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Tuesday, May 31, 2016

My Interview With Alana Stewart

I had the pleasure and opportunity to interview Alana Stewart. She is the president of The Farrah Fawcett Foundation, an author, actress and model (Merely for point of reference, she is also the former spouse of actor, George Hamilton and singer, Rod Stewart). 

The ringing of my cell phone set my nerves on edge. I'd never really interviewed anyone before and interviewing a person, who meant a lot to me, was exhilarating and unsettling all at once. A woman named Christine answered, and said hello at least twice before any words would leave my lips. “This is Lauren, Alana’s expecting me to call her.” When another voice came through the phone, it sounded chipper and bright. This hello, I did hear. It was one of Alana Stewart. As Alana and I said our hello’s and got established in our conversation, I began to feel more comfortable.

Do you want me to just jump into it?

Sure! Let’s do it.

What was it like moving from Texas to New York, at such a young age?

I actually moved to Houston first, which was a much bigger city than Nacogdoches (the tiny town I was raised in), but it was still very different from New York. Especially, back in those days! I look back on it and I wonder why I wasn't terrified! I think when we're young we don't get scared of those things- it was just a big adventure to me!

What has been the biggest challenge in your life?

Certainly, a big challenge for me was when I came down with Epstein Barr virus, after I had my two youngest children. It kind of debilitated my health for a long period of time. I never really fully recuperated from it. I still have some of the effects of chronic fatigue syndrome and have to be careful to conserve my energy. It was a challenge raising children and not being a hundred percent strong and healthy. I would be exhausted and couldn't be out in the yard playing baseball with my children, as much as I would have liked. I was a person who was very energetic all my life. It was hard for me not to be as active.

Do you have any advice for someone suffering through something similar?

I saw a lot of holistic doctors. There were some doctors who thought it was all in your head (before it started to be recognized as a real condition). I think for me, it slowly started to turn around, when I went to an Ayurvedic clinic outside of Boston, that Deepak Chopra was running at the time. He was helpful in getting me into meditation and some alternative healing. That was kind of the beginning of my journey. I talk about it in my book, Rearview Mirror. I think a lot of healing has to do with our minds (and emotions).

What has been one of your proudest moments?

I think having my children is probably the most life changing thing that's ever happened to me and the most rewarding. My children, have great hearts and they have their ups and downs and struggles and challenges in life, as we all do. But, they haven't had a particularly easy time, which might be surprising to a lot of people. I'm very proud of all of them and the people they've become. Even though I haven't always been the perfect mom, being a mother is what I'm most proud of.

Who would you say is your celebrity crush?

My celebrity crush? That's a good question! I haven't thought about that. I don't think that I have one! There are a lot of celebrities that I admire. I don't think there is anyone that I'm obsessed with. Or that I follow everything they do. I think it's because I know what this whole life is about. I know that being a celebrity isn't what it's cut out to be. However, I do admire celebrities that do something, such as charity work or are doing things to help other people. For example, Elton John, a dear friend of mine, is someone that walks the talk, as exemplified by his work with AIDS.

What is your favorite movie?

I would have to say my favorite movie of all time is probably, Gone With the Wind. And What About Bob is one of the funniest movies that I've ever seen.

Is there a book that you have read over and over again, that you'd recommend to a friend?

A book I love, that I read every day, is A Year of Miracles: Daily Devotions and Reflections by Marianne Williamson.

I've read some of that and I can see how applying it to your everyday life is extremely helpful. Especially, when you're going through a tough time.

Definitely, it's helpful. Along with this magazine that I read everyday, The Daily Word. I read a lot of passages from it and find a lot of the things very inspiring.

Can you tell me about the work you do at the foundation?

Farrah was one of my dearest friends and when she got cancer -it was just such a shock because no one expected it. She was so full of life. It just really made me see that cancer doesn't play favorites. Anyone can get it. Through those three years of being very close to her, (during the time that she fought cancer) I learned so much. I realized I’d been looking for something to do, to give back and that was a way for me to. After Farrah passing, becoming president of her foundation became a very important part of my life. I’m proud of the work we've done at the foundation. We have an alliance with Stand Up To Cancer and we're working very hard to fight HPV related cancers. We are educating people to better understand how it can cause cancer, and what can be done to prevent it. We also help people that are currently fighting cancer; people that might be in trouble financially. We have patient assistance funds at various institutes around the country. We give money to those institutions and they have people there who designate, who need the funds. Sometimes people are getting treatments and they can't even pay for their own parking.

