Friday, August 31, 2012

Happy Friday: Savour Your Parents (& Family)

Can you believe that it's the 15th anniversary of the untimely, tragic passing of Lady Diana? I feel sad that she isn't around to see the lovely, gracious woman Prince William has married, or to tell Harry to put some clothes on.

Sunday is Father's Day in Australia. While my parents are both absolutely driving me nuts at the moment, I am also very aware of how blessed I am that they are both still with me. When I'm engaged in some type of conflict with them, I always remember Harriet Beecher Stow's words: "The bitterest tears shed over graves are for words left unsaid and deeds left undone."

I'm sorry. Isn't that terribly morbid? But when you have a father in poor health and approaching 80 as I do... It's a reality check to think in those terms, and it ensures that no matter your gripe, you can see the bigger picture of what's more important.

So I hope you spare a thought for your parents - especially dads - on Sunday in the best way you can. If you have him still, you are blessed. If you don't have him any longer, whether you realise it or not, you were likely blessed for the time you shared with him.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

The Lana Effect

Lana Del Rey - love her or loathe her - has certainly made her mark on pop culture.

Her bee-stung lips, doe eyes and faint bee-hive are popping up everywhere - from the current Spring/Summer fashion influx to film. 

Last night I saw Wes Anderson's latest quirky offering, Moonrise Kingdom, which is a truly sweet film about two misunderstood tweens, bound together by their love for adventure (and each other). Featuring the usual suspects we've come to expect in a Wes Anderson film - Francis McDormand, Bruce Willis and Tilda Swinton - as well as a few more (Bill Murray and Edward Norton), it is really the character of the children that shines here (I actually felt there was a lack of depth to most of the adult  characters). And it is in the young female protagonist - played by Kara Hayward - that we get glimpses of what could easily be a young Lana Del Rey. 

Left of centre interests, barely masked disdain for her parents, and those all-seeing heavily-lidded eyes. Moonrise Kingdom is great, and definitely well worth watching (although not as offbeat as some of Wes Anderson's other films). I gave it 3.85 stars.  

Then we have the fashion. Wildfox Couture's bikini campaign features a lusciously haired, sad-eyed gamine... Just like Lana. Check it out.

I absolutely love this air of impenetrable mystery. A woman with secrets, who expects nothing from the world. 

Self-described as LA noir or a ghetto Nancy Sinatra, the allure of Del Rey - whether you like her music or not (I must admit there are only two songs I like - the film clips are my favourite bit) - is on the up. Having recently worked with H&M for their Fall collection, she was also plastered over the side of Cartier in Tokyo while I was there, and she has recently been named as the face for the launch of Jaguar's latest release. 

While I'm perfectly content with the Del-Rey-ification of fashion, I just hope people don't start copying her tattoos (one of them "Trust No One" - thanks Fox Mulder - is just unbelievably lame). Best start practising those wing-tipped eyes and big hair... 

Friday, August 24, 2012

Happy Friday

Have a beautiful weekend.

The Two Sides of Nicole

This year we've seen Nicole Kidman in magazines looking vastly different - ethereal Earth Mother for Harper's Bazaar, and ice cold skank (to coincide with the release of her hotly anticipated new film, The Paper Boy) on the cover of V Magazine.

I still believe she can do no wrong...

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Current Obsession: Yayoi Kusama

I was lunching the other day, and looked across the little Japanese sunken table to the neighbouring table. The first thing I saw was a bottle of Moet. Next up was the handbag: the latest Yayoi Kusuma for Louis Vuitton handbag in yellow with the YK trademark polka dots. The owner was a very chic, slim dark-skinned woman nibbling daintily at sashimi with a well-groomed somewhat older man. In that moment I had a deeply superficial thought: I would probably sleep with an older man in order to get my hands on that handbag.

It was the handbag on the right, except in yellow.

It's so wrong, isn't it? But I thought it. The handbag was jut so wonderful... And I had only just a week ago been in LV staring lustily at a black ostrich-skin handbag, priced at a cool $10,000. Blessedly, it wasn't slathered in the monogram, which I'm not a huge fan of. As the sales girl said "It isn't immediately obvious that it's Louis Vuitton, but those who really know Louis Vuitton will know. You'll be part of the club."

Yes. I cringed a little. But when I saw that woman's handbag, I knew she was in the Club, and I wished so much to be part of that club. Instead she looked a little disdainfully at my lovely handbag from Buenos Aires (it has character, dammit!) and slightly scuffed heels. Mental note - dress better when in Japanese restaurants.

Anyway. As I stepped out, I gazed across at the Louis Vuitton store and woudn't you know it, the Yayoi Kusuma windows had been unveiled. So now I'm obsessed. I keep staring at my bank account, wondering if it might not notice $10,000 missing (actually, this bag is only (only?) $3,750). Probably.

