Light Candles … Pick a Playlist

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You know the scene. You’re on a date, or having drinks and conversation at the bar with a new stranger. Whatever you’re doing, it’s going well. The next thing you know it’s 2 AM and  you’re standing outside your door with this person and you find yourself saying, “Would you like to come in?” They say yes, and thank God … you really wanted to avoid that ‘look down and fumble for my keys’ move. Here’s where the night really begins. And, let’s face it, in NYC, this is considered a date.

It’s now 2:10 AM and the kissing has intensified and articles of clothing have swiftly been removed. Before things get any further, you take a break and seductively walk over to your dresser to light your favorite candles. Then, except for your cat letting out a loud ‘meow,’ you realize how silent it is. You decide to put on the “mood music.” Or maybe the candles are enough “mood” for you. But, if you turn to the music, how do you choose what to play from your iPhone and how important is the S-E-X playlist, anyways?

You can tell a lot about a person by what music they enjoy. And you can bet the music they choose to have sex to is something they’re quite fond of. So, just because you think it’s appropriate to sleep with someone while Climax is playing, if that song isn’t your thing, then forget about it. The key is to pick songs that are exciting to you. If you do your best strip tease to a Rihanna song, then put that on. If Fleetwood Mac makes you feel all sensual and tingly, then have some go-to tracks ready.

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Being prepared is never going to go against you here. The last thing you want is that Cascada song that you get ready to on Friday nights to start playing. The most important thing is to create a playlist that will highlight your personality and your tastes. And once you press play, don’t forget to keep the volume at a low level. You want the person to recognize if you play their favorite band, but you don’t want it to be a distraction. Plus, since you hopefully aren’t using extreme outdoor voices, you always want to make sure you can still be heard.

This wouldn’t be much of an article if I didn’t clue you in on my go-to playlist, now would it?! So, here you go. This below playlist includes personal favorites and a few “classics.” When I listen to it, it screams ME. And, after all, that is the purpose of this whole thing, isn’t it? Wink-Wink.

1. Aaliyah – Back & Forth
2. Smith – Baby It’s You
3. Thin Lizzy – Wild One
4. Nine Inch Nails – Closer
5. Bat For Lashes – Laura
6. Chris Isaak – Wicked Game
7. Roy Orbison – She’s A Mystery To Me
8. T.I. – Whatever You Like
9. Jude – Madonna
10. Rihanna – Cockiness (Love It)
11. The Libertines – The Good Old Days
12. Billy Idol – Catch My Fall 

For easy access, here’s my playlist on Spotify
http://open.spotify.com/user/1234060371/playlist/6d1g298yj9KmPdTR9TAulD

Insta What, Insta Who

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About a month ago, it happened. I parted ways with my Blackberry and its little keyboard and felt the joy of holding an iPhone in my hand. (Before I go on, this will not be a commercial for Apple or a hate piece for Blackberry). I walked home with my new phone like I was Queen of the world; even though I was the only person I knew who had not moved onto the iPhone or an Android device. Nevertheless, it was a big moment for me.

As soon as I started playing around with it, I downloaded the essentials. You know, Facebook, Twitter, Green Bay Packers … the app opportunities are endless. Before I could check out the exact weight of my favorite football player, my roommate insisted I get Instagram.

Another big moment for me. Finally I wouldn’t have to say, “Make sure you put that picture on Facebook so I can see it,” a thousand times every night. I now felt like I was part of this exciting world. I quickly became obsessed. For me, the obsession ended just as quickly. I still use the app, and always get a good laugh out of it, but after a week I realized what Instagram has replaced. This app has become the universal “cool table.”

You follow people, people follow you. But, instead of being based on 140 characters, it’s all based on pictures and outward appearances. Instead of putting words together to describe or share a scene, you snap a picture, upload the picture and wait for the “likes” to come in. Just like the “cool table” it’s not about walking into the building and having a conversation about the death of Hugo Chavez and other world events. It’s about being pretty … good in sports … having the best clothes. In other words, what people can see and like without any amount of deep thinking.

In this past month, I have seen some of the most generic pictures as I scroll through Instagram. For instance, Lauren Conrad (who I respect as a business woman) can put up a picture of her manicure and it receives more than 9,000 likes … within two minutes. Sure, the polish looks nice and her hands are moisturized, but it’s just a manicure. I could post the same picture and it wouldn’t have a chance of making it to the “popular” page … simply because I am not known worldwide. Might I add, the mere fact that this app has a “popular” page backs up my “cool table” theory. Bottom line is, the more people who know and like you (or want to know and like you) is what makes or breaks you with an app like this. When I post a picture of my adorable cat, I’m shocked when 13 people like it. If I was a lead actress in Les Miserables, my cat would likely have her own calendar deal in the works by now. It’s just one big “cool table.”

Now, for us so-called “normal” people who don’t win Academy and Grammy awards, Instagram is also like having an online dating profile … in a way. The amount of “selfies” (pictures you take of yourself) that appear in my feed is astronomical. Don’t get me wrong, I am not 100 percent against them … I include a few here and there, but I don’t go out of my way to grab the attention of every male and/or female in the tri-state area. There’s no need to put up a picture of yourself in such a tight dress that you’re holding your breath as you snap the photo. Sure, it’s an easy way to become noticed and get people to “double click” on your post, but do you really need more validation of your looks? Especially in this way?

I’ve also noticed a whole lot of people liking posts simply because they want to date or sleep with the creator of the post. It’s as if people are speaking through Instagram and saying, “Hey, look at me, I liked your picture of the hat you bought today … And the one where you tried it on in the store … And the dinner you got at the Japanese place next to the bar you work at” … etc. Then you think to yourself, I hope Johnny noticed the picture of me in that tight dress, especially since I had to hold my breath for 32 seconds to get it just right. Instagram has become a way for people to show their interest in one another, yet appear less forward than coming out and saying “Hey, I like you, let’s grab drinks.” Personally, I think being honest and forward is a lot less annoying and desperate than using an app to express your feelings and desires.

So, Instagram away. Just make sure to keep it a classy representation of yourself. Be intellectual about it, and don’t post for a seat at the “cool table.” Trust me; you know when you’re doing it. Show interest in something because of what it is, not who is behind it. And, for the love of God, if you’re into someone – do something about it. Don’t just like their every post and leave occasional comments. If you want to use the internet for dating and hook up purposes, join OkCupid and have at it.

I’m going to go post a picture of my cat now. You can find me at abeckstagram. I’m always breathing in my selfies.

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Long Lost Person

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I find this happens a lot … especially when it comes to “romantic” relationships. Guy-Girl (guy-guy/girl-girl) hang out. Everything seems to be cool (shall I utter, ‘a good time was had by all’). And then you part ways. No real good bye or “this isn’t going to work out for me.” Just gone. Poof. It’s almost as if the time you spent with this person never existed.

And then one day it happens. You’re doing your nails and your text tone scares you so much that you paint halfway to your knuckle. Great, already you’re annoyed. When the damn things are dry enough, you check your phone and realize it’s not Grub Hub telling you your order has been received.

Instead, you find yourself saying, “OK, you again?!” I may have told you to lose my number until Christmas, or maybe I just hurried home after that one time we hung out, regardless of what went down, I have not heard from you in more than four months, so why now?

Although initially the message, call, or text may be confusing, after digesting it for a few minutes, there are really only a few reasons for the reach out.

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Quite frankly, this person wants to sleep with you. They are likely sitting at the bar, on their third beer, right when you pop into their head. They realize they had fun with you and they have no clue why nothing actually came of it. Or maybe they got out of a relationship five weeks ago and just really want some company. No matter what the situation, they find you attractive and are fishing to see you. It really is that simple. A man is not going to text you to hear about your cat’s weight gain or about the flood damage you sustained from Hurricane Sandy.

The whole bit about wanting to sleep with you is most certainly true if you never had anything serious with this person. Maybe you only got together a few times, or maybe it was a casual (but short) situation from the beginning. Either way, they are checking in to see if there is a chance.

It could also be because this person truly loved you. In fact, they probably still do. You two may have parted ways because it was a case of bad timing. Or maybe you just needed to work on yourself without being in a relationship. Bottom line is, they miss you. They have realized they don’t like not having you in their life. They are taking a risk and trying to open the doors that have been closed for some time. This situation can be hard, because it’s more likely to involve a large sum of feelings. This might require a little bit more thinking before you tell the person you’ll meet them Thursday night for happy hour.

It only takes a few minutes to know in your heart which reason is behind this “out of the blue” communication. Neither reason is wrong or bad. But your actions to either reason will depend on what you want in your life at this moment. Whatever that is, go with it. Understand that it takes courage for someone to reach out to you, especially when you haven’t had contact in months. Be flattered that someone thought of you and acted on it, because sadly, it doesn’t happen enough these days. When someone sets aside their pride for you, don’t take it lightly. It does’t mean you must spend time with them and get to know every detail of their childhood camp days. Just respond, acknowledge them. Because they’ve put it out there and acknowledged you.

I mean, after all, they do want to sleep with you.

Fake Roses

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Last night, in my hometown, my mom went to the store to get a few necessities. She told me she had to go around the snack aisle to get to the cereal aisle because so many men were in line buying flowers. I attribute this to Valentine’s Day or a city full of really amazing dudes. Either way, I told her that I didn’t see one man (or woman) on the trains or sidewalks with flowers for his/her sweetheart.

Just as I was once again losing faith in NYC and love, I saw two men carrying roses in the subway this morning. I couldn’t help but smile. A little bit of faith has been restored. 37

So, it doesn’t matter if you’re married, in a six-year relationship, single, or going on a third date tonight. Love yourself and the positive people in your life who leave you feeling happy.

And don’t worry if you didn’t get flowers today. Yes, they are beautiful and it’s the thought that counts (blah blah blah), but eventually they will die. Now my father had the right idea. Every year, he would give me a little heart-shaped box of chocolates and a couple of fake roses. One year I asked him why he didn’t give me real flowers. He said, “Because these make more sense. They will last forever … like my love for you. Also, they were on sale at Target.”

I gotta say, I am pretty sure I still have some of those roses in my old closet at my mom’s house.

Just make today another amazing day.

 

Writer’s Note: In no way am I encouraging men to buy that special someone fake flowers. Unless he can do it in a charming and humorous way … just like my father did.

We’re Not Barbie

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Little girls all around the world have images of the perfect wedding in their heads. They have their Barbie and Ken dolls and a pink Corvette. The puffy wedding dress is magnificent. It’s just what she wants to wear on her special day when she’s 23 (because that sounds like a great year to get married)! All of Barbie’s little friends have the perfect hair and clothes, and they always get along with each other.

You see, at a very young age, we put ideals into our heads. We must have the perfect wedding. We can’t be pushing 30 and be unsettled and still searching for the perfect career. We must have friends who are just like us. As we grow older, our parents, teachers and society in a whole, feed us information about what we should become when we grow up. This can be very dangerous and in many ways can limit our progress. How far can we really get in life if we’re too busy trying to live up to an ideal?

76Before graduating from high school, I had my whole life planned out. I was going to go to college and study journalism. Well, that I did. And, at the school that I always wanted to attend. I was going to meet the man of my dreams, so I’d have to wear my heels everyday to class. It didn’t matter that I had to walk up the infamous Bascom Hill, my heels made me feel powerful and all “Why, hello there.” In reality, I cared more about my 4.0 GPA and reporting for the school newspaper. By senior year, I was wearing sweatpants and my Nikes to class.

On graduation day, I had my friends, my GPA and a journalism degree. Pretty damn good, but I still felt disappointed in myself. I think it was because of a conversation I had with one of my best friend’s mother. Her daughter met a wonderful man in chemistry class. One day during lunch, her mother told me she was so happy her daughter had a boyfriend. I asked her why that was so important. After all, isn’t college about an education and doing too many keg stands? She said, “Amanda, college isn’t just about an education … it’s also about finding a husband.”

I remember sitting there, dumbfounded. But for some reason, that sentence instilled an enormous amount of fear in me. And at the end of my college career, I had a diploma in my hand, but no ring on my finger. I remember thinking, “Great … should I just give up now?”

Flash forward years later, to the present moment. I still have my education and it has helped me land amazing jobs, including my current position in PR in New York City. However, I haven’t picked out my perfect wedding dress yet. For years I have struggled with the fact that my life has not turned out the way I planned it to when I was seven. And then one day I realized that it is turning out the way it’s supposed to. You can’t let your ideals control who you become in life. Let your life create it’s own ideals.

Don’t put pressure on yourself to find a husband or the perfect friends. Love the people who have come into your life and treat you well. You will come to have a strong circle of people who lift you up, and eventually you’ll find the man who will agree to spend his life with you (even though you’re crazy about your shampoo being moved in the shower). Find passion in your work each and every day, regardless of whether or not it’s your dream job. Do what makes you happy and stray away from hurting others. Your ideals will change with time and they are exclusively for you.

