Friday, December 23, 2011

Lululemon: Making the World a Better Place One Garment at a Time

A gift card to Lululemon is on the top of my Christmas list again this year. For the past three years – bi-yearly at my birthday and the Saviors' – I have asked for overpriced athletic wear.

According to Wikipedia, Lululemon Athletica is a self-described, yoga-inspired athletic apparel company, which produces a clothing line that is distributed internationally.

This definition is so sterile, but I can tell you that my personal experience with Lulu workout wear is anything but. The quality of my running and yoga clothes are top-notch and the positive and uplifting philosophy of the company is über cool too.

Our local shop offers yoga classes, workshops, organizes weekly runs; it is so much more than just a retail store.

But, what got me hooked is Luon ® -- Lulu’s signature fabric. The 4-way stretch and pre-shrunk fabric, with a super-duper high Lycra count, holds everything in and makes you look like you’ve spent thousands of dollars getting sculpted with liposuction.

Nothing jiggles or wiggles with Luon ® as your second skin and it doesn’t wear thin. There is nothing worse than seeing butt crack through black workout pants.

Also, the running shorts are made of a wicking fabric called Luxtreme ® which makes them dry faster and feels silky and smooth. I’ve had my “Run: Speed Shorts” for more than a year and I can honestly say that they look brand new.

This technology really works, but there are other personal touches that have made me a huge fan.

I love that they offer free tailoring with purchase.

Also, I had an experience with Lululemon that made me hold the store in the highest esteem.
Almost two years ago, I bought a running bra called the Ta Ta Tamer (how great is that name by the way). Earlier this fall, one of the eyelets came out of the clasp, but it was sewn in under the fabric, and impossible to fix. 

Not really being a seamstress, my friend Rachel suggested that I take it in and ask if the Lulu tailor would darn it for me. I wasn’t confident that would happen but I felt that it couldn’t hurt.

When I explained the situation, the women behind the counter – not even the manager – told me to just go ahead and select a new bra. In shock, I told her that I don’t have my receipt and it was over a year ago that I purchased it. She said she understood and that it was no problem.

Even though I had had the bra for a while, she said it shouldn’t have done that so she would damage it out.

I was blown away when I walked out of the store with a brand new $58 running bra.

Finding good customer service is almost non-existent these days so I was impressed.

The garments may be expensive but the quality is great, lasts a long time and, the fact that the company stands behind its products, makes it all worth the high price tag.

So it was no surprise to me when I also read on Wikipedia that “The original intent of Lululemon was to ‘elevate the world from mediocrity to greatness,’ and since then the mission has become to ‘create components for people to live long, healthy and fun lives.’”

Lululemon Athletica has seven core values that educators employed by the company are expected to articulate and embody. They include: quality, product, integrity, balance, entrepreneurship, greatness and fun. It even has a manifesto which acts as a ‘truth check’ (inspiration), composed of its own beliefs that staff, employees, and surrounding communities are encouraged to be inspired by daily.”

I know everyone and their mother is wearing this line and I don’t usually subscribe to mass trends but, in this case, you would be foolish not to buy this line of active wear.

Not to mention environmentally friendly reusable bags that make the best lunch sacks with the most inspirational sayings on them.

“Life is full of setbacks. Success is determined by how you handle setbacks.”

You only need to look to the NASDAQ to know, but I’d say Lululemon has a success on its hands.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Celebrating Jesus at the Happiest Place on Earth

With only three days until Christmas, the question on everyone’s lips is, “What are you doing for the holidays?”

I have some friends that are headed to the slopes for a white Christmas and some to paradise for a tropical Christmas, but we are headed to Disneyland for a Magic Kingdom Christmas.

When I was growing up, my folks were divorced so I logged a lot of miles at Christmas.

On Christmas Eve, my mom would always have our family on her side at our home for dinner and holiday cheer. Then, in the morning, my Nana would head over and we would open presents. By noon, I was dropped off – and as I got older would drive myself – to my Paternal grandparent’s house where I would open presents and eat dinner number one. Typically, my Dad would be at his parent’s house but, as I got older and my half-sister was born, they wanted to be at their own home for the holiday; Meaning I would jump in my car and head to their house either before or after Grandmom and Pops. Lastly, I would end my day driving to my Nana’s house where the whole maternal-side of the family would open presents and I would have Christmas dinner number two including a second round of deserts.

Whew! By then I would feel almost manic from running around all day, not to mention the fact that I would need to unbutton my pants from all that turkey, ham and pie that I had consumed.

