Tag Archives: Coco Chanel

PERSONAL STYLE

Mom's fashion "style" was to create her own fashions, even an occasional hat. (picture is property of Marylin Warner; all others in this post taken by Marylin Warner)

Mom’s “style” was to create her own fashions, even an occasional hat. (picture is property of Marylin Warner; all other pictures in this post taken by Marylin Warner)

    

 

 

 

Mary's great-grand-daughter has her own writing style...sidewalk chalk.

Mary’s great-grand-daughter has her own writing style…with.sidewalk chalk.

STYLE: a manner of doing something; a way of painting, speaking, writing, dressing, composing, or creating. Note: Do not confuse this kind of style with stile, as in turnstile, unless your style is to go back and forth, passing through gates.

Some of my mother’s friends’ clothing and jewelry styles were strongly influenced by French designer Coco Chanel’s casual chic designs. Many of them also wore her signature perfume, Chanel No. 5.   Mom wasn’t a big fan of Chanel No. 5, and since she made most of her clothes, she didn’t imitate many of the outfit trends. But during an interview, Coco said one thing that Mom applauded: “Fashion is not something that exists in dresses only. Fashion is in the sky, in the street; fashion has to do with ideas, the way we live, what is happening.”

I took Mom to a writing workshop at Avila College years ago, and the question of writers’ styles came up. Here are some of the “famous” quotes that made sense to her: “I don’t think writers compete. I think they’re all doing separate things in their own style.” ~ Elmore Leonard. And this one by Raymond Chandler: “The most durable thing in writing is style. It is a projection of personality and you have to have personality before you can project it. It is the product of emotion and perception.”

The one that made Mom laugh was by William Battie, the English physician who in 1758 wrote the first lengthy book about treating mental illness: “Style is when they’re running you out of town and you make it look like you’re leading the parade.” It seemed logical to Mom that showing confidence even when you didn’t actually feel it was good advice for writers, since there was so much rejection.

The one specific bit of advice she followed was about improving writing style: “Cut out all of those exclamation points. An exclamation point is like laughing at your own joke.” ~ F. Scott Fitzgerald     Mom read through her writing samples, and each time she found an exclamation point she studied it carefully…and then often removed it.

I miss many of my mother’s qualities and abilities that have been dulled or destroyed by dementia.

Going through her big box marked MARY’S WRITING, I love reading her notes and quotes about writing and all kinds of creativity. If I read them aloud to her, she might smile and nod, but there’s no longer any true recognition.

So I’ll share them with you. That was my mother’s style, to share ideas and information and activities with her friends, and if it weren’t for the dementia, she would be very happy to count you all among her friends. She really would.

 

An old house gets a new "style lift" ~ a bold and beautiful new paint job.

An old house gets a “style lift” with a bold and beautiful new paint job.

Practical Art style ~ turn a public trash can into an art display (Abliene, KS)

Practical Art style ~ turn a public trash can into an art display (Abliene, KS)

Maybe your style is to combine your favorite car and your favorite sport: get a BMW golf cart  (and it's for sale!)

Maybe your style is to combine your favorite car and your favorite sport: get a BMW golf cart (and look, it’s for sale!)

"Recycling Style"-- an old tire gets new life as a child's tree swing.

“Recycling Style”– an old tire gets new life as a child’s tree swing.

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Filed under Dementia/Alzheimer's, friends, Kansas, special quotations, writing

DOORS or WINDOWS?

Dear Mom,

In 1992, during an MTV town hall meeting in Washington, a 17-year-old student asked President Bill Clinton the question that stunned everyone: “Do you wear boxers or briefs?”

When we talked about it later, I remember you shaking your head, saying “Somebody’s mother needed to have a long, serious talk with her daughter.” Dad said that somebody needed to have a long, serious talk with Clinton for answering the question.

Occasionally we made a game of “either/or” questions. Not boxers or briefs, of course, but other debatable either/or  questions: Which sport takes more talent, baseball or basketball?  If you could read only one newspaper, would it be Wall Street Journal or Kansas City Star? If you could eat only one meat, would it be grilled steak or fried chicken? Which would be worse to lose, your hearing or your vision? On and on we went, challenging each other to pick or choose.

After Dad died, I was helping you decide what to do with his clothes: should we offer them to an unemployed man  who was about Dad’s size but might be offended, or should we box them up and donate them to Goodwill? It was only one of many decisions to make at a difficult time, and finally we just took a break and decided we didn’t have to do anything right then, at that moment. You sat in your recliner, looking out the big window of your living room.  Finally I asked, “If you could choose only one, would you choose a door or a window?”

Since that day, I’ve noticed what others say about doors and windows.  Horace Mann said: “A house without books is like a room without windows.”  Elisabeth Kubler-Ross wrote: “People are like stained-glass windows. They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in, their true beauty is revealed only if there is a light from within.”

You were a big fan of Erma Bombeck, and you laughed at this quote: “Never have more children than you have car windows.” And you agreed strongly with Victor Hugo’s philosophy: “He who opens a school door, closes a prison,” and Coco Chanel’s  advice: “Don’t spend time beating on a wall, hoping to transform it into a door.”

On the day I asked you which you would choose, a door or a window, you said, “It depends on the weather, I guess. And if I have some place to go, or if I want to watch the birds in the trees.”  That made sense, and after we talked for a while we got up and went to Dad’s closet to decide what to do with his things.

John Barrymore said, “Happiness often sneaks in through a door you didn’t know you left open.” Mom, you’ve shown me that happiness sneaks in through windows, too, when you patiently sit and wait, expecting something pleasant to happen…outside your window, or inside, in your memories.

Thank you for being the stained-glass window that sparkles and shines when the sun is out, and when the darkness sets in your true beauty reveals the light from within you.

Love,  Marylin

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Filed under Dementia/Alzheimer's, lessons about life, making a difference