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Did you hear the news? (Of course you did, it was the media equivalent of shock and awe.) On Friday, Oprah announced that her final show would be Sept. 2011, after 25 years on the air. So while the speculation about her reasons run rampant, now seems like the perfect time to talk about Living Oprah: My One-Year Experiment to Walk the Walk of the Queen of Talk.

Robyn Okrant spent a year doing absolutely everything Oprah recommended–purchasing Oprah endorsed fashion, cooking Oprah approved meals, reading Oprah endorsed books, finding Oprah approved spirituality. She chronicled her Oprah experiment on her blog, where readers can see what a monumental task this undertaking became. Between Oprah’s TV show, her magazine and her website, Robyn spent a whole lot of money and even more time to live an Oprah-approved “best life.”

I don’t really watch Oprah or read her magazine anymore. Personally, I find her out of touch. Larry King just had her BFF Gale on his show, asking Gale how Oprah “engaged with the everyday lady.” To which Gale responded that Oprah was “just like you.” Sorry, Gale, no she’s not.

Oprah is worth billions. She can’t walk down the street, take mass transit, or fly commercial without getting mobbed. She can find the absolute best pair of pants, no matter what the cost, and buy ten of them. She can work out with expensive trainers and consult with nutritionists. Oprah employs a lifestyle army. It’s much easier to live your best life when money is no object.

But is Oprah really living her best life? From what I have read, her work schedule is insane. She has no work-life balance. Her yo-yo dieting is another tip-off that there may be something gnawing away at her. So is the commercialism that surrounds this best life really just a band-aid for happiness? Can it really be found in the best pair of pants, the best ergonomic gardening set, or the best rolfing?

The book comes out on January 3, and I am going to try track Robyn down for a quick interview for this ol’ blog! I am in AWE of the discipline it must have taken to live this “best life.” And I have a lot of questions too. Did Robyn find her best life by Living Oprah? Does Robyn think Oprah is really living her best life? Is the Best Life found in those perfect pants, or did she somehow transcend these messages and find a spiritual epiphany?

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InfantArmI was never a touchy person. My husband loves the hugs and the snuggles, and it took a long time for me to get comfortable with this. There was an invisible line drawn down the middle of the bed, and I was perfectly happy to stick to my side. The only time I enjoyed touch was with my pets. For whatever reason, the snuggly dog didn’t bug me as much as the snuggly husband, who smelled piles better than the pooch. (My dog is snuggling with my feet as I type this.)

So this touch-phobia made becoming an esthetician a bit challenging.  I spend hours touching people. And I will be honest, it really took a while to get used to touching a stranger and being OK with it. And I will also admit that there are moments when it can still be difficult for me. If I don’t connect immediately with the person on the table, I am much more tentative and it can take a while for the touch to feel comfortable.

Touch is a very powerful thing. So is a lack of touch. According to the massage magazine Body Sense, “So serious are the effects of touch deprivation, it’s considered by researchers to be worse than physical abuse.” I am not sure that I am comfortable going that far, but clearly touch (and lack of it) are important to the overall well being of our bodies and minds.

Body Sense cites a University of North Carolina study that found hugging reduced the body’s level of the stress hormone cortisol. Cortisol is the hormone associated with weakening the immune system, anxiety, anger, not to mention, of course, acne. This same team of research scientists also observed that hugs boosted the levels the hormone oxytocin, which improves heart function.

Here in the US, we aren’t comfortable being touchy. There are a thousand reasons why–we’re litigious and touch can be misinterpreted; we are technology driven and have minimal interaction with live human beings. In a city like NY, where people are packed in so tightly, touch avoidance is a herculean effort, and getting off a subway without the brush of a stranger’s skin is worthy of an Olympic medal. Personal space is sacred, and this may be to the detriment of our health.

I pushed through my comfort zone and learned to appreciate and value touch. Where I once favored extractions (estheticians all love the goop removal), massage is now my favorite part of the treatment. When I feel the tension release, I know that the person on my table is mentally and physically detoxing. And going through my rituals of massage, the focus I need to perform them, and the warmth that touch brings, allows my brain to drain and relaxes me as well.

So take a minute, right now, to hug your significant other, your kid, your dog, your cat, your Mom, whoever is closest (OK, maybe not your boss). And I don’t mean that hug that’s akin to an air kiss. Hug it like you mean it!

CliniqueDeepComfortMy nails are perpetually ignored. The last time I went in for a mani, the nail tech was completely confused by my instructions. Nails short, don’t cut cuticles, and NO POLISH. Poor woman couldn’t handle it. She was especially apoplectic about the lack of polish. (I can’t polish my nails because it traps bacteria, so it’s unsanitary. If you have an esthetician who has polish on the nails, run the other way.)

So, rather than a repeat of this scenario over and over again, I opt for DIY manis. But those who read me regularly know I have a real problem scheduling my own treatments. Manicures particularly annoy because they feel so time-consuming. It’s the soak part that gets me every time. I never soak long enough because I can’t stand to sit still.

This weekend, I had an epiphany. I got all my manicure implements out and then tackled the piled up dishes. By the time I was done, my nails were sufficiently soaked and softened. I used Clinique’s Deep Comfort Hand and Cuticle Cream on my cuticles and pushed them back, then trimmed and filed. I followed up with some Vitamin E rubbed into the cuticles and slathered of another layer of Deep Comfort all over my hands and nails.

Nails look great and dishes are done! Multitasking manis rock.

SwagI am guessing ya’ll heard about those new FCC rules re: bloggers and disclosure? So for the record…

At this point, I buy all of my product. I am not swanky enough to get inundated with swag (please oh please click the link PLEASE), and I am not chasing it either. Although it would probably be more financially responsible for me to ask  for free product to try. But I have never been terribly responsible.

You will notice I don’t  product review much these days. Times are tight at the mo, and I can’t buy as much product as I would like to try. It’s hard for me to justify buying something right now that may very well end up in the trash.

If it’s a free sample, or something I received as a gift (yes family members buy me product!), I will disclose that.

I try not to blog about the product that I use in my treatment room and/or retail, which is hard because I obviously adore those products but I am not here to be all sell-y. If I do mention any item I professionally work with, I disclose it.

Since this blog is a free WordPress blog, I can’t accept any forms of advertising. If I migrate to my own site someday, that may change. But for now, we are ad free (though I think WordPress may stick their own ads up from time to time-these have nothing to do with me). This includes “sponsored posts.” I wish I had someone who would sponsor me for just being fabulous, but I married for love, not money, which was, once again, irresponsible (see paragraph 1).

So, basically, I don’t make money from this and I don’t get free product or invited to swanky lunches, product launches, or press junkets to exotic locations.

I think disclosure is fine, and I was doing it anyway. But I am not terribly thrilled that the government thinks this blog may require federal oversight. Where’s the oversight on the health insurance companies who jack up rates and deny claims? Where’s the oversight on Wall Street? I really don’t understand why, with all the flailing around going on in this country right now, they decided that the bloggers need a babysitter. But whatever. Disclosure is easy enough.

However, if the FCC is really interested in crack downs, I would recommend they do not forget that traditional media has an awful lot of pay-for-play that going on as well. When I worked at the glossies, companies that advertised always had their product first in line for an editorial mention. And when it came time to ID the makeup worn by the cover models, we used a rotating list of advertisers. We would send them the cover image and asked them to color match everything with their products and give them the credit, regardless of what the makeup artist used. Just sayin…

So thank you FCC. I hope I am in compliance. Please don’t fine my ass.