Tuesday, July 24, 2012
I drew a sharp breath in- “What is it?!”
“You won’t believe it!” His head shaking side-to-side in dismay. The tension was mounting. Nails were being bitten. He took one final pause for a dramatic climax before lowering the boom- “Ichiro was traded to the Yankees.”
Deadpan expression. Hmm.
Should I fake surprise? Conjure up some bewilderment? Squirt some tears? It was sad, after all, truly it was. (Besides the Ichiroll at Safeco is delicious and I just don’t think it will taste the same if its called the Hernandez roll. )
I wondered, did this mean anything to me? And if so, does it mean anything for the average woman who loves baseball for the garlic fries? As I waited for some kind of emotional response a message began pounding out a rhythm in my heart. The response I was having didn’t have anything to do with the nature of the Ichiro trade- it had everything to do with the address.
What I realized is that David and Goliath were at it again. It was one of those moments that makes you wonder if the underdog will always be- well, under.
I don’t care where Ichiro plays. Ichiro deserves to finish his career wherever he wants. He put in a good 12 seasons ( don’t quote me die-hards), so he deserves to win a few games. So Suzuki aside, here is where I get on my Moneyball soapbox.
The New York Yankees are to baseball what a spoiled little rich girl is to her pony- excessive. I am not one of those crazy sports fans that paint themselves blue on a balmy 46 degree day, (I preserve my paint for Pinterest crafts) but I can draw a chalk line between success and superfluousness.
We live in a nation where we are always told we need to be wherever we aren’t. That we never have enough. That the grass isn’t green enough- so go look for neon knolls.
To me, The Yankees are a metaphor for America’s gluttonous nature and the danger or being a discontent woman. Its hard not to notice that some of “The Yankees” in our life, (a.k.a the Evil Empire) have great successes. And when this happens it is difficult to deal with these type of successes gracefully.
Rule of thumb, don’t look at what they have in lieu of what you don’t. Look at what they have as something you can aspire to.
To go further down the rabbit hole of living well, let’s try to focus on being quick to forgive instead of holding a grudge. Let’s pick up the check instead of looking for a free meal. Let’s give our kids hope instead of instilling in them fear of being a failure. Don’t be afraid to cheer from the stands instead of trying to be center-stage every now and then.
Whether you are a small business owner, an employee, a stay-at-home mother, or a student looking to land your dream job- it is a mistake to get tangled up in the dollars and cents solely for the prestige. Yes, we all need to look for the best deal to further our dreams- but sometimes you have to take the smaller paycheck to find the bigger purpose.
This isn’t about Ichiro, obviously. It is about learning to be happy right where we are.
We are not major league baseball players, so we can’t understand the indubitable pull of playing for the Yankees. But what we can understand is the shiny allure of someplace or something that will make us feel like we have arrived. The truth? No matter where you live, what you do, who pays you, or what that amount is- contentment is a choice.
Maybe you’ve recently lost your spot on the roster because someone out-pitched you or threw you a nasty curve-ball. Or maybe you are looking to turn in your number for a bigger spot on the field of life. No matter where you find yourself, keep your eye on the ball. Someday your pitch will come. (I bat .400 when it comes to baseball cliches.)
Oh, and in the meantime order the Ichiroll. I have a feeling it won’t be here long.
Image courtesy of The New York Daily News
Article courtesy of Girl Power Hour
Saturday, July 7, 2012
I often wonder who I am, now that I am a mother.
Believe me, if I could gaze at my navel and drink Rooibos tea in yoga pants all day I could come up with a very poetic way to explain the changes that motherhood has made in me. But instead, I have a 20-month old son who I swear drinks Red Bull when I am not looking. (How could anyone have that much energy on a strict bean and pea diet? He is a vegetarian Tasmanian devil I have decided.)
