gratitude-a-thon day 2092: birthday resolutions

Today is my birthday and as a gift to myself, I will do everything the way I want to do it. I will eat my favorite foods, and take a little more time with my hair, and wear something that makes me feel good, and spend time somewhere doing something that makes me happy with people I love. Oh yeah, and at least 1,290,223 times today I will marvel at how the years are flying by and I cannot believe I find myself at this undisclosed age, which I will then promise will not diminish me, damn it!

Anyway, my point really is that wouldn’t it be nice if we treated ourselves like it was our birthday every day, instead of just once a year? Wouldn’t it be nice to do the little things that make you feel good on the daily? i don’t mean to devour a cake Monday through Sunday, I just mean to take the time to make choices that fill you up and respect you, rather than force you to slog on through, tripping on all the unenjoyable events of your day, instead of giving yourself the attention you deserve. Call the friend and talk to them, wear the shirt you’re always saving for special, watch the guilty pleasure tv, take a break during your work instead of working straight through, stretch your body, do a five minute meditation if that’s all your monkey mind (MY MONKEY MIND) can tolerate, exercise in the way that feels best to you. Smile at a stranger. And sweet baby Jesus, put on some lipstick, lip gloss, lip balm, whatever the fuck we’re calling it these days.

That’s my birthday resolution, do we have birthday resolutions? I don’t think we do, but I think we should. I am hereby going to be nicer to myself every day instead of once a year. I am going to be more thoughtful with myself. I am going to enjoy more and detest less. There. That’s the best gift I could possibly get, (oh and that surprise Chanel bag from my family was pretty good, too). Happy birthday to me. Grateful for another year.

critics-choice-a-thon day 2091: the red carpet

Award season is upon us, and we here at the gratitude-a-thon Department of Fashion (meaning me here at the gratitude-a-thon Department of Fashion) are here for it. Why? Because distraction is good. Say it with me, DISTRACTION IS. GOOD. It is. Pure and simple. So, giddy up, I’m getting on my critic-y horse and heading for the Hollywood hills.

Oh dear. Once again, the data for money and fame not being able to buy style are here and clear.

Devry Jacobs. The suit? The dress? The suit? The dress?

So, I get it. It’s a statement that we are all both. That we are all a little bit man, a little bit woman. Or that we might be male, and pretend we are female. Or that we are female in body, but male in mind. Or that we are male in spirit, but female in form. That we are not concerned with style, and we will go on a red carpet looking fucking ridiculous.

Anya Taylor-Joy teaches us the body parts.

On the runway it was called “The This is my Vagina Dress.” Pass the underpants.

Quinta Brunson. Don’t make me call your mother.

Damn, she looked so good at the Golden Globes and then she shows up wearing this absolute F-. The fit of the silver dress is lovely. Imagine if that black shit weren’t floating all around her, she’d be killing it. But as it is, she gets a failing grade. And a detention. And a suspension. And honestly, I am considering an expulsion, but this is pending the next award show.

Clair Foy, Ohboy.

She’s already so pale, did we really need that white band at the top? She looks a little like she just came off the beach in Waikiki and wrapped herself in a Hawaiian sarong. Not to mention, what’s with that caboose in the back?

Danielle Deadwyler gets into the kitchen supplies.

This is like that dream you have where you’re suddenly going to the Critics Choice Awards, and you realize you forgot to get a dress, so, out of your ever loving mind, you run into the kitchen where you get out the tin foil, which, fortunately for you, is the super big Reynolds Wrap version, and yay, you don’t have to go in your underwear, although it might have been a much better choice.

Sadie’s dress Sinks to the bottom of the pack.

It’s not really the worst, but……. Is that a Free People bandeau top or a beaded clutch bag under your sophisticated LBD?

Marcia NAY Harden

Giving her everything for her very shapely 63-year-old legs, but the length just looks off trend, and what’s with the bride of Frankenstein veil?

And the good ones.

Sheryl Lee Ralph. Tin foil done right.

I know, she might have gone to the same stylist as Danielle Deadwyler–the one who likes to use Reynold’s Wrap, but this whole look is a showstopper. The fit, the hair, the makeup. She gets an A++++ from where I’m sitting in the classroom.

Niecy Nash You Betts she is no rookie.

It is not easy to dress big boobs. And dress ’em in a strapless number–practically impossible. So, this dress on these boobs is not only a smash hit look, but a gravity-defying feat. I love the color, the soft hair, the whole dang thing is perfection.

Kerry Washington’s Flower Power.

