Monday, May 6, 2013


Do you ever feel overwhelmed by the amount of clutter in your life?  I would imagine that right now you are thinking of the stuff in your bedroom, the piles on your desk at work, or perhaps the never ending to-do list of the menial and mundane stuff.  What if I asked you specifically about the PEOPLE that clutter up your life?

Do you spend some of your precious free time nurturing friendships that don't give back and then find yourself lacking time to contribute to other meaningful relationships?  Or what about the drama that can come from unhealthy friendships or unwanted relationships?  It's time to focus on Spring Cleaning and cleanse your mind and lifestyle of this unwanted clutter.

I realize that the proposed task at hand might be daunting, but think of it similar to cleaning out your closet.  Shoes that no longer fit?  Out.  Shoes that only hurt your feet so you dread wearing them?  Out.  Shoes that no longer fit with your season in life (ahem, jelly sandals)?  Out.  Once the clutter is gone, you are left with a much cleaner space to see the great shoe selection that you had all along, but was perhaps being covered by some of junk.

This can be the same with friendships and relationships.  I am a BIG believer in seasons of life and some relationships are timeless, like a great pair of black pumps, and with proper attention and care they will be with you the rest of your life.  Other friendships can have a season of purpose, but then fade or wear out, to the point that they really don't add much value to your character anymore.  Just because the shoe no longer fits or is passed its lifespan, doesn't make it a bad or evil shoe.  It served its purpose and it's time to move on.

Don't let overextending yourself with exhaustive or painful relationships clutter up the space that can allow timeless and great new relationships to shine.  Cleaning out can be hard work and maybe it doesn't mean throwing things away -- just box them up to revisit another season.

Are we still talking about shoes or friendships or dating relationships or jobs?  I'll let you pick.  No matter what you choose, Spring Cleaning is always a great catalyst for making space for the new and exciting 'shoes' to come your way.


I have recently come to the conclusion that dating is like a college semester project that never seems to end.  You start out excited about the possibilities of what you will learn, collect data, test your hypothesis about people, and then....what?  Where is the big conclusion??  As a single person I would be inclined to say that the finale is reached when you get married.  However, I am pretty sure that all of my married friends would quickly refute such a statement.  Life and love is a never ending journey of exploration and dating might be just the beginning of the data collecting process.

I am fortunate to have many 'friendtors' in my life who offer life advice and regale me with stories of days past when they were in my shoes.  This past week I had drinks with a friend about ten years older than myself and currently in the chapter of life where his primary concerns are his wife, young son, and what kind of house to buy.  A slight contrast from my current list of 'worries' which is more along the lines of caring for my health, my friendships, and where to eat delicious food on a Saturday night. 

We talked about work, mutual friends, fun things that he and his young son do together on the East Coast and then some medical anecdotes as his wife is quite the impressive medical brain.  Naturally, he then inquired about the status of my love life and I shared that I have been dating someone but fear that I am becoming overly critical in my old age.  He responded so quickly that it halted me from going any further, "BE critical!!  This is YOUR future!!"  Note the all-caps as if I was yelling at you because I am pretty sure he went for the dramatic effect to get my attention.

The comment dwelled within me throughout the rest of the weekend.  Be Critical.  Be Critical.  Guess what happened next?  A quarrel with my current beau. 

As the weekend came to an end and all arguments had been settled, my mind went back to the comment from Thursday.  I played back various romantic relationships in my life like a montage of vignettes --  a sort of highlight reel.  An odd thing stood out in all of it:  those I had loved the deepest were those I argued with most often. 

I'm not trying to say that picking a fight is a great idea and I definitely wouldn't portray my past relationships to be riddled with quarrels.  However, the relationships in which we never argued and I claimed to be blind-sided by the break-ups were often criticized to be less than authentic by my family and friends.  They questioned if I was being the truest version of myself in those relationships or if I was simply enjoying life in an easy and shallow way to go along and get along.  Such comments were never made about the more intense relationships of my past because you better believe that those boys knew where I stood on every issue.

