Beyond Words

Words, Wit and Wisdom for Today's Style and Decision Makers

Are You For Real? June 25, 2019

Filed under: Uncategorized — carlawordsmithblog @ 8:54 pm

 

Something disturbing happened in the food industry last week. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration moved to allow genetically engineered salmon in the U.S. The salmon, , whose DNA is altered and “enhanced” to speed up growth, are the first genetically modified animals of any kind approved for human consumption in the U.S.  Needless to say, the ruling raised eyebrows and brought on calls for greater caution from consumer advocacy groups. None of the salmon has been sold stateside as of yet and it’s predicted to show up first in restaurants, but what scares me the most is that it will be up to those restaurants to determine whether they want to let their customers know about what many are dubbing “frankenfish.” And I’m no vegan or health food nut.

 

To me, it’s all about “but is it real?” Are those salmon still “real” or are they somewhat “fake” now? Manufacturers say they are indeed real as the fish could theoretically be produced through conventional breeding. What’s changed is they can now be injected with DNA from other fish to make them grow twice as fast. But is it all through natural methods or fake techniques?

 

 

If you ask my daughter what I hate, she will say “phony, sneaky, and braggy.” A beloved salmon produced by somewhat phony means does not make me happy. I love salmon and I’ll never forget seeing them battle their little hearts out upstream in Alaska, endearing them to me even more. To think of them injected with something does not sit well with me.

 

Nothing fake does.

 

Is That a Real Rolex?

Those salmon work hard for their livelihood and I work hard for what I have. I’ll come clean though in that years ago I went to more than one trending “purse parties” where you could walk out with a Gucci or Louis Vuitton for a fraction of the cost. Problem was, they weren’t real. Thinking back, I’m ashamed I did that and am glad the trend ran its course.

 

 

Sadly, that trend is now online. Simply Google “fake Hermes” and a host of sites and options will pop up. There are even Facebook groups and apps that deal in counterfeit goods. Not only do these sites make buying fakes easy, they’ve brought a level of anonymity to the process. It can’t feel good pretending you’re something or someone you’re not and hoping and praying someone doesn’t ask you about your fake purse. But thanks to the internet, you no longer have to worry that Sally next door knows your double G belt is a fake cuz she bought the same one at that purse party you went to. Your secret is now safe with only millions of online users.

 

 

Hermes

Fake is Fake

Although it’s not illegal to buy a counterfeit item, it’s at the very least a questionable choice and if you turn around and sell that item without honestly sourcing it, you could face legal issues. And if you should buy those poser purses overseas, take care claiming them in U.S. Customs.

 

But seriously, if you won’t buy fake food or imitation anything, why is buying a fake Neverfull okay? A lot again goes back to social media. We are inundated with celebrities sporting their red-soled Louboutins and $20,000 Birkin bags on Instagram, but if you are sadly obsessed with their million dollar lifestyles but don’t have a million dollar budget, you may turn to the dreaded F word: FAKE. It seems we all want to keep up with the Kardashians but don’t have the cash to do so. The market for designer everything continues to grow and so does the market for counterfeit goods.

 

Risky Business

Perhaps Aileen Luib of theballeronabudget.com said it best when she wrote, “I’m not trying to pass judgement on people who buy fakes, but I want to shed light on the sinister business that is the counterfeit industry and how its proceeds fund organized crime, terrorism, and human trafficking.” She goes on to add that purchasing a fake bag or watch may seem guiltless and victimless, but it’s very likely someone is suffering at the expense of your label and logo vanity and the money you saved.

 

It really benefits no one. Wearing something counterfeit can only leave one feeling counterfeit themself. Your self-pride and confidence cannot be bolstered and any sense of authenticity has got to fly out the door.

 

So where does all that counterfeit goods profit go and how are they produced so inexpensively? Sales from the counterfeit underworld have been documented to support organized crime, gang warfare, and terrorism, including the purchase of actual guns used in attacks, and human trafficking and child labor keep costs low. Is carrying that phony Chanel to dinner really worth supporting these causes? Think about it. Sleep on it.

 

I remember reading the book, “Deluxe: How Luxury Lost Its Luster” years ago and I recently read an article by its author, Dana Thomas on Bazaar.com. In it she remembers walking into a Thailand assembly plant and seeing little children, all under 10-years-old, sitting on the floor assembling counterfeit leather handbags. The owners had broken the children’s legs and tied the lower one to the thigh so the bones wouldn’t mend. These wounded, abused children my friends, and are the victims of your knockoff purchases. Maybe it’s time to knock it off.

 

 

Pirated and counterfeit goods are both a social and economic problem and are hurting our economy. Those who make fakes don’t pay taxes, meaning the cities we live in and the schools our kids go to lose money and none of the goods are regulated by the government. It’s estimated that more than 750,000 American jobs are lost due to the knockoff industry and think about it, if someone is going to buy a fake, they are more than likely never going to buy the authentic piece, meaning the value of originals may decrease and the all-important scarcity of them becomes a a thing of the past. As writer Kamila Hankiewicz wrote, “Counterfeiting ends up damaging the very industry it tries to copy.”

 

There’s also the issue of whether one knows they’re buying a fake or if they are being faked out. Telling the difference between real and bogus is getting harder and harder. I hate the fact that someone might think they’re buying the real thing but are getting unknowingly ripped off, but I also hate the idea that someone knowingly buys something fake, especially again and again. Fakes are rarely high quality, but one ingredient they all share is deception. Either the buyer is deceived or those who see you sporting one are deceived. If fashion in and of itself is a form of self-expression and style, what are you expressing in a pair of fake Manolos or wrapped in a fake Burberry scarf?

 

Faking You Out

Thomas also writes that at one time, 90 percent of Louis Vuitton and Christian Dior items offered on EBay were fakes. Ninety percent! And just last year Amazon stopped 3 billion suspicious counterfeit goods listings from hitting its website. So bad is the trend that many consider it an economic, social, and moral epidemic.

 

 

 

Then there’s the new van method of selling fakes. Feeling no longer safe in storefronts that might be raided, counterfeiters now keep their stock in vans, allowing them to race off in a moment’s notice should authorities show up. Really? Who in the world wants to buy anything from the back of a van? Sadly, as long as there is a demand for cheap imitations, there will always be an abundant supply of them.

 

If it’s the designer look you want so bad, consider dupes. Do what?

 

Hey Dupe

Through retailers like Forever 21 and Zara, consumers can purchase items that have the features and design elements of coveted high-end brands but without the logos and price tags. They are an accepted replacement of fakes and knockoffs and are even okay with some designers, including Olivier Rousteing of Balmain. For example, look at the two shoes below. One is Valentino’s popular Rockstud slingback and the other is from Sole Society. Without seeing the name on the inside sole, could you really tell the difference?

