, dog hair, spilled milk and Kool-Aid, puke and dropped Popsicles? None of these trappings of responsible adulthood were part of mame-apartment-looksMame Dennis’ life before she became the guardian of her young orphaned nephew Patrick—nor did they creep in, and ever so slowly take over, after Patrick moved in—and grew up. I aunt-beakept waiting for Auntie Mame to turn into Aunt Bee from Mayberry (even though the Andy Griffith show wasn’t on the air yet, you know the kind of auntie I mean.) But it never happened.

I was fascinated by Mame’s quick wit and outspoken intolerance of those who wergirl-scout-cookiese intolerant. I was seduced by her keen, wise observations of the big and little things around her. To me she was a living (albeit on the movie screen) version of the Serenity Prayer,
which I had just learned in Girl Scouts. (No we weren’t secretly a bunch of boozing little girls who learned Bill W.’s prayer for any reason other than our Scout leader taught it to us.) But Mame Dennis changed what she could. Accepted what she could not change. And in my ten year old heart and mind, I just knew she was smart enough to know the difference between the two.

Mame had a unique perspective on life—her own life, not anyone else’s. She didn’t auntie-mame-champagnepreach or proselytize. She didn’t judge. She didn’t much care what other people thought. She didn’t worry about whether they approved of her. She enjoyed the good times with unembarrassed, unbridled joy. She weathered the bad times with equanimity, grace and hope. And Mame Dennis allowed no space in her life —not even one tiny little corner, for the mundane or the dull. Mame was fully involved in LIVING the moments she was in. When things got bad after Mame lost all her money, she tried her best to “settle down” to put a lid on herself and her life. She tried to dress conservatively, to be more formal and reserved and adult like.

But no matter how hard she tried, it wouldn’t take. Mame was like Teflon and thedrive-in-movie-theatre ordinary couldn’t stick to her.

And I was, for all intents and purposes, smack in the midst of the biggest “girl crush” of
my life from the moment I met her in that 1956 Chevy on a summer night in 1958 at the Wherle Drive In.

The most famous line from this movie, “Life is a banquet, and most poor suckers are starving to
death!” has also been declared among the top 100 movie lines in one of “those” polls. This is the starvation I refer to in the title of this Lesson.

I wanted to be like Mame Dennis. I could barely wait to be grown up enough. I wanted to dine at her banquet. I took her invitation as a challenge, one I heard and melt-buffetspreadaccepted—at ten. And I secretly vowed (to no one but myself) that I would not ever be one of those “poor suckers starving to death.”

I grant you that Mame Dennis as portrayed by her nephew Patrick, was in all likelihood only supposed to be in her early 40’s, but as a kid, there was no discernable difference between  forty-something and fifty or sixty-anything. All of those decades were too far removed from my little ten year old self to seem real or possible. But actual numbers notwithstanding, I was aware that I wanted to be older. Not seventeen or twenty five, but a real, grown up WOMAN, who, like Mame, knew that living should be, could be, a full time occupation.

I became an Auntie myself thirty three years ago—and I was determined to share my hunger for the banquet of life with the progeny of my siblings. I did not have the constraints or responsibilities of parenthood. I was going to be their Auntie Mame. I wanted them to know me, what was important to me, who I was as a person rather than who I was supposed to be in my role as Auntie. I dressed up to make a Tuesday an occasion. I took off for New York and the fashion business. I wrote books. I gave my nine year old nephew a box of money for Christmas. It was only fifty dollars but all in singles looked and felt to him like so much more. When they were little, my nieces and nephew called me “Auntie Martini.” The name is one I happily earned.

My nieces anmame-live-lived nephew have all now seen “Auntie Mame” – the Rosalind Russell version and they get it…and me! (Do not waste your time with the Lucille Ball one. Don’t get me wrong, Lucy was a great comedienne and she had her time and place but attempting the role of Mame Dennis should not have been on her list of accomplishments.)

There is a quote by Clarence B. Kelland, I use often around Father’s Day—“My father didn’t teach me how to live. He lived, and let me watch him do it.” This is what I have done, or hope I have done as an Auntie—exactly like Mame did. But not just as an aunt, I firmly believe the “Banquet Mentality” is at the core of my life’s philosophy and if when I am gone, people say about me “She knew how to LIVE!” I will have done it right.

