Thursday, September 30, 2010

Time Tested Beauty Tips

This poem was not written by Audrey Hepburn, as many an email forward has claimed; it was written by Sam Levenson, but the lovely Audrey quoted it often. (It does seem like the kind of thing she would say, doesn't it? And that is why we love her.)
For attractive lips, speak words of kindness.
For lovely eyes, seek out the good in people.
For a slim figure, share your food with the hungry.
For beautiful hair, let a child run his or her fingers through it once a day.
For poise, walk with the knowledge you'll never walk alone.
People, even more than things, have to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed; never throw out anybody.
source (and a lovely story)
Remember, If you ever need a helping hand, you'll find one at the end of your arm.
As you grow older, you will discover that you have two hands: One for helping yourself, the other for helping others.
The beauty of a woman is not in the clothes she wears, the figure that she carries, or the way she combs her hair. The beauty of a woman must be seen from in her eyes, because that is the doorway to her heart, the place where love resides.
The beauty of a woman is not in a facial mole, but true beauty in a woman is reflected in her soul. It is the caring that she lovingly gives, the passion that she shows, and the beauty of a woman with passing years only grows!
--Sam Levenson

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Talk to the Hand

I think it's fair to say that society has changed a lot in the last hundred years. We have technologies that our ancestors couldn't have been imagined, and the way we dress couldn't be more different. And hey, the word "society" doesn't even mean what it used to. Our language has changed significantly, and our behaviors have changed too. These changes have brought about great things like civil rights, suffrage, and the end of the old rigid class system; but we've lost a lot of good things in the transition as well.

A while ago I read a book called Talk to the Hand: The Utter Bloody Rudeness of the World Today, or Six Good Reasons to Stay Home and Bolt the Door. It's essentially a rant about the loss of manners in the modern world by Lynne Truss, one of my favorite British writers, and I'm going to let her help me explain what I'm talking about.
"The utter bloody rudeness of the world today is about a lot of things... but I think what most dismays many honourable people is the way 'deference' has become a dirty little demeaning word, while its close relative 'respect' has become a cool street-crime buzz-word mainly associated with paying feudal obeisance to those in possession of firearms. Both words have lost their true meaning. Deference is not about lying down and letting someone put their foot on your head. It is not about kow-tow. It is about assessing what is due to other people on all sorts of grounds...
The crying shame about modern rudeness is that it's such a terrible missed opportunity for a different kind of manners--manners based, for the first time, not on class and snobbery, but on a kind of voluntary charity that dignifies both the giver and the receiver by being a system of mutual respect."
I've often thought that one reason it's so difficult to express your feelings when someone is grieving is that we simply don't use the right kind of language for it anymore. We don't say things like, "my condolences" in everyday speech, and maybe we don't try because we feel pretentious. But how much more simple would it be if people could just express their feelings without worrying about what words are acceptable?

I may have mentioned a book called The Four Agreements on this blog before, and in reference to this issue I've been trying to apply a principle from that book that says, "be impeccable with your word." One of the definitions of this is to "use your energy in the direction of truth and love;" to me, it means a few things:
  • that I don't say things I don't mean
  • that I am kind and careful with my words, because words have a lot of power and I do not want to use that power to hurt anyone
  • and, perhaps most of all, that I am honest about my feelings, and don't worry about what other people will think of them
Sometimes I think I was affected by public school more than I should have been. What I mean is that when I meet someone who is obviously not included in others' social groups, I still feel the temptation to avoid them myself; when I remember someone's birthday or college major or something they once told me about their mom, I want to pretend that I don't because it feels more cool to be aloof. I'm learning to stop this.

The world would be a much lovelier place if people could learn to respect each other and speak with kindness instead of cynicism. Life would be so much more pleasant if we could learn to express ourselves simply and honestly, and remember the manners our mothers taught us.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Smart Girls at the Party

I came across this website a while ago called Smart Girls at the Party. Amy Poehler is one of the people involved with it and I love her, so of course I was curious. Basically, they interview young girls about the things they are interested in, from yoga to robots to gardening...all sorts of things.

