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Thursday, February 28, 2013

"FINE" The Automatic Answer

When asked “How are you?”

“I hear people saying (all the time), I am doing good, I am doing fine, I am doing well, I am fine. I am OK, I am pretty well, I feel good, I feel terrific, I am just FINE!  The automatic answer; but not always the truth. You can even find this response in song lyrics, for instance; “I’m doing FINE now without you baby” by New York City or “I’m doing just FINE, time’s made me stronger, you’re no longer on my mind” by Boyz II Men or  “If you told me from the start that you ran around I woulda been FINE…It's fine, fine, fine, fine, fine” by Whitney Houston and so on, you could probably think of some yourself. The point here is “FINE” it’s just a knee-jerk response and easier to answer this way instead of explaining how you REALLY feel. Besides people usually ask “How are you” as a greeting, like “Hi” or “hey” or “hello” They don’t REALLY care how you are. 

But our subject for today is dealing with a FABULOUS kind of FINE!!! Like, living a lusciously, delicious life; or looking  oohhh so FINE. Like when you say I’m 4o or 55, fit, FINE and FABULOUS!!! (and mean it!) I know it sounds kinda lame & contrived, however it IS possible…..How’s that you say? "Imagine your life can be like a cozy living room...arranged just right..." yes, it can with a few changes & choices and well placed “arrangements”  yes! You can get what you really want from life. If you STOP settling for less than you deserve. It’s TIME! It’s time for you to  “Put the key in the ignition and start your life over again(theme for another day)…” We have jumper cables for those that need a jump start.

When you've learned how to "F.L.Y" (First Love Yourself) and have Joy in the midst of any sorrows or change... You've Learned How to LIVE! THAT is success. THAT is the nature of “Living Arrangements” Here is some steps you can take to start living FINE.

BE at peace with who you are. *”There is a sacred ache, felt deep within each of us. It is a calling from our true selves imploring us to let go and live our purpose. It’s the beginning of the realization that you will not accept a life sentence of being everything to everyone but yourself, and awakening to the fact that you are here to express the gifts you were created to give.” Live your purpose. Share your gifts and change the way you think about YOU! Change your perspective; see things in a different way, hopefully more positive.  Be more daring & take risks, try something new that maybe you didn’t think you’d ever do, then, DO it!

Tweak some areas in your life that may need new energy breathed into them. If you’ve always been conservative, stretch yourself & be a little more flamboyant (around here we call it FABULOUS) wear that RED, color your hair something a little racy, wear that new makeup look you’ve been dying to try, strap on those heels, spray on a new exciting fragrance and make it your signature scent, the one others will know you by.

Here’s the point, DARE TO BE DIFFERENT!! Step out stop trying to fit in when you were created to STAND OUT!!  That’s the kind of “FINE” I’m talking about. The kind of FINE that’s “Like a woman walking into a room wearing a pair of striking Red Stilettos, people take notice, and without words she makes a BOLD statement” The “FINE” that Mary J. Blige sings about in her song…”Like what you see when you’re walkin past the mirror!” Love yourself, your life. Embrace the challenges of getting older, do it gracefully with **Advanced Style  be among women who are enjoying their later years with grace and panache, marching to the beat of their own drummer. These timeless images and words of wisdom provide fashion inspiration for all ages and prove that age is nothing but a state of mind...” It's not about the numbers, it’s the mileage.  STOP being the stereotypical “old lady” like the images we see in movies and television. It’s time for a FRESH take on getting older. Remember “There’s only one REALLY good life, and that’s the life you KNOW you want and you make it yourself.” ~Diane Vreeland

DO whatever you feel passionate about, do it often & pursue it with all your heart..... SMILE because you know you are beautiful, radiating confidence (and confidence is QUEEN)from the inside out.. Make others laugh too, maybe they’ve wanted to be a little more “daring & bold” as well (you never know). Anything that adds "beauty, joy & fulfillment & maybe a little naughtiness too (tee-hee) in your world will never be wasted. It’s FINE!

