Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The Big Apple: It’s so hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday

(Part two of a three-part series)

By Charles Dion Springfield

Final day in Milwaukee apartment.
If I had a chunk of change for every time I had to explain why I was leaving Milwaukee, I probably would have had enough coins to put down on first and last month’s rent, security deposit and the broker’s fee on an apartment in the West Village.

There were some people who totally understood the need for me to move on. And some people couldn’t imagine trading in the comfort, security and ease of Milwaukee for the rat race, fast pace and attitude of New York City. As a result, I had to use my third eye to determine if the person was “Team MKE” or “Team NYC” and craft my response appropriately whenever discussing my move with someone.

Discussing the move with the “Team NYC” camp was easy. All I really had to say was I’m seeking more diversity (of thought, of cultural backgrounds, of types of people and of style approaches), different business opportunities that weren’t currently available to me and that I severely needed to open up my dating pool since I had been single the majority of my nearly 8 years in Milwaukee. During the conversation, I was greeted by a number head bobs indicating he or she understood and phrases like “Amen” or “I hear that” or “I’m so happy for you” and “you belong in New York.”

It was a total 180 degree shift when beginning the discussion with “Team MKE.” When he or she or they would ask why I wanted to move, I got into heated confrontations early when I would say or even allude to MKE just not being enough for me culturally or a place where I can date regularly or even occasionally. I was greeted with responses like “Milwaukee has so much culture…there’s a different cultural festival nearly every weekend in the summer” and “maybe you’re too picky” and “maybe you’re not hanging out with the right people.”

As the question arose more and more, I learned from my mistakes and put the onus on myself knowing I would most likely be walking on eggshells. I would immediately communicate the things I thought were great about MKE, then I would segueway into how I’ve always wanted to move to NYC and now I was finally fulfilling a life-long goal.

Some responses were smooth and others were bumpy. But I never figured out a completely articulate canned response that everyone would – or should – understand until I was having a talk with a “Team NYC” person.

For me, living in MKE was like starting a new promising relationship. It was beautiful. It was familiar because of my history there. It was memorable. It was comfortable. And it appeared to be mostly free of drama. I had a great time getting to know it better – or getting reacquainted with it after being away for about 10 years. Milwaukee had changed so much in that time, and I had tons of experiences which led me to do a lot of growing up. But like most relationships, it eventually had to come to an end. When I framed it that way, most people got the picture.

Parting is Such Bittersweet Sorrow

Walking up 5th Avenue.
New York!!!! Concrete jungle where dreams are made of/There's nothing you can't do/Now you're in New York!!! These streets will make you feel brand new/The lights will inspire you/Let's hear it for New York, New York, New York!!!!

It was so unreal. I could actually see the end of my existence in MKE. I had completed my last day of work at my advertising agency which had been my professional home for nearly the last four years. I had mostly everything packed in my apartment for storage or to take with me. And I was a few days away from getting on the plane and embarking on a new life and adventures in NYC. WTF!!!

Although I was super excited about leaving, it was definitely bitter sweet. I started my public relations/advertising career in MKE in 2003. My first group of friends were pulled from my new world and the world of servers and bartenders in the city, which the advertising/PR world also revolved around. Plus the bulk of my family lived in the city, so I was leaving A LOT of people behind.

I’ve moved around the country enough to know that proximity has a way of keeping people together and fully engaged as friends. While you say things won’t change when you leave, it’s inevitable. If you’re not in your friend’s neighborhood or can’t swing by for a chat or meet up at a party, you slowly start to drift apart. The feelings don’t necessarily change. But the power of the connection unfortunately diminishes.

Mom and me.

Knowing this, I couldn't leave without properly saying goodbye to all the wonderful people I've met while in Milwaukee by throwing myself one last party. It was one of my best parties yet. I had colleagues from 2003 to newer ones gained in 2010. I had friends stop by who moved to Chicago, traveling an hour and a half to hug me and wish me well. My party venue, a champagne bar, rolled out the red carpet for me and allowed me to co-develop a signature champagne cocktail for the occasion: The Charles/Siddity Chocolate that incorporated Champagne, chocolate and raspberry liquor and a chocolate truffle.

The whole experience was surreal and moving. It was like a scene in a movie in which seniors in high school were having one last blowout party before transitioning into their new lives. It was the absolute best thing to propel me to a new life knowing that I was loved, respected and supported. People were confident that I would take NYC by the balls. And the going away party cemented the fact, in my mind, that I was absolutely making the right direction despite it being a risky move without a steady job in a super slow economy.

So the day finally arrived. I rode to the airport with my younger brother and mother. I flew to NYC in business class, sipping on glasses of wine. I had a car service pick me up at the airport to take me to my new home on the Upper West Side of New York. And I went to bed knowing that I would wake up the next day as an official New York City resident.


Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Frederick Benjamin Grooming Offers Men Tools to Evoke Confidence and Success

by Charles D. Springfield

Michael James, founder of FREDERICK BENJAMIN grooming and long-time personal care products executive, knows all too well what a difference a good first-time impression can make.

FREDERICK BENJAMIN grooming products

But when he launched his multicultural men’s hair care line – in the beginning of the economic downturn – it soon became evident that projecting confidence and a having a polished appearance was going to be even more essential for job seekers and those looking to maintain their employment. As a result, James focused on creating a line of products that were simple and natural enough to tap into a man’s confidence while helping him stand out in a crowd.

“Now more than ever, a polished appearance is critical,” James said. “With the national unemployment rate hovering around 9.4 percent, so many men are in a highly competitive job market, jockeying for a limited number of jobs. We wanted to leverage our grooming products to help them thrive by allowing them to feel clean, comfortable and confident in order help them be successful.”

Designed for the multicultural man, it was crucial that the product line be free of scalp irritants such as alcohols, synthetic fragrances, petrolatum and mineral oils. Instead, the premium grooming products fused an effective balance of 100 percent active natural oils of spearmint, clove, nettle and hemp seed. Those ingredients allowed the line to be lightweight, grease-free and hydrating with a natural fragrance. These were all attributes that James found painfully missing in the array of products he once used.

The three-step FREDERICK BENJAMIN grooming line provides the essential tools needed for men with multi-textured hair.

The Invigorating Cleanser uses gentle cleansing agents to detoxify the scalp and hair without stripping.

  •  Generates a hearty lather
  • Rinses excess oil, sweat and build-up
  • Tingles the scalp and unclogs pores
  • Relieves itching and flaking
The Invigorating Moisturize features rich conditioners that replenish moisture to restore softness and elasticity.

  • Combats dry scalp and hair
  • Restores softness and shine
  • Detangles for increased manageability
The Daily Hydrator/Leave-in Conditioner is a light-weight styling crème that defines, adds texture and prevents dry scalp.


Michael James, founder
Named in honor of James’ entrepreneurial grandfather who epitomized 1940’s style and grace, the company’s ultimate goal is to help men upgrade their appearance and attitude by getting in tune with their natural, inner gentleman through its products and services. James wants men to live handsome and successful lives, while honoring an era when men were always very well groomed.

FREDERICK BENJAMIN and today's modern gentlemen both share the same concern for personal appearance and perfection in their choice of grooming products to help honor and promote their individual style. Born out of the desire to find products that are not excessively drying, overly-fragranced and /or greasy and heavy; the company has set out to create a premium grooming line that fuses the power of natural ingredients with the art of science, all while honoring the elements of style that are reminiscent of an era when men were always well groomed.

FREDERICK BENJAMIN products each retail for $12.For information on the grooming line, visit http://www.frederickbenjamin.com/, become fans on Facebook and follow on FredBGrooming on Twitter.

FULL DISCLOSURE: Frederick Benjamin is/was a client of The Lifestylings of Charles Springfield

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Discovering Charles Springfield by Remembering Thomas Springfield

By Charles Dion Springfield

The news tore into me like a slow bullet. My breath shortened and my knees became weak. Without realizing it, I found myself seeking support on my telephone cabinet after the familiar voice over the telephone informed me that my grandfather, Thomas Springfield Sr., had died. After hanging up the telephone, I sat in my apartment – prepared for bed in my flannel pajamas – stunned. I didn’t sleep a wink that night. The feeling that ensued was somewhat strange. I was saddened that he had suffered a slow, painful death at age 75. But I was more dispirited for what would happen to me as a result of his death.

I once heard a historian say that when an elderly person dies, it’s like the equivalent of a library being burned down; all of that history disappears forever. Well, my eldest library was irreconcilably destroyed. A major link to my family heritage and history was gone forever and I was distraught that I hadn’t taken advantage of it while I had a chance.

No one person is to blame for that. We had not been extremely close, my grandfather and me. As a matter of fact, I can only remember seeing him twice in my life before I reached adulthood: once when my grandmother, Lillian Springfield, was alive and once immediately after she died. I unconsciously harbored ill feelings toward him as a child, as I had for my own father. They were both disappearing acts who managed to reappear with about the same frequency, leaving me with missing pieces to the puzzle of whom I was; pieces that I am desperately trying to assemble.

Things were different between my grandfather and me, however, once I become an adult. I was physically closer to him after I moved from Wisconsin to Mississippi to attend college. He resided in Tennessee after leaving Wisconsin some years ago. Therefore, our encounters became more frequent. After 20 years from our first encounter, I finally got to witness first-hand where I got my long, skinny fingers from; where I inherited my serious – sometimes – intimidating looking – stare; and partially where I got my sharp-tongued mean streak from (but I have to attribute part of that to my grandmother’s side of the family).

