Women I Admire: #3 Karen Duffy

Of all the women whom I admire that are on my list Karen Duffy, also known as “Duff,” has held the first place slot the longest. It’s doubtful she’ll be bumped out of that spot either.

I’m famous for ripping out magazine articles to save that I find interesting, inspiring, or lists great ideas. I first discovered Duff through her writing. About 15 years ago I’d been saving articles written by Karen Duffy unknowingly until I noticed all the articles I’d been saving seemed to be written in a similar style and discovered Karen Duffy had written them. Her article titled 35 Things to do before you turn 35 (Cosmopolitan, May 1997 p.154) reminded me to pay closer attention to how I spend my days and years and to take time to do more things for myself and others and to take care of myself.

She’s also written two books I’ve read, one about her experience of being diagnosed with sarcoidosis titled Karen Duffy, Model Patient. My Life As an Incurable Wise-Ass. She shares some wonderful life lessons everyone needs to read in addition to numerous lessons about humanity all with plenty of humor thrown in and soaked in positivity.

Not too long ago I discovered that Duff’s birthday is just five days before mine, which I felt explained a lot, meaning we’re both Geminis. Through reading her articles and more recently her books, I have since found tons more similarities in our personalities, way of thinking , and sense of humor.

Her other book A Slob in the Kitchen reinforced my inclination that we are indeed “twins” (the sign of the Gemini). It’s a cookbook designed for cooks like me who enjoy the food but don’t like the messing with complicated preparations to achieve edible status. It’s filled with recipes for real people, quotes (which I love to read and collect), handy tips (which I also love to collect) and snippets of stories related to the recipes.

Duff earned more points for the top spot on my list of women I admire when I learned that she and her husband have a farm in Conneticut where they raise  their own beef for butcher. It also delighted me to no end to learn she’s a meat eater who doesn’t think too much of tofu, (or veganism and vegetarianism for that matter). I love her wit and her numerous comical adventures with friends.

Even though I don’t consider famous people to be above the rest of society (they’re just on TV a lot more and their job pays more—big deal!), I do call Karen Duffy my “celebrity kindred spirit.” She may have celebrity/model status and we may live in opposite worlds for the most part but she doesn’t act like most celebrities, which I like about her and she’s down to earth. She eats real food—like the rest of us, which I admire her for and thank her for in setting an example to young women trying to mimic what models or celebrities are doing.

All of the articles Karen’s written I’ve kept because I liked her creative ideas for gifts and entertaining friends, or entertaining ideas for having fun with girlfriends but also her Holiday Etiquette Guide (Cosmopolitan, December 1997, p. 132), the article she wrote about eloping (Why I Hope You’ll Elope, Cosmopolitan, September 1997 p.184) and the feel-good article she wrote titled Pretty vs. Amazing, How to work what you’ve got in the looks department (Cosmopolitan, November 1997 p. 249). It was inspiring and encouraging and she talked about how women’s flaws can be turned into an asset, and she discussed deeper meanings/definitions of the word “beauty,” which I found uplifting and very insightful.

Of all the articles she wrote that I’ve saved, Spittin’ in Death’s Eye (Cosmopolitan, April 1997, p. 207) had the profoundest effect on me. It was her story about discovering and dealing with sarcoidosis of the central nervous system, which wreaked havoc on her physically as well as on her social life and career as Revlon’s Charlie Girl model,  acting career, MTV VJ,  and her profession by trade; recreational therapist. Once she restored some of her mobility through intense drug treatments, she said she made a point to avoid using the “handicapped” doors that automatically open because she could finally do it herself again. Those words have always stuck with me and after I learned about what she had to go through, I have never used automatic doors since, if I had a choice. I liked her positive attitude about her diagnosis, but also about her positive outlook on everyday life.

She currently works as an entertainment correspondent for HBO and contributes to the New York Times Magazine and Glamour magazine.Her positive outlook, sincerity towards others (especially the elderly) and creative ideas for living a contented life have inspired me and she remains ranked at the #1 spot on my list of women I admire.

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