Monday, October 31, 2011

Take Back Halloween

I'm a fan of Halloween. I don't enjoy being scared or spooked, but I like eating candy, and I particularly like dressing up in a costume and getting together with friends. Halloween reminds me of childhood, so for me there remains an innocent joy about it that is really delightful. It's an opportunity to be quirky and creative, silly and dramatic, and generally let your freak flag fly.

But it seems that the costume trend--for young women especially--has tipped away from quirky/creative and more toward short flimsy skirts and "slutty" versions of every imaginable profession and traditional Halloween character. Walking down the sidewalk this weekend, you will find slutty nurses, slutty pirates, slutty witches, and any manner of costumes not outright labeled "slutty" but designed to flash skin and tease the eye.

I'm not exactly sure when Halloween became the holiday to be "slutty," but apparently it's unavoidable. Two years ago, I dressed as the board game "Twister." I wrapped a (homemade) Twister mat around me like a toga, and turned the dial into a mortarboard-like cap and went out. I thought it was a cute, innocent and child-like costume, but when I got to the party, the first thing every guy I talked to (and these were my friends) said to me was some version of "Whoa, I hope no one calls out Right Hand Yellow" or "That costume wins Most-Likely-To Get-You-Touched."

I have to admit, I was creeped out and traumatized by their reactions, because it had NEVER occurred to me that my costume was in any way sexually inviting, or might be interpreted that way. Am I naive? Maybe. But it was definitely an eye opener to the fact that these young guys have been trained to look at women as sexual objects--especially on Halloween, when all of our underbelly tendencies are allowed to rise to the surface.

I suspect there's deeper significance to the pervasive desire among young women to flaunt their sexuality as part of a costume. Something joyful and freeing about putting yourself physically out there, like saying it's me, but not me, and then not having to own it in the morning. The excitement that surrounds it can't be denied, but if dressing up in costumes is the only way women feel like they can be so baldly sexual, there's something wrong with that too.

This year I discovered an organization called Take Back Halloween, which tries to counter the trend toward overt sex-kitten attire by cataloging costume ideas based on dynamic women from world history on their website. They call it A Costume Guide for Women with Imagination. Their press release says: "We’re trying to reclaim some space for a different vision of the holiday, where women can use Halloween to explore history and celebrate their heritage.”

Sounds awesome to me. Ladies, let's mix it up a bit tonight.


Friday, October 28, 2011

Friday Forum: Happy Halloween!

Halloween is only a few days away and since it's on a Tuesday, we're sure you'll be celebrating most of the weekend.

What are your Halloween plans this year?

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Link Love for 10/27

It's time for another round-up of great things we've been reading lately. Check out what we put together for you and remember to leave links in the comments to things you've been reading and writing online.

Awaken Your CAREERpreneur has great insights about the "root of it all," where the "it" is your work.

Downtown Dharma spotlights an organization that reminds us just how easy it can be to give back.

Girl w/Pen celebrated Love Your Body Day last week and has even more great links for you.

In Good Company poses an interesting question: is entrepreneurship the new gender neutral?

Lindsey Pollak features an interview about career blind spots, what they are, and how to overcome them.

NYWSE's blog considers how being socially responsible is as good for your wallet as it is for you.

One Writeous Chick shares a piece about her writing process that many of us can relate to no matter what we do.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Made Anywhere But Here

It's happened before, but it hit me again when I went to a nearby grocery store and browsed through the greeting card aisle. This is nothing new to most people, but I was put off by the fact that everything was made in China. I planned to buy some Halloween, Thanksgiving, and other everyday cards, but walked away with neither. I could not find one card that was made somewhere else, like here in the U.S.A., or Canada, or anywhere else in the world. I will have to try my luck elsewhere, perhaps at a greeting card retail store that should have more offerings, hopefully with some of them being made domestically.