We’re not Barbie. We all know that with her measurements, the little lady wouldn’t even menstruate. That’s messed up.

Keep the Date

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In New York City, every night of the week could be “date night,” it’s not just a Friday/Saturday kind of thing. But, by chance you do have a date lined up for this chilly weekend, just do one thing for me. Go.

I understand, first dates can be dreadful. They can stir up all sorts of emotions … excitement, apprehension, nervousness, the list goes on. But, they are a way of life. I’m sure your cat is great, but do you want to spend the rest of your life alone with just your cat sleeping at the end of your bed? I didn’t think so.

To avoid the whole “ending up alone” fiasco, you give in to dating. And now that you’re a grown adult, going to the junior spring fling doesn’t count anymore.

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In the two (almost three) years I’ve been in this city, I’ve seen one thing continually happen to my girlfriends (myself included). The guy reaches out to you via some form of communication. You get the Facebook message from him and you stare at it for a good three minutes. First of all, because it’s a Facebook message, and secondly, because the message came out of no where. You’re now a little intrigued. It’s that simple. That’s how the conversation starts. It’s just considered a nice friendly convo, until a phone number is given. That bumps it up to the “let’s get together sometime” category. If they just wanted someone to send Van Halen music videos to, then just being a FB chat buddy would have sufficed.

There you go, numbers were exchanged. Next, someone steps up and makes a date. Now, whoever does the asking, make sure you actually want to sit next to this person while you drink two Budweisers. If that doesn’t seem appealing to you, then don’t ask. And if you’re the person agreeing to said date, make sure you want to go above Union Square for this person before you commit to Wednesday at 7 pm.

To the men, first dates can be horrific enough without someone cancelling the day of. By then a woman has already planned her outfit, her subtle make up look and the perfect necklace to accentuate her neck line. You might as well go. Plus, you committed to it. It’s not a marriage, just a date. Geez.

And ladies, don’t be cancelers either! Maybe he gave up plans to watch the NY Rangers game with the guys. I’m sure he doesn’t want to show up to the game and mumble some lame excuse as to why he’s not out with “the hot girl” he’s been talking about for three days.

Dating … it comes down to not agreeing to something in the first place if your heart (or body – what?) isn’t into it. However, I am a reasonable and sane individual, so I understand that situations arise and not every plan you make can be kept. If you’ve spent the last eight hours sick in the bathroom, by all means, lets not get together at the Mexican joint a few blocks from my apartment. Just don’t agree to re-scheduling if you never plan on actually doing it. It’s the right thing to do.

Disappointment is easier to swallow when it comes with honesty, rather than plans that never come to fruition.

Keep the date. And smile like you did in all those spring fling pictures.

Life is More than a Game of Candy Land

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Growing up, my sister and I always played Candy Land with our father. One time, when my dad and sister were laughing about something and not paying attention to me, I nudged my red playing piece ahead one space. I smirked. At the end of the game, my sister won and I realized moving my piece didn’t even help me win. Plus, I felt horrible about it. From then on, I was an honest player on the board game front.

Then I grew up and decided it’s best to play fair and honest in life. Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about dishonesty in relationships. Why does it happen? Does it even bother people? When did we give up on real and respectful relationships?

If you love someone, be with them … only them. One person.

If you want to experience and sleep with multiple people, then do. But don’t commit to anyone.

You can sit back and tell me it’s not wrong to lie and cheat, but deep down you know it is. It’s hurtful and cruel. Please stop making exuses for it. Ladies, if a man wants to be with you (and only you), he will. If he’s repeatedly lying and cheating behind your back (or straight up to your face) he’s simply not in love with you. No matter what amount of sweet talk he throws at you.

Cheating wouldn’t exist if there weren’t people in this world who allowed themselves to be a part of it. Respect yourself. Respect others.72

I understand that no one is perfect, and we all make mistakes. But, learn from them … don’t keep repeating them.

If you feel that the best things in life are wrong or bad for you, I have to wonder … Do you really believe that? Or, is it something people tell themselves in an attempt to justify their actions?

I mean, this isn’t like that time when Dunkin’ Donuts under-charged you by a dollar for your peppermint mocha … and you said nothing. Lying and cheating in relationships involves people and their hearts. And, after it’s all said and done, is it really making you truly happy?

It’s time to stop moving game pieces around like it’s nothing. We aren’t seven anymore, and this isn’t just Candy Land.

Monday Musings: Look Both Ways

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When crossing a one-way street, you may feel the urge to ignore the “look both ways before crossing” rule. But, then again, there are a lot of idiots out there who drive in the wrong direction. Better to look both ways than to risk colliding with them.

Take the time to slow down in life, and never ignore what’s right and best for you.

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Embrace the Day

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Well, happy holidays. And, the best thing you can do is be yourself. Not the person you think you should be, the person society expects you to be or the person you’ve been told to be.

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Because deep down, the holidays should not be about presents, food and stress. If everyone would just get together with the ones they love in a judgement-free environment, more people might actually enjoy this time of year.

In the new year, I hope to witness people living ‘their’ life … and letting others live theirs. Never forget, what works for you may not work for the people around you. Life would be beyond boring if we all followed the same path. We all have strengths and weaknesses, and no one is better than anyone else.

For this Christmas, I want everyone to love their true selves. Embrace the day.

The 10 Best Reasons to be Single During the Holidays

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1. You don’t have to choose a family to spend Christmas with. It’s simple … yours. At least Mom makes the best stuffing, right?!

2. You get to spoil yourself, and not feel guilty about it. I mean, someone has to get you the over-priced pair of shoes you need.

3. You don’t have to split up a shopping trip between Bath and Body Works and Best Buy.  You can spend two hours sniffing candles and finding the perfect body scrub with no rushing.

4. You understand that every kiss does not begin with Kay. It likely starts with vodka … at that holiday party you told yourself you weren’t going to get out of control at again this year.

5. When family gathers, you can show everyone pictures of your cat. What, the little fur ball is your family. Just because it’s not a sig other or a child, doesn’t mean it shouldn’t get some bragging rights.

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6. You can skip all the “All I Want for Christmas is You” songs and only listen to “Little Drummer Boy” over and over agin. Best. Song. Ever.

7. You can kiss whomever you damn well please under the mistletoe.

8. Ladies, you don’t have to worry about someone buying you one of those Mrs. Claus lingerie pieces sold at every department store. And men, you don’t have to worry about buying one.

9. Those couples who hold hands while ice-skating and then drink hot chocolate together. Well, you don’t have to worry about being one of ‘those’ couples. OK, it’s kind of cute … so maybe next year.

10. It has been 70 degrees in New York City. In December. The world could be coming to an end. So be thankful for the amazing people in your life who you get to spend the 2012 holiday season with.

It’s Not The 1950’s … But What’s The Problem?

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When did love become so difficult? When did men stop opening doors for women? When did good rock n’ roll love songs turn into lyrics about forgetting your boyfriend and fucking in some hotel room?

It’s as if people don’t even know how to approach someone anymore. Our main form of communication involves our computers and cell phones, not face-to-face interaction. Even sex has gone to web cams and sexting. At least, for now, people are still having actual sex. And that’s because it’s easy. It’s easy to sleep with someone and mumble, “I’ll text you,” as you leave the next morning … but apparently it’s hard to actually get to know someone and have a relationship.

The other day I was talking to a good friend from Wisconsin. We started talking about our dating lives, which lead to a discussion on online dating.

While we talked about the online weirdos and hellish dates, I realized how much work and effort it all was. Why? Why are people trying so hard to find love? Back in the 1950’s, computers and the internet did not exist, yet people went to sock hops and shared a milkshake at the local malt shop. Apparently milkshakes were better back then, because I’m sure a lot of those dates turned into marriages … marriages that had more than a 50 percent chance of survival. So, what happened?

The traditional values that once stood 60 years ago have gone to the shitter. We’re stressed about all the wrong things and we’re too damn busy. That’s what happened.

38I get it … we are never going to have the 1950’s back again. Women go to college and work overtime, just like men. They want to excel in their careers and become “independent.” But, when you obtain that “independence,” it becomes a lifestyle and is hard to give up. Trust me. And, I don’t see that ending anytime soon for women. Things have changed and women have more choices and opportunities. I don’t know any man who would say to a bunch of women, “You all belong in the kitchen,” (unless he has a death wish).

Secondly, maybe we’d have more successful relationships if we took more time making someone else happy instead of stressing about money, the next game of golf or if you remembered to make your weekly manicure appointment. We stress so much because of selfishness. We all want what’s best for ourselves, and ourselves only. The world is full of too many selfish douchebags and bitches who are unfamiliar with the word compromise. Get out your Merriam-Webster. Look it up. Learn it. Practice it.

Then there’s the whole fear of rejection. Please stop fearing rejection. You want someone, go up to them. So many people are afraid of bruising their ego, so they don’t go up to the pretty girl in amazing heels, or the good-looking guy in tight jeans. If nothing else, your ego should be enhanced by your ability to go up to a hot stranger. Noah never would have ended up with Allie if he feared rejection (yes, I’m talking about The Notebook). People today are too afraid to push the limits of risk. What you never do, you’ll never know.

Ahhh, rejection could be another reason online dating has become so popular. Many people feel more comfortable behind a computer screen than sitting across from a stranger. It’s also less hurtful when someone stops messaging you after a week than when someone doesn’t call after a first date.

Then there’s the king of all excuses … “I’m too busy.” Get over it, we’re all busy. We all work long hours, then come home and work some more. Make time. Try to see someone once a week. Who knows, maybe you’ll enjoy it and want to see them on a Wednesday too. Now, if you’re a woman in New York City, you know this all too well. Every third guy you pass is in a band and “has no time.” If you find one that will make the time and not sleep with girls in bar bathrooms … keep him. Inspire him, he’ll probably even write a song about you.

After writing all these insightful words, I’ve realized I was wrong. It’s not love. Love is not difficult. In fact, it’s quite easy. Loving someone is like breathing … easy and essential. Relationships are difficult – like most things in life that really matter. Relationships can be tricky and messy, but at the same time, all kinds of wonderful.

Here’s a a re-cap, since I know we’re so busy and all:

  • The 1950’s are gone.
  • We stress about all the wrong things.
  • We’re too busy.
  • We’re too selfish.

Don’t be afraid to share a milkshake with someone. Get to know them. The sex will be even better.

We’re All Strangers

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I believe in the kindness of strangers. Because sometimes, that’s the only kindness that seems real.

It’s honest. It doesn’t have a hidden agenda. It’s simple.

The random woman behind you in the pharmacy line doesn’t have to strike up a conversation and compliment you on your shoes. If she didn’t like them, she would just keep her mouth shut. If a girl on the subway asks you where you got your purse, she’s not just making small talk because you’re her boyfriend’s ex. She simply thinks your bag is sick and is hoping you got it at one of the thrift shops in the neighborhood.

Kindness from strangers comes from the heart, with no ulterior motives. They’re not reaching out to you because they feel they have to … it’s because they want to. There is something about you, what you have or what you’re doing that grabs their attention. This is when people find themselves complimenting and engaging with strangers.

This pure form of kindness isn’t fake or forced. People are becoming increasingly lazy and many avoid conversation at all cost. I mean, why talk to someone when you can just G-chat or Facebook chat (will it ever end). That’s why, when someone you’ve never met (and may never see again) displays human-human kindness, don’t take it for granted. Appreciate it. At the end of the day, those random acts of kindness you’ve witnessed may be the reasons you’ve smiled.

Be the best kind of stranger. Be kind. It’s a beautiful thing.

Don’t Go Getting All Comfortable and Stuff

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Here we are … in a city of more than 8 million people. The greatest city in the world, as it’s been described by so many. In New York City, I see one thing all around me, apart from the towering buildings. I see people who come here on their own, only to desperately fit in somewhere. And, wasn’t the idea to move to the big city and stand out?

It’s almost as if we revert back to our 14-year-old selves, where the goal of freshman year was to sit at the “cool” table during lunch. As if it really mattered where we ate our fish sticks. When trying to fit in is what we’ve always done, as we grow older, we don’t know how to stop aiming for acceptance.

Or maybe, it’s because we’re all small fish in this big pond. As much as we want to stand out, we work harder to conform to a group of people or a lifestyle. It makes us feel valued and wanted. Even the people who have always ran their races alone, can start to seek acceptance in a city of overwhelming loneliness. For those who have never tried to conform to the views and actions of others, maybe they simply want to belong to something … or somewhere.

A sense of belonging is such a strong desire, that it can leave you stuck in a routine. A routine that has long ended, but you cling onto the very end of it. You barely remember the beginning, and you’ve stopped moving forward. What you’re left with is comfort.

Comfort can be marvelous, but it can also be evil. When you become too comfortable, you stop creating goals. You stop striving for things that used to matter to you. Your new sense of belonging begins to define you. Feeling as if you’re part of something is one thing. Letting it define who you are is another thing … one that can cause you to spiral downward in disastrous ways.

