Tuesday, June 14, 2016

From Avalon to Orlando

For the last year and a half we have been in a period of adjustment: to life in a new country, life as a new foursome. The first five months here were in survival mode: where is the supermarket? how do we take the tram? which pediatricians speak English? or French? Then Logan started pre-school and we began to find a rhythm and routine as a family. We finally started to become part of the community, to put down roots, to find a new church (much easier said than done), to meet people and make friends. I have been fortunate to make quite a few mom friends here, which, as most will tell you, can be challenging. I’ve hosted a few trunk shows, and had meaningful conversations with other women about our aspirations, desires, relationships, parenting, menu planning, manicures.

Jérôme plays soccer on Tuesdays, I joined a chamber choir, the children have school and playdates, judo, toddler gym. We usually play tennis on Saturday mornings. Our life here is peaceful if perhaps lacking in glamour. I look longingly at my beautiful evening clothes somedays and wish I had the time and the occasion to wear them. We are healthy, our families are fine. We’re usually sleep deprived but that’s a small cross to bear. I love our home and give thanks daily that we moved here. I am content, but there is one thing missing…for the first time in my life I don’t have any gay friends.

On Thursdays, we have a play date with two others families; one Dutch, one Greek. The Dutch dad brings his two daughters, the Greek mom brings her two boys, and I bring my Franco-American pair. The six kids wreak havoc, cry, fuss, laugh, snuggle, and we three weary parents talk about anything and everything. A few weeks ago, I mentioned that I miss having gay friends. Both the Dutch dad and Greek mom looked puzzled. Do you have any gay friends? I asked. The Greek mom shook her head. She has her hands full with the boys, so outside of the Greek community here, I don’t think she has met many other people who aren’t parents to toddlers. What is the attitude toward gays in Greece? I asked. She grimaced. Well, the official position of the government is in line with the orthodox church, so…it’s not really supported. What about you? I asked the Dutch dad. Do you have any gay friends? No? What about your wife (also my friend)? She works at an Arts organization, surely she has gay colleagues. I think there might be one guy in her office, he said. Why do you need gay friends? he asked. What’s the difference?

I paused to reflect. A friend is a friend, of course, regardless of their sexual orientation, but a gay friend brings an experience and perspective that is unique. I’ve had gay friends since I was 18, a lot of them, and I have been richer for it. Until today, until this hideous, horrible, senseless fucking tragedy, I had never truly considered the depth of courage and defiance it takes to be gay and out in America in 2016. When I think now of friends who came out to me in college, I am awed at their self-awareness, at their bravery to no longer deny their true selves. I am also honored that they trusted me with this precious information to accept and support them. Two girl friends sat me down at the end of one of my famous parties to tell me that they were not just best friends, but together. "We wanted you to know." Another friend told me during our choir tour in NYC. We were on the bus. « I’m gay, you know ». A brief but profound moment for me.

Today I am remembering so many Sunday nights spent at Avalon. Yes, this middle-aged Mom was once a club kid. Big time. Gay night on Landsdowne Street was an event anticipated all week. Great music, revelry, release, escape, boys and girls together in the ladies room and nobody gave a fuck what your gender was, laughter, catharsis, safety. Yes, gay clubs are a safe place. And not just for gays. I always felt safe, protected even, when I went to a gay club. I didn’t have to worry about drunk douchebags bothering me while I danced. I didn’t have to feel self-conscious that my outfit would draw the wrong kind of attention. I was always greeted with smiles, made to feel part of the family. Included by a group that is so often excluded. That this horror took place at a gay club, a space where one should feel safe, sickens me. So too the abominable responses from haters. I naively believed that once gay marriage was legalized the fight was over. That people would get over it. Move on. I see now that there is still much work to do.

My beloved gay family, I have not lived your struggles, I can’t imagine the pain and heartbreak that you are feeling, but I am your ally, I am your sister, I am grieving with you. You are not alone in this fight.  If I hear a homophobic comment, I will call a motherfucker out. If I see discrimination, I will speak up. Loudly. 