When you're going through a rough patch in your life, what helps you get through?

Prayer. And turning to spiritual literature. I keep a journal of different things that I’ve read, that have inspired me spiritually. I also have a few people on my spiritual support team that I'll always go to when I have a real challenge.

Why do you believe that spirituality is so important and how does it impact your daily life?

It's part of my routine now. I get up every morning and read my spiritual readings for the day. I then meditate on them. I don't always do yoga, but I try to do it a few times a week. When I get up in the morning and when I get home at the end of the day. Just a short session, not anything long. I don't always have the time because I'm in the office nearly everyday and am very busy. It's so important to begin my morning in a spiritual way. When I can't, it really throws me off. When you first wake up, you're the most receptive. In my opinion, if you just get up and turn on the TV, and start reading the newspapers, you're filling your mind with a lot of negativity. It's very important to put something more positive and spiritual into your brain.

Do you have a favorite quote?

There's one I love by Meister Eckhart. You could look it up to get the exact wording, but I think it’s- if the only words you ever said were thank you, that would suffice. It speaks so much to me about gratitude. No matter what's going on in our life- if we can get our eyes off the negative and look at the positive, it really can shift things. Just being grateful can actually change your life. It can be easy to focus on what’s wrong in our lives and it’s hard to pull ourselves back and look at what's going right. Sometimes there's very little going right. But if you can find that (something positive) and just start to focus on it – it’s like – being grateful is a magnet. You know? The more you can be grateful for what you have, the more the universe tends to bring into your life.

What is your skincare regimen?

I feel like simple is best. I get facial treatments. I have a woman who uses this machine that helps stimulate your cells and firm the skin. I use very simple creams on my face. Since I've been doing the foundation work, I've learned that there are a lot of things we put on our body and on our face that actually have really bad ingredients. I'm very particular about what I put on my skin now. I look for things that have pure ingredients. I moisturize my face and I put on body lotions. I mix coconut and almond oil together and I'll use it after I get out of the shower. I also like argon oil.

Who is your favorite designer?

For evening wear, I love Oscar de le Renta gowns. I think they're just beautiful. DVF is a terrific designer. She’s a friend of mine. I wear a lot of Helmut Lang and Rag and Bone for more casual wear. I also like Pucci and some things by Stella McCartney. I don't buy a lot of designer things- because they're too expensive these days.

A lot of it is made in China.

Exactly, I shop in a lot of stores that have a lot of different designers-Where you can find cute, fashionable things.

How would you describe your style?

I love fashion, but also don't think women should be a slave to every latest trend. I would say, that my style is elegant and edgy all at the same time.

What is a modeling memory that you have?

I started modeling for Eileen Ford in New York, and one of my earliest memories is going in front of Diana Vreeland and trying on clothes. I mean, she was this fashion icon. I was so happy to be able to meet her! I don't think she paid much attention to me - but she just sort of would wave her hand to go onto the next outfit. It was certainly exciting for a young model! The first runway show I ever did was for Valentino and he's a friend of mine now.

When your daughter Kimberly decided to follow in your footsteps and become a model, how did you react and what were your thoughts?

Well, I didn't want her to start out too young, but as of 17, I was fine with it. I would've loved for her to have gone to college, but she chose not to. I don't believe in forcing kids to do something. Once they're 18, it's really hard to force them to do something they don't want to do. My kids are all very headstrong, none of them wanted to go to college. None of them loved school that much. They all seemed to want to go in various directions of the arts. I was always of the thinking that it was important for them to be doing what they loved, and doing what they're passionate about. So, I was fine with her modeling. I just wanted my daughter to have something that she could move into, as modeling is a fairly short lived career.

What was it like being a part of Studio 54?