 

 

So by purchasing the Sole Society pair of pumps, you not only get perfectly adorable and stylish shoes, you also don’t have to worry about supporting the black market or lying about “who are you wearing?”

 

 

 

Counterfeit Checks and Balances

Again though, it’s not just fake designer shoes and bags infiltrating the market. Fake Nike sneakers and Yeti coolers are hot items, as are electronics and jewelry. That Rolex watch you’re eyeing online? Check the source. Better yet, buy it at a reputable retailer.

 

As I mentioned at the top of this blog, salmon is now making headlines, but Thomas reports everything from baby formula to medicine is counterfeited. It’s believed nearly 70 percent of extra virgin olive oil is actually virgin oil and to ensure you’re getting real cinnamon, buy it fresh and unground from a trusted source that lists harvest dates and then grind it yourself at home. As for honey, buy only single origin versions and if you’re picky about your coffee and black pepper, choose only whole bean versions of both. The list goes on and on and doesn’t stop in the kitchen.

 

 

Counterfeit cosmetics and perfume are also abundant and the FBI at one time issued a consumer alert for fake cosmetics, most of which are made with carcinogens in unsanitary labs and may contain dangerous levels of bacteria. Valerie Salembier of “Don’t Buy Fakes” asks “would you consider spraying urine on your neck or arsenic on your lips? That’s what you could be doing if you buy impostor beauty goods.” That GAO report mentioned above? It found that all Urban Decay products it tested (tested by them, not all offered online or elsewhere) were fake.

 

Some may say “imitation is the best form of flattery” but it’s also true that copies are never as good as originals. Counterfeit goods are often low quality and in some cases even unsafe. How safe can that electronic device be considering it didn’t go through any safety checks and as Hankiewicz asks, “would you buy Viagra if you knew it’s not legit?”

 

 

So what can one do? Here are some tips:

 

  • Only buy fragrances and cosmetics from the brand’s website, a major department store or drug chain, or an authorized dealer. This should be your standard for any high-end brand purchase as well, whether it be a purse or bedsheets.

 

  • Know the standard price of what you’re buying and keep in mind that if the bargain price you find is too good to be true, what you’re buying is probably is probably not. A bag that retails for $2,500 is offered for $150 is most likely not real.

 

  • If you’re hell bent on avoiding the brand’s store or other tried and true reputable retailer, do your research. Visit a store and get familiar with the item you’re considering by looking at it not just online but in your own two hands. Feel the leather. Check the seams and hardware. Know what the real deal feels and looks like.

 

  • Check the item’s details. Pay extra attention to things like zippers, snaps, and closures. Is the stitching straight? Do edges and patterns match up? Are there traces of glue? (the seams of designer bags are rarely glued). Is the logo exact and not altered even slightly? Counterfeiters are known to make Gucci’s double Gs backwards, Ralph Lauren’s polo player mallet-less, and Lacoste’s crocodile facing left, rather than the standard right. Know your brand’s logo to a tee.

 

  • Look for signature marks like LV’s stamped serial numbers or Prada’s exclusive zipper choices. If you’re in the market for a certain item, research their brand signatures and hallmarks. If an item doesn’t have them, don’t buy it. Many sites also boast an item comes with attached original tags but always question who attached those tags and know that designers such as Chanel, Goyard, and Hermes never attach tags to their bags.

 

  • Make sure the item you’re buying is actually that brand’s item. Counterfeiters often place one designer’s logo on another brand’s design. Know that what you’re looking at is actually a product offered by that designer.

 

Happy and honest shopping everyone!

 

 

 

 

 

By the Book June 20, 2019

Filed under: Uncategorized — carlawordsmithblog @ 1:14 pm

 

 

My name is Carla and I’m a bookaholic. Yep, I admit it. I have an addiction to books. I’ve always said when I go into a bookstore it’s like I’m wearing a Velcro suit and books just somehow stick to me. I can go in for one book and come out with three. Case in point: yesterday.

 

There’s a fabulous new independtly women-owned bookstore in town and I finally went to it with my sister who is in from out-of-town. I’d been wanting to by my all-time favorite book (more on that later) for a friend and was thrilled that they had one in stock. One more chance to support a local business and one avoided opportunity to purchase it at a national chain or online amazon-sized business. I should have walked out right then and there but of course I browsed. Browsed right to another book for my ever-growing pile of “to read next” stack as well as an adorable book motif coffee mug. So totally me…coffee and books. And let’s get this straight right here right now: I’m talking real books; covers, pages, and all.

 

 

Last week I was listening to one of Susie Davis’ fabulous podcasts during which she visited with Bailey Greenlees as they talked about mentoring.  As with anything and everything Davis does, the podcast was both fascinating and inspiring. I was especially struck by Greenlees talking about what someone’s favorite childhood book was and what that book says about them. Hmmmmm I thought, very interesting!

 

I got to thinking and I got to wondering: what was my favorite childhood book? Two immediately came to mind: “The Little Lame Prince” and Nancy Drew Mysteries series. I particularly remember “Nancy Drew and the Hidden Staircase,” “The Secret of the Old Clock,” “The Mystery at Lilac Inn,” and “Mystery at the Ski Jump.” But what do these say about me?

 

 

I’m pretty sure “The Little Lame Prince was my first favorite “real” book that wasn’t a beloved Golden Book. Closing my eyes I can vividly see the cover and I still own a copy of it. If I glance to my left as I write this, there it sits on my bookshelf, right next to “Charlotte’s Web” and “Heidi,” two of my other favorites.

 

But it was the prince, a paralyzed young boy who is magically given the ability to travel through a cloak given to him by a Fairy Godmother, who stole my heart and my imagination. Through the cloak, he could see but not touch the world as he went on many adventures all the while developing wisdom and empathy along the way. He ultimately become a wise and compassionate ruler of a land all his own. Originally written in 1875, it is believed that through this book, author Dinah Maria Mulock Craik hoped to stimulate positive feelings in her readers as well as encourage socially correct actions regardless of the circumstances one finds themselves in.

 

 

So what does this say about young Carla who loved this book? My guess is young Carla frequently felt out of place and longed to be accepted and she yearned for adventure and unconditional love. She must have found it in a little book about a little prince.

 

Young Carla’s fascination with Nancy Drew is, on the other hand, a mystery. I don’t remember liking mysteries and I still don’t, but maybe she liked the idea of a strong, independent woman who made her way and her own rules. Maybe she liked the name Nancy. I’m thinking she also liked the idea of an orderly collection of works.