I am definitely not alone in preferring to buy domestic products. There are websites dedicated to all manner of companies that still produce their wares here in the U.S.A. By chance, I came across an article about olive oil from olives grown in California, and am now on the waiting list for a limited supply of a recommended reserve olive oil that must be used within a shorter time before expiration. I love Italian-made goods, but I could not give up the chance to try an olive oil made within the U.S.A. I am looking forward to getting it time for the holidays.

We can’t completely avoid buying things made outside of the fifty states, especially those items made in China. They are everywhere, and sometimes the only options available in stores. I have nothing against the Chinese people; it’s just their government’s cut-throat economic practices and human rights violations I cannot stand. When it comes to buying fresh fruits and vegetables, I almost always buy domestic. I immediately settled the choice between buying lemons grown in California versus those grown in Chile at my latest visit to the grocery store by choosing the former. In that case, they were the same price, but in many cases, buying domestically often means more money. I grin and bear it because I think it is worth it.

Do you think it is worth it?

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

End of Summer... In the Fall

Compared to most summers in my life, this past summer was quite eventful. I made new friends, went on a bunch of dates, enjoyed movies, concerts, and theater, and even went on a couple of vacations. Even with that being the case, I still made an "end of summer wish list" of things I wanted to do and events I wanted to attend before summer ended. Of course, I didn't even put a dent on that list while the summer was still happening, but I extended my timeframe by a couple of months. I figure this way makes it seem as though summer is still here (at least in spirit) and gives me something to look forward to while everyone else is grumbling about the colder weather.

I took a stab at two of the items this weekend: hiking and visiting Lake George. A couple of years ago, my sisters and I went to Lake George and had a great time. I had so much fun the first time, that I've been eager to go back. When I told a friend of mine about my time there, including the adventure course I tried to complete, he was excited about going there and giving it a try himself. So we decided to take a last minute trip up there to hike, do the adventure course, spend quiet time at a bed & breakfast, and just enjoy the time away from the city's hustle and bustle.

As I expected, it was just as much fun as it was last time. The hike was challenging, and the adventure course kicked my butt, but we both felt great afterwards. And even though we ran out of gas at one point, had a terrible and expensive dinner, and couldn't even complete the adventure course, the trip was well worth it.

There are still a few things left on my wish list, and I plan on getting through them as quickly as I can. Who knows, maybe once I'm done, I'll put together a winter wish list so there's even more to look forward to.

Monday, October 24, 2011

The Mystery of Faith

I've been thinking a lot about religion and faith lately. I'm not exactly sure where I'm going with this post, other than to say, it's something I'm thinking about. I was raised Presbyterian, and I've continued to participate in Christian life in various forms and fashions over the years. I belong to a church here in NYC, and I've become very involved there in the past decade.

Lately, I feel myself growing tired of some of the trappings of church life, and particularly some of the pretenses of myself that I feel I must maintain when I go there. I enjoy and value the community of friends I've made, but when at times I feel I don't actually share some of the fundamental belief system it is all built on, I wonder if I am building community under false pretenses?

I've never claimed to be a great Christian; I would shudder away from calling myself "devout" or "faithful" or anything even close to that. I do believe in God, but the true nature of the God I believe in is a very great mystery to me, and sometimes I think church goes too far in trying to explain God and what God's all about. What God would want me to be, or to do, and how God participates in the world.

We don't know. We can't know. And while I'm awed by that mystery and while it does lead me toward faith (of a fashion), I'm also bothered by the ways we try to rationalize God. When I think of all the destruction--socially, politically, interpersonally--that adherence to religious doctrines has caused around the world, it makes me ache because all of these rules of faith that we seem so willing to kill and die for are human-made. We might seek to worship God, but religion itself is a human construct, an answer to questions that every society has wrestled with over centuries--and ultimately answered in its own way.

Why are we so sure that we're right? More importantly, why are we so afraid to be wrong? In my own faith journey, I've always found that the greater power lies in the questions, rather than the answers. I know there are a lot of people out there like me, not so sure of things and just trying to figure it all out.

