Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Too rich and too thin? Let's try financially stable and healthy!

It is not necessarily right for the government to be dictating that designers use thin models but when I see their bones clanking down the Italian catwalks, I don't even notice the clothing nor the energy of the show. It has surpassed prepubescent and is now just kind of icky - for lack of a better word. What happened to healthy & interesting to look at?

Maybe Connecticut isn't so quiet after all

My friend, Britt struck gold - Sedaris gold! David Sedaris is going to be at the Palace Theater in Waterbury on Saturday! In addition, our neighbor Roz Chast (New Yorker cartoonist) will be signing her book at our local Books on the Common in a few weeks. I love her cartoons because they are so apparently based on her experiences in Ridgefield - from the people to the wallpaper. It may not be Tool...oh wait, they're playing in Hartford on Thursday! but it is nice to find these fun things to do every so often.

Britt wants to create a called Ridgefield Exiles. I'm tempted. We can meet once a month and wreak havok.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006


For some reason this word has presented itself to me and I am obsessed. I want to know the translation but like many words, cannot be translated. It is Indian in origin and I think the literal translation is to describe white blood cells. Other translations are the sweet essence of taste and the one I love, is the experience of moving from a tired, dehydrated state to the state of rehydration - think of a plant sitting tired in a pot to a state of replenishment. If anyone else has a thought or knows more about this, please let me know!

In good health,

Friday, September 22, 2006

What Is My Merit?

This exchange is probably the most famous in Zen lore. Bodhidharma met the emperor of the Liang Dynasty, a devout Buddhist renowned for his piety and charity, who was much given to endowing monasteries and orphanages. Wu said: "I have endowed temples and authorized ordinations--what is my merit?" Bodhidharma's answer was radical: "No merit at all." Wu had been doing good for the sake of accumulating merit. Bodhidharma cut through Wu's ideas about merit to the core of his teaching, that your practice isn't apart from you: when your mind is pure, you live in a pure universe; when you're caught up in ideas of gaining and losing, you live in a world of delusion. --Jisho Cary Warner, Tricycle: The Buddhist Review, Vol. III, #3

Thursday, September 21, 2006

West Eats Meat

Adolf Hitler was a vegetarian; the Dalai Lama, the embodiment of compassion, eats meat by his doctors' orders. Clearly, there's more to mind than what is put into the mouth: yet, as long as food remains a fundamental part of life, these choices are a proper focus of spiritual awareness. Every bite of macaroni contains choices about culture, history, meaning--even the "Nutrition Facts" newly listed on every U.S. noodle box have resonances for us that spread as far as asceticism, sin, compassion, the place of science in our beliefs, and the importance of supporting one's own well-being along with that of others. So what should a Buddhist eat?

--Kate Wheeler, Tricycle: The Buddhist Review Winter 1994
from Everyday Mind, edited by Jean Smith, a Tricycle book

Friday, September 15, 2006

Love thy body.

How strange that issues can present themselves in clusters over a few days or weeks. It could be that these ideas are around me all the time but it is now that I cannot turn away from them. In life, we travel in the direction of our foremost thoughts.

Everyone has body issues but it seems a couple friends have confided in me their issues - and mine to them. But on Wednesday evening, I met my new Feldenkrais instructor, a former dancer and movement specialist who in the last 10 years developed Multiple Schlerosis. She still dances but I did not see her move without the support of a table, wall or cane.

These are real physical issues that they wish they could hide from the world but they cannot. They feel they will never (again) be able to experience a 'normal' physical state although, I look at them and see these people as gifts because they have a perspective 'normal' people are clueless about - these are the most open-minded loving people I know. And aside from that, I don't think 'normal' really exists. Our bodies, like our souls are flawed and always seeking enlightenment whether we are concious of it or not.

"The good Lord gave you a body that can stand most anything. It's your mind you have to convince." -Vincent Lombardi

In good health.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Go Feldenkrais yourself!

Last night I literally got lost in the backwoods of Ridgefield, Connecticut. I went down dirt roads that bordered on lakes (I was tempted to yell at the guy in the rowboat for directions)and drove down roads I didn't recognize only to end up in the same place several times. I felt like I was in a maize maze only, um, in the woods. My goal was to find the sole Feldenkrais instructor in the area. I had an instructor in NYC but he moved to Brooklyn and the 2 hour travel time started to outweigh the hour long session benefits.