 

I still love children’s literature and books, and storytime is one of my favorite time of the school day in my preschool class. I adore anything Winnie the Pooh and “Little Bear” along with “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs,” “The Napping House,” “Good Night Gorilla,” “Is Your Mamma a Llama?” and “The Night Tree.” One of my favorite authors, Gretchen Rubin of “The Happiness Project,” is a sworn lover of children’s and adult literature, which makes me happy. Among our common faves are Judy Blume’s groundbreaking “Are You There God? It’s Me Margaret,” as well as the classics “To Kill a Mockingbird” and “Mary Poppins.”

 

 

It all makes total sense to me, as books are where one can both learn and escape. Young Carla loved words and she loved to fantasize about what could be.

 

Discerning this in my adult head fascinates me so I took it all a step further and thought about what book made an impact on teenage Carla. Undoubtedly that would be “Go Ask Alice,” written in 1971. The fictional book was written in diary form by “Anonymous” and took readers through a teenage girl’s drug addiction and self-destruction. I remember being horrified yet fascinated by its powerful message about the dangers of drug abuse and I’m not alone, as it has been in print ever since and still resonates with many.

 

Being that I read “Go Ask Alice” during the 1970s, perhaps I was acutely aware of the wide-scale drug use, be it marijuana, LSD, or cocaine, of the wild and crazy 1960s and disco-themed 1970s. Whatever the reason, it all hit home with 16-year-old Carla.

 

My worn but loved paperback copy of “Gift from the Sea” and a recent edition of it.

 

As for my favorite book of all time mentioned earlier, it is Anne Murrow Lindbergh’s “Gift from the Sea.” A former boss gave it to me some 30 years ago and said I had to read it. I did and I loved it. I love it to this day and give it to friends all the time. Lindberg was Charles’ wife and in between the chaos of her life, she’d go to the sea to find peace. The sea is that of Florida’s Captiva Island, which coincidentally is where we went on our honeymoon.

 

Written in 1955, the book consists of chapters in which Lindberg details seashells and relates them to her life and the lives of mid-20th century women. I have read it many times since it was given to me and each time the shells mean something different and powerful depending on where I was in my life at the time. I recently pulled it off my bookshelf to read it again. If you haven’t read it, I highly recommend doing so. Then read it again, and again.

 

Other books that have touched me include “Traveling with Pomegranates” by “The Secret Live of Bees” author Sue Monk Kidd, “Nickel and Dimed” by Barbara Ehrenreich,” “The Day the World Came to Town” by Jim Defede, Hemingway’s “The Sun Also Rises,” The Glass Castle” by Jeannette Walls, Susie Davis’ “Unafraid,” “10% Happier” by Dan Harris,  and “In Order to Live” by Yeonmi Park. Looking at these I see a real non-fiction trend, but I think I already knew that.

 

Coffee table books are also something I’m obsessed with. You can find them everywhere in my home as I feel they not only make for good reading and inspiration, but great decor as well! I recently sat in on a podcast recording with Susie Davis and author Kennesha Buycks for her fabulous new book “Restoration House.” Thinking I was going to hear all about yet another book telling you how to spend lots of money on the prettiest and most coveted pieces of furniture, art, and decor, I was so pleasantly surprised to learn that Buycks recommends anything but. Instead, she writes about how your home should embrace your story, not the stories others think you should tell and that we should embrace the idea of our home not so much being good-looking but life-bringing. It’s all about walking away from the “perfect” house and instead embracing what “goes beyond merely the aesthetic and focus on creating soulful, restorative aspects of home.” Rediscovering a sense of calm and renewal of purpose, she writes, and creating places where we feel secure and revived not impressed or stressed should be our goal. It is hands down the best home design and decor book I’ve seen and I highly recommend it.

 

 

Today while eating lunch with my sister we talked about books and “your favorite spiritual book” came up. For some reason I had a hard time with this. I’ve read so very many but pinpointing a favorite proved challenging. My sister immediately said “Hinds Feet in High Places,” which I too like but I took more time to decide on a favorite. The Bible and “Jesus Calling” of course come to mind and I loved Scott Hahn’s “The Lamb’s Supper” as well as many on Mother Mary, including Beverly Donofrio’s “Looking for Mary” and “Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World (I am a total Martha!) by Joanna Weaver. But perhaps those that made a true long-term impact on my life were Stormie Omartian’s “The Power of a Praying Parent” and “The Power of a Praying Wife.” Not Catholic for this cradle Catholic, but inspiring nonetheless.

 

So there you have it, Carla by the book. What was your favorite childhood book? Do you have an all-time favorite book? What about a spiritual or inspirational book? It’s all fascinating to me and I have every intention of reading up on it even more. I might even buy a book on it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Mother of All Flowers Blog May 5, 2019

Filed under: Uncategorized — carlawordsmithblog @ 9:33 pm

Inspired Room

 

Mother’s Day is exactly one week away and one of the most popular ways to honor mom is by giving or sending her flowers. The holiday is second only to Valentine’s Day when it comes to floral purchases and according to the Society of American Florists, one-fourth of all flowers made for holidays come at Mother’s Day. A whopping 84 percent of American adults will celebrate mom next Sunday and spending is expected to reach a record $25 billion according to the National Retail Federation.

 

Most of those purchases – $2 billion dollars a year – are for flowers. Approximately 58 percent of them go to moms, 28 percent are bought for wives, and 17 percent are given to mothers-in-law. A study by FTD Florist showed that 20 percent of husbands also give their wives flowers on Mother’s Day as a way of saying “thank you” for all they do.

 

 

 

The first official Mother’s Day was May 9, 1914 when President Woodrow Wilson declared the second Sunday in May a national holiday in honor of moms. It all came about thanks to a woman named Anna Jarvis who ironically was never a mother herself. Following her mom’s death in 1905, Jarvis came up with the idea of honoring the sacrifices moms make for their children and families. She worked with the Philadelphia department store Wanamaker on ways to honor moms and in May of 1908 thousands attended a Mother’s Day event at one of the retailer’s stores and Jarvis organized the first official Mother’s Day celebration at a church in West Virginia. Jarvis later criticized the commercialization of the holiday and by the time of her death in 1948, she had disavowed the holiday all together.

 

You see, Jarvis’ version of Mother’s Day was to wear a white carnation as a symbol of your love and respect for your mom, to visit your mom, and attend church. Jarvis’ mom loved carnations and Jarvis herself worked in the floral industry at one point to help raise Mother’s Day’s profile.

 

Celebrations of mom and motherhood go even further back then that though. Ancient Greeks and Romans held festivals honoring the mother goddesses Rhea and Cybele and much later the Christian festival called “Mothering Sunday” gained popularity and was a major tradition in the UK and other parts of Europe. Originally held on the fourth Sunday in Lent and seen as a time for the faithful to return to their “mother church,” through the years it morphed into a more secular holiday and remains so today for the most part.