This week, I read an essay--a sermon, actually--that a friend and colleague of mine wrote about the similarities between being a person of faith and being a writer. She talks about the intangible sense of having something to express, and the struggle of trying to capture it all, and the need for constant review, reflection and revision. (The essay is posted on her website, here.) It was like placing a mirror to my own struggle, and it made me go "Ah!" I read her words, and I instantly felt more comfortable, more confident in my personal (awkward) process of faith, and more comforted than I had felt in a very long time. I have no trouble seeing a little bit of God in that.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Friday Forum: Mistaken Identity

Many of us have celebrities that either people think we look like or we like to think we look like. Whichever it is, it's sometimes fun to think about.

Is there any celebrity you have been or might be mistaken for?

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Lessons Learned While Blogging

CHICKS ROCK! welcomes back Diana as a guest blogger who let us interview her last week about her newfound passion for blogging. Here's the second part of her interview:

Diana enjoys transforming ordinary recipes into guilt-free, healthful meals that bring pleasure to the palate. She shares her latest ideas, inspirations, reviews, interviews, and plenty of food for thought on her food blog, Between the Tines.

What have you learned while blogging?

So many things have come to the surface for me, personally, as a result of writing this blog. Because of all the research I have to do before writing, I’ve become very aware of not only the wonderful aspects of food, but the issues and problems in and around food as well. For example:

1) I became painfully aware that childhood obesity is an overwhelming issue in this country and that it leads to life-long health problems.
2) The hunger crisis here and throughout the world today is out of control and is simply unacceptable.
3) The rampant spread of food-borne illness is distressing. I’m also a Certified Food Safety Manager. The training was very intense with emphasis on how food gets contaminated and that we really can prevent most of it.
4) That government and corporate America work hand-in-hand and are immersed in the food industry and driven by profit, not what’s healthiest for people. From genetically modified foods to hormone-treated cattle, have we considered the long-term effects of this and why are we allowing this to happen?
5) On the lighter side, I’ve realized that I need to go to culinary school at some point. I’m working on giving myself permission to do that right now.

What is one thing that has surprised you about blogging?

People actually follow me and subscribe!

I like to write from somewhat of a humorous, sarcastic perspective and I try bringing attention to things that need to be said but that aren’t being said without being particularly defamatory. I believe this humorous, sarcastic approach contributes to the fact that people enjoy reading my posts. I’ve had some great feedback. When I hear someone tell me that they look forward to my next blog, or that it has given them a laugh or two means a lot to me.

I’ve recently been invited to be a contributor to two additional food blogs, so I know I’m doing something right!

One is The Feed and the other is Bromography, both of which I’m very excited about.

What do you hope readers take away from what you write about?

I hope readers learn about eating well and eating healthy. I hope readers learn about some of the pressing issues in and around food and the food industry. I hope my blog makes people laugh while providing a little insight.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Cooking For Life

With work, errands, and other commitments I have on a daily basis, it is hard to fit in time to do things that are good for me. One thing I wish I could do more of is to cook daily for myself. I make my own juice often, using my juicer or blender and different combinations of vegetables and fruit. But I am not part of the raw foods movement, as admirable as I think it is. I have hot meals daily, and I am always looking for variety and time to make them. Getting take out on a regular basis is something I used to do, and now I try to limit it to once a week, or once every two weeks or more.

I find that the key to cooking as part of my daily/weekly routine is to keep it simple. I attempt more elaborate recipes on days when I have more time to tackle them. This is usually a cake or other type of dessert, or a more complicated savory dish that requires more steps than the usual daily fare. I only take on the latter if I feel inspired by the recipe and feel that I can pull it off. I also make sure to have the right equipment for the cooking tasks I assign myself. For example, I don’t have a double boiler, so I avoid recipes that require it.