Your choices may change several times during your lifetime as you get older especially if it’s for a BETTER YOU!  As you evolve, stretch and grow, experiment more and become more aware of WHO you really are and what is important in LIFE for YOURSELF. Like the quote says
"The most exciting, challenging and significant relationship of all is the one you have with yourself.” When you can say; “ I Keep my head up high, I’m Having a really good time, I'm not complaining, I appreciate life, I'm so glad I got mine…” THAT’S your new “Living Arrangements”

Feels so good, when you're doing all the things that you want to do
Get the best out of life, treat yourself to something new
It's a really good thing to say
That I won't change my life, my life's just fine
By Mary J. Blige

*excerpt from Cynthia Occelli
**excerpt from Seth Cohen -Advanced Style blog

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

40 Days of Renewal Challenge

40 Days of Renewal Challenge Day 4 Mindfulness….
(also translated Awareness)

Our challenge officially started on Wednesday, February 13th which was the first day of Lent….now it’s February 19th and we have had a few distractions along the way and have not posted the daily renewal challenges from day 3 till now. BUT not to worry, the countdown continues and we will just pick up where we left off. For those of you who are following “Living Arrangements” .
We may just have to double up on the posts until we catch up. How’s that? Listen, we’d really appreciate it if you tell your friends about us--

“Our work is not to change what you do, but to witness what you do with enough awareness, curiosity and tenderness that the lies and old decisions upon which the compulsion is based are questioned and fall away.”
~Geneen Roth

·         Becoming an impartial witness to your own experience.
·         PATIENCE
·         Willing to see everything as if for the first time
·         Trust in yourself
·         Non-striving by doing nothing…nothing needs to be done
·         Acceptance – seeing things as they really are in the present
·         Letting Go – Release

Q: When was the last time you were truly “Mindful” in the moment or    witness to your own experience?

“In “Mindfulness” we observe inward, watching our thoughts without attachment to them…. Our own mind carries us away. Our thoughts are like unruly children, constantly pulling us here and there. And this constant pulling is the source of our stress and pain. Mindfulness is the skill that allows us to watch our thoughts and feelings without being pulled by them.” ~Jill N. Henry. Ed.D.

There is far more to this renewal challenge subject than I could EVER cover here…But it IS one of such importance that it’s worth diving into and exploring more. Especially the personal aspect of it, watching our thoughts, without attachment and impartially witnessing our own experience. THAT’s the one that resonates with me deeply. Take self inventory watching what you do, learning the reasons WHY you do them. Asking yourself the hard questions. Be willing to accept the answers, once revealed. Be open to any necessary changes. Letting go – release the myriad of thoughts that bombard your mind and distract you. Learn to be present in the moment Learn to be at peace with yourself and enjoy your own company…and be patient with yourself. Stop judging yourself so harshly. Stop putting everyone else before you. Sometimes it’s good just to be good to yourself. The purpose of the 40 Days of Renewal Challenge is to learn how to LOVE ourselves-- our free, liberated, empowered, authentic selves. As women-of-a-certain-age we’ve come a long way to get to be where we are at this stage in our lives…Learn to appreciate it, embrace it, enjoy it, don't just endure it. No matter HOW you do it, LIVE fabulously, every day.

“Mindfulness gives you time.
Time gives you choices.
Choices, skillfully made, lead
To freedom. You don’t have to
Be swept away by your
Feeling. You can respond with
Wisdom and kindness rather than
Habit and reactivity.”
~Bhante Henepola Gunaratana

Make “Mindfulness” a necessary “Living Arrangement”

Wednesday, January 23, 2013


Eldridge "Lady E" Cole

In one week I will turn 55. There! I said it! No shame in my game really. We can’t change the fact of aging, but we can change the face of aging and we can change the way we thing about it. How do I feel becoming a speed limit, five years into my fifties? I won’t say that I Love it but I will say I embrace it. I know the road I’ve traveled on this journey to “maturity” that of a woman-of-a-certain-age. I can say that I am filled with gratitude rather than remorse for all that I have been through, that has brought me to this moment in time; to BECOME the woman I am today. It’s a process. 

