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First, let me thank everyone for touching base to make sure that all was well at the Chronicles. I’m happy to say that it is. That, for the past six months, I’ve been taking a small break. I’ve been “unplugged” from everything: book, blog, twitter, FB and, yes, even email.

And. although I may have been invisible, I haven’t been idle. I’ve been working on a screenplay. Here’s a quick peak at the fruits of my labors.

It’s finished by the way — all 95 pages. And if you think writing a book is difficult, it’s nothing compared to writing a screenplay.

The key to a screenplay according to the experts is show, don’t tell. It’s counter-intuitiveImage to everything I’ve ever done as a journalist / writer / author. And now, after having met with my brilliant editor Melva McLean (who is herself a screenwriter), I am working hard on a rewrite. I am exactly where I was four years ago when I started writing Any Color but Beige —at the base of Everest, looking up. Of course if you think of it this way it’s a daunting task. So for now I’m just concentrating on the footpath in front of me. I have one simple goal – to finish the rewrite one scene at a time.

Between love and lost

If you’ve been following the Chronicles for the last three weeks you’ll know that I’ve been posting a free chapter a week for four weeks as part of an ongoing promotional campaign for my book  Any Color but Beige.

Over the last year, readership and subscriptions have increased dramatically. And I hope that by giving my new readers a preview of the book I can entice them to buy it, read it, and recommend it to their friends.

The book is closely linked to my career as an international color marketing expert, so I structured the book according to my life’s personal color spectrum. The four colorful sections that make up the book are Primary Colors, Color Blind, True Colors, and Exotic Colors.

Exotic Colors is this week’s section, from which I selected the chapter called Chapter 24 It deals with heartbreak and healing. And it was from this painful experience that my book Any Color but Beige came to be. My editor likes to say the best stories break your heart. And she’s right.

photo: © istockphoto.com/VladLo

What a way to spend the afternoon

I don’t nap. It’s not a habit I’ve been able to acquire, despite all of the health-related benefits. No siestas, snoozes, catnaps, nor forty winks. For me, it has always been a long day’s journey into night.

This trip has been one of many firsts. First, I found out that I was that kind of girl. And I’ve said “I told you so: not once but twice. And now, I have to confess that, on a sunny Saturday afternoon in Joburg visiting friends, I fell asleep for an hour and fifteen minutes in the noonday sun. And I felt the better for it.

It’s spring in S. Africa and still a bit chilly but my southeast facing bedroom was all warm and cozy from the sun. So I found a sunny spot on my bed, fluffed my pillows, and grabbed a book. A light breeze played hide and seek with the curtains. The water gurgled in the little fountain just outside my window. It was a spring day as it was meant to be − happy.

I thought, this is how a lioness must feel at the end of a long, hard week of fetching and carrying – a soft spot under a Syringa tree far from the maddening crowd – her intent also the same as mine, to renew herself, body and soul, and carve out a bit of alone time, in my case, with a good book.

I wondered, if she were human, what would she would be reading – The Life of Pi, Charlotte’s Web or maybe The Tiniest Tiger?

I opened my book of poetry and chanced upon Shakespeare’s “Sonnet 27” and read the first two lines :

Weary with toil, I haste me to my bed
The dear repose for limbs with travel tired;

That’s me, I thought, before sleep stole upon me and lightly brushed her hand upon my half closed eyelids.

Upon waking, book still in hand, I finished it.

But then begins a journey in my head
To work my mind, when body’s work’s expir’d:
For then my thoughts—from far where I abide—
Intend a zealous pilgrimage to thee,
And keep my drooping eyelids open wide,
Looking on darkness which the blind do see:
Save that my soul’s imaginary sight
Presents thy shadow to my sightless view,
Which, like a jewel hung in ghastly night,
Makes black night beauteous and her old face new.
Lo! thus, by day my limbs, by night my mind,
For thee, and for myself no quiet find.

