Saturday, September 26, 2009

How To Remain Optomisitic in Stressful Times

"Darling, you look tired. Let's book you a week in the Bahamas!" These words of love came from my great friend Kristijan C., he was so right! He is so European & so he knows one of the great secrets of living the Fabulous Life:

Always have something to look forward to.

This is the easiest way to beat the blahs, stay on your diet, get you through stressful days & generally prevent insanity. Having daily, weekly and monthly things to look forward to is an essential component to Fabulous living. When the bastards start to get under your skin, just run your mind over the next amazing thing you have planned for yourself & you'll walk away smiling.

How do you determine what you should be looking forward to? Make a list of all the things you want to accomplish. Include things you enjoy but never seem to do. My list included items such as:
1) Learn French
2) play killer guitar
3) visit all the capitols of Europe
4) get back into a size 6
5) have more face time with friends
6) Caribbean Beach Adventure!
7) Get local "House Band" gig
8) Finish writing my book
9) Have a "The Artists Way" play day
10) Read Robert Walkers new book (get a Kindle)
11) Walk on the beach 3 x's every week

Etc. Have at least 10 things on your list, be creative & have fun with it. Then set about doing those things immediately! As you accomplish things celebrate yourself! Then tick that off & add something new to your list.

I like to try to have at least two big fabulous events every year, this gives me a deadline for achievement. I write them on my calendar & aim myself like a female projectile at "mission accomplished". If one of your objectives is "beach vacation" keep that in the front of your mind when ordering in a restaurant or buying groceries. It'll help get you swim suit ready. One bonus of having a list like this is that each thing you accomplish helps build your self esteem until you really feel like an incredible person, and you are!

"But Liz," you say, rolling your eyes, "How can I afford this stuff?"
Well, I couldn't really afford to take French classes with a private tutor so I became a volunteer at the Alliance Francaise. After a certain number of hours I am eligible for a free class. My volunteer activities also allowed me to enjoy music, cooking classes & French films with a minimum of effort & a maximum of fun. I've also met a whole lot of interesting new people. I now look forward to my weekly rendezvous avec les Francais. In Chicago (& other big burgs) there are also the Cervantes, Italian & Goethe Institutes & numerous city colleges that offer all manner of courses. If you live in a smaller town I'll bet you have a college or community center that offers programs. A lot of theatres also look for volunteers, a good way to see free plays. Volunteering, it's a good thing!

Getting back into a size 6 without joining a gym could be challenging. My friend Helene S. has maintained an incredible figure for years by riding her bike everywhere! I try to book weekly power walks with friends. Walking with a partner helps one remain committed to fitness goals & helps me accomplish one of my other goals which was spending more time with my friends. When Denise A. & I went to Paris we walked everyday for hours. We both lost enough weight that our morning croissants were totally guilt free! Unlike going out for drinks or food, walking gets you out in the air, is good for your heart & it's free! I also found a wonderful yoga place I could join for $70/year & I buy a ten class card. I'll write more about that in another blog.

Because I love to travel I like to have a terrific vacation to look forward to. I tend to favor the European mentality that says "Work to Vacate!" The average European family takes the entire month of August for vacation. I met some Germans once in Mexico that got 8 weeks in summer, man were they tan! Europeans also vacate over the Christmas/New Years Holidays & depending on the country, may also take vacation time to coincide with Easter season or with other Catholic Saints days.

The average American, on the other hand, works far more than the requisite 40 hours/week & doesn't take vacations at all! The recent economic collapse showed us all how silly this is. High levels of workplace stress are blamed for everything from heart attacks to drug/alcohol/spousal abuse to road rage.
News Flash!!
The world will not stop revolving if you take a week & go to the beach.

It might stop permanently for you, however if you neglect to treat yourself right, rest & recharge. I've read reports that 80% of all American adults are taking some form of mood altering prescription drug! Sadly the side effects are lethargy, weight-gain, loss of sexual interest & suicidal tendencies. I was once prescribed Zoloft by my MD. I know he meant well, but it completely turned off all the things that made me ME! Of course I stopped taking it & took my own advice instead. How much more pleasant to fly away to some exotic destination, hit the resort, sleep in, get a massage, eat somebody else's cooking & let them clean up the place too. Save your sanity & your liver by substituting some r&r, a nice glass of red wine & a sunset over the Pacific for that life time of pill popping.
"But Liz," you whine, "I can't afford to go on vacation, & besides the other countries hate us."
Not true, gentle reader. I've been there, I asked them. They hate our former president, they might not be crazy about our manners, but they love our spirit, our optimism & above all our tourist dollar. And, Yes, you can afford to go on vacation with some clever tricks that I will share with you Next Time.

I'd love to hear what you put on your "Looking Forward List"...there are so many terrific ideas!
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Enjoying the ride....with Love from the Diva!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Welcome to My Blog. Let Me Introduce Myself:

Hello, I’m Liz Mandeville. For more than two decades, I have been a Diva in the true sense of the word: I am a classically trained singer with a BA in Music, I am also an award winning songwriter, critically heralded guitarist, entertainer & wit.
A reviewer once wrote this about me:

“Liz is all about politics, sexual politics, that is!”

I am the mother of four, all original, internationally acclaimed CD’s. My latest, Red Top, was number 3 in the Roots-time Radio Charts, that is, satellite internet, & regular AM/FM radio DJ’s reporting from stations all over the world. To give you an idea of what that means, Wynton Marsalis & Willie Nelson’s CD was number 1, Sonny Landreth was number 2 & Liz Mandeville was number 3. Red Top stayed in the Top 20 for over 20 weeks!

The music I write, which draws on all elements of American music from Blues to Soul to Rock & Roll, holds frank observations & true feeling that prompted one woman to visit my regular Friday night Chicago gig all the way from Hartford Connecticut. Why? She wanted to thank me for helping her thru her recent divorce. Here's what she said to me:

“I have all 4 of your CD’s,” she said, “I couldn’t have made it without you!”

Because of my music I’ve traveled the globe, & criss-crossed the continent many times, but performing is just one facet of my experience. I’m absorbing style & culture, eating great food, meeting the people & making friends; gathering wisdom from the stories they've shared. It’s amazing what a woman will tell you standing next to you at the mirror in the ladies room! I have a unique vantage point on stage; who's doing what to whom & how it’s working out. Based on these years of first hand observation, & knowledge gained by living, I’ve decided to launch this blog.

Women are always asking me why? Why did that no good so & so do me that way? Why do I feel like I need a whole life make-over? Why can't I figure out what to do about my kids, my love life, my wardrobe? Why can't I figure out what to make for dinner? Why is my body acting this strange way?
Then they ask me how? How did you make that great cassolett? How'd you get to Paris again in a recession? How did you know exactly what I needed to hear when that happened? How come you're always so damn happy? How do I do that? What do I need to know to live like a FABULOUS DIVA too?!?! I will tell you all these things and MORE!

I am not a doctor or a dietician or a psychiatrist, but I am a deep thinker & a Wise Woman. I'm not embarrassed to say I'm a grown woman in my fullness & I know lots about lots! I read, research, listen, study & try to get better every day. As a self proclaimed “smarty-pants-know-it-all”, Renaissance woman & liver of the good life, I’ll share with you my tips & tricks for living a fabulous life & enjoying the ride. Recipies, music, romance, health & beauty, fashion, books, people & places you should know, travel, reasaurants, links, smart & dumb moves, staying inspired, we’ll tackle them all; Life is a piece of cake, honey. Bon Appetite!