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Archive for the ‘Chapters – condensed’ Category

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

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I launched my book, Any Color but Beige, with a solid public relations program last September. The combination of my modest budget and previous professional experience enabled me leverage this into some good coverage that included two TV interviews, print and digital coverage in several newspapers, blogs and e-zines, and a couple of speaking engagements. I also learned that, although several of the media were interested in the book, they felt no sense of urgency to write about it. The reason: memoir is a genre they call “evergreen.”

Evergreen is both a good and a bad label. It’s good because the media can make use of (promote) your book at any time. It’s bad because they could put your book on a pile underneath copies of more current evergreen books. So when it comes to generating lots of coverage for your book, your story has to be two things: topical and urgent.

With that in mind, I have decided to make a second attempt at a PR program – this time promoting the book as a life story, love story and an international dating story – just in time for Valentine’s Day. Of course, this time I will put a slightly different spin on it.

This year, author Cat Larose suggests sending yourself a dozen red roses or a bottle of pink champagne on Valentine’s Day. It’s the colorful thing to do, says Larose. After all, you cannot truly love anyone else until you love yourself.

I’m hoping that relationship and lifestyle editors and program directors in search of a fresh angle for Valentine’s Day will seize upon the story and feature it on or around the big day. In conjunction with that, I have secured a “Meet the Author Sell and Sign at Chapters on St. Catherine Street in Montreal on Saturday, February 11th at 2:00.

It will be interesting to see if this new spin generates some additional media coverage and results in sales.

Timing, as they say, is everything. Let’s see if that’s true.

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As promised here’s the first chapter of my next book. It’s the follow up to my first book:  Any Color but Beige:  Living Life in Color.

I’ve created a separate tab at the top of the Home Page.  To read it all you have to do is click on the tab that says New Book / New Chapter.

Happy Reading!

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Here they are as promised, a selection of opening lines to help you capture the moment the next time you bump into a potential Mr. or Ms. Right. Since they were inspired by my friend Lara, I have dubbed the list: Lara’s lines.   

One word of advice, it’s important to be light with your approach and don’t take things seriously. Remember the idea is to have fun.

The Moment

YOU:  “Did you feel that?  (Pause for his reply).

He’ll usually say something clever, like… “Feel what?”

YOU:  “I think we may have just had a moment”

If he says nothing you can finish his thought for him.

YOU:   “This is where you say, I think so too.”

If he’s receptive, you can introduce yourself.  If he’s not, you can always say over you shoulder as you walk away, “Well it was nice not quite meeting you.”

Compliments

Compliments are always a safe bet. I mean who doesn’t like receiving a compliment.  Obviously the more sincere they are the better they will be received and the less superficial you will sound.

“That’s a great color on you.”

As women we’re already perceived as experts.  This line leads to several possibilities of follow-up conversation.  You can ask about his favorite color.

If he’s not good with color, you can joke and describe the difference between men and women when it comes to color.

YOU:  “Count on men to know at least two colors: black and brown.  Most men are satisfied with the Crayola 8 pack while women require all 64 colors.”

Some men may be offended when you make broad based statements like this.  If that happens, you can always say that you’re just generalizing for fun.  However, if he’s that uptight run.

Directions/Recommendations

You can always stop and ask for directions or recommendations.  Obviously you know where you’re going but he doesn’t have to know that.  This line of questioning takes some advanced planning as it is situation based.  Are you home running errands?  Are you in a city on vacation or business?

YOU: “I’m so tired of eating in this hotel, would you know a good restaurant near by?”

YOU:  “I’m new to the city, I only just arrived yesterday, can you recommend a good way to spend a few hours in the afternoon?”

YOU: “I’m looking for Crescent Street can you point me in the right direction?”

Photo: © iStockphoto.com/MichaelDeLeon

Compliment what he is wearing and ask him where he got it.  Tell him you have a 30-year-old nephew or godson and you’re looking for a birthday present.  Never tell him you’re shopping for your father, as he will question his own fashion sense, or that you’re shopping for your son – save that for later. Conclude by saying that it really suits him. And if you sense things are going well then introduce yourself

Photo: © iStockphoto.com/visi.stock

Confidence

There are days when you look good and you know it. These are days for taking chances with a more playful approach. Innuendo is a good approach with a man that you find very attractive and would consider sleeping with but nothing more.

YOU:  “How about a few fast furious rounds?” arch your eyebrows and smile mischievously.

Of course, you were talking about tennis; what was he thinking?

