City Pulse

By Alisa Leonard

OK…so enough of this crazy weather! One minute I’m ready to go out in my sandals and shorts and the next I’m back to throwing on my staple black winter coat. Blah! However, despite the constant teasing, I believe that spring really is just around the corner. So, mes amies, let’s breathe a collective sigh of relief and shed these dark and dreary clothes! Of course this means its now time to turn our attention to that all-important seasonal task — spring cleaning. Before you blanch entirely (because the past winter already has you looking pasty), today I’m talking about a wardrobe cleaning fest! And Clothes=Fun.

It’s the universal plight of women everywhere: bloated closets stuffed with decades of fashion hits and misses and the proverbial cry, “I have nothing to wear!”

Enter Oprah show guest gurus, Jesse Garza and Joe Lupo of Visual Therapy, a luxury personal shopping service (um, excuse me, that is awesome). Their approach to fashion and personal style is this: for better or worse we are what we wear. That may sounds harsh but look at it this way: don’t you always feel better and more fabulous in that favorite outfit that you look absolutely stellar in? ‘Nuff said. Why have only one or two stellar outfits instead of a whole closet full? Why not step out every day thinking, “I look fabulous! I feel fabulous! I am fabulous!” Think it can’t be done? Well, allow Joe and Jesse to prove you wrong.

Now, you’re probably thinking, “that’s nice but we can’t all have amazing personal shoppers and stylists”…(shout out to all you girls who can). Yet, there is a way to have some Jesse and Joe in all of our lives. Their new book, Nothing to Wear?: A 5-Step Cure for the Common Closet, is like having the guru Visual Therapy duo at your disposal. Lucky for us, the book just hit the shelves in time for the much-needed spring overhaul.

How can you achieve this magical wardrobe, you ask? It’s simple: Nothing to Wear? is like having your own personal style workbook from “the fashion SWAT team” themselves, guiding you to your most fabulous self. For Jesse and Joe, style is as much about bringing the internal you in sync with your external image as it is about fabrics and colors. Did you read that? Stop. Go back. Read it again. It’s about authenticating yourself, style-wise. The book is a step-by-step guide to defining your style, “editing” your wardrobe, discovering what’s missing and pulling it all together.

Excuse me, but where has this book been all my life? It’s as if Jesse and Joe have gone inside every woman’s head, heard the questions and felt the anxieties, and put into print the answers to your fashion conundrums. Through a series of quizzes and questionnaires you learn how to find your own fashion personality (they’re fun, and come on…who doesn’t like answering those little questionnaires about yourself?). The book is designed to be an interactive “workbook,” to help you achieve harmony and authenticity in your style and closet!

Some of my favorite aspects of the book: Sections on clarification (establishing our style icon), help in letting go (um, yes, my biggest problem…look, I tell myself in the mirror — book in hand – it’s time to get rid of that hideous printed blouse and the sequined tube top), and a guide to value shopping — how to spend wisely.

My favorite piece of advice from J & J? “If an item does not look good on you in the store, it won’t look good on you at home or anywhere else”….Yes! Jackpot! Who among us hasn’t stood in front of a store mirror, tugging at an ill-fitting piece of clothing, but we buy it anyway because we think “well, its probably just the lighting…” No! Do your fabulous self a favor and get this book.

Joe and Jesse are the only two men to which I’d say “change me, please change me!” Their whole approach will change the way you see fashion, style, and yourself — for the better. Darlings, it’s time to strut your amazing selves right into spring!

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THE GIFT OF GIVING
By Amber Roniger

My friends are a motley crew, what can I say, they really are (kinda like the world’s ugliest dog, Sam, may his scrawny soul rest in peace), but I absolutely adore them nonetheless. Between the lot of them, they’ve suffered almost every plight imaginable (for a group under the tender age of 40): brain surgery, migraines, walloping cramps, anemia; you name it, the moribund list goes on (and on). And since I, their gallant friend, am forced to suffer their harrowing tales right alongside them (I deem myself some sort of empathic alchemist), it only makes good sense for me to try and somehow contribute to their cure.

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Just so you know, I love giving gifts; love it, love it. I label myself a random gift buyer. I tend to stray away from ceremony and just grab enticing stuff at any ole time: loose rooibos tea flowers for Betty, rose water for Erica, Mexico soccer jerseys for Maya, green tea extract for Jenny. I generally give impetuously, but once in a blue moon, I’ll stash it away for an actual ‘occasion.’ It’s one thing to expect a gift on your birthday (you diva, you), but it’s a whole different kind of wonderful to give and receive phenomenal random gifts.

Back when me ‘n the girl crew were all still struggling and po-po, we’d buy each other the most frivolous chachkis imaginable: strawberry print thong underwear, purple and orange striped knitty hats, pink swirley notebooks, scratch ‘n sniff googley-eyed stickers; ridiculous stuff, pure playful indulgence.

