Friday, May 28, 2010

Simon Cowell

I will miss Simon's presence on "American Idol". It has been said many times that he has the guts to say what everyone else is thinking. However, I do feel he could be more tactful at times. Even he was disgusted with himself when he played back the clip of Susan Boyle's audition and saw how he initially reacted. The whole audience got a wake up call that day. He mentioned the two "Idol" contestants he spotted right off the bat as being special were Fantasia and Carrie Underwood. Unfortunately, I missed those seasons.

There were a few things I found surprising to learn about Simon. He talked about how he can have very dark periods like depression. He allows himself to feel down instead of taking a pill or pretending that everything is okay. He has also had some huge failures in life. I recognize that he can be a little overconfident and cocky, but when he started out as a record executive in his twenties he was living a life of excess. He couldn't afford the fancy lifestyle he was living and lived on credit. At 30 years old he had to move back in with his parents because he lost everything. Simon said once everything was gone all the pressure went away. He paid off his loans in three or four years, and said it was one of the happiest times of his life.

Simon made the comment he feels lucky to be in the position he's in right now to create a new show. Oprah doesn't believe in luck, "I think there is no luck without preparation meeting the moment of opportunity." He has worked hard to get where he is in life and feels lucky that he learned from his past mistakes.

Simon will be leaving "Idol" because he's grown as much as he can on the show and felt the timing was right to move on. His new show the X-Factor is also a talent search format. With his new show he is going to have everything he would like to see on a talent show. Oprah said if she was a betting woman she'd bet on Simon. I'll second that.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Nate Berkus

Some people have Twilight premier parties, I'm thinking of having a Nate Berkus party. The Nate Berkus show premiers September 13. I can't believe it has been eight years since he first appeared on Oprah. One lucky viewer whose 300 square foot apartment was redecorated by Nate said it best, "He doesn't just design spaces he transforms lives." Nate has shared tons of decorating advice over the past eight years.

Nate's best advice for small spaces:
1) furniture has to be multifunctional
2) use large scale pieces-small pieces remind you that everything is small

Nate's best advice for freshening up outdated rooms:
1) buy new pillows, a rug or slipcover
2) new drapes in a neutral color - mount drapes higher than the window frame to make the room
feel taller

Nate works from the heart and it is evident in the rooms he creates. You can tell he really cares about the people he's helping and how they live. I believe your home doesn't define who you are, but it can make a difference in the way you live your life and your stress level. Who doesn't like a clean home? Nate says your home is an expression of you. What makes you happy? I have really tried to make my home an expression of me and not be totally influenced by model homes in my area. While I try to stay up to date, I also try to personalize my home with accessories that say something about me. I collect shells, old and new books, and old games and cameras. In my 20's and 30's I used to feel like anything I was given by a friend or relative (especially my mother) I had to display. I felt ungrateful if I didn't have it prominently displayed. A common theme on Oprah's shows whether if it's in regard to fashion or your home is if you don't love it get rid of it. Surround yourself with things you love.

Some of Nate's Best Essentials

1) Frame meaningful notes.
2) Mix souvenirs from vacations in with your books on your bookshelf.
3) Replace harsh overhead lighting with a few cool lamps.
4) One odd unmatched chair that you love can add charm to a room. However, I don't think he's talking about an Archie Bunker recliner.
5) Include a piece of sea life like a starfish or shell in your decorating.
6) Hang something other than artwork on walls like antique objects or collections.

Oprah frequently says, "Your house should rise up to meet you." Does your house say hello when you walk in the door or do you want to turn around and walk the other way?

Eat Pray Love

I, along with millions of other people, bought the book Eat Pray Love back when Oprah first talked about it on her show. She had two shows where she interviewed author Elizabeth Gilbert about her spiritual journey to Italy, India and Bali. Elizabeth finds pleasure in Italy, prayer and meditation in India, and ends up falling in love in Bali where she meets her future husband. I read about three quarters of the book, but never did finish it. It didn't have the profound affect on me that other women talked about. One woman even made a trip to Bali to visit Ketut, a Balinese medicine man, who is in the book. It could be that the timing wasn't right for me while I was reading the book. It was hard for me to not be jealous of a woman eating her way through Italy. The movie Eat Pray Love stars Julia Roberts as Elizabeth and comes out August 13. Elizabeth said the movie helped her understand why people love her book so much. It was a spiritual and personal journey for her, but it's also everyone's story in that we've all experienced heartbreak, and disappointment in ourselves and others at some point in our lives.

There were a few points I had written down years ago from her first interviews.

1) Start saying no to things you don't want to do. I've become better at this.
2) Everyone you encounter is meant to teach you something about yourself. I think about this one when I'm having a hard time relating to people.
3) In Mandarin Chinese there are two different definitions of selfishness: doing that which is beneficial to you, and hoarding, being greedy and cruel.
Elizabeth talked about how we've taken these two definitions and grouped them into one. Women sometimes think that anything they do that's beneficial to themselves is greedy, hoarding or cruel. She goes on to say, when you fill yourself up by doing things you love you become an example to others. That in itself is an offering to others for how to live a happy and blessed life.

