Woman

women in the workplace

I have been really frustrated with the sisterhood lately…and it’s really wearing me down. Since I have worked in the Education industry for basically my entire adult life, I am well accustomed to working with women – there’s an awful lot of us in this profession. When I worked at the elementary level, it was mostly women…which was more than a bit of an adjustment. When I returned to high school, I had hoped that things were going to improve, and that I wouldn’t be spending my days putting up with the antics of  emotional, judgmental, bitchy women while I’m just trying to keep my head down and get my work done – no such luck. The difference is that the women at the high school level are snottier and more miserable than their elementary counterparts… and I don’t get it.

I’m all for a healthy competitive spirit, I’m full of it, in fact – however, when I compete, it’s against myself. I’ve never been a person who feels the need to build myself up by making those around me look bad – I just don’t roll that way. Never have, never will. Instead, I’m a person who goes about my business, does my thing, and expects nothing in return. If I receive praise/acclaim/the keys to the city, then that’s great – but it’s not necessary. I don’t need somebody else’s shortcomings to make me feel better about what I do – that’s bloody ludicrous. As well, I don’t need constant praise and reassurance to motivate me to keep doing my job – the fact that it is my job and my responsibility is motivation enough. However, it appears that I am amongst the minority these days, as every time I turn around I encounter an insecure, bitchy female who feels it necessary to try to put me down so that she can feel better about herself. I thought I had moved past the point in life where mean girls run rampant – I guess I was wrong. :-(

Let me tell you about what’s been going on lately. I work at a relatively small school, that is connected to a larger school, within a very large district – so, in the course of a week, I will have countless interactions with people from all three levels. Things at my own campus are cool – we all are good with each other. Thank goodness for small favors. However, as soon as I leave the cocoon of my little home base, things get dicey – there’s problems with some of the neighbors, and problems with the larger group within the district. I have long moaned to my boss, begging her to tell me what it is about me that is so bloody annoying to these people (let’s be real, there’s probably a lot to choose from). Her response is always the same: it’s not you, it’s them, they’re threatened by you, we’re in a competitive business. Huh? I don’t want their jobs. Not even a little bit! I want MY job, and I completely plan to stay at this school for a very, very long time. I don’t go out of my way to try to make them look bad – in fact, I am the first person to jump up and praise the work and efforts of everyone else. ALWAYS. I lavish praise on everyone around me – because I think celebrating success is really important. I would never try to make someone look bad on purpose – however, the shabby behavior these women are currently showing to me is making them look bad all on their own. One called and let me know that she and I and another woman were required to attend a training together. She then went on to explain that the two of them had compared calendars and chosen a date that worked for them – and I’d have to go that day as well. My inner response was huh? I found that so bloody rude I can’t even tell you….it was very disrespectful of me and my time. However, in the spirit of trying to be cooperative, I canceled my appointments for that day and attended this mandatory training. When I got there, the two of them were sat in a room, surrounded by other people, no chair/workstation left for me…and they didn’t respond when I said hello. I ended up sitting by myself in another part of the room – I could have attended another session of this training, as we didn’t work together on the material anyway. It was a colossal waste of time, not to mention a massive slap in the face. I felt embarrassed – we were the only team not sitting together….and it was obvious. They had gone out of their way to make me look stupid – and it sure worked. As much as I hate to admit it, that hurt my feelings. :( This story is just one drop in an ocean of things like this….it just keeps happening with this same group of people over and over again.

I want so badly to blow my stack and tell them very specifically where to go and how to get there; however, I know that will be disastrous for me as they will file a complaint against me with HR before sundown. Something has to change, though. I’ve attempted addressing it with them directly – nothing. I’ve attempted working through our mutual supervisors – nothing again. I suppose that I just need to do what I tell students who are experiencing strife like this – grab a straw, Cookie, and suck it up, Buttercup. It’ll all be fine in the end.

 

I just can’t wait until this situation ends.

xxx

Luck Be a Lady

Lady Gaga announced her engagement to her boyfriend, actor Taylor Kinney, on Instagram today…look at her ring! :-)

I. Die.

I. Die.

 

Stunning, right? So. Gorgeous. :-) I love love to pieces, and few things thrill me like a happy couple living a happy life on their own terms. I wish there was more of that to go around! :-)

The Happy Couple :-)

The Happy Couple :-)

 

xxx

Amazing Grace

Did you watch the Grammy awards on Sunday night? It was good, full of performances and interesting attire…exactly what I’m looking for in a music awards show. One of the night’s highlights was the loooooovely Ed Sheeran melting my heart with his performance of “Thinking Out Loud” (one of my favorite songs of all time, no lie), backed by the very handsome John Meyer on a hot pink guitar. Sigh. That was a lot of awesome on that stage at one time. Fantastic! :-) I loved watching my one true love Paul McCartney clapping and dancing along to the music, the divine Sam Smith duetting with Mary J. Blige (holy hell that’s a lot of talent happening there)….there were some really great moments. And then there was this:

image

There’s no denying that her body is in tremendous shape, especially for her age. However, there’s something so hard and sinewy about her, don’t you think? Yikes! She doesn’t look like a 56 year old woman – at least not like any 56 year old that I’ve ever seen. As well, whatever she’s done to her face has changed her appearance so much…it just doesn’t look natural. (Ladies – let this be a lesson to you: if a woman like Madonna with all the money and resources possible at her disposal can’t get work done on her face that looks natural, what hope do you have?? Stop messing with your faces!!!) I miss how Madonna used to look…during the Evita years, I thought she was the most stunning woman ever. Her performance on Sunday night didn’t really do it for me, either – which is completely shocking, as I have loved Madonna for 30+ years!! Her music now doesn’t seem to fit for me, either…I’m not sure why. It feels desperate, and like she’s trying way too hard…and she doesn’t need to. She’s Madonna. Needless to say, the entire situation left me wanting a more mature performer, one who has grown and aged as she should have….and thankfully that arrived, in the form of the looooovely Annie Lennox!! She came out to join Hozier on “Take Me To Church“, a song that I love a whole bunch – Annie was bloody radiant, she looked deliriously happy, natural, and LIKE HER SELF. She sounded fantastic, she was appropriately dressed (meaning I didn’t have to see her arse hanging out) – it was such a stark contrast to the image Madonna had painted earlier, of a woman raging and fighting against growing older. There was Annie, laugh lines and wrinkles telling the story of a life well-lived. It was fantastic – and did the heart some good. There’s no shame in getting older, and I’m really bloody tired of the society today that makes it sound like there is. It’s been nearly a year since the Wee One and I went to Paris, and hardly a day goes by that I don’t remember the women that I saw there and the beautiful, natural way that they looked…and I long for it. I don’t spend a whole lot of time fussing with my appearance – it is what it is, and I have come to accept that.  However, I wish that I could head out into the world some days without makeup on…but I don’t dare. I always run in to people that I know, and I can’t  risk frightening them like that! I wish that I lived in a place and time where it was okay to show the grey that exists in the litttle hairs around your temple, the crow’s feet around your eyes, and the shadows that sometimes show up when you haven’t had quite enough sleep.

 

Maybe someday. :-)

 

xxx

 

 

A Change is Gonna Come

I have been working harder than usual lately – the work demands have been unholy, and everything else has been piling on, too. It’s kind of been a lot. However, I’ve decided that I need to focus my attentions on starting some new projects and taking my interests in a few new directions. I know that I don’t have a ton of time to devote to these pursuits, but I also know that unless you try new things you will never have new experiences, and guess what? I am so done with a lot of the things that I currently have going on – it is time for some changes. It’s time for me to change. :)

This is the cover of my book. MY book. I have written a book. Holy shit.

This is the cover of my book. MY book. I have written a book. Holy shit.

So….let’s start with this one: for those of you who are interested and have been asking, I have finally sat down and put together your favorites from Pretty Thing over the years, and ta-dah!!! We have us a book!! :) Yes, my darlings….I have written a book! :) This little beauty right here will be available for Kindle purchase on Amazon beginning on Saturday, February 14th (but please feel free to click on this link to pre-order now!), and the real print version will be ready for your hot little hands shortly thereafter (I will keep you posted). Deciding what to include was fun – I ended up choosing the posts that you all liked the best, the ones that I thought were kind of fun/funny/touching/strange/interesting/entertaining/all of the above, and the ones that spoke to the essence of who I really am. That’s really been the point of all of this from the beginning – I have shared the real me with you, and through your messages and feedback, you have shared parts of you with me. So….thanks! :) I’m unsure if anyone will read this collection, and it’s going to be okay if they don’t – it was just something that felt important to me to do. Sooooooo…….MISSION ACCOMPLISHED. :) I – this girl right here – have written a book. Imagine…another item to check off my list of 50 Things To Do Before I’m 50. Woohoo!!!!! :) If you don’t remember the magical list that I wrote on the day of my 21st birthday, here it is (the ones in bold are the ones I have completed!):

1. Own a house 26. Write a book
2. Have a child (or 2) 27. Ride on a pogo stick
3. Get my Masters degree 28. Learn to cook Thai food
4. Scuba dive somewhere tropical 29. Play strip poker
5. Go to New Orleans 30. Go to Las Vegas, baby!
6. Learn to salsa dance 31. Dance in the moonlight
7. Visit a hot spot for a vacation 32. Be kissed on a beach
8. Learn to play guitar 33. Try on a pair of expensive shoes (Manolos)
9. Master the recipe for Moules Marinières 34. Learn to knit or crochet
10. Golf under 100 on 18 holes 35. Go to a spa for a facial
11. Try surfing 36. Be debt free
12. Drink beer through a tube attached to a hat 37. Own a vehicle out right
13. Learn to play tennis 38. Swim with dolphins
14.  See KISS live in concert 39. Plant a tree in my own yard
15. Learn to make vinetarta 40. Learn to play the bagpipes
16. See Willy Nelson perform live 41. Take a cross-country road trip for fun :)
17. Go camping 42. Sing karaoke
18. Own a pair of cowboy boots 43. Have someone feed me grapes
19. Learn to make balloon animals 44. Convince a man to wear a kilt
20. Learn yoga 45. Visit the Grand Canyon
21. Have a dog 46. Throw a costume party
22. Put all my pictures in albums 47. Send a message in a bottle
23. Drink tequila in a shot glass off someone’s body 48. Take a picture a day for 365 days
24. Wear a tiara out for dinner 49. Visit New York City
25. Learn a bit of Spanish 50. Have a star named after me :)

 

I looooooove my list SO MUCH!!!! :) The problem is that I still have 21 to go!! And less than 10 years to get them done!!! ARRGGGHHH!!! Who’s up for a costume party?!??!?! :)