Here's Amy Poehler talking about it on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon:

I just love this idea. It's encouraging and uplifting and a great way to teach girls that it's okay to be smart and silly and funny, that they don't have to just blend in with everyone else. It's also another great example of someone who is using their influence over girls (since Amy Poehler is in the media spotlight) for good.

We Are Women Giveaway Winner

Thank you to everyone who entered the giveaway! We loved all of your comments. Being a woman is awesome because of dresses and nail polish and pretty shoes AND because we get to be mothers and wives and sisters. We get to nurture, create, empathize and share. We can be emotional and silly and loving and all sorts of other wonderful things. It's nice to think of all those good things. So, thank you for the lovely reminders.

And now for a winner. Our randomly chosen winner is.....Krissie! Here's what she said:

I like being a woman because I believe that women have a better sense of "self" and spend their thoughts and heart songs thinking about what more they can do to be truer to that idea, whatever it may be. I like being a woman because the possibilities for individuality, each lovely, are endless, powerful, and perfect. I like being a woman because of the tenderness we are known for throughout time and the beauty of creativity and love we embody. I like being a woman because of the pure image it gives to those who truly know and understand the worth of a great woman and what they can accomplish if they have one on their team. The image that promotes happy families, compassionate service, and empathetic voices. Never underestimate the power of a woman who knows who she is and what she is capable of accomplishing.

Email us with contact information (an email address) and Allison will get in touch with you shortly with a link to the ebook.

For those of you near Provo/Orem, go to the book release party tonight at The Chocolate (6-8pm, 212 South State St., Orem).

Thursday, September 23, 2010

We're All in This Together

How hard to realize that every camp of men or beast has this glorious starry firmament for a roof! ... Standing alone on the mountaintop it is easy to realize that whatever special nests we make - leaves and moss like the marmots and birds, or tents or piled stone - we all dwell in a house of one room - the world with the firmament for its roof.

--John Muir

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Do Not Even the Publicans the Same?

From the lovely Molly at Smart, Pretty, and Awkward:

How to be (less) Awkward: It is more or less implied you are proud of someone you love when they have a success in their life. “I am so proud you got straight A’s,” “Great job landing that design internship,” etc. But it much more powerful to say, outloud, that you are proud of people even when they are not having classically defined successes. “I am proud of you for getting out that harmful relationship,” “I am proud of you for sticking through that tough time at work,” etc. When you love someone remind them often and frequently that you are proud of them for all the things they do — all of the things.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

"He who takes offense when no offense is intended is a fool, and he who takes offense when offense is intended is a greater fool."

--Brigham Young

Friday, September 17, 2010

A Link and a Smile

I wrote a guest post about parenting on a friend's blog this week. Click the link and check it out.

And don't forget to comment on the giveaway! It's a super cool book and your only chance to get it for FREE!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

We Are Women Giveaway!

Remember Allison? She recently submitted an essay for the contest and has been mentioned before on this blog.

Well, the We Are Women book is nearing release. Miri and I submitted photos that are featured in the book (I'm looking unintentionally fierce in a photo from Miri's wedding) and the essays are wonderful. Not only is it a great book, but the proceeds go to the Campaign to End Fistula.

The release of the ebook is set for September 27th (check out details below about the release party at The Chocolate in Orem, Utah), but Allison was awesome enough to let us do a giveaway for you Lovely Readers.

So leave a comment below telling us why you love being a woman. It can be detailed or simple, whatever the answer, it will enter you into the giveaway. You can enter multiple times if you share this post via Facebook, your blog or Twitter and then leave another comment with a link. It's basically all about spreading the word and helping out a good cause!

The giveaway will close on Friday, September 24th. Happy commenting!

Monday, September 13, 2010

If Women Like It, It Must Be Stupid

I've been trying to write this post since July 3, and the other day I came across an article that has really helped give some definition to what I'd been trying to say. That day--July 3--was my friend Lori's birthday, and the day that I saw Eclipse. This post is about what happened as I was leaving the movie.

The first thing you should know is that I love the Twilight books. I read them four years ago, when only the first two were out. I read them multiple times; I gushed about them with my roommates, who were also reading them; I went to Stephenie Meyer's website, downloaded the songs on the playlists she had to accompany the books, and listened to them constantly.