For me, cooking can be therapeutic and rewarding. I feel good when I can successfully combine ingredients and prepare them in certain ways; they are minor accomplishments that give me the confidence to do more and challenge myself further. Choosing what I put in my body is empowering; I don’t have to worry about how much cholesterol, fat, and/or sugar a certain dish may have if I am the one who put it together. It’s also generally less expensive to cook at home than to be constantly going out or getting take out, which is an added bonus for me.

Bon appetit!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Best Shape of My Life

A few weeks ago, I was talking to a friend about how great it feels to be in shape and how much I wanted to be active again after a summer of laziness. We talked about fitness in general, what I usually do to stay healthy, and what being in great shape might look like for me. Then he said he could get me in the best shape of my life in less than a year, and as little as 6 months if I was really committed. Those who know me know that I love a challenge. I'm not as competitive with others as people might expect, but I'm fiercely competitive with myself. So his positioning was actually rather perfect, even if he didn't set out to make it that way. 

And so it began: he or I kept bringing it up and soon we were both serious about it. We went to the park and he made note oyang performance at the start. Along with a whole host of other exercises, he wrote down how long it took me to run 1.5 miles (14 minutes), whether I was able to do 10 regular push-ups (of course), and how many pull-ups I could do (barely 1, and it was assisted). He showed me how to do a bunch of exercises and now "coaches" me via text on mornings when I work out, telling me what to do that day or how many miles I should run. 

As usually happens when I start down this path, I've also become more conscious of what I eat. I'm not following any strict diet or anything, but I know that I feel pretty awful if I don't eat well the day before a big workout. Losing weight isn't the goal, after all, but really just being the best me I can be. I want to feel stronger, run faster, and make it up to my friends' places without feeling like I'm going to collapse (I've somehow ended up with 3 friends who live on the 5th floor of walk-ups). 

My 6 months is up at the end of March, so we'll see how it goes between now and then, but I'm already starting to feel better knowing I have a plan and somebody to keep me on track.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Capturing the Casual

I've recently started a process of redesigning my professional website. The old version is still up, but I'm working on new content and thinking about color schemes and things like how to effectively bring my personality to life online. I expect the new site to launch sometime in January, which intellectually seems a long way off, but in reality time is flying and 2012 is just around the corner.

There are a couple of things I'm learning through this redesign process, the first being that it's good sometimes to take the time to really do something right, rather than leaping into it headlong. I tend to be a little impatient with things like this--once I decide I want a new website, I want it NOW. So, I end up throwing something makeshift together, and not being super happy with it in the end.

A second (related) thing I'm learning is that sometimes it isn't good to do everything myself. Sure, I'm tech savvy enough to get by on a day-to-day basis, and I'd consider myself more web-literate than the average person, but I'm nowhere near an expert. So I've finally taken the much-needed leap of hiring a professional web designer (hooray!).

A third thing I'm learning through this process is how difficult it can be to let go of control over something as important as my online image. My website, really, is my most important professional "face," because most of the people I interact with are spread around the country. As such, I'm struggling to develop web content that I can hand over to the designer and say "This is what I want; this represents me."

Images are very important to capturing that essence, but really great photos are often difficult to come by. I've determined that I need to be more proactive--not just taking a camera along on big events, but carrying one day to day and having my picture taken as I go about my ordinary life. Special occasion pictures often turn out well, but if they don't, there's no do-over. On a day to day basis, I can wear different outfits, try different poses and espressions, and really figure out how I look best, and what defines ME, visually.

I'm trying to capture the casual, so if you ever run into me in real life, don't surprised if I impose upon you to snap a few quick photos!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Friday Forum: Last Meals

For the foodies among us, one thing that comes up every so often is a question asked of chefs all over: if you could choose your last meal, what would it be? So today we're asking you!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

"Are You Hungry?"

