TCW - Life, Style & Wellness

Today's Chicago Woman is Moving, But Not Leaving

Since November 2009, Today's Chicago Woman's bloggers have had a home on ChicagoNow. Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end, and today will be TCW's last day on ChicagoNow. But don't worry--you can still find us!

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Your June To Do Calendar

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Mark these Chicago events on your calendar to make your summer a sizzler.

Compiled by Lois Kim and Ana Valentine

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A Date with the Bra Whisperer

It's a funny thing, a woman's attitude toward her bra. Every day we don one, and wear it for 16 hours. It touches our skin. It supports us through our morning commute, our long day at the office, our dinner button-front blouses and flimsy tee shirts alike. And how do we treat it in return? Often with equal parts disdain, irritation and neglect. We complain that straps fall down or dig into our shoulders, underwires cut into our breast tissue, bands create back fat, support just isn't supportive enough. The bra becomes our frenemy.

Susan Nethero, founder of Intimacy lingerie boutique, is out to change all that.

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Design Tips from Chicago's Newest Furniture Retailer


Bob Williams, Karen Carpino, Mitchell Gold

There's a new furniture store coming to Chicago. I recently met with the owners of the store which bears their names, Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams.

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Bright Ideas for Home Lighting

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There are three key components to creating a lighting design, according to experts at the American Lighting Association (ALA).

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Schwarzeneggers Face Termination of a Marriage

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What drew them together for many was inexplicable. It was reminiscent of the famous saying, "The heart has its reasons for which there is no reason."

Arnold Schwarzenegger and Maria Shriver, who may be divorcing after 25 years of marriage, always seemed to me to be a mis-matched couple. She was elite and charitable while he was a body builder and egomaniacal. She had a serious career in journalism, and he had a questionable career as an actor without serious talent. He was a Republican of convenience and she was a Democrat of conviction.

Their marriage lasted longer than the statistical percentage of American relationships. They had four beautiful children with whom they are well pleased. They were an apparent glamour couple who combined the strengths of many worlds: Washington and Hollywood, National and International, beauty and brawn, brains and muscle.

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Trends In Decor 2011

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WHAT'S NEW IN HOME DECORATING? Here are a few of the latest trends in home design.


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Hair It Is!

They asked a lot of detailed questions about my hair care routine, which I had never really thought about. Then they spent several visits teaching me the best ways to care for my hair so I can achieve a "healthy" head of hair and a healthy look that's easy for me to manage with my lifestyle.

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Folding Screens As Decorating Solutions

Folding screens have always given a room style while concealing something unattractive or ugly. Screens do have a history in interiors.

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What Does My Child's Sneeze Mean?

Though much of the beauty of spring is its vivid colors, rosy-red eyes and noses aren't a part of them. Runny noses, sneezing and coughing often trumpet spring's return, but many parents wonder does my child have a cold or is it allergies?

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Brilliant! Royal Wedding's Best Hats, Plus 5 To Make Your Own

Now, now, readers. I have resisted the urge to blog endlessly on all things Royal Wedding style, but the delightful display of toppers worn by William and Kate's guests was simply more than I can keep to myself. Young and old, prim and Posh alike donned hats and fascinators (defined as a head adornment attached to a clip or a pin, as opposed to a hat, which fits over the entire head), providing endless inspiration to fashionable ladies across the pond.

So, on this most royal occasion, may I present to you my picks for best topped wedding guests, along with fabulous finds from around the web to anchor your own celebratory ensembles. Cheerio!

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Tips To Tackle Kitchen Design

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Kitchen design by Karen Carpino

Kitchens have proven to be one of the most important rooms to a homeowner. However, most people select a kitchen design on how it "feels" for their lifestyle rather than its functionality The art of a good kitchen plan is scientific.


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Charlie Sheen Custody Battle Gone Bad

The most recent go-round in the Charlie Sheen custody war involves a fight for custody over the twin boys born to him and Brooke Mueller.  Allegedly, Charlie, who has joint parenting with this ex-wife, had sought full custody based, in part, on his allegations of her drug use.  Talk about the "pot" calling the kettle black!  He did not prevail in a court of law, and to date, the parents share custody of their twin boys who live primarily with their mother.