So when I moved to California, I was pleasantly surprised at how calm the holidays were for Jason and me. In the beginning, I would head over to Jason’s parents’ home for Christmas dinner but it was usually later in the day so I had all morning to just relax. To be honest, I didn’t really know what to do with myself and it actually caused the holiday to feel anti-climactic.

So almost 20 years ago, Jason (of course) came up with the brilliant idea to go to Disneyland on Christmas Day and it has been our family tradition ever since.

In the beginning, we would head over to Jason’s folks early in the day and exchange our gifts with them. At that time, in the mid-90s, Disneyland actually offered discounted prices for tickets purchased after 4pm.

Then Jason’s parents purchased their cabin on Lake Mary in Mammoth and would head up there for Christmas, so we began going to Disneyland all day on Christmas Day.

A few revelations:

Yes, it is usually crowded, especially if Christmas falls on a weekend. A lot of Christians – who live out of state – plan their family vacations at that time since the kids are out of school. Not to mention that those of the Jewish – as well as many other non-Christian faiths – feel that it would be a good time to visit “the happiest place on earth.”

Before Sept. 11, it was not unusual to see Islamic people praying toward Mecca in the parking lot.

Side note: I would also like to point out that the urban legend that Disneyland is not crowded on Super Bowl Sunday is a fallacy that I experienced first-hand. I really don’t know if there is ever a holiday in which Disneyland in not crowded. Don’t believe the hype.

In those days, Disneyland was a dry state. However, Jason and I nipped that little problem in the bud by bringing a flask of Captain Morgan rum with us. It goes great with not just coke but lemonade and hot chocolate as well. During those years, when it was a bit nippy outside, a hot toddy went a long way.

One year, before I had a child, and the skin on my heels had been ripped off by about a half-dozen strollers, I actually proclaimed aloud, after a few swigs off the flasks I might add, that children should be banned from Disneyland.

Sad, but true, that we needed alcohol at the happiest place on earth; but we certainly weren’t the only ones subscribing to that belief.

Today, anyone’s cup can runneth over as Disney’s California Adventure and Downtown Disney both serve alcohol.

Jason and I were absolutely consistent with our tradition until I was pregnant with Shane and, it poured rain on that Christmas day, so we didn’t miss much. The following year, it was Shane’s first Christmas and he was only 9 months old. He was still dependent on two naps a day, so we decided to forgo the tradition once again. When Shane was 18 months old, we still felt that he was too young for the whole experience and for us to enjoy the tradition, so we just took him to Rainforest Café and walked around Downtown Disney.

However, the year he was two (and could still get in free), we finally reinstated the tradition. And when he was three, we actually booked a hotel and went for two whole days. No wonder that kid travels well.
Mickey & Shane Christmas 2006
The last two years, we did not go because we did destination Christmas trips instead; however, the last time we did go on Christmas was another rainy day – although the down pours were intermittent – we were prepared and unfazed.

While entering Frontierland, I inadvertently hit a woman with my umbrella. However, because I was under my umbrella, I did not realize this at first. When I did, I apologized profusely. I was surprised when I was met with a bunch of expletives and the threat of getting my ass kicked.

While standing there, frozen in shock, the beast of a woman came after me but slipped on the wet ground and went flying – feet first into the air. By the time she made it up with her husband’s help – she was seeing red and feeling foolish – so she really wanted to kill me.

Sadly, with her family and mine on the side-lines, I called her out. I said, “Just because you feel stupid that you fell, you have no right to assault me. I hit you with my umbrella and I said I was sorry, it was an accident. You are a loser and Merry Christmas.”

With that, I walked away and prayed she wouldn’t attack me from behind. Her husband was restraining her; Jason grabbed Shane and we fled to the safety of New Orleans Square.
I was shaking and glad I didn’t have to go Jersey on her. However, I did the next best thing and reported to her Magic Kingdom security. I was secretly hoping they would force her ride Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride 500 times. Yet, after a few minutes, we forgot all about the incident and continued on with our fun.

Over the years, we have deviated from our Disneyland tradition a bit. We have visited on alternate days with family members or invited close friends to join us. Us Maussers have even traveled all the way to Europe to visit Disneyland Paris and sweated our way through Disneyworld, Epcot and Animal Kingdom.

But, it is always back here in Southern California at Disneyland, that we have the most magical time; and this Christmas will be no exception.

“I don’t want the public to see the world they live in while they are at Disneyland. I want to feel they’re in another world.
All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them.”

                                                                                 -- Walt Disney                                           

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Raising the Bar to Get to the Core of the Problem

Due to my love of running, I have logged almost 250 miles since the beginning of the summer. A majority of these stem from my half marathon training and the rest just to get my body moving.