CHICKS ROCK! welcomes Diana as a guest blogger who let us interview her about her newfound passion for blogging. Here's the first part of her interview:

Diana enjoys transforming ordinary recipes into guilt-free, healthful meals that bring pleasure to the palate. She shares her latest ideas, inspirations, reviews, interviews, and plenty of food for thought on her food blog, Between the Tines.

What inspired you to start a blog?

A certain career coach by the name of Kristina Leonardi was instrumental in inspiring me to start my food blog. I’m sure my answer doesn’t surprise any of you!

Kristina is quite intuitive about reading people. She’s gifted at helping when people come to a crossroad in their life and need to make important decisions about how to move forward. She truly has the ability to cut to the heart of the matter and get down to the business of seeing what a person is passionate about, what they should be considering as an alternate path, and then finding a way to help guide them to take that first step.

Kristina gently pushed me to start blogging because I had something to say and because I really needed to explore this creative outlet. I’m a Creative Director for the marketing industry by trade so I’m very used to dealing with the copy aspect of design. I simply had to rethink my work experience and apply it to something that was specifically for me, rather than the corporate environment I was so used to focusing on. I’m convinced that it’s all about rethinking who you are and realizing that you really can recreate yourself.

Why did you choose to focus on food?

My focus is on food because that’s where my true passion lies. That’s all I think about! I’m a food-and-healthful-eating-junkie. Throughout the day my thoughts swirl around my next meal, what I’m going to prepare, and how I’m going to prepare it. I drive everyone at home crazy because I’m planning dinner at breakfast time. I got excited when the last gifts I received were a black truffle and fermented garlic! One day I took a survey of all the magazines I subscribed to. Every one of them was a cooking magazine. At that point I was beginning to get the message.

To say the least, I’m known in my circle of friends as a passionate cook. I love to have everyone over for dinner and it gives me great pleasure to hear that everything tastes wonderful. I get a lot of personal joy from feeding people. The first thing I ask when someone arrives at my home is, “Are you hungry?”

I also have to mention that a number of my daughter’s friends often show up “unexpectedly” when they hear I’m preparing a meal (and I absolutely love it). I’m quite flattered when I find out that a group of her friends are coming over solely because they heard I was having one of my “dinner-events”. These kids are all around 19 years old, and they think I’m cool because I can cook!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Shaking Off Regrets

I try not to hold on to regrets if I can help it. It does not always work of course, but I generally reach the conclusion that a situation did not work out the way I wanted because it was meant to happen that way. There have been job interviews that did not materialize in employment, aborted travel plans to places I have yet to visit, and sometimes not making the kind of impression I want to make due to nervousness or other reasons. Instead of focusing on the past, even if it was only yesterday, I make sure that every day I try to make things better better for myself. It's not always easy, but I usually adhere to this way of thinking and it does help. Of course it can be difficult to do this when there are people around me who wallow in their regrets, and try to make me do the same.

I purposely try to keep away from people who are regret-ridden (of the non-criminal variety of course), but there are those in my family and associated with friends who I cannot always avoid. I do my best to tolerate their behavior, and stand up for myself when needed. Sitting through stories from people who regret their marriages, or how they are afraid to go back to school because of how bad they were in academics as children, or how much they hate their current or past jobs are normal unless they are repeated ad nauseum and those telling the stories have learned nothing from them. When I try to alleviate the mood by telling some to look forward to today and tomorrow, I am sometimes ignored, get a roll of the eyes, and occasionally I am heard.

We have to make the best with the time we are given; that goes for all of us.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Other Things We Love

In keeping with last week's theme of doing and not doing what you love, there certainly are things we always seem to find time and money for. They aren't quite the same thing, of course, because they're simply for enjoyment or entertainment and require no commitment or work on our part.

Take theater, for instance, which I've been spending quite a bit of time and money on these past few months. Those of you who've been reading for a while know that I really enjoy going to the theater. Shakespeare in the Park is one of the highlights of my summers, and this past one was no exception. I've also seen Hair, Newsies (now a musical playing in NJ), Sleep No More, and Hamlet at the Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival. Tomorrow night, I'm seeing Rent and in a couple of weeks, I'm going to Sleep No More again. I've spent hundreds of dollars on tickets and countless hours traveling to and attending these shows.

