8/14/2014

Heartstrings

Usually, saying funny things is second nature to me, but not today. I have taken the death of Robin Williams pretty hard. My friend Laine posted this on Facebook and I think her sentiments are perfect. “I feel like I have lost a family member”. When famous people die, I think we all think about what they have added to the world and feel sorry for their families. But for me, this has been a tough year.

When Maya Angelou passed away, I was saddened because I really love her. She gave me so much through her writing. I took comfort in the fact that she lived a long, rich life and worked until her body just gave out. To me she is one of the greatest philosophers of all time. I quote her often and find constant strength in her words.

She is sitting on my shoulder when I write. I am in no way comparing what I write to what Maya has written... that would be like comparing Shakespeare to the guy who writes blurbs for inside fortune cookies. But she set me free a long time ago, to say what was on my mind, to be proud to be a woman with a voice, and to be kind. She also didn’t trust people who didn’t know how to laugh. But the best thing about Maya was the insightful way she viewed life. She gave the world so much. She gave me unmeasurable amounts of wisdom that are now a part of who I am.

“People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel”. “I’ve learned that you can tell a lot about a person by the way he/she handles 3 things. A rainy day, lost luggage and tangled Christmas tree lights.” - MAYA ANGELOU

Losing James Garner last month had a different kind of sadness for me. My daddy loved him. Watching the Rockford Files as a family was a big deal. My dad always said that James Garner was a man’s man and my dad was one too, so he would know. For anyone who saw his last acclaimed piece of work, The Notebook, Garner’s portrayal of a man in love with his ailing Alzheimer’s stricken wife was heart wrenching and beautiful. If you didn’t know, James Garner was married to the same woman for 58 years in real life. He also marched with Martin Luther King in the Jobs and Freedom March in 1963, when his acting career was in full swing and he had a lot to lose. And if you aren’t convinced that he cared about his country and its people, James Garner fought on the front lines in Korea, was wounded twice and was awarded two Purple Hearts. A man’s man and a woman’s man all rolled into one. His passing made me miss my father so much more.

And now Robin Williams is gone. From the very first time I saw him on Happy Days, I was in love. His wack-a-doo quirkiness as Mork was intoxicating. Robin was an incredibly funny stand-up comedian, but he gave something to acting that it had never seen before. Because Robin was such a genius ad libber, his prepared dialogue in his movie scripts was often abandoned because what came out of his mind and then his mouth was so much better. Brilliant doesn’t even begin to describe this man. He was a giver. He was one of the brains behind Comic Relief. The out pouring of love and heartfelt sentiments from the world prove what he meant to so many of us.

I was lucky enough to see him perform twice. About 20 years ago I was at the Improv in Hollywood and he stopped by to do an impromptu set. He was hilarious and adorable. But the best was when I went out to wait for my car at the valet; he was waiting, too. There were a dozen people there so I didn’t have to worry about making conversation, but it was exciting to be so close to someone I idolized. The second time was when I saw him perform live at a fundraiser a few years ago. He was on stage for over an hour and my face hurt from laughing for days afterwards. It was fabulous. From what I know, people always depended on him to help raise money for worthy causes.

It is hard not to think about how he left this world. He wasn’t almost 90 like Maya and James. He was in tremendous pain, emotionally. I have no idea what depression feels like, but I know what it looks like. I have a daughter who suffers every day from either being depressed, anxious or not liking the feeling of being on mood elevating drugs. She is working hard to overcome it, but it is extremely hard. She was the one I heard from first when the news of Robin was announced.

It is my hope that in his death, there will be a new awareness and understanding from people who don’t comprehend how overpowering the sadness can be for the people who struggle with mental illness. I hope great strides are made in his name and in his memory. For now, I am clinging to remembering him for being a comedic genius, stellar actor and unselfish humanitarian. I don’t have to say much because the tributes to him as a talent and a man are pouring in from all over the world.

Forgive me for not being funny today. I am just not feeling it. If you are still reading, thank you for sticking this out with me. I am going to Las Vegas on a buying trip. The big garment shows are there next week. When I come back, I shall be filled with humorous tales about Sin City. It’s the greatest people watching place in the world. And, lucky me, I get to go to a trade show on my birthday. I guess there is an age when your birthday is not a big deal, but I haven’t reached it yet. Have a great week.

