Monday, February 25, 2013

BUSY. The new "Four-Letter-Word".

I was caught by surprise at how quickly the Super Bowl came around and then it was immediately followed by Fat Tuesday.  Quite the busy weekend for New Orleans!  For many, the string of events might stop there, but Fat Tuesday is simply the beginning of a whole new season.  The season of Lent.

I grew up attending Catholic Church and even went through the Catholic school system so the biblical details of Lent are more ingrained in me than most people.  However, our culture has publicly celebrated Fat Tuesday and Mardis Gras as another national holiday and, whether one realizes it or not, the indulgence in opulence is not without reason.  The concept of Fat Tuesday is to relish in things that one might soon be sacrificing throughout the season of Lent leading to Easter Sunday.  

So now, back to Super Bowl Sunday, I knew that in the days ahead I needed to identify what it was that I planned to 'Give Up' for Lent.  Two weeks later, I had my answer.

Last year I gave up Facebook for the period of Lent with the reason being that I am easily distracted while on Facebook and can suddenly have hours pass me by before I decide to return to my real life.  I needed a fresh idea so I considered other indulgences for sacrifice this year such as cookies, swearing, or soda.  The thing is, I don't really indulge in much of those items anyways so the sacrifice seemed too easy and a bit of 'cheating' since this is meant to be a period of intentional lifestyle modification.

Then, a couple of weeks into February, I unintentionally stumbled across my answer.  It was during a period where I found myself frustrated and wrestling with various relationships in my life because I felt disconnected and disengaged from many of the people that I care about in life.  I wanted to place blame somewhere, somehow, but all I could come up with was "I've been busy."  I shared this with a dear friend of mine and he looked at me quizzically, then stated "So slow down."  Yahtzee.  It was an 'Ah Ha' moment.

Life is full of demands for our time and attention.  Work needs longer hours.  Your marriage or relationship needs 'work', aka time and attention.  The kids need you.  Your friend needs you.  Your aging parent needs you.  The to-do list is growing longer by the second and all we often can do is react. 

Stop.  Breathe.  Look at the demands at hand and prioritize.  We can't be everything to everyone and the best we can do is follow our heart and be true to ourselves in how we spend our time because, at the end of the day, it is our conscience that speaks to us with the loudest voice.

I am giving up the word B-U-S-Y for Lent because I hate the guilt that comes with disappointing my closest relationships, and myself, when I don't make the time for things that matter.  My friend was right, I do need to slow down.  I also need to realize that how I spend my time and efforts is a CHOICE.  How will you choose to spend the Lent season?  Will you give anything up for the remaining month or so?  You're welcome to share in mine, but be warned, giving up this four-letter-word is not easy.

Shapes and Sizes.

The beginning of a new year marks one of my favorite times of year -- Awards Season!  I thoroughly enjoy seeing everything from the parade of dresses and jewels float down the red carpet to the witty banter of various hosts as they attempt to deliver a strong punch line to the true personalities that will shine through in the form of an acceptance speech.

Looking back, I have typically associated the images of Awards Season with statuesque figures of actresses -- tall, slender, flawless in the face.  And then, this year, I started to see a different image populate the television screen.  It is the image of a more curvy and confidant woman. 

Amy Poehler is full of charisma and, in my opinion, did a wonderful job of providing comedic commentary with class and wit for the Golden Globes.  Amy Poehler is not a size 2.  Lena Dunham is a rising star with a clear dedication and motivation for her craft.  She features herself, and others of a more curvy shape, in her show Girls.  Lena is probably not typically described as a 'skinny starlet'.  And then, last night, as I watched the Grammy Awards I was in awe of the talent on stage from women like Miranda Lambert and Kelly Clarkson.  These award winning songstresses are confident, curvy, and successful.

I am not looking to pin the two ends of the spectrum against one another 'thin versus not-so-thin' and I certainly can't imagine describing any of the aforementioned women as overweight.  However, I do find it notable that women of various shapes and sizes stand as strong examples of confidence, success, and beauty.

I, for one, am relieved to see young girls looking up to such success stories for inspiration because what is most important is to remember that redefining normal is what has allowed our society to grow and evolve decade after decade.  Just maybe, this time around, we might decide that normal is entirely overrated and simply being an individual is the only normal that matters.

Monday, February 4, 2013


True friends are supposed to be dutifully honest and candid with one another -- true or false?  I struggled with this riddle over the weekend as I realized that a longtime friend of mine has developed a friendship with someone that I don't entirely see eye-to-eye with on....well, most all matters in life.   It isn't an issue of being right or wrong, we are just different.  And, for the most part, that's ok.  But what happens if you start to feel that something is taking place that is slowly approaching the line between different and 'not good'?  Do you speak up?

I, probably like many of you, have developed deeply rooted opinions as I have become more educated and have experienced many authentic moments in life.  These opinions might have first started with my upbringing and elementary education, but at some point there was a dramatic shift.  The shift began to transpire while in college as I realized that I was very much in the driver's seat of my future and no longer in the passenger's seat watching a parent guide the wheel.  My values, beliefs, and habits only became more ingrained in me as I lived life in my 20's and experienced peaks and valleys in both my personal and professional life.  This is no tall tale and I am confident that many of you can nod your head in agreement with this similar timeline of self discovery and development of affirmations. 

Now we have our voice, we like our voice, and we stand behind our voice.  With this realization there is acknowledgement of there being a voice on the other side of the table that is in conflict with your beliefs -- opposition to your opinions. 

I realized this past weekend that up to this point in life, I have had the distinct luxury of selecting my friends and, ultimately, deciding who is a part of my life.  At some point this changes and we must face personalities that, perhaps, we would rather not encounter in the first place.  A coworker.  A fellow mom in your neighborhood 'Mommy and Me' class.  The girlfriend of one of your boyfriend's friends.  A new friend of one of your old friends.

I found myself approaching a very dangerous zone this weekend -- the bad mouthing zone.  It is a place where I start to voice my opinion and in order to make a statement I must contrast it against something or someone with the ultimate goal of putting my perspective in bright light and the other's in a dark place.  Sounds innocent enough, right?  But then I held my tongue.

Our challenge, as decent human beings, is to maintain our opinions and values with integrity.  This means speaking with constructive criticism and showing respect to our fellow beings.  If I haven't lost you yet in my stream of consciousness about life and relationships then I will leave you with this to ponder:  At what point are we to know better than to think that we know best?