If you know me at all, you know I love a daisy. I have daisy jewelry, daisy clothes and recently I even named my dog Daisy. So, this dress is a big yes for me. I don’t like how flat her hair is, and I wish she had on just a little more makeup, but God, this dress–I wish it were part of my decades-long daisy collection.

Amanda Seyfried goes gold.

This liquid fabric is dreamy. I love the way it falls. Pretty hair and a pop of red on the lip and she is not going to jail for this one.

Elle Fanning is the (Mc)Queen.

I absolutely adore the layers and layers and layers of this dress. It’s formal, yet that pretend rip gives it a super cool vibe. And she gets the perfect hair award for pairing it with that loose do.

Jennifer Coolidge. The Black Lotus.

Jennifer Coolidge has THE stylist to the stars. This black number hugs her in all the right places and her soft hair is much better than The Globes. Yes, I do love a black dress almost always, but this is just made for her body.

Ok, so wadja like? Wadja hate? Spill the tea.

the golden (and much more colorful) globes gray carpet rundown

A Tuesday night. The Golden Globes on a Tuesday night. Yeah, I know they said it was because NBC has Sunday Night Football, but you know it’s because The lily white Hollywood Foreign Press was being punished. And rightly so. And Jerrod Carmichael, the host, made it really clear in his monologue, basically saying, “I’m here because I’m black.”

But despite the accusations of racism, and trying to right them, i continue on the journey of judging the style mistakes of the rich and famous from my couch, while wearing an H&M black tank and my flannel pajama bottoms with the Indian-inspired elephants on them. Who better, I say?

Ok, and who did not slay.

THE WORST

Heidi Plume, I mean Klum about to do the double axel–(hint, she missed).

Ok, listen, I give her every single thing for having that body, that body that’s given birth four times and has been around the sun 49 times and still looks like it came from the mannequin stock room at Bergdorf’s. However, this does not mean you can throw on a longer version of an ice skating dress and an ombre ostrich. Even those long and perfect, not-a-drop of cellulite-to-be-found legs are going to save this one. Score: The judges could barely give her a 1.

Claire Danes is in Trouble.

My friend Karen texted me this morning,”Remind me not to buy ‘70’s upholstery and sew it onto a dress and then add a clip-on bow from my 2nd grade dance recital.” I’m going to remind her, in case she ever shows up at my house in the likes of this, because, well, isn’t it obvious? I kept trying to remove the bow with my eyes to see if it made a difference, but then my eyes felt like they were being burned out by the ugliness and I stopped.

Elizabeth Debiki: A Royal Scandal.

For someone who depicted the likes of a style icon like Princess Diana to show up in a dress so ill-fitting, she should have to apologize to the palace. In person. In a better dress. Is this column dress being held up by that one empire waist tie? This is grounds for Harry to write another chapter in his book entitled: People Who’ve Imitated my Mother and Failed.

Anya Taylor-NO Joy

I am well aware yellow is now a color we’re going to be pretending to like, but does one not have to take into account their own coloring? This banana-cut-in-two dress is shapeless and makes Anya look even more washed out than all those dead people in The Menu.

Ana de Armas is good from the neck up.

I am always amazed by this girl’s beauty. I mean, how do so many good features wind up in all the right places inside the womb, when there are so many ways to go wrong? And speaking of wrong, this dress. I feel like it was a perfectly nice black dress and Ana was having her living room wallpapered and was standing in just the wrong place and well, you see where I’m going. Time for a style reno. And I’m not talking about her house.

Michelle YeOHHHHHHHHH NOOOOOOOO.

I LOVE the top portion of this dress. And no, I wouldn’t have wanted her to wear it that short, because that would be silly and so Heidi Klum, but, I would have liked the flounce to continue, or to have at least had the volume of the skirt remain. I’m just not a fan of this shape. Her necklace almost convinced me that this should be on the best list, because it’s THE BEST, but nope, it just looks like it’s trying to be Everything All at Once. (By the way, this woman is 60, just to point out the total bonkers shape she’s in.)

AND THE DRESSES THAT MADE ME FEEL RIDICULOUS TO BE REVIEWING IN MY PAJAMAS.

Almost lost by a hair, but Jennifer Hudson’s dress was golden.

I don’t know what went wrong with her hair–too blunt and shapeless, but this dress, this dress was an absolute 10 for me. The fit is perfection. The color is apt. The shape gives her body the applause it deserves. American idol.

Jenna Orgetga: Wednesday on Tuesday.