But seriously, who is this woman I see changing diapers at NASCAR speed, licking her finger to wipe a stray smear of jam from her son’s eyebrow, and giving up a girls night on the town to climb into bed by 9pm? Oh, well that’s me. And if you have young kids, I think that’s a part of you too.
My son loves the book, The Very Hungry Caterpillar. It’s kind of a staple in all young children’s reading repertoire- right? His favorite page, (aside from pretending to be eating all of the fruit and junk food in the middle), is the end when the big fat caterpillar becomes a beautiful butterfly. He squeals and tries to take the book out of my hands so he can get a REALLY good look; (i.e.- smashes his face into the crease of the book in fits of laughter).
I think that’s my favorite part of the book as well, because its my favorite part of motherhood too. We get to go from these large “with child” versions of ourselves to these almost unrecognizable sacrifice-savvy supermoms. The term supermom is so overused- but all moms have an element of the supernatural. Because the super-power to love someone more than ourselves is the greatest of all.
I will be the first to say it doesn’t come easy all the time. In fact, I constantly think I am doing something wrong when my nearly-two toddler throws a tantrum over a broken straw in the checkout line (he is obsessed over straws, who knew?) or he isn’t speaking enough words to constitute as an average kid his age. All of these standardized milestones, check-ups and timelines are enough to tire any mom out who is just trying to keep it together; who is just trying to follow her gut, and love like only she can.
When Allison asked me to guest blog for Project Motherhood, my self-help author “hat” wanted to go on.
I thought, I should compile a list of ways to discipline in love. Or maybe I should write about how to get your kid to sleep through the night, or maybe I should just be honest about how much I love watching cartoons now without having to make excuses for it. Tangled- I heart thee.
We don’t know each others landscape of life. We can’t possibly believe that all children are innately the same. They all have different gifts, different struggles, different developmental delays and excellencies. They grow at different rates, become dependent at different timelines, and emerge as little people with their own personalities just as we are still trying to figure out who we are as adults.
However, I will say this. Don’t compare. Stop reading articles on how your kid should be, and start paying attention to who he or she is. Children need fans in the stands. So when you are having a tough day or simply aren’t sure if this whole motherhood thing fits you right, just remember who you are- you are their mom.
And that is enough to make me certain that I am just who I need to be- and so are you.
Monday, July 2, 2012
We get frustrated when life doesn’t go our way. We throw temper tantrums on the freeway during rush hour. And we all need a time-out with a glass of wine to regain sanity some days.
In recent years, its become very clear to me that if you don’t give your passions some love they will materialize into tantrums with whomever you share life with. If you don’t take a time-out in order to gather with like-minded women, isolation and depression isn’t far behind.
I still consider myself a new mother. Much like many other women in the GPH social-stratosphere, I have found myself the ringleader in a very delicate balancing act. I want to be an amazing mother. I also want to be a successful small business owner and freelance writer. For many of the women that I have spoken with at various GPH events, we are embarking on this new era of life unsure of how to make it all work. Or even if we should try.
How do we pencil in another activity on the calendar when all we want to do is eat a dozen York peppermint patties and pass out on the couch? OK, so maybe that’s just me. But getting glam, sipping martinis, happy hour, networking, and high heels- all of sudden these items can easily become antiques in the museum of our former lives.
The truth is that a night out for ourselves is so very important. And Girl Power Hour isn’t some crowded bar with drunk sorority girls and overconfident men. It’s a “girls only club” that helps us get back in touch with the dreams we had before our little ones were scampering into our beds after their bad ones.
For me, I realized that becoming a mother didn’t change who I was. In fact, it held up a mirror to those places in my life where I was most passionate and magnified them. Instead of wanting to be a writer someday, I started doing it. There is no time like the present to make yourself a priority. Your kids will benefit from the joy you derive from using your God given talents.