We are all invited to partake of the banquet. I wish more people believed that. The feast may not always be lobster and Kobe beef filet mignon. You may find a tough little piece gristle or bit of unchewable, bitter tomato stem on your plate more often than you like, or think is fair. But on the whole, the table is heavy laden and bountiful and the choices are plentiful.

We can take the trouble to look for the good and fill up on it, or we can chew and choke on the bad that’s right in front of us—and complain.

The choice is yours. But I’m not into starving yourself to a size zero. That leaves you with a middle that’s empty, void. I am all for “supersizing” your portion whenever possible. Gobble up as much of the good and joyous in the world as you possibly can—love, friendship, sights, sounds, smells, feelings, moments are all there for the taking and enjoying. Don’t live skinny! Fill yourself up! Get FAT on life!

I am the older, fully grown up woman I wanted to be at ten. I am LIVING as though my very soul and heart and mind depended on it… because it does.

banquet-tableThis very day, you will find a framed “Mame” poster on the wall of my bathroom and a small photo in my bedroom. She keeps watch every day—making sure I don’t give up my seat at the banquet table—at least not without a fight!

 

 

Homework:

Look for your invitation to the Banquet. Hmmm— did you toss it out with junk mail? Jam it in the corner of the desk drawer with the bills? Keep looking it’s there someplace.

Still can’t find it? I’m not surprised. Of course now the work is on you.

you-are-invited

Go to the card shop. Buy the most beautiful invitation you can find. (To those of you clever and crafty enough, feel free to make your own.)

Fill out the inside as follows:

Date: Year In and Year Out

Time: Every Minute of Every Day

Place: Wherever You Are

Occasion: The I Woke Up Today Banquet—All You Can Eat!

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Mail this invitation to yourself.

When it arrives open it and leave where you can see it—a bulletin board, the fridge door—as a regular reminder not to skip a meal.

 

LESSON THIRTEEN-SHOW A LITTLE APPRECIATION

LESSON THIRTEEN-SHOW A LITTLE APPRECIATION

 


 

Thank you very much!thank-you

 

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Most of us will never get on the Forbes list by making a killing in the stock market or by filling our coffers to overflowing from the strategic buying and flipping of foreclosed real estate, —no matter how many DVD’s we buy from the huckster on the infomercial. We will also not be oscarHalle or Lena or Angelina beautiful. We will not win the Nobel,
the Pulitzer or the Oscar—in any category—and most probably neither will anyone we know. Our closets are not stocked with zalesArmani, Prada, Louboutins or Birkin bags. The good jewelry we wear on
special occasions most likely came from Zales or Jared, not Harry Winston or Cartier.

 

A great dinner out at our favorite steak house consists of USDA prime, not Kobe, beef.  And kobe beefwe are now old enough and clever enough to know that whether or not you clean your plate has absolutely nothing to do with easing the misery of the millions of starving feed the childrenchildren in China or Ethiopia or wherever it was our parents filled us full of angst and guilt about when we didn’t want to eat our Brussels sprouts or liver or kumquats.

Our garages do not provide temperature and humidity controlled shelter for our Bentleys and Maseratis—they garage-sale-artare jam packed with lawnmowers, snow blowers and the other junk we can’t fit in the house and haven’t yet moved to the self-storage place.  It’s a pretty safe bet that, although it is possible, very few of our children will become the President of Harvard or the research_lab_shutterstock_88062886United States, launch the next Microsoft, or discover a cure for the common cold. More likely than not, they will grow up, get fairly decent jobs or start a small accounting/house-painting/hairdressing/etc. business and generally get on with their lives, which in a world where every year, ten or so million children die before their fifth birthday, is pretty excellent.supermarket

The shelves of our local supermarket are laden enough food to feed entire villages in Haiti  or Cambodia or Somalia—for months, but we complain indignantly about long lines and the lack of enough check out registers and only begrudgingly accept a rain check for the sale item now out of stock.

Some of us can barely afford health insurance-even with the Affordable Care Act, some of us surely are affected by illness– our own or that of someone near and dear, some of us haiti hospital 2010have been misdiagnosed or even mistreated by a health care professional, but we cannot imagine, no matter how hard we try, what it is like to live in a place where there are NO doctors or hospitals.

We are up in arms when our power fails for a few hours after an overtaxing summer of overwhelming electricity_accessheat, (Caused in no small part by global warming from our being such terrible stewards of the planet we call home.)  but the notion of living in a place where electricity is available (to rich and
poor alike) only five or six hours a day is inconceivable to us.