This sense of comfort may not even satisfy you, or make you happy … but it’s familiar. You don’t know what else you want. Now, maybe you’ve even come to feel like you don’t belong anymore. It could be time to move on … to move forward. Stop doing what you’ve always done and do something completely different. Meet new people, change your surroundings.

Don’t settle for comfort … push for contentment. Being content is being at peace with yourself. You haven’t just settled, you’ve reached past  your comfort zone. You’ve accomplished goals and taken chances, even when it’s terrified you. It’s ok to go beyond comfort. Improve your life and chase your dreams.

Until your human life comes to an end, there is no final destination. Never feel like you can’t keep moving. Never feel bad about leaving behind people and places who are slowing you down. There’s no speed limit in life … so drive fast.

Never Stop Being Thankful

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As a New York City resident, I can say that Hurricane Sandy has left me very grateful.

I could sit here and write about the devastation, Governor Christie using the words “hunker down” in press conferences and the NYSE being closed for an entire day … but that is what every single news station is taking care of. Instead I’m going to make a serious and foolish list of the things we shouldn’t take for granted:

1. The ability to take a hot shower whenever we want to … or whenever we start to smell bad.

2. Electricity to keep our lives lit and heat to keep our hearts warm.

3. Sandbags, which, undoubtedly kept a lot of homes, restaurants and stores safe … right Chanel?!

4. Cellular. Phones. Need I say more?

5. The people in your life who really do love you enough to reach out in time of danger. Even if they haven’t seen you in years, they remembered that you live on the East Coast, and cared enough to send a text!

6. Living with a person (people) who you love unconditionally. I’ve been with my roommate since Sunday evening, and I’m not even remotely sick of seeing her face.

7. Pets! I can finally talk to my cat like she’s my best friend since kindergarten … and blame it on cabin fever. I don’t know what excuse I’ll come up with next week.

8. Pop-Tarts. Frozen pizzas. Cheese curds … and all other comfort foods you can enjoy without electricity.

9. Beer, wine, whiskey … whatever got you through these past few days, and kept you alert enough to win multiple games of Jenga.

10. The amazing U S of A. City officials and public safety workers. The Salvation Army. Volunteers. Shelters. Anyone and anything that kept people safe.

I could go on and on. But in the end, I’m grateful for the endless optimism of this city and the persistence of its loving residents.

P.S. Now that we have experienced no subway trains for days, I hope people won’t freak out the next time there’s a minor MTA service delay.

Click here for an in-depth look at the storm: Capturing Sandy

Listen to Yo Mamma

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It doesn’t matter how old you are, your mother is going to worry about you. And now that I’m more than a two-hour drive from home, my mom is even more nervous about my well-being. She did, however, come visit me last week and saw how well I’m doing, so I think it put her mind at ease … just a little.

Even though they may fret and obsess, mothers have this intuition about their child’s life, and they are usually right. For me, my mom is always right about the men in my life. She doesn’t even have to meet them and she can tell if they’re bad news. Five years ago I would ignore her words of wisdom because the guy dressed well or had amazing sideburns, but now I try to listen to her.

Don’t get me wrong though. I make my own decisions, and I do plenty of things my mother doesn’t understand. For instance, she still wants me to move back to the Midwest … not happening. She did not support my decision to major in journalism in college, but I did anyways. And there have been men she didn’t have good feelings about, but I still went after them.

Look at me now … I’m not married with children. It obviously didn’t last with any of those guys, but I don’t regret any decisions I made (I learned a lot … trust me). I just wish I would have tried to understand where my mother was coming from, instead of trying to prove her wrong.

I’m not saying you should stop having opinions and become your mother’s puppet; I’m just saying it’s okay to listen. Sometimes you have to stop trying to prove people wrong and take in another point of view. And, it might as well be your mother’s and not that jealous friend of yours.

As for me, I still don’t fully listen to all of my mom’s opinions. It’s the sideburns … they get me every now and then. As for right now, let’s just say she’s being quite encouraging … maybe I’m on the right track.

Let’s Have a Toast for the Weirdos

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New York City is the only place where you’ll be sitting in between two people on the subway and one of them is reading the Bible and whispering prayers, while the other person is rapping out loud and wearing a black jacket with “G Unit” sewed on the front with blue thread. And then there’s me, stuck in the middle, tapping my cross-legged foot to Guns N’ Roses.

Since I’ve moved here, people always ask me what I like the most about NYC. Well, this would have to be it. The fact that you can be whoever you want to be, wear whatever you desire and do what makes you happy. I did that back in Wisconsin, and I was labeled the ‘odd girl that wore strange outfits and spoke her mind.’ Out here I’m just another unique weirdo living amongst all sorts of weirdos.

In this city, it’s acceptable (and even considered a form of art) to get up on a stage in a bar and dance in a little sequined outfit. And that’s good for me, since that’s what I do. You’ll also find that ever fifth man you see wearing leather is probably in a band. He’ll be all kinds of good looking and most likely breaking tons of hearts. Then there’s subway performers, artists opening up galleries in SOHO and outrageous nightlife figures throwing over-the-top parties for all the club kids.

Once you find that group of people who you feel at home with … you know, the ones who have seen you at your worst and still think you rock, stick with them. It’s going to be those crazy kids that support you and encourage your weirdness, because that’s what we do for each other.

So, unlike Kanye, who’s having a toast for the scumbags, I’m raising my glass to all the weirdos.

Another Year …

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“What do you think it is, your birthday or something?” Every birthday of my childhood, my father would say that phrase. I would want something special, like french toast or sugary cereal, on my birthday … and he would just have to utter that sentence. And then we would laugh. This went on all day … every birthday.

As I grow older, I have seen my life go in so many directions. A decade ago, I envisioned myself have a husband, a child or two and a house by the time I was in my upper twenties. Well, none of those things have happened … yet. And I’m finally okay with that.

Today has reminded me that, not only do I look pretty damn good for my age, but age truly is just a number. There is no age limitations on getting married or accomplishing your dreams. I have thrown out the timeline I created for myself when I was nine years old. Luckily, the decisions I’ve made in the past 20-some years, have created a path that I never could’ve imagined.

It’s a beautiful thing to be living in New York City and spending your birthday with amazing friends who have become family. I don’t really remember the gifts I’ve received, but I remember the people who have been there, celebrating each birthday with me. It couldn’t be easier to choose happiness today.

So, when your birthday rolls around, spend it being grateful for all the people who love you. Create goals for yourself, and over the next year, enjoy going after them. Be the best you … at every age.

This is all getting very sentimental. What do I think it is … my birthday or something?

You’re Not Better Than Her … You’re Different

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Most women in this world, at one time or another, have uttered the phrase: “I’m so much better than her.” And I know we all heard it in Sunday school, but I’m going to repeat it … no one is better than anyone else. Yes, this applies to that girl who’s after your man and the one who just received the promotion over you at work.

What you are is different. Don’t roll your eyes at that girl and compare who is prettier or smarter, just remind yourself that you are different. You are special. If it’s meant to be, the person, or people, who you want to realize your specialness … will!

But if you fall into the “I’m better than you” trap, then you are giving into your insecurities. You’re acting like those mean girls who didn’t think you were good enough to jump rope with them at recess.

And trust me, men are not attracted to a woman who thinks she is better than the other four million women in New York City. But, they will notice someone who is different and special in their own way. It’s time to stop comparing yourself to everyone around you.

Resist the temptation to roll your eyes at the woman flirting with the guy who’s been on your mind. Be different. Ask her to jump rope with you. Well, not literally. Unless you keep a jump rope in your purse … then go for it.

It Seems Like Just Yesterday …

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Of course I remember where I was 11 years ago on September 11. I was in high school in Wisconsin. We were all sitting in the cafeteria watching the breaking news coverage of the terrorist attack on the Twin Towers in New York City. Shock and sadness was all around.

That night when I got home, I started working on my English paper while I waited for my dad to come home from work. He came home at exactly 5 pm, just like he did every other day. My mother, who was the secretary at our church, told him about the prayer session that was being held in an hour. My dad told us all that we were going to the session together. I, being a typical teenager, was upset. I had a paper to work on and my crush to chat with on ICQ. I was going to need some more convincing.

My father sat down next to me and said that these are the times when there can never be enough prayers, positivity and love. He told me that my paper would still be there to write later that night. I’m pretty sure he even offered to help me proofread when I was finished. Lastly, he looked me in the eyes and told me it would mean a lot to him if we all went as a family. With that, I re-did my lip gloss and put my shoes on.

I remember sitting in the pew. The third one back. We always sat in the same pew. My parents always separated my younger sister and I so we couldn’t talk or write notes to each other during service. That night was no different. Mother … Myself … Dad … Kimberly. As our Pastor spoke words of encouragement and hope, my father had us all hold hands. I remember looking at him and feeling so proud to have such an amazing family. I was incredibly glad I decided to go that night.

We left the prayer session, picked up dinner, and talked about our days as we ate around the table. Per usual, I was the last one to finish eating, since I obviously talked the most. After I finished my paper, I got ready for bed. Kimberly and I said good night to our parents and told them we loved them. Just like any other night.

The next morning I was up early and snuck in a quick 10-minute talk with my dad. That afternoon I was doing the ropes course at our high school, so I was telling him all about it. With his fear of heights, he said he couldn’t imagine doing that. He told me he was proud and was looking forward to hearing all about it at dinner.

Before we walked to the bus stop, Kimberly and I said goodbye to our parents. We exchanged “I Love You’s” and went on to another normal day.

That was the last time we saw our father alive.

Sometimes, you never know when you are going to have that last good bye … or that last “I Love You.”  Friends and family members of those who passed away in the 9/11 attack had no idea it would be the last time they were going to see their loved ones. They all may have had dinner plans, or a weekend trip awaiting them.

Our time on life is truly brief. Live and love to the fullest. Choose happiness. I saw my Dad do that every day. He could always make a room full of people smile and laugh, even if it was just a silly Three Stooges impersonation.

So, this goes out to anyone who has lost a loved one. Remember them each and every day. Honor their memory by spreading love and happiness. Stay positive. Just because I will never have another ride with my father in his 1966 Dodge Cornet, doesn’t mean I can’t smile and cherish all the rides we did have together.

My Dad was right. The Three Stooges are hilarious. Like Father, Like Daughter.

You’re Like a Bad Horror Movie

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You know what I’m talking about. That movie you really, deep down, don’t want to watch … but you’re so intrigued by it, that you sit down and decide to take it all in.

You’re pretty sure it’s going to have a sucky ending, and you’ll probably get bored halfway through it, but the movie will somehow keep pulling you in. Then you’ll cave, because you obviously have to watch it. No amount of discouragement from your family and friends will make a difference. You want to see the horror movie, and you’re going to watch it. Every happy, exciting and scary second.

You keep watching because, in your mind, it’s all going to be worth it in the end. You’ll be left with satisfaction, not disappointment. You’ll feel happy and content about your decision to devote your valuable time to this movie. When people closest to you tell you that you’d be happier if you got up and left the theater, you make a snarky remark and decide to no longer share your popcorn with them. Eventually, they’ll stop trying to persuade you to give the comedy film next door a chance.

And then the day comes. The day when you realize how completely unfulfilled and sad you are watching this horror movie. You realize that it hasn’t been worth it. I mean, maybe you enjoyed certain scenes of the movie, but a few good scenes don’t make an amazing film. In fact, this has turned out to be a bad horror movie. Maybe not a bad horror movie for everyone, but it hasn’t been good for you.

When you come to the conclusion that you’d be happier giving another movie a chance … you will do just that. You’ll get up from your seat, walk out of the theater and look at all the options around you. Just don’t get discouraged if you have to watch a lot of movies until you find one that doesn’t disappoint you. But finally, after watching that bad horror movie over and over again, you’ll appreciate a film that leaves you smiling in the end.

When You Assume …

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Assumptions aren’t fair. We all make them, and we’ve all been victims of them. Nobody is ever right every time, so why can’t people come out and ask for the information they want … instead of assuming, and then assuming they’re right.

The other weekend a guy said to me, “I’m not the type of man you take home to meet your mom.” Really, do not just assume that’s what I want. And why would someone think that … because I’m from Wisconsin, so I automatically want to take you there and look at houses with fenced in backyards. No. Or maybe it’s because I don’t leave the bar with a different man every night, so I must want to get married right away. Again, not true. Maybe if he would have gotten to know me instead of assuming what I wanted, we actually could have had something. I’m not sure exactly what, but something.

If you’re taking up time assuming things about someone, it means something’s peaked your interest. If not, it wouldn’t be taking up space in your head. Instead of wondering, open up your mouth and ask. It’s a lot better to make an ass out of yourself by asking for information than assuming and probably being wrong … and making a bigger ass out of yourself later.