Here are a few questions to ask the next time you are considering putting yourself on the back burner again:
1. Who will benefit from time with me if I am burnt out?
2. Am I being short with my husband, significant other, children without cause?
3. When was the last time I did something just for me?
4. What makes me feel alive and when was the last time I did that?
5. How much time have I spent with women this month- without kids?
Motherhood isn’t losing yourself- its a chance to show your little ones how to find their meaning. I know firsthand how tiring it can be when your are trying to raise a child and trying to hold on to your dreams- but they won’t be little forever and your dreams shouldn’t stay small either. Its important to be able to look back on life and say- I was there for my kids when they needed me and I was there for myself when it seemed no one else was.
See you at the next GPH event ladies! Take a time-out for you.
Summer Social on the Sea Yacht Party
Tuesday, June 19, 2012
Taking off my author-turned-blogger hat for a moment, I wanted to share our home remodel project with you. I LOVE neutrals, as you can see, and am very happy with our budget shower remodel.
Who says that you can't have a small budget and still get the master bathroom you want?
My husband and I were sharing a way too small bathroom in our split level home. We decided to do the demo work and tiling ourselves which included removing the previous wall that divided the already small bathroom and hid a "coffin-shaped" shower stall. We hired out the plumbing and fixture install.
We got our shower frame from Lowe's, bought clearance floor tiles, a new toilet and marble-decorative tiles to complete the look. The wall color is Behr Cheynne Rock. We love it!!!
Monday, May 21, 2012
One area that I have really been focusing on during GPH's Fit and Fab(ulous!) challenge is running. After running in the Belleuve 10K/5K Run a few weeks ago, I have come to a startling realization: I used to be a runner.
Becoming a mommy almost 2 years ago changed the runner inside of me. While I was never one of those CamelBak clad, fancy sweat-wicking sports bra, barefoot-running-shoe types, I used to hit the ground running--fast. Nowadays, I tend to feel as if I am running atop some kind of concrete honey compound. So I decided that this Fit and Fab(ulous!) challenge would be the time to overcome my underwhelming strides.
However, what I truly learned about myself as a runner came when my husband and I ran together for the first time in ages.
At first, we fell into an easy stride side-by-side. For a moment, it reminded me of our leisurely pre-son-runs during breezy spring days. But on this day it wasn't too long until I began to feel a stitch in my side, and a familiar you-are-so-out-of-shape burn in my lungs.
My husband kept on trucking like a sprite little teenager, and I began to feel my lower half sag (much like my son's book, The Saggy Baggy Elephant). My shoulders began to creep up like strings on a Marionette- as if to physically will myself in forward motion. I was hoping that I was just being hard on myself and that he wouldn't notice, but it didn't take long until he slowed his pace to match my pathetic attempt at a "walking-run". Then he lowered the boom on me- "You're slow today."
Now, to be fair. It was an honest assessment. But, I am an extremely competitive person and in the past this type of comment would have spurred me on to dashing ahead of him, sprinting to the finish and laughing as he doubled his time to catch up. But this new slow-poke-of-a-person I had become? She stopped running, put her hands on her hips, and waved him on with an angry and defeated flip of the hand.
My husband slowed his pace and ran the rest of the mileage in line with me- much to my chagrin.
As the run neared its end, we sped (ok, maybe we schlepped) through a neighborhood lined with Apple Blossom trees. Amidst the burst of pink, there was one tree that stood out.
Half of it was abloom in bright pink buds and the other half was fleeced with white blossoms. I later discovered that when the trees were planted, the arborist has grafted the wrong limb onto the tree. Even though it was half it's old self and half it's new self, it still looked beautiful and more unique than any other tree on the block. Under the shade of that duplicitous tree, I decided that its OK to be in the middle of blending my old self with this new version of me.
As I have been trying to increase my speed and get more running in for the GPH fitness challenge, I have come to realize that even though my immediate response to these new inadequacies of mine is frustration, the ultimate discovery is that initial weaknesses can become our biggest strengths. So, while I may be a little slow these days, I finally have the perfect pace to really enjoy what I used to speed right by.