However, unlike Shakespeare, I did myself some quiet find in that unexpected nap. And I spent the rest of afternoon just like that lioness lazing about under the South African sun.

photo: © istockphoto.com/pai toon

Rooftop Garden in Instanbul

Rooftop Garden in Istanbul

There are also sorts of words associated with magic – incantations, spells – call them what you will — said in an effort to produce a desired outcome.

“Open says me” or is it “Open sesame”? As a kid I was never really sure. In any case it always worked for Aladdin.

There’s also the well-known “abracadabra” and the tried and true, “presto change-o”. Or the two words most popular words in any language, “I wish.”

I have my own set of magic words that I meditate upon when faced with a particularly onerous task, a tough negotiation or a difficult period in my life. It’s a short-term solution for a short-term problem but in saying it, it buys me a moment of calm so that I can think clearly and carry on.

Allow me to give you an example. After three weeks on the road I had settled for a short period of time in Istanbul where I could finally unpack a few things rather than rummage through my suitcase in search of the ever-missing mate to a pair of knee-highs.

I had come from the increasingly cold climate of Europe to sunny Turkey for a trade show, Paints Istanbul. I was staying at an airport hotel near the Exhibition Center but far enough outside Istanbul to make it too tiring to trek into the city for dinner and a change of scenery. However, the hotel had a lovely outdoor terrace located on a quiet and well-manicured mezzanine rooftop. I was often the only one there, and if it hadn’t been for the roar of jet engines from the airport or the call to prayer by the mullah at a nearby Mosque, it could have been my own little English cottage garden – if I had one.

That rooftop garden quickly became a refuge I was reluctant to leave. On my last afternoon, as I enjoyed a lovely lunch, I kept glancing at my watch. In two hours, I thought, I will be battling a crush of people at the airport, queuing up for passport control, queuing up again for security, and then beginning the countdown for the three-hour flight back to Germany where I would repeat the process of passport control and security in preparation for the ten-hour economy flight from Frankfurt to S. Africa.

I didn’t want to go. “What if,” I thought? What if I stayed? What if I found a little job in a nearby resort – shades of Shirley Valentine. But I dropped that line of thinking immediately. Like a good lawyer, I never like to ask a question, I don’t already know the answer to. And, sometimes what you want and what you have to do don’t always align.

Instead, I did what I always do to get me through a difficult or unpleasant situation. I looked at my watch, which read 2:00 p.m. and pushed the thought of air travel out of my mind in favor of time travel. I projected myself, or tried to see myself, in the future and said the three little words that get me through most of life’s little travails: “This time tomorrow…” and pictured a completed task, a lovely place, or hard feelings forgotten.

I know that by meditating on these words: this time tomorrow, or next week or next year means that whatever difficulties lie in front of me will eventually be behind me. They will magically disappear, like all things, with the passage of time.

If you’ve been following the Chronicles for the last two weeks you’ll know that I’ve been posting a free chapter a week for four weeks as part of an ongoing promotional campaign for my book Any Color but Beige.

Over the last year, readership and subscriptions have increased dramatically. And I hope that by giving my new readers a preview of the book I can entice them to buy it, read it, and recommend it to their friends.

The book is closely linked to my career as an international color marketing expert, so I structured the book according to my life’s personal color spectrum. The four colorful sections that make up the book are Primary Colors, Color Blind, True Colors, and Exotic Colors.

“True Colors,” this week’s free chapter, is all about rediscovering myself and adding color back into my life in ways I could never have imagined. This chapter gave me the ideas for book’s subtitle – Living Life in Color.

Finally, in the last installment you will read all about the Exotic Color that was the genesis of this book.

And so – from the True Colors section, here, for your reading pleasure is Sixty Five First Dates

Next Week: Love Italian Style

photo: © istockphoto.com/MichaelDeLeon

Pick a color, any color!

Yes, I think there is. Paint Industry Research has confirmed what we, as consumers, already knew. We are overwhelmed by too many color choices.