Maybe the concept of assuming bothers me so much because of the journalist in me. As a reporter you can’t just ‘assume’ the quotes and statistics in your article are true. You have to be sure they are. You have to research and interview people … you have to do your homework.

All you assumers out there need to buck up and do your homework. Men, stop assuming that the woman standing next to you is already thinking about what your future children will look like. And women, stop thinking that the guy only asked for your number so he can sleep with you. That may be, but it may not be. And once you start getting to know him, the answer will become evident. So, don’t assume. Give someone a chance. But, if he says, “Well of course I just want to sleep with you … I assumed you knew that” … slap him. Or I guess an adios amigo would suffice. And please ladies, don’t assume that he really is a good guy and he’ll come around in a few days with an apology and a dozen roses. Once again, it may happen … or it may not. But, I do know that a series of assumptions can lead to disappointment and ‘what the hell just happened’ moments.

Here’s to You, Hometown!

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I’ve always been a firm believer that you can’t fully appreciate where you are and where you’re going in life, without appreciating where you came from. Each time I visit my hometown, I’m reminded why I’m so proud of where I was raised. I realize it has helped shape me into the person I am. And, no matter where you are right now in life, there is something to be proud about. For some reason, going home and appreciating the small details, always makes things clear for me.

Sometimes, when you feel a little lost, spend some time in the place you grew up. Your old bedroom, walking past your high school or sitting at your favorite bar … they will all make you stop and think about your journey. Hell, go ahead and make a list of all the things you love about your hometown. It’ll make you smile.

So here’s to my small hometown in Wisconsin. The 25 things I love so dearly about you:

1.  Cheese curds. Real Wisconsin cheese, you know, in curd form.
2.  Looking at a cornfield that goes on for as far as you can see.
3.  Walking down back roads. The kind of roads where only one car passes you in two hours.
4.  The immense amount of Busch Light beer cans on the side of that desolate back road.
5.  Not being rushed by anyone in the store.
6.  The smell of freshly watered grass … because people have a little thing called yards.
7.  Seeing pickup trucks everywhere.
8.  Dancing to cd’s from high school in my old bedroom.
9.  Country bars.
10. Walking around the store aisles of my first retail job. Laughing at myself for wearing heels during 8-hour shifts to impress a boy.
11. One word: Packers.
12. A few more words … seeing Packer apparel on people everywhere you go.
13. A Friday Night Fish Fry.
14. Backyard brat grill outs.
15. Falling asleep to the sound of crickets.
16. Strangers talking to strangers … just because.
17. Shopping in big grocery stores, with huge carts.
18. The best ice cream shop in the world.
19. Thrift shopping and antiquing with mother.
20. Non-crowded parks, allowing me to swing as an adult with no awkward stares from parents.
21. Walking past the hospital where I was born, and realizing I’ve done pretty damn well for myself these past 20-some years.
22. The smell of burning leaves after the sun has set for the night.
23. Taking the time to walk slowly and truly appreciate the scenery around you.
24. Fields full of cows and horses.
25. The feeling of being completely content just spending quiet moments with family and old friends.

On Wisconsin!

Dancing In Place and Air Drumming

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I’ve read the book three times. Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff … and it’s all small stuff. My copy of this book, by Richard Carlson, is highlighted and has notes written in the margins. I love it. It’s as if each chapter is an eye-opening reminder that life is a gift and could be taken from us at any time … and we shouldn’t waste it on negative and stressful thinking.

One of my favorite chapters in the book is devoted to becoming a less aggressive driver. For all the train and bus commuters, this goes for you as well. We are all in a hurry. It’s as if no one gives themselves enough time anymore, thus people are rushing, and increasingly becoming anxious.

The other night I was coming home from work, when I vaguely heard an announcement about train services through the intercom. No one rushed out of the train, so I ignored it and continued listening to “Burning Love,” by Elvis. After living in New York City for two years now, I should know enough to always listen to the subway announcements … or you’ll end up in Far Rockaway at 5 AM on a Sunday morning. Truth.

Anyways, long story short, my train service, and my other three options, were temporarily suspended. Temporarily turned out to be three plus hours, and people were not handling it well.

I understand. It’s summer and it’s hot as hell in those tunnels, but shit happens. Just as flat tires happen and cars may not start in the cold, winter months … the subway will disappoint you at times. For many people, this was one of those times.

I mean, of course I wasn’t thrilled that it was taking me four times as long as it should to get home, but that was the reality. After a woman rammed into me and shoved her flowers in my face, I became slightly annoyed when she didn’t even say excuse me or apologize. There you have it … manners, it’s one of the first things to go when people get all aggressive during commutes. It’s as if we forget everything we learned in preschool, but it’s alright because our train isn’t working and everything sucks. It’s not alright, people. An “excuse me” and a “thank you” come out of your mouth a lot easier when you’re not all uptight.

Before I started staring this woman down like I would if I caught her flirting with my boyfriend, I decided I wasn’t going to let this commute mix-up ruin my day or throw me into aggression. I focused on the music I was listening to and patiently waited for my next stop. When the next person pushed me and my head hit a pole, I just smiled as he passed by.

After I was in another station and another 30 minutes went by, I saw a woman crying and screaming to a police officer that she “just wanted to get home already.” I know. Damn it. Our day didn’t go exactly as planned. But, while we were all being herded around like a bunch of cows on a Wisconsin farm, I decided I could at least dance in place. I mean, not full-on audition mode or anything, just slightly. So, I did. Then some guy, not too far from me, started playing the air drums. We both laughed. I would have screamed my number at him, but he was too far in front of me. Before I could make it down the stairs, he had squeezed into the only train on the platform … and the doors were closing. I’m sure he just wanted to get home. My dance moves kick ass.

The moral here is … relax, people. We all complain about not having enough time to be at one with our thoughts. So, when you have to spend some extra time in a car, or in public transportation, use that time wisely. You can spend it stressing out and increasing your blood pressure, but that’s not going to make the situation go away. Simply make the decision to relax. Be grateful that you aren’t stuck in an extreme traffic jam everyday.

Situations will arise that you cannot control. Take it easy and let them pass. And if you can, dance a little bit. Hell, that air drummer may be one of my soul mates.

Since We Can’t Live On The Moon …

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This morning, an acquaintance who knows I’m from Wisconsin, was talking to me about the recent temple shooting in Oak Creek, WI. He said, “We are starting to hear about acts like this way too often. What’s happening with this world?”

I felt what he was saying and agreed with him. As I started to walk away, he said, “Isn’t it a shame we can’t take all the nice and loving people to the moon and live there?”

 

I joked about how wonderful that would be, but told him that we just need more people to realize that as the world gets worse, we all need to strive to get better. He just smiled.

Earlier this morning I was watching CNN. I noticed the sadness of story after story. As I continued to watch the news while getting ready for work, I realized the one positive broadcast I’ve heard revolved around the United States receiving 70 Gold medals in the Olympics. I stood still for a moment because it hit me that the one positive news piece in approximately 20 minutes of national broadcasting was about an event that only happens every four years.

After hearing stories of the NYPD looking into a Twitter threat, Jennifer Lopez accusing her ex-driver of blackmail and the University of Montana quarterback being charged with rape, I turned off the TV and listened to some Roy Orbison. I knew that would put me in a better place.

I don’t know why there is so much hate and negativity in the world, but I do know that you can never have enough kindness and inspiration. And that’s exactly what Fingers Crossed … Everything Crossed is all about. No one is forced to walk around miserable and with a hateful heart. That is a choice.

I don’t want to provide lists for people to follow. I just want to become a brand of inspiration. Someone who isn’t related to or affiliated with someone famous or well known. Just a twenty-something woman, who grew up in small town Wisconsin, and moved to New York City to make a difference. I figure right now the world doesn’t need another person telling them what to buy on 5th Avenue. But maybe, just maybe, the world could use this little lady (ummm, me!) to find inspiration and spread love, positivity and happiness. It’s all about making people smile, and helping them become proud of who they are.

After all, I did walk away from high school with the title of “Most Inspirational.” And … since we can’t live on the moon.

Choose Happiness

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We say it all the time. “Everything happens for a reason.”

I’ve uttered it hundreds of times, most likely to hundreds of different people. But, sometimes I wonder if we just make sucky choices that result in struggles, doubt and uncertainty. Does that mean our decision was wrong? Does that mean our decision was right? Or, does it make it nothing more than another choice?

I feel there are certain situations where we tell ourselves (or others) that everything happens for a reason. You’ll usually hear the phrase bouncing around during unpleasant times. You know, the scenarios where you want to feel better about what happened, or what choice you made.

Remember that time you didn’t get your dream job. You hung up the phone after receiving the news and told yourself that it was alright … it must not have been meant to be. But maybe the reason you didn’t get the job was because you chose not to bring extra copies of your resume to the interview. Deep down, you knew the Assistant Editor at The Chicago Tribune was disappointed. You could see it in his eyes and the way he raised his eyebrows. Let’s face it though, it’s easier to tell yourself it wasn’t in the cards for you, than to admit you just f-ed up.

Maybe you should have gotten on the plane five years ago when the man you loved asked you to come visit him. But you chose not to because the flight was too expensive and you didn’t want to ask your co-worker to cover the school board meeting for the local newspaper. Seriously … now you wonder why the hell you didn’t run to the airport, dragging your carry-on, for that man. But … oh well, guess that happened for a reason.

Our lives are full of possibilities from the moment we are born. Possibilities that, no matter what we choose, can lead to happiness. The Chicago Tribune job could have brought so much joy and purpose to your life. At the same time, the job you landed at the PR agency gave you fulfillment and excitement. You could have married that man you flew to visit and loved sharing your life with him. But, choices were made that didn’t lead to that relationship. It doesn’t mean when you make a future choice to share your life with someone else that it’s going to be “better” or “right.” It will just be different than it may have been. Different is not wrong … it’s not bad.

As human beings we have free will. It allows us to choose path A or path B. One path doesn’t automatically lead to misery, while the other leads to comfort and joy. The paths might be different, but while you’re walking on them, you get to make another choice – the choice to be happy.

Life isn’t about waiting around for what’s meant to be. It’s about utilizing our free will and the ability to choose happiness in all decisions we make. Life consists of moment after moment, choice after choice. Don’t underestimate the importance of choosing happiness. With happiness, you will find joy and gratitude along every path you travel.

You are the reason behind your life.

My Cat Has Become Me

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It was five years ago when I walked into a small humane society in Wisconsin. I was there to do an article for the local newspaper on their Spring open house event. I thought it might  draw some people in if they saw an article in the Sunday newspaper, accompanied with photos of the cuties waiting to be adopted.

After collecting my information and snapping pictures of various dogs and cats, I went back to check out the cats one more time. There was this one kitten who was hiding under an orange blanket. She wouldn’t come out for a picture, but I was determined to see her.

I stood in front of her cage for a few minutes until a volunteer at the society came up and asked me what I was doing. I told her I was interested in the kitten under the blanket. She sadly told me that this particular kitty had been at the shelter for six months and no one had ever been interested in her. Well, that made my heart melt, and I asked if she could take her out of the cage. It took two volunteers to get her out. She was pissed. When they finally removed her from the cage, I could see that she was so tiny and had no fur on one side of her body. The volunteers said she was so anxious that she licked her fur off. But, that face. I already knew she was mine.

Now, five years later. I’ve dragged her to three different apartments in Wisconsin, and across the country, on plane, to New York City. I’ve become a Brooklyn lady … and she’s become a Brooklyn cat. We’re quite the pair. Tyra is her name (yes, she is named after Tyra Banks).

Of course my cat has taught me many life lessons throughout the years, but I like to believe that I have taught her a thing or two as well. Lately, I’ve noticed the little things she does that are, well, a whole lot like me. I laugh, but it also worries me a bit about what my actual children could be like.

Here’s how my cat has grown to act like the person who scoops out her poop on a daily basis:

1. When she’s hungry, she causes a scene until fed.
When I’m really hungry, I’m in a mood. My family and good friends know that when I need to eat we better stop what we’re doing and get me some food. I become crabby and irritable and will tell you that anything you try on in the thrift store dressing room looks ahhhmazing on you. When I was younger and we’d be traveling, I would always be hungry a few hours into the road trip. Sometimes my parents wouldn’t want to stop and get me the Happy Meal I was politely asking for. So, I’d go into the farthest back seat of the van with my “pretend” Zach Morris look-alike cell phone. I’d press all the annoying ringtones I could, and by the time we approached the next exit, we’d be veering to the right, on the way to the nearest Golden Arches. Ahh. Victory.
Now, Tyra … she has her own little ways. When I’m not up at 5:30 AM to pour her five ounces of Science Diet into her orange dish that says “Food,” she makes sure I’m up. She’ll rub her little nose in my face until I open my eyes. Then she’ll wait until I’m watching her and she’ll push something … anything … off my nightstand. It’s always nice when it’s a glass of water and then my slippers are soaking wet when I step into them.
But hey … A girl’s gotta eat. A cat’s gotta eat.