Friday, April 27, 2012
Tuesday, April 17, 2012
The ongoing tabloid tirade between Jolie and Jennifer has entertained most of us for the last seven years. In-between sprints on the treadmill and sips at Starbucks, more than a few of us have given way to turning pages dedicated to the tousle between these two. We have painted this dueling duo as the pout-lipped temptress vs. the unsuspecting good wife. However, the subsequent question always follows; how could Brad Pitt love such seemingly different women?
Maybe they aren’t all that different from one another. Sure, one is the cheated and one is the cheater- but who’s keeping track? (Sorry, I guess I am on Team Aniston)
But in all honesty, I could care less about the love triangle going on. What intrigues me is the comparison game between Hollywood’s ‘bad girl’ and Hollywood’s ‘good girl’. Jolie and Aniston provide a clear portrait of a real and present problem with modern-day female interaction. Both of these woman represent the constant pull between two polar opposite female personalities on the spectrum of friendship and foe.
One woman appears to be sunny, outgoing and BFF-ish. The other is stunning, intriguingly talented, and too sexy for her slit (Oh come on we’ve all seen Jolie’s awkward Oscar stance, right?) Sure, Jolie is a UN Refugee Envoy, but still the tabloids can’t seem to get past the Pitt husband-stealing thing. And Aniston has had a string of beaus and is now happy and (perhaps prego?) with Theroux.
The take-away from their tabloid popularity is this: it isn’t about them. It’s about us.
No matter where you fall in the spectrum of good girl vs. bad girl- we can not ignore the cache of comparisons we subject ourselves to on a daily basis. Maybe we aren’t comparing ourselves to Hollywood starlets, but a lot of women run headlong into comparisons with colleagues, friends, and foes; the masochist and the ego-head alike.
Comparison alone (without stress, financial trouble, love-life lulls, etc.) can cause isolation and insecurity. It can also cause us to demean ourselves and ultimately, become depressed. According to the CDC (Center for Disease Control) 1 in 10 adults in the U.S. are suffering from depression. While there are many other factors present in the diagnoses of depression comparing ourselves unfairly to one another? It certainly can’t be helping.
My mom has always told me that comparing myself to anyone else is like trying to squeeze a glass of orange juice from a rock. Pointless. The beauty of being a woman is how multifaceted we all are. Angelina and Jennifer have both struggled in the love department and they have both had amazing careers. They are just different kinds of the same. Just as you and I.
I know what you’re thinking. Is this another bite-your-tongue-and-be-friends-with-everyone blog? Nope.
I understand that there is no way that every woman can be friends with every woman. There are certain reasons and common interests that allow us to click with some ladies and not with others- (note: lack of morality and modesty is a legitimate reason to nix happy-hour). Regardless of commonalities, there is a danger in comparing ourselves to someone else- to anyone else. Especially if the goal is to make ourselves feel better or worse than them. If we begin counting any woman as unimportant or less valuable (including ourselves), we are collectively lowering our own self worth simultaneously along with theirs.
One of the first books ever written in the history of the world was by a missionary and saint named Paul. He puts it this way. “We’re not, understand, putting ourselves in a league with those who boast that they’re our superiors. We wouldn’t dare do that. But in all this comparing and grading and competing, they quite miss the point.”
And that’s the root of the root. If we spend too much mental energy comparing ourselves with others we will have missed the point. Instead of competing in battles we can not win with one another, we should be each other’s biggest supporters and cheerleaders.
You don’t have to give a round of applause to the girl who stole your job by lying about her resume qualifications or the woman who is spreading lies about you around the office to get a promotion. Those aren’t the type of women you need in your life. Instead, take a cue from Aniston herself. If you happen to have an ‘Angelina Jolie’ in your life- do the good girl thing and go on living your life- fully. Happiness is reserved for those who don’t allow someone else to dictate who they are.