I'm not going to lie, I am bewildered by the prices of luxury goods. They seem almost arbitrary: a woollen shawl can cost $950, while a very small leather handbag can reach $1,200. I suppose rather than understand the pricing, we are simply meant to smile through our inner horror as though $2,500 is an absolute bargain for a wallet, and hastily make our exit as we promise to "think about it".

I'll think about it once I find that wealthy benefactor.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Night Time Is the Right Time

But which day is the right moment?

Aaaah yes. Those tortured early days in a relationship. You can picture it now, can't you? Lovely Lady meets Cute, Sweet Man. CSM is attentive, kind and says lovely things to our heroine, LL.

Fast forward 2.5 weeks of this lovey-dovey-ness and you start to wonder: Am I in a relationship? 

And then the torture really begins.

When we're having such a wonderful time with a new boyfriend, all sorts of questions start to run through our head, running the gamut from Could he be the One? to Should I be the last person to respond to this text message chain? It can get a little crazy.

My advice is simply this:

1. If you feel like you're in a relationship, be true to yourself, and behave as though you are. By this I mean, get rid of all the other blokes you might be dating, or entertaining thoughts of dating. You would hate to be caught out on a meaningless date, that could end up jeapordising something you are actually interested in. I used to be a champion at harvesting the affection of many men to put away in to a love bank account. It amounted to bugger all when I realised none of them were of an value to me, and the attention I received was likewise completely valueless. A pointless exercise, although did result in many dinners out. A favourite activity. :o)

Bugger whether we're in a relationship. How do we get home??

2. Let him initiate the conversation. Men love to chase and conquer and win and be king of the castle. I am quite convinced that him bringing up the relationship discussion is a part of this conquest. If you feel like you need to Pin Him Down to have the conversation and extract an acceptance from him that you're in a relationship (when to you, it has felt like a relationship) then run for the hills! This man is a player and to be avoided at all costs! On the other hand, he may be relieved that you've brought it up. We sometimes forget that men get just as nervous as we girls in matters of the heart. No matter which way you approach this delicate matter, I would recommend it happening in person, preferably not immediately after sexy times (although not that long afterwards is generally when it happens... Why IS that?), and in a way that is lighthearted and cool. After all, by the time you start thinking you might be in a relationship, chances are you probably are. It just requires verbal confirmation.

Good ways of bringing up the relationship discussion:

  • After a night out with friends, say something to the effect that you weren't sure how to introduce him, and should you call him "my buddy" or "my boyfriend". This one is close to entrapment, but not quite. And hey - if he says "definitely 'buddy'" you have your answer!
  • Walking home after a lovely dinner out (definitely not over dinner - I always believe in having an exit strategy, and leaving before you've had dessert is not on!), maybe suggest you're enjoying how everything is going, and it feels like you have a boyfriend. He'll either give you a big pash (confirmation) or he'll hoof it out of there (rejection). 
  • Post-shag. Yes, it happens. Just try not to sound desperate or psycho when you bring it up. 
How not to bring it up:
  • Something to do with STD tests and is he sleeping with other women. Awkward, accusatory, a little inappropriate. 
  • In front of his friends/family/work colleagues. 
  • While holding a knife.

3. Like everything in life, do it with dignity. I would highly recommend not asking this question from a position of real confusion. You should feel comfortable, and warm and snuggly with this person, not lost and a little scared of where things are going with them. It's one of those times where I would recommend you think like a lawyer: already know the answer to your question.   

From my own experience with The Lovely Boyfriend, I can tell you that things happened a little faster than I expected. He is a relationship kind of guy, which I've since learnt is wonderful. Of course, I had to put my little "Don't Trust Him, He's Saying it To Get In To Your Pants" in a box, but it wasn't that hard because I was listening to what my instincts told me. In this case, my instincts told me he was a man to be trusted, and one that I could most definitely fall in true love with.

We had the relationship discussion fairly early on (by early, I say about 3 weeks), and I honestly can't remember how it came up (although I suspect it was one of those post-shag adorable conversations where you are absolutely enthralled with one another). I think I can't remember, because in the context of what has come since, it was a trifling matter. 

When it comes to everything else you're going to enjoy together, this conversation is definitely not worth sweating over!

So I would recommend a feeling of calm. In the scheme of things, this conversation doesn't mean awfully much. And it's better to know up front, isn't it? We don't have the time nor inclination to waste on people who don't adore us. If he doesn't want you, someone else sure does. xo

Take it as slow as you like

Thought of the Day

"Sometimes things fall apart so that better things can fall together."
- Marilyn Monroe

Thursday, August 2, 2012

What Kind of Woman in the Workplace Are You?

If you hadn't noticed, I haven't been blogging much of late, and this is primarily as a result of not only a new job (where blogspot - amongst other important social networking sites including YouTube, Facebook, Twitter etc - is banned) but also as a result of some sudden promotions within said workplace.