2. She always wants what she can’t (or isn’t supposed to) have.
It’s as if that bill I haven’t paid is like a bad boy. I’m not supposed to have the bad boy, so of course, he’ll be exactly what I want. And I’ll go after Mr. Harley Davidson, even if I’m not “supposed to.” And when I leave that past due doctor bill on my desk, unsupervised, for more than 2 minutes, cute little Tyra will have gone after it and won. It will be in pieces on my rug, circled around her happy little self. Always going after what she’s not supposed to.

3. She loves killing bugs, and loves to show it off.
I am so proud of the fact that out of all my lady friends, I’m the one they ask to kill the huge spider on their wall. Sometimes it’s even fun to show them the squashed bug on the Kleenex after you kill it. So it would only be natural that Tyra would be a bug killer too. That animal can spot a bug like it’s a giant mouse toy full of catnip. Once she bats it around to death, she’ll drag it over to her food dish area. That way, I’ll see it. She probably thinks I’m going to give her more food or something. Ha. (OK, sometimes I give her a treat).

4. When she gets nervous, she has a tendency to poop a lot.
This may have to do with the fact that she’s watched me pace nervously around my bedroom for years talking about how my Irritable Bowel Syndrome is acting up. It’s not a miracle that she associates nerves with bowel movements. She’s just developed IBS – for cats. I don’t see anything wrong with it … except for when I’m searching my bedroom for her turds after a kitty nervous breakdown.

5. She’s not afraid to show affection to the good people who come into her life. And she knows enough to stay under the bed when the bad ones come around.
I have come to realize that I can use my cat as a sort of, weeding out tool. Tyra is all about the loyal, wonderful and positive people in my life. When someone comes around who has hurt me or causes me added stress, Tyra prefers to stay under the bed and not come rubbing up against them, begging for some petting. Geez, she’s smart.

It doesn’t matter that she drives me nuts sometimes, because that’s what you do, from time to time, to the people you love. I promise I’m not a crazy cat lady or anything … really. Chanel designer Karl Lagerfeld’s cat has two maids and plays with an iPad (not the $6.99 toys at PetSmart). That cat even has a Twitter account, with thousands of followers I may add. Tyra may not know how to use an iPad, but she does know whose hand to rest her paw on.

Wait-And-See

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Well, when a pregnant woman becomes the first ever CEO of a Fortune-500 company, it’s big news. On Tuesday morning, you couldn’t turn on any news program without hearing about Marissa Mayer … the new CEO of Yahoo!

As much as I like to stay up-to-date with current events, a story such as this, typically doesn’t hold my interest for long. And, to be honest, it’s not really the “news” that kept me thinking all day. Instead, it was the fact that Mayer is Yahoo’s fifth CEO in four years. That made me think of Yahoo as a person … a person who began and ended four relationships and is starting a fifth one. And just like TomKat’s relationship woes, Yahoo’s business will spend it’s time in the spotlight.

As I found myself continuing to follow this story, a certain quote caught my attention. “By selecting Mayer, Yahoo is explicitly pursuing an aggressive and bold growth strategy, whereas we believe a value strategy might be more appropriate,” Citigroup’s Mark Mahaney said. “Yahoo continues to be a wait-and-see story.”

You see, we are all like Yahoo. There’s no guarantee that who we allow to take on an executive role in our lives will work out in the long run. Their ideas may not be in our best interest, or maybe they fluffed their resume and can’t live up to the job.

People, just like Mahaney, are going to have opinions about your life. And they’re entitled to their opinions, but remember they are just that … others’ opinions. Whoever you allow to be on your team, is your choice. We aren’t always going to make the right decisions, but at the time, we have reasons for the choices we make. If Yahoo can go through trials, end relationships and maintain a Fortune-500 company, what the hell are our excuses?

Each and every one of us is a work in progress. We make decisions, bring people into our lives and we wait-and-see. Enjoy being a wait-and-see story! That way, when you’re story comes to an end, you’ll have something interesting to look back on.

“We must be willing to let go of the life we planned so as to have the life that is waiting for us.” 
 – Joseph Campbell

Worse Than a Broken Heart

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There are times when you think it hurts so bad … that it must be the most piercing pain a human can experience. You may feel like you’ve lost this part of yourself, and you don’t know what to do, or how to find it again.

But, in the words of Miss Josephine Potter –

“There are worse things than a broken heart. Like not exploring a love.”

Closing Doors

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The other night I was taking the subway home after a night similar to those in the past. I’m sitting on the train, telling myself I should be at home sleeping, when I started to think about taking chances.

I think way too much. Sometimes I find myself thinking, when all I really need is to be doing. Us over-thinkers, spend a large amount of time debating over this situation or that situation. We create scenarios in our heads about what might occur if we make a certain decision. Then we agonize over what’s the right decision and how we should make it.

Sometimes, it’s as if fretting over making a choice is a whole lot easier than actually doing something. Fear can either terrify you, or motivate you. Either way, fear is very powerful.

So, back to the subway ride. It was the stop before mine and the doors just opened to let people exit and enter the train. As I sat and watched the people walk on the platform, I noticed this guy. He was completely my type and I found myself staring (smooth, I know). To my surprise, he actually stared back. And even though he continued to walk … he decided to turn around and smile.

For a second I sat there like a fool, but then I said (privately in my head), “Becks, get up and get off at this stop. Go up to him. You’ve made a fool of yourself enough times to know how to handle it if you trip and fall or say something idiotic.”

After my own little pep talk in my head, I rushed up to the doors. Just as I’m about to go through, they close … on my shirt. Since it wasn’t my arm, or something large enough to prevent the doors from closing, the train operator wouldn’t open them back up. After a five-second struggle, I pulled my shirt out as the train moved on to my stop.

I sat back down and realized that maybe the doors were meant to close. It’s either that, or maybe I shouldn’t have thought so long about getting up … and I should have gotten up when my gut told me to.

In life, don’t sit back and wait for the doors to close in front of you. Because it’s after the doors close when you realize you should have went for the opportunity when it was right in front of you. But, in life, doors are going to close. When it happens, just remember that you aren’t stuck forever. Other doors will open up, and when your gut tells you to run through them … do it.

No Expectations

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I have naturally curly hair. Over the years, I’ve come to never expect my hair to do anything I want. Life is like naturally curly hair – unpredictable. You can’t expect anything … from anyone. The quicker you learn that, the happier you’ll be.

When you expect something to turn out a certain way and it doesn’t, that’s when we, as the crazy beings we are, get all upset. But, in reality, we shouldn’t be upset at all.

We expect that guy we met at the bar to call. He doesn’t, and we get all pissy. But, guess what … he was probably a shit head and we should try to look at the positive reasons behind him not calling.

We have one amazing Friday night, and then we expect every Friday night that follows to be that wonderful. It’s not going to happen … it’ll just be a let down.

This is what you need to do. Do not have any expectations. Don’t expect people to be on time. Don’t expect all your roommates to pay their bills on the first of every month. Don’t expect some guy to be “the one” after two dates. It’s hard to enjoy the way life unfolds when you’re constantly being let down by some foolish expectations, set by your foolish self.

If you don’t allow high expectations to enter your mind, then you won’t be all pouty and disappointed when things don’t go exactly your way. Remember, just because something didn’t go your way, doesn’t mean it didn’t go the way it was supposed to.

So, stop expecting, and start having fun with the way things are … in the moment … right now. I’m even kind of in love with my hair. Even on the bad days.

Save You From The Fire

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It was just another Saturday night. A happy hour … a dive bar … some whiskey and beer. But, most of all, good people to walk the streets with. 

As I’m standing in line for the bathroom with my best gal, I lean my head back and watch her face go from a happy smile to a terrified gasp. Then I smell that horrible ‘burnt hair’ smell and feel terrible for whoever’s hair is on fire. That’s when my friend pulls me away from the wall and I realize it’s my hair on fire.

If you know me at all, you know I love my hair. It drives me nuts on a daily basis, and when I finally have a good hair day, I sing praises to the man upstairs … but all in all, my long hair is a huge part of me.

So, once I get it together and realize my hair was on fire from one of the damn candles they have all over the bar, I put on one of my very best theatrical performances. As my friend is warning other people that I burnt my hair, I’m over in the corner taking deep breaths. Of course everything was not okay, and I made that very well known (by screaming, “Everything is not okay,” at least three times). When I go into the bathroom, I realized my hair was still there (minus a few inches of a small chunk that was sizzled away), and I began to stop sweating into my cowboy boots.

After an hour of me nervously touching my hair and keeping a 10-foot distance between me and any candles, I started to laugh at the entire situation. Over the next few days, my smoking hair became more laughable, and I now realize how lucky I was.

Lucky because I had an amazing friend there to pull me from the fire. Lucky because I had people to make me laugh and put perfume in my hair to ease the stench. Lucky because I forgot to put hairspray in my hair that one Saturday night.

When you have people in your life who will save you from the fire, make sure you cherish, appreciate and love them. Be there when they need some saving too. Many situations in life are like burnt hair. But even the sad and upsetting moments, in due time, can bring a smile to your face and laughter to your heart.

Let It Go

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Today. This beautiful Saturday, June 23, 2012, is National “Let It Go” Day.

All of us who are here right now have a past, but we shouldn’t be living there. We are always evolving and people and environments around us are always changing. Change is good. If so many of us weren’t afraid of a little bit of change, we probably wouldn’t be holding onto places, people and things that aren’t making us happy. Being comfortable with your life doesn’t necessarily mean you’re happy.

On this day, that we’re apparently supposed to “let go,” take a few moments and look at your life. Do you have a dream? What do you want to accomplish today, next week, next year? Are you happy with the people you’re surrounding yourself with? Give your life direction and plan the trip. We all get a little lost every now and then, but it doesn’t have to be a permanent state of mind.

Life is a wonderful thing that shouldn’t be taken for granted. If you’re continually doing something that produces negative results, let it go. If you allow people into your life who overlook your worth, let them go. Remember, it’s alright to deeply care about someone … but if they are working through difficulties in their life and it’s affecting your happiness, love them from a distance.

You can do something about the aspects of your life that bring you down. If you choose not to, then you only have yourself to blame. Don’t be afraid to cut the dead weight out of your life and move on. Happiness is a choice. Make it.

Have a Little Fun with the Heat

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When it’s only 65 degrees in late June, people complain about that. Then, when it’s 97 degrees out there, yup … people complain about that. Basically, if it’s not 81 degrees, partly sunny, with a slight breeze, we’re pissed off. There’s no pleasing us. Unfortunately, heat waves occur. And right now, New York City folks are walking around in a giant frying pan, wanting to stab anyone smelly who gets too close on the subway. And let’s face it … right now we’re all nasty. BUT, we will make it to Friday. So, for the next 24 hours, have some fun … at the expense of the heat index.

1. Embrace Nakedness
Now let’s be appropriate here. I’m not talking about a naked walk around the block (although that would be awesome). But I do feel we wear clothes way too often. When it’s this hot out, strip off the clothes in the privacy of your home (or someone else’s … we’re all friends). You can Facebook, watch episodes of Arrested Development on Netflix and read Fifty Shades of Grey just as well naked as you can clothed.

2. Stay Hydrated
Here you go. Pick your beverage of choice (just make sure to have enough water so you don’t pass out on the sidewalk). When it’s a scorcher, cold beers, chilled wine or some tequila in a glass full of ice, never hurt anyone. Have just enough to make you forget about the heat … but not too much to give you the beer sweats in the morning.

3. Play Like a Kid
It’s time to get out the Super Soakers, the kiddie pool or even the spray bottle your stylist uses to wet down your hair. Over Memorial Day weekend, I had way too much fun with squirt guns. But guess what. It’s hot out and people are cranky. When you squirt them with semi-cold water from a bathroom sink, they begin to laugh. For a moment, everyone’s happy. Just make sure they squirt you back … it’s only fair.

4. Chase the AC
When I first moved to NYC two years ago, it was during a heat wave similar to this one.  I had yet to buy a window ac unit, so I was on the verge of having heat hallucinations. That’s when I remembered that the subway cars are air conditioned. Since I only knew how to get to Union Square and back to my apartment (easy – stay on the L train), I decided to take a day and ride the subway. In fact, that day I rode every subway line. It was marvelous. By the end of the day I found a way to stay cool and I didn’t have to ask my Russian roommate for help getting to my job interviews the next day. If riding the subway with a bunch of smelly people doesn’t sound appealing, go to a restaurant, then a bar, or five. Finally go and see The Hunger Games, followed by Rock of Ages (you might even quietly sing along because you’re so frickin happy to have some goose bumps on your legs). Hell, go to the library and read My Life, by Bill Clinton. Just do something … indoors … preferably with at least some clothing on.

Final Note:
I do not recommend going to the laundromat in this heat. The combination of inadequate ac and hot, dry laundry is not fun. But, then again, if your cat pukes on your bed (probably because she’s pissed for being inside all day with no ac, while you’re at your cool office), you’ll have to suck it up and do laundry. It’s a good thing my cat is cute.