“Once you figure out who you are and what you love about yourself, I think it all kinda falls into place.” – Jennifer Aniston
Photo Courtesy of: La Baguette Magique
Tuesday, March 20, 2012
If there is such a thing as a scatter-brained Type A gal, that’s me. Some of us excel in this area, but no matter if you are disordered or tidy, spring cleaning is for establishing much-needed order. Your home’s mess-o-meter aside, spring cleaning for the soul is an essential step in trimming up those frayed emotional edges.
This isn’t about getting your closet color-coded, instead, let’s focus on cleaning out those inner cobwebs that may be fogging your vision or on unpacking your unnecessary baggage. Here is a daily checklist that can help you stay focused, positive, and clear-minded not only during this time of year, but all year-round.
Clean Out the Kitchen Sink – The phrase ‘everything but the kitchen sink‘ is one that holds a lot of water (pun fun!) for women in today’s hectic, hurried world. The phrase first appeared in common conversations during the early 20th century after World War II. The idea is that everyone’s kitchen sink is connected to internal pipes and usually bolted down; so it’s not easily moved. Metaphorically, consider the kitchen sink to be your foundation. This represents your core beliefs and what you consider to be your moral code. Take inventory of the random dirty dishes you’ve collected. Clean them and then put them away. If you have made small mistakes or big ones, this is the step that can help you rediscover homeostasis. Without emptying out the ‘dirty dishes’ you’ve been ignoring or allowing to build up overtime, it can be hard to re-discover the base structure of who you really are.
Make Your Bed Everyday – While this can be turned into a metaphor as well, the actual act of making your bed every morning is a great way to start your day. One small accomplishment like this can put into place a habit of finishing what you begin. Leaving little things undone throughout the week (beginning with skipping making the bed) can become a pathway for procrastination. And can even ultimately lead us into a life of doing things half-way. Start everyday by taking the time to make your room a place you look forward to relaxing in after a long day.
Throw Out Old Magazines – Whether you have a magazine subscription to every gossip rag in circulation or only buy an US Weekly when Ryan Gosling is on the cover, it is important to clean out those old magazines. Not only can stray paper clutter our homes and literally eat-up otherwise useful space, they can also clutter our minds with impractical ideals. Hollywood isn’t reality, and while it is great to escape every now and then, it is also important to counter-balance that input with some more substantial information. If you struggle with body issues, consider skipping the health magazines with super models on the cover. Instead, load your iPod with positive message running music or read motivational books about cultivating inner beauty.
Clean Splatters Off of the Mirror – This may be the most important step in soul spring cleaning. The way we see ourselves can get splattered upon through other people’s back-splash and our own misconceptions. Instead of letting those smudges and water spots overtake our reflections, we need to periodically wipe it away and start afresh. One way to do this is to write down some negative thoughts you’ve been harboring over the last season of your life. Go through each thought you’ve had about yourself or someone has verbalized about you and cross it off with a red pen. Write in black pen next to it, a positive thought about yourself and focus on that in place of the old one.
Spring cleaning for the soul is necessary anytime we start to feel internally cluttered. Whether you struggle with negativity, taking on too much or are simply feeling lost you need to take the time to take out the trash. In this particular time in history, women have so many options- in life, love and work. The only person holding us back from our utmost potential is the person in the mirror. Make sure you can see her clearly by giving her the space she needs to truly shine.
Tuesday, March 6, 2012
I was having a conversation with a few of my girlfriends the other day when a beautiful girl walked into the coffee shop we were at. The table went quiet.
One of my friends nervously pulled at a loose string on her hem, another stared the girl up-and-down, and the quietest of the group continued flipping through a magazine as if Brooke Burke’s doppelganger hadn’t just breezed through the door.
Finally, I said “Wow, that girl is really pretty.” Everyone responded in surround-sound; defeated and despondent, “I know, right?”
In that moment I began wondering what I was in the middle of. There was an energy shift among the women. Each of us responded in a different way. Each of us had exposed our insecurities and our imperfections in one quick moment of reflection.