8/07/2014

After Midnight

I never thought this would happen to me, but I have become an insomniac. I go to bed after a long day, curl up with my doggies, and drift into a deep sleep. Then, somewhere around 3:07, I wake up. Not the kind of "wake up" where you look around, check out the time, and then go back to sleep. The kind of wake up when you get out of bed and unload the dishwasher. It's annoying.

I am so wide awake and bored. I turn on the TV and try to find something that will lull me back to sleep; I have to get up in the morning and go to work. The wee hours are filled with a lot of wacky stuff on television. I find the reruns of King of Queens and Everybody Loves Raymond hilarious even before dawn. The only trouble is... I find myself laughing out loud and that feels completely weird in the still of the night. And the worst part is that my dogs can't tell time yet and they think it's time to be awake and play. Before I know it, my day is in full swing and the sun is coming up. By the time I have to leave for work, I am exhausted.

This has been going on for months and it is messing with my quality of life. My doctor says that people over 50 don't need as much sleep. I need it, I'm just not getting it. I have tried taking a hot bath before bed and it works great. Until 3:07. Then I am wide awake. I had to stop watching QVC and HSN, because I think I need everything at that time of the morning. New make-up to brighten up my face? Yes, please. A 50-foot hose that shrivels up into a prune to make gardening easier? Count me in! Pots and pans that make cooking effortless and practically clean themselves? GOODNESS, YES! You can talk me into most anything at dawn when I can already feel fatigue setting in and the real day hasn't started.

The television keeps me company when I know that sleep is eluding me. I used to feel guilty and get up and start organizing a drawer or a closet. I would dig stuff out, discover treasures I hadn't seen in ages and then poop out in the middle only to wake up to a big pile of stuff that I would end up just putting back until another time. Sometimes I play casino games on my iPad and that helps make me sleepy. I just broke $200,000,000 on my slot game and if that were real money, I wouldn't have to worry about work ever again.

I have found that just staying in bed is the best thing to do, but it is important to be careful what I watch in the middle of the night. I used to favor shows like Forensic Files and SNAPPED, but those aren't the best going-to-sleep kind of shows for a woman alone. Being scared does not make for sweet dreams.

Speaking of scary, I found myself intrigued with an infomercial as I was scanning the stations a few weeks ago. It was nearly 4:30 a.m. and I was still awake. This blonde woman was thanking her millions of fans for being so loyal for so many years. She was obviously signing off, because she had stopped mentioning whatever the product was she had been pitching. She kept going on and on about all her years in front of the camera and how much she loved her devoted fans. I didn't have the vaguest idea WHO this woman was. I kept watching and listening to her and I wondering who in the hell this person was because I had sure never seen her before. She thanked her television audience one more time and then said the words that horrified me. The camera came in closer and she said "...for Yada-Yada Cosmetics, this is Suzanne Sommers. See you next time!"

Listen, I watched more episodes of Three's Company than I wish to admit, but what happened to my adorable Crissy Snow? The plastic surgery monster got her good, that's what happened. I couldn't stop thinking about it for weeks.

I am still not sleeping great, but I will now wear the bags under my eyes with pride. I'm not changing a thing. Think I'm making a big deal out of this? Scroll down.

7/31/2014

Driving Me Nuts

I am going through an identity crisis and I am not happy about it. One would think that by the time you hit mid-life, you would be pretty much evolved and know exactly who you are. Not so.

The time has come for me to buy a new car. My Jaguar just had her 14th birthday, and although she is still very pretty and has only a little more than 100,000 miles on her, she does not suit my life anymore. I am tired of laying out garbage bags on the leather seats when I go buy new flowers for my garden.

I am constantly shopping for my next car. I haven’t been to a dealership yet, but I notice every car (and its driver) when I am out and about. I feel no shame when I peer inside a car I am considering in order to see the interior when at a parking lot. Because I never drive very far, I keep cars for a long time, so I need to do a really good job of choosing Ruby’s(she’s red) successor. I also have to buy a car that my sister likes. I am always happy to use my car when we go somewhere, but I like it best when she drives.She loves to drive and I hate it. It doesn’t even bother me that when I throw her the keys she rolls her eyes and calls me Miss Daisy. Sticks and stones, baby. I even considered buying a pre-owned Porsche. She’d want to drive that all the time and it would be great. But I have decided against a Porsche out of respect for the Porsche Corporation and their reputation for fast, precision sports cars. There would be a lot of times when I would be driving it myself. I imagine that they would not want to see one of their cars in the slow lane, my favorite, or plugging along behind a truck, never passing, because I don’t do that.