 Sure I've stood in front of the mirror and played “face lift” and took a sideways glance at my sagging midsection and skin in all the usual places. I look long and hard. I fondly recall there was a time when I was a small petite slender size 7 and the reality of what stared back at me from the mirror I could NEVER have envisioned, never in my wildest imagination could I see myself being, well this old. Or at least that’s what anything over 25 seemed like at the time.  But what was way afar off into the distant future is now upon me and I’m staring at mid-life with a much different attitude (and body).  Like I said, I’m grateful and I’m beginning to realize that a NEW kind of beauty emerges at this age.  I’m not talking about the obvious quest to be eternally young. More like appreciating every curve, bump, sag, wrinkle, stretch marks or fine lines that should be praised like the  trophy they are that took years to earn. These are the results of a life, well lived and a body with all the markings to show for it.

 Rather than deny this aging package that life has given me, I lovingly embrace it.  Then, I  began searching for my own beauty. It was always easy for me to see beauty in others. However, I never saw it in myself; that is until I got older and now I can finally own my uniqueness.  I’ve experimented with all kinds of looks, styles, trends and what have you. But I always come back to what suits me best. I never really liked the idea of conformity, or playing safe, being like everybody else. That still has not changed.  I don’t have to do what is socially expected of me or look or act a certain way because of my age. But what has changed is my “Becoming” my authentic self. Being TRUE to ME. What that means is I’ve come to the point where I see things much differently than I ever have before. Therefore I approach things in much different way. I want things I was too scared to try before. I say, what I’ve held back before. I’m making better, wiser choices.  I wear what I like and what feels good. Yes, that includes big hair, hoop earrings and stiletto heels (a must).  I eat healthier foods (long overdue) I feel good about myself. Let me tell you healthy is the BEST way to live. (don’t wait for serious illness to dictate making the choice to do what’s right for you).   I indulge my passions with abandon and I do the things that interest me.

While all of this might sound just a little bit selfish, to an extent, it is. But I’ve paid my dues. I’ve raised my kids, I worked, I’ve remarried, I’ve given and given and given and like most women, I didn’t take nearly enough time for me. But that’s yesterday’s news. Today, I’m a priority. It’s what I call a “Living Arrangement” I encourage you to do the same. Life is to be enjoyed not endured and there is a time limit and a due date, so while I can I’m gonna LIVE life deliciously, on purpose every day and BECOME ALL the woman I know I CAN BE! ~EC

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Junk Decorating

Junk Decorating

Thompson is a ”junker”. She has decorated her house with the elegant and the bizarre, the valuable and the worthless. She finds it all by junking - buying secondhand items - at garage sales, thrift stores and swap meets. She's scouted treasures as far away as Asia, but she bought most of her belongings for a few dollars each in Orange County, Calif.
''I don't like department stores. I like the old look,'' said Thompson, of Laguna Beach, in profound understatement. Even her toaster - the shiny, streamlined variety popular 40 years ago - came from a garage sale. She keeps a cache of four or five similar toasters in the basement as replacements for when one wears out.

For years,  ”junkers” such as Thompson kept their guilty obsession a secret. One didn't boast that the family couch once belonged to strangers or that the mantel painting cost a dollar at a garage sale.
But now the secret's out and so is the guilt, as secondhand treasures take a proud place in home decor. Junking has inspired an eclectic furnishing style. Even design publications such as House Beautiful and Metropolitan Home have been touting the idea of mixing odd collectibles and flea-market finds.
''I don't have any rules. I go by instinct,'' said Mary Randolph Carter, a Ralph Lauren executive and “junker” extraordinaire. Carter's recently published American Junk (Viking Studio Books) glamorizes everything from chipped vases to $3 oil paintings by amateur artists.

When bought in the right spirit and displayed in the proper household spot, junk can add personality and interest to a home, Carter said.

Carter, who was raised in a Colonial-era house with fine English antiques, considers junking a form of maturity - daring to choose what touches or amuses the buyer rather than what's automatically considered ''good taste.''