All About Father

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My younger sister and I decided to buy our Dad a Frank Sinatra collectors doll for Father’s Day. After we got home from church, we sat in the living room and gave him our gift. This was more than 10 years ago, and little did we know it was the last father’s day we were going to spend with him on this Earth. I’ll never forget the look in his eyes when we gave him his present. I’m pretty sure his eyes were glossed over with tears. He was so happy and content with his two daughters by his side and his beautiful wife sitting across from the coffee table taking pictures.

I know it may sound foolish, but every year on Father’s Day, I still think of a gift I would have wanted to give him. He always wore this Three Stooges watch. This year I would have given him a hand-made, black leather wrist band for the watch he loved so very much. He may not be physically here anymore, but I’ll never stop celebrating the most amazing father and man I’ve ever known.

Happy Father’s Day …

To the man who always told me I was beautiful … and made me believe it.

To the man who danced and held me as a baby until I fell asleep.

To the man who introduced me to rock n’ roll and let me know it was never going to die.

To the man who loved and respected my mother, and always wanted to see her smile.

To the man who took my sister and I to dance classes three times a week … every week.

To the man who showed an interest in his daughters’ pretend friends at the dinner table.

To the man who dropped me off at school in his ’66 Dodge Cornet, making me feel like the luckiest girl with the cool dad.

To the man who came by the store during every single one of my retail job shifts … even if it was to just buy a Snickers bar.

To the man who was my mother’s partner and best friend … who helped her equally raise two amazing women, if I do say so myself.

So, Happy Father’s Day to all the dads out there. Whether they are here today to celebrate with their families, or whether they’ve passed on from this world, a father is a father. I am so lucky I was blessed with having such an amazing and inspiring man to call Pops.

5 Love Songs Most People Can Relate To

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You know the scenario. You were in high school and would sit on your bed and stare at the various rock band posters on your wall. You’d pull out your Discman and listen to the same love song over and over again because it was obviously written just for you. For some lucky boys and girls, those days ended in high school. For others, they still exist, regardless of age. Whoever you are, and whatever your current love status is, I feel the majority of people can relate to this lovey-dovey crap one way or another.

1. Brandy – “Have You Ever”

First of all, this song was from 1998 … as in 14 years ago. I mean, seriously, did any of us ‘young adults’ even know what love truly meant? Maybe? I’m not doubting young love, but I’m sure I had no clue what I was blubbering about while I had this song on repeat for two hours. Oh, to be 14 again. Now, when you’re in your upper-twenties and you find yourself thinking back to this song, it’s very likely that you actually get it this time around.

2. Bonnie Raitt – “I Can’t Make You Love Me”

Growing up in Wisconsin, country music radio stations were very popular. I remember hearing this song while riding in the backseat as my dad drove me to dance classes. I’m sure we’ve all been in a situation where we care about someone who just isn’t there. Yeah, it sucks. Each situation is different. All you can really do is follow your heart, and make sure you never lose yourself in the process.

3. Elvis Presley – “Can’t Help Falling In Love”

I did not just pick this because of the Elvis slide show in the video (even though I’m not mad about it one bit). I picked it because I love the way this song describes that, “Holy crap, yup, I’ve pretty much falling for this person,” feeling. This is the song you listen to while walking down the street with a huge, goofy grin on your face. You’re basically surrenduring and admiting to yourself that someone actually broke down your walls and you’re pretty psyched about that. It’s either that, or you’re just a weirdo with a foolish grin on your face for no reason.

4. Lady Antebellum – “Need You Now”

I’m not a fan of new age country. But, who cannot relate to these lyrics?! Haven’t we all been siting up at 1:15 a.m., a little drunk, reaching for the phone. Yes. I’m pretty sure that’s happened a time, or twenty. You tell yourself you’re going to stay away, but it’s only a temporary fix. Sometimes it’s alright to cave in. Other times you know in your heart it’s not right. For once, just shut up and listen to your damn heart.

5. Blondie – “One Way or Another”

C’mon. I had to. I also just had to have a 3:35 dance performance to this song on my bed. This song is perfect to listen to when you’re on the chase. You have a certain level of feelings and your determination is high. I remember listening to this song while chatting with   a high school crush over ICQ. I may have been helping him with his math homework, but one way or another – right?! Just remember that you might not always get the one you go after. (I learned this the hard way … which is probably why I ended up listening to “Have You Ever” while sobbing). But, the one who matters … that one, you’ll get.

No matter what songs you can relate to – When you love, nothing else matters.

Wisconsin Blood

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Politics have never been one of my favorite discussions. I mean, I pay attention to what’s going on in the world, and when elections roll around, I make sure to educate myself before walking up to the polls. But, other than that, I don’t discuss politics with people.

Now, since I’m a born and raised Wisconsinite, I’ll always have a ridiculous amount of love and loyalty for that state … no matter where I live. This means I was obsessively checking CNN.com all day yesterday, waiting for a reporter by the name of Tony Cohen to update the governor recall vote coverage. A co-worker asked me why it mattered so much to me, since I live in New York now. Ha. Silly question. When you spend 26 years of your life in a state that has helped shape who you are, you always want to stay informed on any trials it faces. So, when Wisconsin residents had the chance to participate in a governor recall vote, I paid attention.

I obviously couldn’t vote, so I spent the day in anticipation of the results. As most people know by now, Governor Walker survived the recall election. Since I’m not here to discuss politics, I decided to do some creative thinking about Wisconsin while riding the subway this morning. For the next few paragraphs, forget about being either happy or disappointed with the election results, and just appreciate and love the great state of Wisco.

Wisconsin does have public buses. Unfortunately, it does not have a subway system. Don’t get me wrong, I love the New York City Metro, but if it was in Wisconsin, I’m pretty sure I’d really love it. Here’s why:

1. You would hear the phrases, “Excuse me,” “I’m sorry,” “Pardon me,” … etc.
In my 26 years of experience, I’ve found Wisconsin people to be very polite. If they hit your shopping cart in the dairy aisle at Super Walmart, they apologize. If a parent wants to get their child on the merry-go-round at the state fair, they’ll say excuse me as they navigate through the crowd. It’s just the kind thing to do.


2. The ads would be fabulous.
I envision ads promoting cheese and local dairy products. In the fall, 90 percent of the ads would have something to do with the Green Bay Packers. In the spring and summer, they’d revolve around the Milwaukee Brewers. The University of Wisconsin system would create ads with pictures of Lake Mendota and Camp Randall in them, encouraging children to “want to be a Badger.” Local restaurants would take out ads claiming to have the best Friday night fish fry. As a passenger, the only way to determine which ad is correct, is to try them all. Obviously. See, thanks to the Wisconsin subway system, your Friday night dinner plans will be set for months!
3. Random strangers may just start talking to each other.
When I first moved to NYC, I would say hi to random people on the subway. They looked at me like my shoes didn’t match, I had lettuce in my teeth or I just crapped my pants. After I tried my conversational pieces a few more times … and failed, I decided to just read my book and listen to my music like the other New Yorkers.
4. You’d see a lot less black clothing.
I’ll admit it. I wear a shit-ton of black … but I always have. It’s not like I used to love bright colors, and then moved to New York and wanted to fit in with all these Brooklyn kids. Maybe it just means I was meant to be here. In a Wisconsin subway station, you’d see green and gold … red and white … and throw in some blue (for the Brewers, or just because it’s a nice color). You may even see quite a few people wearing khakis.
5. Wisconsin slang.
Three Words: Real, quick, once.

If there is one thing I am serious about, it is my love for Wisconsin. Political views aside, isn’t that something all Wisconsinites can agree on?!

Love Rules Without Rules

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I remember when Billy would pull my curly, brown pigtails during math class. I turned around, and with my 11-year-old attitude, told him to stop. I would tell my mom I didn’t want to wear pigtails anymore because Billy pulled them. She laughed and said he pulled my hair because he liked me, not because of the pigtails. That was the stupidest thing I’d ever heard. Why would Billy do something mean if he liked me. He should have pushed me on the swings during recess … I would have liked that.

As the years went on, and the boys became cute and the girls became pretty, I realized that love and attraction was just a big game to many people. Somewhere, I don’t know where (I like to think there’s an underground tank in California), people created these “rules of love.” And if you break them, well, you probably just blew it with the man/woman of your dreams.

These so-called rules and ideas are bullshit. Period.

Even when I was in high school (which wasn’t that long ago), girls didn’t ask guys to the prom. Girls grew up thinking it’s best to wait for the man to ask them to dinner. Well, I don’t think that’s the way it has to be. In fact, every guy I’ve been involved with has started because I made the first move. Girls, what’s the worst that can happen? He tells you he’s not interested … Oh well. Go home and remind yourself that it’s his loss. Living your life in fear of rejection is no way to live! Neither is playing games to try to get him to notice you. Men are interested in football games … not your games.

Don’t get me wrong … men aren’t perfect angels, it’s just that they don’t over-analyze and scrutinize every little detail when it comes to relationships. This is why if you play games it’s not going to get you anywhere. Be direct. Express how you feel and what you want. Be simple about it. If the man can’t take it, then he’s not for you. And men, when you find a woman who speaks her mind, and you actually agree with what she’s saying … don’t let her get away.

One of my favorite groups, The Exciters, knew this in the 1960’s when they came out with their first big hit, “Tell Him.” They were right when they said they knew something about love. Tell him/her how you feel. Don’t play games, don’t wait, be that “different” one.

It comes down to this. Whether you’re a man or woman, go after what you want. Men, stop pulling her pig tails to get her attention. And, women, stop agonizing over how long you should wait to text him back.

Now … go and be the one who stands out.

It All Comes Down to Love

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They said she had one strong heart.

This morning my grandmother passed away. She’s been in hospice for a short while, and the doctors were amazed at how long she held on. Today was her day to go, and she truly did have a strong and loving heart.

She married a man when she was young and loved that man until she left this world. I really don’t see how anything else could make your heart stronger. I don’t mean to go all “The Notebook” here, it’s just that I think people forget what’s really important in life. Love.

Yes, I’m a hopeless romantic. I believe that everyone can have a beautiful love story. My grandmother had one, that’s for sure. A complete life shouldn’t be measured in money, social status or material items. It’s about giving and receiving love. My grandmother put her love for her husband and children first. My mother grew up and did the same thing. I never really saw it until now, but my mother and grandmother have taught me a lot about love.

I’ve also been reminded, once again, that one day we aren’t going to be alive. One day, the people we love with all our hearts aren’t going to be here either. Make sure they know how you feel about them. Forgive those you love and be a source of support for people. Take a chance. Let someone tear down your walls. Tear down someone else’s walls. Let love into your life. And don’t let a beautiful love get away.

My hope for everyone is that when our day comes, we’ll leave this earth with a strong heart and a complete life. Love unconditionally and never be afraid to show it.

That Don’t Impress Me Much

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Lately, I’ve realized there are certain traits that men think all women go crazy for. Maybe I’m just different from “all the other women,” but please … I know some women have to agree with me on these.

1. Your grunting at the gym
Please. Stop. Now. It’s not impressive. In fact, it makes me think that you have added way too much weight onto the machine and you can’t handle it. But, to be impressive, you try your hardest to lift your arms up high and add a grunt or two. It’s annoying and I may just roll my eyes at you and turn up the Roy Orbison on my iPod. Now, he was a real man. Yes, I’m telling you to stop grunting and to be more like Roy. Simple.

2. Your fancy clothes
The Armani suits aren’t important to all women. If you’re wearing a pair of cowboy boots with them, then maybe you’ll draw my attention. At least three days out of the week I see the same guy on the subway. He always has his fancy suits on with his little, most likely, custom-made cufflinks. And then, he is always holding a shopping bag from an expensive and high-class store. I understand you need something to put your lunch in, or whatever, but a vintage Motley Crue lunch box would be much better. No one cares, or should care, that you have a Rolex watch. It could just be me, but I don’t feel that money should play the largest role in fashion. I believe it should be creativity. If you can go in and drop thousands of dollars on a suit, it shows you have money. Whoopi shit. Putting thought and creativity into what you wear displays an interesting mind. Now, that’s impressive.

3. Your car
Men grow out of their Tonka truck collection and grow into their want for ridiculously expensive cars. You might think that your obsession with wheels is just like our obsession with lipstick, but it’s drastically different. Most women get dolled up because they want to be the one that stands out in a room full of women. And, most women pull out the lipstick and mascara because it makes them feel good. It doesn’t matter if it’s Revlon or Chanel, as long as it works for us. We aren’t going to want to date someone who is concerned over what brand our lipstick is. With that being said, you shouldn’t want to date someone who is so consumed with brands and money and blah, blah, blah. So, don’t worry if you don’t have a 2013 Rolls Royce. How you get from point A to point B doesn’t matter. It only matters that you get there. To be honest, I’m extremely impressed if you have a 30-day unlimited Metrocard!