 

Pottery Barn

 

Visiting your mom is getting more and more difficult for many, considering today’s transit society in comparison to that of Jarvis’ time, but you can send flowers, go to church, and call her. More phone calls are made on Mother’s Day than any other day of the year, with phone traffic spiking by as much as 37 percent.

 

So how will you be celebrating and honoring your mom or moms next Sunday? Some of us will be thinking of dear mothers who have gone before us while others will be sending flowers. (For my husband and me this will be a bittersweet year, as it will be the first that we don’t send something to his mom who recently passed away.) But just which flower should you choose?

 

Roses are often the “go to” choice, but did you know different flowers have different meanings? Maybe there’s one just perfect for your mom.

 

Carnations. Considered the “real” and historic flower of Mother’s Day, these simple and sturdy blooms signify a mother’s love, purity, faith, love, beauty, and charity with pink ones carrying the most significance on Mother’s Day. Legend has it that they first appeared on earth following the Virgin Mary’s tears shed over Jesus’ death, making them the symbol of a mother’s undying love.

 

Roses. Associated with love, gratitude, and passion, these traditional flowers also have a Marian symbolism through Our Lady of Guadalupe. In 1531, Mary appeared to young Juan Diego and instructed him to go to the Bishop and build a church. The Bishop refused to believe the young boy and asked for a sign of the Virgin’s authenticity. She instructed Juan Diego to go to the top of a hill and gather all the roses he could find and place them in his cloak, or tilma, and bring them to her. Upon doing so, Mary rearranged the roses in the cloak and instructed the boy to take them to the Bishop. Upon opening the tilma, the Bishop saw not roses but a colorful image of Blessed Mary on the fabric. He believed and a church was built. The actual tilma with the image remains perfectly preserved today and is on display at The Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City.

 

Yellow roses are also popular and are said to symbolize friendship. And, contrary to popular belief, the famous “Yellow Rose of Texas” song wasn’t written for a flower but a woman named Emily Morgan, whose activities during the Texas revolution made her legendary. Some people also consider the yellow blooms on a cactus to be the true yellow rose.

 

 

White roses are associated with purity and brightness and were Princess Diana’s favorite. She was often photographed carrying them and to honor her, Meghan Markle included them in her bouquet when she married Diana’s son Harry last year in St. George’s Chapel , which was filled with the fragrant blooms. A temporary garden called the “White Garden” was also opened at Kensington Palace to commemorate the 20th anniversary of Diana’s tragic death.

 

The Princess of Wales naturally had a variety of roses named after her and joined the famous and infamous alike. Dolly Parton, Princess Grace, Queen Elizabeth, Audrey Hepburn, Elizabeth Taylor, and even Reba McEntire (a red rose of course!) have roses named after them as do many, many others. This is not an easy process however, and can actually take up to 10 year and be a bit thorny. To name a rose after someone, you must obtain permission from the individual or their estate and register the plant with the International Registration Authority for Roses. Amazingly, The American Rose Society lists more than 25,000 varieties.

 

 

Orchids. The stunning but somewhat hard to grow beauties (at least for me!) represent love, beauty, and strength. The orchid is also a Chinese symbol for “many children,” making them the perfect Mother’s Day gift.

 

Tulips. I’ve always loved tulips. My bridal party carried them in our wedding and they are traditionally the flower my mom sends me. They say tulips are perfect for someone who is light-hearted and easy-going and represent comfort, coziness, confidence, affection, and happiness. Yellow tulips symbolize sunshine, white ones represent heaven and purity, and pink ones mean affection and caring.

 

Lilies. While my girls carried tulips in our wedding, I carried long-stem white Calla Lilies and one bright red anthurium for color. Calla Lilies represent beauty and a white lily connotes purity and majesty. Lilies come in a number of colors and varieties and are especially beautiful in mixed bouquets. A Chinese symbol for motherhood, the Day Lilly is perfect for Mother’s Day.

 

Daisies. White daisies are probably my favorite flowers, along with Easter Lilies, because they are so simple and so cheerful. Traditional white or yellow daisies symbolize loyal love while the bright Gerbera variety represents optimism, innocence, purity, and beauty.

 


Draper James/Southern Living

 

Hydrangeas. Perhaps the official flower of the south, these puffy and large blooms symbolize honesty, gratitude, and understanding. They are perfect for expressing gratitude and making amends.

 

Peonies. A favorite of so many women I know, peonies represent honor and compassion. By giving someone peonies, it is said you are telling them you honor them.

 

But maybe color is what you’re considering. If so, here’s what different colors of flowers represent:

 

Pink – innocence, unconditional love, thoughtfulness, and gentleness

Red – deep love and passion

White – purity, truth, and perfection

Yellow – trust, compassion, and respect

Purple – grace and elegance

 

Another fun option is to pick a flower based on birthday, as illustrated here:

 

Whatever you’re going to get your mom, make plans now if you haven’t already.  Roses are indeed often red, but a forgotten mom is much like a violet: blue. Don’t forget mom and happy early Mother’s Day to moms everywhere.

 

 

 

 

A Mentor By Any Other Name April 27, 2019

Filed under: Uncategorized — carlawordsmithblog @ 4:52 pm

 

Mentor. It’s a word you hear thrown around a lot, but what does it actually mean? Are they teachers? Leaders? Yes and yes, and in a way, mentors are really superheroes.

 

“Mentor” can be a noun or a verb. As a noun, it is an experienced and trusted advisor. Synonyms would be confidant, counselor, consultant, even therapist. When used as a verb, mentor means to advise or train someone, especially a younger colleague.  So there’s that.

 

 

I was listening to a podcast by Susie Davis this week (if you haven’t discovered Susie, I highly recommend doing so) on mentors and it got me thinking: who are my mentors; both currently and previously? For some, this might be an easy question but for me it took some time to really conclude who my true mentors have been.

 

I decided to break down my mentors by what they’ve mentored me in, whether it be spiritually, professionally, or  personally. Let’s start with spiritually.

 

 

I’m a cradle Catholic, so I’d have to say my initial spiritual mentor would have to be my mom, who raised me Catholic and still prays her rosary every day. Still, I grew up memorizing prayers and going to mass, but it wasn’t until college that I truly grew spiritually in a personal way.

