Adele, Interviews with Adele, Karl Lagerfield, Self-confidence, Self-Esteem, Strong Women, Wisdom

10 Reasons Adele Rocks Interviews

The other day I came across an article from iVillage titled “The Real Sizes of Famous Women.” Adele, the Grammy Award winning singer, was the first beautiful woman shown in the gallery. I really like Adele’s soulful sound and often wondered how a young woman could translate her hurt and life’s lessons into such beautiful music. Because of the themes in her songs I looked upon her as a strong woman. 
After reading “the Real Sizes…” I had another ten reasons to love Adele and she grew ten times stronger.  A very succinct quote accompanied her curvaceous photo. Now that’s what I’m talking about, rang through my head. Her words were so on the mark that I tweeted it. 
“I don’t want to be some skinny Minnie with my tits out. I don’t want people confusing what it is that I’m about.”
Throughout the day the quote was retweeted. Women and men identified with her perspective. It made me feel good to know that others believed that too. People are so much more than their clothes, body structure, and looks.
But Karl Lagerfield didn’t think that. A few months back he began to say that Adele was the “thing” of the moment and ended up saying she was fat but she had a divine voice.
After Lagerfield’s “a little too fat” quote hit the air, I think he went into hiding, thought twice about it and looked for the nearest spin doctor to concoct an apology. Too late. Flurries of interviews, tweets, and magazine articles repeated the quote. Even ‘my’  Anderson Cooper interviewed Adele for a “60 Minutes Overtime”  segment. The infamous quote was repeated in that and several other interviews.
His quote reminded me of a phrase I heard more than twice in my teens…’but you have such a pretty face.’ I never did have a comeback to these comments, except to roll my eyes at my mother. When she started on my own daughter I added a little more than the rolling of eyes, but nothing like Adele’s words. 
Adele was cool, self assured. During those interviews she gave us insightful words of wisdom which evidenced her self-confidence. Her healthy  perspective gave us more bits of wisdom filled with positive self-image and strength. 
These are 10 quotes from Adele that rocked those interviews: 
  1. “I’ve never seen magazine covers or music videos and been like, ‘I need to look like that to be a success.’ 
  2. “Even if I did have, you know, a ‘Sports Illustrated’ body, I’d still wear elegant clothes.”
  3. She offered this to young girls and women, who are bombarded with images of skinny-mini models: The first thing to do is be happy with yourself and appreciate your body– only then should you try to change things about yourself.
  4. “Exploiting yourself sexually is not a good look.”  

     6. “I like having my hair and face done, but I’m not going to lose weight because someone tells me to. I make music to be a musician not to be on the cover of Playboy.”

     7.  “I’ve never had a problem with the way I look. I’d rather have lunch with my friends than go to a gym.

     8. I don’t want to go on a diet, I don’t want to eat a Caesar salad with no dressing, why would I   do that? I ain’t got time for this, just be happy and don’t be stupid.

 I’m very partial to #8-10. I wish I had this list on the tip of my tongue when I heard my own “fat” phrase roll off my mother’s ‘just trying to be helpful’ tongue. Although I haven’t heard these comments in the last few years, I think I’ll have them ready if I ever hear similar phrases. 

California Department of Corrections, Female Offenders, Training Academy, Wisdom

What I Learned in Prison: Women in Front and Behind Bars #5

photo via Colorado Int’ School

When you want to learn a new language, experts say that ‘immersion’ programs work faster and better than taking semi-regular classes. This applies to working in the law enforcement field. A couple of weeks ago I talked about the initial training I received when I began my career in corrections. Much of the training was OJT-on the job, not only training from other staff members but also the female offenders or wards, as we called them back in the ’80’s.

                                             The full immersion program is known as the Academy. 

It’s the same concept as a military boot camp or a police academy. You are there to learn discipline, the language, customs, and rules of the Department. Notice I capitalized ” Academy” and “Department.” That’s how certain things are referred to in quasi-military training academies. In this regimented world, you can bet that it wasn’t welcoming to women. Most of the women who worked in the prisons were nurses, teachers, social workers, or  MTA’s (Medical Technical Assistant).

It was a man’s world. And I don’t say this in a negative, judgmental sense. It is what it is (or was in those days). In my class, there were five women out of sixty men.  An outcome of having few women in the Academy was that we were tested more often than men, to see ‘what we were made of.’ Consequently, we tried harder, sometimes acted more masculine than needed, and often times tried to outdo our male classmates. 

The Academy stressed that the trainers objective was to get a person ready to work in a high-stress environment as safely as possible. It was drilled into us that order and safety were the priorities. 

                                               How can you supervise inmates if you’re dead, 

one of the instructors said. Made sense to me. After the first week, one of the women dropped out. 

The classroom lectures were reinforced by the dozens of ‘war stories’ one hears during breaks and from the veteran training staff teaching said, classes. The field trips to the closest correctional facility: Duel Vocational Institute-DVI, frighteningly referred to as “gladiator school,” further reinforced why one needed to pay attention in class, learn the self-defense techniques, proper handcuffing, and so on. 

Again, all this made sense to me as a twenty-one-year-old, that is until we were told about the tear gas shack. Say what? 

An older guy, in his thirties, told me that the trainers were going to herd us into a shack and then shoot tear gas through the open windows. His buddy, an earlier cadet, told him about the scenario. 

                                           Don’t worry, I went through this in Nam. Piece of cake.

He told me to cover my face with a handkerchief, close my eyes and run. “You’re going to be disoriented, but run in a straight line.” My first reaction was “Hell No.” 

My second thought was the idea of me sobbing from the stinging chemical, laying in the middle of the tear gas shack and all the men standing outside shaking their heads, saying “That’s why women shouldn’t be allowed to work for the Department.”