There is so much to consider when choosing a car. A conscientious consumer like myself must think about efficiency, eco-friendliness and the practicality of the vehicle. And when I get done with that, there’s how the car looks, what color it is and how will I feel when the valet drives up in it and nods to tell me my car is here. I am not going to lie to you, I want a car that is sexy.

It’s not that I don’t worry about my carbon footprint, I do. I just don’t think an electric car is for me. I can’t even remember to plug in my cell phone to stay connected to the world, so an electric vehicle is really out of the question. And do I dare say it without offending? They’re ugly. I am at a place in my life where I can drive any kind of car that I can afford. Driving around in a car that is shaped like the business end of a Dustbuster does not appeal to me.

When it comes to cars, I have paid my dues, for heaven’s sake. Please... I drove an apple green Gremlin in the '70s because that’s all I could afford. I will never forget the smile on that salesman’s face when I drove off in that thing. It served me well, but I had no privacy. I could be spotted from the moon and people were always telling me where they had seen me around town.

When I got married and had babies, I drove vans. I could carry a gaggle of kids, a pile of sports equipment and still have room for an ass-load of groceries in the back. It’s what I needed at the time and I never gave it a thought. Some of my favorite photos of my kids are of them doing the luggage handling on top of the van for family vacations. I was always such an overprotective mother; my kids were amazed that I actually let them get up on top of such a tall vehicle. I was there to catch them if they fell and I didn’t give a crap about what happened to the car... it was a van.

Then the kids grew up and went off to college. My ex-husband decided that I needed a snazzy car for a change. He found this very beautiful Jaguar with every detail and extra they came with at the time and he insisted that I have it. He made me sit in it at the dealership to see what I looked like in the driver’s seat. Both he and the salesman had pretend heart attacks as I sat at the wheel. It was really cute and I experienced what it feels like to sit in a glamorous car for the first time. If anyone out there knows my ex-husband’s girlfriend, please feel free to tell her that story.

Anyway, I am so befuddled as to what to get. I don’t want a car that is too young for me and I don’t want one that has geezer written all over it. I don’t have to buy a giant vehicle that will hold a softball team or a certain one because I am Mrs. Somebody. I want to drive something that reflects the person I am now, but I just don’t know what that is. I am getting to the place with my car research where I now see cars on the road and mumble to myself what Consumer Reports had to say about it. I am ready to face the car salespeople. I am unafraid.

I am hoping that test driving cars is like trying on wedding dresses. It would be great if I just KNEW it was the one. All I want is a car that I can afford to drive that shines like a piece of jewelry on the outside and is sumptuous on the inside. My Jaguar has more polished wood than my dining room, so I am spoiled. I am terrified of buying something that I will regret. I have no trouble with buying a car that is “pre-owned and certified”. It doesn’t have to be new, just not 14 years old. The new cars all look like belly buttons these days. They don’t come in real colors unless they are bugs, Fiats, Smart Cars or half a million dollar sports cars. If I didn’t know what 50 Shades of Gray was about, I would think it was about the colors cars come in.

Now all I need is your help. If you are driving your dream car, tell me what it is and why it called to you. I am open to sedans, SUVs, jeeps.. you name it. Talk to me! Help me. Just one thing... no vans.

7/24/2014

Hello, my darling readers...

I am sitting here at the computer contemplating jumping out of the window onto the street below. Ultimately, I'll abandon the thought since my office is on the second floor; I would only be maimed.

I just wrote the funniest article about something that is going on in my life. I read it out loud to my sister/assistant and my graphic design goddess. It made them laugh out loud and they both know it is all true, so it's even better.

I was sending the document to the art department and even though I saved the damn thing, I evidently pushed something and poof! It disappeared. A little while ago, after much trying, it was deemed irretrievable by the IT department.

I am so sad because I love writing for you each week and this was an especially good one. From now on I will print out what I write before I attempt to send it electronically. I am not crazy about computers and they feel the same about me. I am so sorry. I made some notes and I will try to re-write it for next week.

I know we all make mistakes but this one really hurt. You are now stuck drinking a good cup of coffee and reading this pitiful letter instead of a funny article.

The great philosophers have written much about making mistakes.

Alexander Pope's line is probably the most famous.

"To err is human, to forgive divine."
You do forgive me, right?

Winston Churchill wrote,

"All of us make mistakes, but only the wise learn from their mistakes."
I learned... I promise you.

But I think it was one of my favorite comedians, Ron White, who said it best.

"You can't fix stupid."

