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The Good Life
Over the years I've talked about how devastating it was to lose all of my sisters to cancer and all before the age of forty-four. But what I haven't talked much about was how I decided to live my life after they died. I was certain that I was going to be the next to go, so I started "living to die." It was like I was on Death Row, and instead of living each day to the fullest, I was just going through the motions of life. I stopped caring, because, after all, I would be dead soon, right?
Well, age forty-four passed me right by and I was still around. Then I hit that magic number -- fifty -- and I thought, "Why am I still here?" When I finally figured out that God wasn't ready for me yet, I made up my mind that I would stop living to die and start really living to live! By the time I reached age sixty, I was living out loud, living each day to the fullest, living my best life -- living the good life!
To me, living the good life means many things. It means living a healthy lifestyle and taking care of the body I have by exercising and eating right (most of the time!). It means surrounding myself with good people with good energy and getting rid of anyone and anything that might be a drag. I sometimes find myself telling people, in a nice way, of course, "Who do I look like, a professional therapist? You better get away from me with your problems!" Living the good life means enjoying each day -- whether it's sunny or rainy -- and finding the joy in it. Living the good life means treating myself like a queen.
You don't need a whole bunch of money to live your good life. I've had money and still didn't take care of myself the way I should have. I would work and work and work and not get enough sleep, not drink enough water, not exercise at all and let people drain me with their negativity. I didn't pay attention to the little things. I was both rich and broke at the same time. So, living the good life is not about having lots of money (don't get me wrong, it's more fun with money). Instead, living the good life is simply about putting yourself first. It's about doing things for yourself and making you a priority in your own life. Many of us spend so much time taking care of others and making sure those we love are happy, but you can't help someone else until you take care of yourself first. And it's tough to show everyone else love unless you love yourself first.
It starts with the little things -- taking a warm bath once a week, pampering yourself, getting a pedicure or finding a fragrance that makes you feel good. I never realized how much the little things mattered -- something as simple as your bedding can make a big difference in your life. I used to sleep on anything. I didn't care if my sheets came from the dollar store. I didn't think it mattered. Then, about twenty years ago when I was living in Los Angeles, I stopped into this cute store that sold things for the house. They had these cotton sheets with a high thread count -- I didn't even know what a "thread count" was back then. But when I slept on them for the first time, I felt like I was sleeping on silk clouds. It was the best night's sleep I had ever had, and I refuse to go back to cheap sheets now. But it's really not about the sheets or about them being more expensive than the sheets I used to sleep on -- it's about giving myself the best, because I deserve it.
I have a guest bathroom in my house that is filled with pictures, a couple of my gold records, a letter from a former president of the United States, and beautiful trinkets and flowers. All of the fixtures are elaborate and over the top, just the way I like it. It's so fierce that people walk through it as one of the entrances in my house and don't even notice that it is a bathroom. But it is a bathroom -- Miss Patti style. I want people to feel as wonderful as I do, no matter what room of the house they're in.
My entire home is dedicated to celebrating the good life. There are photos of me everywhere because I love me. But what I love just as much are the photos of people who have touched my life -- some who aren't with me anymore, such as my parents, my sisters and brother, my friend Luther Vandross, and my dear musical director, Bud Ellison. Those photos make me feel like they are right there in the room with me and it brings me joy to look at those smiling faces and remember the good times we had together. A lot of my memories with my loved ones are set around a dinner table, sharing a meal and sharing good conversation. Food has always been at the center of my joy, from the fish fries my parents had every weekend to the barbecues I have in my backyard today. Food can bring people together, to laugh, to eat, and to simply celebrate life. Most people know me for my voice, and that is truly a gift from God. But food and the ability to share it with others is also a gift -- a gift that you can give to those you love. It is with that spirit that I share my third cookbook.
My first cookbook, LaBelle Cuisine: Recipes to Sing About, was filled with recipes that I loved, but those meals could sure clog some arteries with all the eggs, cheeses, and butter. I love that food and it makes me happy, but I can't eat that way today -- at least not every day. My second book, Patti LaBelle Lite Cuisine, was my way of enjoying some of those same foods from the first book with a few modifications. I had to find a way to make meals that fit into my new lifestyle as a diabetic. Although I had diabetes, I was not going to let diabetes have me. I was going to live my life and enjoy my food, but I had to do it another way.
In this cookbook there are some recipes like the ones in my first cookbook, because that's some good food! But there are also plenty of healthy choices, like the ones in my second cookbook. This book is about living a balanced life. It is a celebration of life. If I want some chocolate, I don't deprive myself. If I want some of the fried apple pie that's in this book, I will have a slice. Everything in moderation. It's about being fierce, being balanced, and being happy. Living your good life is about having it all!
You'll see throughout the book that I have used products from my Patti LaBelle Good Life product line. The philosophy behind the brand is that the good life can be enjoyed by everyone, regardless of background or how much money you have. It's not about spending a lot of money -- it's about making what you do spend count, taking pride in what you have, and pampering yourself in little ways that make you feel special. This is the thinking behind my signature line of products -- it's accessible to everyone, reasonably priced, simple, and from my heart. So, here's perhaps the most important recipe in this entire book, so memorize it -- it's my recipe for living the good life: keep it simple, make it special, share your heart, and pamper yourself!
Copyright © 2008 by Patti LaBelle