We had our second class for La Fleur Academy and the topic was Beauty.  Given that this is an “intensive” we covered a lot of ground in two hours with the help of Justine Reilly, a stylist from T’eez who also makes our Omaha Fashion Week models look fabulous on the runway.

We started class with a discussion about the role skin plays in keeping the body healthy, and how our environment and lifestyle choices can impact skin health.  I have a personal story on this topic.  In my mid-20’s I began noticing these awful brown spots on my cheeks and between my eyebrows.  It was really embarassing!  The doctor said it was melasma, which can be caused by too much sun exposure and/or a hormone imbalance.  When I was a teen, I didn’t wear much sunscreen…and apparently it takes about a decade for the long term effects of sun damage to rear their ugly heads.  That explained part of my problem.  As for the hormone imbalance, I had a whole tangled mess of reasons why this was happening.  I had a diet that was high in sugar and processed foods, didn’t get enough sleep, had too much stress and suffered from terrible migraines that I was treating with about 6-8 Excedrine tablets a day (plus an occassional trip to the doctor’s office for shots).  Hmmm.  Wonder what that was doing to my liver…sound familiar to anyone?  In August, I started reducing the sugar and processed foods (I’ve only been to McDonald’s twice in five months!) and replacing them with natural foods that were free of hormones, antibiotics and preservatives.  I also cut off the Excedrine – which was very difficult because I had to deal with rebound headaches for a few weeks.  But the most effective change I made was in my sleep habits.  I started getting 8-10 hours of sleep each night.  I haven’t been sick at all this winter, have only had about five headaches since October, feel significantly less stress and have so much more energy during the day.  My mind is so much clearer now!  So is my skin.  Bye-bye brown spots, hello healthy glow!  This is a perfect example of how lifestyle, in particular, can change our skin.  I hope none of my students have to learn this tough lesson.  My best advice is to wear sunscreen, drink lots of water, avoid sugar and get plenty of sleep if you want to prevent skin problems as an adult.

We also learned the basics of a good skincare routine, determined color pallettes and discovered our face shapes.  Students were given information on their specific color and face shape attributes that will help them make better decisions with makeup, hairstyle and fashion selections.   We finished the day with a makeup demonstration by Justine.  She spoke at length about how important it is to not just apply makeup, but also blend.  Ever see someone with a line of foundation near the jawline?  That’s someone who forgot to blend.  She recommended a good set of makeup brushes for the best results.  Brushes with long, natural fiber bristles are best for blending.  And of course my tip:  Less is more!

Sigh.  It was another great week!  While my students seem to be learning a lot, I feel like I’m learning even more from them.  It means the world to me that they (and their parents) are putting faith in me to guide them into a more confident and self-aware life.

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La Fleur Academy hosted its inaugural class today, despite the cold and snow.  It was so exciting to welcome the students as they came through the door at Nomad!  My mom, dad and husband were instrumental in helping me transform the art galleries into a classroom where students learned about making good first impressions. 

We started the class with a discussion about the importance of good posture.  Long-time friend and personal trainer, Mike Maher, led the discussion.  My husband, Nick, and I train with Mike and have been very impressed by his expertise in this area.  He explained what good posture should look and feel like, the health benefits of good posture and even demonstrated some exercises we can do to improve our posture. We also spent some time learning to incorporate good posture in to how we sit and walk.  Footage from Omaha Fashion Week was shared with the students to illustrate important points about walking gracefully.  I was thrilled at how insightful students were in picking up on what was effective and ineffective in the video we watched!  Here are some things we learned about walking with grace:

  • The way your arms swing  can either distract from or emphasize your walk.  Arms should swing evenly and naturally at your sides.  They become a distraction when you swing one arm more than the other, swing them too much/too little or if you swing them in front of your body.  If you aren’t sure about what’s happening with your arms, check out your strut in a mirror or take a video of yourself walking.
  • Soft knees can prevent all sorts of bouncing!  If you worry about too much bounce in your step, check in with your knees. Keep them soft so they can absorb shock and help you maintain balance – especially when you are wearing heels.

Finally, we wrapped up with a tutorial on greetings, handshakes and introductions.  If you are interested in learning some tips on introductions, check out the post I wrote on this topic in October 2010.

As many of you know, today was truly a dream fulfilled for me!  For nearly 10 years, I’ve secretly (and not so secretly, recently) dreamed of teaching these lessons.  I still have newspaper clips from my pageant days that mention my aspiration to do what I did today!  Now that I’ve done it, I’m wondering why I didn’t do this a long time ago?!  It was so fun – and so easy – I guess because I have a passion for it and have spent a lot of time visualizing how it would all come together.  I encourage you to dust off those old dreams and go after them!!  It’s amazing how easy it is once you take that leap of faith and finally get started.  That’s not to say that there won’t be challenges along the way, but I am open to learning from each of them to make this the best possible experience for my students and me!

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