7/17/2014

The Pretty Committee

I am so in love with HGTV and the whole DIY thing. I watch endless hours of TV that focus on making over ugly '70s houses and other neglected properties. The experts turn these places into chic, sophisticated homes that match the owner’s persona perfectly. The transformations are amazing.

It occurred to me the other day, while we were in the midst of our marathon photo shoot, that the same treatment should be given to people, especially us ladies. We sometimes get so busy with day to day life that we forget to spruce up or modernize our look. Just like well-built homes, we girls have “good bones” and all we need is an update. Let me get back to what happened with the models. We went on an extensive model search for “fluffier” girls who hopefully had some modeling experience. The plus-sized models world is very narrow and the same girls are used all the time. We wanted our own “dream team” of beauty-FULL models to represent LoveFifi.

The gorgeous six ladies who won out over the competition are extraordinary and have such amazing self-esteem. Even though most of them were first timers in front the camera, their confidence and femininity ignited their shots in a way that is indescribable. Imagine watching the most exquisite butterfly you have ever seen and there are fireworks exploding behind it in the sky. That’s what it felt like watching these lovelies express their inner and outer beauty in front of the camera.

You know I am very random, so please stick with me on this one. I am getting to the point. Before a model goes on set, she spends about 2 hours in hair and makeup. This was very exciting for my new models. For my straight size models, this is part of their professional day-to-day experience and they are privy to every beauty trick in the book. It’s just part of their lives. For my curvy girls, who are all very pretty, sitting in the makeup chair was like Disneyland. My beauty team, who I call The Pretty Committee, are the best in the business. Each and every one of my plus-sized girls was overwhelmed with the results which only added to their swagger when they stepped in front of the camera. Even though these girls were brimming with faith in themselves as women and were very comfortable with their bodies, they had never been polished up to their potential brilliance.

Ok, the point is coming... We all get so stuck in our routines that we don’t make time to upgrade our look. We leaf through magazines with all the new trends in hair and makeup in front of our faces and then put on our sweats, throw our hair in a ponytail, pop on our sunglasses and that’s as good as it gets. I am guilty it, too.

Only movie stars and celebrities have hair and makeup experts on staff. We regular girls have to be a little more resourceful. I am going to initiate a new movement and I hope all my ladies out there will be a part of it. It’s called DIYB... Do It Yourself, Baby.

First, take out older photos of yourself from 2,5,10 years ago. Do you still have the same hairdo? I did. We all buy makeup and hair products, how much of it do we only use once and eventually throw away?

Here’s where the DIYB starts. You can have your own Pretty Committee for very little money, or at least, money you would have spent anyway. Start getting the most out of it. The next time you go for a trim, ask the hairdresser if he/she were given the green light to do anything they wanted with your hair, what would they suggest? Assuming that you go to a contemporary salon and not one of those places that does that does shampoo-and-sets for blue-haired old ladies, you will probably get an answer worth listening to. Stylists have to keep up with the times and their suggestions are usually good. They also see you your beauty potential in a much different light than you do. Let them impart their expertise to you. They are the expert. Consider making a small change. Layers or bangs or some highlights are easy and can make an astonishing difference. If you never go to the hairdresser, spend a little money to go to a decent one every once in a while. And ask questions.

Is there anything more enticing than the makeup aisles Wal-Mart or Target? I am a big fan of drug store beauty products, but there is no one in those places who has a clue as to what would look good on you. Every department store in America has extensive beauty counters with smock-wearing makeup girls who are often employed not by the store, but by the makeup brand. They are trained to make women look better so that you will buy the products. They are at the ready to plunk you down on a stool and make you over. Let them! Ask for a hand mirror so you can look between every step. It doesn’t really matter which brand you choose. Look for the girl who you think looks the best and whose makeup is tastefully applied. Be careful not to get lassoed in by anyone who looks like a geisha, a call girl or a member of Kiss. Listen to every word. Watch every step. You'll have to buy something and my advice is to get a foundation (they are trained to match skin tones and the quality is very good) and/or a makeup primer (trust me, primer is too high tech for drug stores). Everything else can come from Walgreen's once you know what you need. Have her stroke a little blush on a tissue so you can match it later. If you don’t like the total result, come back another day and go to another brand. It’s basically a free service and besides, it’s fun.

And the last members of your own personal Pretty Committee are the people in your life. Please LISTEN to what they say when you have put all your new knowledge to work. It will happen and it feels so good.