 

This Catholic from the mountains of Santa Fe arrived at the University of Oklahoma and listened intently as roomies talked about bible studies. They had worn out bibles on their nightstands! Growing up, our family bible always remained in a box on a living room table…complete with gold-edged pages and a red leather cover…but was never opened and read. The girls also called themselves “Christian.” I remember thinking, “Am I Christian?” You see, in Santa Fe, you were basically either Catholic or Jewish…the word “Christian” was never really used. “Born again” and “Accepting Jesus as my Savior” (don’t we do that every day I thought) had never entered my mind and were only phrases I’d heard TV evangelists say as they took people’s money. My fellow Sooners ultimately opened my mind that the bible is meant to be read, that you could still be cool and be Christian, and talking about God and Jesus with friends was normal and good. I guess you could say they were my first mentors to introduce me to a whole new world of spirituality.

 

In a way, they were my first true mentors as I really didn’t have any childhood mentors (other then my parents) and I can’t think off the top of my head any teachers that I would consider a mentor. I guess if you’re going to have mentors, they might as well be spiritual ones, right?

 

Years later I found my grown up self in a wonderful bible study after I was married and our daughter was a baby. The ladies in the study, which we called “LIPS” for “Ladies in Prayer and Service,” taught me more than I’d ever known about the bible, spirituality, and prayer. From them I learned even more about Catholicism but also “talk to God” prayer. Like I said, I’d always been one to recite memorized prayers, but to just talk to God was eye opening. I loved it and am forever grateful to those powerful and prayerful spiritual mentors in my life.

 

Since then I’ve had one other bible study, and they too mentored me and inspired me with their grace and wisdom. A much smaller group then LIPS, what I loved about this circle of mentors was that we varied so much in age and stage of life. Listening to others whose lives are much different than yours is one sure way to be mentored and learn. This is also the case with my sister Patti and brother-in-law Frank. He is a Catholic deacon and she has devoted her life to prayer and worship. Together, they’ve quietly and remotely mentored me in what it means to follow God and His word. They are my ongoing mentor go-to’s whenever I have a religious question or issue.

 

 

On a personal level, mentors have included many friends who are still in my life as well as those who have come in and out of my life, serving the purpose they were meant to serve at the time. I try to surround myself with people I can learn from and I’ve learned so much from so many.

 

Professionally on a personal level, I’ve previously been blessed with a wonderful therapist named Stacie, who guided me through battles and struggles, all the while making me stronger and more confident. I’m a firm believer in therapy and even though Stacie moved out-of-state many years ago, I still sometimes refer back to my notes from my sessions with her and deep down I know she is merely a Skype away.

 

I’ve also been “mentored” by my husband and daughter although perhaps not in the traditional way. My husband has taught me to be accepting of flaws and weaknesses, stop overthinking and worrying, release the need to plan everything all the time, and avoid debt at all costs. Our daughter has so brilliantly demonstrated the art of dealing with one’s adversities and overcoming them with a vengeance, being a good and loyal friend, and fighting for what you believe in. Both of them have also taught this introvert to be more social and outgoing. It’s a struggle, but I’m trying!

 

 

Daughter of course means motherhood. Oh boy do we all need mentors for that, right? First and foremost my mentor for that was my sister Coral. She taught me so much about the many do’s and don’ts of raising our daughter when Kristen was little and to this day (our daughter is now 25…almost 26) I both use and recommend much of what I learned from her. Although we are not as close as we once were, her motherhood mentorship is something I will always cherish.

 

 

This brings us to professional mentors. The first one that comes to mind for me was a TV news producer I worked for right out of college named Mary Ann. A tough New York City girl, she took me under her wing, bought me my first brief case, and taught me so very much about the news industry. If I could hug her right now, I would. I also worked with a news reporter named Karen who perhaps didn’t mentor me in the classic sense, but she showed the young me what it meant to be a true journalist, was an amazing writer, and always showed respect to me even in my rookie role as an editor. Had I stayed in the news business, she would have been my role model mentor. I ultimately left journalism (thanks mostly to a boss who was anything but a good and decent mentor), and was so fortunate to be thrown in the lap of several bright women who taught me all about the flip side of reporting the news: publicity, promotions, and media relations. It was a whole new world to me but one Lori, Norah, Kathy, and Cathy taught me all about with both humor and eloquence.

 

After I made the decision to leave full-time employment to raise our daughter (thank you mentors for that suggestion!), I found myself teaching preschool at our church. I went in thinking I wanted to be an assistant to several classrooms but begrudgingly agreed to do so in just one class with just one teacher. She turned out to be a true God send and was just the mentor I needed to lead me in this new path I’d found. Christine was perfect. She was fun, witty, smart, and a seasoned and damn good teacher. Much of what I do today in my class is what I learned from her.

 

 

What I love about most of these mentors I’ve talked about is that many of them may not even know how much they influenced and inspired me. Maybe that’s what a real mentor does though: quietly lead and guide with no expectations of praise or adulation.

 

I’ve also been quietly motivated by something old school, books, and something current, the internet. A long-time lover of books (and yes I still buy the real deals), I have learned everything from spirituality, meditation, simplicity, and decor from many an author. Online, I’m daily inspired by blogs I follow and emails I receive on prayer, style, and aging gracefully. These might not qualify as true “mentors,” but if you learn from them and are stimulated by them, go for it.

 

 

The flip side of all this is being a mentor, which is often much harder but also something you may not even realize you are doing. Think about it, how you behave and perform at work influences coworkers. How you behave personally influences your children. If you work, lead, and live with integrity you are pretty much good to go. From there, take it a step further and maybe get out of your comfort zone and actually mentor someone.

 

I’ll wrap it up with none other than Susie Davis. The epitome of joyful despite an imperfect life, Susie has taught me to be unafraid, be beautifully content, and to enjoy my one beautiful life. I am forever grateful to her and the many mentors in my life and hope that someday someone out there will think of me as a mentor as well. In the meantime, I’ll continue to live the best life I know how and to lead by example. If I mentor someone along the way, yay me!

 

Who are your mentors?

 

Angels Among Us April 22, 2019

Filed under: Uncategorized — carlawordsmithblog @ 12:03 am

 

Today many of us are celebrating angels announcing that Jesus was raised from dead and at Christmas we sing “Angels We Have Heard on High.” Angels are thought to blow trumpets and play harps, but do they really? Who are angels and what do we really know about them?

 

Photo credit: Deannart 

We know they are not hard to find…and I don’t mean those “angels” of friends, coworkers, and family members or real angels from heaven. I’m talking the plethora of angel depictions ready to be scooped up by shoppers and collectors the world over. Step into any Hobby Lobby (and thank you for closing on Sundays BTW), Target, or fine art gallery and you’re sure to find angels emblazoned on everything from canvases to coffee mugs, including beautiful ones painted by Franklin, Tennessee artist Deann Hebert. Society is definitely fascinated by these heavenly beings, but why?