Vulnerability

There is something refreshing about a person who is open and honest. It makes us pause for a minute and often times catches us by surprise. You begin by introducing yourself and then follow up with:

YOU:  “I find that there are too many “what if…” moments in life.  And I don’t want this to be one of them. Would you like to have coffee with me? “

The variation on the “what if” theme is that of regret,

“A wise person once told me that it’s the things that you don’t do that you end up regretting.  I think I should very much regret not having met you.  Would you like to have coffee?”

Parting Shots

Of course, there is always a risk that you run into a jerk or a man lacking a sense of humor.  Rather than feeling flattered, as most men would, he is offended. That is his issue and not yours. You can make a graceful exit with the following:

YOU:  “Are you always this charming, or are you making a special effort on my behalf?  In that case, please don’t put yourself out.” Make sure you say it with just a hint of sarcasm.

or

YOU:  “Oh by the way, the lost and found is just down the street, in case you’re looking for your sense of humor.”

So there you have it, Lara’s List of opening lines…Now go out there and capture the moment!

NB:  I was going to end the post here but I just couldn’t leave it without mentioning my all time favorite capture the moment line. Charlie McArthur a Chicago journalist and playwright said it the first time he met the legendary actress Helen Hayes.  They were at high-society part together when he approached her and offered her some peanuts.  As he put them into her hand, he said, “I wish they were emeralds.”

 

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Seize the Moment

On a recent business trip to Sydney, sandwiched somewhere in between client dinners and early morning calls to my office back in Canada, I managed to catch up with my dear friend Lara. Artsy and cool in her trademark black, Lara is an amazingly talented make up artist with a wicked sense of humor. Her line of work often puts her in the company of some of Sydney’s best looking and most talented men – many of whom also happen to be gay.

To supplement the film and commercial work that often comes her way, she also does weddings.  What she does is nothing short of magical as she transforms people, at least on the outside, with the stroke a blush brush.  In her line of work, she has given more than her fair share of pep talks, reality checks and advice to nervous brides and even the occasional bewildered groom.  So when Lara says most of the great guys she knows are either gay or married, she knows from whence she speaks.

Over a couple of glasses of Yarra Valley Chardonnay we updated each other on our respective close encounters of the sexual kind.  The trouble is Lara lamented; it’s been so long that I don’t think I even know how to meet a man let alone just have sex with him.  She went on to describe those “moments” we’ve all had where we pass a stranger on the street, meet in an elevator, or exchange a glance across a crowded room and we connect. And just as quickly as it happens, the connection is broken and the moment is gone.

Given her outgoing nature and her ability to talk to anyone, I wondered why she didn’t say anything. She, like many of us over 40, said she felt that it was up to the guy to make the first move.  Yes but if you’re waiting for a guy to make the first move, you have to offer a little encouragement, right?

I thought about my own situation and concluded that the key to either creating or prolonging those moments is to look “approachable”   In fact; the last man who approached me did so because I smiled at him when we made eye contact.  However, as I explained to Lara, unbeknownst to him I wasn’t exactly smiling at him, I happened to be smiling to myself at that particular moment when our eyes met.  He’s the one who took it as a signal to proceed.

I wondered if it was that easy why didn’t I do it more often?  Why do I leave so much to chance?  What about deliberately taking chances? Why not smile and mean it. Why not be the one to seize the moment?

What’s stopping us I asked Lara?  Two things Lara said, lack of a good opening line and fear of rejection.  You have to back up that smile up with something.  She was right of course as my mind went over a mental list of “what ifs…” all because I was either too tongue tied or too proud.

Neither of those two issues is insurmountable.  The first requires a bit of preparation and practice and the second is just an attitude adjustment.  What we need is a list of opening lines that prolong the moment and lead the conversation forward Lara said.   I would come up with a list and we both agreed that we would take a chance and try it out.

“What’s the worst that could happen?” I asked.

“Nothing,” she replied.

“So how bad is that?”

In the end we’d be no worse off. And if we had any qualms about what the guy thought, we quickly laid those aside because after all who cares what a stranger thinks?  It’s what we think that counts.  And at that moment we were thinking that this could be fun.

Coming soon…Lara’s lines

Photo: © iStockphoto.com/DNY59

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Men occasionally stumble over the truth, but most of them pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing had happened.  ~Winston Churchill

Telling the truth to a stranger is easy. Telling the truth to a lover is much more complicated and delicate. And in the handful of relationships I’ve had over the last few years, I have yet to meet the man who could speak his own truth. I have always had to do it for him.

My brother Mike shakes his head in disbelief at the sorry state of manhood today, one that requires his sister to “man-up” and do all of the work. But on some level he gets it. Breakups aren’t easy and sometimes they can be messy. Still it’s as puzzling to him as it is to me.