4. Your “let’s wait a while” attitude when it comes to communication
I know, calling someone back or returning a text is so incredibly hard. I definitely understand why it takes a decade for you to get around to your two-word text back to us. Not. If we, as a society, don’t have our phones with us for one day, we go a little crazy. Our cell phones are always with us, it doesn’t matter if you’re a man or a woman. As ladies, we know you are checking your phone. When you respond three days later, explaining how extremely busy you’ve been, we don’t doubt that. But, we also know you spend about 20 minutes in the bathroom taking a shit each day … so, taking out 30 seconds to make us feel special isn’t asking for that much. Basically, if a man can’t handle sending a timely response to the woman he wants to sleep with (or is sleeping with), then he won’t be able to handle a relationship.

5. Your looks
It’s not so much that looks are important … it’s the fact that physical attraction is important.  Remember, looks fade, but attraction never does. It’s all about how someone makes you feel when you’re with them. In relationships, looks can only get you so far. They may grab the attention of others in the beginning, but it always comes down to your other characteristics in the end. Show her there’s more to you than your cute ass and great hair.

Now, don’t get me wrong … yeah … I think you’re alright, but …

All About Mother

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Happy Mother’s Day ….

To the one woman who is always there to chat for hours on the phone about some guy who is breaking my heart.

To the woman who has always been strong and inspiring, and has always showed me the right paths in life.

To the woman who always says, “This too shall pass,” when I’m freaking out about relatively minor details.

To the woman who allowed me to grow up and be my own person … and love me just the same when that happened.

To the woman who has made sacrifices for the love and happiness of her daughters.

To the woman who makes me laugh.

It’s clear that none of us would be here if it wasn’t for our mothers. So, make sure they never forget how amazing and wonderful they are. Show them love today, and everyday. These women are extraordinary, and I will never stop being in awe of my own mother.

With love and respect on this beautiful Sunday … Happy Mother’s Day!

Curse of the First Dates

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We all get stuck in ruts every now and then. Sometimes it’s a “I hate my job, but I can’t find anyone else to hire me,” rut. Or one of those ruts where you feel as if the world is against you. Then there’s the “I’m alone and don’t want to be anymore,” rut. Let’s focus on the last one.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m good at being single and I don’t really mind it all that much. But, I’d be lying to myself and others if I said I didn’t want to, for once, have a successful and wonderful relationship. Just like everything else in life that’s worth having, you have to work at relationships. For some, they may come easy … but they don’t stay easy. For others, it’s all going to be difficult. I’m an other.

Relationships have never come easy for me. It’s like math class. I study hard. Read the chapters. Complete the practice questions. I’m even having a little bit of fun figuring out what x equals. Finally, it’s time to take the test. I work hard on that test, struggle through some questions and handle others effortlessly. Then, I still get a B- on the damn thing. Bye bye Advanced Business Calculus.

Right now, I’m having trouble with the practice questions … aka first dates. Lucky for me, I’m outgoing, so first dates aren’t a difficult task for me find. I’m riding the struggle bus when it comes to having second dates, third dates, weekend trips to Montauk, and skydiving lessons. I have the first date curse. It sucks and I want it to end. But, since I’m Positive Paula, here are some interesting things I’m learning during first date, after first date.

1. When all else fails, you can always talk about the Packers.
Seriously. Sometimes the conversation isn’t all that great. Sometimes you realize the dude is super cute, but boring. Or maybe he’s so smart that you wish you remembered some Italian from college to impress him with. So, for me, when I don’t know what to say, I start talking about the Packers. I mean, they’re the all-American sports team, duh! Who doesn’t want to talk about Aaron Rodgers or discuss the lovely and luscious locks of Clay Matthews?!? Works like a charm every time.

2. I’m getting really good at telling the story behind my wrist tattoo. 
Since it’s one of my favorite little stories, I got this down. But now, since I’m telling it on a regular basis in dimly lit bars, I’ve been getting more creative with my hand gestures and excitement. Yeah, I know … you want to hear about it now. Date me!

3. I’m a cheap date. 
C’mon … I order $4 Budweiser’s. First of all, don’t the coolest girls drink cheap beer? Yeah, thought so. Secondly, you should be happy I’m not all high maintenance with my fancy ginger snap appletini (made that up, since I’m not very educated on fancy drinks … hence the Budweiser). Be impressed with a girl drinking beers.

4. If I like you, I’ll share certain things with you.
Basically, if I feel comfortable around you, I notice myself talking about my speech impediment I had when I was younger. Or when you ask me about my family, I’ll talk about losing my father when I was a teenager. Maybe I’ll even talk about how much I hate when a strand of my long hair (clarification – on my head) gets stuck in my butt crack when I shower (seriously, that’s the worse, and I know other people get what I’m talking about). So, when I see myself holding back information, deep down I’m telling myself that I don’t really feel comfortable with you. No hopes for a second date there, I guess.

5. Once a reporter, always a reporter.
Thank the heavens for my journalistic instincts. There’s no room for awkward silence when you’re sitting across the table from me. No, no, no. I like to ask questions, and not the normal “brother/sister …. dog/cat” kinds of questions. I’ll make you dig deep and soon you’ll be laughing and talking about that time you organized a jump rope contest in the second grade. You’ll make sure to let me know that phase only lasted for a few months and then you turned all manly and took up hockey. But, if I’m lucky, I’ll get you sharing something that you haven’t thought about in years. Maybe you’ll even smile. Like really, “ahhh, loving life” smile. If someone makes you smile like that on a first date … give them a chance. Who knows what other incredible facial expressions they could have you making. Just saying.

From all of this, I’m concluding that I want to date Clay Matthews.

I can’t wait to see what wiseass things I’ll learn on third dates and Montauk weekends.

Our Hearts Will Never Forget

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I have heard one of the most beautiful true love stories. People live life everyday, taking loved ones for granted. The truth is, someday those loved ones aren’t going to be here anymore. Someday we aren’t going to be here anymore. This all became more clear after a conversation with my mother.

Our phone conversation started out like any other. I spoke of work and friends, and she shared exciting details of her Hawaii vacation. Then she started talking about her mother. Now, my grandmother is one tough woman. She married a handsome farmer and had six children. Her children respected their parents and are now all grown up with families of their own. My grandfather passed away nearly 30 years ago, and she has also lost two of her children. At holiday gatherings, I always remember her as the woman in charge. The woman who cooked a magnificent meal all on her own and was proud to enjoy a beer when she was finished. And, she never worried that her grandchildren would eat too much chocolate and cheese before dinner. We all still finished everything on our plates.

As the years have passed and aging has occurred, my grandmother is now in assisted living. She has her one-bedroom apartment and is surrounded by people up and down the hallway. A few of her daughters still live close enough to visit often and engage her in conversation and activity. The other night my mother was visiting, along with my aunt and cousins. My aunt’s family had been there all day, so when it was time for them to leave, my mom decided to stay for dinner. After eating their chicken salad sandwiches, my mom walked my grandmother back to her room.

While my mother sat on the couch and my grandmother slowly rocked in her favorite rocking chair, she looked at my mother and said, “I guess he most be working out back.”

My mom asked, “Who’s working out back, Mom?”

“Well, Harvey … he must be out back,” my grandmother answered. Harvey was her one and only true love. The only man she married and the father of her six children. When my mother told her that her husband isn’t here, my grandmother sadly realized that he wasn’t working on the farm. She realized he had passed away many years ago.

To bring a smile to my grandmother’s face, my mom said, “You know, I bet him and Jerry went fishing.” (Jerry, my mother’s husband, and my father, has also passed away.)

“You think so?” my grandmother asked.

“Yeah, maybe they’re up in heaven, fishing … just like they used to,” my mom said.

“I hope so,” is all my grandmother said, with a slight smile on her face.

No one knows exactly what my grandmother was thinking at that moment, but all I know is it involved love. That unconditional and true love. There may come a time in life where our minds may not be aware of the world as they once were. But, our hearts will never forget. Our hearts will never forget a love that deep. This is what life is all about. My grandmother fell in love with someone with all of her heart. And, above all, that’s the most rewarding and beautiful experience this life on Earth has to offer.

… Break the Cycle

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Go ahead and make fun of Gossip Girl. I know, I know … it’s a CW show about Upper East Siders with trust funds who scheme and wouldn’t think of getting their wedding gear anywhere else but Vera Wang. But, if you look past Blair Waldorf’s shoe collection and Dan Humphrey’s curly brown hair, you may actually learn a thing or two about life.

I’ll start off by asking for forgiveness because I am an episode behind. See my life doesn’t revolve around little Miss XOXO. But, after watching the previous episode, I realized a very valuable lesson … Know thy true self – and live it.

For those of you who have never watched an episode of this show (and never plan on it), let me fill you in on a few things. This show revolves around gossip (but you already knew that, didn’t you smartie). The story lines involve people conceiving plans to destroy and hurt others. It’s about fame. About your name in the world.

Not just in this last episode, but throughout the entire series, I feel one of the best messages to come out of GG is to remain true. Others include, but are not limited to: don’t wear headbands every day of junior year, don’t sleep with your best friend’s mom and don’t marry for anything other than love. But, those should be a given, so back to staying true.

In those 43 minutes of catty drama I just watched, it was the Blair and Dan moments that made me think. After Blair steals Dan’s spotlight at an important event for Humphrey, he looks at her and says “you’ve become so focused on how everyone else perceives you that you don’t even know who you are anymore.”

I sat there, pressed pause, and realized that’s how I’ve been starting to feel lately. I’ve been making decisions that haven’t been brining out my true self. This happens to everybody. The difference is that some realize it quickly. Others take more time and more mistakes. And some don’t realize it until it’s too late, if they ever realize it at all.

We weren’t born hurtful creatures. We are who we are. When you notice that changing for the worse, get your true self back … and never let it go. If the Queen B of GG can do it, anyone can. I know, she’s just a character on a teenage drama, but I’d put money down that most people can relate to her in one way or another.

Whatever you’ve been caught up in that caused you to lose yourself a bit, just break the cycle. If you’re lucky, you’ll have people there who love your true self and will help you in any way they can. And … look forward to meeting yourself again.

What a Few Hours Can Teach You

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“Bad stuff happens. Good stuff happens. Life is a series of moments after moments.”

When life throws a lesson in your face, catch it and run with it. When life throws you unpleasant situations, know the right time to take a few deep breaths and walk away. And when life throws you a magical moment, hold onto it and cherish it with all you’ve got.

1. It’s super important to enjoy and embrace the people you work with.
Lets face it. We have to see these people for 40 hours a week. Get to know them. Respect them and learn from them. Too many people have the mindset of “I’m here to work, not make friends.” Yes, work is the priority, but it doesn’t hurt to laugh a little bit during the day with good people. If your place of employment consists of miserable and hurtful people you should possibly start looking for a new place to share your talents. Lucky for me, I’ve realized that I’m surrounded by people in cubicles who are all pretty amazing!

2. Cherish those few friends who always make you laugh and sit with you while you cry.
It’s hard to find these people. Remember, everyone makes mistakes. Everyone has hurt someone and has been hurt. We’re not perfect. Relationships go through rough patches. But, in the long run, you’ll find those people who laugh and cry with you. Those friends who actively try to fix the rough patches and help you fix your eye make up after the tears.

3. Stop living in the past.
The past is literally the most horrendous mindset to live in. Bad stuff happens. Good stuff happens. Life is a series of moments after moments. When something occurs that isn’t pleasant, deal with it kindly. Then … move on. When something wonderful happens, enjoy it. Great moments in life pass, just as the bad ones do. Nothing negative should take up permanent residency in your life … unless you let it.

4. When you notice a pattern of bad or cruel behavior, realize why it’s happening and stop it!
I’ve noticed that when I allow certain situations into my life, I begin to act differently. I may start to lack trust in people. I may start to lash out at others, instead of talking calmly and getting to the root of the issue. Some situations, and possibly people, may trigger negativity in the way you live your life. Rise above it and remove those triggers. I’m acknowledging here and now that I’ve made mistakes. I’m also acknowledging that I’m taking steps to become a better person.

5. Forgive others and forgive yourself. 
I recently had one of my amazing co-workers say, “Amanda, you are so mean and hard on yourself sometimes.” I just looked at her and agreed 100 percent. I couldn’t even try to deny it, because there’s too many times where I’m harsh and holding grudges against myself. The act of forgiveness is so powerful. Without forgiveness, you’re always going to let the past take away from enjoying the present moment. Forgiveness is vital for happiness.

At the end of the day, just ask yourself: I want to be remembered for _____________. Whatever you fill in the blank with …. simply do that.

Blessings and Curses of IBS

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When I was younger my mom would curl my hair while I was “making chocolate ice cream.” You see, I started competing in dance when I was six years old. The morning of the competitions always made me incredibly nervous. I mean, pacing around the hotel room with one tap shoe on screaming that I forgot all the steps to my routine, nervous. It was horrible for everyone involved.