It's been a lot of fun and I feel enriched by these activities and sharing them with people I care about. But while I've had a great time experiencing theater this year, I guess my point is that adding up all those hours makes me feel even worse about neglecting other things that are important to me, like writing. Why do I choose to distract myself with something like an expensive musical when I could be at home relaxing and getting some words down? I'm hoping to make some better choices through the rest of this year... that is, right after Rent tomorrow night!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Do NOT Read This Post

Doesn't that title make you want to read whatever I'm going to say just a little bit more? I thought so. This is one of the things that's always puzzled me about censorship; despite all the various forms it takes (some more insidious than others), in the process of trying to stop people from seeing or reading something, you often end up calling more attention to it and inspiring interest from people who might not have even noticed it otherwise.

This topic is on my mind because authors and book lovers around the country recently celebrated Banned Books Week, which is our way of honoring artists who speak truth and whose words contain a particular kind of power that has the potential to frighten small-minded people, those who want the whole world to agree with them on every imaginable perspective. As someone who's spent a great deal of my life dealing with diversity--embracing, encouraging and embodying it--I can't stand the thought of opinions being suppressed, and people's minds and hearts being suppressed along with them.

It's something of a badge of pride among published authors (especially young adult authors, I'd say) if your work has been challenged by a school board, a PTA, or a conclave of concerned citizens. We're proud of the impact our books can have, and we understand it very well, because lots of other people's books have had an impact on us--as young people, as writers, as humans. Books can touch readers in ways that no other media can. As authors, we know we have the power to reach people--maybe not to change their minds, but to make them think. And why is that so scary?

During Banned Books Week, I kept thinking about my own writing. I don't know if my books have been challenged...yet...but I know they will be in the future, because I write about things that make some people uncomfortable. Racism, classism, death, sex, violence, power. I write about genuine fears and deep loves, the way we hurt one another and the way we're affected by tragedies. And, particularly, how it all starts when we're young.

In 1992, Stephen King wrote an op-ed after some of his books were removed from school libraries, saying: "When a book is banned, a whole set of thoughts is locked behind the assertion that there is only one valid set of values, one valid set of beliefs, one valid perception of the world. It's a scary idea, especially in a society which has been built on the ideas of free choice and free thought. ....As a nation, we've been through too many fights to preserve our rights of free thought to let them go just because some prude with a highlighter doesn't approve of them."

Not much has changed in twenty years. Hopefully, twenty years from now it'll all be better. In the meantime, I'll settle for being amused by the attention that people draw to the books they challenge, and I will continue supporting other writers in the effort to keep our books on shelves in even the most tightly-closed corners of the country. I'll study all the handy, lengthy lists of "banned" or challenged books, and see what piques my interest.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Friday Forum: Pain & Gain

They say "no pain, no gain," but just how far do people take it?

When it comes to beauty regiments (hair relaxing, leg waxing, etc.) and exercise routines (daily runs, kickboxing, etc.), how hard do you push yourself? Do you sometimes think the expectations are unrealistic?

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Read All About It

One one of the things we love most on the blog is hearing from all of you. Whether it's feedback, ideas, or comments, we can't get enough of it. But it's extra special when we hear from you in the form of guest posts.

We know that all of you have things you're passionate about or struggling with or getting over, and we would love to read all about it. So send us your guest posts and give this blogging thing a try -- we want to hear from you.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Good New Days

There really is no such thing as the good old days when it comes to safety and freedom. When I heard a news report about the overall reduction of crime and overall violence in general since the 20th century, I was not surprised. Why? Because as one who loves history, I know enough about it to know that many problems people faced on a daily basis are not as common as they used to be. Even with the creation of more efficient weapons of destruction and more war, humanity in general is much better off than ever before. It just doesn’t feel that way sometimes.