The case skirts very close to the saddest of stories:  those where, allegedly, neither parent is fit and proper to care for their children.  While the cases that usually get the most publicity are those where two qualified parents battle over custody or visitation issues (think Halle Berry and her former boyfriend, Gabriel Aubry), there are a surprising number of divorces, both celebrity and the not so famous, where one or neither parent is fit or do not even want to win their children's custody.

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My Life Is Worth It, I Deserve This!

The Color Analysis should have been easy for me. All I had to do was sit in a chair and let the analyst hold many, many color swatches up to my face to decide "my colors".

I've heard women talking about what color clothing and lipstick that they cannot wear because it's "not their color".  I had no idea what they were talking about.  A few friends even tried to tell me what my colors were. Nice information, but I had no idea what to do with it.

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Style 911: Beyond the Black Suit

If my four years styling women has taught me anything, it is this: women of all sizes, ages and stripes struggle with many of the exact same wardrobe conundrums. From finding the perfect jeans to wondering whether one really can wear brown shoes with a grey suit (yes! try it!), their fashion emergencies have hatched my solutions, which I call Style 911.

In this edition of Style 911, I tackle a 9-to-5 delimma: How do you break out of the rut of the basic black suit?

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Parisian Chic In Interior Decor


Oh la la! I just returned from Paris and a view of the city of lights interior decorating scene. Parisian decorators favor the mix of sleek modern furniture with traditional antique decorative accent pieces.

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Dark Winter Means, What, Exactly?

After consulting with the color analyst, I now know that I am a dark winter.  Some of the colors in this pallet that complement me are white, black, royal blue, blue/red, and orange/red.  And honestly, knowing that I'm a dark winter meant nothing to me.  I wasn't sure what impact wearing these colors would have, but I started wearing these colors from my wardrobe more often.
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Chicago's Spring Allergy Problem is Getting Worse

Budding trees and greening grass may bring a sigh of relief to some Chicagoans, but for 40 million other Americans, the signs of spring leave them gasping for breath.

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Ten Simple Ways to Improve Your Health This Spring

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Eating foods that resemble their original state -- like APPLES! -- are a delicious way to boost your health this spring.

People who have been bundled up and hunkered down all winter are emerging from their caves to witness the sun shining, the lake ice melting, and warmer days.  Hooray!

The dramatic shift from the deep freeze of winter into the drama and glory of spring is an incredible thing to behold.  If it weren't for spring, many of us Chicagoans would be somewhere else sitting under a palm tree sipping a cool drink and slapping on the sunscreen.

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Remodeling Doesn't Need To Be A Nightmare

We have all heard the horror stories of living through a home remodeling project. Many of us have lived through some awful remodeling projects and lived to tell our tales.
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Defining My Brand

I'm ready to get rolling, but first I had to complete a pretty in-depth questionnaire about my lifestyle, my values, how I think I'm perceived and what I'd like to express with my image.  Another way to say it: what I'd like new people to know about me without saying a word.

I have to tell you, some of the questions were tough to answer.  How the heck should I know how I am perceived by others? 

In a coaching session with Kali, we determined my brand attributes.  These are the attributes that capture my essence: spiritual, intelligent, healthy, wise, and sensitive.  The Image Studios nomenclature for my brand is my Personal Style Baseline™.  My entire "brand", message, and image are built on my style baseline. 

Another outcome of the session was an understanding of my communication profile.  I learned that I am naturally a strong vocal and behavioral communicator and that visual communication is...well, not a first or second language for me.

Today I am more easily effective in situations where visual communication is subordinated to vocal and behavioral communication, like live one-on-one meetings and phone calls. This is pretty interesting to me since my coaching practice has focused on one-on-one phone sessions with clients.

Kali explained that as I align my visual communication, I will more effectively communicate in visually dominated environments, like on camera, live public speaking engagements, and networking settings.  This sounds good to me because I want to have high-impact with large audiences.

My question is: Is it possible that how I look is telling a different story than what I say and how I behave?




Not only is it possible that how you look may be telling a different story than how you sound and behave - based on your communication profile it is very likely that how you look is received differently than what you intend to communicate.  That is, until you retool your visual presence to say what you mean.

Most everyone has communication strengths and weaknesses.  Communication is multi- faceted:  visual, vocal, behavioral and even spatial.  Typically we use and refine the one or two modalities with which we are naturally most effective.  For you, those strengths are what you say; how you say it; and the many, many elements of how you behave. 

