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Her Real Face

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07/16/10 | Yancy Jack Berns | 5 Comments

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Yancy Jack Berns

 

 

 

 

I don’t know about anyone else, but I love “no-makeup” time.  I have nothing against makeup in and of itself, and I can see how going to the opera or the White House might require a little fancying up of even the most objectively beautiful face.  (In such instances, I would have to wear cufflinks to insure that my cuffs don’t flap open embarrassingly, I suppose.)  I don’t know if this is tradition, pageant, or kabuki, but there’s no reason the human race can’t be seen once in a while promenading in its finery.

I am often happiest, though, in the no make-up zone.  This would be in the evening hours that are backed up against bedtime, when the woman in my vicinity has closed the door to the pressures of the outside world and lets her hair, both figuratively and literally, down.

This evening place is one of trust, a sacred cove where the woman allows her armor to slip away, where she is out of range of the arrows of body- and beauty-worries that rain down everywhere she goes, from other women, from other men, from television screens, magazines, billboards, mud flaps, and album covers.

Here she can laugh as she would really laugh, however goofy or braying.  Here she does not have to preen, but can let her limbs go lazily where they please. I wonder how these peaceful home hours feel to a woman.  Maybe it is something akin to a faint tingle of childhood, for it was from a moment in her youth that the path diverged in front of her, where she realized that she was expected to come up with that second face for certain times, the one that fights the shadows better, the one she washes off with alcohol and hot water as her day winds down and she expects no more guests to call.  The face that needs no love, that she can dispose of nightly, that ends up wrapped around Kleenex in the waste basket.

Oh, the next day, she’ll be back on the beat, eyes flitting at every other woman’s figure, like a man’s, never knowing when the gods of fashion will dictate a new paradigm shift, from thin to curvy, from this hairstyle to that.  As a guy, I can only (faintly) imagine the pressure.  Men only have to remember to zip their flies, and they’re ready for the world.

I am reminded of those fantastic beasts one sees on BBC documentaries, the ones where one of the sexes, often the dudes, has to put on great displays of plumage, fin, or tusk in order to attract a mate.  These are truly respectable creatures, but many of them have smallish brains that are in constant danger of tumbling out their nose or ears.  For what it’s worth, we humans have big meaty brains, and it’s a little surprising that we still force women through the physical ringer, as if we didn’t have conversation and eyebrows to communicate our appeal to each other.  We’re still suckers for a pretty face, and perhaps that’s hard-wired, and perhaps that’s the way it’s always going to be out there.

But behind closed doors and as the day cools down into dark, we can both be actual human beings.  Myself, forever grateful to be trusted enough to share that safe zone with her, and as a man no less: let’s face it, I’m part of the sex that is at least somewhat responsible for certain physical issues that have been deeply ingrained into women like tics (or ticks, for that matter).  The fact that any woman can relax in this world of men, aimed forever at them with fingers on triggers, is good to know.  The fact that I can sometimes still chance to see her real face curve into a smile, however, is a kind of absolution. 

Yancy Jack Berns is a screenwriter and freelance television producer living in Los Angeles.

More by Yancy Jack Berns: Surround Yourself with Women

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When My Husband Became A Hero

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  • Life Balance

07/12/10 | Lorrie Sullenberger | 2 Comments

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Lorrie Sullenberger

 

 

As the wife of Captain Sullenberger, the pilot who landed US Airways Flight 1549 on the Hudson River and saved the lives of 155 people, my life has, since that day, ricocheted from one emotion to another. The nation seemed to be celebrating in the aftermath of the events, but we were in shock.

The personal letters and well wishes that started to pour into our house helped us start processing our emotions. We have personally received over 20,000 emails, as well as thousands of personal cards, letters and packages. I joked with Sully that he has achieved Santa Claus status as many of the letters come without our personal address. They simply state Captain Sullenberger, or “Sully” hero pilot USA. And like Santa at the North Pole they show up at our door. One of my favorites was from Europe and was addressed to “Hero Pilot USA.” Then in a side note it said, “Dear Postmaster, I don’t know his address but I think you can find him. Please help me and forward to him.”