As women, are we really threatened by beauty or by the way that beautiful women make us feel?
I found a recent Psychology Today article detailing the perils (ahem) of attractiveness. Heidi Grant Halvorson, Ph.D. revealed that “recent research has shown how the advantages of being beautiful don’t always translate into greater successes. In fact, being good-looking can cost you opportunities – jobs, scholarships, promotions – depending on the gender and attractiveness of your evaluator.”
She goes on to further explain via fellow Psychologist Maria Agthe, that attractive applicants who were in the process of approval for a graduate scholarship received higher ratings ‘from opposite-sex raters, but not from same-sex raters’. She went on to say that in this case, female applicants were actually penalized for their beauty by women.
As an author of a book that focuses on social graces and treating each other kindly, one of my core beliefs is deeply rooted in the importance of cultivating inner beauty. But that isn’t to say that outward beauty doesn’t have it’s own gravitational pull in our society and in our emotional lives.
The pretty girls feel like they need to apologize for being so.The plainer girls feel like they need to interchange the words ‘mean ‘and ‘pretty’ to make themselves feel like the nicer of the two. Regardless of where we fall on the spectrum of beauty, I stumbled across some stats that I think may help us better understand our aversion to accepting prettiness with grace.
According to the Social Issues Research Center (SIRC) a non-profit organization founded to conduct research on social and lifestyle issues, 80% of women over the age of 18 are unhappy with the way they look.
SIRC explained, “Recent experiments have shown that exposure to magazine photographs of super-thin models produces depression, stress, guilt, shame, insecurity, body-dissatisfaction and increased endorsement of the thin-ideal stereotype. Magazines like Vogue and Elle are banned in many eating-disorder clinics, because of their known negative effect on patients’ body-image.”
In a Harvard University Study they found that two-thirds of underweight 12-year-olds considered themselves “fat”. By 13, at least 50% of girls are dissatisfied with the way they look. At 14, the dissatisfaction becomes more targeted to certain areas of the body. By the time 17 rolls around, 7 out of every 10 girls will have been on a diet.*
Our image insecurities have lead us to judge not only those around us, but in turn, our poor fragile selves. And this vicious cycle of self-loathing and discontentment has led us to develop a distorted idea of beauty.
The root of the root? Pretty girls don’t have it made. No one does.
One of the freshest examples of this is Whitney Houston. Gone too soon at 48, she was a beautiful and talented lady who had everything going for her . In an interview with Good Morning America, the Canadian power-house Celine Dion commented, “What happens when you have everything? Love, support, motherhood…Something happens that I don’t understand. That’s why I’m scared of show business.”
In Whitney’s case, people continue to say what a waste. What a loss. What a shame. Because it is. Here is a woman who didn’t understand her own worth. Here is a woman who never understood how to accept her beauty and talent instead of resent it. I think there are a lot of us like her.
The problem may lie in the way we have been programmed to view beauty. While every woman wants it, we are also told to ‘harbor a secret hatred for the prettiest girl in the room’ (whether that’s someone else or ourselves)- as feminist-songwriter Ani DiFranco so eloquently stated.
How about you? Have you ever been shunned because you were a threat to another woman? Have you ever been left out, even though you didn’t quite understand why? Maybe just maybe, it had nothing to do with something being wrong. Perhaps it was just because you looked too right.
Have you ever done the shunning? Have you ever given envy the upper hand?
We hear all the time about accepting each others faults, but what we hear less about is accepting each others loveliness.
We need to remember that feminism in it’s original form was not only a sect of activists promoting a series of accomplishments to catapult women into their own real of economic progress– it was also meant to create a bond between sisters; a union of souls. We need to get back to that place.
Beauty is defined as ‘the qualities in a person that pleasurably exalts the mind or spirit.’
My advice? Shock people with your goodness. There is nothing more defusing than a pretty girl who is kind. Because, even if pretty is something you are, being beautiful is something we should all work hard to become.