It was an incredible time. People had so much fun. I only went when I was in New York, which wasn't often. It was the first of its kind and was just a really fun, lighthearted period. I think a lot of people became much more cautious and serious, once the whole AIDS epidemic started. It was harmless fun- somewhere you could go and dance ‘till all hours. I loved Steve Rubell (who was one of the owners). It was nice to have a place to go and hang out with your friends.

Who or what inspires you?

What inspires me is, people who do things that really contribute to the world. People who get out of themselves and do something bigger. That's the kind of thing that I want to be able to do. I want to be able to, no matter how small a level it's on, give something back to other people. If I can share my own experience, share my own strength and share my hope with other people...If even only a handful get something from it, I still feel like I've accomplished something worthwhile. I believe we are all here to give back to the universe. We're not just here to live our little small selfish lives, and you know, die and turn to dust. I think its nice to be able to leave something, no matter how small it is. To do something for other people. Working for The Farrah Fawcett Foundation is a big part of my life and a big passion. Doing whatever we can to help to find a cure for cancer, or better treatments, or make people more aware of prevention techniques, is something I find truly inspiring.

What is next for you?

I have no idea what's next for me. I just put it in God's hands and wait to be guided to the next step. I will always be involved with The Farrah Fawcett Foundation, no matter what, because my heart is in it. I'd love to do another show with my family, but who knows if that will happen. The other thing I'd love to do is a women's talk show.

Thank you Alana for allowing me to interview you. 

Click the links below to learn more about the foundation and to keep in touch with Alana

The Farrah Fawcett Foundation




Click here to read my blog on Alana's book, My Journey With Farrah: A Story of Life, Love and Friendship.

As always, if you have any questions, leave a comment below or feel free to email me at TheZenFashionista@Gmail.Com :)

If you would like to subscribe to my blog, I would really appreciate it! You can click the subscribe tab at the top of this page, or give it to me personally. 

Until next time,


Monday, May 23, 2016

What's On Your Wish List?

Happy Monday! Below, are a list of items I put together that are on my wish list currently. What is on yours? 

1. The Balm Mary-Lou Manizer - $24.00

I love makeup. I find it to be a form of artistic expression. I keep hearing such great things about this highlighter and so this product definitely makes the list. It's also cruelty free and vegan. 

2. Girl Boss - On sale for $9.00

Sophia is the founder of Nasty Gal, a multi-million dollar fashion retailer. She tells her "rags to riches" story and empowers young women to become their own "Girl Boss." This book came out in 2014 and I've been meaning to read it for a while now...Making it one of my summer reads!

3. Essential Oil Diffuser Necklace (This design is currently sold out, but prices average between $20.00-30.00)

Being as natural and into holistic medicine and essential oils as I am, I think a diffuser necklace is so cool!  I found an OM necklace on Drops Of Joy Jewelry and for each necklace purchased, $2.00 is donated to St. Jude Children's Hospital. Check out their site to see the variety they have, which includes bracelets! -And when you sign up for their newsletter, you receive a $5.00 off coupon!

4. Natalie Perfume - $95.00 ($25.00 for the purse roll on)

This next item is very special to me. This perfume is named after Natalie Wood, one of my favorite actresses. Her daughter, Natasha has recreated her signature perfume with a modern and natural twist. Gardenia is the signature note, as it was Natalie's favorite. The smell of Natalie's perfume is one of the strongest memories her children have of their mother. This fragrance is at the top of my birthday wish list this year and I cannot wait to have it in my possession. 
5. Sanuk Yoga Dawn Sandals $58.00

A friend of mine told me about this shoe company a few years ago. Their sandals are made from eco-friendly materials such as old yoga mats. I took a look at their current inventory and found a pair I liked. 

6. Alex and Ani Butterfly Ring Wrap - $28.00 (Comes in three colors)

I really do enjoy Alex and Ani. It's so much fun to have "personalized" jewelry. It reminds me of the early 2000s when I used to go to Limited Too and get charm links for my Italian charm bracelet.   
Alex and Ani have really expanded their line of jewelry and I recently went into one of their stores and fell in love with this ring.