In an attempt to get some clarity, I once asked one of these men why he just didn’t tell me he’d had a change of heart.   He said it was because he was afraid I would get too emotional because I got emotional just asking the question.  I will admit to watery eyes but at least my voice was steady.

The shift from boyfriend to let’s be friends happened so quickly I was caught off guard – thus the watery eyes.  Believe me; I’d rather chew broken glass than break down in front of a man. In most cases goodbyes come as no surprise. The signs are everywhere.

From the male point of view, it seems it’s much easier to be the gradually disappearing man, to show me rather than tell me that he has changed his mind.  As the daily phone calls, e-mails, texts evolveto every second, third or fourth day and then a week or two, you can hear him asking himself, “How much longer do I have to keep this up, so I don’t look like a complete jerk, and she gets the message?”

Sadly, his thought process has nothing to do with me and everything to do with his self- image and his ability to look himself in the mirror every morning. It’s the age-old question of: is it better to rip off the Band-aid with one tug, or progressively, painfully peel it back?

I am an advocate for the former method.  Tell me and tell me now! Gradually peeling the Band-aid back allows all sorts of nasty things to get between your skin and that protective covering you called a relationship. It keeps me wondering, waiting and — worst of all — hoping.  I magnify every contact and examine it for hidden meanings.  Didn’t we just have a great conversation?  Didn’t he compliment me over dinner?  He just said “we…” But false hope is nothing but a false friend.  Don’t count on it.

If you allow the connection to linger, your confidence and self-esteem become infected by doubt.  All of a sudden, you’re questioning your looks, career, even your taste in décor.  And you’ll find yourself asking:  What could I have done differently? What do I have change in order to heal the wound?

Sure, ripping off the Band-aid does sting, whether you do it or someone else does it. But when it’s done, it’s done.  Tugging at it a little at a time only opens you up for a prolonged and painful separation.  Either way the outcome is still the same.

Given the fact that, today, there are so many ways to break up — e-mail, voice mail, texting, via your personal assistant (located in India), and the infamous Post-It note — it really begs the question: Is breaking up all that hard to do?

If you have a good/bad break up story, I’d love to hear about it.

*Excerpted from the book

Photo: © iStockphoto.com/jrroman

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Grand Place

Paris is a convenient place to do many things: shop, eat, sightsee, fall in love and, of course, dream.  It’s also a good place to decamp for a few days to conduct business both in the city, and in those neighboring countries easily reached by high speed trains.  As such, I had planned a meeting in Amsterdam and booked a round trip first class ticket – food included.

It’s a four hour train ride one way, and since I had a mid-morning meeting, I caught the first train at 6:10 a.m.  This meant a 4:30 a.m. wake up call.  I had a long day ahead of me but I calculated I’d be back in Paris and in bed by ten.

I love train travel; it’s fast, efficient (or so I thought) and ranks low on the hassle scale.  All you have to do is board.  Today’s cars now have WiFi so you can even do a little business as you watch the bucolic countryside speed by frame by frame.

This was to be a quick in and out trip.  So after a meeting with customers and a bite of lunch,  I headed back to the Amsterdam Central Station.  Since my scheduled departure was for 4:30 p.m.,  I bided my time in the lounge like a good soldier and dutifully worked on my email.  My plan was to finish everything before boarding the train so I could enjoy the view on the ride back.

About an hour into the trip, I suddenly found myself in the parallel universe of Planes, Trains, and Automobiles. Although in my case it ended up being: trains, buses, commuter trains and another high speed train. That’s right; we had a mechanical malfunction that necessitated alternate means of transportation. My 8:00 p.m. arrival in Paris went from 10:00 p.m. and then to midnight, but there was no guarantee.

With no further instructions, we were left standing on a platform in Brussels waiting for a special train that would arrive in about an hour’s time. Maybe. They weren’t very big on giving out information.  In fact, the station was all but deserted except for about 200 tired, hungry, and angry travelers.

The stranger next to me looked over and shrugged.  “Que veux -tu?”  (What do you want?) He said to me in French with a Gallic shrug.  Apparently this was a regular occurrence.  Meanwhile, an Italian businessman yelled into his telefonino – he had a business dinner in Paris at nine  – you could say that his goose was cooked. He wasn’t going to be doing any deals that night.

As for me, I gave up fighting the system years ago.  I had spent enough time in Europe over the years to know better.   The two things it taught me were patience and surrender. I could hear my Italian grandmother’s voice in my head, “And this too shall pass.”  I would get back to Paris – but just when was debatable.

