Tuesday, May 8, 2018

thought for the week

I was having a deep discussion with someone last week and it got intense. Trying to convey my feelings was hard. I took care to choose my words thoughtfully as I focused on a piece of lint sitting perfectly poised on my knee. As I looked up at her to see if she was getting my point, I could see that she wasn't really listening. She was staring at me, chewing on her lower lip, impatiently waiting for me to finish what I was saying so she could either tell me her thoughts or change the subject to something lighter.

I stopped what I was saying mid-sentence because it was so distracting. I paused. She quickly jumped in to give me her thoughts on what I was saying and in the same sentence, changed the topic to a new reality show she was watching. 

I felt dejected, as if what I had said was either too hard to discuss or wasn't important to her. I let it go but I spent the rest of the afternoon feeling annoyed. There were several moments when I wanted to finish the conversation from earlier but I realized that it just wasn't going to happen. I was anxious to end our visit and just head home. 

This morning I thought about that conversation and how little I felt knowing that the friend I was talking with wasn't really listening, but waiting (clearly impatiently) to say something, which literally had nothing to do with the topic that was so important to me. Then, I realized that I too, have been guilty of this. I remembered a girlfriend who was telling me about an issue that she was having at work. I had been through exactly the same thing and I couldn't wait to tell her how I handled it. I interrupted her. It was wrong of me and I realized later that I should have let her talk and not been so quick to take over the conversation, regardless of my motives.

It's a natural thing to want to align ourselves with each other, to try and fix things. It's also natural to feel so uncomfortable in a difficult conversation that you just want to change the topic. The thing is, is that there is so much to be gained by quieting ourselves and just listening. Sometimes there is no solution to a problem we're having. Just talking makes it better. Yes, there are some conversations that are hard to hear but a good relationship, a solid one, means that you support someone. In the silence and the eye contact, there is magic. I can't even count how many realizations I have had simply by talking my thoughts through to family members/friends/colleagues who had the great ability to just listen. What they did for me in those moments was allow me to gain clarity that I wouldn't have had if they had just jumped in. 

The conversation last week was a good lesson for me. Sometimes the greatest gifts are in the silence.

Friday, May 4, 2018

The vacation from social media

It was on the flight that we made the decision.

The plane was dark and quiet, just the stillness of the droning white noise, as passengers fell into the late-night after dinner sleep. I turned to L and whispered "What if we took a break from social media? What if for the next two weeks, we just focused on us and the baby and being on vacation?"

I didn't expect him to agree, at least right away. I thought it might take some convincing. After all, we were both so involved in all aspects of social media. We lived and breathed it. It wasn't just our jobs. We are both so interested in it, that it's just a part of our lives, a big part of our lives.

Instead, immediately L said yes. For two weeks we wouldn't be posting anything personal online. There would not be constant updates of where we were. No requisite shot from the chaise lounges of our feet against the ocean blue, captioned #blessed. We wouldn't be posting our tropical meals, sunsets or the baby's many firsts in Hawaii. Our first vacation as a family of three would be just for us.  This vacation was part of L's paternity leave and we had decided to get away to just focus on the three of us.

The first couple of days were HARD. We were so used to posting everything in our lives as it happened that it felt odd to order the perfect fish tacos and not post it, or the fact that we all matched in our Hawaiian clothes one day. Sure, I took pictures from the food trucks and driving along the cliff at Haleakala but we didn't post them. We also refrained from text messaging. We did send several photos of Waverly to our family and to a couple close friends but we tried hard not to send constant updates.  It was hard to break the habit but slowly we did. By the third day, when I saw something stunning, I didn't automatically think "I should post that!"

There were hundreds of moments over the two weeks that would be have perfect to post. Too many perfect sunsets, so many moments of the baby splashing in the ocean, L smiling at me in that "I just had lunch by the pool and I am just so happy sitting here with my girls" kind of way. These moments were just for the three of us and to be honest, it made them all the more special because we weren't posing or rearranging the scene so it was pretty or more Instagrammable.

Instead, we banked these happy moments. I wrote a journal for Waverly so she would remember this trip somewhere in that evolving 8 month-old brain of hers and next week, I'll post some of the things that make Hawaii such a happy place.

What I learned from this social media break is that when I was focused on creating popular posts, it didn't make me happy. It took me away from being present. I think of the moments that I would have missed if I said "Hang on. I've got to get my phone." Instead, on a balmy evening with an orange sun setting into an indigo sky, with the palm trees swaying and the island air smelling like plumeria, I looked over at L and Waverly and thought 'happy.'


Wednesday, May 2, 2018

The Happygirl Guide to May 2018

I love May. I always feel so much better once the weather warms up. I dive into outdoor activities and I just feel healthier and happier in general. The rain gear gets tucked away until September and the soft cotton t-shirts and shorts come out. We trade in the comfort food for creative salads and raw foods and after dinner means strolls with the baby instead of curling up watching TV. 
It's such a great month. I hope your May is a happy and healthy one!