7. Gold Print Elephant Ring Holder - $12.00 

Rings are one of my favorite accessories. Being an elephant lover as well, how could I not love this ring holder??

Have you ever tried the Mary-Lou Manizer or Sanuk sandals? What is on your wish list right now? 

As always, if you have any questions, leave a comment below or feel free to email me at TheZenFashionista@Gmail.Com :)

If you would like to subscribe to my blog, I would really appreciate it! You can comment your email below or give it to me personally. If for some reason, you are already subscribed and are not receiving an email in your inbox, check your spam folder.

Until next time,


Monday, May 16, 2016

17 Movies I Recommend You Watch...

Happy Monday! This week I am sharing seventeen of my favorite movies with you. I decided to put them in order of when they were released. 

1. Gone with the Wind (1939)

I happen to be a big fan of Clark Gable. This film is a classic. For those that haven't seen this, I highly recommend it. Set during the civil war, the main character is a strong willed girl who we see transform into a woman as the war pushes against her and she has to make tough decisions. 

2. Imitation of Life (1959 remake)

This movie is one of my all time favorites. It has an all star cast: Lana Turner, Juanita Moore, Sandra Dee, etc

A single white mother aspires to be a major star. She meets an African American widow (also a mother), who ends up becoming the caretaker of her daughter. The movie touches upon race, class, gender and what it was like in the fifties. The original film stars Claudette Colbert and it is based on a book by Fannie Hurst. 

3. Guess Who's Coming To Dinner (1967 original)

Yes, I have seen the remake, but I hold the original much closer to my heart. I mean a movie with Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy is an automatic yes from me. And then you have Sidney Poitier, who I just love. 

A white woman and a black doctor become engaged and go to visit her parents. Her parents disapprove of the engagement and it's pretty evident that his do too. The main plot is set around the dinner and the acceptance of something so controversial during that time period. 

4. Sleeper (1973)

My father introduced me to this movie when I was quite young. I loved that it takes place in the future. It stars Woody Allen and Diane Keaton. The main character played by Allen dies during a surgery in 1973 and is brought back to life 200 years later after being cryogenically frozen.

5. Gable and Lombard (1976) 

Starring James Brolin and Jill Clayburgh...This movie tells the story of how Clark Gable and Carole Lombard fell in love. I love movies actually based on celebrities lives, and Gable and Lombard have a truly beautiful, yet tragic love story.

6. Brewster's Millions (1985)

This was another film introduced to me by my father. When I stayed home from school sick, he liked to give me movie recommendations. Initially, being someone not interested in sports, I thought this movie would be boring, but it became one of my favorites. A lot of wonderful actors are cast in this, including Richard Pryor. It's about a man who loses his job as a minor-league pitcher and learns that he has inherited 300 million dollars. In order to inherit it all though, he must spend thirty million in thirty days. Of course there are stipulations and rules for how the money can be spent and he can't let anyone know about the inheritance. 

7. Jack (1996)

Karen Powell gives birth to a boy whose body ages four times faster than the normal rate. With her husband, Brian, Karen raises their son, Jack who appears to be a 40-year-old man when he is only ten. Though Jack ages rapidly, physically, he is mentally and emotionally still a young boy, which causes him considerable difficulty. Eventually, Jack gains the support of his peers, which helps him live a fuller life. Jack is played by Robin Williams. 

8. What a Girl Wants (2003)

On a impulse, an American teenager named Daphne takes a plane to England to find her father. A man whom she has never met. Upon arriving there, she learns that the man she's looking for is a member of the British upper class, who is running for political office. The father, who had no idea his free spirited teenage daughter existed, must now learn how to be make up for lost time, while keeping up his public appearance. 

9. Jersey Girl (2004)

After his career is sidelined by an unforeseen tragedy and an outburst that costs him his career, a single man must raise his young daughter. I've watched this movie so many times. It's a really touching movie. It stars Ben Affleck, George Carlin, and Liv Tyler. 