 

I can’t answer that question, other than perhaps we are all in search of good and protection, something angels are and provide. The word “angel” comes from the Greek “angelos,” meaning messenger, which so accurately describes who they are: God’s messengers.

 

 

Still, even though they are often drawn and depicted with wings and halos, they are believed to have no physical form so we don’t really know what angels look like regardless of all those paintings and drawings we come across. What we do know is that angels are spiritual beings created by God to do His will. They are God’s messengers and ministers of His mercy and compassion. Immortal beings, angels have appeared to humans as apparitions with a human form. They are not, however, souls of the faithful departed and when we die and get to heaven, we don’t become angels. I guess we don’t truly “earn our wings” after all.

 

Angels can be found throughout the bible, with today’s Easter story being one of more famous accounts of angelic intervention. Others include an angel announcing the Christ child’s birth to the shepherds on Christmas and the angel Gabriel appearing to Mary and telling her she will bear the Messiah. If you have a nativity you display at Christmas, it most definitely has an angel up top.

 

 

Gabriel isn’t the only angel known by name, as both Michael and Raphael are mentioned by name in scripture. They are called archangels because of their important roles in God’s plan.  St. Michael, whose name means, “one who is like God” and who has a loyal and ardent following, led an army of angels against the devil and is portrayed holding an armored shield and sword ready to defend us in battle.

 

Without going into too much biblical detail, I will also add two other often somewhat well-known angels part of the nine choirs or types of angels identified in the Bible: the seraphim and the cherubim. After the Fall of Adam and Eve, the cherubim guarded the entrance to the Garden of Eden, while angels protected Lot and his family in Sodom and Gomorrah, and an angel promised Moses the protection of the people on their way to the Promised Land. Psalm 91:11 is a favorite of mine in that it says, “For He will command His angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways.” I paraphrase and refer to this scripture regularly, especially when someone I love is travelling as I ask God to “put your angels around her/him/them” and get whoever it is safely to their destination. I just did this today when my daughter left to return home after visiting for Easter.

 

There are also angels in Revelation and in Matthew 24:31-35, it is written that “He will send His angels with a loud trumpet call and they will gather His elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other.”

 

 

In the meantime, each and every one of us has a Guardian Angel assigned to just us. The photo above is one seen in millions of homes and its accompanying prayer was one of the very first ones I ever learned. Our Guardian Angels are God’s ambassadors to help us avoid sin and evil, keep us in a state of grace, and get us to heaven. From the very beginning of your existence, your Guardian Angel has been concerned about you and working for you and upon death, the angel will present your soul and plead your case. If your ask your Guardian Angel for help, he or she will help you. (That’s another thing, angels are often thought to be female, but that’s not the case.) Think of them as a friend who you can’t really see but if you listen with your heart, you just might hear wise words of wisdom and direction.

 

Too deep and too much to handle? Pray about it and ask your Guardian Angel for help!

 

 

Trust me, I’d always heard about Guardian Angels but never really looked into the subject until I did a bible study on them. I was amazed to learn that everyone has their own personal Guardian Angel and that there are Guardian Angels for all kinds of occupations, places, and ages. What an awesome thing, right? I just love the idea that an angel is there to defend me, inspire me, protect me, warn me, hear me, and console me.  I also love that my angel prays with me and for me and is pretty much my personal rep to God. And I don’t need an app for that or have to press 1 for help.

 

In turn though, I have responsibilities and duties toward my angel. I must always remember I am in the presence of my Guardian Angel and act accordingly, both in thoughts and actions. I fail at this daily, but again, my angel is there to hear me and continue working overtime to guide me. I love the suggestion of every morning upon waking up, greeting my angel, and asking for continued prayer and protection. At bedtime, it’s time to thank my Guardian Angel for another day of shelter and safeguarding.

 

There are other ways to honor your Guardian Angel, including on Tuesdays, which are dedicated to Holy Angels; as well as October 2, the Feast Day of Guardian Angels; and September 29, the Feast of the Archangels. How ‘bout every Tuesday you take the time to honor your Guardian Angel and ask for specific guidance?

 

 

All four gospels write that the angels announcing Jesus’ resurrection were clothed in white or dazzling garments, sometimes “white as snow” dress and brilliant robes. This is probably how many of you picture angels, more so than any chubby cherub or harp-playing flying being. Still, we don’t know for sure. What we do know is that Jesus rose from the dead. How do we know? A little angel told us.

 

Happy Easter everyone!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Praying with Fire April 17, 2019

Filed under: Uncategorized — carlawordsmithblog @ 1:27 am

 

It has hosted kings and presidents the world over and survived numerous battles and invasions, but yesterday Paris’ iconic Notre Dame Cathedral could not survive a devastating fire. Although the main interior of the medieval Catholic Church is in relatively good shape considering the scope of the fire, its main roof and famous spire both collapsed as millions watched on TV and on the streets of Paris. The City of Love showed its love for its beloved cathedral and it was all so heart wrenching to watch both historically and personally.

 

 

I love Paris and just last year my daughter and I visited Notre Dame and I’d previously done so with my husband. Notre Dame was his favorite Paris site and he still uses the keychain he got there. As for my daughter, upon entering the majestic cathedral she was quickly told her uncovered shoulders were not allowed, prompting her to begrudgingly put on the packable and portable rain jacket I had in my purse. Frown and all, she marveled at the architecture and stained glass windows, and afterward she and I grabbed an outside table at Le Notre Dame bar and restaurant that sits directly across from the church. What fabulous memories of one fabulous landmark.

 

 

But enough about me. Let’s talk the grande dame herself.

 

 

If there can by any silver lining in yesterday’s devastating news, it is that because the structure was undergoing a renovation, many of the statues and pieces of art had been removed and last I heard the main structure and rectangular bell towers were saved. As for relics and works of art housed inside Notre Dame, it was with great relief to learn that first responders and their chaplain priest formed a human chain inside the burning building to save one of the world’s most priceless relics: Jesus Christ’s Crown of Thorns. Can you even imagine? I’m still in awe and in shock. And it doesn’t end there, housed with the Crown in the cathedral’s treasury were also a fragment of the cross Jesus was crucified on, one of the Holy Nails used to crucify Him, and the 13th century tunic of St. Louis.  It is all a miracle to say the least and what better week to witness miracles of this scale then Holy Week: Christianity’s holiest of weeks.

 

And this may be my favorite photo taken yesterday. Amidst all the rubble and devastation stands the gold altar cross beaming brightly above the almost untouched pieta:

 

 

As travel guru Rick Steves said, it’s hard to imagine the faith of those who built Notre Dame, all with hopes that their great-great-great-great- great- grandchildren may someday attend the dedication mass. They put so much time and labor into the structure; a structure they knew they’d never see finished. That is faith. A faith that in many ways sadly no longer exists today. Magnificently prophetic? Perhaps.