My sweet mother never went out of the house without her “face” on. Her hair was always coiffed. She used to say that if you look good, you feel good. It’s true. How about a little DIYB? Are you in?

Just to get you going, I have printed photos of some of my new models when I met them, and after the experts got their hands on them. My butterflies...

7/11/2014

To My Darling Readers

I hope you all had a fabulous 4th of July. I did! I cooked 12 racks of ribs, whipped up a big crock of baked beans, cut up 3 big watermelons, toasted a ton of garlic bread and made dozens of cookies. The family had an absolute blast and everyone was more than "Thanksgiving" full when they rolled out the door after the fireworks. It was wonderful.

We all returned to work Monday with a killer week ahead of us. Tuesday we began a marathon photo shoot for the Fall and Holiday season. You cannot even believe the magnificent new styles we have coming your way. The biggest news of all is that we photographed every style we have that comes in Plus Sizes on PLUS models. So many of you have requested this and we are doing it. We have rounded up the most gorgeous group of PLUS sized models from size 14 to 24.

It's so funny, the PLUS models are all so fun-loving and gregarious. They laugh and tease and were so much fun during the fittings. One day I happened to mention to one these models that the whole group of curvy models were crazy-cute and full of smiles all the time. Her response was that the "fluffier" models were the happiest because they're NOT hungry. I can relate!

Anyway, I am up to my eyeballs with things to do, so there won't be a regular article. I figured you wouldn't hate me if I told you what was going on. Y'all mean the world to me and I never want to disappoint. I will be back next week with some more of my mayhem and foolishness.

Hugs and Kisses...

7/02/2014

Mad About America

You have no idea how much I love the 4th of July. It is second only to Christmas in my heart. The way I spend this holiday has changed over the years, but the memories of the past only enrich the way I feel about it today. During the 300 years that I was married, we almost always gathered with the entire family at my in-laws. My precious father-in-law was a WWII war hero (he was awarded the purple heart) and he especially loved having his family around him on this holiday.

We would bar-b-que and everyone would bring something to add to the feast. The best part, however, was that the city where my in-laws lived still allowed the sale of fireworks. We would all pitch in money to buy the biggest, super-duper-colossal box they made. When it got dark, we brought the patio chairs from the back yard and created a makeshift amphitheater on the front lawn. My mother-in-law and father-in–law sat in the best viewing seats like the royalty they were. It was then the job of their 2 youngest grown sons (one of them was my husband) to put on a fireworks spectacular in the street.

You must understand that these are professional guys (a CPA and a Superior Court Judge) who are the furthest thing from being handy that you can be. They didn’t want to look like sissies or idiots so they both had to suck it up and appear oblivious to possible bodily harm if something should go wrong. They would set off one of the fireworks and then run like hell. The squeals and applause from their loved ones gave them a big dose of courage and by the end of the show they were fearless. It was so much fun and it made everyone so happy.

My beloved daddy-in-law spent his last Fourth of July doing this very same thing. He didn’t eat much that day, but he was all smiles when the 2 Stooges took to the street and began the fireworks show. It was a very special day for the kids and grown-ups alike. Six days later on July 10th, we lost him to cancer. Since then the 4th is still a favorite of mine and the whole family. The people in my world continue to celebrate this great country of ours to the max. My sister hosts the day at her house and we have spent weeks and months planning a day to delight. We are turning her front yard into a water park for the kids. We bought a good sized rubber pool, a Slip n’ Slide, a Water wiggle, squirt guns and balloons to fill with water. Everyone was instructed to bring extra clothes as not getting wet WON’T be an option. There will be amazing food and when it gets dark, we will pull the chairs onto the lawn and watch the magnificent fireworks above our heads. Sister knows how much I love fireworks, so she bought a house near Disneyland so I can see them as often as I want.

I am proud to be an American (and I love love love that song). I celebrate this day with all that is in me. Did you ever think about the things that are purely America?. There’s a pretty impressive list, so let me share some of it. How can you NOT be in total love with a country who is responsible for inventing Rock n’ Roll, blue jeans, multi-culturalism, bar-b-que, and the Internet? And if those don’t make you say WOW!... then try these. All are credited with being born in the USA.

Doughnuts

Harley-Davidson

PB&J Sandwiches

Religious Freedom

Antiperspirant

Jazz

Skyscrapers

Coca-Cola

Baseball

Cheeseburgers

Muscle Cars

Cowboys

NASCAR

Buffalo Wings

Country Music

And of course... Apple Pie