For the past six months, I think it is safe to say that I haven’t been a couch potato, but I haven’t really done any other exercise.

So, you can imagine my surprise when I caught a glimpse of myself in the full-length mirror of my boudoir and saw that I now have a little pot belly. Visions of those malnourished  UNICEF kids popped into my mind and, the only difference, was that there were no flies buzzing around.

Obviously, the world’s hunger crises is no laughing matter but that was honestly what I thought when I saw my reflection. Although I never go hungry, I haven’t really changed my eating habits so I was perplexed by what I saw. 

A few days later, I was crouched over my keyboard at work – like an outsourced worker from New Delhi – and I realized that I have no core strength right now.

For fear of injury while training, I had cut back on my yoga and – due to the loss of my favorite cardio and core teacher – I had pretty much given up my core strength training; And, after 6 months, it has become a problem.

Now, I know that I am being a tad dramatic, but I truly did have to take action fast. I struggle with minor scoliosis so a strong core keeps my back issues at bay. 

So, two weeks ago, I started back at yoga. Poses that used to be easy now found me shaking like we were having an earthquake. Even though I have been doing my P90X abs routine (don’t ask) every other morning (OK, so I lie…like every third morning), I needed something more.

On Sunday, I decided to try a class at my gym called Bar Blast. The class, which borrows from the bar-style workout, blending elements of ballet, Pilates and body sculpting, boasts the ability to improve posture and flexibility in addition to creating a lean, firm and sculpted body.

I was a bit nervous and skeptical since I am so not coordinated – just the word ballet made me flash back to Mrs. Jeffries Ballet School and my inability to learn the Little Ducky dance; hey but I’m a grown up now, so I was willing to give it a try.

It had been a long time since I had tried a new class at the gym and it is always daunting.  My first thought had been how will we do these fancy ballet moves at the bar…hmmm? There is no bar attached to the wall at our gym. Then when I walked in I realized that they were talking about weighted fitness bars.

Ahhhh, I guess I have to live up to the blond hair at times.

Also, I showed up in running shoes and without a yoga mat. I quickly realized my faux pas; the pliés required bare feet unless I donned toe shoes and a lot of Pilates moves required the mat. I borrowed one of the small mats that just barely comforted the back of my head and butt. And it was sliding all over the place, but that was the only minor travesty.

The class went amazingly well.

It started off with some basic warm up moves and then transitioned to working with light free weights with so many reps that I thought my arms would fall off and then moved on to working with the bar and finally tapering off with some major floor work.

I was impressed and, although I am sore today, I did not get injured.

The class was hard enough that I was sweating and felt challenged but in a low impact way.  It certainly raised the bar on my normal core workouts.

I never realized the true meaning of core strength until I had a baby because, after giving birth, I didn't have any stomach muscles that worked.  With a lot of hard work, tears and sweat, I was able to get my abs back after being pregnant.  My days of a six pack may be long gone, but I plan to get my core strong again to stave off any back injuries due to my curved spine and, of course, to look fit.

Bar Blast may be my new favorite class and it will be no holds barred.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Back in the Saddle Again

Hello family, friends,, uh, crickets.
By now, I'm not really sure if anyone is still out there.  Unfortunately, I got bogged down with the holidays and posting to my blog fell way down on the list of my priorities.  The good news is that I should be able to climb back into the saddle again and begin posting with some sort of normal frequency.

While I was gone, I attended a social media conference and was able to get some great feedback and ideas about how to improve All Things Fashionating. 

So, during this time of reflection and optimism, I am hoping that ATF will start the new year off with a bang with plans to grow it even more in 2012.

Please join me for another crazy ride into All Things Fashionating.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Crushing Hard: Pucci Prints

Ever since my time at Betsey Johnson, I have been dreaming of the day when an original Emilio Pucci print was mine.  Betsey did a collection of Pucci-inspired clothing when I worked in her New York boutique.  I loved the hip, bohemian feel of the mini-skirts, dresses, cat suits and cigarette pants.  It was so cool man, but it just wasn't the real deal.

So you could imagine my surprise when I set out for my annual Christmas shopping at the outlets with one of my best gal pals Lynngweeny.  After a long day of successful shopping, we found ourselves at Saks Fifth Avenue Off Fifth in the 11th hour of our pilgrimage.  I hit the jackpot big there, but my biggest score was an original Emilio Pucci print scarf.  Conveniently, I bought one as a gift and one for myself.

The colors of one scarf in particular were maroon, pink, black and gold which only lent oodles of compliment to the mod print.  It was just out of this world; It had to be mine.  And, without too much contemplation, it was.

Merry Christmas to me!