The letters are funny, sad and profound, but mostly they express an overwhelming gratitude -- that just when our country needed it most we had a collective feel good moment. And not just for the United States, but the world. We even received a recent letter from a young woman in Iran. Many of the letters stated that while Sully did not ask for this and is not seeking the limelight, we need a hero to feel good about, so please don’t turn away. And with that we feel a certain responsibility. As Sully likes to say, gratitude is a two way street. As the outpouring of support and gratitude came our way, it helped us to give back as well.

One young man wrote us early on and said his family had to cut back on gifts this year and were trying to be creative in gift giving. His dad was a huge fan -- could we possibly visit them? While that was not possible, Sully placed a call to their home, where the young boy answered the phone. I could hear the boy’s shrieks all the way across the room. After talking with him for a few minutes, Sully asked to speak to his dad. He told him what a thoughtful young son he had, a son who obviously loved him very much. I remember crying that night thinking how such a simple act on our part had made them so happy.

In all these months since the accident I can only recall three days when we had no mail regarding the accident. Just today we received a wedding invitation from an engaged couple who were on Flight 1549. Included in the invitation was a note that said, “Words cannot express how much we thank you. We now look forward to our marriage and starting a family.”

And so as I reflect on what my personal gratitude letter should include this year, I hardly know where to begin. But to those many people who wrote to us, my heartfelt thanks. And like so many letters say to us, thank you hardly seems enough.

Before January 15, 2009, Lorrie Sullenberger led a quiet—yet accomplished—life as a fitness expert, local television personality and suburban mom. With infectious enthusiasm, strength and candor, Sullenberger shows that the only way to make it through trauma is to point yourself in the right direction and take one step at a time. Currently working on a book on preparing for and making it through life’s challenges, Sullenberger empowers audiences by showing what skills are necessary to make yourself ready for whatever life throws your way.

A longer version of this post was first published in Woman’s Day November 2009 issue.

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It's Time to Pay It Forward

07/8/10 | Maud Purcell | 3 Comments

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Maud Purcell, Coach & Corporate Consultant

Especially in hard times, we need to remember how powerful one kind gesture can be.  When people are losing faith in the economy and in trusted institutions, small acts of unanticipated kindness can help restore faith in the fundamental goodness of mankind.

I like to think of myself as someone who looks for the good in others. I must admit, however, that in the past few years, in a culture where individuals seem to be have become increasingly self-focused, I have gradually become more cynical about peoples’ willingness to reach out and help others. But just last week, I re-learned a valuable lesson. Here’s what happened.

I got home from work to discover that our mailbox and the post supporting it had been destroyed.  My first thought was that it had been done by kids pulling a prank, or by vandals. But that evening my husband answered a knock at our front door. Two women who barely spoke English had come to tell us that they had accidentally backed into our mailbox.  They expressed remorse, and said that they intended to replace the mailbox the next day.  My husband and I were genuinely surprised that these strangers had gone out of their way to do the right thing, but frankly we didn’t really expect that they would fix it. Surprised yet again, the next evening we returned home from work to find that the post and mailbox had, indeed, been replaced. 

But the story continues. That day, my husband, who was under a strict deadline for work, found himself offering to drive a co-worker to pick up his car at a repair shop.  My husband attributed his own willingness to help his co-worker, despite his own stressful circumstances, to the kindness demonstrated by the women who had hit our mailbox.  He remarked that he wanted to “pay it forward.”  I thought back over my own day, and realized that I had also been especially understanding with a client in difficult financial circumstances, for exactly the same reason.

Now imagine if the people my husband and I each helped, in turn, decided to help someone else, and so on.  It’s amazing how one simple act of random kindness can create an ongoing ripple effect.

