Sunday, December 21, 2014

"The Woman I Wanted To Be" by Diane von Furstenberg

   If you ever wondered why most of my book reviews are of memoirs or biographies, The Woman I Wanted To Be is why. Despite reading being one of my fave things to do, time to just sit and have a leisurely read-fest is limited. In order to get the biggest bang for my buck -- to be entertained as well as to learn something new -- I gravitate to reading what is REAL. Plus I guess I'm a bit of a voyeur and enjoy peeping inside another person's life without being considered a stalker. Believe me, a book doesn't get any more real, more entertaining, more full of wisdom out the wazoo, and more behind-closed-doors titillating than The Woman I Wanted To Be by Diane von Furstenberg!
   I have admired DVF since her explosion into the Seventies fashion scene with the wrap dress. She and her clingy, jersey dresses were the epitome of Studio 54 sexy chic! I envied her wild flaming red hair, her sensual confidence, her European sophistication and style, and her real-life princess turned fashion designer fairytale-like journey. Now, after reading her book, I know she is a woman just like me -- often unsure; sometimes taking wrong turns; struggling with aging and feeling good about yourself in a youth-obsessed world; and striving to live your life as true and full as possible so in the end there are no regrets -- and I admire her even more. Through it all, the many highs and lows and reincarnations of herself and her brand, DVF has focused on "the woman she wants to be" and kept marching forward to make that happen. Thank you, Diane, for showing me the way as well!
   In order not to quote the whole damn book (it's that good, but I want you to read it for yourself!), I'll share just a few of the passages that I will carry with me as I march forward:      

On facing challenges: "When I have an obstacle in front of me, especially of someone else's making, I say 'OK. I don't like it, but I can't change it, so let's find a way around it.' Then I find a different path to a solution, which so satisfies me that I forget what the problem was in the first place. Of all the lessons my mother drummed into me, that was perhaps the most important. How could you possibly better yourself if you didn't face your challenges up front or if you laid your problems off on someone or something else and didn't learn from them?"

Beauty is: "Character. Intelligence. Strength. Style. That makes beauty. All these attributes form beauty, and personality, that elusive state of being that is not necessarily perfect."

The truth about aging: "Aging is out of your control. How you handle it, though, is in your hands."

"And never, ever lie about your age. Who can lie with the Internet anyway? To embrace your age is to embrace your life. Lying about your age, or about anything for that matter, is the beginning of trouble; it is the beginning of lying about who you are. What is important is to live fully every single day of every period of every age so that no time gets wasted."

"The best thing about aging, I have come to understand, is that you have a past. No one can take that away, so you'd better like it. That is why it is so important to waste no time. By living fully every day, you create your life and that becomes your past, a rich past."

"In my older face, I see my life. Every wrinkle, every smile line, every age spot. My life is written on my face. There is a saying that with age, you look outside what you are inside. If you are someone who never smiles your face gets saggy. If you're a person who smiles a lot, you will have more smile lines. Your wrinkles reflect the roads you've taken; they form the map of your life. My face reflects the wind and sun and rain and dust from the trips I've taken. My curiosity and love of life have filled me with colors and experiences and I wear them all with gratitude and pride. My face carries all my memories. Why would I erase them?"

Becoming the woman you want to be: "You cannot have a good relationship with anyone, unless you first have it with yourself. Once you have that, any other relationship is a plus, and not a must. Become your best friend; it is well worth it. It takes a lot of work and it can be painful because it requires honesty and discipline. It means you have to accept who you are, see all your faults and weaknesses. Having done that, you can correct, improve, and little by little discover the things you do like about yourself and start to design your life. There is no love unless there is truth and there is nothing truer than discovering and accepting who you really are. By being critical, you will find things you dislike as well as things you like, and the whole package is who you are. The whole package is what you must embrace and the whole package is what you have control of. It is you! Everything you think, do, like, becomes the person you are and the whole thing weaves into a life, your life."

"I didn't really know what I wanted to do, but I knew the woman I wanted to become."

   Beyond all the life lessons Diane imparts, this memoir is packed full of celebrity tidbits, behind-the-scenes glimpses of the fashion industry, tales of her travels around the globe, a fabulous photo gallery, and juicy details of the many loves of a woman who likes to fall in love. Loved it, loved it all!  
   What a fascinating and inspiring woman DVF was, is, and will continue to become!  

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