As a woman today, I can travel on my own or with others with far less chance of being assaulted or killed than my predecessors. I admire travelling women in previous centuries because they risked their lives and took more risks than I will ever know. While it does not feel that way at times, I am aware that travel is much easier than in the past. The time it used to take to cross the Atlantic was so much longer and far less safe than most of us realize.

Even as a fan of classic movies and well done period films, I am wise enough to know that I would never have wanted to live during those more repressive times. Classic films I love, which tend to be of far better substantive quality than those produced today, often depict beautifully dressed men and women pursuing each other until either triumphing or losing in the end. In reality, the actors and actresses behind those roles were made and destroyed by the studio system that they worked for. I love Jane Austen’s novels and many of the films based on her works, but I would have hated to live in during her lifetime. She died in her 40s, and had to conduct herself within certain social parameters that most women today would find ridiculously restrictive.

Do you agree that living now is better than in previous eras?

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Doing What We Love

Why do we stop ourselves from doing the things we love? I’ve been struggling lately (and by “lately,” I mean at least a year) with this question.

I have a friend who wants to be an actor and moved to New York partly to pursue that. When I ask him about it, he’s never much closer to taking his acting seriously than he was the time I asked before that. Another aspiring actor studied theatre in college and hasn’t gone on any auditions or even gotten headshots. I also have a friend who used to dance and was quite talented but had to stop years ago. Even though she now has some time and resources to start dancing again, it’s too emotional for her to even try.

All my life, I’ve loved to sing. When I stopped singing regularly with a chorus (or “for real,” as I like to call it), I lost confidence in my ability and eventually it became harder and harder to think about doing it again. Similarly, for the past few months, I’ve found it harder to sit down and write something substantial – one of the things I love doing most. I write here once a week, but it’s nothing like what I used to write when I used to write “for real.”

So I have to ask why it is that we stop ourselves from doing the things we love. I wonder if we don’t think we’re good enough, but it doesn’t seem that simple. I think maybe we don’t think we’re worthy of doing something we truly enjoy – something that has the potential to make us truly happy. Whatever it is, I’m trying to get us all out of our funk. However big or small our steps are, I’m hoping my friends and I can all get back on track… I imagine we’d all be at least a bit more fulfilled.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Long Distance, Birthday-Style

My mother just celebrated her 60th birthday, and when it came time to give her a gift, I found myself at a bit of a loss. What do you get for the gal who has everything? (By which, of course, I mean, the woman who has me for a daughter?) I actually had this thought in my head (in jest, of course), and after I got over that particularly egotistical moment, I realized that there was actually a bit of merit to my initial reaction. Here's how:

My mom lives halfway across the country from me, and one of the things that makes her happy is when she gets to see me (of course) and short of that, when she gets to talk to me on the phone. But, there are only so many things you can talk about on the phone without repeating yourself, so I had a new creative idea of how we could share an activity together long-distance. We are both nerdy, bookish, puzzler-types and we both enjoy word and logic puzzles like crosswords, Sudoku and picture logic.

My idea was that if we both had the same puzzle book, and started the same puzzle at the same time, we could call one another when we got stumped and it would be like we were sitting at the same table working on a giant jigsaw like we often do over the holidays. I thought it would be a nice piece of me to share with her.

She was very excited to receive the gift (because while she doesn't truly have everything, she doesn't need more stuff, either. Who does?) and she appreciated the gift of my time as much as the gift of the puzzle book (which, let's not lie, saved me some moolah). Even though we haven't started our shared puzzles yet, I am also really looking forward to calling her tonight to see how it goes!

I'm sure once we get on the phone we will revert to the old standbys--(Mom: How was your day? Me: How's Dad? Mom: Sold any books lately? Me: How's Dad?)--but the puzzles look like fun, too, and it will be nice to be together for a while, even from a distance.

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