Monday, October 30, 2017

Manners Monday - This Halloween Bring On The Sweet Treats & Give the Tricks a Much-Needed Break

In honor of National Candy Corn Day, this Halloween let's focus on on the sweet treats and give the tricks a much-needed break.  Lord knows we all could use it. The past couple of months have been a particularly challenging time in our country from the disastrous hurricanes and the terrible atrocity in Vegas to the Weinstein sexual harassment scandals and the Russian controversies, we've had our fill of nasty tricks, thank you. it's time to bring on a few welcome treats!  

As you prepare to set out on Halloween night in search of the best candies to fill your stash, please take a moment to review these helpful tips. They're guaranteed to keep the most ghastly goblins or ghouls in line.

Ditch the Clown Costume. As far as costumes for children, the general rule is that they be age appropriate and kid-friendly. The movie "It" served to solidify the already universal panic surrounding menacing clowns, therefore these costumes are still banned from schools and parties. Political outfits are as popular as ever with Trump costumes filling the shelves, but politically incorrect outfits or extremely scary horror costumes are never acceptable. Ask yourself one simple question, "Is my costume disrespectful or would it offend or scare another person at the party?" If the answer is yes, then find an alternative choice. 

If You're Old Enough to Drive...Trick or treating is a tradition reserved for younger children who look forward each year to dressing up in their favorite costumes and going door-to-door to receive unlimited amounts of sugary treats. Most teenagers typically lose their interest, but if you're sixteen and still stomping around in your scary costume, it's time to turn in your pumpkin bucket.

Treatin' In N Out of the Hood. It is perfectly acceptable to travel outside one's own neighborhood, particularly, for children who live in a canyon without sidewalks or who live in a neighborhood that is less than child-friendly. However, if you do decide to leave your hood, the next best thing is to trick-or-treat with a friend in their area or find an alternate place that feels comfortable and familiar. Wherever you choose, be respectful of lawns and gardens and use the sidewalks or pathways leading up to the front door. If a house is dark and all the lights are turned off, this is a signal that the family is not participating in the ritual or may not be at home.

Hosting & Ghosting Halloween Parties. Anyone with a birthday in October knows how much fun it can be to have a Halloween party. If you are hosting, be gracious and provide ample treats and entertainment for your guests. Encourage everyone to come dressed in costume to help set the tone for the party. A little spooky music adds to the fun. Make sure to be a good guest as well. Don't ghost your host by not responding to an invitation and never show up empty-handed. Bring a birthday gift or host gift for the party-giver as a thank you for including you in the festivities.

Safety First on the Night of Fright. Begin trick-or-treating at dusk while there is still some light for safety. Sidewalks and lawns lined with electrical cords can be dangerous. Come prepared with flashlights to make sure you do not trip or fall. Have supplies on hand for emergencies. Keep a couple of Band-Aids and Neosporin in your pocket should minor accidents occur. Make sure to look both ways before crossing the streets. Although there are more pedestrians out than usual, it is still dark and drivers may not see clearly. Adults and children should stick together at all times. There is nothing more treacherous than trying to track down a small child in the pitch black of night.

Tricks within Reason. Halloween is meant to be fun, but never at the expense of others. Contrary to what we might see on television or in the movies, it is not an opportunity to toilet paper a neighbor's front yard or throw eggs at their front door. It also does not give one free reign to steal or damage pumpkins or other decorations. It is wise to stay away from anything that could potentially cause property damage as these types of pranks are not only dangerous but illegal. If pranks and tricks are a must, try creating an imaginative fun house or haunted house for your friends and other guests to experience.

Teal is the New Orange.  NOTE FOR KIDS WITH NUT ALLERGIES: The Teal Pumpkin Project is a new organization designed to raise awareness for kids with peanuts and tree nuts food allergies. If you see a Teal colored pumpkin, it is a signal that a home is handing out non-food treats. Whether a non-food or candy treat, teach children to be patient and polite and limit themselves to one piece unless more is offered. Remind them to say please and thank you and try not to crowd or stampede the doorways. 