I love nothing more than having things to look forward to….I’m a girl who loves a plan. I like making plans with people, I like to feel the tingles of anticipation, and I love to look back and celebrate on things that have gone well. I’ve really not had much to look forward to, lately – there’s been a lot happening, and most of it has not been the greatest. I’m trying to put some plans in place for a few days get away with my Wee One over Spring Break – I treasure every moment she and I have together. So that’s a great thing. :) As well, I recently downloaded a super cool book called the 2015 Life Workbook from the divine Leonie Dawson – you can order the paper version, but I didn’t want to wait, so I downloaded mine. I’ve been looking through it, and it’s an amazingly beautiful way to look at the year that has been (2014), to celebrate those accomplishments, and plan for an even better and brighter 2015. It’s absolutely gorgeous, and I’m really excited to take the time to use it. I had planned to just fill out the digital version, but I’m probably going to print it and fill it in by hand…seems somehow more precious to me that way. I’m weird that way. If you have a moment to take a look at her site sometime, you will be dazzled. Everything is colorful and beautiful – and all of her ideas are damn smart. For realz. LOVE her. :) I hope that someday I will become the kind of person that has meaningful stuff to say (instead of the useless drivel that I torment you all with), maybe even someone that peeps turn to for guidance on things (besides shoes). Someday. :)

 

xxx

 

 

PS: Please click here to be taken to Amazon….and get your own copy of Pretty Thing! :-)

Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow

This sketch from last night’s Saturday Night Live (with guest host J.K. Simmons) is EVERYTHING – loooove!!!! :-)

Click to see the video! :-)

Click to see the video! :-)

 

Funny, yes? :-) (DISCLAIMER: I’m not advocating any of the hijinks portrayed in this video – I just think it’s really funny. :-) )

 

xxx

Sophia – Part Five

Okey dokey, friends….we are on the last day of our version of the Sophia project! Yaaa! :) One last overview of what we’re up to (just in case you’ve been hiding under a rock all week! ;) ):

o-SOPHIA-PROJECT-facebook

Think of someone you admire — a talented artist or scientist, entrepreneur or adventurer.

Do you know what their great regret in life is? What advice would they share about parenting, or aging, or finding fulfillment? What book has had the greatest impact on their life?

Chances are you don’t know. Which is why we’ve created Sophia, a project to collect life lessons from fascinating people.

Here’s how it works. We’re conducting hundreds of long-form interviews with accomplished individuals, asking them to share stories and advice about topics that are central to a well-lived life — happiness, relationships, aging, work, parenting, habits and routines, to name a few.

We’ll publish these personal conversations on HuffPost, and we’ll also use the lessons our guests share to build a special platform (think of it as ‘Yelp for wisdom’) that organizes their collective insights by topic.

In the coming weeks we’ll feature life lessons from Nobel and Pulitzer Prize winners, successful executives, engineers, authors and athletes, dynamic thinkers and doers of all stripes. If you want their practical wisdom delivered straight to you, follow Sophia on Facebook or subscribe to our email newsletter.

The heart of this project is the set of questions we pose to each guest. Some of the questions elicit weighty responses, i.e., Have you had any recent realizations about living a rewarding life?

Other questions are more practical, i.e., What’s the greatest travel journey you’ve taken that you’d recommend to others? What’s the most meaningful gift you’ve received?

Each individual’s answers are personal and unique, but they are all also broadly useful. So follow or subscribe for lessons, ideas and insights you can apply to your own life. Get in touch with us at sophia [at] huffingtonpost.com; we read every note. Also, we’re always on the lookout for new guests. If you have suggestions, including someone wise and insightful in your own life, let us know.

Education-quotes-coolest-pictures

Today’s topic is one that is very near and dear to my heart….

Education and intellectual development, career, money:

  • Tell us about a book (or books) that had a profound impact on your life or intellectual development. Crikey….this is tough. I love books like nobody’s business, and I always seem to have one favorite or another. Some that I have loved over the years are: Catcher in the Rye, The Great Gatsby (I love this book SO much), The Stone Angel (Margaret Laurence completes me), the Marisa de los Santos book Love Walked In is one of the most gorgeous things you’ll ever sink your teeth in to (fun fact: I emailed her after I read her book to gush over how much I loved it – and she answered! What a rock star!!!)…I love most of what I read, and I find that finishing a book leaves me changed somehow, as if the words themselves have left the page and imprinted on my mind and my heart. I love that. :) The books that I like tend to be those that are well written, that feature characters that are people I would actually like to be friends with, and teach me something about the world and life that perhaps I didn’t know before. I used to read pretty much whatever is around, but that has stopped – I don’t have a lot of time to read anymore, so if I’m going to spend the time, it’s going to be for something worthwhile. :) I read a lot of non-fiction now – bios/autobiographies are currently leading the hit parade. :)
  • What advice would you give people so they get the most out of college? Go to your classes.  Be present. Make friends with those around you – and get to know your professors. Go to your classes. Become involved. Enjoy the experience – it’s a gift to get the chance to go….soak up every second of it. I did none of these things, and subsequently had a miserable friggin’ time in university. I hated it with every ounce of my being, and I still marvel that I made it through at all – it was ROUGH. I hope that when it’s time for the Wee One to pursue higher education, she jumps in with both feet and makes the best of it! :)
  • How would you have handled your own education differently? I would have gone to class. I would have finished going as far as I wanted to go with my education before I became a parent, as trying to be a student and a mama at the same time (while holding down a very demanding full-time job) is no easy task. I would have pursued things that I was interested in, instead of doing only what I had to do to get finished. I would have chased a few dreams, followed a few passions, and perhaps unlocked some magical hidden potential. I’d have tried everything so that I would never have to utter the words…’what if’.
  • What advice would you give to young adults who are choosing a career path? It’s pretty simple: do what you love and love what you do…and you’ll never work a day in your life! :) Find a way to balance following your dreams with making realistic choices that are going to allow you to support yourself in life. Don’t ever make a career decision based on somebody else – you do you, and what’s best for you, ALWAYS. :)
  • Who is the best teacher you had? What did they do that made such an impact? I loved my Grade 3 teacher – she always made me feel good about myself and the odd little chicken that I was, and she understood my unusual learning style and accommodated it wonderfully. :) I loved my high school English teacher – nutty though she was, I learned SO MUCH from her. :) I had a lot of good teachers in my youth, and I look back on the education that I received in my little school with such fondness – that place did a magnificent job of preparing me for the world with nothing but books, pens, paper – and great teachers. Amazing what you can do with good people. :)
  • In the course of your life, have you changed your mind about anything substantial? Loads of times! Thank goodness that I did – who wants to be stuck with the decisions that they make when they are young, impressionable, and – in my case – probably drunk? ;-)  When you know better, you do better – I’m constantly changing my mind, constantly evolving, and I hope that this never stops.
  • What distinguishes the periods in your career when you felt most satisfied with your work from the times when you felt least satisfied? I have felt satisfied when I have been busy, engaged in helping with a greater goal than just what I am doing, surrounded by like-minded people, and given the freedom and opportunity to do my thing. I’m not much for conformity, and I loathe having to do the same things as those around me. I like to march to the beat of my own drum, do my own thing, and forge my own path. I like working in a smaller environment, and I like being able to know all of the people around me. Building relationships is very important, and that’s tough to do when you’re on a comprehensive campus of 3000+ students and 250+ faculty and staff. I’ve not been satisfied when I’ve worked with people who mistreat their staff, who are condescending and rude, and when I’ve felt like there was no place for me. I’ve felt unhappy when I’ve not had much to do, and I’ve felt like the meager contributions that I did make were insignificant.
  • Do you have any career-related regrets that would be educational for others? I moved around from job to job, because I thought that a wide variety of experiences and assignments would serve me well and help me to be more marketable. This was NOT the case – instead, I looked like an idiot flake who couldn’t hold a job. Thankfully I have overcome these misconceptions about me, and I’ve used all of my experiences to land in this wonderful job that I’m in now. I frequently joke that I’m so happy here that people will need to roll my rotting carcass out when I die because I’m not going anywhere. News Flash – I’m not really joking. ;)
  • Have you had a personal mentor and what did you learn from them? I’ve had a few, actually – I’ve had the pleasure of working with some seriously wonderful women in the past few years, and I have learned SO MUCH from them. I think that I actually learned more from the string of seriously shitty bosses that I had earlier in my career – they were a big HOW NOT TO lesson for me: how not to treat people, how not to over-delegate, how not to do your work and take care of business, etc.
  • Provide a snapshot of your industry/area of expertise. Explain the work that you do in lay terms. What about your work do you find most satisfying? Most challenging? I’m the Vice Principal of a Magnet High School – we are ranked in the top 100 schools in the country. We have just over 500 students, and a teaching faculty of 20. I manage the discipline, attendance, academic life, and pretty much everything else for our campus. Every single day is different, and my work is NEVER boring. I love working with students – they are always easy to manage….the adults are a whole other situation, but I’m trying to work on those skills. I have really improved when it comes to dealing with parents – thank goodness, because they are a strong presence on our campus. One of the most challenging parts of my job is the supervision of the teachers – especially those whose educational philosophy is starkly different to my own. However, I’m  hanging in there and I’m learning – and so are they. :)
  • Tell us something about your profession that would otherwise take months or years to learn. The key to success in my job is to effectively multitask, remain calm, and remember that nothing that transpires is personal. So much of what I do is smoothing things over, talking to people, diffusing tough situations – if I was hyperactive and over-reactive, things would go very badly very quickly. Thankfully I don’t get outwardly ruffled very easily, which has served me well. I do my best work when I have 316 irons in the fire, and I am happiest when I am busy. I think I’m a really good fit for my job, because I get to do SO many different things in a day – but I still see students, I still deal in hands-on academic issues, and I still get to have fun (case in point: yesterday I hid under my desk and put on a puppet show for some students to film for their Advanced Video Production class). My job is AWESOME! :)
  • Do you have any overarching tips or unorthodox practical advice regarding money? N/A
  • In your life, what has been the relationship between wealth and personal fulfillment? I’ve never had wealth, so this is a hard one to answer. Teachers aren’t paid terribly well in this country (not like my contemporaries in other countries), so I’m not in an industry that will ever see me pulling in the big bucks. However, I have always known that while money can’t buy happiness, it sure as hell does buy convenience – which makes me happy. :) Do I wish I had more money? Absolutely. Do I fret like a friggin’ mo’fo about my retirement and how on earth I am going to be able to support myself without anything to fall back on? It keeps me up at night. However, I can take solace in the fact that I am doing the best that I can – and that’s really all that I can do. I don’t put a price tag on people or relationships – I will always choose love and friendship first. :)
  • Roughly speaking, what do you do with your money? Spend too much. :( I like pretty clothes/shoes/makeup, travel, eating out, the finer things in life – which I need to get over, because the student loans will be upon me before I know it. :( I always take care of my bills and responsibilities – and I try to be generous with those around me. I spend a lot of my money on my Wee One (and doing stuff with her) – she’s the best way to spend money EVER! :)

Pile of old books with reading glasses on desk

So….this concludes Sophia! I’ve had an amazing time sharing my thoughts and ideas with you – and man alive have I loved reading what you guys have had to say! :) Loooove! Thank you to the fine people at The Huffington Post for coming up with this idea in the first place (and giving me something to piggy back on)…it’s been fun! :) Je t’aime, mes amis!!!! :)

xxx

Sophia – Part Four

Hi friends! Welcome to Sophia – Part Four! :-) I hope that you’ve been reading along with us this week – if you’re new to the party, let me give you an overview of what we’ve been working on:

o-SOPHIA-PROJECT-facebook

 

Think of someone you admire — a talented artist or scientist, entrepreneur or adventurer.