I am sending big love to you and giving thanks for your presence in my life. We’re in this together.  xox O

Friday, February 13, 2015

Love the One You're With

Love the One You're With. What does that mean? If you've been following our posts over the last few weeks, you know that it sure as hell doesn't mean settling for a loveless story just because it is convenient or you don't know how to get out of it.

What it means, my Darlings, is love the person looking back at you from the mirror. That's "the One" you need to love more than anyone else. Until you truly love yourself, don't bother getting involved with another person.

You already know my credentials, so here Miss O will speak with authority.  I have found that those people who stay in dead-end relationships are stuck because they don't think they deserve better. They don't have a high opinion of themselves and so they allow any douchebag with decent hygiene to take advantage of them. If you believe that you are a wonderful person, you cannot allow yourself to be treated poorly. If you have respect for yourself, you will command respect from others. If you don't, why should anyone else bother?

If you are looking for a mate to be your life raft, the story is already doomed. If you think finding a boyfriend or girlfriend, and "being loved" is going to turn your life around, lift you out of loneliness and "complete you", it could work for a little while. In the same way putting a band-aid over a ax wound could stem the blood flow.

However, if you think you're already pretty f*cking great, and a significant other will be the icing on the cake, then you have a damn good shot at finding the real thing. My point: You have to love yourself FIRST.

When I met Honey I was having the best hair day of my life. I had splurged on a new 'do with the fabulous Sebastien and walked out of the salon thinking: I am the cutest girl in Paris. No small feat in a city teeming with babes.

I was supposed to have had a date that night with a Russian Count, who called me to say: Dahlink, I can't see you this weekend, I have to fly to Stockholm blah blah blah excuses excuses excuses. Are you angry?
I checked my pulse and thought: Nope. 
The Count actually said: I hope you don't meet your future husband tonight, I will be so jealous. 
Did he think I should be sitting at home pining away?
I simply replied: We'll see. I hung up and thought: I am fabulous and brilliant, and my hair and I are going out on the town. You snooze, you lose, Dahlink.

Honey has since confessed that he didn't really love my haircut, but I was emanating such an "I'm awesome" vibe that it was like a tractor beam he couldn't escape.

February 14th is a day fraught with anxiety and stress for many. If you are single, the fact seems to be rubbed in your face. If you are coupled, the ridiculous expectations are no fun. I sent her two dozen roses but she was pissed because I didn't write a card.  You can't win. It really is no different from the day before or the day after. I know that you know this logically, but sometimes it is hard to see past the cupid and hearts conspiracy perpetrated by the greeting card mafia..

So to take your mind off it, I am giving you a homework assignment. It doesn't matter if you are happily/miserably attached or single.

You are going to write a love letter...to yourself. No protesting. You will do it.

It can be flowery, it can be bullet-points. I don't care. This assignment is mandatory, and you will write it down. Or type it, if you're one of "those" people. You've never written a love letter? Now's your chance. I am asking you to tell yourself what's so great about YOU. The things you appreciate, the quirks that are loveable. At least one of the points must be a compliment about the physical you.

Sidebar: when I teach Charm School, the first lesson is: How To Accept a Compliment. Most people are incredibly inept at responding to a compliment. Why oh why is our first instinct to be self-deprecating? to put ourselves down? Enough with this rubbish, I say! Be honest: when someone gives you a compliment, do you say thank you and mean it? Or do you deflect and turn it against yourself?

You like my dress? Oh, well I've actually gained weight and can't wear my other clothes waaaah waaah waaah. NO.
You think my hair looks good? But my skin is a mess and I don't have a boyfriend. UNACCEPTABLE.

I'm going to quote my girl, Whitney:
Learning to love yourself
It is the greatest love of all

Back to your letter...I know there are things that you love about unique, wonderful you. Please, Darlings, take a few minutes to do this for yourself.

I'm going to give you a head-start with a sample Love Letter to Me.

Dear Miss O,

Have I ever told you how happy I am that I get to spend my life with you? I think you're terrific, and I am lucky to be near you everyday.