Once a year on a chilly November day, after The thanksgiving parade1Big Parade and before and during The Big Game, we give collective, unembarrassed obeisance and lip-service to our gratitude for our abundant blessings over a well roasted turkey.jpg(often too well-roasted) fowl—because even the government, knowing how good we had it here, mandated a national Thank You Day (to which Supreme Being you give thanks has not yet been mandated). And yet before the wish bone is snapped and we’ve had a chance to get bored with the leftovers— hell, before the good dishes have been put back in

the china cabinet, we have joined the unruly mob of “black Friday” thugs coming to blows over the last $49 TV at the SuperCheapoMart Early Bird Sale. The ad said only 50 at each store. And you’re number 51. Oh well. Did you really needed another television set anyway?

Where did all that thankfulness we so humbly heralded the day before go?

We live in a time, AND in a country possessed of untold bounty. But the whine has become our hue and cry. We bitch and moan so much that I’m not sure we’re even remotely cognizant of how good we have it. As the First Lady so eloquently stated “…this, right now, is the greatest country on Earth.”

Here, there is much.  And, truth be told, deep down, we know it.

country wealth

Yet we are so busy complaining about what we’re lacking that we have no understanding that to most of the world, EVERYONE in America is rich. And relatively speaking, we are. Even the poorest and most disenfranchised among us are several centuries better off than the majority of the known world.

So—now that we have reached the age of true maturity—which brings with it wisdom, understanding and acceptance (or at least it’s supposed to if you’re doing it right) it is time half full glassto realize that for more of us than would readily admit it, the glass has been half full (at least) most of our lives. And if your glass is among the underfilled, more than likely, it’s because you either spilled it—it’s kinda hard to keep everything in there when you’re running too fast and not paying attention or that you were once again not paying attention when they told you which line you should get in for your half glass worth.

A few years ago, I believe that Oprah, the undisputed people’s choice for guardian of our national conscience, inveigled us to keep a Gratitude Journal.  I’m not really sure how I feel about the whole grateful1journaling thing—and there’s likely to be a later LESSON on that, but my personal “to journal or not to journal” indecision aside, the call to be mindful and grateful for what we have is one we all can and  SHOULD heed—often and repeatedly, without the designation of a special day.

Homework:

Each and every day that you open your eyes, before you haul your butt out of bed. Think of just one thing you’re grateful for. I don’t care if you write it down or not, but you do have to call to mind at least one of your good fortunes every day—even on weekends. (On really really bad days, you have permission to repeat or to only be grateful.)look harder for gratitude

LESSON TWELVE – THE INSTANT FACE LIFT

LESSON TWELVE – THE INSTANT FACE LIFT

YES…There really is a no risk, no obligation, no scalpel, no recovery time way to a youthful face!

Remember when plastic surgery was strictly the province of movie stars and heiresses?

marilyn-monroe-chin-implant-before-after

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Phyllis Diller After-left|Before right

Sure you do. In the 1960’s Phyllis Diller talked about hers openly and as often as anyone would let her. Joan

rs_1024x759-130912160836-1024-joan-rivers-plastic-surgery.ls.91213_copy
Joan Rivers Before|After

Rivers didn’t talk about hers, but we talked about it for her. And yes, we were all justifiably confused by facial choices made by the likes of Michael Jackson, Lisa Rinna, Li’l Kim and Kenny Rogers.

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Li’l Kim

 

 

 

 

 

The facelift used to be a statement, an all out, no-expense-spared attempt at age avoidance—a vain effort to swim against the swift, strong current of that infamous river—Look-As-Young-As-You-Feel-Visit-Baltimore-Maryland-Plastic-Surgeon-Dr-Jeffrey-SchreiberDenial. A facelift said in no uncertain terms, that you had reached the point where it was no longer enough to lie about your age, you also had concluded that you must “look the lie,” as well as speak it.

Most of those early facelifts were scary—women4b566ca5c3fe1e1d4d8308a347634968 looked as if their faces had been dipped in starch and pinned to a curtain stretcher. (Which, if you’re under fifty, you may have to look up.) And sadly, after one of those hush-
hush, top-secret procedures, the rich and famous denied
having had, they didn’t even look like real human beings anymore, much less like themselves.