Do you know what their great regret in life is? What advice would they share about parenting, or aging, or finding fulfillment? What book has had the greatest impact on their life?

Chances are you don’t know. Which is why we’ve created Sophia, a project to collect life lessons from fascinating people.

Here’s how it works. We’re conducting hundreds of long-form interviews with accomplished individuals, asking them to share stories and advice about topics that are central to a well-lived life — happiness, relationships, aging, work, parenting, habits and routines, to name a few.

We’ll publish these personal conversations on HuffPost, and we’ll also use the lessons our guests share to build a special platform (think of it as ‘Yelp for wisdom’) that organizes their collective insights by topic.

In the coming weeks we’ll feature life lessons from Nobel and Pulitzer Prize winners, successful executives, engineers, authors and athletes, dynamic thinkers and doers of all stripes. If you want their practical wisdom delivered straight to you, follow Sophia on Facebook or subscribe to our email newsletter.

The heart of this project is the set of questions we pose to each guest. Some of the questions elicit weighty responses, i.e., Have you had any recent realizations about living a rewarding life?

Other questions are more practical, i.e., What’s the greatest travel journey you’ve taken that you’d recommend to others? What’s the most meaningful gift you’ve received?

Each individual’s answers are personal and unique, but they are all also broadly useful. So follow or subscribe for lessons, ideas and insights you can apply to your own life. Get in touch with us at sophia [at] huffingtonpost.com; we read every note. Also, we’re always on the lookout for new guests. If you have suggestions, including someone wise and insightful in your own life, let us know.

 

Today’s topic / loaded gun is…..

Parenting:

  • What kinds of advice do you have for people raising young children? Be there. Be present. I wish that I had spent more time with my Muppet when she was small, but I did what I had to do. However, I’m fairly certain that I could have been with her full time, every day….and it still wouldn’t have felt like it was enough. Those years go by way too quickly – take time to enjoy them. Do the laundry later – have a teddy bear tea party NOW. Hold hands as much as you can. Cuddle. Be their number one fan, and their favorite person. Understand that your days of being their favorite are limited – enjoy them while you can. Be silly. Wear underpants on your head. Make them giggle – and giggle along with them. Try everything. Be happy. :-) (and sleep when you can – the dishes will wait, I promise)
  • What kinds of advice do you have for people raising teenagers? Be strong. Be brave. Say NO all the time, as needed. Be the parent – your kid will have enough friends. Speaking of them, know those friends – and know their parents, too. Listen to your kid – minimize your yelling. For the love of all that’s good and holy, DO NOT SAY ‘I told you so’….nothing good comes from smugness. Be honest with your kid, keep it real whenever possible. Laugh with them. Keep a social life that revolves around the two of you. Be there for them. Answer the phone when they call in the middle of the night for a ride – go get them, and praise them for calling. Never give up – always keep trying. Tell them you love them. Wear underpants on your head and try to make them laugh – if it worked before, it may work again. :-)
  • Do you have any regrets regarding your own parenting? Sure do…I wish I hadn’t worked so much when my Wee One was small – but I had to do what I had to do. Thankfully she understands that. I feel badly that she’s had the health struggles that she’s had, but…there’s not a lot that I can do about that. Sadly. I wish I could. However, my greatest regrets revolve around time – but, like I tell her….quality is just as important as quantity. I believe. :-)
  • What do you feel is the most helpful thing your parents did for you that many parents don’t do? They let me move away from home at the ripe old age of 15 – to this day, I can’t figure out how I talked them in to it, but….I’m really glad that I did. I’m better for the experience. :-)
  • What did your parents get wrong that others can learn from? Holy hell….where do I start? There were a lot of mistakes, sadly. One of the biggest mistakes was not being terribly encouraging, but stifling – which is a losing battle with me, because I’m a bit of a force of nature…and I’m not exactly meant to be stifled. I don’t believe they ever did anything with bad intent, but when I look back and think about how I was raised, there’s simply SO much that I wish was different. There wasn’t a lot of happiness in my home – there was always WAY too much stress and strife, and I can’t really recall my mother ever being happy or joyful. Isn’t that sad? Oh well…C’est la vie. :-)
  • Do you have any unique advice regarding disciplining children? Consistency, fairness, a sense of humor, consistency, swiftness (don’t make a kid sweat waiting to see what will happen – that’s just mean, and nobody likes that), consistency, patience, clarity – be clear about what you expect. Remind them often.
  • What are some parenting practices you tried with your kids that didn’t have the effect you intended? Time outs were useless at my house – nothing good came from them. Thankfully, my Muppet has not presented many disciplinary challenges (yet) – so we’ve not tested this part of our relationship much yet. All of our brouhahas blow over quickly, and we always talk a lot about what is going on. That’s our greatest blessing, I think – being able to talk to each other. I so hope it continues. :-)
  • Has parenthood changed you in any unexpected ways? Absolutely!!!!! I’ve learned (some) patience, I’m more compassionate, and I think that I’m a much MUCH better person because of her. I am nowhere near as selfish as I used to be (thankfully), and I’m more compassionate. Being a mama is the very VERY best thing that I’ve ever experienced – I’m grateful for her every day. :-)
  • Do you have any advice about balancing parenthood with the demands of your career and your own personal development? You’ve gotta do what you’ve gotta do. You’re only one person, and you’ve only got 24 hours in a day. Do the best you can, try to balance all of your obligations, and spread the wealth around – don’t let any one area get all of the attention all of the time. Just do your best – you’re going to do great. :-)
  • Are you content with the number of children that you had? I badly wanted to have a second child, but it wasn’t in the cards, so….I’m really thrilled/over the moon with the amazing kidlet I’ve got. Lucky me!!! :-)
  • (If no children) Was that a deliberate choice? Are you happy with how that part of your life has unfolded? N/A

