Waste Not, Want Not

Thoughts of luxuryWaste Not, Want Not A phrase that the working classes have instilled in their children from depression times on in the U.S. The “working class” is now the fortunate one, as the reduction of jobs across the board has become a way of life, setting a lower standard of living. The reality of “frugality” may take some time to set in for many of us who enjoyed spending – when a weekly paycheck funded the coffers of our discretionary income. Income, or the extreme lack thereof, has redefined the growing “unemployed” populace, now learning to edit lifestyle choices for the sake of economy. Despite the continual promotion of luxury goods and experiences in the media, a larger “budget-minded” audience is being targeted and capitalized on by some crafty and creative entrepreneurs and advertisers. “Sales” are a 24-7 business; the Blue Laws of yesteryear begone! Department stores open their doors at 6 a.m. and close after 1 a.m. for premature and/or last-minute holiday shopping.

Piggy Bank
Saving Bank

My natural predisposition to practice discipline manifested itself at an early age; rarely allowing me to stray from my preference to save rather than to purchase on a whim. Placing my allowance in a passbook account, and eventually investing in the market for increased wealth, has, on occasion, paid off. While sustaining all possible utility from clothing and devices even past their shelf life, when it comes to replacement, I want NEW. I am not a flea market shopper, nor an extreme couponer, but will happily accept “hand-me-down” clothing offered by a friend or relative if they fit.

A segment on a “newsy” TV program caught my attention the other evening. A “step-and-buck-saving beauty tipster” was demonstrating methods of extracting the last drops of make-up from myriad containers – I considered it worth a listen.

In order to get the last vestiges of seemingly dried mascara from its tube, add a drop or two of contact lens solution to the tube and replace the wand. Without pulling the wand out of the container, move it up and down to liquefy the caked mascara. It was recommended to avoid adding air to the mix, i.e., keep the wand in the container while mixing.

In order to salvage the sticky residue of lip gloss in a tube, hold the tube under a faucet, letting fairly warm water run onto it (keep the applicator wand inside and closed so that no water gets into the container). Once the gloss starts to liquefy enough to pour, remove the applicator and pour gloss into a tiny plastic or glass container with a screw lid about the size of a quarter. (You might even save and thoroughly clean an old lip gloss tub container and reuse for the remnants of a tube container.)

In order to extract every last trace of your foundation in a jar, find an itty-bitty, mini plastic spatula and insert into bottle to scoop out and apply to face.

As to the mascara:  It is well documented that it should be discarded after 6 months, especially if it has dried up. It would be unhealthy to continue to use and certainly if you added any potential contaminants to it. Not only would you incur the cost of contact lens solution, but a possible trip to an emergency room if an eye infection emerged.

Lip gloss is cheap enough, let it go. How much time do you need to invest in search of that “tiny container,” which would have to be sterilized before use. But as demonstrated on the program, you are to dip your pinky finger into the pot each time you needed to reapply – consider the sticky mess on your finger and the time to wash your hands before and after applying. “Time is money” and lip gloss comes in a tube container with applicator wand to address and simplify all the conditions you will now bring upon yourself. No recycling!

Turn your jar of foundation upside down and let it stay that way once the product is just too depleted to reach. (You may have to prop it up by leaning it against something else.) Carefully open the jar once foundation regroups into the cap and neck of jar. You will be able to use with dab of finger or Q-tip for another month or so. Done!

Brings to mind another wise saying: ”Penny wise and pound foolish.”  Back to my point – Waste Not, Want Not.

As the Ring Turns

Lyndhurst Estate

View from Lyndhurst Estate

My two annual creative pilgrimages, held a week apart from each other at the end of September are:  Crafts at Lyndhurst in Tarrytown, NY and The Armonk Outdoor Art Show in Armonk, NY. Many of the same artisans return every year as well. These are juried events and the level of artistry and creativity is simply awesome. If happiness is a fleeting emotion, I am completely happy for the 3 hours I devote to each show, respectively; receiving spiritual and inspirational renewal as well. I have spontaneously made unique purchases of jewelry, clothing, accessories, and artwork, which I have never regretted. Most rewarding are my conversational exchanges with the artists, praising their work while being instructed in their techniques. There are a minimum of 200 exhibitors at each show and I manage to see them all.

Going about my merry way at the Art Show, I quickly perused a display of large sculptures. The sculptor addressed me unexpectedly as I was leaving his booth. He began a hard sell and the dialogue went something like this:

“You look like you’re ready to make a purchase and you need and want one of my sculptures.”

“They are beautiful,” I said, “but I don’t know why you think I’m ready to buy anything.”

“I’ll make you a good deal and I’ll help with delivery and set up.” He said.

“I don’t think so. I certainly don’t have the space to properly display such exquisite work.” I said.

“I’m sure you have a beautiful home.” He said.

“It’s a home – no room for sculpture though.” I said, finding his persistence off-putting. The conversation then refreshingly shifted to his State of origin.  “I used to live there too,” I told him, “when I was married.”

“And what about now, are you still married?” he asked.

Taken aback by such a personal question, I quietly said, “No, not currently.”

“But, you’re wearing a wedding ring,” he insisted, “what if someone wanted to approach you and ask you out? You’re making yourself unavailable.” He said with some irritation.