Warp ahead to the Twenty First Century and thanks to our national addiction to as_seen_on_tvubiquitous makeover shows and infomercials, words like collagen, Juvéderm, Botox, Restylane, LifeStyleLift and Thermage are part of our daily vocabulary.  We can be sucked, tucked, tightened, lifted, planed, lasered, peeled, and abraded to our hearts’ content. A full slate of “reality” medical programs available on our 9999 facelift_dia3cable/satellite channels, means that we can actually watch procedures like Rhytidectomy (face lift), Malar augmentation (cheek implant) Mentoplasty (chin augmentation), blepharoplasty (eyelid lift) and Cervicoplasty (neck lift) being performed — in glorious hi-def no less, from the bbl-sciencecomfort of our own homes, while we snack on low-fat, sugar free bonbons. Since this lesson is about lifting your FACE, we will not cover all the other things you can have lifted— the bootylicious Brazilian butt lift, tantalizing tit tighten up or…Vaginoplasty—that name is self-explanatory and is definitely NOT part of your face.

lunchtimeprocedures There are now even quickie procedures (feather/thread lift) as short as thirty minutes that you can have performed on your lunch hour and be back at your desk in time for your afternoon staff meeting.  How can you beat the promise of
a new, more youthful you in the same amount of time it takes to eat a salad with dressing on the side?

And to make it extra easy, any and all of these youthifications can be yours with a plastic-surgery-financingconvenient financing plan from your very own plastic surgeon, a no money down easy-breezy cosmetic surgery finance center (yes there are loan businesses specifically for plastic surgery) or with a credit card you haven’t maxed out—you can even put your plastic on plastic! So what if you’re still making payments on that eye and neck lift when it’s time for you to collect Social Security—that is if Social Security hasn’t disappeared like your wrinkles by then.

Now before you call me a hater, let me be clear. I am not. Nor am I against plastic surgery in either a theoretical or practical way. I have a couple of good friends who are plastic surgeons. Heck. Who knows…one day I may even have some fallen part of my very own face and or body lifted, tucked or tightened. So I am not against the miracles that modern medicine have made possible in today’s world, quite the contrary.

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            However, I do believe, unequivocally, that there is an easier, cheaper, pain free, all natural, do-it-yourself facial rejuvenator that is available to one and all.

It is called a smile. smile

Despite the fact that human behaviorists and those who specialize in smile analysis (yes, for real) will say there are many sub-categories of smiles—lazy, sneaky, flirty, etc., in my book, there are really only two kinds of lip curling that count. There’s the polite, pleasant but disengaged smile that only requires the “zygomaticus major” muscle near your mouth to do its thing. And there’s the real, genuine smile that also brings the “orbicularis oculi” muscle near your eyes into play as well.  I know—this is way too anatomical, so think of it like the difference between turning on just your parking lights and hitting the high beams.

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Left – Fake | Right – Real

It is that second smile, the real one, which provides an instant facelift.  A full, heartfelt smile lifts your mouth, your cheeks, your forehead and your eyes. A real smile lights you up from inside and gives you a glow that ultimately makes you look brighter and more youthful. Once upon a time in a life long ago, I used to be a model, so believe me I know what the right lighting can do to erase sags, lumps, lines and shadows!

IMG_9330I have, in fact, been posting THEN/NOW photos from my modeling days and the present on my Instagram (http://instagram.com/virginiadeberry or http://instagram.com/cutestillcounts). In many of the professional pics from back in the 80’s I am featured with a pouty mouth (that’s POUTY, not POTTY though that can also be true!) and a haughty, far IMG_1459away gaze. That look worked when I was 30 years younger. Now if I pout it’s just my RBF (Resting Bitch Face) and I look mean and tired. So in almost all of the NOW pics, I am smiling…because I KNOW what a smile does to project the appearance of youth and vitality! 😉

I am convinced that smiling plays a huge part of the reason people think I am a dozen or so years younger than my birth certificate states.  Mind you, my smile is all natural—homemade by John and Juanita DeBerry back in 1949. It was not my smilemanufactured at a “smile center” by a board certified cosmetic dentist— my teeth don’t have veneers—they are a bit too big and slightly crooked and I’m in a constant battle with a black head that refuses to leave my lower lip line no matter how often I squeeze the life out of it. But even with its imperfections, my smile is now and has always been, the attribute I get the most compliments about.

It is also my most natural and most frequently occurring expression.

