I have become much more outspoken recently, and this has attracted praise and deep criticism from others. Whether it is about my personal life or what is going on in the world right now, I believe I should express my feelings; of course there are times when speaking up is not alright. For example, I would not bring up my support of same-sex marriage to relatives from my parents’ native country or my extended family members and friends who are against it. If any of them read last week’s post about this issue and wanted to discuss (or confront) me about it, I would of course stand my ground and defend my position. Generally, I find that people will speak up to others, but not directly to the person(s) responsible for stirring things up.
There are times when being “nice” and keeping quiet should be the last things a person does. I was actually advised recently to not use the word nice when describing someone, because it implies being gullible, or easy to manipulate. I think people used to see me in this way, so when I would express my opinions it would shock and anger them sometimes. The idea that the “nice” girl would have strong points of view and speak up against injustice is still considered contradictory.
For Fathers’ Day, posted a quote and comment on Facebook about how it is easy to become a father rather than to actually be one. It was a positive status update, because it praised men who are real fathers, without mentioning those who have given up, never tried, or are just bad at it. I recently heard that someone was put off by the implication of my Facebook status. Perhaps I touched a nerve without trying; who knows? I stand by my words and what I put out on the Internet. While I am not known to be confrontational, I will defend my right to speak up when it is challenged.
Do you avoid confrontation, or are you known for stirring things up?
The summer is supposed to be a time to have fun and relax, but it doesn't always work out that way. There seems to be some sort of cosmic law where things are completely calm for entirely too long and then completely chaotic for even longer. I'm talking the type of calm that starts out nice until you're so starved for action and drama, you're watching Mob Wives reruns when normally you don't even watch tv. And I'm talking the type of chaos that starts as a series of good news until you're praying life will miraculously stop for just five minutes so you can breathe.
This is more or less what the last few months have been like for me. To be clear, my "calm" was still hectic, but at least it was some level of normalcy. My chaos? Well, let's break that down...
By July 11th, I will have had a performance (and tons of practice leading up to it), two trips, my mother's surprise 50th birthday party, two moves (one to a temporary place, one to my new apartment), and the start of a new job. All in less than two months. And, if we're getting specific here, the two moves, one of the trips, and the new job are all happening in less than two weeks.
Mid-July will bring birthday celebrations for a few friends, adjusting to my new place, and getting to know my new co-workers. But after that? I have lofty plans of going into a hibernation of sorts, declining invitations, catching up on work, and spending time being lazy and taking a breather.
What has your summer been like so far?
I traveled to New Orleans this weekend for an American Library Association conference. While it was technically a work trip, I managed to find some fun things to do as well. I wandered the French Quarter, explored Bourbon Street--as a spectator rather than a participant in the significant festivities going on there on a Saturday night!--but my favorite stop of all was Cafe du Monde, where I ate a lovely meal of beignets and hot chocolate. Yum!
I hadn't been on a trip that was more than a day or two in over a year--and all of those were for work, too--so it was nice to settle in a bit and feel that I got to experience a new place, especially a place I've been wanting to visit for a long time. I found the journey both inspiring and relaxing, which is a pretty stellar result for a business trip, in my estimation.
I suppose I've posted about travel before, but there is something so soothing to me about getting up, packing my suitcase and hitting the road. I don't know if it is the sense of forward motion, or the opportunity to see new things, eat new food and meet new people, but every journey makes me excited. It seems whatever piece of me that is satisfied by travel adventures lives too deep to isolate or to name. I've tried for a long time, and I can't get underneath it. Oh well. I will just have to enjoy the surface of things--and in New Orleans, the surface is pretty great!
Speaking of the surface of things...in the part of the city I was in, you don't see much evidence of Hurricane Katrina; whether the area wasn't directly damaged or has been rebuilt, I'm unsure. I do know that it made me think about how things appear versus how they really are. I have a feeling if I'd been able to walk in the right direction, I would have seen the damage that is still felt around the city. I guess there is a parallel there, between how I feel as a traveler, affected from the inside-out, and how a city like New Orleans is repaired from the outside-in. I could write more about that, but I guess I still feel like I'm on vacation!
Warm weather seems to bring people out more, increasing the chances to socialize and meet new people. With everyone constantly joking about "spring flings" and "summer loving," we just have to ask if there's any truth to this.
Have you ever spent a summer with somebody, knowing it would probably end once the fall began?
CHICKS ROCK! is happy to welcome Routh as a first-time guest blogger this week as part of TWM's World of Wellness.
Routh Chadwick, LMSW, is a personal coach and counselor specializing in helping people discover and live their life purpose while finding more pleasure in their daily lives. She has a private practice in New York City.