Whether it is dating, selecting the type of food you eat, or selecting the right school or teacher for your children the advice is still the same:  Be Critical.  It's your life, your family, your choices.  

Monday, April 29, 2013

WOMEN ARE NOT MEN. It's a good thing.

As a woman on the go, you will often find me driving the many highways that define the geography of Southern California.  I log about 18,000 miles per year and am a self-proclaimed 'Road Warrior'.  I recently purchased a new hybrid with an outlet for plugging in my phone and, for the first time in my life, have discovered the world of Podcasts.  The soundtrack to my road trips has transitioned from pop songs with the occasional country ballad to comedic news casts and cultural programs -- and I love it!  Freakonomics recently produced a podcast titled 'Women are not Men' and I was laughing and learning all the way up the 405.

Here are my 3 favorite key takeaways:   
1.      Only 7.5% of patents have been filed by women.  And our Per Capital GDP would grow an estimated 3% if women were to file more patents.
2.      Women are far less likely to get struck by lightning or drown.
3.      Women only count for 16% of the Wikipedia editors.

Take what you want from these facts, but the underlying point is that the lack of desire to be confrontation in most women accounts for much of numbers 1 and 3.  I will leave the back story for number 2 to your imagination.

As the gender gap is closing, the typical personality traits inherent in the female sex continue to influence our decision making from the everyday mundanes to the boardroom .  I, for one, think this is a GREAT thing!  To my girls out there, we don't need to push ourselves to be aggressive beyond our comfort zone and we don't need to behave like a man in this world to get what we want... Do your thing and just be YOU.  The gender gap is continuing to close, women are continuing to make progress in so many areas of society, and we are doing it OUR way. 

The Freakonomics podcast closed with a discussion about crime statistics.  Not to my surprise, women commit far less crime than men.  Undoubtedly, this is a function of the same inherent trait to be less confrontational than men. 

I am, and will always be, an advocate for women to continue to grow and evolve their role in things like leadership (governmental and corporate), earning power, and the general work-life balance.  However, I found this particular podcast to be a fantastic reminder that 'us girls' don't need to act like men in order to achieve such success.  We can do it in our own way and do not need to create some internal battle to change who we are as women. 

Keep up the hard work, ladies, and embrace the feminine ways that keep us from getting hit by lightening -- or is that just a function of common sense?  To be determined in a later discussion...

Monday, April 8, 2013


I was preparing to write another health and wellness article about the importance of paying attention to the quality of our water and food when my news radio announced that Margaret Thatcher had passed at the age of 87.  She is a woman known for her strength and will power to unapologetically stand by her core philosophies about life and politics.  I quickly decided that the Iron Lady is, on her own, a story of how to be a strong woman of healthy character.

I was born into a generation where there is a higher percentage of females sitting in a college classroom then there are males.  A generation where a woman has attempted to run for President and will most likely take that seat in before I have grown children of my own.  And a generation where, back in 2006, Lifetime released an article stating that 85% of females will return to the workforce after having children. 

This world is very different from the one that Margaret Thatcher was born into back in 1925. 

To put it plainly into perspective, the United Kingdom did not even grant women the right to vote until 1928.  I am sure that Margaret's mother might have been wary to whisper to her newborn baby girl that she could be the Prime Minister one day.  Yet, by 1959 she was a Member of Parliament and in 1979 Margaret was the first woman to take residency at 10 Downing Street as Prime Minister of Great Britain.

I commented to a colleague, after learning the news of her death, that the media's attention towards women in leadership has allowed this concept to become a 'Normal' for me and my sister.  We didn't think to question whether or not it was appropriate for Hillary Clinton to run for President or to question the level of respect that women like Condoleezza Rice deserve for holding prestigious positions of leadership and power.  But, at the risk of sounding cliché, Margaret Thatcher faced many 'Glass Ceilings' during her career and she managed to punch a hole through them and move on up.  She redefined normal with an unprecedented amount of strength and will power.