No matter what the song says, I don’t know if a smile can actually be your umbrella. Or if you can really smile when your heart is breaking. And while I’m not convinced that as an economic principle, a rising tide lifts all boats, I am absolutely certain that a smile lifts both your face, your spirit and the spirit of others who are the beneficiaries of its magical power. I smile so regularly and have done so for so long, that it’s unconscious at this point. And whaddaya know—it makes other people smile at me—be they babies in line at the supermarket (good) or the strange man filling up his gas tank on the other side of the pump (maybe good, but probably not.)

free trial offer

            So…why don’t you consider this a free trial offer? I guarantee that it’s safe and has no risk, no obligation and no shipping and handling charges. If you don’t return it before the trial period expires, your credit card will not be charged automatically. This facelift requires no anesthesia, no releases to sign, no black and blue recovery time or stitches to remove. It truly is a worry free trial and you have nothing to lose but years off your face.

Homework:

Smile at yourself in the mirror.

Smile at 10 people you know.smile shortest distance

Smile at 5 people you don’t know.

Repeat daily.

Remember—practice makes perfect!

smile

LESSON 11: You Just Have to Come Home

LESSON 11: You Just Have to Come Home

homeWhen I saw this image posted on the Facebook page Fly, Hip & Ageless the other day, it reminded me of how many of us have lost our way “home;” the way back to the essence of who we are…or were.  We’ve been whoever we needed to be, for whomever needed us to be whatever that is (daughter/wife/sister/boss/mother/employee/grandmother/etc.) for so long that we no longer remember who we used to be. Back before the world crept into our sense of self, our dreams and our belief in possibilities and re-shaped who we were…who we might have been.

I realized this about myself about 25 years ago and began my journey “home,” my journey to finding the girl I had left behind. When I came across these childhood photos of me as a toddler. I was struck by how completely self possesed I was. I decided to have the picture enlarged, matted and framed. I hung them on my bedroom wall as a daily reminder not to forget “HER”–that little girl who so seemed to know exactly who she was. The Virginia who took life just seriously enough. The Virginia who felt and expressed more joy in a laugh than words could ever communicate. The Virginia who believed that a pretty dress could always make her feel pretty.

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Contemplating the complexities of life in the tall grass while wearing pjs!
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HAPPY!
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The right dress can make you feel like a princess…

These grainy old snapshots helped me find my way home…my way back to me and I haven’t lost my way since!

you had the power

HOMEWORK:

Look for whatever it is that will be YOUR trail of breadcrumbs, your Glinda,  your GPS. It might be a song, a book, a photo, a memory…it doesn’t matter what the trigger is, as long as it leads you back to YOU. When you find your way back home, LOVE the YOU you find there, invite her back into your world and LISTEN to her when she speaks to you in the midst of all the noise you are surrounded by. You will soon realize that because she has no guile, that girl will always tell you the truth–and I’m sure you will find that being in your own skin, the skin that was made just for you as opposed to the skin you’ve been trying to fit in, is pretty gosh darn comfortable! Because…there really is no place like home!

LESSON TEN- BEING A CLASSIC

LESSON TEN-     BEING A CLASSIC

 

Question:

What’s the difference between a classic car and a junker?

(You will get the answer at the end!)

antique benzjunker carEver notice how carefully collectors of old stuff— cars, antiques, books, works of art, treat classic car garagetheir treasures? Vintage autos are sheltered in temperature controlled environments, their finishes, interior and exterior, are regularly polished and buffed until they gleam. When they do venture out of their protected luxury garages and onto the road, there are special license plates designating them as exceptional and unique, and these classic vehicles are exempted collector platefrom the compliance standards and regulations that apply to newer models. And whether it’s a stately sedan or a racy roadster, these classic cars get noticed. People slow down, take a second or third look and toot their horn or wave as an expression of their admiration—or envy. Sometimes the driver acknowledges the admiring glances with a nod or a casually tossed hand in the air. Other times they continue on their merry way oblivious to everything but their own enjoyment.

Collectors of these rare and beautiful automobiles have their own societies and they gather regularly for the express purpose of displaying, comparing and discussing their four classic car showwheeled treasures. Owners stand around proclaiming the virtues of chamois, sea sponge, sheepskin and wicking towels as the care tools of choice. But whatever they use to clean, dry and polish, they are full of nothing but praise for each other’s gorgeous classic wheels. And between these public displays of affection, the owners of these gems can peruse magazines and websites devoted to these treasured autos.

The same type of behavior applies to antiques and those who collect them. Antique stores antique store1are jewel boxes—purposefully designed and lighted to display their venerable contents to best advantage. No sunlight fades or damages fine woods or upholstery. Lamps cast perfect shadows and highlights to make an item appear imposing, delicate—and most importantly, precious.