10. Yours, Mine and Ours (2005 remake)

Widowed father of eight moves his family back to the town he grew up in, and runs into an old flame at his high school reunion. They re-kindle what they once had and he soon learns that she is also a widow and with ten kids! They end up merging their families together, but the children have other plans. Unhappy with their parents new found romance, they sabotage the relationship as much as they possibly can. This results in hilarious antics and heartwarming moments. The remake stars Dennis Quaid and Rene Russo. 

11. I Could Never Be Your Woman (2007)

A 40 year old producer casts a younger man in her failing TV show. The ratings instantly go up and the two wind up pursuing one another. The older woman however, has to come to terms with her own insecurities in regards to dating someone younger than her. This movie stars Michelle Pfeiffer and Paul Rudd. 

12. Mamma Mia! (2008)

Based on the Broadway play, a young girl who is to be married in a few days, starts to question her identity. She feels she can't possibly know who she is without knowing who her father is. Growing up on an island in Greece with only her mother she can't help but be curious. She finds her mother's old diary and decides to invite all three of her possible fathers. Her mother has no idea this is happening, and when they all arrive, chaos ensues. 

13. Just Go With It (2011)

Adam Sandler plays a man who has his heart broken once and vows to never have it broken again. He fabricates a story about having an unhappy marriage every time he meets a woman, and never has more than a one night stand with them. When he meets a young lady he actually likes, he creates a whole web of lies involving his office assistant and her children. 

14. New Year's Eve (2011)

New Years Eve follows the lives of numerous people on New Years Eve in New York, who are all connected to one another in some way. Filled with lots of recognizable stars, drama, hope, and love, it's a must see. 

15. Pitch Perfect (2012)

Pitch Perfect is a comedy, following a young woman who wants to be a music producer. Her father, a professor at her university insists that she go to college. He finds out she has been skipping class, and decides to make her a deal. He tells her he wants her to join a club and that if she sticks with it for a year and she decides college is not for her, that he will fund her move to Los Angeles to pursue her dreams. She ends up joining an acapella team and that is where the real story begins.  

16. Blended (2014)

Blended is a movie about a recently widowed man and a divorced woman. Their friends push them to go on a blind date, which goes horribly wrong. They end up running into each other on a vacation in South Africa with their children, and spend a lot more time together than they would like. And who knows, they may even form a friendship after all!

17. This Is Where I Leave You (2014)

When their father passes away, four siblings return home for the funeral. Their mother convinces them to stay for a week, and this forces them to bond with one another. The cast includes Jane Fonda, Tina Fey, Jason Bateman, Adam Driver, Rose Byrne, Connie Britton, etc. 

Which of these movies have you seen? What are some of your favorite movies?

As always, if you have any questions, leave a comment below or feel free to email me at TheZenFashionista@Gmail.Com :)

If you would like to subscribe to my blog, I would really appreciate it! You can comment your email below or give it to me personally. If for some reason, you are already subscribed and are not receiving an email in your inbox, check your spam folder.

Until next time,


Monday, May 9, 2016

Meeting Paula Abdul

This past week I got to meet one of my role models, Paula Abdul. I've been a fan of Paula's for thirteen years. One of the reasons I'm so inspired by her is because we share the same neurological condition, RSD. There were moments where I was literally crawling on the floor in tears because I could not stand on my left foot. Moments like those are when I would look to Paula for strength and inspiration. She's such a positive person who always shows gratitude and makes her dreams a reality.

On Wednesday, May 4, 2016, Paula spoke at The Lois Linden Nelson Woman's World event. Paula was the featured guest and they honored holocaust survivor, Henrietta Weisberg. 

One of the main topics of Paula's talk was on adversity. She told us how she got her start as a Laker girl, overcame an eating disorder, about the plane crash she was in, and stories about her family...such as her sister being diagnosed with cancer and her dad having Alzheimer's. It was a very emotional hour! I was moved by all that she had to say. 

Some key points from Paula's talk:

She was born premature. Almost twelve weeks early. She weighed under three pounds and had breathing problems. Every time she would cry, she would faint. Her older sister would find ways to make her laugh instead. 

