|Get the best of Oprah.com in your inbox. Sign up for our newsletters!|
August 2012 (129 posts)
There is a lady in my yoga class who does yoga the way we all imagine ourselves doing yoga: she's fit and flexible, makes every pose look easy and dancelike, and wears her long hair down the whole time, sweeping it into a cascade during downward dog as if she were auditioning for a shampoo commercial. Peeking a not-very-meditative glance at her the other day I thought: What must it be like to be a hair-down-yoga-lady? I will never be that. I am the grunting one in sweatpants, whose legs are not physically long enough to do a proper downward dog. Curse you, fates!
Naturally, as is the way of the world, I went from yoga class to seeing this video of George Dennehy, an amazing (and armless) teenaged guitar player. This is a kid who was born without arms, people, and who thought to himself, Alrighty then, I guess I'll play guitar with my feet. Sure, why not? His cover of the Goo-Goo Doll's "Iris" went viral a couple weeks ago, so the Goo-Goo Dolls decided to invite the kid on stage to play the song with them. Observe:
Right? Aren't we lucky there are people like this, who remind us that not being a hair-down-yoga-lady is completely, totally fine? That our bodies, strange and beautiful as they are, figure out how to get their jobs done? And most of all: can George Dennehy rock out or what?
Lottery Winners Donate a New Leg
Zimbabwe's Unlikely Oscar-Winning Musician
Instead, something magical happened. The decrepit building, known as the Fred C. Baldwin Memorial Home, caught Xorin Balbes's eye one day as he surfed real estate listings on the Internet. Balbes, a noted designer, had previously restored other historic buildings to their former grandeur—and beyond. When Balbes looked at the Baldwin Home, he didn't think "teardown." He sensed its former loveliness, and even a hint of its gracious soul. "All I could see was possibility," Balbes says. "I saw what it was, and what it could be reborn as. I could visualize the entire transformation in my mind."
The result of Balbes's vision was unveiled last spring—a spiritual, educational, and health retreat that transforms the people who spend time there: Guests come away feeling deeply restored themselves. Looking at Balbes's before and after photos as we closed this issue made me think about the enduring power of transformation in our lives. "It's about honoring the past and the history that's there, but bringing in the present in a seamless way," Balbes says.
Transformation might mean something as simple as adding a fresh coat of eco-friendly lavender paint to your bedroom walls or adopting a new attitude. For eleven O staffers, it meant letting creative director Adam Glassman and his team bring out their inner best selves. "When someone feels transformed, I can instantly see it in their eyes," Glassman says. "They come alive." Helping Glassman with this lovely task was a deep bench of experts including hairstylist Ken Paves, eyelash specialist Soul Lee, and dermatologist David Colbert, MD.
"Transformation, to me, means working from the inside out," says Colbert, who cleared up staffers' skin problems, from lackluster complexions to rosacea. Colbert also embodies the power of transformation in another way entirely. Volunteering his medical services after Haiti's 2010 earthquake, he was overwhelmed by the number of amputations that had to be performed, especially on children. So he set out to make sure that anyone in Haiti who needed a prosthetic limb could get one. Raising money for prosthetics through his New York Dermatology Group Foundation, Colbert helped transform hundreds of lives.
Large or small, transformation means renewal. Bringing forth the essence—and full potential—of someone (or something) is doing a great big favor to the world. Lights that shine brighter illuminate us all.
When it comes to Elva Fields, Emily Maynard's lively jewelry line, the name of the game is reinvention—whether Maynard is transforming flea market beads into eye-catching earrings or reinvigorating an estate sale necklace with a blingy brooch turned pendant. Maynard's one-of-a-kind pieces, as colorful as they are unique, combine midcentury flair with a thoroughly modern aesthetic. "I love that I'm able to make each item into something people will wear again," she says.
"When I was growing up," Maynard says,"my mom had an uncanny ability to find lackluster furniture at the flea market and resurrect it into something amazing." While planning her wedding in 2003, Maynard applied the same concept to jewelry, transforming 1930s celluloid pendants and gemstone beads into keepsakes for her maid of honor, mother, and grandmother. "From then on," she says, "I couldn't pass a garage sale or antiques market without stopping to see what kind of materials I could dig up." Elva Fields—named for Maynard's great-grandmother—launched that year.
With two young daughters, Maynard has had to curb her frequent flea market runs; she now goes on dedicated buying trips all over the country a few times a year. (She does admit, however, to braking at the sight of any yard sale.) She stores her finds by material or color, experimenting with new designs by juxtaposing strands and beads until a felicitous combination emerges. "With vintage pieces," Maynard says, "everything you're working with has a story. I try to let the personality of each piece tell me about the new life it should take on."
Elegant and immensely sexy, Coco Noir ($130; Chanel.com) captures the essence of rich florals like rose, jasmine, and narcissus, and dresses them up with sandalwood, vanilla, and frankincense. The result? A fragrance you'll want to slip into the moment the sun goes down.
1. You never know when the muse is going to strike.
I've talked to a lot of great artists—Stevie Wonder, Miles Davis—about this, and they all agree it can come from anywhere; you just have to be open to it. It's exciting to get that first germ of an idea. I knew I'd make a movie called Do the Right Thing before I even knew what it would be about. Based on that title, I wrote a script on loose-leaf paper for 12 days straight.
2. Acupuncture works.
I started doing it in March after my trainer recommended it. Now I feel better physically, and I'm less stressed. I even suggested it to Jeremy Lin [the New York Knicks phenom], but he said, "Spike, I hate needles. I can't do it."
3. To master anything, you have to study the masters.
Take Mike Tyson—he's a boxing historian. He's watched thousands of hours of fights, beginning when he was a teenager. It still astounds me that some of my film students at NYU haven't seen Lawrence of Arabia or On the Waterfront. When you learn from seminal artists or athletes, you see that a lot of the stuff you think you've made up has been done by others for years.
4. Doubting yourself invites failure.
Do you think when Derek Jeter strikes out, he says, "I'm terrible; I should retire"? No; he says, "I'm going to knock it out of the park tomorrow." If something throws me for a loop, I shake it off and keep stepping.
5. Every minute I'm above ground, I'm thankful for.
haven't eaten red meat in years because I'd like to be alive as long as I can. I've got a lot to do before I kick it.
Whether you're wondering what to wear this fall or trying to figure out the best pieces for your shape, now's your chance to get personalized style advice straight from O's creative director Adam Glassman! During the month of August, he'll be answering some of your burning fashion questions.
Denise asked: Can women in their 50s wear colored jeans?
See Adam's video response:
Do you have a question for O's beauty director Val Monroe or O's creative director Adam Glassman? Ask away here!
It is the best thank you on Earth.
I'm trying to study this method of saying thank you. Not the cheerfully texted "thx!", not even that kindest of cyber-gestures, the retweet -- the actual, face-to-face, eye-to-eye, fully felt, "Thank you. Thank you so much." You know who they are, the people you need to thank: the customers who patronize your business, the shopkeepers who make dinner for your family when you can't deal. Try it, without smiling in a newscaster way, without adding verbal punctuation like "so so so, very very very" -- just mean it. Thank you.
Oprah on the Power of Saying Thank You
An Attitude of Gratitude
Thank You Note Etiquette
The Neuroscience of Gratitude
Would you like to ask Oprah and Iyanla Vanzant for some advice? We've got another chance to take your virtual seat in the live taping of Oprah's Lifeclass. Oprah and Iyanla will be answering questions in real time—will yours be one of them? Find out more about the webcast here or by logging on to Oprah.com or Facebook.com/OWNTV Monday, August 13, at 11amET and 3pmET.