Just then the stranger turned to me. He was dressed in a casual suit, matching pants and jacket with a pumpkin-colored shirt. His burgundy shoes had laces that were intricately woven back and forth through the eyelets.  He caught me looking at his shoes and laughed.  “It throws off those big corporate types – they can’t figure out how the shoes stay on…and when I show up with out a tie…oooh la la,” he said.

He was charming and funny and spoke to me in French, which was a compliment because I was sure he spoke English as well. Anytime someone in France (or in this case Belgium) lets you blunder on in French without switching immediately to English means one of two things: one, either your French is pretty damn good, or he is an extremely gracious person. Since I was rather tired that evening, I suspected it was the latter. Although normally my French is pretty damn good.

“Say, listen!” he said. “If the train doesn’t show up at midnight, would you like to share a car back to Paris? I’ve already spoken to that gentleman (he pointed to the Italian) and he’d be interested as well.”  A woman with a briefcase on the platform overheard us and asked if she could join our party.  We figured it would cost us about 25,00 euro apiece and would save us the cost of a hotel in Brussels because the next regularly scheduled train out was 6:25 a.m.

As most people milled about aimlessly, we at least had a plan.  Each of us had lived this scenario dozens of times before in at least as many countries.  As seasoned business travelers, we were nothing if not resourceful.

Quite unexpectedly my co-voyager with the cool shoes leaned over and told me he was going to the Grand Place for a beer and asked if I would I like to join him.  A beer sounded awfully good – and perhaps some Belgian frites. And this time I would take the mayonnaise dammit! I had suffered enough; I was going to treat myself.

His name was Richard (Ree – char) and he was retired from corporate life but not from service. With his three children grown and on their own, he spent most of his time setting up co-ops in third world countries, most of which were run by women, to help fund village necessities like schools and running water.

He was tall and broad and had the powerful build of a rugby player. His salt and pepper hair was fashionably close cropped. His brown eyes were soft and gentle.  He had beautiful hands that he used to punctuate his stories, of which he had many.

You could tell that he was a guy you could turn to in a crisis – calm, cool and collected.   You could see it by the way he organized our little rental car group on the platform.  Fortunately we didn’t have to rent a car.  The special train that they had commandeered just for us would get us back to Paris around midnight.  “It really is too bad,” Richard said. “We could have stayed here at the square and talked all night.”  I was a little disappointed myself but happy to be heading back to the hotel and my bed. It had been a long day.

As we walked back to the train station he took my computer bag and offered me his jacket. The night had grown cold.  I had told him a little bit about me but gave him much less information than he offered about himself. I had decided after my recent ill-fated affair  that I was no longer going to give so much of myself away.  I didn’t tell him much about my Italian experience but being a man and French – he filled in the blanks himself.

There was a look of unspoken understanding his eyes.  He shook his head and smiled.  “Something tells me you’re a very strong woman,” he said.   I blinked back the tears. I wasn’t going to go there.  “And stubborn,” he laughed as he gave me an affectionate nudge.  This was a good man I thought.

We talked for another hour on the train back to Paris and the Gare du Nord.  It’s funny. I had shared more with this stranger in two hours than I had with my ex-husband in 20 years of marriage.   Things like this often made me wonder about timing and destiny. Why him, why now, why tonight?  What if we had met … but we hadn’t. So speculation was useless.

Richard had another two-hour drive from Paris back to his country home so he figured he would stop and take a hotel room along the way.  He was too tired to make it in one go,  and he phoned a friend to let her know his situation.  They had planned to have dinner, but it would have to be postponed. He insisted on sharing a taxi so he could drop me off at my hotel and continue on to where his car was parked.

“Say listen, if you ever want to spend time in France – with no complications, just to try it, you’re welcome to stay at my place. I am never there and you can pick up the keys with the neighbor.  I won’t trouble you.”

Something told me this man would not be any trouble at all. On the taxi ride over to my hotel, he held my hand. And as the taxi parked, he ran one of his beautiful hands down the side of my face and under my chin.  As he tipped my face up, he said, “Tu as des beaux yeux, tu sais.”  It was a classic line from the old French film “Quai des brumes.”  Jean Gabin says it to a starry-eyed Michele Morgan.

There was a look of such tenderness and regret in his eyes that I had to look away for a second.  There was no future for us – only now, this moment.  And although the offer of his house was generous, we both knew I wouldn’t be staying in his place in the country (especially not without him I thought) .  Nor would he be staying with me tonight.  I was too tired, both mentally and physically to invite him up.  And so I took his hands in mine,  leaned in,  kissed him  and said – so do you.

Photo: © iStockphoto.com/Richmatts

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