 

Notre Dame itself sits magnificently on the Ile de la Cite, the island on the River Seine that is the geographical heart of Paris and in the hearts of many Parisian. It’s actually where the medieval city was founded and all road distances in France are calculated from the 0 km point of the square facing Notre Dame’s western side…the very side my daughter and I faced as we enjoyed our rose and cheese plate after our tour.

 

The name “Notre Dame” means “Our Lady” in French and is a reference to Mary the mother of Jesus. The Cathedral is a symbol of Paris, Catholicism, and Christianity worldwide. It is also the city’s most visited monument, welcoming some 13 million people a year.  It ranks in the Top 10 of world destinations and Top 5 of European destinations and is even more popular than Paris’ other landmark: The Eiffel Tower.

 

 

Ironically, when the church was built it was considered a “poor people’s book” as it was covered in sculpture and details illustrating biblical stories because the majority of its parishioners were illiterate. Centuries later, both rich and poor, educated and uneducated, marvel at its beauty. Yes, it’s a Catholic church first and foremost, but it’s also an architectural wonder and world treasure.

 

The Cathedral of Notre Dame took more than 200 years to build and it is said that craftsman no longer exist who could replicate what the original creators built. Its foundation stone was laid in 1163 by Pope Alexander III and the cathedral was completed in the 13th century. The building consisted of 52 acres of timber and was nicknamed “The Forest,” a fact that made it distinctive but may have also made it combustible, allowing the fire spread so quickly.

 

One of Europe’s most notable monuments, Notre Dame is considered one of the finest examples of French Gothic architecture and in addition to the timber used to build it, it includes other innovative and distinctive features.

 

The use of the rib vault and flying buttresses are still considered brilliantly before their time in that by using them, the roof’s entire weight was pressed outward and onto the walls, allowing them to be higher and stronger. They also added a stunning exterior to the already striking building.

 

And those famous  gargoyles and other menancing creatures? They too had a practical purpose. Added to the structure in around 1240, they were actually rain spouts, designed to divide torrents of water that poured from the roof during rain storms. Because all aspects of building Notre Dame were labors of love however, they were also designed to be decorative and architecturally interesting.

 

During World War II, it was rumored German soldiers were going to destroy much of the church and its beautiful stained glass windows, which were removed and then reinstalled after the war. During the liberation of Paris in 1944, the cathedral suffered damage but was soon used to celebrate the liberation of Paris from the Germans in a Catholic mass attended by General Charles De Gaulle and other dignitaries.

 

Prior to that and in the 1790s, Notre Dame suffered ruin during the French Revolution and much of its religious imagery was destroyed including large statues on the façade. The only statue that remained intact was that of our Lady, the Virgin Mary. It was at this time that the cathedral became a warehouse of war goods and food and not until Napoleon Bonaparte made Notre Dame a church again did Notre Dame again celebrate mass.  Fittingly, the 800-year-old treasure was the site of Napoleon’s crowning in 1804.

 

“Even the darkest night will end and the sun will rise.” Victor Hugo

 

In 1831, the gothic masterpiece was forever immortalized with the publication of Victor Hugo’s “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” and popularity began to soar. It’s never looked back.

 

 

Notre Dame is undeniably one of the world’s most recognized structures and was home to priceless art and historic relics and artifacts – in addition to the Crown of Thorns – and as Bishop Robert Barron said, it is also one of the most spiritually charged places in the world. It’s where France’s beloved Joan of Arc was beatified by Pope Pius X in 1909 and her statue inside is adored by many.

 

 

Photo credit: Michelle Campbell Davila

Then there are the windows; those fabulous stained glass windows of which The Rose Windows are the most famous. One of them is said to be the world’s largest glass window. The trio of ginormous and glorious round windows over the cathedral’s three main portals were salvaged, but apparently others were greatly damaged. If you’ve ever walked inside Notre Dame and gazed up at the windows, you know what a colossal loss this is.

 

 

That spire that so tragically collapsed yesterday? The original one was constructed in the 13th century but was battered and weakened by wear and tear of the weather and was removed in 1786. It was recreated in the 19th century and weighed 750 tons. In another twist of fate…or faith…the spire was surrounded by copper statues of Twelve Apostles, which were removed for the current restoration just days before yesterday’s fire.

 

 

 

Photo credit: Karen Sonleitner

Also famous are the basilica’s bells and bell towers, which when completed, were Paris’ tallest structures until the Eiffel Tower was erected in 1889.The cathedral has a total of 10 bells, including the main bell called Emmanuel, which weighs in at 13 tons. It rang for every 9/11 victim in 2001 and marks significant moments in French history, including the coronation of kings, Papal visits, heads of state funerals, and Catholic occasions like Christmas and Easter.

 

Equally impressive is the church’s 17th century grand organ, considered one of the world’s most famous musical instruments. The organ boasts 115 stops and more than 8,000 pipes. As I write this, there is no word as to the condition of this irreplaceable and historic instrument.

 

Until yesterday’s tragic fire, Notre Dame was still in use by the Catholic Church for Sunday mass as was the seat of the Archbishop of Paris.  While the building itself is owned by the state, the Catholic Church is the designated beneficiary and has exclusive rights to use it for religious purposes.

 

Plans are already in place to rebuild Notre Dame but where do you even begin? And how? It’s not like you send out bids to contractors to refurbish oh, just Notre Dame. But French President Emmanuel Macron has vowed to see Notre Dame rebuilt within five years and nearly $700 million has been pledged by people and corporations across France and even the world. The president of The University of Notre Dame said the school would give $100,000 toward the renovation.

 

Paris officials were expecting more than 100,000 people to walk through Notre Dame’s doors Easter Sunday, many of whom will now pay their respects outside like the thousands did yesterday. Young and old showed up with rosaries, singing hymns, and praying as one. That’s how important Notre Dame is to Paris, but why does it always take a tragic event like this to bring people together in faith and hope?

 

It is said that during the Middle Ages, when a fire struck, Christians took it as a sign to renew their faith and rebuild their church. Maybe this is a sign that we need to, yes, rebuild Notre Dame, but also our faith as a whole.

 

I’m sure I’m not the only one remembering a visit to Notre Dame and being in total awe of all its history and glory. I can’t even imagine what the people of Paris and all of France are feeling but many are comparing it to their very own 9/11. Yesterday’s tragedy at of one of the world’s most sacred places perhaps can best be summed up by Camille from Normandy who watched as flames blazed through the frame of one of the cathedral’s smaller stained glass windows and told “The Guardian,” “There’s a feeling of total sadness and also anger. It’s our heritage. Whether you’re Christian or not, part of our history is going up in smoke.”