I was at a loss, so unprepared for this attack. Feeling and probably looking confused as well, I said, “But I’m not wearing a wedding ring.” At least I didn’t think I was. I started to feel my ring finger and realized that the simple, unpretentious gold signet ring I always wear had turned, revealing a skinny band of gold. “Well,” I said, with a hint of humor, “that can really come in handy at times if I don’t want to be approached.”

Not amused, he started on another rant. “You’re misrepresenting yourself and losing out on opportunities for men to talk to you.”

“But I talk to people all the time when there’s a topic of mutual interest. Whether anyone is married or not is of no concern to me.” I further added, “I’m just going to continue to enjoy the show. It’s been nice talking to you. Good luck.” I started to move off, feeling strangely violated and somewhat disoriented.

His points might have had a place at an event for “Singles” or at a Bar (where au contraire, a good many married people come sans their rings); but certainly his arrogant delivery was simply inappropriate. Here I was at a favorite venue for beauty, enlightenment and peace of mind, and I wind up getting judged and disciplined by an artist who should have been trying to gain my favor.

I will never know, after that bizarre exchange, if this guy really did want to ask me out – since he didn’t.  Alas, such a disquieting “to-do” because my ring turned.

You Wear It Well

There used to be something missing from my wardrobe.  It’s absence was mentioned to me from time to time, quite unexpectedly, usually by men whose presence I was quite unaware of.  I tried to quickly remedy the targeted omission, but without conviction – I didn’t feel like wearing something that didn’t feel natural, much like a child in a suit dressed for a holiday occasion.  I was in my mid-twenties at this time, and fortunately, I was put on notice.  It was at this juncture in my life that I began to study people’s behavior patterns, i.e., actions and reactions, manners and conduct that were either alien to me or just different.  Sometimes we aren’t able to employ a behavior we’ve been advised will benefit us, even when we see for ourselves how well it works for others. I admired various individuals for their ability to handle situations that I couldn’t.  Hence, I began to channel such traits and emulate them.  Once I learned to wear this amazing accessory, free to us all, my life not only improved, but I learned how to influence others around me – whether they could see me or not.  Making this addition to my general attire, regardless of whether I was taking out the garbage or dressed to the nines made me feel appealing and offered a sense of control – a camouflage of an untidy appearance or not-so-hot emotional state.  I even confused myself — that’s how powerful this simple enhancer is.  You must have guessed by now I’m talking about a smile.  It will dress up anything you are wearing and really make people notice you.  A great smile is an equalizer that allows you entry to places you might have been previously afraid to explore.  It’s a well received calling card.  One reason I am so impressed with the “smiling” advantage is that it gives you a confidence you didn’t know you had.  If you are alone, you can go anywhere, engage strangers and get assistance faster just by the warmth of a smile.  Another thing that occurs when you smile, and you can really enjoy this too, is that you project a positive attitude which is contagious.  Yes, good karma does travel.  A smile adds a radiance which makes the wearer beautiful and someone is sure to tell you, “you wear it well.”

I Stand Corrected

Why is it that most of us find it uncomfortably difficult to admit to defeat, to apologize for any misdeed, to acknowledge a wrongful assumption or to accept responsibility for an unsuccessful outcome due to our own bad judgment? What emotions come into play: vulnerability, ineptness, embarrassment, shame and/or self-directed anger? Probably all of these feelings are present to a degree. And yet, in situations such as a race or competition, where there can only be one winner, we are prepared to not necessarily be the victor; our acceptance of our loss is thereby mitigated. I believe the same is true when variables beyond our control negatively affect the final outcome of a task or project; we are disappointed in the results but we don’t assume personal responsibility for a less-than-perfect ending.

An often-encountered behavioral trait that I am also guilty of is being married to an opinion or belief. Adamantly holding on to an inflexible position, when, in fact, there is potential for an adjustment of thought, generally labels one as “stubborn” or “obstinate.” When you are wholly convinced that your thinking is right, based on early teachings, previous experiences and personal observations, you generally shut down to any alternative evidence. Recently, a relative whose opinion I value mentioned to me that the infamous Howard Stern of Sirius XM Radio had replaced Piers Morgan as a judge on the TV show America’s Got Talent. He went on to say that Stern had been praised for his fairness and professionalism. Upon hearing the name Howard Stern, I instantly cringed. I haven’t listened to any broadcast of Stern’s since his original television show was cancelled, maybe 10 years ago. I am not a fan of his arrogance, vulgarity and crude demeanor. I actually lose respect for men when I learn that they are regular listeners of his satellite radio program.

America's Got Talent
America’s Got Talent cast 2012

Now you know my feelings about Stern. I did watch America’s Got Talent a number of times this season, and was simply amazed. I was embarrassed by my initial reaction and assumption that I would see the same old Stern. He was articulate, encouraging, realistic, and in no way offensive. I liked him and appreciated his abilities in his new role on the judging panel. This experience really woke me up. Perhaps I am too restricted in my singular opinions about things. So, it happens – we misjudge or need to re-evaluate a person or situation. How do I plan to change my behavior in the future?  First, I will try to listen better to all that is being offered.  Secondly, I will try not to reveal a negative reaction, and lastly, I’ll just try to keep an open mind.  I stand corrected.