As a cheerleader at age 17, Paula suffered an injury. From then on she suffered from chronic pain. Years later, at the height of her music career, she was in a plane crash. She was told she crushed her entire cervical spine and went on to have 15 surgeries and her entire cervical spine fused. Much later she was diagnosed with RSD; Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy. Through one of her surgeries, her vocal chords were damaged. She didn't have a speaking voice and had to go through various speech pathology treatments for two years. She was scared that people would look at her as "damaged goods" and so she kept it all a secret. According to Paula what that did, was isolate her. Paula says there came a point where she realized this was not just going to go away, but she prayed that their was a better outcome. Growing up her parents instilled an attitude of gratitude in her and she found that her mindset was very important in her chronic pain journey. 

When Paula was very young, at age seven, her parents divorced. When she was eight, she began taking dance lessons.  Her dance teacher made a comment about her legs being stubby (she also said Paula was better than the rest of the kids, but all Paula heard was that her body was terrible) and it started her on a path of negative thoughts about her body/ self image. When she was in high school, she developed a full blown eating disorder. There were times where she had a reprise, but then it would creep up on her again. In 1994, Paula took it upon herself to get the help she needed. Three tools she took away from her stay at the clinic were to accept the size and shape she was born with, not to skip meals and to exercise for a maximum of an hour a day. 

Now, for the story of how Paula got her big break. Paula went to audition to be a dancer for the Los Angeles Laker's basketball team. You had to be 18, so Paula lied about her age. She remembered the mantra that she was taught growing up, "No is just the beginning of a negotiation." She was cut after just thirty seconds, but decided to re-register under a different name. Again....she was cut.  The second time getting the chance to dance. Third time's a charm, because she re entered after changing her clothes and rearranging her hair and made the team. Paula said that if anyone tells you no, it should be the beginning of your pursuit, not the end. 
Within three months of being on the team, she was selected as head choreographer. She ended up leaving college to pursue her dance career. That decision would soon pay off because during one of the basketball games, her choreographing skills caught the attention of the Jackson 5. She was then hired as the assistant dance director for their tour. Afterwards, she started choreographing for many stars and worked on the Tracey Ullman show. She even was awarded an Emmy for the dance work that she did. She used her savings to create a demo which in turn earned her a recording contract. In 1988, her first album titled, Forever Your Girl was released. Four out of the ten tracks became number one hits. The success continued and she went on to win a Grammy award for her Opposites Attract music video. 

Paula also talked about her Jewish identity and her first visit to Israel. She described a moment at the Western Wall in Jerusalem where two doves flew overhead as she put her note into the wall. While she was in Israel, she had a Bat Mitzvah. The trip in her own words was, "magical and emotional."

Paula works with We Day, a youth empowerment event organized by Free the Children and is a supporter of many animal rescue organizations, NEDA (National Eating Disorder Association) and charities pertaining to Alzheimer's and cancer.    

Paula teamed up with Avon and created a video to raise awareness for cancer prevention. Her older sister Wendy is a breast cancer survivor. Currently, her dad is suffering from Alzheimer's. She recently attended "Part the Cloud Gala"which was hosted by the Alzheimer's Association. 

Avon Foundation "Check Yourself" Video

After Paula's talk, I had the opportunity to meet her. Let me just say, this was not easy. It took lots of phone calls, emails, prayers, etc. But in the end, it happened! A lot of people expected me to be nervous when meeting her, but I felt like I was talking with a dear friend. Paula has this calming energy and makes you feel that she truly values the time she spends with you. She hugged me and kissed my cheek numerous times and you could just feel the warmth and love radiating from her. She was a genuinely sweet woman and I am so fortunate that I got to spend a little time with her. 

Paula hugs are seriously so lovely!

She told me that she was proud of me for my work with mentoring people afflicted with RSD and for raising awareness. 

Paula recognized that I was wearing a necklace from her HSN jewelry line. :)

Who are some of the people that inspire you? Let me know in the comments :)

As always, if you have any questions, leave a comment below or feel free to email me at TheZenFashionista@Gmail.Com :)

If you would like to subscribe to my blog, I would really appreciate it! You can comment your email below or give it to me personally. If for some reason, you are already subscribed and are not receiving an email in your inbox, check your spam folder.

Until next time,