General Halloween Etiquette Tips. Halloween is a perfect "training" time to teach children how to mind their "P's" & "Q's." After just a few house visits, your two-year-old will be an expert! At least one parent should accompany all children up to the age of twelve. Trick-or-treating should generally end around 9pm as most families with children and older adults are preparing for bed by that time. Parents should check the treats of the younger children before they eat them. Children should never eat anything that is handmade, unwrapped or specially prepared unless they personally know the family.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Tuesday Thoughts - In Uncertain Times, There's Great Meaning in Practicing Small Acts of Ceremony

Tonight our beloved Los Angeles Dodgers returned to the World Series for the first time in twenty-nine years under blazing sunny skies and a brutal 100+ degrees temperature.  Two burning questions were on everyone's mind. Would the players be able to withstand the heat and will the team stand for the National Anthem? While the anthem issue was first brought to light back in 2016 by former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, it has continued to spark serious debate among players and owners from the NFL and even our President who has added fuel to the fire making the controversy an integral part of his platform.  

It’s no surprise however that baseball - America’s prized sport - stayed out of the fray. The Dodgers made the conscious decision to stand in unison and support our most recognizable symbol complete with hats off and hands over their heart while Keith Williams Jr., a gospel singer from Compton, delivered a heartfelt rendition of "The Star-Spangled Banner." 

I wasn't a big sports person growing up.  I am rather petite and didn't exactly exude physical prowess. In middle school, I was always the last one chosen on a team and no one ever passed me the ball. My approach to every game was the same - stay out of the way and dodge the line of fire. I spent more time bench warming than actual playing. In high school, I tried out for dance. Much more my speed. Needless to say, I didn't have a great deal of experience with sports-related anything. 

Not until I became a mother and a fan at my daughters’ sporting events did I truly pay attention to the practices that were standard on fields and courts everywhere.  It never dawned on me how many meaningful rituals and traditions were associated with athletic games. Watching these kids stand up straight, remove their caps, and place their hands over their hearts to sing the National Anthem was such a respectful way to begin the game.  And then witnessing each player, whether winner or loser, shake hands with opposing teammates and say an enthusiastic ‘good game' was such a dignified way to end.  

There is great meaning in practicing these small acts of ceremony.  In their most basic form, they help set the tone for the game and remind everyone to act in a civilized manner.  When a collective mass - from the players on the field, to the spectators in the stands, and the viewers at home - stops and pays their respects to the flag, it is a significant gesture unifying our country even for a fraction of a second. These observances are an important piece of our makeup and they are what connect us as a nation.  In uncertain times and with countless threats to our homeland both internally and abroad, any opportunity to display patriotism should be a welcome gracious gesture for all. 

Go Blue!  Keep the winning streak going in Game 2!!

Monday, October 23, 2017

Beverly Hills Manners Declares War on Tinseltown - No More Blank Checks Drawn from the Bank of Bad Behaviors

The Harvey Weinstein scandal opened the floodgates on what will hopefully become a watershed moment for the entertainment industry and all of corporate America. Just over two weeks ago, Weinstein's sexual harassment allegations were revealed and since then we have witnessed a veritable feast of perpetrators including Roy Price at Amazon, director Jeffrey Toback, and the already ostracized Bill O'Reilly who sustained another blow over the weekend when it was uncovered that he paid a whopping $32 million settlement back in January.  Countless women (and a few men) from celebrities and journalists to athletes and tech engineers have garnered the strength and confidence to come out of the woodwork and share their stories. Here's mine.

Years spent pounding the pavement in the entertainment industry, I learned the hard way how things work in this town.  I was fired from my first job at a record company for blatantly ignoring the sacred rules of office hierarchy.  Later, I was a featured player in my own scary Hollywood story, auditioning for a “producer” who directed me to take off my top and bra so he could film me for some bogus project he was peddling. It was the typical scenario – naïve twenty-something looking for work innocently responds to a casting call and winds up in the suite of a hotel. Yuck! Thank goodness I escaped unharmed, but I'll never forget that horrible feeling of shame and remorse and pray my two teenage girls will be much wiser if faced with a similar situation.