However, that was only barely peeling back the surface in my quest for self-discovery. I wanted to know what made him tick to better understand what makes me tick. I wanted to get to the meat of the matter. Now that he was gone, I would never know what he felt when he fell in love with my grandmother or if it was love at all. I would never experience the pain or anger in his voice as he described being treated inhumanely because of the color of his skin while serving in World War II. Those stories would only come secondhand. His deep, husky voice could not describe to me the joy or fear of bringing his first child into the world, or his eleventh child. And I would never hear the explanation for what made him drink so much, ultimately leave his house full of children and forever break my grandmother’s heart. All of these things remain a mystery to me.

I eventually came to the conclusion that since I could never understand parts of his life and personality make up, there would be part of myself that I would never understand. There was no way for me to accurately draw parallels between our lives; why we love who we love, dislike certain circumstances, take a stand on some matters or run from others. All of this threw a serious wrench into my plans, a long-term journey of trying to veritably discover who Charles Springfield is an African-American, a man, and as a human being. An enormous chunk of my history was lost…so I thought.

Several months after his death in Tennessee, I found myself on the No. 2 train heading to the 96th Street stop in Manhattan from a friend’s apartment in Brooklyn, N.Y. I was going to spend the day with my deceased grandmother’s first cousin, her husband and her childhood friend, whom I never knew existed until a few weeks before I arrived in the Big City. As I walked a few blocks from the subway station to their Upper West Side brownstone, all kinds of thoughts ran through my mind:

“I hope they like me”

“I hope I like them.”

“I hope we get along.”

“I hope I get to meet my great grandmother’s sister.”

“I wonder what she’s like.”

I was greeted with hugs, kindness, attention and a kind of nurturing that was very familiar. There was no denying that my cousin was family. She looked like family and had a similar personality to one of my aunts. She also had similar traits to my mother: being allergic to shellfish, not being able to ride in the back seat of a car because of claustrophobia and being very endearing to her loved ones. Not long after our initial chit chat, my cousin pulled out old photo albums with pictures dating back to the early 1900s. I saw pictures of my grandmother as a young mother, pictures of both my grandmother and grandfather as a young couple, and pictures of other family members in New York and Pennsylvania whom I have never met.

This overwhelming feeling came over me and my lips, eyes and heart smiled. It was like I had made some rare finding on an archeological dig in Africa. I had not discovered the Arch of the Covenant, but it was a very big deal to me. I had not only discovered a family library, I discovered a rare family museum. And in the midst of looking at pictures and listening to stories, I stumbled on a few more missing pieces to my yet unsolved puzzle.

Life is a constant journey of self-discovery. We are all seeking insight into ourselves and our lives, trying to ascertain what makes us who we are, what is my role in the world, what makes us unique and what makes us intrinsically the same. But if we really want to begin to understand ourselves, we must first open ourselves up to the journey. We must prepare to experience the joy and experience the pain, but hopefully – and most importantly – experience our true selves.

My grandfather was buried in October 2000. That library was becoming dilapidated and sooner or later it was bound to shut down. I was fortunate enough to help lay it to rest. All is not lost, though. I got what I could from it. And it inspired me to start exploring the lives of other family members – especially my beloved mother – and continue walking the path in hopes of locating my unadulterated self.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011


If you’re reading this, that means I finally got my sh@# together, conquered my procrastination issues and cleared my head enough of its recent fogginess to RE-LAUNCH Charles Springfield: Maneuvering Life With Style BLOG.

Thanks for your patience. It is way past time for me to get back into this. Last year, I thought I would take a summer holiday like most New Yorkers do, but a series of fortunate and unfortunate events seemed to get in the way.

I won’t give too many details away right now. I do want you to continue to read my blog on a regular basis. But I’ll give you some hints: there have been a lot of ups and downs and MAJOR drama. Plus I’m just one month shy of my one year anniversary in New York City. I know! Time flies. I almost wouldn’t believe it either if it weren’t for the numerous times I’ve moved residences within the city in a short amount of time, the amazing new friends I’ve met, my new frenemies (some of whom desperately cling to a celebrity-type status), the initial strong growth and then lack of growth my business has occurred, my massively increased knowledge of wine and wine tasting and the series of heartbreaks I’ve experienced within the last 11 months.

Basically the unintended hiatus has come to this: I’ve been distracted and detached from my true loves -- writing and being true to myself. I have so many new stories to tell – mine and others. And, unfortunately, I’ve been in my own way to write these things down to help me analyze this life, learn from this life and move on from the various experiences – positive and negative – of this life.

So, stay tuned for some real, candid and juicy stories about me and other interesting people I’ve met along in NYC the way trying to maneuver this first year of New York City life with style.

Be sure to follow me on Twitter at Thelifestylings and Facebook at Maneuvering Life With Style Blog to receive updates, see additional information or start a chat discussion. Also, feel free to reach me at thelifestylings@gmail.com is you have a story idea, know of someone who needs writing and/or PR services or if you want to connect with me directly.

 à bientôt!