Cheapness is incidental but imperative to “junkers”. When fashion catches up to junking, and a collectible becomes trendy and expensive, Carter moves on.
''Things get hot, like Fiesta ware, which was considered junk. It was a quarter a few years ago, and all of a sudden, it's $5 (and up). I just leave it and go to a velvet painting or something."
~ Debra Warner (1904)

 Once again, such is LIFE! EVERYTHING “Brand New” & store bought is NOT always BEST…. Using “Junkers” & “thrifting” as a metaphor for life as we get older; sometimes, real treasures are found while scavaging around, in the alley behind the house, or you may happen upon it at a thrift store, a yard sale, anywhere is fair game. But it’s THE find,  that makes it special, especially when it holds VALUE to YOU!! Finding an unexpected “treasure” That which “touches or amuses the buyer”or finder.

To some it may just be junk, old, refuse, not really worth anything…..But look again, look closer, ahh yes.  It’s not at all what it appeared to be now is it? In fact some items BETTER with age, just like we do. They become “FINE antiques” Vintage or collectibles. The older they are the more valuable they become.  Ahh but isn’t that the way it is? It’s not the numbers, but the mileage.  It’s not about getting to the destination, but more about enjoying the journey. AND, if you have reached this wonderful milestone in life, called “a certain age” then you can appreciate, the journey so far. As the old song goes “wouldn’t take nothin for my journey.” By now I’m sure you are realizing "yeah, I've come a loooong way, but you know what?  I've still got a loooong way to go too". It’s not over yet. Just like that discarded relic, to someone, that was junk, but to the finder, it’s a treasure. Though it may be rusty, dented, ripped or chipped, old and out-dated by today’s youth-oriented standards, but as a treasure hunter, a “junker” with a keen eye, YOU can see value, worth and a thing of beauty…”awwww with a couple coats of paint here and there, a little sprucing up, yeah, it’ll be just fine and I have JUST the place for It”…..That’s how you should look at your life. Still got some mileage, some USE!! And there is a still a place for your gifts and talents. Take care of YOU. See beyond what others may see. Look deeper and see past the flaws, see things as they CAN be and not so much what they used to be. See things with a new perspective. Begin to take responsibility for yourself by yourself. Design the life you want to live as best as you can.

“When bought in the right spirit and displayed in the proper household spot, junk can add personality and interest to a home.”

Living Arrangements’ philosophy is like a “junker” or a “thrifter”  we’re not hiding or ashamed of the second-hand furnishings we've come to admire or the garage sale or  thrift store price tag or the "free.99" “still-some-good” alley find. We have thrown out the rules and the guilt trip of what “should be.” We are rethinking age, beauty & many other myths that we as women have believed for far too long about ourselves.  As women-of-a-certain-age, we’re coming into our own it’s our season. We are owning our realities and creating our
free, liberated, empowered lives.  We ARE our own beautiful, abundant, authentic selves. We’re not the old stereotypical image of what it is to be a mature, "older" woman. We’re taking our rightful places, and that happens to be where ever the hell we want them to be. And the world is taking notice.  We have decorated our houses (lives) with whatever suits us, from the elegant, the whimsical and bizarre to the valuable and the worthless, we've done it all by “junking””thrifting” &  “treasure hunting”.  We’ll Keep what is worth keeping and cast out that which doesn't serve us any longer.

“But now the secret's out and so is the guilt, as secondhand treasures take a proud place in home decor. Junking has inspired an eclectic furnishing style. Even design publications such as House Beautiful and Metropolitan Home have been touting the idea of mixing odd collectibles and flea-market finds.”