I love you from your delicate ankles to your well-groomed eyebrows and every part in between. I love that you can sing the St. John Passion from memory and also the complete oeuvre of Hall n' Oates. I think it's pretty neat that you don't take sh*t from anyone, and that you color-coordinate your closet. I find it adorable that you want to eat ice cream even when it's frackin' freezing outside. I love the way you don't give a f*ck about styles or trends and have created your own original look. I appreciate that you are a dedicated friend to me (even when you have to call me out) and those you care about.

I am proud that you're my "One". I heart you and I hope that we will be together for many more years.

xox Miss O

Ok, Darlings, now it's your turn. Write your letter (or print it out) and save it somewhere special to look at if you forget how magnificent, how loveable, how awesome you are. After you finish writing, go to the mirror or take out your compact, and tell the person looking back: I LOVE YOU. Go do it. Now.

You are loved, Darlings. Now pass me those chocolates!

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Let's Get Physical!

In the spirit of Your Body is a Temple, I decided to dust off my favorite exercise dvd. And when I say favorite, I mean my only exercise dvd. Dancing with Julianne.

Back in the day, my mother had a collection of fitness books and videos from '80's beauty icons: Jane Fonda, Raquel Welch, Jaclyn Smith, and Christie Brinkley. Sometimes I would try to fumble through Raquel's yoga tape with Mom...I was an expert at the Cobra pose, where you basically just lie there and lift your head up a bit. The only thing I can remember about Jane Fonda's workout were her high-fashion legwarmers. Jaclyn Smith's book was a glossy ode to 'natural beauty'... with excellent lighting. And Christie...Christie Brinkley's book was the Beauty Bible. For the sixth grade Cotillon Dance I begged my mother to recreate one of Christie's hairstyles from the book for me. It took HOURS and bore little resemblance to her glorious mane of California Blonde, but I felt super glamorous nonetheless.

I must give a shout-out to my mother here...any non-professional attempting to tame this wild head of curls with a blow-dryer deserves a medal. Thanks, Mom.

I was convinced that the Little Dragon would want to dance with me (and Julianne) and we could have a fun and painless family fitness activity. I'm going to be in great shape and I'll probably win a parenting award for inspiring my toddler to get physical!

I hit play, started grooving to the upbeat intro music, and realized I should probably have a water bottle handy. PAUSE. Ok, now I'm totally ready, this is going to be awesome. Wait, should I be drinking water or is it better to drink a healthy juice? I think I read somewhere that you should drink juice when you're working out. I don't want to mess up my metabolism. No, now I remember, you should drink water during the work, and juice immediately after. I'm going to be so f*cking healthy, I can feel it already! Here we go, Julianne...ok, marching in place, no sweat. Wait, I need to get a towel in case I do sweat. PAUSE. I think I'll put on a headband while I'm at it. Uh-oh, is that the baby? Maybe I should let her cry it out? No, get the baby and just march in place for as long as it takes to calm her down. At least I'll be doing something...hold on a minute, I'm having a déjà-vu.

(cue tape from January 2011)

I slid in the dvd, excited that I was finally going to “work out”. I was sure that after a few weeks following this program, I would be ready to audition for the Rockettes. Julianne appeared on the screen, cheerful, friendly, your best girlfriend, your smokin' hot galpal that you're super jealous of, but she's really nice so you can't hate her. She started with some helpful tips for the Cha-Cha, then explained how to execute a turn in the Paso Doble. Ok, uh-huh, a few false steps and then I was in the ZONE.

Five minutes in and I was still kicking ass. Up to this point, I had been focused on following Julianne's footwork and then I realized the camera was getting up close and personal with...Julianne's thighs. Also her abs. And her hips. I forgot to mention that she was wearing a scrap of lycra that normally I would have found objectionable, but her dancers body is so gorgeous that she was pulling it off. Big time. Also, she is really smiley and cute so it didn't piss me off. Whoever her stylist is deserves a Nobel Prize... or something. I considered getting a bag of chips and sitting down to watch the rest of the “program” like a movie, but I figured that would be counterproductive.