We always think we want choice, and yet when presented with a myriad of options we either can’t make a choice and walk away with nothing or we make a choice and berate ourselves all the way home thinking we made the wrong choice – the wrong color, the wrong bedspread, the wrong dress, the wrong man.

I recently experienced this phenomena myself while at a trade show in Istanbul. Having finished my sales calls I found myself with enough time on my hands to make a quick trip into the city. My customers made all kinds of wonderful recommendations, and I ended up visiting the Blue Mosque, the Haggia Sofia and the Grand Bazaar.

I explained to one colleague that I was a little reluctant to visit the Grand Bazaar because I had been there before and had found it an exhausting and exhaustive place to shop. With so much to see, my senses had been overwhelmed and I’d even gotten lost in its maze of passageways when a crush of people moved me in a direction I’d no intention of taking.

Sensing my angst, my colleague asked me what I liked. I told her scarves so she wrote down the name of a shop that specialized in beautiful scarves.

It’s called Bedesten, and it’s located in the old part of the Grand Bazaar. The shop is like a large walk-in closet with floor to ceiling cubbyholes of every kind of scarf in every color and texture imaginable. As I turned around slowly I felt like I was in a life-size Kaleidoscope. I felt dizzy from the effect of all of the color and giddy with anticipation.

The young proprietor walked me through the types of scarfs on offer – from expensive and sumptuous silk to pashmina, wool and, of course, cheaper synthetics. After I had a glass of customary (apple) tea (the Turkish people are the epitome of hospitality) the selling process began. The proprietor pulled scarf after scarf off the shelf and draped them across the Middle Eastern-style coffee table.

“Stop! Stop!” I put up my hands.

He gave me a puzzled look – didn’t I like the scarves?

Like the scarves! I told him I loved them, but if he continued in this manner, it would be impossible for me to choose a single scarf. I told him that we would have to limit the choices; otherwise I was afraid I would leave empty handed.

He did, and I decided to buy five scarves – one for myself, and four more as gifts – that were all a combination of silk and pashmina, I asked him to show me just two scarves in color families that I knew would be complimentary to my friends and me. Faced with a choice of only two scarves in blue, green, purple, red and orange, I found it easy to pick the perfect ones.

After a bit of bargaining we fixed a price and I went away happy, having acquired a beautiful selection of scarves and first-hand knowledge that corroborated what research tells us – sometimes there is such a thing as too much color.

photo: © istockphoto.com/PaulVinten

When I travel I like to look for practical things that I can use at home. Souvenirs that are not really dust collectors but serve a purpose, like CDs featuring local music, articles of clothing, jewelry and household items.

During my most recent trip to Istanbul, in addition to some very fine silk and pashmina scarves, I acquired a few things that surprised even me.

A flirtatious cab driver fascinated by my hair and eye color offered to be my guide of the city for free. And while I thanked him for his generous offer, I said my negotiated taxi fare to the Blue Mosque would be more than enough.

As the traffic lagged we fell into a conversation that quickly turned personal. I didn’t especially like the direction it was taking but I decided to turn the conversation to my advantage.

I talked freely and elaborately about my three children and my schoolteacher husband.

“Three children!”

I just smiled back. It was fun to imagine having three kids (two boys and a girl) and of course a perfect husband. The mental picture I had drawn was right out of an LL Bean catalogue – it was too good to be true. Perhaps somewhere in a parallel universe, I thought, it was true.

But for now, in this universe, I had to leave them in Turkey.

photo: © istockphoto.com/skynesher

Instant Family!

As I mentioned in last Tuesday’s post I am kicking off this year’s sales and marketing efforts by offering four free chapters (one a week) of Any Color but Beige to my blog readers. Over the last year, readership and subscriptions have increased dramatically. I hope that by giving my new readers a preview of the book I can entice them to buy it, read it, and recommend it to their friends.

The book is closely linked to my career as an international color marketing expert, so I structured the book according to my life’s personal color spectrum. The four colorful sections that make up the book are Primary Colors, Color Blind, True Colors, and Exotic Colors.

