Patti Labelle is a Grammy award winning diva with hits such as: “If Only You Knew,” “Lady Marmalade,” “When You Talk About Love,” “New Attitude,” “Somebody Loves You Baby,” “On My Own,” and more. Hear these and other Patti Labelle hits on Friday, November 29th at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center starting at 8 PM.
To judge is human nature but the extent to which we do it must most certainly be a choice. I discovered the other day why I don't get much into reality TV...especially the kind of shows where women are presented bickering over nonsense and tearing each other down. A big part of the appeal of reality TV, it seems, is the commentary and judgement that happens during an episode or after an episode has aired. There are tweets, blog posts, talk show mentions and constant talk about who did what to whom and what it means or could mean. It is often surprising to me that so many women find entertainment value in the kind of content in reality shows. I have tried on occasion to watch reality shows, like the housewife franchise but I simply cannot get into it. It leaves me feeling drained because I spend half my time feeling bad for the women on the show and in a lot of ways feeling bad about myself. I get that some of what happens on these shows is a part of real life but why would I want to watch it? Why would someone's actual broken marriage, poor financial situation, bad friendships, bad hair, bad makeup and moral bankruptcy provide me with entertainment? I get that the shows are edited to present the most ratings grabbing bits but why do we watch? Why do we find so much entertainment in real people crashing and burning? Why do we find entertainment in the misery and misfortune of others? Why do we get together to collectively judge others?
I like a good movie and I watch all kinds but the reason I'm able to enjoy them is because I know that what I'm seeing isn't real...even if based on real life events. (Trashy) Reality TV on the other hand is presented as real and who knows what percentage of it is actually real, maybe it's 10 percent maybe it's none at all. Even with a really poorly written script there is a plot that follows a certain formula. In reality TV there doesn't seem to be any plot outside of attention grabbing. The audience is simply asked to find enjoyment in a group of people living out various portions of their life. While I get the appeal of seeing how 'rich' people live, this is not the case with most reality shows. Often times, these shows have cast members who are famous for being famous and who are far from rich. In the absence of any real entertainment we speculate, talk among ourselves, judge and comment on the lives of these 'stars' based on our own view of the world, our view of ourselves and to some extent our views of our friends. Maybe it's called reality TV not because what we are seeing is real but because how we interpret and interact with the content is based on the real us.
I often ask people why they watch reality TV and most describe it as a guilty pleasure. Something that is done to escape the stress of everyday life....something that provides distraction. If the means by which you distract and entertain yourself in your down time is filled with vitriol, how much of that energy is transferred into your own life? Guilty pleasure or not, we give relevance to bad reality TV and we open up our lives to what is shown on screen.
I moved to New Jersey in 2009. I lived in Belleville but I was drawn to Newark and was there once or twice per week, working, networking or just hanging out. I had never before been among such a diverse group of people and personalities. Occupations ran the gamut from artists and scholars, to lawyers, politicians, entrepreneurs and more. I immediately felt a connection to Newark. The people who lived, worked and played in Newark were the exact crowd I needed to be around. Being in Newark with this group of people, some of whom have now become my friends, felt effortless and organic. I didn't feel out of place -- It felt like home. The New Jersey Arts Annual Ready or Not exhibit, now at Newark Museum, not only feels like it belongs in Newark, the place I have I come to know and love, it feels like a near complete representation of Newark's current culture.
"The New Jersey Arts Annual is a unique series of exhibitions that highlights the work of visual artists in the state." Ready or Not features works from 40 artists at different points of their careers. According to Shlomit Dror, Newark Museum's Consulting Curator of American Art, " the show's title metaphorically proposes the possibilities for engagement, learning and insight that the artists' creativity offers at any given moment." The artists employ various mediums and styles to develop their pieces but I think they all reflect a unique interpretation and expression of cultural and social values that affect urban areas, particularly Newark.
In addition to works brought in to be exhibited in the space, there are other pieces unique to the Newark Museum that were created to utilize spaces that have long been unused. Among them is Exit Vestibule South, a light installation by Ariel Efron and Lucas Vickers, that makes use of the now unused original entrance to the Newark Museum.