We all have our own unique spiritual journeys. There are three daily rituals that she shared, and you don't have to travel the world to do them. That makes it nice for those of us who don't have the luxury to hop on a plane any time we want. It is important to be still and take time for yourself.
1) Start a journal and answer the question, "What do I really, really, really, want?" Answer it every day.
2) Write down the happiest moment of every day in a happiness journal and look back on this from time to time to notice any patterns.
3) Refine your mantra. Elizabeth says, "We all actually already have a mantra. We just might not realize that we do. Whatever you repeat constantly in your head is your mantra whether you know it or not, and that is leading you on your way."

I think I'll give Eat Pray Love another try. Maybe this time around I'll be more open to its messages.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Twilight Cast

I knew Twilight was a phenomenon when my 70 year old mother read the book in just a few short days and then went on to finish the series of books before me. My mother read more that year due to the Twilight series than she has in probably the last 10 years. A good friend of mine told me about the book years ago. The summer of 2008 I finally decided to take Twilight with me on vacation and was hooked. Oprah interviewed Robert Pattinson, Kristen Stewart, Taylor Lautner and Dakota Fanning about the release of their new movie Eclipse which opens June 30 and is the third book in the series. Ali Wentworth interviewed some Twilight obsessed mom's about what their attraction is to the story. I think most older women, myself included, would say the story conjures up the passion of first love and when you first began dating your husband. The fact that vampires are involved also throws in the temptation of mystery and forbidden love. Ali brought up the fact that it's a safe way for those of us who are married to escape. In my opinion, that is what books and movies allow us to do. It also helps that the actors are attractive. It is amazing to me how the Twilight series has brought people together to celebrate and talk about a common interest. I have a friend who throws a party before every movie premier. Other than the Harry Potter series, I can't think of another book series which has created such an impact. Kudos to Stephenie Meyer!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Women Food & God

I was excited to watch Wednesday's show on the book Women Food & God. I had read an excerpt of Geneen's book in O magazine, but it didn't quite click with me. After watching the show, a lot of the principles made sense to me and were similar to what I've heard in the past regarding issues with food. You have to change your internal beliefs if you want to see a permanent or lasting change on the outside. Women who have struggled with binge eating and yo-yo dieting in the past were on the show. Their weight fluctuated sometimes by 100 pounds or more. My weight usually fluctuates within a 10 pound range, and I am forever trying to lose the same 10 pounds. According to Geneen, a lot of people eat because they can't deal with something that's uncomfortable in their life. They are experiencing pain or anxiety and they think by eating something it will make them feel better. I have been known to crave chocolate when my daughter has taken me over the edge. I've never been a food binger or marathon dieter, but I notice a tendency in me to turn to food during stressful times or when I'm bored. I struggled with my weight as a child and to this day have a passion for baked goods. My brother likes to send me an old photo every once in awhile as a reminder.

Geneen struggled with binge eating in the past and says, "dieting leads to self hatred and self loathing." One of the messages Oprah learned from reading the book is that you need to treat yourself with kindness. We think if we loathe and shame ourselves enough it will lead to change. I could relate to that thought and tend to be hard on myself at times. Negative reinforcement tends to run in my blood. It takes a lot of work to change those behaviors. Oprah had an interesting observation to share. She has learned over the years from interviewing celebrities to child molesters that there is a common core belief among people that questions, Am I Good Enough?

Oprah says she had an epiphany after reading the book. The issue isn't food, but it's your disconnection with the center of yourself. I believe that is when God comes into play. If you are centered and strong in your faith you don't need physical food to handle difficult situations. You need spiritual food. Geneen says she isn't referring to God in the religious sense, but all that is God- possibility, miracles, wonder, mystery and the goodness that you feel in nature. I believe in God, so my interpretation is from a religious point of view. I haven't read the book, but her interview intrigued me enough to want to work on my own core beliefs. I realize there are other factors that come into play for people with weight issues such as hormones, lifestyle, etc. Geneen shared the following guidelines from her book:
1. Eat when you're hungry
2. Eat sitting down in a calm environment
3. Eat without distractions
4. Eat what your body wants
5. Eat until you are satisfied
6. Eat with the intention of being in full view of others
7. Eat with enjoyment, gusto and pleasure (this is my favorite one)

Geneen left a disclaimer: Keep in mind these guidelines don't mean anything unless you are able to do some soul searching. Amen!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Oprah's Influence

I just got back from a girls weekend in Florida and found myself referencing Oprah quite a bit. My friends were shopping for some new pants and one of my friends loves capri pants. She knows that I don't wear capri's anymore because years ago the ladies from the show What Not To Wear talked about how unflattering they are. This is especially true if your 5'4" like I am. She refused to take my advice and bought them anyway. Maybe one day I will convince her. I don't love capri pants on me because I feel like they cut my calf in half which isn't a very good look on me. They also said not to wear shorts, but when it is 90 outside I'm going to wear shorts. I just try to pick a flattering length. The other piece of advice I learned from Oprah's show is the importance of buying a good bra and being properly fitted. You can have a beautiful outfit on, but if you don't have a properly fitting bra it can ruin the whole thing. I think you get the idea without me having to go into detail.