The reward of finding Jody in the woods was sweet. If you're not familiar with Feldenkrais, which it is pretty obscure so not many people are, it is kind of like very gentle physical therapy that works to realign the body and therefore releases pain. I hesitate to say it is like physical therapy but to the outside observer, it may look like the manipulations are the same. In fact, the touch is completely gentle and similiar to say, wiping up spilled water on a counter but the result is that the student stands taller and finds a balance in the body that is natural. Do you ever find yourself slumping or arching your back and then you end up correcting it to a point that stretches in the opposite direction? Feldenkrais eliminates that completely. Your body reaches balance.

For the last 15 years, I have had consistent back pain that ranges from 2 to 9 out of 10 (being emergency room level). I've seen physical therapists, massage therapists of all types, yoga, and plain old bike riding to relieve the pain. All of these cut the pain but never eliminated it. After my session last night, my back pain was cut to a level 1. Today it is still at that point although my body wants to default to that painful but familiar positions. I'm going to see Jody once a week for the next couple months and then taper off as my body learns how to move correctly.

If you are interested, read her fascinating profile. It is strangely natural that this increasingly immobile woman is helping me to find my mobility.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006


Having been a health and beauty junkie since I was 11 (maybe even preceeding that if you consider the cake makeup I used to put on my Barbie's faces) I continue to love to trying new things. I love experiencing new textures and colors and finding out about ancient plants that cultures have used for medicinal purposes but Western medicine hasn't touched. Recently, I went to and puchased the detox foot pads which work on the energy meridians on your feet to cleanse your kidneys & liver and supposedly pull heavy metals and other toxins out of your body. This includes lead, arsenic, plastics, etc. Because I am Post-surgery and have bizarro allergies, I am giving it a try. I received it in the mail and Tuesday night I applied (taped) one on my left foot and slept better than I have in years. When I woke, my husband brought me my morning coffee in bed and I was revolted by the coffee smell and could taste the herbal ingredients in my mouth. This is despite my 4-5 cup per day addiction. The footpad was black like I was told they would be for about a month until my body is cleansed.

Last night was night #2. The right foot got warm and tingled a bit so I know it wasn't in my head when it happened the previous night. I now have absolutely no desire for coffee and am drinking tea and honey. This morning I woke refreshed after 5 hours of sleep, having much more energy than I normally do. This morning, the right foot pad was black.

Am I losing my mind? Do I need to get a life? (or what?)

In good health,

Monday, September 11, 2006


So, we're forced remember this tragic day once again. It is a good time to reflect and appreciate what we have but all I feel is numbness and pain. Again.

On this morning's NPR "This much I know", the essayist spoke about being a baby boomer and how the irony of flying the flag is no different than the Peace signs of the sixties - it meant you were from a certain school of thought. The thing is, flying the American flag to him could represent unity. In my mind, unity happens when people are given straight facts and allowed to make up their own minds and decide to work together on a common goal - we don't need a symbol to tell people how to think,we need solid information that allows us to think for ourselves. Americans want to be united but the leaders are asking us to look at a symbol and cheer instead of really giving us something intelligent to work toward. If we don't cheer then we aren't patriotic. If you talk about Freedom, tell us what that means and don't strip our freedoms from us while you wave the flag like a piece of candy to a baby trying to distract us.

Friday, September 08, 2006


She's the epitome of a woman that is herself and acts her age and I so admire that. No, she's not seeking pure enlightenment in life and peace on Earth but she has figured out what makes her tick. I'm proud to say she's fellow Connecticutite..connecticutian...? Who knows. But she appreciates the beauty of the area.

Each Halloween our street is closed off for trick or treaters (our neighbors are wack about it). I think for this Halloween I will dress up as a Stepford Wife with my DVF dress and big bouffant hair, pink lipstick and all immaculate. Think anyone would get it? Maybe I'll need to carry a wine glass filled with sedatives.

Fashion Icon
Takes Measure
Of the Industry

Diane von Furstenberg Says Design Field
Is in 'Great Spot' but Faces Challenges
September 8, 2006; Page B1

When Diane von Furstenberg introduced a jersey-knit wrap dress in 1972, she created a status symbol for a generation of working women as well an everlasting signature for her brand.