 

Being a parent is really hard, and being a single parent (like me) is no picnic. I rarely hear from somebody (anybody) that I’m doing a good job at it….and that’s hard. Everybody likes praise – especially me. I would love to hear that I’m kicking butt and taking names – even if I’m not. I try so bloody hard – which has to count for something, right? It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done. Thankfully every moment with my girl is just the best – I really am so lucky to have her. :-) She gave me a Best Mom of the Year Award last fall….Love love LOVE. :-)

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xxx

 

Dream On

I subscribe to the daily newsletter from the website Lifehacker, and I kinda love it. There’s usually something in it that speaks to me – but today’s newsletter was more of a holler than a whisper. Behold the post ‘9 Steps To Stop Dreaming And Start Doing’ – I LOVE it!!! :-)

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Having a dream and being a dreamer are two different mindsets. Dreamers are drifters just floating through life with no real plans. One who has a dream, is a doer on the path towards achieving their goal.

Once you decide to remove your head from the clouds, tackle the obstacles that face you, and organize a plan of attack, you become a doer. If you are ready to put in the work, here are 9 steps to stop dreaming and start doing.

1. Accept responsibility for your own actions

“Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.” -Arthur Ashe

It is the most unattractive thing to hear someone constantly whine and complain about their life. Especially when they blame the world for their problems. The whole universe is probably against you, does not care about you, and will deceive you. This does not make any actions, or lack there of, on your behalf their fault. Say this statement out loud, “I am in control of my behavior and choose how to react to circumstances.” Say it everyday. Nothing is more true than that statement.

You can, and need, to start actively controlling your thoughts and emotions. Learn to control your rage when you are angry. When a negative thought slips in, push it right back out. This takes practice because we have been programmed by our environment to behave and think in certain ways. Fight to change your negativity, or you will remain a bitter and miserable person. Use your aggression in a positive way by working out, or put it into your work.

2. Give and receive love and forgiveness

“Learn how to fill your day with POSITIVITY. Think of how your ideas CAN work, not how it won’t work.” -Steve Harvey

Once you harness your inner power of controlling your thoughts and emotions, it is time to start focusing on positivity. The best way to start is by accepting others and forgiving the people who have caused you pain. Giving love and forgiveness really isn’t about giving at all. It is about you healing by letting go of negative relationships. If these people really love and care about you, they will fight for you. If you walk away and never hear from them again, you know they never cared, so why should you? Your grudges make you focus on people who do not deserve your time or attention. Anger leaves you feeling irrational, depressed, deceived, sad, regretful, and lonely. Learning to truly forgive those who hurt you will lift a thousand pounds of burden off your shoulders. You will free your mind and be able to start working on your dream.

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3. Accept yourself

“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” -Eleanor Roosevelt

Now that you are focusing on living a positive life, it is time to look in the mirror and love what you see. Physically and mentally. No one is perfect. It is time to accept that you will never be what society expects you to be. Follow your intuitions. Do not let someone else dictate your life. That only leads to a boring, predictable, miserable, and mediocre life. Do what makes you happy instead of just dreaming about it. Love yourself flaws and all.

4. Choose who you surround yourself with wisely

“We met for a reason, either you’re a blessing or a lesson.” -LoveQuotesPlus.com

This journey will end many relationships in your life. The people who are not supportive, who are negative, and who use you need to go! At first you may feel lonely and insecure. If you focus on you instead of them, these feelings will go away. It is time to move on. It is time to let go. The ones who truly care about you, respect you, and accept you for who you really are will stay. They will support you throughout your journey. These relationships will become more valuable to you than ever before. If you have given your all to a relationship, and they do not give back, stop chasing after them the next time they leave. You will thank yourself in the long run.

5. Learn to ignore the negativity from others

“I don’t know what the key to success is, but the key to failure is trying to please everyone.” -Bill Cosby

Now that you are starting on your journey, you will have people who will try their best to pull you down. That’s why the steps above are necessary to complete before starting. If you have prepared yourself for the haters, you will be able to rise above. It is easier to criticize others than work on yourself. Knowing this gives you peace about where you are in life and where they are. You are obviously ahead, even if it doesn’t look like it to others. Keep moving on and let them talk.

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6. Carefully lay out your plans

“Failure is not the opposite of success, inaction is.” -Rois Liano

Freeing your mind from your emotional baggage gives you room to focus on your dreams. Now that you have a clear picture, it is time to take action. To be a doer, you need a game plan. Write your end goal at the top of a sheet of paper. Below, write out the steps you plan to take to get there in an organized, realistic fashion. Say your goal is to become a nurse. Your first step should probably be volunteering at your local hospital to see if you would really enjoy it. Next maybe list the schools you are interested in applying to. The third step could be to gather your necessary paperwork to apply to colleges. See what I am doing here? The sum of all the little tasks you do equals your goal. Lay it out in daily, weekly, monthly tasks that will get you closer to your dream.

7. Do SOMETHING, ANYTHING

“Success usually comes to those who are too busy to be looking for it.” -Henry David Thoreau

Many people will get to step 6 and stop. Your plan does not come to fruition magically. You have to now take action to get yourself there. So start researching, traveling, volunteering, writing, calling, interviewing, working out, or whatever opportunity you can find to get you moving forward. You may have to take on many different hats to get you there. Start where you can, do whatever you can, this is where the physical work begins.