So, my mom had to curl my hair and put on my “Toddlers & Tiaras” make up while I would sit on the toilet. Every few minutes I’d have to go to the bathroom. And, because children want to make everything happy, I’d tell my mom to be careful not to burn my ears because I was busy making chocolate ice cream. Pretty gross, I know. But now it makes me realize the tremendous amount of unconditional love my mother has always had for me.

Anyways, this went on before each competition. Except, as I got older, I could do my own hair and make up. After a while, I wasn’t as nervous, and knew I belonged on the stage. Then, my stomach found other things to get all upset over. As I continued to grow up, and into the world of “things aren’t as perfect as they were when you were eight,” my stomach started giving me problems before a high school speech, biology exams and right before I told my crush I liked him over ICQ chat.

Finally, while visiting the doctor many years later, I found out I have this thing called IBS. Good ol’ Irritable Bowel Syndrome (which I will refer to from now on as IBS, so I can avoid using the word bowel 50 times).

Turns out about 1 in 6 people in the US have IBS symptoms. Woah. And, apparently it’s twice as common in women as in men. Great, so I had that going against me too. It also has a lot to do with genetics. My sister has Crohn’s Disease. So maybe good bowels just don’t run in our family. Basically (thanks WebMD), IBS symptoms occur because our intestine is connected to our brain. What a team – the bowel and the brain. Even though stress and anxiety are not direct cause of IBS, they can be a symptom trigger. This is why when we’re stressed and/or nervous our intestines contract and cause all sorts of pain. Although IBS can be bothersome, it doesn’t cause any permanent damage or serious diseases. Phew.

With that being said, I’d like to use my positive thinking and share some blessings of living with IBS. 

Now, a lot of people get nervous or anxious before giving a presentation or having a job interview. Some people might just sweat a little bit more and some, IBSers, might get to know the fourth stall from the bathroom door very well. Of course this isn’t pleasant, but you know that once you start your well-prepared PowerPoint presentation, you’ll be golden. Bye bye stomach cramps. We all have to do things in life that create anxiety. But, if giving speeches causes your IBS to interrupt your day for a good six hours, then you probably aren’t going to go into politics.

What I’m trying to say is, listen to the IBS. Whether it be a situation or a person, if you’re running to the bathroom every five minutes and buying out the pharmacy’s entire stock of Gas-X, maybe you should realize something in your life isn’t good for you. It’s as if your brain is saying, “This isn’t a good life decision, what are you doing, you idiot.” Luckily, the intestine respond with a quick, “You’re right, I’m going to move all around in disapproval. Maybe after the seventh trip to the john, this fool will get the hint.”

Whether it’s your job, your home, a lover, or a friend … if your anxiety is worsening your IBS flare-ups, listen to your gut.

Whoever came up with the whole, “Listen to your gut” philosophy on life, probably had IBS. Seriously, I wouldn’t doubt it. Probably thought of that while making chocolate ice cream.

What You Learn About Yourself On A First Date

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We’ve all been there. The nightmarish, yet exciting, first dates. Sometimes they lead to a second date, a five-month relationship that ends with a text message or a marriage that results in five great-grandchildren. And, sometimes, all you get is that one first date. Whatever the outcome, you can learn a lot about yourself during that 3-hour (if it’s decent) first date.

1. How well (or not well) you hide that nervous/uncomfortable feeling you have for the first 15 minutes.
Don’t pretend like you don’t know what I’m talking about. It happens all the time. Maybe you say “You know what I mean,” or “Like, you know” about 35 times in the first five minutes. It could be that flipping sweat stache you feel above your lip, or the fact that you have to sit on your hands so you stop flaring them around as if there’s a fire in the bar. Whatever it may be, the more first dates, the better you get at realizing these behaviors and controlling them … nice and smoothly.

2. Oh hey … I like this feature of mine … let’s flaunt it.
You may have great legs, an amazing sense of humor or mad drumming skills. Embrace it and flaunt it. Wear the leather miniskirt, tell a few jokes in between swigs of beer and discuss your favorite drummer. Maybe you love talking about your Italian background. Then do it. Just find a couple of features you feel make you unique and play. them. up.

3. I’m a good storyteller because …
Everyone likes a good story. It’s why slumber parties were invented, cliques are formed and people don’t just stare hopelessly at each other. I love talking about the story behind my wrist tattoo and my big, breaking news story I covered as a reporter in small-town Wisconsin. Both stories say a lot about me as a person, and after all, isn’t that the point of this whole first date.

4. I can get information out of him and I will remember it.
Over a series of first dates, you’ll start to become better at remember the small details a man is sharing with you. Remember that his younger brother is 12 years old and won the sixth grade spelling bee last week. He prefers Powerade to Gatorade. Store that information away. Everyone wants to know that what they are saying is being taken in and remembered. Stare at his pretty eyes or long hair while he talks if it helps you focus. Just don’t get too distracted.

5. Phew (back of hand slides across forehead)! I wasn’t a slop-tart for a date.
Be proud of your non slop-tartness. Drinks are a very common part of first dates. I see nothing wrong with that at all. With that being said, do not overdo it. Everyone’s tolerance level is different, so find what works for you. You want to be a happy, little drunkie, date. Emphasis on little. Not an out-of-control, can I please have a seventh shot of Jamo, date. When you enter slop-tart territory, who knows what you’re even saying anymore. And you can forget about number 4 up there … you’re risking not remembering a thing except for his brown hair. Leave the slop-tart look for Angela’s bachelorette party next weekend.

6. Yes! I am not one of those people who talks about their ex on a date.
I honestly don’t know why this happens. Why did people start doing this and why is it still going on? If you want to talk about how you’ve been back and forth with Johnny for the past two years, then why are you even on this date?  I wish this was something that only existed in Jennifer Lopez rom coms, but sadly it happens way too often. Maybe you are still in love with someone, but trying to move on. Good for you, but don’t make this guy, who may think you’re great, listen to you babble about an ex.

7. I don’t say “Let’s do this again,” if I don’t mean it.
“Sure, I’d love to hang out again.” Don’t say it if you’re rolling your eyes in the back of your head because you have no intention of seeing this dude ever again. It’s just giving someone false hope, and that’s not cool. Simply tell your date that you’ve had a nice time and thank them for getting together with you. I’m sure we’ve all uttered the “let’s do this again” phrase before and not followed through with it, resulting in ignored calls and texts. It’s alright, you are forgiven, just don’t keep it up. Save it for when you do really want to see someone again. Geez, what a concept.

8. I know you’ve mentioned your long walk (or subway ride) home, but you’re not spending the night in my bed.
You don’t have to be rude about it … but you definitely don’t have to let the guy you’ve known for a few hours up to your room to meet your cat. Now, if you want to and you’ve made that decision, that’s fine – we are all adults here. Just be safe about it. I may be one of those who feels sex is more than a groggy, morning after, “I’ll text you” kind of thing. And, if I do like you and actually want to get to know you, I want to know you as a person first. There will be plenty of time to master each others bodies later.

9. It might not be junior high anymore, but I can still be awkward and turn my cheek when you try to kiss me.
Ugh. It’s just the way I am sometimes. You know … when you’re not really feeling it, so when you get that “Oh crap, he’s leaning in” feeling, you do what any 14-year-old who just got braces put on yesterday would do. Turn your cheek. Now this might make the guy feel like a total failure, which of course he’s not, so you should probably say something. I apologize for my awkwardness (which I own, thank you very much) and kiss him on the cheek. If he wants to tell his buddies about Awkward Amanda, I don’t mind. I quickly become unawkward, and the guys who stick around will find out.

10. Hell, I’m fun!
If nothing else comes out of a first date, at least I’ve reminded myself that I’m fun to be around. If one man is having fun with you, others will too. Never stop having fun with first dates. Eventually, it’ll pay off. Nothing wrong with having an exciting first date story to share with those five great-grandchildren.

Lessons From The Home Visit

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When you live in New York City, you love living there. But, when you’re a New Yorker, you need to get out of the city every few months. Well, you don’t have to … but for some people, it helps maintain your sanity.

I’m one of those people who needs to step out of Manhattan and it’s boroughs every once in a while. Being born and raised in the great state of Wisconsin, I always have a place I call “home” to visit. With each trip back home, I have moments of realization. This past visit, I’ve had a few of those moments.

Here’s what I’ve learned during six days in Wisconsin:  

1.  Dancing in your childhood room has got to be one of the absolute best things ever. The family dog may be the only audience member, but I’m alright with that.

2.  Your family is always there to simply listen to you. Sometimes you don’t need advice or ridicule. You just need someone to listen to you. They don’t even have to say everything will be alright … and you just know it will be.

3.  Cornfields are beautiful. Fresh air and empty streets make for the best jogs. And when you find yourself smiling at a herd of cows, you know you’re loving life.

4.  When you realize you care about someone, do something about it! Whenever I’m home I hear stories about my mother and father. I wouldn’t have the life I have today if one man was too afraid to go up to a woman in a diner. Don’t ever leave anyone wondering how you feel about them.

5.  Start getting serious about your goals. We’re a society of excuses. We want to accomplish something, but we don’t want to work for it. It seems as if you realize what you really want for your life when you try to get away from it. So, get back to normality and step it up. Make accomplishing your goals the new normality.

6.  If people don’t show signs of wanting to be in your present, then leave them in the past. It’s that simple. Put them, or certain situations, out of your current thoughts. When you keep holding on, you’re preventing yourself from moving forward.

I’m ready to head back to my Brooklyn bedroom with confidence and a smile. Until next time, cornfields.

Oh, Man … They Aired That?

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OK, so you’re not Lauren Conrad or a Kardashian sister. You’ve never had cameras following you around in your living room. The world hasn’t seen you driving your car, boarding a plane at LAX or arguing with your boyfriend. But, just because you don’t have your own reality television show, doesn’t mean you should act like it.

Think about it. What if you did have a camera crew follow you around for just one month. Except for your “private times” (such as in bed, the shower and on the toilet), the crew would capture your life moments. Your professional, personal, fun and stressful times would all be fair game for making the cut. The cut for airtime on your reality show, that is.

If you knew that your actions and words would be viewed by a mass number of people, would you still act the same? Would viewers be on your side? Would they be yelling at the TV because of your stupidity? Would they respect you?

Life is full of change. When there is no change, that’s when you should start worrying. So, when you’re going through changes and trying to create a more positive life, here’s something to think about. Live your life as if you had your own reality show. What do you want to present to the world?

Do you want people to see you gossip and treat others with no respect? Probably not. Then stop doing it. I’m sure you don’t want to be portrayed as a negative person all the time, so try to incorporate a positive attitude.

It helps if you think of people you love and look up to as your “audience.” This past month I’ve been examining my actions and picturing myself on TV … for my mom, sister, family, and friends to see. Have them in your mind when you get the urge to gossip, lash out or constantly put your own selfish needs first. When I do this, I realize which behaviors aren’t healthy or bringing me closer to my goals.

By picturing yourself as a reality TV star, I’m not saying you should only focus on others’ opinions of you. I’m simply saying use this idea to check your actions. It will help you stop doing the things you don’t approve of. Those behaviors that no only hurt others, but yourself in the long run.

Finally, think of yourself as the “audience.” If you were watching reruns of your show, would you be proud of yourself? If not, then what are you doing?

Stop creating bad reality TV …

You’ll Never Change A Free Bird

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Ladies … don’t ever fall in love with a free bird. It’s not going to work out. He’s not going to wine and dine you. He’s not going to want to take time out of his schedule to get to know you. You won’t be gushing about him to your girlfriends. Instead, you’ll be venting and asking a whole bunch of “what the hell is his problem?”

Actually, as much as it may suck to hear this, it’s not really his problem. (Unless he’s jerked you around for months pretending to be serious … then he’s just an asshole.) It usually goes as follows. You fall for this dreamy guy … the one that’s just your type. At first he likes the attention, but as soon as you want something more, he’ll go all “I’m not good in relationships” on you. You can huff and puff all you want, but he’s probably being honest.

For some reason these men want to be unattached. They feel like they have to in order to accomplish something. Maybe they’re selfish … or maybe they’re just trying to save great women from getting their hopes crushed.

I’ve been there with these types of guys. They’re not jerks, they just know what they want. And, to put it bluntly, it’s not a woman. That doesn’t mean you are any less than amazing … and he knows that. Trust. It’s been said before, and I’ll say it again, “Never give your all to someone who doesn’t want it.”

Now, if you prefer the Rock n’ Roll version, Lynyrd Skynyrd said it best, even though it took about nine minutes to get it out (granted, an amazing guitar solo takes up some time). The lyrics read, “Cause I’m as free as a bird now … and this bird you cannot change.”

But, here’s the key. You must know the difference between the free birds and the ones who wouldn’t mind being caged up with you once in a while.