 Hedy Lamar
"Old Hollywood Glam"
"Vintage Beauty"

“She, the woman-of-a-certain-age” the mature "older" woman with “Advanced Style”  has decorated her house with the elegant and the bizarre, the valuable and the worthless. She finds it all by” junking” i.e. making your way like a “thrifter” or treasure hunter. Can’t you just see the analogy here? Decorating with second-hand thrift store “junk” as a metaphor for our time honored lives and bodies that are no longer as youthful and svelte as they once were. Some of us may be struggling with getting older, The “skin we’re in” just ain’t holding it together like it used to.  But yet just like that second hand piece of “junk” that appeared worthless, a second look told us, “ there is still  VALUE in it” and the term “Old” is relative. Think about it, when you were 30, you suddenly understand 25 is young. When you’re 50 you realize you’ll never feel “your age” because you spent your life with misconceptions about what 50, or any age older than you are feels like. Aging really is a gift. There is wisdom in those years.  I realize it more and more. We've spent years refining and perfecting ourselves. We are a rare find, a valued treasure, and like a vintage wine we mellow with age and our worth just keeps getting richer as time goes by.

“But now the days grow short
I’m in the autumn of the year
And now I think of my life as vintage wine
from fine old kegs
from the brim to the dregs
And it poured sweet and clear
It was a very good year”
~Frank Sinatra

Embrace your “Living Arrangements”

Saturday, January 5, 2013



“Whether or not you see its significance at the time, everything in your life happens for a reason. Although you might believe this statement intellectually, if you look honestly at your life, you’ll probably find that you don’t act as though a beautiful design were really behind each event. Most people think their experiences are mostly random coincidences. According to Kabbalah, however there is no such thing as a coincidence. Everything is preordained”

(If) that being true, any challenge you encounter in life is part of a design whose intent is to help you grow and change….” – God Wears Lipstick by Karen Berg

"Imagine, your life can be like a cozy living room...arranged just right, warm & inviting, where others feel welcomed."
 -"Living Arrangements"

Look at your life, in your daily comings and goings, have you noticed HOW your life is designed? Decorating is all about letting your home reflect who you are—your interests, your attitudes, your personality. It’s about creating an environment that’s nurturing, relaxing and welcoming for you and your family.  Making your house a place you love to come home to starts with identifying how you and your family live in your rooms.” ~Waverly Inspirations”

So, let me ask you, HOW do you want your home to be? Home being a metaphor for your life…..Do you act or live as though “a beautiful design” for your life is really at work behind the scenes?

We all know what it feels like to have clutter in our homes, and I don’t think many of us enjoy it. But just as your home can be filled with all kinds of irrelevant, distracting things, so can your life and your relationships in it. A general “tidying up” or organizing of your life can rid you of extraneous baggage that might be preventing you from being & living more comfortably. ~Barbara Taylor Bradford

I have found ways to help me keep my home (my life) organized and prevent the accumulation of clutter, i.e. emotional baggage, concerns or challenges or unnecessary drama (you fill in the blanks that apply to you). Think about giving yourself a ritual “spring cleaning” just as you would your home. Take the time to clear your mind, separate the big issues from the smaller ones. Devise a strategy to deal with the bigger ones and make a commitment not to waste your time or energy on the small things you know, “don’t sweat the small stuff.” Let go of the past and stop worrying about the future. Either can rob you of the present. The here and NOW, This is not a dress rehearsal. Redeem your time as valuable, spend every minute that you can living a fabulous life. Don’t clog your home with negative energy or hurtful words, no one benefits from that. In short, rid yourself of the clutter!

That’s why we believe “decorating” or “Living Arrangements” are important. Just like when you choose a theme, paints, wall coverings, fabrics or furniture. You’re doing more than creating the design for your home. You are making conscientious choices, whether you are making over a room, or making subtle changes, like displaying your favorite collectibles or accessories… you are revealing who you are and what you want your home (life) to be.

 “You find peace not by rearranging the circumstances of your life, but by realizing who you are at the deepest level.” Eckhart Tolle

In doing so you can cultivate a comfortable, quiet haven; a meaningful respite for refreshing your soul while creating a loving, welcoming environment for your family and friends.

After all, your life is all about relationships—in some form or the other, either with your parents, siblings, lovers, spouses, children, grandchildren, friends, etc. you name them… they are the fabric in our decor, relationships are an integral part of our lives. An integral part of a beautiful design & “living arrangement.”