It’s a little bit goth, it’s a little bit rock and roll. This dress flows like a river. It hangs just right. The hair is cool, the necklace is hip. It’s Wednesday all grown up and killing it.

Quinta Brunson: style that’s elementary.

This little bundle of talent is 4’11 and that can make it hard to dress. But no problem here. She totally makes the grade in this gorgeous tulle number. I particularly like the top. The fit is spectacular. I did see her tugging it up a bunch of times, which I imagine was her way of preventing a Janet Jackson Nipplegate situation, but it only made her more lovable and easier to relate to. School of style.

Jennifer YOU’RE JUST SO COOLidge

I gotta say right up front, I HATE THE HAIR. She had such enviable do’s on White Lotus, but this hair was a Morticia Adams look-a-like. However, I adore the dress. Now, let’s just point out that this is not a tiny woman. She is just a tad thick in the middle and she has some very big boob-aloos, but this dress does a lovely job of packaging it all up into a cool, age-appropriate (she’s 61) red carpet slay. Her stylist Gaelle Paul is packing heat.

Li Jun Li gets a gold in silver.

What is not sublime about this? What is not impeccable, amazing, 100% fucking PERFECT about this entire look? From the simple top knot to the second-skin fit, to the jewelry and blingy bag, this is what I call a 1,903,987 on a scale of 1-10,

Ok, tell me what you liked, hated, made fun of, want. Go!

gratitude-a-thon day 2089: the good

When I was growing up and things were shit, my mother would always remind me, “This too shall pass.” She was right. They always did. But what I hadn’t realized was that the good times also pass.

That’s an important part of that old saying and one we should take note of, because while “This too shall pass,” may help us through the ugly times, the same phrase should make us throw a big ass parade, a frat party, or a solo cheerleading event with lots and lots of pom moms for the good things.

This is one of my promises to myself in the new year, to focus and celebrate more of the good, ok, acceptable, not hideous stuff that happens. Things, like finding a great parking space smack in front of my destination, or having a client who’s really happy with something I’ve written, or finding those boots ON SALE, are things I’m going to let out a way too loud appreciation yell for. I’m going to spend more time thinking about them and letting them fill me up with Oxytocin and other good chemicals our body makes when it’s happy.

There are plenty of unspeakably crap things that happen that can overtake us, like ants on a crumb of fallen bread. They can do us in if we let them. But if we give the good things their full due, if we honor them, and let them seep into our pores, the miseries of life feel a lot less bad. So, here’s to the good. The little good, the big good, and every good in between.

gratitude-a-thon day 2088: extending the gratitude

We here at the gratitude-a-thon (meaning ME here at the gratitude-a-ton) are pondering Thanksgiving, that time of year when everybody prays to the altar we live at on the daily–gratitude. The the lists that will be thrown around the tables tomorrow, ranging in size, depth, and magnitude, are music to our ears (meaning MY ears). But once the turkey disappears, why do we throw the gratitude out with the leftovers? Here’s my list of why you should make your Thanksgiving gratitude last all year:

  1. Gratitude is cheap. Oh wait, it’s actually free! How many things in life that are worthwhile are actually 0 cents?
  2. Gratitude can improve your health. It improves your immune system, lowers your blood pressure and makes your aches and pains feel less achey and pain-y.
  3. Gratitude makes us feel less isolated. It makes us feel more outgoing and compassionate. And if that were on the racks at Bloomingdales, tell me you wouldn’t fill your cart? (They don’t have carts at Bloomingdales, but you know what I mean).
  4. Gratitude makes us feel more positive and optimistic. And I’m sorry, but in this cuckoo clock world, you gonna shun that?
  5. Gratitude puts us in the moment, instead of loitering in yesterday and tomorrow. It allows us to feel the joy in what we have and not do that nasty take-the-good-stuff-for-granted thing.
  6. Gratitude can help you deal with the green monster, no not Fenway Park’s green monster, we’re talking jealousy. It’s hard to feel envy while you’re feeling gratitude.
  7. Gratitude makes you look at the whole of the good and where it came from. When you do this, you get a feeling of community and appreciation for those in your life who’ve helped you get whatever it is your grateful for. It takes a village, people.
  8. Gratitude can improve your resilience. When you’re always looking for the good in even the worst situation, you’re going to be able to have more positive emotions roam around your body and mind.
  9. Gratitude has been proven to lessen depression. Tell me that doesn’t improve your mood.
  10. Gratitude can help us stop being so controlling. If you’re on the gratitude hunt, you’re feeding yourself a diet of being thankful for what you have vs. what you want or think you need, or must get.