 “Oh, hell no.”   I swiped a hand towel from the women’s bathroom and stuffed it in my pocket. 

 The scenario played out exactly like my Viet Nam friend said. Twenty of us were herded into a 16×16 wooden building and told to line up against the wall-I was the first and only woman in the group. Two open windows were on opposing walls. 
                                         Two tear gas canisters will be shot into the windows,

our instructor said and pointed to each window. “Your objective? Make it out the door over there.”
“Where are our gas masks, sir?” a male cadet asked. The trainer smirked in response. My VN friend elbowed me and whispered “cover yourself as soon as you hear the shotgun sound. When you get outside, kneel down and take in some air.” I listened for the sound and ran like a bat out of hell. 

The tear gas stung like a swarm of bees. Immediately, the eyes and nose gushed with tears and mucus. I felt like dropping to the ground. My friend and I crashed through that front door first and fell forward on our knees, gasping for breath. 

A few guys didn’t make it out and the trainers, in their gas masks, went into the building to haul them out. One of the cadets asked the trainers, “why did we have to do this without gas masks?”

                                    So you know how it feels to use this on a human being. It’s not a toy.

That was the best moral lesson I learned in the Academy. Treat others as human beings regardless of the circumstances. Sometimes you learn wisdom in the most roundabout ways, like in a tear gas shack. It’s a lesson I carried with me and hope I never forget. 

For former post in this Wednesday series click on:
First post  in “What I Learned in Prison…”
Second post
Third post
Fourth post

If you have any questions about life inside please share in the comment section. 

Denise Oliver Velez, Family, Latinas, Parenting, Strong Women, Wisdom, Women of Color, Women's History Month

How Every Woman Contributes to Women’s History Month

             Each time a girl opens a book and reads a womanless history, she learns she is worth less. – Myra Pollack Sadker

March is Women’s History Month. How we arrived to setting aside this month to highlight women’s contributions in history is a 34 year road. Longer if we consider that International Women’s Day began in 1911 in Europe.

The purpose of Women’s History Month is to increase consciousness and knowledge of women’s history: to take one month of the year to remember the contributions of notable women, in hopes that the day will soon come when it’s impossible to teach or learn history without remembering these contributions. 

Recognizing the achievements of women in all facets of life – science, community, government, literature, art, sports, medicine – has a huge impact on the development of self-respect and new opportunities for girls and young women.

Most of us who attended high school and college in the early 80’s until present or have children in school easily recognize some of the most notable achievements that are highlighted during this month.

But how do we, as ‘non-famous’ ordinary everyday men and women fit into women’s history?

In our own lives, we can make women’s histories personal. We have a huge resource in our own families. This month can be a time when we discover the stories about our own mothers, grandmothers, and great grandmothers. 
In turn we share our discoveries with our children so they can better understand their lives, the challenges they faced, and who they are as a result. We can easily start these conversations (okay, maybe there will be an eye roll or two when we start talking about grandma’s day) with our kids. And which kid doesn’t enjoy asking his/her parent about how life was without PC’s in every home or a cell phone. Recognizing the strength and accomplishments of women in our own families and those from other backgrounds leads to higher self-esteem among girls and greater respect among boys and men.
A multi-cultural perspective is also important to pass onto our children. 
An extensive selection of women in the military, Civil War, Science, and Politics can be found in the National Archives. An interesting article on  Native American women’s contributions in women’s history, written by Denise Oliver Velez, goes beyond Sacajawea. This article on five Latina contributions describes authors, activists, and artists. Huffington Post lists more achievements by Latinas. In the blog “Race Relations,” the entire month is devoted to remembering women of color.
I hope your children have WHM events in their schools. Take a few minutes to talk with them about what they’ve learned about women’s contributions. And sometime this week, sit down and tell them your own stories, your mother’s stories, or her mother’s stories. Let them hear about adversities, their values, and the triumphs of women who are important to them every day not just one month out of the year. 
acceptance, moving forward, past, present, Wisdom

Putting the P.A.S.T where it belongs

Have you ever been somewhere and something you hear presses a button that catapults you into the past? Sometimes it’s a good memory, often times a bad one-something you’d rather forget but it continues to haunt you.

Often times you can repeat a mantra of sorts that someone told you that’s supposed to lift you out of the past and back into the present. Maybe something like “Move on…” (My personal ‘HATE IT’ phrase), or “It’s been months…” Well maybe for you. “Deal with it already…” And you’re supposed to be my friend?! These do not work and most of the time you just want someone to listen, not judge, not fix, not take the feeling away. (Well, honestly you might want them to take the feeling away).

There are times you may not divulge this lapse into the past when someone asks you why you’re sad or wistful because you don’t want to see their reactions, ‘oh, there she goes again…’ Even when you agree with your listeners of the ‘move on’ mantra it can still be hard to move out of the past and forward into the present..

So this was on my mind while I was walking my dog. Something clicked. When said trigger is pushed what if I can remember to repeat an acronym for ‘PAST?’

P: stay in the Present, it matters and can Point you in the direction you want to follow.
A: Accept and Acknowledge the trigger and Advance into your present and future.
S: Stuff or Sh*t happens and it happens to many many people, it’s not individual to you. Sack it.
T: Time is precious, finite, wonderful; don’t let it slip by while you’re in the back room rehashing the event.

Don’t let the past define you. A snippet from this poem says it well:
I Believe…
That our background and circumstances
may have influenced who we are, but
we are responsible for who we have become.


This acronym isn’t appropriate for those who have faced loss of a loved one, but may be for those times when
the ghosts of the past resurrect and take up too much of your valuable time.A personal exercise, while you’re getting your physical exercise, might be to make up your own ‘ghostbuster.’ If you do, please share, we may all benefit.