Next came the warm-up with her two back-up dancers. Ok, the cat/cow, neck roll, hip circles. The camera was in extreme close-up. Her lycra outfit was a marvel of engineering. It stretched and flexed with every move but never revealed “too much”. (N.B. do not leave your husband alone with this dvd)

I looked at the clock. Time to turn on the stove. We have an electric stove and it takes a pretty long time to get going and a really inordinate amount of time to boil water. If I started it now, then I could do my workout with Julianne and my bowl of pasta would be ready just in time. Because I was going to really need those carbs after my intense workout. And probably some lean protein. (Carbs? Lean protein? I have no idea what I'm talking about.  What I do know is that Honey eats a bowl of pasta bigger than my head after a morning at the gym)

Ok, so while the water is boiling I'll make some sauce. Let's see, what do we have here? Ooh, shallots. And for the lean protein...lardons. They're cut into tiny pieces so that must be lean. And for a healthy vegetable, champignons de Paris. This meal is definitely going to replenish my electrolytes! Maybe I should add some white wine, you know, to help with re-hydration. Is one cup enough?
Well now that I've opened the bottle, I can't just leave it sitting around. I think there's a French law about that. If a bottle has been opened, at least one glass must be consumed. That makes sense, really.

Waters boiling already. Honey usually eats 500 grams of pasta so I should probably just eat 400, you know because he has a faster metabolism. I know I'm forgetting something. Of course, crème fraiche! (If you haven't met crème fraiche, she is sour cream's more delicious full-fat sister.) Honey always cracks a raw egg over his pasta, but I think that might be too much protein for me since I don't want to bulk up. I'm going for “toned”.

What's that noise? Did I leave the TV on? Oh, riiiiight, Julianne. Damn, I missed all the steps, but I can still get in the Cool Down before my pasta is ready.

I think I'm going to go weigh myself. I'm sure I've already lost a couple of kilos. Now where did I leave the wine?

Have a great work-out, Friendlies, and Bon Appétit.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Now Cheer This!

Dear Friendlies -

( I started this post on the morning of April 15th, hours before, and miles away from, the events that would unfold in my beloved Boston. I'm finally ready to finish it today.)

I love Marathon Monday in Boston. Having lived on Beacon Street in Brookline for 17 years, participating in my city's important day was a treat and a happy obligation. In the early '90's I watched with the crowds at Coolidge Corner or Kenmore Square where the race, for me, seemed like a giant social event. Two or three times, when I worked retail in the Back Bay (always open, even on a holiday), I was right on Boylston Street listening to the applause and the shouts of encouragement near the finish line.

My favorite memories were the 10 years watching from the 1/2-mile stretch between Cleveland Circle and Washington Square right around Mile 23. The crowd was jovial, someone was always grilling in front of my building, beach chairs were set-up, and there was no shortage of beer. At this stretch in the course, only a few miles from the finish, there were no barriers and the runners were very close to the spectators. I loved this spot because I felt like I could make a difference there. Make a difference? Let's get one thing straight: Miss O does not enjoy running and is not entirely sure why someone would put themselves through a marathon. And yet, I never missed it.

From my bedroom window, I could see and hear the early spectators getting into place. I would check the tv and watch the progress of the leaders, listening for the news helicopters...when I saw them approaching Chestnut Hill Avenue, I would tear down the stairs and across the street to see the leaders fly by. It was always thrilling and always over in a second. Then I would return to my apartment to wait for the "real people".

At first I didn't understand why I was drawn to the marathon. It's not like watching a match with exciting action or the possibility of an thrilling play. In fact, it made me uncomfortable to watch a herd of strangers struggling, panting, sweating, sometimes bleeding, but I would watch and clap. I often got a sun-burn with the outline of my sunglasses on Marathon Day, my hands would be sore from clapping and my voice was hoarse. Sometimes I would watch with a pal, but often I would spend an hour or two by myself cheering for random runners. On Marathon Monday 2006, I was headed to the airport to fly to Paris with a dear pal and his mom, but stopped to put in my time on the course as he waited with our suitcases on the sidewalk. In 2007 I was at a friends' party down the street and we came upstairs (for more beer) to learn of the tragedy at Virginia Tech. By the 2008 Marathon, I had acquired a cowbell (a gift from a dear friend, an alumnus of Furman University) with the letters FU.

