Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Regret Me Not

My father used to say : worrying is like paying interest on a loan you’ve not yet taken. He also told me : it’s better to be happy than right. He was a bon vivant, a philosopher, a philanthropist, a poet. Once, while shaving, the Muse whispered in his ear…he grabbed a pen and wrote a poem, right there on the bathroom wall.

Many a happy hour were spent watching the sunset and musing on the vicissitudes of life. Also drink and dialing loved ones around the world regardless of the time difference, because he couldn’t wait to tell them that he was thinking of them, that he loved them, to share his reflections or a bawdy joke.

When he left us at the ripe old age of 85 it was a huge loss. But I found comfort knowing that he lived a full life, that he did everything he wanted to do. A life without (too much) regret.

I was speaking recently with a long-time friend who carries the heavy weight of regret with him every day. He was married for twenty years, the last ten of which were filled with strife.
« If I’d gotten out sooner…. » he lamented, « I’d still be a young man.»
« You had hope that things could be salvaged. »
« All that time wasted… » he  looked into the distance.
« It was a learning experience.  You grew as a person.»
He gave a deep sigh and shook his head, inconsolable.
« It’s in the past. You have to move on.»
Watching this friend struggling to find joy, being eaten away by regret was a wake-up call for me.

Like everyone, I have regrets, but I realize now that holding on to them is a crushing burden that I don’t need to bear. I want to live in the present not replaying  the sadness or disappointment of a past action or worse, inaction.

When I wrote the word « regret » the following episodes were the first to come to mind. I regret not buying a pair of purple patent-leather maryjanes that I saw in the 15th arrondissement in Paris. They were the perfect shoe, but I was unemployed at the time and couldn’t rationalize spending the money. I regret not getting on stage to dance when they asked for volunteers at the Salon de Jeux Video at Porte de Versailles. I really wanted to dance but I was self-conscious about my outfit. Lame.

I regret that I did not reach out to a friend who was ill before I lost her. I didn’t know what to say, and was convinced that I needed to write a meaningful, perfect letter, I wasted time and…it was too late.

I regret getting involved with someone for the wrong reasons. It is one of the rare times that I blatantly disregarded my instinct. I knew that were wildly unsuited from the get-go and yet, I proceeded. After several weeks of hanging out and getting to know one another through deep, soul-searching conversations, I felt him pulling away. (I always give credit where it’s due : the guy was a good conversationalist and a good listener.)

We made plans to meet up the next day, a Friday…his tone was cool. When he arrived at my apartment we greeted awkwardly and sat down to talk.   I can’t recall the exact language he used, something to the effect : after all of our conversations he realized that, in fact, we were not a good match. I nodded in agreement.

This part I remember verbatim. « I think you’re great, really interesting, blahblahblah, but… I want to be with a woman who is a dirty whore and a filthy pig. And…that’s not you. » He had a slight note of regret in his voice.

*A note : I use profanity liberally so « offensive language » rarely offends me. I also have many confidants who have shared with me intimate, sometimes graphic, details of their lives which I do not judge. There is little in the realm of human relations that I find shocking.

This person and I had shared stories of previous relationships, including some intimate details, so that’s how he was able to ascertain that I was not « his type. » A dirty whore and a filthy pig.

I was glad, flattered even (!), that he realized that wasn’t me. He knew I had friends of all flavors and sexual orientations and preferences and kinks, so I suppose that’s why he felt he could be brutally honest (and extremely specific) about his true desires.

Once he left my apartment I called my three closest friends to meet me at the neighborhood pub. It’s not everyday one gets dumped in such a fashion.

An hour (and several drinks) later, I replayed the scene. When I got to the punch line, my friends stood there slackjawed, staring at me in disbelief.
Finally one guy pal said : »I didn’t think people really talked like that. »  Another : « wow, you just dodged a bullet. » My sweetest, kindest girlfriend : « A dirty whore? » she shook her head. « And a filthy pig ! » chimed the others.  

Throughout the evening and many more drinks, we repeated the story to friends and strangers. Everyone was taken aback. By the fifth retelling we were laughing hysterically at the dirty whore line. Perhaps trying to convince ourselves that it wasn’t so shocking, that it was normal, just another preference like being attracted to blondes or men who wear glasses.

The next morning in the sober light of day, it hit me again that I had been dumped. Yes, by an asshole, but still dumped. I called my dad for some sympathy. « Dad, I was dating this guy and he broke up with me. He told me he wants a woman who is a dirty whore and a filthy pig. »  Just repeating those words to my father filled me with shame. And so it finally dawned on me that those words ARE f*cking shameful.

My father was silent for a minute and then said : « Any man who would speak about a woman that way is, himself, a pig. »

Friends, just such a man is running for President of our magnificent country.

We visited my mother in California this summer. One night we were out to dinner, a table of four was seated next to us : three women in their 40’s-50’s and a man in his 30’s. It was the night after the DNC.  

I tuned into their conversation just as one of the women said : « What did you think of her speech ?» My mother and I had watched the speech together, holding my little girl (and glasses of champagne), with tears in our eyes. I returned to my dinner as the two other women discussed the merits and weak points of the speech. Then the man, the young, white man said : » Yeah, I dont know if I’m going to vote. »  I had to grip the table to stop myself from turning to my fellow American and shouting : « Are you f*cking KIDDING, Dude ? »

I can’t remember the rest of the meal, only that I skipped dessert, because I was so preoccupied by this stranger’s innocuous (!) comment. I had to talk myself down several times from laying into this guy with a string of insults : « how f*cking dare you ? Privileged white male ! Do you know how much is at stake in this election ?! Not vote ?! It’s your goddamn civic duty. » My heart was racing, my blood was boiling.

When we finally finished dinner, my mother walked to the door with my son, my husband was behind them, and I followed, carrying my sleeping daughter. I got five feet away from the table and turned back. « I’m sorry, I couldn’t help overhearing your conversation, » I said politely. The table of diners looked up, surprised. « Every vote REALLY counts….and Hillary is the only choice. » The women were quick to respond, « Oh, we agree with you ! »  but I was looking at the guy. He nodded at me uncomfortably. I bid them a good evening and joined my family outside where my husband chastised me. He was mortified by what I’d done. « I can’t believe you. That was so rude. No wonder nobody likes Liberals. » « Right, sure, Babe. » I stopped myself from saying, « Guess what? You don’t vote in this country so STFU. »

I walked around the car to put my daughter in her car seat. My mother was next to me. « I had to say something to those people about voting. » She nodded. « J thinks I was out of line, but my conscience would not let me be silent. I would have regretted not speaking up.» Under the glow of the street lamp, my mother, a paragon of politesse, beamed with pride.

Friends, I pray that your lives are free from deep regret.  I believe that the regret of a lost opportunity, of things not done, is more damaging than the possible dissatisfaction or discontent of a « wrong » choice. Yes, even my episode with « that person » was a learning experience.  If you do carry regrets, I hope you can learn from them (if there is a lesson) and move on.

I have learned that perfect doesn’t exist, and that there is no better time than RIGHT NOW to reach out to someone you care about. (Thanks for that one, Dad.)

 And, if your conscience tells you to speak up, listen to it. And finally, if the opportunity presents itself, you should always get up and dance.

Don’t forget to vote! Go shout it from the mountaintop : Nobody gets to sit this one out.

p.s. if anyone sees those maryjanes, I wear a size 8 ;)

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 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 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.