Lessons in Slow Beauty… happy birthday Shel Pink!

Today was a great day. There are many reasons for this, despite the fact that it was a Monday… one of those reasons is that it is the birthday of someone whom I very much respect and admire. Today is Shel Pink’s birthday. If you don’t know her, or don’t know of her, yet, I would encourage you to learn more. She is a fellow beauty entrepreneur, works in a family business, and will change the way you look at nails, and nail polish – perhaps at beauty overall. She is the founder of SpaRitual, vegan nail lacquer and of the Slow Beauty movement.

I had the luck of meeting Shel at an industry dinner not even a year ago. I had one of those “Brad Pitt” moments, which in my life means I get giddy and speechless because I just met someone so gorgeous inside and out, someone who has made such a difference, that I forget I can speak. Luckily for me, Shel thought that despite my excitement I remained quite coherent, and agreed to do a Beautyview. That was the start to a friendship that is still blossoming, the start of a relationship that I hope will shape our lives and respective brands for years to come.

Here are a few more specific reasons I am grateful to have met Shel…

  1. She reminds us that we need to slow down. She pioneered the Slow Beauty movement, reminding us that we can get off the fast track and take the time to enjoy the simpler pleasures in life.
  2. She believes everyone’s first and foremost relationship is the one we have with ourselves. One of my mother’s founding concepts behind Alchimie Forever is that we all need to take care of ourselves, much better that we do – hence our tag line “self care through skin care.” And sometimes, it is good to (re-)hear truths from people other than parents. Shel reminds me that indeed, if I don’t take care of myself, I won’t be able to take care of anyone else.
  3. She dislikes routine, and loves rituals. What makes these two words, which both start with the letter “r,” so different from each other? I abhor routine, perhaps above all else. Yet I love rituals, which are simple, uncomplicated, peaceful, and peace-inducing. Thank you Shel for highlighting this distinction.
  4. Without knowing it, she influences my reading list. The most recent book I added to my list is Small Graces by Kent Nerburn. It should arrive in my mailbox next week, I cannot wait!
  5. Also without knowing it, she helps me reflect, and enhances my thinking. Most recently, my thinking about why I love book club so much.
  6. Perhaps most importantly, Shel helps me live by one of my core values, which is beauty and aesthetics. I value beauty in every aspect of my life – my surroundings (art on the walls is a must), my behavior (arguments are ugly, love is beautiful), and my appearance (looking good makes me feel better and act nicer).

Happy birthday Shel. Thank you for making the world a more groomed, more beautiful place, one nail, one soul, at a time.

Lessons From a High School Graduation

Two nights ago, I attended my husband’s son’s high school graduation in New Orleans. I guess I should say I attended my step-son’s graduation… It was a warm Louisiana evening, filled with proud parents, happy siblings, and excited graduates. I couldn’t help as I watched the ceremony, listened to the speeches, and enjoyed the music, thinking back to my own high school graduation.

What I remember most from my graduation (back in 1995… yikes!) is the overall theme of “yes you can.” Our speakers (whether students or guests) spoke of ambition, of endless possibilities, of dreams coming true, and of changing the world. That day, there was nothing I couldn’t do. No goal was too far out of reach. No plan was too ambitious. If I wanted to do it, I could, and I would. Watch me. While I still believe in that feeling, it has been informed by almost 20 years of life, which in my case has meant entrepreneurial highs and lows, personal love and loss. Today, I still know I can do anything I set my mind to, but I also know it will probably be hard.

I was surprised that that was indeed the theme of Parker’s graduation Commencement speaker. Anh “Joseph” Cao, former U.S. Representative for Louisiana’s 2nd Congressional District (the first Vientamese-American elected to Congress, he served from 2009 to 2011) and a candidate for Attorney General of Louisiana, spoke of his life, of the lessons he learned along the way. He spoke of being born in Vietnam and leaving his home country at the early age of 8. He spoke of wanting to be a physicist, but then becoming a Catholic Priest. He spoke of realizing it was not his vocation and of becoming a lawyer. He spoke of losing everything during Hurricane Katrina, of having to rebuild everything. He spoke about life being filled with hope, but also filled with hardship. His three pieces of advice to the graduating class were:

–          Be prudent

–          Be disciplined

–          Be persistent

I listened, and nodded in agreement. This theme re-emerged at the very end of the evening, when the Principal granted the graduates their diplomas, and ended the night by quoting Winston Churchill: “Never, never, never give up.”

While I couldn’t agree more with either the former Congressman, or the Principal (these are lessons and words I live by every day), I still somehow missed the innocent naiveté of the messages I heard at my own graduation. Then again, I thought to myself, we aren’t exactly in 1995… the messages I heard Tuesday night were a stark reminder of the “different reality” we live in today.