Ever notice on the Antiques Roadshow how antiques roadshowthose clever Keno brothers carefully examine the craftsmanship and handiwork of a piece of period furniture? They don special white cotton gloves so as to protect the precious satinwood or walnut finish from even the most imperceptible trace of oil from human skin. The Keno boys Glove_Heavyweight_Men_Hand_LVsalivate as they oooh! and aaah! while smoothing their gloved hands over inlay, scrollwork, curved legs and of course those amazing claw feet. They exude an almost sexual excitement and tension as they examine the console table or settee, and you can feel it. You’re in your living room, hundreds or even thousands of miles away from the Oklahoma Convention Center or the Peoria-Dome, but your excitement grows right along with theirs. Their saliva setteevery nearly turns too drool as they turn the table or chest upside down and find original dove tail joints or look at the inside of a drawer and find wood older than the surface, indicating even more specifically a period and style in furniture history. We’re at home holding our breath. Hoping for a huge climax— (a financial one of course) we’ve been teased and toyed with long enough. Then at last, they give us all what we want. The Kenos are gleeful as they tell the now drop-jawed possessor of this mighty treasure the value of the commode/desk/highboy that has been languishing untended and undusted in an attic corner, ever since Great Aunt Gertie (who got the piece from her mother who got it from a neighbor who got it from…) went on to glory.

old used furnitureBut back in the real world most of us live in, old sofas and tables are moved to the basement or storage room until-well until they end up donated to charity, left on the curb for the trash collector or carted away by the kindly New Furniture Company that is delivering their shiny replacements.

And as for cars? The clunkers and wrecks are traded in, abandoned in a junkyard or stashed car with treebehind the garage. They are left at the mercy of the elements, are subjected to the games of neighborhood children, fall prey to vandals who shatter windows, scratch obscenities on their once lustrous finishes, or become unlikely planters for anything wild enough to take root in the inhospitable old steel. Then they finally rust their way to oblivion.

So it seems the appropriate determination of worth for “old stuff” has something to do with the intrinsic value it was originally assigned. An object is deemed special because it is well crafted, beautiful to the beholder, and therefore desired. But the assignment of value and desirability also has a great deal to do with the perception of worth and importance.

Beyond the basics of food, clothing and shelter, we live in a society where most of us want what we are told we want. Really. I will repeat that sentence. We want what we are TOLD tocell phone purse want. We are all consumers. And we are being marketed to every single minute of every single day. I mean who knew that one day I’d actually WANT a phone in my purse? If someone had told me that twenty years ago, I would have thought the notion absurd. Why on earth would anyone want to carry a telephone around with them? Ludicrous! But now, nearly everyone has a mobile phone in their handbag, pocket, wirelessly hooked up to their car—or worse, their ear—all the time!

So we’re back to the original premise. Making something valuable enough to want, is either a result of the object’s value because it is rare and finely wrought of the best materials. Or it is worth something because someone has told us it is worth something by desiring it?

1948 fordThink about this…a 1948 Ford that has been well cared for can be worth much more than a 1998 Mercedes Benz. The fifty years the Ford has on the Benz is not a problem, but rather the thing that makes it worthy. And if you can mbzauthenticate provenance—who owned it when, and for how long—the value of that Ford can go up even more.

So here’s the good news—you are the original owner of you. You may have done some long term leasing of yourself—to build a marriage, raise children, develop a career—but there’s never been another owner. You are it. How have you treated yourself?  How much of your intrinsic value have you retained?  How much of it do you want to reclaim?

Answer:

The difference between a classic car and a junker has nothing to do with age. It’s all in the way it’s cared for.

Whether you want to be a Classy Classic or a Walking Wreck is up to you.

Homework:

pop-ink-csa-images-woman-looking-in-full-length-mirror

Get up now and go stand in front of your full length mirror. (You can keep your clothes on—this time.) If you don’t have a full length mirror, shame on you, but find the closest substitute. Take a long look. What do you see—a valuable collectible or a junker? Right now, DECIDE that you will follow the example of the collectible car enthusiasts and antique aficionados—who know something special when they see it. You are a treasure, so treat yourself like the special, classic babe you are—starting now!

If you haven’t shined yourself up and taken yourself out to be admired lately—put that on your calendar right now.

If you have shined yourself up and taken yourself out to be admired lately—do it again!