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updated 12/24/2006 12:36:20 PM ET 2006-12-24T17:36:20

Lifestyle expert Susie Coelho was invited on TODAY to share some of her tips for last-minute holiday preparations. In her book, “Secrets of a Style Diva,” writes about how you can bring more style into your home. Read an excerpt:

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Introduction
What Is a Style Diva?
When I refer to a Style Diva, I’m not talking about some rich celebrity or someone who has tons of money, wears designer clothes, and only buys high-end items. Or somebody who doesn’t even lift a finger except to dial the most expensive decorator in the city. That’s not a Style Diva; that’s a style snob — and she’s on the opposite end of the spectrum.

No, the Style Diva I’m talking about is not necessarily rich. She may not know the latest trends or be super-knowledgeable about style. She just has to have the energy and a passion to express herself and create a more stylish life. Everyone has the potential to be a Style Diva!

As you can see, I never planned on being a Style Diva. I didn’t get a fancy degree in Style or study it at a top university. It just happens to be that, in any big endeavor I’ve undertaken, I have never worried about how I was going to do it. That was the easy part, learning along the way. Deciding I was going to do it was the primary part. Knowing how to do it was secondary. Over the years, I have established a way of living my life and a creative process that brings passion, excitement, joy, energy, and love to everything I do.I’m lucky enough to be able to live my life to the fullest—and so can you. How? The first step in becoming a Style Diva is to decide that you already are one. It’s as simple as that. Decide to embrace your own unique sense of style. Decide to embrace a life with passion and newness. Decide toadopt a stylish attitude. By attitude, I don’t mean, “I’m so cool, and you’re not.” I mean to look at everything you try with a positive, enthusiastic, can-do spirit. I mean being willing to express yourself and say who you really are. A Style Diva never apologizes for her creative process. She knows she doesn’t have to be perfect. She knows she doesn’t have to match every color correctly or arrange furniture in just the right way. A Style Diva’s not afraid to make mistakes.

The first step is to Embrace your divadomas your birthright. Then you can do the things you need to do to reach your full style potential. Once you live your life from a Style Diva’s perspective, everything is infinitely more exciting. For example, you can walk into the restaurant you always go to but see it and experience it in a whole new way. You can decide, “I’m going to really explore this menu, notice the décor, experience new foods. I’m going to get to know the waiter and find out all about the specials, the wine list, and even the deserts! I’m going to try something new and get the most out of the experience and come away with a new appreciation of dining out.” Now you can add all this input to your style repertoire and draw on it when you need to.

A Style Diva makes the decision, “I may not have a lot of money or time, but I’m still going to have a great home.” She will search high and low for a way to get the task done. She doesn’t worry about not looking cool, doing things herself, or buying someone else’s discarded items. She sticks the course and is proud when she accomplishes something. Her point of view is strong, and she doesn’t take no for an answer.

She uses the five Senses of Style that you will learn in this book, and this grounds her styling and gives her confidence. She might try one approach, scrap it in the middle, and try another. She might call in a team of experts to help her with some details. She might get everything done and, at the last minute, decide she needs to make some significant changes. There will be barriers, creative blocks, critics, and naysayers, and yet a Style Diva will always stay the course, loving the journey.

No Excuses
All right, so are you one who is going to stop pursuing your goals before you even start? Do you find you come with excellent excuses as to why you could never be a Style Diva? After all, what do you know about style? You may even feel like you were born without the “style gene” that others have. I’ve seen it time and again — struggling Style Diva hopefuls who sabotage their dreams with myths, excuses, and procrastination.

I’ve isolated five of the most common stalling tactics below. These are the myths you may believe about style and about yourself that need to be confronted and conquered!

Classic Stall Tactic #1
“I’ve got a creative block.”
OK, let’s get one thing straight: The concept of a creative block shouldn’t even enter a Style Diva’s vocabulary. You are always creating — whether that’s figuring out what shoes to wear or making your kid’s lunch. Creative energy flows in limitless abundance. The reason that you say you have a “block” is twofold. First, sometimes you’re just plain spent — you’re exhausted and hungry. Take a nap or get a snack. Second, you need a change of scenery. I find that the best way to de-block is to pick up a magazine or book, go to a museum or gallery, take the dog out for a walk, or just get in my car and drive. You need to stop thinking and start looking outward for inspiration!

Classic Stall Tactic #2
“I can’t afford to be stylish.”
You can’t afford not to. Invest in yourself. Being stylish does not have to be an expensive endeavor, especially in this day and age of flea markets, garage sales, and discount stores. I shop at them all the time. In fact, most Style Divas I know are always looking for a good deal — and, believe me, they know where to find them. You don’t need money to buy stylish; you need ingenuity. Part of the joy of being a Style Diva is figuring how to get the most bang for your buck. A Style Diva might go to a thrift store and find a funky old vase for five dollars, take it home, mix it with few other objects, and make a huge statement. Where others might see junk, she sees a masterpiece.

Classic Stall Tactic #3
“I’m waiting for inspiration to hit me.”
I hope you brought a change of clothes because it’s going to be a long wait! You can’t sit around hoping that inspiration will strike. You need to go out and find it. It’s in the magazines and books you read, the movies you see, the clothes you wear, the places you travel, the friends you admire, the dreams you have. It’s all around you 365 days a year, 24/7 (ok to use this?). Trust me, there is no shortage of inspiration; there’s just sometimes an unwillingness to embrace it.

Classic Stall Tactic #4
“I just don’t have the time.”
The pursuit of style does not have to be a time-consuming endeavor. You can spend ten minutes a day on it and still feel like you’ve accomplished something. The important thing is to block off a certain time once a day, once a week, even once a month, when you can devote your attention entirely to style. Turn off the cell phone, turn off the computer, turn off your Blackberry, turn off the TV, and turn on your Styling Self. This could be anything from jotting down all your ideas that day in your Style Journal to tacking up photos on your Style Board. I'll explain more about those later.

Classic Stall-Tactic #5
“But I’m not an artist… I can’t even draw a stick figure!”
Neither can I! In fact, my daughter draws circles around me. I always thought I wasn’t an artist because I couldn’t draw. I now know that’s not true.  You don’t have to be Picasso to have style; you just have to be willing to understand the elements that make up something artistic and stylish and be willing to learn by doing. A Style Diva is always creating something from nothing — whether it’s designing a floral arrangement as a centerpiece or building a home. A Style Diva embraces art in every sense of the word and thus is an artist! 

Excerpted from “Secrets of a Style Diva.” by Susie Coelho. Copyright © 2006 by Susie Coelho. Excerpted by permission of Cool Springs Press. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

© 2013 MSNBC Interactive.  Reprints

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