The media has recently been kind to her reputation realizing that her health, and legacy, was winding down.  Meryl Street paid homage to her and did a fantastic job playing the role in a movie inspired by Margaret's life story.  However, looking at the articles and commentary from her time in power, she was not always well liked and often not well respected.  Despite the critics, and in the face of losing all popularity contests, her signature personality trait was to stand strong and not express any doubt in her capable decision making abilities.

Margaret believed in the power of showing conviction and often spoke about the importance of living her life as a woman of action.  "I’ve got a woman’s ability to stick to a job and get on with it when everyone else walks off and leaves it" and "If you want something said, ask a man; if you want something done, ask a woman" are just a couple of her famous quotes illustrating her perspective. 

When I think about women's 'health and wellness' I am quick to turn to a lifestyle magazine or Pinterest for inspirational ideas.  But the news of Margaret Thatcher's passing was a moving reminder that as I strive to be a woman of strength, from the inside out, and beautiful in both character and mind, I need to spend time and learn more about the women of past generations that led by example.

So the next time you are standing in the grocery line about to buy the latest magazine talking about 'Women's Issues', I would encourage you to pull out your iBooks or Library Card and read up on the women that made choices in history that have reshaped the path we are allowed to walk down today.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013


I am the oldest of three children in my family and always find myself pleasantly surprised when all of us have reached an age where our places in life start to overlap.  With a 6 year age gap between me and the youngest sibling, it is a welcome revelation to recognize that we have hit common ground.

This past weekend my youngest sister came home and we were talking about the challenge of maintaining healthy eating habits as a single working woman.  She graduated college only 6 months ago and doesn't quite yet have a strong skill set for cooking at home or prepping lunches to go.  In fact, her latest healthy eating habit is to order a 'Subway Foot Long' and eat half of it for lunch and the other half for dinner.  At the risk of sounding like an overbearing parent, I told her that while her intentions were good the reality is that lunch meat is full of preservatives and the makeup of a sandwich isn't actually that good  for our digestive systems.  Intrigued to learn more about healthy lunch alternatives, my brother started to chime in and ask questions about what he could either order as take-out or prepare ahead of time to prevent him from the inevitable 3 PM food coma that follows some of his heartier lunches. 

I happen to have a real love of food and nutrition so we started brainstorming about some different foods and preparation tips to carry into the following work week.  Now, admittedly, I am no expert in this field!  However, as we continue to discuss health and wellness during this Spring season I feel inclined to share with you some of my favorite tidbits to help you navigate the grocery store and give your lunch bag a face lift.  My hope is that you can take the information below and feel more energized throughout the day!

Breakfast:  It's true what they say, "Breakfast is your most important meal of the day!"
  • ·        Did you know that grapefruit is high in fiber and low in calories?  It offers a ton of vitamins and is even said to 'kick start' your metabolism in the morning.  A great choice for breakfast.

  • ·        Chia Seeds were a staple in the diet of the ancient Mayans.  They are full of Omega-3 and can give you a natural energy boost.  You can buy them at most grocery stores and they taste great mixed with some Greek yogurt.

  • ·        Don't be afraid of the breakfast shake!  Mix some fruit (bananas and blueberries work best) with some mint and lemon or lime and then throw in your favorite green (kale or spinach) for a fantastic power breakfast!

Lunch:  Packing your lunch is a great way to save some cash and have more control over portion sizes.  It's hard to shop for one person so try and pick some recipes that will overlap ingredients!
  • ·        Chicken salad is often a popular lunchtime recipe.  Want to try a healthier alternative?  Swap out the mayonnaise for non-fat Greek yogurt and use a whole wheat sprouted wrap instead of sliced break.