We understand how these small acts can help those around us, but here are the reasons why reaching out to someone in need may also benefit you, personally:

  • Doing so will help you, in the moment, to forget your own problems.
  • You will be acting as a great role model for those around you, and especially for your children.
  • You will feel better about yourself as a person.
  • You will be helping, one deed at a time, to restore others’ faith in humanity.
  • Maybe, in time, the good deed you’ve done will come back around to you.

Maud Purcell, MSW, LCSW, CEAP, is a skilled and seasoned psychotherapist, as well as a trained Coach and Corporate Consultant. She is the owner of Maud Purcell & Associates Inc., and she writes a regular column for The Stamford Advocate, Greenwich Time, The Danbury Times and CT Post Newspapers.

More by Maud Purcell:

What Your Emotions Are Trying to Tell You

The 6 Hidden Blessings of Being Single

A Family Survival Guide for the Holidays

When Your Family Doesn't Cut It, Create a New One

Overwhelmed? Dump, Delegate & Deal

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Announcing The Great June Giveaway Winner

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  • Architects of Change

07/6/10 | The Women's Conference | 0 Comments

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Guys We Love: Who do you love & why?

At The Women’s Conference, we focus on women and women’s issues – covering everything from women entrepreneurs to women’s health to women Architects of Change. But we know that – as men need women, we women need men – to make a difference in the world, to inspire us, and to give us moral and emotional support.

Our Great June Giveaway offered The Women’s Conference community the chance to reflect on the great “guys” in their lives – and to share those guys with the rest of us.

We received many thoughtful, heartfelt responses from you. An overwhelming number of women chose husbands, partners, sons & fathers -- those who gave them love, respect, encouragement and affirmation. The winning response and two honorable mentions are below. Visit The XX Effect: Generation to Generation for more Guys We Love.

Winner

Cynthia Harty:

I love the guy at the auto dealership who talks to me like he would any man who walks through the door. I love the guy who installs or repairs something in my home and initiates a conversation with me as to what he is doing and accepts critique or suggestions. I love the man who defers to a woman in the room when she is an expert. I love my Internal Medicine Doctor whose first words when he met me were "Okay lets start from the beginning, tell me everything that happened", and then he listened. He then followed that up with "I'd like to get a second opinion". I love and admire the respect and will return it always.

Honorable Mentions

Jacquelon:

The man I love passed away over 20 years ago. That man was my father. He adopted me when I was four years old and was never anything but my "real" Dad. I only discovered that he was my stepfather when I was 12 years old. However, I never once questioned his love for me as his daughter. If someone made a comment about how much I looked like him considering I was not his biological child, he would immediately correct him or her and say, “of course she looks like me, she is my daughter”. He was the gentlest, kind, and loving person I have ever known. I never heard him raise his voice at me when he often had cause. He did not have to... all he had to say was how disappointed he was in my actions. And, then state that he was certain that I was more disappointed in myself.

I made a decision that the only way I could ever repay my Dad for accepting me as his daughter was to do the same for another child. My husband and I are now in our 60's and have three grown children. One child is adopted; I just cannot remember which one.

Kay Presto:

Who is the man I love?

He‘s a special person who has opened up a whole new life for me. He's explained things that I never had explained before, made me feel safe in my own body, helped me understand many mysteries, and so much more.

He has explained terms I’ve never heard before, has shown me eye-opening things I’ve never seen before, and taught me how to live a long and happy life.
And he does it all with a jolly smile and makes all these mysteries fun.

Who is this man? Of course, it’s Dr. Mehmet Oz himself!

Here’s a man who has shared with us the beauty and strength of our human bodies, showed us the bad effects of poor eating, smoking, and other bad habits, and makes it fun to live a good healthy life.

I’ve watched him ardently on television, even before he had his own show, and have marveled at his knowledge of our bodies, and how clearly he presents every single fact.

And why do I love him so much? Because he has demystified our bodies, and taught us to be proud and happy with the one God gave us.

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