The casting couch has existed forever and this community is swarming with predators. But Harvey Weinstein brought it to a whole new level. He reigned at the helm of a thin-air crowd – the ones for which the rules don’t seem to apply.  He bulldozed his way through business, wielding his power over cowering, guileless underlings with colleagues and staff turning a blind eye until, finally, karma caught up with him.

Enough is enough! Aren't we tired of witnessing this constant circus of exploitative conduct furthering the myth that it’s condonable merely because someone has achieved superior status? It has become common practice for companies to shell out millions with blank checks drawn from the Bank of Bad Behaviors without batting an eye; especially, if that person is uber powerful and is making said company insanely rich. This problem has plagued the system forever and will not change anytime soon unless a mandatory shift is made in the culture. Changing the system is literally the single most important thing we can do to get out of this mess.  

For more than a decade, I have worked tirelessly to wave a white flag and draw attention to the dire importance of manners.  Now before your eyes start to glaze over, I’m not talking about some stodgy, stuck-up set of rules that have no place or meaning in today’s society. I'm speaking about common sense guidelines, basic civility, and human decency. 

My method is different.  I don’t have a direct lineage to the Queen, nor am I a former employee of the Royal Family. I’m a native New Yorker raised in Beverly Hills who created a business to make manners relevant with a no-nonsense, tell-it-like-it-is approach bridging East Coast roots and a West Coast style. 

At a period in history where so much turmoil, disruption, and distraction persists, manners are the final frontier. In essence, they are the last stop where we can turn for some semblance of order, direction, and calm during a crisis. We depend on them to restore a sense of stability and substance. Manners touch every facet of our lives. They exist between the cracks. Like glue, manners are the adhesive that holds everything together and, if left unused, dries up and renders itself ineffective leaving behind only chaos to follow. Manners – or the lack thereof – affects us both at home and in our world and all boil down to something very simple: RESPECT.

Rather than spending ridiculous amounts of money on lawsuits, wouldn’t it be a lot smarter – not to mention economical – for corporate America to invest in a preventative program that arms executives and employees with character-building tools and know-how to handle themselves more correctly?  It’s time for everyone to wake up – from the privileged set at the top all the way down - and learn to follow the rules both written and unwritten. 

In today’s age of radical transparency and zero tolerance, where any wrongdoing can be captured by a tiny smartphone, no one can afford even the slightest misstep. I’m not just talking about how to politely wiggle your way out of an unwanted advance. I’m speaking about practical skills such as crafting an email to a co-worker in a civil tone, treating people of equal value regardless of status or position, and everyday courtesies such as holding the door open for someone walking directly behind you. A complete self-analysis is essential so we act thoughtfully and mindfully before we say or do something that might have a lasting negative effect on our personal relationships or professional environment.

How many more examples from Hollywood, politics, sports, and the media do we need before we take action? Harvey Weinstein started as a Hollywood problem, but his tentacles stretch far beyond this tony town.  The larger issue spans coast-to-coast and must be addressed. We’ve already witnessed countless public figures lose their jobs, their families, and their lives because of sheer stupidity. Isn’t it time we start leading as a nation, individual-by-individual and set the tone for the rest of the globe? This conversation is surely as crucial to our well-being as diet and exercise.

Manners are not about being politically correct or a people-pleaser.  They provide us with a solid framework and help us connect on a pure level. They are your finest friend, whether you’re agonizing over how to apologize to your mother-in-law for a flippant remark or riddled with guilt as to how to decline your boss’ Facebook invitation. They are there to save you from your worst self, to fall back on in your time of need, and protect you in the most precarious situations. Manners are locked and loaded, ready to employ at a moment’s notice. Use them wisely and they will keep you whole.