  • ·        Tuna fish is your friend.  It's full of protein and Omega-3.  I love to create a tuna salad made with Olive Oil, capers, fresh tomatoes, salt, and pepper.  Put it over some greens and you have a delicious, and satisfying, salad mix.  Another heartier option is to mix the tuna with some hummus and then add some olives, basil, and chickpeas.  A little bit of olive oil will create a smoother texture.  Again, put this on some spinach or kale and you have yourself a power lunch!

  • ·        Poaching is actually a pretty easy cooking method once you look up the technique.  I love to poach a filet of salmon the night before, let it cool, and then place it in the fridge for lunch the next day.  You can take your chilled salmon and place it on a bed of greens with fresh tomatoes, Greek yogurt with dill, and maybe some sliced avocado on the side.  This is also a great option for a light and healthy dinner! 

Dinner:  Cooking for one is especially tough for dinner!  Planning a weekly menu ahead of time will allow you to try and overlap the ingredients, which can cut down on cost and spoiled food at the end of the week.
  • ·       Roasting is your friend for those that like to multitask when they get home.  You can take almost any vegetable (onions, brussels sprouts, squash, cauliflower) and mix it with some olive oil, salt, pepper, and maybe another herb or spice mix to add additional flavor (cumin on butternut squash is a personal favorite) then place the tossed mixture in a baking dish for 30-45 minutes and it will cook a ton of flavor into your dish while you have time to do some laundry or catch up on emails.

  • ·        Many nutritional experts recommend eating a vegetarian diet once a week.  It will allow your system to cleanse and ease the digestion tract as most vegetarian dishes are much easier to break down than meat dishes.  Try something with lentils to keep it hearty.

  • ·        Pasta is a quick and easy dinner for most working professionals since it can keep in the box and cooks quickly.  I read a tip once that I absolutely love about healthy alternatives to your favorite pasta dishes.  Take all of the ingredients that you would normally use to make a hearty pasta dish and swap out the noodles with sautéed spinach!  If you come home from work simply starving and think that this is not going to satisfy then try and go 50/50 with whole wheat pasta and the spinach.  Another great healthy alternative is to use Soba noodles.  They taste like pasta, but are typically 100% buckwheat.

Making small differences in your eating habits can lead to pretty significant changes!  I am always weary of prepackaged foods and the cooking that can go on at a lot of restaurants (hello salt and butter!).  Take the time to do some homework and learn more about the food we eat -- you might be pleasantly surprised with how easy it is to implement the 'small tweaks'!

Monday, March 25, 2013


If you had asked me on Friday afternoon what my plans were for the evening, I would have grumbled that I have every intention of staying at home to catch up on some TiVo and then go to bed early.  It had been a long week with moments of tension at work and I was entirely worn out.  When I arrived home, take-out in hand, I was greeted by one of my housemates chirping about how he had an open day on Saturday (a rare treat for him) and he intended to enjoy a carefree evening.  At the time, I gave a brief smile and nod -- not fully aware of the events that were about to unfold.

Within the hour, my other house mate arrived home and the two boys quickly agreed that take-out from the local Mexican dive would be a great idea as would some White Russians in honor of an impromptu viewing party of The Big Lebowsky.  One took on the task of bartending and setting up the movie while the other came home with an entire pie tin full of guacamole, confident that this might be light for the level of supposed starvation that the boys were experiencing at the time.  To further add to antics of the evening, the couple of friends that soon arrived were apparently all musically inclined and readily picked up guitars stationed by the dining table and my housemate sat down at his keyboard to play, what was later deemed, an impromptu rock opera.

I couldn't help but smile and laugh at the joy in the room -- it was palpable.  Laughter and music and the smell of carne asada had enveloped the room.  I laughed throughout the night and felt my stress and gloom melt away from me.  I slept that night for nearly 9 hours and woke up feeling the most refreshed I had been in weeks.