8. Embrace failures and detours along the way

“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” -Thomas Edison

We all have epic failures in life. It is time to stop viewing these failures as an end all. Failure is an inevitable part of success. Ask any highly successful person if they’ve ever failed, and they will tell you they have 100 times. Failure only means to try a different way. Start viewing failures as a positive experience. How can we learn without failing? Failures result from trying. People who avoid failures at all costs are content with a mediocre life. We are not these people. We want true happiness and inner peace. I remember going to work in a past career and absolutely dreading it. I now think about work and feel peaceful and happy. It’s still hard work, it’s just work that I am passionate about.

As you begin the journey of pursuing your dream, it may change a little, or a lot, along the way. Your passion is already programmed inside you. Uncover your God-given gift through this process and keep moving forward no matter what may come.

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9. Network and use resources to your advantage

“Opportunities don’t happen. You create them.” -Chris Grosser

You will realize, eventually, that you need others to help you get to your goal. Whether it is in absorbing information and experience from them, or getting recognized for your talent. Look online for good informative websites, look for classes or lectures where you can learn and connect with others. Drop the pride and shamelessly promote yourself with your work and/or knowledge. Whatever you can find, whoever will help, take it seriously. Opening one door can lead to many more opportunities.

Start at step one. Do not pass go and do not collect $200. If you commit to these 9 steps to stop dreaming and start doing, you are facing your fears head on and taking a leap of faith. Congratulations, your life will now truly begin. Please note this will be hard and sometimes not fun. Stay focused, but don’t forget to take time to clear your mind and relax along the way. I hope you now feel inspired to step out of your comfort zone, and risk being happy.

“Dreams are like floating down a lazy river. The path to success is like riding a roller coaster. Find the courage to get on the roller coaster, and stay on the ride until you puke.” -Margaux Daughtry

 

Don’t you just LOVE this???! I absolutely do – there are so many good steps there to help guide us along the path. I’m a doer in life, no ifs ands or buts about it. I like to do things, and once I get a notion in me wee noggin, I’m off and running. This usually serves me well – but not always. There have been more than my share of disasters, but I keep on trying. :)  I really love #4, #5, and #6 in particular – let me tell you why. #4 urges you to carefully choose who you surround yourself with…and this is one that I am FINALLY learning. I used to love everybody, see the best in everybody, and be such a bloody Pollyanna that it wasn’t even funny. People would take advantage of me right, left, and center – and you know why? Because I let them. There are people who only know me when they want something (ie: borrow money or ask me to drive them somewhere) – I don’t need that kind of crap and negativity…and neither do you, my dear. Surround yourself with people who think you are the cats pyjamas – it’ll make you feel great! :)

I think #5 is awesome advice, too – and something that I have become REALLY good at lately. I hear all sorts of misery and negativity in a day – and I ignore it. All of it. What other people think of me is NONE of my business – don’t know, don’t care. I seem to find myself surrounded by people who whine and complain all the bloody time about their lives – I’m not interested in hearing it. I know that makes me sound like a real heartless bitch, but I promise that I’m not. When people are having a hard time, I am the first person to show up, casserole in hand, offering to help. However, when people aren’t interested in helping themselves and only want to play the victim – I’m out. I’ve zero interest in that kind of nonsense – life is too damn short!

Finally, #6 is a great idea – write down what you want. Put the words in front of you, on paper – it makes them real, and gives you power to make it happen. I am crazy about creating a list of manageable steps that will help you achieve that dream – I’ve been doing this for a couple of decades now, and this practice has served me verrrrrrrry well. There’ve been times when I’ve had to adjust the steps and make them even smaller and more specific, but I’ve achieved what I was after eventually. SUCH a good strategy! :)

 

I used to work with a lady whose job it was to work with high school seniors and coach them through the college application process – something SUPER important. She had the most amazing gift of walking the line between fostering the wildest dreams of students and keeping their expectations real and manageable. I’ve asked her about that many times, and she says that it’s so important to temper one’s dreams and passions with a bit of reality, but still keep the dream burning and alive because, well….you just never know. Isn’t that magical? You just never know. :) I love it. :)

xxx

Sophia – Part Three

Good morning! Welcome to Sophia – Part Three! :) If you’ve missed the first two installments explaining what the actual H I am doing here, this is it:
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Think of someone you admire — a talented artist or scientist, entrepreneur or adventurer.

Do you know what their great regret in life is? What advice would they share about parenting, or aging, or finding fulfillment? What book has had the greatest impact on their life?

Chances are you don’t know. Which is why we’ve created Sophia, a project to collect life lessons from fascinating people.

Here’s how it works. We’re conducting hundreds of long-form interviews with accomplished individuals, asking them to share stories and advice about topics that are central to a well-lived life — happiness, relationships, aging, work, parenting, habits and routines, to name a few.

We’ll publish these personal conversations on HuffPost, and we’ll also use the lessons our guests share to build a special platform (think of it as ‘Yelp for wisdom’) that organizes their collective insights by topic.

In the coming weeks we’ll feature life lessons from Nobel and Pulitzer Prize winners, successful executives, engineers, authors and athletes, dynamic thinkers and doers of all stripes. If you want their practical wisdom delivered straight to you, follow Sophia on Facebook or subscribe to our email newsletter.

The heart of this project is the set of questions we pose to each guest. Some of the questions elicit weighty responses, i.e., Have you had any recent realizations about living a rewarding life?

Other questions are more practical, i.e., What’s the greatest travel journey you’ve taken that you’d recommend to others? What’s the most meaningful gift you’ve received?