More than 30 years later, her dress and sportswear label is still sold at tony stores such as Bergdorf Goodman and considered hip. Her Diane von Furstenberg Studio generates annual sales of about $120 million. Last year, she was honored for her lifetime achievement by the Council of Fashion Designers of America, an influential trade group that recently elected her president.

Reporter Teri Agins interviews Diane von Furstenberg at the designer's New York studio about the health of the U.S. fashion industry and the impact of new technologies.The Belgian-born Ms. von Furstenberg, whose first husband was the Austrian-Italian Prince Egon von Furstenberg and is now married to media mogul Barry Diller, benefited early in her career from the endorsement of legendary Vogue editor Diana Vreeland. But that didn't insulate her from setbacks in the 1980s, when she ceded control to licensees who distributed her apparel, luggage and cosmetics too widely. To revive her brand, she stopped licensing so much. She also became a pioneer among designers, marketing silk separates on television's QVC shopping network.

Taking a break from preparing for New York's fashion week, which begins today, the 60-year-old designer recently reflected on challenges facing the industry. Excerpts:

WSJ: With American high fashion facing so much competition from Europe, is the industry healthy?

Ms. von Furstenberg: American fashion is in a great spot. There are a lot of young, fresh new designers beginning to export a lot more. There is a lot of young talent, and a lot of people are helping them. There is an interest, all of a sudden, in the business of designing.

But it is hard. That's why one of the things that I want do [as president] at the CFDA: create a true network center, where companies will come and hire designers as free-lancers, like a search firm for designers.

Let's say you're a small designer. Why couldn't you design sweaters for Limited, or do something for someone else? In Europe, people do that a lot.

WSJ: What are the biggest challenges facing the industry today?

Ms. von Furstenberg: Distribution is a huge issue. It is not just about being talented and making a good product, but where you sell this product and how much you sell. When you are successful, everybody wants you and you want to sell to everybody and that can be the beginning of the end.

Another problem is counterfeiting and how quickly they just replicate designs from fashion shows. They copy you, and it gets into the market before you even ship.

WSJ: Why is the American fashion industry pushing for copyright protection for apparel makers in the U.S.?

Ms. von Furstenberg: At first, my attitude was, "Oh well, my clothes are copied everywhere. There's nothing you can do." And then I started to see how they pull it from fashion shows and copy it. You can see it on eBay. I started to say you have got to have some rules. You have to do something.

Laws are created to intimidate people [with the threat of litigation], to tell them no, you don't do that. The more I talked about it, the more I realized this is good for everybody. Even if you can't stop everything, they wouldn't be boasting about it. By passing a law and protecting design, you elevate the whole industry.

WSJ: People argue that copying propels the fashion cycle because it creates trends.

Ms. von Furstenberg: You still will have trends. Why all of a sudden is everything yellow? Why all of a sudden do young girls wear combat boots? It starts from the street. That's the mystery of fashion.

WSJ: With so many department stores folding into Macy's, how does this affect designers?

Ms. von Furstenberg: There are still a lot of specialty stores. It is great to start with specialty stores because the quantities are small and because they will work with you. With the Internet, you can have your own little store and sell there.

WSJ: Aren't stores making it tough for young designers by saying they only want to buy a few items from their collections?

Ms. von Furstenberg: That's why it is important to sell to some very good specialty stores. Then you have to do a personal appearance in one of those stores. You go and make sure that things sell. If it sells, believe me, your rack will grow very quickly.

WSJ: What if it doesn't sell?

Ms. von Furstenberg: You have to watch the consumer, why they are not buying it. I pay a lot of attention to fit; if it is not fitting right, nobody is comfortable in it. Fashion is not a work of art, that you hang on the wall. It is something that functions and that you wear. It has to fit.

WSJ: More designers are doing exclusive deals with stores, most recently Vera Wang and Kohl's. Is this a good thing?

Ms. von Furstenberg: I like the idea that mass merchants are going more and more to designers. That whole movement will actually raise the level of design in general and mass merchants, even the Wal-Marts of the world, will go to designers. The disadvantage of that is when you make a deal with the store, they control you.

WSJ: You have survived and thrived for 30 years, though it has been up and down. What lessons have you learned along the way?