Armed with my cowbell, I was an unstoppable cheerleader...a one-woman noise-machine, a whirling dervish of encouragement and support for these unknown athletes. I say athletes, but sometimes I thought of them as poor bastards. "Why on earth would this poor bastard put him/herself through this?" I didn't get it. I still don't, but now I have many many friends who are runners, and I don't think of them as poor bastards. I think what they do is admirable, heroic even. I have a friend who has run the Boston Marathon 10+ times for the American Liver Foundation. I know another guy who ran a 50k to celebrate his 50th birthday.  On my 50th birthday, I plan to be lounging on a divan drinking champagne like it's my job, not getting sweaty and miserable with leg cramps. What can I tell you? It takes a village.

As my years as a spectator progressed, so did my cheering. First I just clapped and yelled "Whoo" randomly. Then I started reading the names on the runners' jerseys and calling them out by name, "Looking good, Bob! Keep it up!" Sometimes nothing happened, my voice was lost amid the stampede. Sometimes I saw an imperceptible smile or nod as they heard their name and pushed forward. Sometimes they located the source of the sound and made eye contact with me. Other spectators would stare as I went on for hours with my solo gig, yelling and ringing my bell. If a runner was wearing a shirt with their flag, I would (try to) yell in their language: Allez la France! Viva Italia! Foreigners were always very surprised and very appreciative of the support. In 2009, an adorable Asian gentleman in his 40's was so pleased when I yelled "Let's go Korea!" that he STOPPED RUNNING and took a picture with me by the side of the race.

Perhaps the most special moments were when the runners were very close to me, with no barriers, just 2 feet away, and I didn't need to yell, I could speak to them quietly.  I would lean as close as I dared without obstructing the path and say: "You got this, Girl. You're kicking ass, Buddy. Stay Strong. You're going to make it."  Often the women would mouth "thank you". The men had more of a visceral response, I could see them lean in and move forward with determination. These up-close-and-personal exchanges had a profound effect on me. Sometimes I could feel myself getting choked up. You're not even running, what the frack are YOU crying for?! It was my heart that was overflowing. Overflowing with joy, with purpose. If my voice, if my smile could help a complete stranger move one foot closer to their goal, maybe we can all make a difference?

Every man, woman, and child on Planet Miss O will be (should be) cheering for the Red Sox tonight, but tomorrow I ask you to find someone, a regular person, maybe someone close to you, perhaps a total stranger who needs encouragement.

Merriam-Webster defines the verb encourage:
1. to fill with courage or strength of purpose
2. to help the growth or development of 
3. to rouse to strong feeling or action 

Friendlies, helping someone achieve their goal, supporting someone who faces a challenge is a great gift. We are on this earth to be a blessing. I encourage you to share your strength, to use your voice, your kindness, your smile...be someone's cheerleader. You can make a difference!

Friday, March 22, 2013

Impeccable You

Darlings -

I hope you have been energized and enthusiastic living your New Years Mantra.

As promised here is my second installment: Be Impeccable with your Word.

The concept is borrowed from an excellent book, The Four Agreements, and I believe it is important for many reasons.

On the most basic level,  I see it as being clear in your communication. If you have something to say, say it directly. Few of us like confrontation, but far worse is passive aggressive communication. When I reflect on relationships (romantic, professional, friendly) that ended on disagreeable terms, most often the culprit was poor communication. I am blessed in the friend department, but the one close friendship that I lost (almost ten years ago) still haunts me in dreams/nightmares. It's not that I think about the friend  much, but the fact that it ended with poor communication causes my subconscious to continue fretting over it.

By comparison, a relationship that ended with clear, strong (trashy and tawdry even) words is much easier (for me) to file away mentally and emotionally. This person in question left my life saying: "You're really a handful, you know?" (He thought that was a huge insult.) To which I replied: "A-f*ckin-men!"  Period. The End.

So let's try to be clear with each other, and not just for break-ups, but to better our relationships.