I could keep writing this list, but then I wouldn’t be able to make my New York Times macaroni and cheese recipe for the first time, which will go with the million other items we’ll be indulging in tomorrow, for which I am super grateful. See, see how I did that–that’s how easy it is to get your gratitude on. Just consider all that good you have hiding all over your life. In every corner, there are teeny weeny and mega things that you can bow down to. What are yours? Ask yourself tomorrow, and then ask yourself every day afterward. I’m not trying to be bossy, I’m just trying to give you a tried and true habit that can actually make your life better. But of course, what else do you think we’d feed you here at the gratitude-a-thon–the seven deadly sins?

Happy Thanksgiving, EVERYBODY! Hoping you’re with people you love and you have an overabundance of mashed potatoes.

gratitude-a-thon day 2087: get busy living, or get busy dying

I got an email on Saturday morning that let me know that a guy I went all the way from Kindergarten to high school with, had died. I had that reaction we get when we aren’t prepared for something we learn. A questioning of the words, a full-body tingle, a quick reread. He’d been sick for many years, battling some sort of lung issue. And now he was gone.

It wasn’t that we were very close friends, we weren’t, but we were certainly friends. Oh, he did ask me to the Senior prom, which I’d had to say no to because I’d already said yes to someone else. And we did share that outdated and ridiculous superlative pick of being Best Looking in our senior class. And we may or may not have had a date in Boston after college that ended in a make-out session in my Newbury Street apartment, which was like kissing your brother and we never saw each other again! But like so many people I went to school with, he was a constant, the low din of background music, the Bethel backdrop of growing up. See, I never moved once. I grew up in the same small town, in the same old creaky Victorian house for my whole life. It was like that for many of us. There were generations who’d inhabited that tiny town. Everybody knew everybody. And the people you went to school with, who showed up every September with new haircuts or new bras, a few new inches, or the fear of having an erection in class, were such a constant in your every day, you’d remember them the rest of your life.

There are many reasons I feel sad over this way-too-early loss. One is that it is premature. Yes, I know, he wasn’t 25 years old. But it’s still too soon, there are still too many happy and astounding experiences that will never be. His wife shouldn’t be widowed. His kids shouldn’t be without their dad. Two is the wake-it-on-up call that says Jeez, here’s where we are, class of 1977–we’re dying now.

Armand Menegay. That was his name. He was smart and gorgeous and athletic and had a great personality. He’d created a good life. One that shouldn’t have ended so fucking soon. But he reminded me to be more present today, to love a little harder and louder, to remember that as Andy says to Ellis in the Shawshank Redemption, “I guess it comes down to a simple choice really. Get busy living, or get busy dying.” We all have that expiration date looming. Grateful to have known you, Armand. Here’s to you.

gratitude-a-thon day 2086: stay in the day

Annnnnnnnnd the holidays are on us. Yup, we just carved the pumpkins, and without hesitation, in fact, with overlap, the stores brought out the whole nine yards of decorations and elves on shelves and silly festive sayings on blocks of fake wood. ‘Tis the season to manic panic about gifting and get-togethers and trying to dodge bad Hallmark Channel movies.

Do I sound Grinchy? I’m actually not. But I do find the premature birth of the Christmas season to be a buzz kill. Why can’t we just slow it on down, people? The next holiday is Thanksgiving. Why not lean into the gratitude of that, which is all about food (featuring mashed potatoes!!!!) and being thankful for the good stuff we have, putting an oversized magnifying glass to what we already possess, not what we have to purchase (right now, while on sale, 40% off, TODAY ONLY……).

I guess what I’m saying is why must Thanksgiving foot the bill for the greediness of Christmas, Santa?

Let’s face it, we know why the ho, ho, ho has to start early, so that the maximum amount of green (forget the red) can be made. I understand that it’s all just business. But you know, we here at the gratitude-a-thon (meaning ME here at the gratitude-a-thon) take offense at our holiday being overlooked.

Gratitude is even more vital during the holidays. When the conversation is all about get, get, get, it’s important to remember what we have, have, have.

So, while I may have done a little pre-season shopping already, I just want to state how grateful I am for the upcoming holiday based on one of my most favorite things ever–gratitude. (And you thought I was going to say mashed potatoes….)

gratitude-a-thon day 2085: a great read

My friend Steph and I have a small (really small–it’s just us!) book club, where we search and sample and dig for the best reads to share with one another. I am not one of those, “I bought it so I have to finish it, EVEN IF I HATE IT,” people, because Jeesh, life is way too short for that. I still remember reading As I Lay Dying in college and honestly, I did want to lay and die as I was reading it……(I am going to give it another try, since I am notoriously influenced by my mood and where I am in my little life, so maybe in college, this just wasn’t the right vibe for me and this critically acclaimed, super influential work).