Naturally you have affirming body language, engaged posture, meaningful and intentional eye contact and facial expressions. You "do" to express yourself to others.  You speak with an ease and grace that resonates with others and connects with them emotionally.  You find just the right words, at the right time to query your audience in a manner that is comfortable for them.  Through words and sounds you learn from others and express yourself.   Wow!  With that package, it's no wonder you use it and perfect it - and pay little attention to how things "look".  I respect that.

You are less likely to make decisions based on the appearance of things.  And you pay less attention to how you look.  When you do direct your attention toward sculpting an outfit or hairstyle or makeup - your choices are skewed because you don't speak that language (smile).

Lucky for you, visual presence is the fastest and least expensive to delegate.  Hairstylists, department store personal shoppers, and makeup counter artists abound ready to help you create your look.  Now you are armed with your brand.  Tell them Your Personal Style Baseline™ and let the experts go to work for you!


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Top Tips To Work From Home Successfully

Does it get any better than having a 20 step commute to work? Actually, some people flourish working in an office at home while others find it frustrating. However, the trend is that each year hundreds of workers move from a traditonal workplace to working from their home.
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Love Lessons Learned From Liz Taylor

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Michael Todd and Elizabeth Taylor (classic film scans/kate gabrielle)

With Elizabeth Taylor's death came the true end of an era. She was an old style Hollywood icon with all the glamour and gossip that entailed, and she amassed bling at a still unbroken rate.

Remarkable more for her beauty and her marriages than for her acting, she nevertheless turned in some memorable performances and won awards for her work. What is more interesting about her than all of the delicious scandals, acting highs and lows, and sad illnesses, however, is her spirit.

She laughed at herself for being in love with love, but she was candid about her abiding appreciation for male companionship and need for it. She may have lived her very public love life messily, but it appears that at least for the moment she really loved the one she was with...until she or they called it quits.

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Top Tips To Decluttering

Do you need help to declutter? I have received many inquiries asking for DIY help to declutter a home or office.  Here's a detailed outline from professional organizers.
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I Don't Need to Be Beautiful, I'm Smart!

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I'm not tall, blond, and thin.  The world has told me that I am the smart one, so I invest in developing my mind instead of my looks.

I am being challenged to see myself differently.  I have to admit, it's been a little uncomfortable and very surprising (usually the case when one is being asked to shift a 30 year old paradigm). I'm being called to sort of grow up some old ideas about what a feminist looks like-now.   A feminine feminist!  A contradiction in terms if you ask me.

I'm a child of the 60's.  I'm the generation of young women who were expected to have a career because so many other women fought for that right. 

As a developing teenager, my role models didn't wear bras, let alone make-up.  We were to be women of choice, and we wanted to be valued for our brains and ability, not just our sexuality. So I believed that if I wanted to be taken seriously and respected professionally, I should focus on accentuating my brain not my beauty. I believed that I should be valued for my training and intelligence; therefore my hair and clothing should not be a factor. 

 For better or worse, this is not entirely true! Brains and accomplishments are not the only way we're judged.  I know this. I judge people all the time. Whether on the red carpet or in the grocery store--so I'm not sure why I thought I was exempt.

I think I have to re-evaluate my definition of strong, feminist, accomplished women.  I have to re-think what it means to be successful and have choices, and what does that look like 40-50 years after the "women's movement"?

My question is how do I remain a feminist, strong, accomplished woman, and feminine too? 



Choose to be strong, accomplished, feminist and feminine.

This is interesting.  I consider myself a feminist.  Oxford defines it as "a person who supports feminism".  Wiki does the word much more justice-And yup I'm a feminist too.

Why are women taught that we have to choose whether we will be regarded as smart or beautiful?  Author Dr. Christine Whelan said "Yes, the media likes to scare [smart women] into believing that they have to choose between career and family, between being smart and being feminine." But I believe that this is NOT what Betty Friedan, author of The Feminine Mystique (1963) had in mind.

Wouldn't it be great if our daughters grew up with permission to be smart and beautiful! 

Smart is beautiful!  If we are smart and beautiful on the inside, why not look, sound and behave it on the outside?  To do anything else is hiding out, and that's silly for those of us feminists who want to have impact.  

The feminist is smart, powerful, beautiful, divine and ought to be celebrated - not hidden.