On the next level, Be Impeccable with your Word should be to mean what you say. If you promise to do something, follow through. Even to yourself. Especially to yourself! I am skilled at helping others achieve their goals, but for my own objectives....I don't always follow through. What's with that? When I make a commitment to someone, only a natural disaster keeps me from fulfilling that obligation. To myself, not so much. Whether it is to make progress on my writing, to promote my business, or to finally make it out for a pedicure (Your Body is a Temple!), I have a hundred excuses ready that prevent me from completing my task. Pretty shabby, I say!

I have a couple of girlfriends that when we make plans to get together, I know there is a greater than 50% chance they will cancel. One whom I refer to (in my head) as "Flakey Jen".  I get it. I know things come up. Especially now as the mother of a little Dragon, my best intentions, my schedule and availability are no longer at my (sole) discretion. However, I believe the case of Flakey Jen and the others is not a matter of "things coming up". I think it is because they hesitate to say "no" to invitations, etc. They don't want to disappoint. Maybe they don't want to miss out. Or they worry there will never be another offer or opportunity. Perhaps there are not being honest with themselves about priorities or obligations. I still love these friends, but they are so unreliable that I do give it a second thought before I reach out to them.

Totally dated, but if you've seen Jerry Maguire, you may remember the scene where the top draft pick's father says:" I don't do contracts, but you have my word...and it's stronger than oak." And then, of course, he breaks his word. That gutted me.

If I am Impeccable with my Word, then I will honor all commitments to myself and others.

My final thought about Be Impeccable with Your Word is to use your word well. Sticks and stones, etc, but words will never hurt me? Mostly true. I do think it is a good lesson for youngsters ( for all of us!) to keep their chins up and not let their worth be determined by others' words.

One of the reasons that this post was late (besides the usual Miss O tardiness) is that I was not using my word well, and while I deeply wanted to embrace Be Impeccable with Your Word, I had not been living it.

Are you using your word to create, to inspire, to encourage? Or are you using it to talk behind someone's back, to gossip, to denigrate?

A few weeks ago, I came home from visiting with friends and said to Honey: "do you want to hear some gossip?" As soon as the words came out of my mouth, I wanted to slap my own face.  First of all, Honey didn't even know the person in question so why bring it up? Secondly, it wasn't "good gossip" like news of a long-awaited pregnancy or recent engagement. Thirdly, it was bad news, so was I celebrating someone's misfortune? And finally, the actual motivation was that I was hoping to provoke (or even manipulate) a conversation/response. It was the opposite of clear, direct communication and a total fail of being impeccable with my word. Luckily he was engrossed playing Forza Motorsport so I was able to create a diversion, change the subject, and leave the room to go examine my behavior.

Listen, Darlings, Miss O is no saint. I strive to create only the loftiest, most noble thoughts, but I can be judgmental, I can think poorly of someone, even someone I love. I can't control everything that happens in my brain (it's so vast ;) but I can control what I say. If you need to call someone out or have a difficult conversation, do it. It is better than talking behind their back which will NEVER resolve the issue. I would add: if you suspect that a topic is sensitive, think before you speak and choose your words well. And if you have so many bad things to say about someone, then why are they still in your life?

Your Word is powerful. Your Word has weight. There is so much crap and negativity being spewed into the Universe. Let's use our Word in the most impeccable way!

Saturday, February 23, 2013

The Year of the Mantra

Hello Darlings!

I started a post about New Years Resolutions back on January 10th. I edited it, twice, and let it simmer. I looked at it again, yesterday, and nope...still not resonating. Last night I lay in bed, staring at the ceiling for an hour, and finally The Oracle spoke to me. I hope you'll forgive the delay, but this message was worth waiting for (at least for me!)

Forget what you know about resolutions. If you're still going to the gym, bless you. If your best intentions have somehow fallen by the wayside, forgive yourself and MOVE ON. This is the Year of the Mantra.

I distilled this definition of Mantra from various sources:  A sacred verbal formula repeated in prayer, meditation, or incantation. Any sacred word or syllable used as an object of concentration and embodying some aspect of spiritual power. Mantras may be spoken aloud or uttered in thought.