My new workplace is a breath of fresh air to me, having worked in some unbelievably toxic environments previously. Recently, I've been lucky enough to attend a lot of "women in business" type events (with plenty more booked in to the calendar to boot). These breakfasts, conferences etc etc have been nothing short of inspiring. A woman who became CEO of a fast-growing mining company in her mid-30s (when previously she only dreamed of being a partner in an accounting firm); a woman who defied the odds (and her complete lack of experience) to climb the corporate ladder in one of the largest mining companies in the world; a professional board member (rather daunting here in Australia, where 54% of ASX-listed companies have no women on their boards whatsoever, and only 8.4% of board directorships are held by women).

And then I met the crown in the jewel of inspiring women (if there were such a jewel).  Ita Buttrose.

Articulate, witty, charming, elegant, progressive in her thinking and, if the ABC's depiction of her in Paper Giants is to be believed, a real advocate for women in whatever avenue of life that woman pursues (and non-judgmental about the choices women make). She by far was most inspiring to me: she is feminine, firm, principled and completely calm and rational. She's not out to prove anything, yet she realises women still need encouraging, and have an uphill battle should women really want to be embraced at the highest levels of corporate Australia. As she said: "When women tell me they've never experienced the glass ceiling and that they don't believe it exists, I know that they haven't climbed the ladder high enough." Brutally honest, but certainly honest.

Watching Paper Giants and meeting Ita gave me pause to think about the type of woman I am in the workplace. In it, Ita balances real care for her staff and colleagues with her outstanding talent as both a creative and a manager of people. She looks out for all the women around her, and is obviously an inspiration to those around her - men and women alike. She doesn't put up with shit, and she stands up for injustices where she sees them.

When I think about my persona in the workplace, I definitely see areas for improvement. Although admittedly, the times I'm probably at my worst (and I've learnt to manage it pretty effectively) is when I'm confronted with one of those "women are their own worst enemy" type women. On a bad day, I positively itch to return fire. On normal days, I try to embrace what I saw in Ita: a sense of calm and belief in that if you have the ability, the rest will come. Admittedly this isn't true for every organisation, but I think one benefit of an economic downturn is that merit trumps whatever other motivators when times get tough.

While some may argue that the women in the workplace issue has been shelved, I don't believe that's true. We still see low levels of participation in higher levels of the private sector in Australia, and there is still a culture of women being torn down for nothing less than how she looks or dresses. Think Gina Rhinehart, Julia Gillard and her empty fruitbowl, and the make-up-less face of Hillary Clinton. The horror.

What type of woman in the workplace are you, and what inspires you? Do you try to make it by being one of the boys? Do you meekly accept your "place" in life? Are you a girl or a woman?

Dr Lois Kendell poses this in her book Nice Girls Don't Get the Corner Office:

If you work nonstop without a break...worry about offending others and back down too easily...explain too much when asked for information... or "poll" your friends and colleagues before making a decision, chances are you have been bypassed for promotions and ignored when you expressed your ideas. Although you may not be aware of it, girlish behaviors such as these are sabotaging your career.

In addition to Ita, these are some of my most-loved businesswomen:

My beloved VB is not only a design star with true street cred, she has also recently made her editorial debut with Glamour magazine in the UK. She balances all this with being a wife, mum to 4 kids and one of the best dressed women in the world. (Admittedly, I'm sure she has lots of hired help. Wouldn't you?)  Not only that, she came from fairly humble beginnings, before that unabashed ambition saw her climb the heights from Posh Spice to WAG to celeb in her own right. 

Oprah does her thing - but only does that which she loves. An awesome credo to live by. Well-known for her generosity to staff and all those around her. A true inspiration for banging through not only gender barriers, but race barriers. Super. Star.

Tyra Banks - created a much-copied career following the end of her modelling career. My favourite Tyra quote: Never dull your shine for somebody else. There's a lot of wisdom in that, if only you think about it.

Hillary. Big on dignity, bigger on brains. I love this woman for her grim determination, and ability to play nice with the world's media following a most humiliating debacle with her husband, and later again with Obama despite suffering a devastating defeat at his popular hands. She is rad. That is all.

Without a doubt there are plenty more women out there who inspire me. Unfortunately it's late, so I'm going to leave it at that. But in conclusion, I think we women should be kinder and more supportive to other women. If one woman doesn't appreciate, welcome or accept your efforts, I can tell you there will be another woman out there who will appreciate it mightily. And this goes for your friends' successes as well - there should be no room for jealousy, spite or that less-than-glamourous feeling of Schadenfreude (can't spell it!) amongst friends.  Sure there are men and women on all teams, but as you climb the ranks, you'll see there are fewer women who've got your back. I think we should all aim to change that. Men and women.