Choose to be all that you are, not just some of it.

Fashion Find of the Week: Alexis Bittar Link Bracelet

During my all-too-frequent virtual trips to online boutiques and retailers, I often find pieces so fabulous, they absolutely demand to be shared. So, in addition to passing them along to my beloved clients, I wanted to let you in on the stylish fun, too...

This week I bring you a glamourous bauble for your wrist, handcrafted by one of my all-time favorite jewelry designers: Alexis Bittar. (BTW...didja know Alexis is a man?)

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Sound Advice To Soundproof Your Home

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Custom designed media center.

Do you need help to make your home quieter? Whether you live in a single-family home, high-rise building or anything in between, there are distracting noises from outside, neighbors or other family members.
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Spring is Ideal Time to Take Care of Varicose Veins

Like many women, Karen Special, 57, developed varicose veins during her first pregnancy. These unsightly veins became permanent while she was pregnant with her third child.

As an avid golfer, Special frequently wore skirts while she played. However, she became increasingly self conscious about the look of her legs as the veins became more apparent and rope-like over time. Special's varicose veins also grew to be more painful. She developed discomfort above her right knee and in her groin, which made exercising, gardening and housecleaning a challenge.

She reported that every year her varicose veins got a little worse, so she decided she couldn't take the pain anymore. She decided 20 years after the birth of her last child to finally do something about her condition.

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What Does A Baseball Cap Have To Do with Finding My Husband?

EB11.jpgThe only reason I finally did hear Kali was the convergence of several events: I was turning 50 in a few months; I was enjoying my first year with a cable TV talk show, but still had little confidence in my image; my six year-old Life Coaching business experienced its lowest revenue ever; and to top it off, I was not dating! Argghhhhh!

I was out of ideas and like many humans, was finally motivated by pain.

Kali coached me with questions like: "What type of clients would I like to attract?" A question I often ask my clients, so I was ready and answered easily. "What kind of husband would you like to attract?"  This answer rolled off my tongue even easier.  I'd written the list at least ten-thousand times: Happy, healthy, wealthy, fit, wise, spiritual seeker, kind, surrounded by a community that provides mutual support.  Her next coaching question got my ears to perk up like Scooby-do:  "Are you intentionally hiding from him?  How will this man find you in your baseball cap and faded, wrinkled, baggy jeans?"  Good question. I'm in!!

This was a bad case of not being able to see the forest 'for the trees!  I know the power of coaching.  I know the power of natural Laws like the Law of Attraction: like attracts like. 

Oddly, I hadn't been able to trace my drought to the inconsistencies between who I am and the image I present to the world.  Kali gently explained that I can more easily attract the things I desire when my image is in line with the essence of who I really am.  My values!

Together we clarified my values and what I'd like any new acquaintance to quickly know about me.

My question is: Why is the connection between my values and my personal brand so powerful?


~ Ellen



Ideally, your values and your personal brand are one and the same.  The best image communication and personal branding work is authentic:  designed to make the outside of you match the inside of you!  The goal should be transparency and enhancement NOT containment or disguise.


The inside work is the hard part.  There is no substitute for knowing yourself and your values, and disciplining yourself to align your intentions with your values, and your actions to your intentions.  The inside work is a prerequisite for sustaining the life you want.  You have prepared yourself on the inside - the outside stuff is the easy part.

When you quickly and effectively communicate the truth about yourself, even when you are not aware that anyone is listening or paying attention, you more readily attract those of similar or synergistic intentions and values.  This like-attracting-like happens naturally on an infinite timeline, but we are all in such a hurry that we don't take the time to look past our first impressions and really get to know people. In the Information Age, we are conditioned to think that we can get information QUICKLY.  Google® can answer a question in 0.2 second, so we expect that we can know things about the people we meet pretty quickly too.  Though it's often to our detriment to sum up a human being based on a date, TV appearance, or phone conversation - we do it.

When the interpretation of how you look, sound and behave is consistent with your values, assumptions and decisions people make about you are more accurate.   If your values are extraordinary, you'll more quickly attract extraordinary people and opportunities.



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Expert Tips For Hanging Artwork


Now that you purchased that perfect piece of artwork, you'll want to place it to the best advantage both visually and safely. Deciding where to hang artwork is a two-person job---one to hold the artwork and another to ponder it.
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