Smarter. Thinner. Kinder. Richer. Really, aren’t all our New Year’s resolutions designed to turn us into a new and improved version of ourselves?

I am about halfway through a memoir by Diane Von Furstenberg, the wrap dress designer I have a little bit of a girl crush on. She seems so glamorous, so sensual, so full of life! Her book is called, “The Woman I Wanted to Be,” and it seems like the lesson is to just become who you want to be, no excuses. Well, with apologies to my girl crush, it helps when you’ve been born into and later married into fabulous wealth and fame. Sure, the wrap dress became an iconic fashion statement, but would anyone have paid attention to the simple little jersey dress if it had been presented by Betty Lou Who from New Jersey instead of a princess with raven curls?

The new year brings lots of thoughts of “the woman I wanted to be” because, like so many, I always feel woefully short of who that woman should be. What is the point of resolutions when life just keeps getting in the way of the best intentions?

But maybe I can manage one resolution.

The gift of faith and forgiveness. Faith in myself that I’m not going to settle into the incurious Sloth Woman I fear is just beneath the surface, even if I don’t prod her with resolutions and self-loathing. And forgiveness when my best doesn’t quite get me to the woman I want to be. Forgiveness for simply being the woman I am.

NY Resolutions

Did Kim Kardashian Get it Right?


Kim Kardashian tried to break the Internet recently by hefting her haunches in front of a camera. What she broke instead was my heart.

Because the comments that followed – like or hate the Kardashians – were hateful. And most of them seemed to be from women. Kim, they said, needed to keep her buns to herself. And why? The most absurd reason was because she is a mother now, and mothers shouldn’t be sexual creatures.

You won’t catch me in sexy online photos — not because I think it’s wrong, but because I hesitate to flaunt my flab. If all I wear is my lacy panties, I have to spurn my Spanx. That’s a little unnerving.

So I was curious about what would make real-life women pose in their panties for naughty photos.

Valerie Schooling Durant, who offers boudoir photos outside of Charleston, SC, says most women who come to her do so because they want to prove to their husbands – or to themselves – that they are still hot.

And, surprise, surprise. Most are self-conscious about their stomachs. The good news, Schooling Durant says, is that you don’t have to show your stomach if you don’t like it. There are ways to photograph around it. Artful draping. The lifted leg.

Many women get boudoir photos as gifts for husbands or boyfriends. What they don’t predict is that they are getting themselves a gift too.

“I don’t Photoshop my images,” Schooling Durant says. “Professional models are beautiful because they have professional hairstyling, professional makeup, professional photography, a beautiful location, and a knowledge of posing.”

Her studio provides the hair and makeup. You provide the lingerie.

“I tell people when in doubt, bring it all. They roll into here with a suitcase of all kinds of naughty goodness.”

And once women are in their tiny bits of lace and satin, Schooling Durant directs their posing.

“I boss them around,” she says. “I tell them what to do and they can just lie back. I tell them what to think about because when you are thinking about something fun, you have a more fun look on your face.”

And somehow, during the process, she says, her clients become what they pretend to be. They become beautiful.

“They expect that this is going to be an awkward thing,” Schooling Durant says. “If I ask an average woman to show me your sexy face, most women don’t know how to do that. Just like actors playing a lawyer would tell you they aren’t just acting as a lawyer, they are being a lawyer, this is your chance to be sexy. I am giving you permission. Most of my clients are exhausted because it’s a mental workout. Since when does any woman spend an hour and a half thinking they are beautiful?”

I know I have felt beautiful in spurts, moments when I am blissfully happy and full of love. But sustaining that for more than an hour? Never.

We don’t display our beauty. Because if Kim Kardashian, or you, or I, want to let it all hang out and invite the world to appreciate the wild woman we are? I’m betting the most vicious critics are going to be other women.

So, I’m wondering. Should I get a boudoir photo? Would you?

Kardashian butt

A Sliding Door Life


Did you see the movie, “Sliding Doors?” It starred Gwyneth Paltrow and it came out in 1998, the same year as her Oscar-winning performance in “Shakespeare in Love.” I remember the movie not just because she played a character named, “Helen,” but because the movie depicted two parallel lives she could live, depending on the quirk of fate of whether she caught a particular train. I remember that slight off-balance feeling of seeing two lives played out simultaneously.

I get that same feeling these days.

I am old enough that I have lived many lives, in many places. I have been a different person in each, with the cast of characters to suit that particular life.

There is the slowed-down Charleston lifestyle I live now, with new friends and my husband. There was the competitive D.C. lifestyle I lived, chatting over Starbucks with fellow Beltway commuter warriors. There is the New Orleans family lifestyle where we eat, drink and laugh to excess and at high volume.

I become those people when I am in those places.

But sometimes, worlds collide.

Like the other night, when I was at my office holiday party. We were at a D.C. club listening to New Orleans music because my boss happens to love the music from my native city. I was enjoying being back in D.C. with my colleagues. And then I looked up and my ex-husband was there with his wife. Quick, which Helen should I be? The professional Helen, the New Orleans Helen who dances to Kermit Ruffins with abandon, or the friendly ex-wife?

Or, like the time I was at a professional development workshop and found out that the presenter went to college with my husband, and one of the fellow attendees was someone I hadn’t seen since high school. That may not sound like much for those of you who stayed in your hometown, but this was in D.C. And my husband had gone to college in L.A. And I had gone to high school in suburban Illinois.

Worlds colliding.

I find that I need transition time as I get older, time to wrap my head around the different layers of Helen dancing in the same time zone.

Maybe you’re different. Maybe you’re the same you, no matter what. Old friends, new friends, you’ve never changed who you are or how you act. Bravo to you if so.

As for me? I just find I need to adjust my shuffle so I don’t get caught in those sliding doors.

Sliding Doors

When Your Kid Brings A Lover Home for the Holidays


If you have a child who lives in a different city and you host holiday celebrations, eventually you will have to face the day when they bring home someone with whom they’ll blithely assume they can share a bed. Under your roof.

Here are the polite fictions that will help you through the ordeal.



  1. Don’t talk about religion or politics. Or their jobs. Or their families. In fact, best not to bring up anything personal unless they do so first. You may be dying to find out how this young person who looks homeless plans to make a living, but you must at all costs pretend that unshaven is a look that works for them. That goes for male or female.
  2. Offer alcohol if they are of age, but pretend not to notice the amount they drink, even if you have to send someone out for another couple of bottles of wine so you don’t run out. Later, when your child has returned to wherever they live, you can always ask idly, “So was he nervous, or does he always take his wine intravenously?”
  3. Pretend you are not noticing every time they turn up their nose at some dish you slaved over because they don’t like it or their ethics won’t allow it. Slapping them with the pate is always a bad idea.
  4. Don’t ask questions you don’t want to know the answer to. And if you do, pretend to believe the lie. Questions like, “You guys aren’t going to have sex while you’re here, right?”
  5. Turn the music on really loud when they retire for the night. Or when you do. No parent should have to hear the bedsprings squeak in the childhood room and wonder whether their child’s “friend” is just a restless sleeper.

darlingbedaring holidays