As we continue our series on health and well being, I want to trend from the more expected topics of healthy eating habits and exercise (both still important) to something that we might not place on our 'To Do' list on a regular basis but can have incredibly powerful physical and psychological affects on our body:  laughter.
Scientific research has shown that the physical act of a 'Ha Ha Ha' releases endorphins -- the same chemical released when exercising -- which has the ability to enhance our moods.  A New York Times article from September of 2011 even goes so far as to discuss a study performed by a psychologist at Oxford University that proves, through a series of field studies, that humans can increase their pain tolerance and resiliency if they have experienced laughter and joy just before the onset of the pain or injury.

Based on the level of endorphins that perhaps helped me ease into that sound sleep on Friday night, I would immediately agree with this Oxford doc!  So now, as I continue to focus on having a healthier lifestyle leading into the summer season, when we want to look and feel our best, I must encourage the simple act of laughing more often.  It's a productive and healthy habit!  And who knows, perhaps if you achieve that deep belly laugh then you will get yourself a little ab workout as a bonus!

Monday, March 18, 2013


A friend sent me a text about a week ago asking when I might be available to meet up for a quick coffee or glass of wine.  It had been nearly 4 months since we had last seen each other and there was certainly much to catch up on as the new year is well underway.  I responded "How about 3 Thursdays from now?"  I wasn't trying to be funny, it was literally the next free evening that I had on my calendar for such a social engagement.  Not surprisingly, the response came through as "THAT is the next time you are free for an hour or two?!  You are over-scheduled!"

A few days later I was trying to coordinate some things for the weekend.  I needed to be at a dinner around 7:15 on Friday night and the person I am currently dating had hoped to spend some time together before my 'girls dinner' -- aka No Boys Allowed.  I managed to weave through traffic with about 40 minutes of 'hang time' to spare before my dinner.  That was the equivalent of a half of a glass of wine.  "What about tomorrow?  When will I see you?"  Well, I am rising early to meet a friend around 9 AM for an event that lasts until 4, so hopefully I can spend join you for dinner before heading an hour South at 9 AM tomorrow."  Again, "Woman, you are over-scheduled!"

I made my way back up to West LA in time to drive this person to the airport, but I arrived with dark circles under my eyes and an energy level to be optimistically classified at a 3.  It only took one last look of disappointment, masking frustration, for me to surrender and say "You're right.  I am over-scheduled.  While you are away, I plan to learn how to use the word NO."

For the regular readers, you may roll your eyes and think that you've heard this story before over the years of my writing.  But, like many things in our lives, it is easy to have goals and ambitions but then see choices allow healthy habits to fade into unhealthy ones.  Mind you, saying No to things is different than telling everyone that you are 'Too Busy'.  The main difference?  Establishing priorities and then making decisions to stand by them.

Last week I initiated a challenge for all of us to be proactive in choosing a more healthy lifestyle so that we might feel stronger from the inside out.  I focused on healthy eating, less sugar, and increased water consumption so that we can feel good about the nutrition that we are using to feed our body and souls.  This week, I have learned a hard lesson.  That all of this will be nearly irrelevant if we don't maintain a healthy balance in our schedules to allow for physical and mental rest. 

I have been making better nutritional choices, yet there are dark circles under my eyes and I find myself less excited about life and the relationships that I desire to pursue because too much focus is on the fact that my right eye has an occasional twitch that might give the wrong impression to the person sitting across from me.

As women, we are wired to be relational.  We are also wired to be nurturing, attentive, and often selfless.  At least for me, it is not a natural tendency to say 'No' for fear of disappointing someone or even simply because I want to embrace it all.  But we have to slow it down. 

This week's healthy habit:  sleep more and prioritize.  Not even Wonder Woman could be in 3 places at one what on Earth makes me think that I am capable of such magic?  I know this is a true challenge for so many of us, but creating boundaries is important and with that we will see healthier habits that build strength within us.