Ms. von Furstenberg: In order to be successful you have to have a point of view. You have to evolve. But you have to speak to the core of your brand. It may sound presumptuous, but I think that you have to stay close to the DNA of who you are. Pay attention to what is successful, what people respond to.

I had no idea what would be my claim to fame. You have to pay attention and see what works. The wrap dress, for example, is a form of clothing that has existed since forever, with kimonos, but nobody had done it in jersey. You don't necessarily realize that you are doing something special.

The second thing that is extremely important is distribution. What stores you sell to. Who you are selling next to.

WSJ: Why is it that there are so few big American labels that do well in Europe?

Ms. von Furstenberg: I don't know, but they are beginning to. I sell to 42 countries. I started doing that eight years ago. At this point, I would say that my business is probably 60% U.S. But within two years it should be about half and half.

WSJ: What is the biggest obstacle to exporting?

Ms. von Furstenberg: Shipping. You have to think of where you are going to ship from. But you can start small. That's what I did. I had a few boutiques here, a few boutiques there. When it's good, it's good everywhere. In the privacy of a fitting room, all women are the same.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Wrong place at the right time

This is unrelated to my normal posts about fashion or yoga or whatever I normally write about...I was talking with a coworker the other day about that tornado that blew through Westchester & Fairfield counties about a month ago. For about 10 minutes, the sky was so black that if you were standing outside, I would venture to say that you literally, could not see your outstretched hand. Cars pulled over because their headlights glow seemed to be sucked into a blackhole rendering them useless. My 58 year old coworker said he has never seen anything like that. I actually have, I said. In 1980 when I was camping with my mom, her boyfriend and my brother. It was early morning on a Sunday and we were going to find a place to picnic before packing up and leaving from our weekend away. There was a Sonic Boom and nearby campers looked up to watch for the jets...nothing happened. About 15-20 minutes later we saw a black sky looming in what looked to be a wall of dust. Within 30 minutes, it was snowing a black ash from upside down mushrooms overhead and only a sliver of sky was exposed along the horizon and it shimmered like silver - contrasted against the black sky, the brightness almost burned your eyes the way an eclipse would. We hurridly packed up the van after learning from the radio reports that Mt. St. Helen's blew. We drove in blackness feeling the road more than seeing it and found a small town where the sole gas stations attendant sent us to the town church. We stayed at the pastors home for a week until the roads were clear enough to get home.

I forgot about that until the other managers response was that I was lucky to be alive. I shrugged my shoulders thinking about other events:

I was thinking about other events that seem to surprise people (i.e. bar stories) - I was living in LA in 1987 and rode through a 6.5 quake in the fall and went to Tiajana for a weekend with friends and were awoken by a 7.2 earthquake that was epicentered less than 10 miles from the apartment. Both earthquakes were so intense that you could do nothing but grasp the floor and even then, it would be pulled from you only to return a moment later. I saw a lamp and doorways rock back and forth to 45-degree angles only to return to their upright positions when the shaking stopped. The rumbling was so loud our screams could barely be heard. I will never forget the silence that follows an earthquake

My fiance and I were living in a condo a couple blocks down from Pike Place Market in 1999. WTO was happening and riots broke out up the block - our apartment smelled of pepper spray to the point that I was worried for our dog, Betty. (the vet said she would be fine just don't take her outside). After the terrorist threat on the Space Needle, we took off for Winthrup where we eloped over the New Years holiday. On our return, we headed over Stevens pass and were caught in a huge snow storm without proper tires. There was absolutely nowhere to turn around or pull over and the passing cops made us keep going. We slid several times into snow banks, had an SUV slam into us and had a near miss with a cliff. The cops drove by again and told us to keep going (refusing to give us a tow or ride - bastards). Hours later we had gone only a couple miles. I found a place to pull over and off in the distance was a 20 something guy running after us down the hill. He saw us as he was going up the mountain to snow board and he grabbed his chains and ran after us. He put them on our car and we were able to get home. I asked for his number to return them or send him money and his response was that of a saint "Do something nice for someone else".

I suppose the ultimate miss was living in New York in 2001. I was in the Bronx and Paul at home on 26th street. The kindness of strangers in that city never ceased to amaze me and it was even more so in the weeks following.

I've never thought that I was fortunate because things happen in life and sometimes, it is those things that remind one of how precious it is. And for me, how a life with few suprises isn't so bad.