But as times got better, I made a commitment to buy the crew gifts of value, not necessarily monetary, but rich in meaning and effect.

To digress into a related antidote, a few weeks before Christmas last, I find myself in a chiropractic office off Park Avenue on a Friday eve, listening to a live Kirtan concert performed by the musical artist, Wah! (if you’ve never floated away to Wah!’s goddess music, you are sooo missing out). Clearly, Nancy Drew, this is no ordinary chiropractic office. All around abounds so many marvelous gifty-goodies for sale: gorgeous hand-dyed dresses, scented candles, top shelf essential oils, Buddha incense, unusual books and tons of other womanish-fabulish items.

And here I first encounter Vanessa Kudrat. Kudrat is one of these earthy, healthy, glowy, flittery women with an I-know-the-ways-of-the-world swish. I observe her grooving down to Wah!’s music along with every other swaying body in the joint.

After the heavenly sounds fade away and everyone slowly withdraws from their music-induced stupor, I approach Kudrat about putting together a custom gift basket for Maya, the noble migraine sufferer. We began fingering the luscious wholistic (for the whole person) goodie collection for the modern mystical journey, deciding what to include. One of Kudrat’s suggestions is this obscure object called a still point inducer. Oddly enough, I already possess one and had also convinced Maya to purchase one to counteract her migraines, which she did.

Incidentally, my other girlfriend, Jenny (who had brain surgery, and a plethora of other bizarre maladies), was really hep to try the inducer. She lay down on it on the sly underneath her desk at work proclaiming, “It’s just like lying on a pair of breasts. Supple. If it takes lying on breasts to cure my pain, I’ll lie on breasts.” Jenny also purchased one. See, I am quite the alchemist, and you doubted me!

I digress for a moment to spread the good word about still point inducers, because they’re simply amazing, handy little items. I was skiing in Val D’Isere two winters ago, my first pathetic attempt at snowboarding. I’ve been a skier practically since inception, so I cockily assumed I could master riding the freshies in no time. Uh, yah, not. Predictably, some skier tricked right in front of me and I took what I (falsely) valiantly refer to as ‘the fall.’ Yeow! I whacked the crap out of my shoulder (only second in pain to the time I burned an Africa-shaped scar on my foot attempting to boil oil for egg rolls, but again, I double-digress, huge party foul). The pain was immense. I turned in my board for a nice pair of parabolic skis and off I shooshed.

You guessed it, two days later I was in mortal pain. A kind gentleman from Jersey (not New Jersey, but the old, Jersey Cow, Jersey) staying in our hotel offered his help.

“Are you a chiropractor?” I (seemingly) logically asked.

“No, I’m a dentist.”

Good lord, they sure do things differently in Jersey. But, he assures me, he is a craniosacral therapist and has this whosemawhat Russian machineimijig that will work wonders on my withering shoulder. To make a painfully long, painful tale, short, the craniosacral therapy (energy work which left me Demerol-woosey) was a miracle cure.

When I came back to America, pain free, I started reading up on it and voile! discovered the still point inducer, an object which mimics the effects of the healer’s hands in craniosacral therapy.

Whew!!

So when Kudrat suggests the inducer, I realize this chica really knows her unusual swag. We put together a wonderful basket custom tailored for Maya’s particular ailments.

When Maya opens her gift basket in la-la L.A., I practically feel her aaaaah. She reports that the eucalyptus oil smells “divine, dahling.” It was truly the perfect present for her and showed how seriously I take her health and how preciously I regard her friendship in my life (holla!).

You can scope out Kudrat’s amazing collection of gifts for giving at www.HealingGifts.Net as well as some really unusual and special workshops, classes and events. Get to it you sassy, brassy goddesses and happy, blessed shopping!

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ONE
By Amber Roniger

Kwame Anthony Appiah, Ivy League professor, cultural analyst and author extraordinaire, joins an impressive panel to speak about “Identities in the 21st Century” at the 92nd Street Y this Sunday, April 9th at 7:30pm. Predictably, this event is already sold out. But don’t let that stop you from picking up a copy of Appiah’s latest work, “Cosmopolitanism: Ethics in a World of Strangers” and giving it a good mulling over.

This is truly the time, my enlightened friends, to contemplate the idea of “One.” Bono sings of it, the Dalai Lama speaks about it, the theory of the over-soul teaches it. A simple but powerfully essential message; ponder the idea that we are all One. Citizens of One planet, members of One species, neighbors in One extraordinary period in time. Explore what unites us. Celebrate what defines us. And dedicate yourself to learning what it truly means to be a citizen of the world.

Originally published April 2006
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