Each individual’s answers are personal and unique, but they are all also broadly useful. So follow or subscribe for lessons, ideas and insights you can apply to your own life. Get in touch with us at sophia [at] huffingtonpost.com; we read every note. Also, we’re always on the lookout for new guests. If you have suggestions, including someone wise and insightful in your own life, let us know.

 

 

Yaaa! Fun!!! That last section on relationships and love was a real arse-kicker for me, so I’m happy to move on to….

Health, habits/routines, hobbies and travel:

  • Do have any helpful habits or daily routines? I wake up really early every day – even on weekends and holidays when I don’t have to. Part of this is because I’m just a natural early riser and a real morning person, but I also do it because it’s a good habit to get in to. I never swear and complain when my alarm goes off because I keep pretty much the same schedule every day. I like being awake in the early morning, with the entire day looming ahead of you, brimming with possibilities. :) It’s awesome. :)
  • Do you have any tips or tricks regarding productivity or health? Sadly I am not the picture of health – I wish I was. My problem is I work too much, don’t exercise enough, and eat take out entirely too often (because I work too much). I do make it a point to ride my bike for 30 minutes every day without fail, and I do yoga at least twice a week. I have completely quit smoking (but not a day goes by that I don’t miss it with every ounce of my being. I friggin’ LOVED smoking);  however, it was finally starting to make me feel crappy, so…I stopped. Unfortunately, I took up eating as a replacement, but I will get that taken care of one of these days soon. :) Otherwise, I’m surprisingly healthy for someone with the stress and workload that I carry. Yaaa me! :)
  • What advice would you give those currently 10 years younger than you about how to make best use of the next decade? Don’t smoke! It ages you! Wear sunscreen all the damn time! Yes, I do look better with a tan and some color, but there are plenty of lotion products out there to help with this. I don’t need to keep burning/blistering/damaging my skin and myself as I’ve done….what a dumbass. I would also advise myself to get a bloody handle on the worrying fast food habit that I’ve got going on (damn you In-n-Out Burger!!), and I would just take better care of myself in general: splurge on massages and facials, go to bed early, quit taking on too much and just take it easy…engage in the act of self-care as much as possible. I am happy that I’m at this point now, but I wish I had picked it up earlier in life!
  • Did you have a negative trait or habit that you overcame in a novel way, and if so, how’d you do it? I’m a weirdo…when I decide to make a change, I just make it. That’s it, no muss no fuss. I wish I had some great story about overcoming adversity through meditation, prayer, and a devoted schedule of vigorous jigging – but no such luck. I’m pretty stubborn…and it serves me well. :-)
  • How is your sleep? What do you do to get your best sleep? I’m a terrible sleeper, sadly. I used to be so great at this, but the years of disordered sleep that I endured when the Muppet was so ill completely ruined me for slumber. I’ve had to resort to taking small bits of Ambien when things get really bad, which thankfully is getting to be less often. I recently bought a new mattress, which is turning out to be friggin’ AWESOME!!!  I got a Casper, which I ordered online – and, as bloody bonkers as that sounds, I highly recommend it. Casper mattresses are FANTASTIC!!! :-) I’ve tried every bedtime ritual under the sun, but have found that this works best for me: shower, jammies, bed, a smidge of mindless TV, then everything off. Yaa!!! Counting sheep = Awesome! :-)
  • Do you have any unique hobbies or ways that you spend your downtime that are out of the ordinary? I do a lot of writing, for Pretty Thing, for work, for school – and for pleasure. I read A LOt, which is great…I’m happiest when I’m in a good book. :-) I do yoga a couple times a week, and I also have been known to bust out my strip-tease exercise videos (not for the exercise as much as for the attempts at not being so bloody clumsy my whole life). I’ve yet to unleash my performance on the world, but….perhaps someday! ;-) I watch movies and TV (although nowhere near as much as I used to watch), and I spend a lot of time with my Wee One – playing Wii Just Dance, singing karaoke, holding hands, and being best friends. I’ve recently got in to painting, which I absolutely LOVE and find magically relaxing…I so want to keep up with the painting. I love it. :-) I used to love to golf,  but it’s too hard on my busted-up arm, so…now I’m a spectator. I still play piano at least twice a week – again, it’s not the best for my arm, but it brings me joy, so….I suck it up, Buttercup. :-)
  • What’s the most memorable travel journey you’ve taken that you’d recommend to others? This question is nearly impossible to answer, because I have made a lot of WONDERFUL trips over the years. Greece will always hold a special place in my heart – especially the island of Crete, which is how I believe heaven looks. The trip that I took to Paris with my little one last year will be forever so important to me because it was something that we did together, and we had an awesome time. :-) I believe that everywhere you go has so much to offer – the people, the food, the sights, the sounds, the smells….it’s all there for you to experience. Get off our couch (and off your arse) and give it a shot! :-)
  • What is the most beautiful place you’ve ever been? Now this is a reallllllly tricky question. I love love LOVE Paris, Greece, Luxembourg, and a ton of other places in Europe. I think Quebec City is a magical, gorgeous place – and New Orleans holds a massive piece of my heart. New York is a magnificent city, and I have loved every single visit I’ve made there (with many more to come, I hope!)…and there’s nothing quite like the beauty of the homeland. Canada is a beautiful country, with so many gorgeous sights to see (and some of the very best people you could ever hope to meet!). There is beauty all around us, even if it takes a bit of looking to find it….it all comes from how you see it. :-)

 

I loved today’s questions….and I can’t wait to hear your responses! Keep sending them in to me – I read every single one. I’m loving this!!! :) As always, I’m loving you, my darlings! :-)

 

xxx