I think I may have developed an emotional connection to this exhibit in much the same way I feel connected to Newark. Whatever your connection to Newark, this is an exhibit worth seeing, even if you are not "into art."
I published these resolutions on ThisThatBeauty earlier this year with contributions from Felicia and Maree. In preparation for writing my 2014 resolutions, I've restated my 2013 resolutions below and will give an update on how I did.
It is no secret that keeping new year's resolutions can be an often insurmountable feat. Statistics published by the University of Scranton finds that only 46% of people making resolutions stick to them past six months. The research also shows that only 39% of people in their twenties that make resolutions succeed in completing them, compared to only 14% of people over 50 years old. If is fair to assume that the rest of us fall somewhere in the middle.
My beauty resolutions go beyond skin deep. While I will continue to improve my skin care routine and press on to find my perfect red lipstick, this year I want to focus on stress reduction as a way to improve my overall appearance. Stress is the number one cause of premature againg. With that said, all my beauty resolutions focus on reducing my stress level and and finding ways to simply be happier.
UPDATE: I did find a nearly perfect red lipstick in Riri Woo (above) and right now my skin is doing really well. My current skin care routine involves products from: Kate Somerville, St Ives, L'Occitane, La Prairie, Specific Beauty and H20 Plus, I think the combination of products is working wonders! (I'll have a review of all products soon.)
Make a Standing Date with my BFFs
Life would be quite dreary without friends and family. Yet so many of us, myself included, take our relationships for granted. I put off phone calls and visits in favor of working and other activities I readily admit are not as important as my family and friends. Spending time with those I love renews my spirit, increases happiness and energizes me to take on the world. Armed with this information, when that standing date pops up on my calendar I will be forced to pause and decide what’s more important. Hopefully, I will choose to honor my commitment with my loved one versus rescheduling.
UPDATE: I would give myself a B- in this department. I got closer to a childhood friend (above) and we now talk a few times per month with visits about every two months. I also keep in touch with friends in other countries via Skype and WhatsApp. I recognize that I could do better and will aim to do so in 2014.
I often hear the phrase “give until it hurts.” But giving doesn't have to hurt. It is okay to start small and for totally selfish reasons. I have gone through my closet and given away things I no longer want. I am making way for all the new purchases of 2013 but I'm also doing something for those less fortunate. Giving to others is a quick and easy way to lift my spirits and increase my happiness. The plan - give so I can feel good.
UPDATE: In addition to the donation of clothes and shoes, I've also made small donations to the Red Cross, not because I can really afford to but because I think it is necessary. I know I can improve in this area, so, my aim for 2014 is to add volunteering to the list.
Get 30 minutes of exercise at least 4-5 times per week
Exercise has many benefits. The most popular of which include: strengthening and toning muscles, improving flexibility, improving heart health, increasing stamina, controlling weight, mood improvement, promoting better sleep and the list goes one. Studies have shown 30 minutes of physical activity, along with a balanced diet, is enough to maintain a healthy weight. This, along with my need to look great in a bikini is enough to get me moving.
UPDATE: I failed in this department. If I did an average, It would work out to about two days per week even with the occasional at-home workout. I went weeks without so much as flexing a bicep but then I also had weeks where I had consecutive days of hour long workouts. This is obviously better than nothing but my aim was for more consistency. The struggle continues.
Get Enough Beauty Rest
According to the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute, “Getting enough quality sleep at the right times can help protect your mental health, physical health, quality of life, and safety.” However some of us don’t make the time to get a proper night’s sleep and even brag about how little sleep we get. It is during sleep that our brain and body repairs itself and prepares for the day ahead. Sleep deprivation can lead to a reduction in productivity, focus, comprehension and reaction time. Lack of sleep is also linked to an increased risk of heart disease, kidney disease, diabetes, and other serious ailments. While each person’s sleep needs and requirements are different, it is recommended that we try to sleep at least 7-8 hours per night. I'm getting at least 7 hours of sleep and I encourage you to do the same.
UPDATE: I suscceded in this department (Duh) mainly by shutting down my computer and turning off my phone before midnight. It is easier to fall asleep when there are no distractions.