Then I saw the movies. On the one hand, I think they are pretty terrible as movies go. The dialogue is painful, Jasper walks around looking like he has something stuck up his bum, and Kristen Stewart is the Monotonous Expressionless Wonder. But on the other hand, all ridiculousness aside, watching the movies somehow feels like watching the books. I like that.

So Lori, Meredith, Bethany and I went to the movie. We watched; I wondered where Jasper and Carlisle got their new accents, tried not to laugh when Jacob said "I am hotter than you," and was impressed when Bella actually raised her voice for once. 

The whole time, and indeed whenever the Twilight franchise is mentioned, my inner snob wanted to point out that I'm not in this the way others are. I'm not obsessed, I would never wear a shirt with Edward or Jacob on it, I refuse to be on anyone's "team." But that day, as I was leaving the movie, I had a thought:

Why do I have to excuse myself about this? Why do I feel the need to qualify my love of these books with explanations about how I actually hate vampire stories in general, how I don't like the movies and won't buy the merchandise? What is wrong with liking Twilight?

The article I mentioned at the beginning of this post is called "Eat, Pray, Love: If women like it, it must be stupid." It's about how people write off that book because it's about a woman's journey to find herself, and because it's primarily women who love it. (This, might I point out, is because of a lovely phenomenon--discussed in this article about the same topic--in which women will read and watch things about men, but men will not do the reverse.) And reading this article, plus a blog post about it by my uncle, made me realize that this ridiculous attitude is exactly what I was exemplifying in my on-the-fence, love/hate relationship with Twilight.

Okay, so, it's true: Women do like a lot of stupid things. Guess what. So do men. (May I remind you of the existence of this.)

When a lot of men like something, people don't think it's ridiculous. Macho, yes. Violent, probably; involving scantily clad women, very likely. But when a lot of women like something, people assume it's worthless.

It turns out that everything doesn't have to be the ultimate in literary (or cinematic) quality for there to be something legitimately worth loving about it. No, Stephenie Meyer isn't going to be winning any Pulitzers. So what? Instead, she has created something that appeals to women all over the world, of totally different generations and backgrounds and circumstances. There is something special about that, and what I realized that day when I was leaving the theater is that I am glad to be a part of it.

It is a lot of fun to have this in common with my aunts, my nieces, my mother-in-law, my friends, the girl who works at the library who always talks to me about YA books, the women I go to church with, and the few men I know who were adult enough to try reading it and honest enough to admit they liked it. (Yes, my husband is one of these--he read it even before I met him.)

To my mind, this attitude is a matter of insecurity. Sometimes we don't want to like something because of the stigma associated with that thing. I consider myself a well-read person; I love meaningful, "important" books; I tend to turn up my nose at "summer beach reading," romances, and Oprah's book club.

But I don't need to be afraid that liking Twilight will make me less smart. I don't need to pretend that I don't like something because I'm afraid that it will give the wrong impression of what kind of person I am (see the lovely Melissa's post from the recent contest). And as a culture, we don't need to belittle the things that women like just because women like them.

It's not a secret that women are often under-appreciated, underestimated, and trivialized in the cultures of the world. But that trend is not one in which I want to participate. So from now on, I am out of the closet.

I am a smart girl who loves literature, learning, and the English language. I like to know about the world. I like to defy convention. I like to be myself in spite of what others think.

And I like Twilight

Friday, September 10, 2010

Recognize Beauty

Maybe you've already heard this story from the Washington Post before ( if you're having trouble with the link.) It's the story of a social experiment involving a world-class violinist and a subway station - and it's a fascinating commentary on our society.

How often are we too busy to notice great talent or beauty or excellence because it comes in an ordinary package? Do we see beauty in our friends? Our parents? Our spouses or siblings or children? I think sometimes we forget that extraordinary things often happen in ordinary places. We don't have to be in a museum or a concert hall to experience talent. We don't have to visit the wonders of the world to experience the beauty of nature. No one has to designate something as beautiful or valuable for us to recognize it as such.