Take a moment to reflect on your priorities for this year. I propose that you choose one or two goals/ideas to pursue. That's not to say that you shouldn't have many things to accomplish, but for the purpose of the mantra, two is plenty.  

Here's an example: 
You want to run a 10k. (I started to write "run a marathon" but I broke out in hives, so let's start with a 10k.)  Your mantra could be: No Excuses. Every action and choice you make should be in support of your mantra. You don't want to get off the couch and train? No Excuses. Intimidated by other, more seasoned runners? No Excuses. The weather sucks and you stayed out late last night? No Excuses.

No Excuses could work for many objectives, though I prefer mantras that are affirming. 

I have created two mantras for myself. If they speak to you, use them as well, or create your own.

Your Body is a Temple
It seems to me that every week, I am hearing of another friend who is fighting cancer. Or another friend whose loved one has been taken from them by a horrible disease. More and more I am conscious of the importance and blessing of good health. If you are not thanking the Lourdes or the Universe or your lucky stars or your strong genes that you are waking up healthy, then get with the program, Friend. It's called gratitude and awareness.

Your Body is a Temple means (for me) throwing out old make-up. It means flapping my (bat)wings a few mornings a week. It means eating only high-quality chocolate. Miss O is not about to give it up altogether, so might as well eat the good stuff.

When I'm feeling lazy, burdened with bags, and I want to take the elevator, I tell myself Your Body is a Temple and it helps me get my ass up the stairs. Your Body is a Temple gives me the reason to go to bed early and get a good nights sleep. 

If you have been putting off getting a mammogram or having your prostate exam or your moles checked, please remember that Your Body is a Temple. It may not be the most fun activity of your week, but it could buy you another 40 years on this wonderful whirling globe.

Even Miss O is not perfect and sometimes she turns a deaf ear to her mantra. So maybe I didn't take off my eye make-up before going to bed. Maybe I indulged in  a "non-nutritious" meal. That's ok, do it the next time. Don't punish yourself with negative self-talk or guilt (a truly useless emotion). I recently caught up with an old friend, who told me that he had put on weight a couple of years ago from "angry eating". I was floored. First, I had no idea that men engage in emotional eating. Second, I was grateful that it was angry eating and not angry drinking or angry meth use. Third, I was impressed that he was able to recognize and name the behavior and put the kibosh on it. Angry eating, angry anything is pretty much the opposite message of Your Body is a Temple.

If Your Body is a Temple is a mantra that could work for you, I would add that anyone who has the pleasure to be intimate with you should also treat your body with reverence and respect. Frack that, they should worship it!  * If you are involved with a partner who does not worship your body, please see me during office hours.

Darlings, forgive me, the second mantra will have to wait until our next installment. This will give you a chance to get started on your own. Good Luck!  I have a hungry Dragon whose temple of a tummy needs to be filled.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Making the List

I am a list maker. I often have multiple lists going at the same time: marketing, household errands, brilliant schemes for world-takeover.

I write my lists on used envelopes (part of my effort at recycling). I keep a block of post-it notes next to my bed for noting middle-of-the-night ideas that will have evaporated in the morning's light. For me, writing something down liberates my mind. I have captured the thought, the idea, the obligation and now I can return to regularly scheduled thinking.

I once made a list called: Things that are freaking me out. I dated it (I believe that's an important component to making an effective list), and proceeded to spew all the items (mostly unimportant) that were suffocating me. By naming my fears, I was able to confront them, and temper my stress and anxiety.

I  like making new years resolutions: positive changes that I want to create in my life, in my community. One year I made a list of 20 (!) resolutions and posted it on my fridge to be a daily reminder. Did I accomplish all of them? Not all, but many!

2012 has been a challenging year for most people I know. It is a year that brought a marvelous, miraculous being into my life, but also a year in which I said goodbye to a dear pal, a year in which so many friends lost loved ones, parents, siblings, spouses. It is a year in which people close to me are fighting against horrible diseases, depression, loneliness. The world is in rough shape, Darlings. And this is a tough time of year for too many.