Another topic we discussed was cell phone use while driving. My friend knew of someone who was crossing the street and got hit by someone who was on their phone and didn't see her. I told my friends about Oprah's No Phone Zone pledge. I believe if anyone can get legislation passed to ban cell phone use while driving it is Oprah. In Connecticut, where my friend lives, you are fined if talking on the cell phone while driving unless it's hands free. A lot of people think it doesn't affect their driving if they are talking on the phone; however, studies have shown that it really does.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

O Magazine

Oprah celebrated the 10th Anniversary of O Magazine in New York last week. Her dream team of experts were in attendance: Dr. Phil, Nate Berkus, Suze Orman and Dr. Oz. I just recently renewed my subscription to O and the May issue has been one of my favorites. She asked most of her columnists to list their ten best pieces of advice. Dr. Phil talked about how it's easy to get stuck in a rut and go through the motions instead of finding your passions in life. According to Dr. Phil, "You have to be willing to do something different." He decided to put his money where his mouth is and shaved off his mustache for the first time in 40 years. I thought he looked better without it. Dr. Oz talked about showing up in your own life and how going to bed 30 minutes earlier will give you more energy, less stress and more time for intimacy with your partner. Nate gave viewers a glimpse of his home in New York which has a fabulous view. His first tip was to edit. That's Nates way of saying less is more. You don't have to display everything you own all at once. He also talked about how collections can tell a story about who you are. For example, I collect seashells and have a few of them displayed in my bedroom year round. In the summer I like to bring others out of storage and display them throughout my house. Another tip was to use your good stuff every day instead of saving it for special occasions. That is something I need to practice more often. My good china is lucky if it ever gets to see the light of day. His last tip was to shop your local art school for artwork. Suze talked about being honest with who you are and what you have. Suze said, "Use cash and don't let the things around you define who you are." O Magazine's Creative Director, Adam Glassman, gave tips on wardrobe staples that never go out of style. Celebrity mothers and daughters modeled the following: pencil skirts, animal prints (their considered a neutral), a nude shoe which makes you look thinner and taller, a leather jacket, white jeans, a sequin scarf, a statement shoe, a white shirt, a wrap dress and diamond hoop earrings. The magazine is worth picking up and probably won't be on news stands for too much longer.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Rielle Hunter

Rielle talked a lot about wanting to live the truth even though she was caught up in a world wind of lies while carrying on an affair with John Edwards. Oprah was pretty straight forward and candid with her questions to Rielle. She talked about being in love with Johnny and how she was trying to help him live his truth. I was somewhat agitated after watching her interview. I learned that people can talk themselves into believing anything they want to. I'm not throwing stones at her for having a relationship with a married man even though it is morally wrong. The bottom line is people make mistakes. However, I do feel she is disillusioned when it comes to living the truth. Her heart may have led her to John Edwards, but he is about as honest as Tiger Woods. Call me a doubting Thomas, but I think she is refusing to see the real truth about John Edwards.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

First Jobs

Last week Oprah had celebrities Paula Deen (who I love), Randy Jackson and Brooke Burke talk about their first jobs. Sometimes it's hard to imagine celebrities ever working at McDonalds or your local Wal-Mart. The point is everyone starts somewhere. My first job was at Kmart. I worked in the home center department of all places and had to wear a red vest every day. Not what I call glamourous. Paula Deen used to be a bank teller, Randy Jackson bagged groceries, and Brooke Burke worked at a pretzel store. Randy Jackson talked about how working hard at an early age gave him a sense of appreciation and helped carry him through to this day. Randy also talked about the importance of treating people how you want to be treated. Some people that I know who are very successful didn't necessarily dream of the job they are in, but were always hard workers and people noticed that. Opportunities will sometimes arise just because people like you and know you have a good work ethic. Suze Orman once said, "If you make average great your dreams will become a reality." She talked about practicing gratitude and serving others with a smile. That can be difficult to do sometimes, especially if your only making $5 an hour. I have been on the receiving end of those who don't like their job, and it would make everyone happier if they worked somewhere else.

A few weeks ago Oprah also featured people who are doing their dream jobs. Jenna Lyons, Creative Director for J Crew, had this to say about the key to success. "Do what you love and find a way to get paid for it. Give 110%." Paula Deen's advice for people who are wanting to achieve a dream for themselves was "there's no sin in failing, the sin is in never trying." My son will be old enough to get a job next year and these are some good messages to pass along. It doesn't matter if your applying for your first job or trying to achieve your dream job, the point is to work hard. Stunt woman, Angela Meryl said, "follow your passion and you'll never work a day in your life."