 

We’re with you Paris. Today, we are all Parisians.

 

As I wrote this blog, I was struck by the photos used in it as well as these I leave you with:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Who Wears the Pants…and the Leggings April 7, 2019

Filed under: Uncategorized — carlawordsmithblog @ 6:54 pm

It’s a rainy somewhat miserable day today, which was the case yesterday too. I gotta admit though, I love the rain. It’s often the only “weather” we get where I live, so a couple of rainy days really don’t bother me. I find them the perfect time to take a hot bath, read a good book, and hop into some cozy yoga pants. Baths and books have been around forever, but what’s up with yoga pants? They can be seen all over and often on women who have never stepped foot in a yoga class. I personally love yoga but even I find it a bit baffling that fashion’s “athleisure” (i.e.: “athletic” meets “leisure”) trend has taken over closets everywhere and doesn’t seem to be going anywhere anytime soon.

 

And I’m okay with that.

 

 

Basically this fashion craze consists of clothing traditionally reserved for gyms and yoga studios now being worn in workplaces, schools, and just about anywhere. Attention Kmart shoppers: gym clothes have left the gym. And maybe most importantly is that, yes, they can still be found in Kmart and other discount retailers, but also in department stores and luxury shops. Although originally designed as clothing meant to look athletic but with really no technical athletic function, athleisure soon became more than that and continues to be whatever it wants to be.

 

“Sweats,” as the term used to be, were once reserved for gyms and homes. But, as much as you may have loved your draw-string, elastic-ankle sweatpants, you would never wear them out on a daily basis. But with a societal and generational increased interest in all things health and fitness came improved activewear fabrics and textiles, which made them not only more comfortable to wear out and about, but let’s be honest, they give the appearance that you are an “active” person whether you are or not. Add a plethora of styles and colors and you have yourself fashion.

 

 

 

Previously though, you’d never go shopping in them much less to a restaurant or work. Times have changed though and we are officially a nation of yoga pants wearers. Just look around. You’ll see women everywhere wearing not only traditional yoga pants (usually slightly flared at the bottom with a wide waistband) but leggings, cropped leggings, and the stripes down the side track pants. Everywhere. And as if they were regular ole’ pants.

 

In a time when “breaking barriers” is trending and buzzing, you could say activewear is leading the (run)way in that it’s truly breaking fashion barriers in offices and restaurants coast-to-coast. I love the style because you can dress it up or dress it down. Put on pair of sneakers and you have a casual but stylish look. Add some heels and a fashionable top or jacket and voila, girl’s night out here I come!

 

But, how did we get here?

 

 

So big is the athleisure market that U.S. imports of women’s elastic knit pants (yes, that’s really what they are ladies regardless of any logos or pricetags), surpassed those of jeans for the first time ever according to 2017 U.S. Census Bureau figures. It’s officially fashion’s “new casual” and today you can find more than 11,000 versions of activewear options that Americans spend nearly $50 billion on a year. The trend is not just reserved for pants and leggings though. Step into any athleisure store or department and you’ll find everything from athletic tops to sports bras. Shorts are also still in the mix and those “messy buns” you see women sporting? Yep, athleisurely hair.

 

Blame it on improved fitness? Blame it on fashion laziness? Some say blame it on Lulu.

 

 

Lulu, as in retailer Lululemon, sold its first pair of yoga pants back in 1998 after Canadian Chip Wilson attended a yoga class for his aching back and not only loved the class, but the pants his yoga instructor was wearing. A lightbulb went off in the retail entrepreneur’s head and Lululemon was born. The pants that make your backside look good have never looked back.

 

According to Bloomberg News, Wilson and Lulu’s initial leggings were meant for fitness studios and were a mix of nylon and Lycra. They were stretchy and soft and were just what many yogis were looking for. Lulu trademarked its original “Luon” fabric in 2005 and today boasts an R&D headquarters to explore things like “the science of feel” and to develop fabrics specific to particular activities. The brand had 2018 revenues of $3.2 billion and is unequivocally considered the coolest of the cool in the fitness apparel industry. Its famous “That Girl” logo, as I like to call it, is as coveted as any interlocking Gs or Cs. Personally I find the prices somewhat high and the stores a bit intimidating (I’m more a Target and Athleta girl) but Lulu lovers swear by the products and are considered one of fashion and retail’s most ardent representations of brand loyalty. Lulu lovers love their Lulu.

 

 

The double Gs at Gucci have taken note. Business Insider recently reported that Gucci is suddenly hip and happening with millennials much in part to its embracing of what is also called “streetwear” so often spotted on the supermodels, reality stars, and singers millennials religiously follow and imitate fashion-wise.  It seems this younger segment of the working and spending population is more concerned with uniqueness then luxury and their fashion dependence on athleisure has created a whole new fashion market. Alessandro Michele was brought on by Gucci as creative director and he quickly directed the creation of streetwear emblazoned with the company’s logo. It was a hit and competitors quickly followed suit.

 

But let’s get this straight, yoga has been around for more than 2,500 years and spandex was on the scene long before Studio 54, so what gives? Why now stretchy fabric and why so much of you?

 

 

UNLV Fashion Historian (now there’s a job I’d love to have) Deirdre Clemente told The Atlantic she thinks she has the answer and it’s threefold. First, synthetic fabrics are vastly improved; second, society is much more health and healthy appearance conscious; and third, there is a true relaxation of dress codes going on resulting in a decline of fashion formality. So you have versatile fabrics made into fashionable quality lifestyle apparel that make you look healthy. What’s not to love and makes perfect fashion sense, right?

 

 

Yes and no. One must be careful and cautious about just what athleisure ware to wear. It should go without saying that if you’re a bit on the plus size, leggings may not be the most flattering choice. Opt instead for yoga-style or looser fitting pants and make sure those bums are covered up. Your fitness level should be considered too, as well as your age. You might be on the thinner side, but if you’re not toned maybe steer away from clothing that is extremely tight or sleeveless and keep in mind age matters. What a 23-year-old wears might not be age appropriate for a 53-year-old, regardless of size and shape. And call me old-fashioned, but I think sports bras should be worn solo only when truly working out…in a gym…and if you have the body for one. Okay and maybe if you’re Gigi or Bella.

 

Forecasters say there is no end in sight for this fashion moment, so consider tasteful and comfortable ways you can incorporate it in your wardrobe if you haven’t already. My guess is you have and you’re loving every cozy minute of it. Namaste!