Tuesday. Bills may be due on the first of the month, but don't forget to pay yourself too. Put 10% of your paychecks into a savings account (that you don't touch) and 5% into a special goal account.

Wednesday.  If you're lucky enough to planning a trip to Walt Disney World in the first part of May, stop by Sprinkles at Disney Springs for a Casamigos Margarita cupcake. This limited time key lime cupcake is made with blanco tequila and topped with key lime frosting. Only through May 13th.

Thursday.  "Tully" opens this weekend. If you're a mom, you need to take a mom's night out to catch this touching Charlize Theron film. 

Friday. It's International Star Wars Day (May the fourth be with you!) 
Stay in and watch a "Star Wars" marathon.

Saturday. It's Cinco de Mayo. Celebrate by making the perfect margarita with this recipe. 
It's also the Kentucky Derby. So, visit the ponies and wear your fanciest, floppiest hat. 

Sunday. This week is National Anxiety & Depression Awareness Week. If you are feeling anxious or depressed, you aren't alone. You are incredible and strong and there are people who can help you regain your footing. AADA.com is a great source to help you find a therapist or a support group. 

Monday. This Sunday is Mother's Day. If you haven't already ordered her present or sent a card, now would be a good time to do that. 

Tuesday. It's National Teacher Day. Do you have a teacher in your life. Thank them for all that they do. What's a good gift?  I asked some of my friends who are teachers and while gift cards are still the #1 favorite gift, a S'Well water bottle ranks up there too. 

Wednesday. It's finally getting sunny and warm and time to go for a run or a walk. If you've never done a 5k, now is a perfect time to start. Visit Active.com for a list of fun runs, 5K's, 10K's, half-marathons and marathons around the U.S.

Thursday. Pick up your first beach read of the summer. "The Perfect Mother: A Novel" by Aimee Molloy is a thriller about a group of mothers who meet socially and one of the newborns goes missing. If you loved "Gone Girl," this is the book you need to pick up. 

Friday. Take advantage of the warmer weather to try new salads. The already prepared  Mexican Style Corn & Quinoa Salad at Trader Joe's in perfect to take with you to work or school. 
You'll feel like you're at a healthy Mexican food truck. 

Saturday. It's Letter Carrier's Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive Day. If your area participates in this, leave a non-perishable item for your postal carrier. 

Sunday. It's Mother's Day. Call your mom, take her out to brunch and make her feel like it was worth all those late nights she spent staying up with you. 

Monday. It's National Etiquette Week.  You can make the world a better place by simply practicing better etiquette techniques at work and in your day-to-day life like addressing someone by name, putting your cel phone away at a restaurant or arriving with the perfect hostess gift when you're invited for an overnight stay. Read this article to polish up your etiquette skills 

Tuesday. Today begins Ramadan, a month to focus on spiritual reflection, self-discipline and worship. Ramadan ends on June 14th.

Wednesday. Instead if coffee to start your morning off, try an iced matcha with coconut milk.
 It's a Paleo friendly and a healthy start to your morning. I like this recipe. 

Thursday. Look up your closest no-kill animal shelter. If you can't add a new family member at this time, check out their 'need' list (towels, blankets, specialized kibble for sensitive dogs and cats. . .) and drop off some items to help make their lives more comfortable as they wait for their forever homes.

Friday. "Deadpool 2" (Ryan Reynolds) opens this weekend as does "Show Dogs" (Will Arnett, Natasha Lyonne, Ludacris)  and "Book Club" (Diane Keaton, Jane Fonda, Candice Bergen)

Saturday. It's the royal wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. 
Catch the ceremony live on ABC at 5am E.T.

Sunday. It's Healthy & Safe Swimming Week. Do you have basic swim skills? If your a parent, does your child know what to do in case he falls in water? Visit your local YMCA to learn more about swim skills. It's never too early to start. My daughter, Waverly, is 8 months-old and she is enrolling in swim class this month.

Monday. Send three people a positive text message to start their weeks off right. 

Tuesday. Call the person you have been meaning to call but never seem to have the time for. Put away all other distractions and reach out. It's time. 

Wednesday. Now is a great time to up your t-shirt game.  I recently bought this bamboo hoody in Blue Chill from FreeFly ($54.95)which is not only soft but also has a built in SPF of 20. It's perfect for early mornings and cool nights too.

Thursday. Fleet Week begins today in NYC and goes through Tuesday, May 30th. Join the seven-day celebration honoring the members of the United States Navy, Coast Guard and Marine Corps. 
Here is your full guide to Fleet Week. 

Friday.  It's the start of Memorial Day Weekend. 
"Solo: A Star Wars Story" opens this weekend. 
If you live in NYC, catch an outdoor screening of "Clueless" at SkyLawn, atop the Midtown Hotel in the theatre district. $23 gets you a lounge seat and bottomless popcorn.

Protect your beautiful skin from the sun with an SPF of at least 30 and a hat.
 I love this Peter Beaton straw hat that I picked up on a trip to Nantucket. 

