Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Coffee 'n Breeze with Carole & Louise - #Beauty, #JoanRivers, #MayaAngelou

I want to introduce you to a new HOOK feature - Coffee 'n Breeze with Carole and Louise. #USAToday bestselling authors, Carole Lanham and myself are joining forces for a weekly chat over a cup of brew, and we invite you to join us! We will be shooting the breeze about the things that touch each of our lives. Love, relationships, parenting, aging, dating, books, movies, cooking and crafts just to name a few. So pull up a chair and an empty mug. Leave a comment for your chance to win a FREE eBook, too!
 
Today's Topic - Beauty Over Forty 
 
Louise - The recent passing of the fabulous and funny #JoanRivers has me thinking about the perils of perceived perfection. While we are told that Ms. Rivers' death wasn't a result of a cosmetic surgery procedure gone bad - we also know that she, among many other aging #Hollywood performers spent/spend thousands of dollars on the quest for eternal youth. Or - at the very least - the appearance of youth. But this obsession with beauty isn't exclusive to those in the public eye. Women everywhere, especially aging women, are chasing some form of that same dream. I will speak personally for a moment so as not to wield broad presumptions. Open my medicine cabinet on any given day and you'll find an army of creams and lotions meant to help my skin stay soft and wrinkle- free. Hair dye to keep the grays at bay. Gloss and polish and all the trimmings that promise to make me look ten years younger than I am. (Ahem - ever 39?? Not.) As an #author, I'm fortunate that the majority of my time is spent out of beauty's harsh high-def glare. I often say that if #Oprah came calling I'd first have to run for an emergency Botox treatment. That said - the "beauty" industry is BIG biz. Millions of dollars are invested in these efforts. So I know I'm not the only one in a middle-aged panic. It seems that the stripped-down version of who we are is something or someone we are more likely to hide or apologize for.
 
Carole - One of the great surprises I’ve found with aging is the sense of secret shame I have over how much I care.  It’s not easy looking in the mirror and facing an image that doesn’t match up with the one I carry inside of me.  Sometimes I find myself pausing for long moments before the beauty creams at #Walgreens.  I stopped in for a loaf of bread and some Nyquil, I swear, yet there I am, furtively glancing about to ensure there is no one around from church or my daughter’s Girl Scout troop who might catch me loitering in the Personal Care isle.  If I happen to have on the pair of sweats with the permanent barbeque stains dribbled down the right leg, I might actually dare to remove a jar or two from the shelf and read of their promised wonders.  The same is true for all those ads in magazines that I used to flip by without a thought while waiting at the doctor’s office.  Now that I’m there for annual mammograms, advertisements for stuff like ELASTIderm and Masque Bar Brightening Sheet Mask have taken on considerably more allure.  Even so, I peek at them as though peeking at a naked picture.  I don’t want to be caught caring.
 
Louise - The trouble lies in the standard set in large part by the mass media in all its photo-shopped glory. I recently heard an alarming statistic that said that only FOUR PERCENT of girls/women perceive themselves to be #beautiful. I venture to say this dismal figure is due largely to the effects of the newly accepted "norm." The unwritten beauty guidebook that constantly asks such urgent queries as: Are our teeth white enough? Is our skin clear enough? Our hair thick enough? Our waists thin enough? Are WE good enough? I venture to ask - when is enough enough?
 
 Carole - I was raised to believe that things like intelligence, a good work ethic, and #creativity were the keys to the kingdom and yet, as women, we’ve all been on the receiving end of good fortune born of nothing more than the beauty that comes with youth.  It was important then and it’s important now, regardless of how modern a girl you are.  Yes, we are so much more than the face we present to the world, but does this mean that we should cease to care about that face completely, simply because it’s not as young as it once was?  I feel shallow dishing out thirty-five bucks for a teeny bottle of water-colored liquid that is supposed to lift my eyelids.  That said, the desire to hang onto that sense of well bring that comes from feeling healthy and taking good care of yourself is not something we ever age out of.  Maintaining a positive outlook about one’s self need not include waging an assault on drooping skin, but the fact is, what makes us feel good about ourselves varies from person to person.  If you truly are that intelligent and creative individual your mother raised you to be, you’ll make peace with what that means for you.  As #MayaAngelou so beautifully said, “The most important thing I can tell you about aging is this: If you really feel that you want to have an off-the-shoulder blouse and some big beads and thong sandals and a dirndl skirt and a magnolia in your hair, do it.  Even if you’re wrinkled.”
What do you think? Is beauty harder to maintain the older we get? Are your ideals of what is beautiful and what's not in keeping with what you know to be true about yourself? Comment for your chance to win a #FREE #Kindle copy of The Reading Lessons and The Making of Nebraska Brown.
 


Thursday, August 21, 2014

Where Buckets of Ice and Faith are Challenged

If by now you don't know what the Ice Bucket Challenge is you may need to check your pulse. It seems everyone everywhere has either been challenged or entertained by those videos of celebs and civilians alike being frozen in the name of charity. Whether or not you approve of this viral sensation - I'm told it is working. To date the ALS Foundation has received about $31 million dollars in donations. That, my friends, is a lot of ice.

Six months ago I didn't know much about this disease. Six months ago, I didn't have to. 

I recently found out that a family member of mine, someone I love deeply, has been diagnosed with ALS. It is quite simply a monster of a thing. The moment I heard that somebody close to me would be wrangling this particular beast it was as if I'd been doused, iced, submerged. I can only imagine in horror the way it felt to the person receiving that piece of news about him or herself. Shocked can't begin to describe it. Stunned, saddened, terrified, angry, confused. That might be a place to start.

This is one of those "test your faith" subjects for me. One where I am forced to rely on the power of prayer and the strength of hope. I am troubled by the helplessness I feel without a true hands-on solution. I'm not a girl of science, nor am I prone to magical thinking. Though lately I find myself drawn to both. I keep abreast of the latest in medical research meant to sideline the disease that sidelines too many beautiful lives. I negotiate with the heavens, the universe, calling in invisible favors and whispering countless promises into the air. Waiting for miracles without merit of fact or fancy. Just waiting.

Yet there is something mighty in the camaraderie of strangers united in this cause. Not only coming together to raise money to fight this Monster, but in raising a consciousness. In igniting an audacity that wants nothing more than to slay this hideous thing that is ALS.

Whether you respond to this worldwide challenge by getting wet or not, is up to you. I do hope either way you will reach into your hearts and wallets to donate to this foundation. Here is the website for more info: http://www.alsa.org/donate/.

If you are so inclined, I invite you to comment here with your email address, and I will happily reward your donations to the ALS Foundation with a gift of a free ebook - either Nebraska Brown or a copy of ANY of my upcoming releases in honor of my dear family member.

Together we can. With love and gratitude...