Last week, I offered a chapter from the Primary Colors section, and today it’s a chapter from Color Blind. Entitled “Bleeding Hearts,” it focuses on the wake-up call that made me take stock of my life, and then trade in all of the safe neutral tones that colored my existence for a more bold and daring personal palette.

“True Colors,” next week’s free chapter, is all about rediscovering myself and adding color back into my life in ways I could never have imagined. This chapter gave me the book’s subtitle – Living Life in Color.

Finally, in the last installment you will read all about the Exotic Color that was the genesis of this book.

And so – here is “Bleeding Hearts.”   Chapter 10

photo: © istockphoto.com/avdeev007

You know it’s over when you stop talking

This month I am celebrating the one year anniversary of my book launch for Any Color but Beige. It’s been an amazing year filled with

The Little Red Suitcase

lots of new experiences, including television interviews, coverage in major dailies, book signings, book club readings, but best of all was all the heartwarming feedback from readers who found a little bit of themselves in my book.

It was also a very busy year because I managed all of the sales, marketing and public relations activities myself. Maintaining awareness for the book and increasing sales was an ongoing full-time job. Between the book and my day job, I’ve been “Up in the Air.” more often George Clooney.

So I am going to kick off this year’s sales and marketing efforts through the Café Girl Chronicles. Over the last year, readership and subscriptions have increased dramatically. I hope that by giving my new readers a preview of the book I can entice them to buy it, read it and recommend it to their friends.

The book is closely linked to my career as an international color marketing expert. As such, I wrote the book according to my life’s personal color spectrum. The book itself is divided into four colorful sections: Primary Colors, Color Blind, True Colors and Exotic Colors. And so, for the next four consecutive Tuesdays, I will publish one chapter from each section. I hope to pique your curiosity enough to want to read more.

Today, I’ll start with a chapter from Primary Colors, a section that focuses on my colorful childhood growing up in an Italian/Irish family. This chapter reveals the secret of the little red suitcase depicted on the book’s cover.

The following Tuesday, Color Blind will feature a chapter on how easily we can lose sight of all of the color in our lives by playing it safe.

The True Colors chapter in week three is all about rediscovering myself and adding color back into my life in ways I could never have imagined. This gave me the book’s subtitle – Living Life in Color.

Finally, in the last installment you will read all about the Exotic Color that was the genesis of this book.

And so, let’s begin at the beginning: Chapter 1 – The Little Red Suitcase

Chapter 1

Make room for multicolor fashions in your closet and your life!

As you already know I’m not that kind of girl. Well most of the time. I’m also not one of those people given to self-aggrandizement when I’m right about something. The phrase I told you so never escapes my lips. I hate hearing it, so I never say it?  Having just heard me say “never,” you know what is about to come next. And I ask you to indulge me just this once, and in return I promise I’ll never say it again.

On my flight from Paris to Istanbul to attend the Paints Istanbul trade show, I picked up a copy of the International Herald Tribune. After slogging through numerous articles about the European monetary crisis and the US election, you can imagine my joy and relief when I got to a Fashion New York Special Report from the New York Times. In it, reporter Suzy Menkes gave her overview on the continuing color revolution that will brighten our closets and make us look and feel good for summer 2013. At last, I thought, something to look forward to.

This color trend actually hit the runway and our wardrobes back in 2010 with the introduction of color blocking – the pairing of two bold colors side by side. Now, according to the Times article, the new trend is a “combination of bright palettes, livid shades and digital patterns.”

Menkes focused on 12 fashion designers, some of them better known than others, and described how they were blending color, fabric and cultures into colorful creations for the catwalk. The photos alone were enough to brighten anyone’s day.

Black will, of course, continue to be a staple of most wardrobes, but at best it will play a supporting role, as will other neutrals such as taupe, beige and of course all those shades of grey.

Which brings me back to the point of my post and how well it ties into not only the title of my book, Any Color but Beige but my own personal philosophy of living life in color. I told you so!

photo: © istockphoto.com/tillisphotography

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