Sunday. If you live in L.A., you know how awesome it is to sit on the lawn at Hollywood Forever Cemetery to catch a film. Several of the May screenings have already sold out but tickets are still available for "Casablanca." Book now to get tour tickets before they sell out too. 

Monday. It's Memorial Day. You may have outdoor plans with friends but take a moment to remember those in the armed forces who  have given their lives for protecting us. Learn more about the history of Memorial Day here

Tuesday. If you're a David Sedaris fan, this is your happy day. His latest book, "Calypso," debuts today. From DavidSedarisbooks.com "David Sedaris returns with his most deeply personal and darkly hilarious book. This is beach reading for people who detest beaches, required reading for those who loathe small talk and love a good tumor joke. Calypso is simultaneously Sedaris’s darkest and warmest book yet-and it just might be his very best."

Wednesday.  Change up your fitness routine. Add the MINDBODY app to your iphone (Android users, click here) and access the best fitness and wellness classes in your area. One of my girlfriend's found her favorite new kickboxing class with this app. 

Thursday. Take care of your skin. Prepare for summer by investing in a great sunscreen that you can wear every day. I like this one from Blue Lizard that absorbs easily into your skin and doesn't leave you smelling like you wish you were on the beach instead of at work. 


Thursday, April 12, 2018

What's Surprised me Most About Motherhood

There was just he and I

And then there she was.

After years of shots and procedures and hopes up and hopes down, of prayers and tears (so many tears), of hypnosis, acupuncture, novenas, Chinese herbs and doctors (so many), the little wonder arrived last August. Finally, she was here. I was a mother. L was a father. Our family and friends tried to prepare us for what parenthood meant but I don't think it's possible to explain just what it means to be a parent.

I  knew I wou;d love her, be protective of her but I was surprised by just how much changed. I was floored.

I'm an only child. From childhood I was always independent and thankfully God placed the perfect man in my life who knew how to handle someone like me. The two of us along with our little Westie, Emma (2001-2017) made a perfect little family. We traveled more than a million and half miles between us and we forged a pretty cool life, both of us working in the entertainment industry. Between the traveling around the world for work, there were the fertility consultations, shots in airplane bathrooms and pregnancy tests in random hotels around the world. We were always asked "How are you guys going to fit a baby into this lifestyle?" "We'll make it work," we said. "She'll be a great little traveler." Then they laughed.

That is what we expected. Our lives would remain pretty much the same, but with the addition of a child who would easily adapt to our life. She would have to, because we had busy lives to lead,

If you're a parent, I imagine you are laughing (hard) reading this.

It didn't work out quite like this.

I had read the books and booked time with experts. We took the classes and nested. We were physically ready for her but becoming a parent is more than just the physical readiness. I knew that I would learn how to change her diaper in seconds. in the most unusual places. I understood that I would get used to another person's bodily fluids. (Oh, the bodily fluids!). I knew that the white linen dresses and white oxford tops I favored would more than likely be stained with various baby fluids/food. I knew that our lives would change.

What I didn't know is that I would change so much as a person. I feel like I am a different person. I expected that my life would remain kind of the same with this little person joining my daily life. Instead, I feel like I grew up once we had Waverly. The things that I would get upset about or that I thought I valued just fell by the wayside.

I remember there was this moment after Waverly was born. It was a hot August day, early in the morning, when the dew is still cool on the grass. We were in the hospital and I was holding Wave. L was asleep on the partner bed and it was just she and I, awake staring at each other. The sun was just coming up as I held her. I closed my eyes. She was tucked inside the blankets on my chest and I inhaled her scent.

It was that moment when something changed in me. I was her mother. That was what mattered the most.  I suddenly had clarity into what was important in my life.  It was clear to me that my goal in life was to be a better person so that I could raise a child who was resilient, confident, kind, smart, brave, independent and compassionate. I wanted to be the kind of person she could look up to.  It's such a hard thing to describe. It's like for my entire life I saw the world in a fuzzy way but I didn't know that this wasn't the way it was supposed to me. Then someone handed me glasses and everything shifted into perfect clarity.

Every morning that I wake up now, I think "How can I make this child's life better? What can I do to ensure that she feels loved and secure? What can I do to make her environment better?" Once you are a parent, you discover this strength that you didn't know that you had. I do believe I could lift a car off of her if I had to.

I am surprised by this. After all that happened in my life around 2009 (the collapse of what I thought was the perfect life), what I realize is that life isn't just about making yourself happy. It's about making the world around you a better place. It's about making the lives of the people in your world better just because you are in it. I think about this and how my decisions today will reflect in Waverly's life and in L's and in the people who are in our world, the people who helped us become the family we are today. The ripples of goodness, of light, of happiness just keep going in perpetuity.

I hope that one day Waverly looks back on her life and remembers all the moments when she felt safe and happy, when I ignored the dusting and the blogging to just sit with her in the sunshine and admire a ladybug on her pudgy little fingertip. In that moment, I will look at her and I will be ever grateful that I got the great privilege in this life of being her mother.

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