I do want to talk about new years resolutions, but before we can plan for the coming twelve months, we need to bring closure to this year with The List of Lamentations. Too Biblical for you? Too heavy? Deal with it, Darlings. Sometimes we have to go through the dark, heavy stuff to get to the other side lighter and more enlightened.

What is The List of Lamentations?
It is your opportunity to put on paper the worries, concerns, grievances, fears and disappointments that have been weighing you down this year. Since this is your first LOL, you have a one-time pass to lament an event/experience from a previous year, but please don't go dredging up a slight that happened in the eighth grade.  There is no limit for your list. There is also no need to go looking for misery just for the sake of wallowing or out-lamenting your neighbor. If you have a legit lament, it will come to mind quickly. Get that crap out of your head, out of your psyche and onto a piece of paper. Your list is personal . No lament is too small, nor should it be deemed trivial. The LOL  is for your eyes only.

N.B. This is NOT a pity-party. This is an evacuation of toxic sentiments from the emotional and physical you.

I have many blessings in my life, what could there possibly be to lament? If you are reading this diary, you probably have a roof over your head, enough to eat, and plenty of basic comforts (luxuries, even) that others must do without. You are still entitled to lament.

To help you get started, I am going to share my list:

-I lament the state of my manicure or lack thereof.
-I lament that my business has not grown as I hoped it would.
-I lament the loss of my former lifestyle.
-I lament the appearance of  newly acquired flab on my upper arms.
-I lament that I sometimes have challenges of communication with my dearly beloved.
-I lament that I am out of touch with too many of my galpals.
-I lament the passing of a close friend.
-I lament the presence of  racism, homophobia, and misogyny in my beloved America.
-I lament the absence of neighborliness in too many communities.

When I look at my list, it feels overwhelming at first. Crying over your list is OK and frankly, very likely. You are owning some dark feelings. You may be remembering a loss or reliving a disappointment and it can be painful.

Perhaps you are looking at my list thinking: how is a shabby manicure a legit lament compared to the death of a loved one or staggering racism?  This is not about comparing suffering or who had the worse year, the most misery. You don't have to explain or defend your laments. I will share that my crappy cuticles affect my self-esteem and that affects many other parts of my life.

Get your list down and you are over the biggest hurdle. It takes courage to acknowledge disappointments, to face fears. I don't expect you to breeze through this in a few minutes. Give yourself a quiet place to reflect on those thoughts and emotions which are not/no longer serving you.

Now we move on, we move forward. There are three possibilities for the laments on your list. You can:


Release is another way of saying Get the F*ck Over It.  For me, the lament of my former lifestyle needs to be released. I have already spent too much energy dwelling on this "loss" and moaning about poor old me. Basta! Was my previous lifestyle better than the one I have now? Not really. And anyway, it's in the past.   So let it go for Pete's sake.  I have a friend who has been lamenting the end of a relationship for the better part of the year. A WHOLE f*cking YEAR. Gone. Please, Darlings, I am sure you have situations and emotions that should be released. Do it.

What about the flabby batwings? Two choices here. I can put my vanity aside and release it or get my ass off the couch and CHANGE IT. It's up to me.

Racism, Homophobia...what can I do about it? This is a lament that calls for CHALLENGE. If I hear someone use a racist term, I am going to call that motherf*cker out, even if it's a friend. Especially if it's a friend. I have a close pal whom I have heard make anti-semitic jokes. Usually the other listeners laugh and I shake my head or make an uncomfortable face rather than rock the boat. You know what, that's not good enough. I have a responsibility to my friends, to my community, to my son to not look the other way, to not tolerate behavior or language that is demeaning to others.

The most difficult lamentation to face is the loss of my dear friend. I have a range of emotions from anger to emptiness to denial. So this is the one that I have to EMBRACE. I will embrace his memory. I will embrace his positive impact on my life and the lives of others. As I told him shortly before he passed on, loved ones live on in us, in our thoughts, in our memories, in our good deeds and our compassion.

Darlings, I pray that you will take the time to do this for yourselves. We can truly start the new year with a clean slate if we make peace with the past.