Anyway, Steph told me she was reading Elizabeth Stout’s Lucy by the Sea, so immediately I downloaded a sample on my Kindle and was all in. It’s about the beginning of the pandemic from one woman’s perspective and it brought me right back to those eerie, early days when who the hell knew what was happening, except for things were changing by the moment and I ordered a bunch of toilet paper, paper towel and rice and my family made fun of me, before they used it all and began to realize that I wasn’t as overreactive as they thought.

This book is so aptly written that reading it is bringing up some of the fear and claustrophobia I felt then. Things were uncertain and odd and the news was like watching a loop of the movie Contagion. My kids were home, I was walking miles and miles a day, just to be out of the house, getting up at odd hours to get on the Amazon Prime Whole Foods delivery line. I was afraid to be with people and took enormous comfort in my online yoga class. It was bright spot of every morning that helped me to feel a little normal. I kept trying to understand what was happening, but I couldn’t. I missed my friends. I missed being able to walk down the street and not think someone I saw was a walking virus that might kill me. I forced myself to try and soothsay when it would end. I prayed for a vaccine. I worried for my kid’s and how their lives were being effected. In short, I was a hot mess of anxiety.

You wouldn’t think I’d want to revisit that in a book, but somehow or other, it’s rather comforting. I think part of it is knowing that many people’s reactions were like mine, but also that we got through the worst of it (OR ANYWAY, I FUCKING HOPE WE HAVE) and that feels like some sort of achievement. It wasn’t easy. Many people lost someone close to them (we lost my father-in-law, who’d not been well but still), and this changed the course of their lives permanently. While we were able to fend off the virus for two whole years, I did succumb in late May after a fabulous wedding in Palm Springs, which made me sicker than I’ve ever been and left me with a fatigue that has me taking Adderall which is really helping and I’ll continue taking it until this coma-like exhaustion stops.

Anyway, Elizabeth Stout. What a writer. Next up, the book I should have read first, and who Elizabeth won a Pulitzer for, Oh, William! I am notoriously grateful for good writing, that kind you can just feel. What are you reading? Always interested in the next great read. C’mon, tell me everything on your nightstand.

gratitude-a-thon day 2084: what i learned in yoga

My good friend retired from teaching yoga for 20 years and there was a fabulous goodbye lunch for her last week to celebrate. I of course was not celebrating, as I wish she was still teaching, but I get it and I support her and it’s only my selfish side that wishes she hadn’t made this decision.

I came to yoga late in life and with two herniated discs in my low back and a bit of a wonky neck, I felt tremendous luck that Roni, my teacher, was so gifted in the department of being able to teach an old dog like me some new tricks. Her mammoth skill and boundless capacity for conducting classes where every pose flowed into every other made my body feel both challenged and satisfied. Her well considered meditations were apt and well timed. The long lines of her beautiful sinewy body made every pose look like a sculpture you’d want to take in the beauty of for the better part of a day.

Here’s Roni doing a perfectly gorgeous pose

But here’s what she did that was most important of all. She always had an accommodation for whatever ailed any of us.

If someone said, “I can’t do that pose because my knee is having issues,” Roni would come up with another way to produce the pose, so the person could accomplish it without pain. I’m telling you that no matter what you said to her, she had a solution consisting of your blocks and blankets and bolsters and chairs and straps placed in a very particular way to allow you to do the undoable . I often teased her that she’d say, “Ok, put 17 blocks, 19 blankets, a wheelbarrow, 6 loaves of wheat bread, a down coat and 4 mattresses under your head and you’ll be fine as wine.” She was not quite that extreme, but Roni always had a way around a downed tree in your path. She could give you a detour for even the most extreme impediment.

Here’s a few things you could use that could help you do that undoable pose!

I loved this because there are things I can never do because of my back. But in hindsight, I see that maybe I loved this because isn’t this just like everyday living–you are always running into issues that need to be accommodated. It’s all of fucking life!

So, grateful to Roni for showing me that there’s always a way. That if one thing doesn’t work, you find another, that if there is an unstoppable force blocking you, you can find an alternative. This is as good as her aspirational poses, and her ability to create community. And while I may never quite get myself into the perfect Pungu Mayurasana, what she has taught me over the years is invaluable for my yoga practice and my life.