As the saying goes, I entered the mental health profession partly to heal myself. After suffering from depression and anxiety for years, I set out to discover a better way to live. Over time, I made changes in my thinking and habits that enabled me to reach a place of well-being. The changes weren’t easy, but I stopped trying to live my life according to the mainstream views of success and started listening to myself. I also noticed a tendency in all of us to focus on the pain in our lives rather than beauty and abundance. I saw this in the acceptance of lousy working conditions, crazy stress levels, and a constant striving for some future happiness. The cultural antidote to the pain tends to be some kind of numbing agent: too much television, too much alcohol, chronic use of antidepressants, etc.
My search for healthier solutions took me to the Zen practice of mindfulness – paying attention to your experience and being present in the moment. The pagan embrace of the pleasures that life on earth offers also helped, going against the suffering, self-denial, and guilt our culture prescribes.
Many come to me feeling lost or dissatisfied, so if you feel this way, you’re not alone. My process begins with an exploration to help you discover what it is you really want in life. We look at your life as a whole and make gradual adjustments. While long-term success means discomfort at times, the result is a richer, more fulfilling life.
One of the suggestions I give is to take note of all the ways you’re rushing through your life. Then see if once in a while, you can catch yourself and slow down for a moment. Even if you’re under the gun at work, there’s no reason you can’t allow yourself five minutes to get fresh air and enjoy some sunshine. Small actions open up a space in your life for new awareness and new habits.
I offer one-on-one sessions to assist you in making changes that will lead to a more meaningful life. If you mention TWM, you’re entitled to 15% off any services I offer.
The ongoing debate about gay marriage, particularly in New York and New Jersey, has flared up annoyance and some anger in me. Every time I think we as a society are moving closer towards acceptance of all law abiding people, regardless of sexual orientation, I am reminded by certain people that we still have a very long way to go. I have heard it said many times that the pursuit of equal rights for gay and lesbian citizens is our latest civil rights movement. People may dispute this vehemently, but I believe it is true.
I think the opposition to gay marriage shared by a number of religious groups is one of the main reasons why I am no longer religious. Born and raised a Roman Catholic and having attended Catholic schools in New Jersey, I felt genuinely repressed and ill at ease with religion as a whole. I always believed in a Higher Power, but I find the bigotry towards gays and lesbians to be contradictory to Christian values of acceptance and love. I have a distinct aversion for people who consider themselves closer to God based simply on which religious group they belong to, especially when they speak words ranging from ignorance to pure hatred towards those they see as outsiders.
As a straight woman who believes that there are many people out there who should not be married due to their destructive personalities, I am also supportive of anyone who wants to enter into the matrimonial state for all the right reasons. Love, friendship, respect, loyalty, and more can be shared by any two people who want to grow old together, and that is a beautiful thing. Regardless of the outcome of the pending vote in New York for or against gay marriage, I will always see any union between two loving people the same way, regardless of sexual orientation. Regulating love is never a good thing.
There are moments in your life that you want to make extra special, and major birthdays are one of those. My mother just turned 50 and said from the beginning of the year that she wanted a big birthday party with as much of her family there as possible.
My sisters and I, however, thought this was a terrible idea. My mother's family is a lot of drama, and we knew that even though it sounded good to her, she would regret it as soon as the party was over. And spending that much money on one night made no sense to us when a trip abroad would be the same amount and much more memorable.
So my sisters and I have spent the last few months simultaneously planning a French-themed dinner party and a trip to Paris. The dinner would be a surprise and have my mother's close friends and family here in NY as guests, but the trip would be the real gift.
Even though I knew it would all turn out at least okay if not great, it added a layer of stress to the last couple of months. My sisters and I were constantly arguing about what was and wasn't important, something being too expensive or taking too long, how our mother would feel about one detail over others. It didn't help matters that when things would not go as planned, one or the other would freak out and become a complete pain to deal with.
Well, the party was this past weekend and it was, for the most part, a success. The food was good, my mother felt special and didn't complain too much (our family is known for complaining, so it was inevitable), and she's excited for her trip to Paris this fall. As I expected, it wasn't anywhere near perfect, but it turned out well in the end. Now I just need a little break from my sisters and all will be right with the world...
Have you ever been stressed by planning a major event with other people?
Living in a big city is typically exciting. It's diverse and active and it tends to make me feel like the world is at my fingertips. On the other hand, over time it can become a bit claustrophobic. There are people everywhere, and riding the subway some days, it becomes very clear why the crowded road to success is often referred to as the rat race.
My solution? Get out of town!
This weekend some friends and I rented a car and drove up the Hudson Valley, no particular destination in mind, but simply with the intent to "see something green." (Yeah, Central Park is nice, but you can almost always still hear the city traffic, which stops it from feeling like a true retreat most days.) We ended up touring two old mansions with gardens that have become National Historic Landmarks, eating Dairy Queen Blizzards (Yum!) and driving through a bunch of cute little towns.
Sound like a simple outing? It really was. In fact, what I found most striking about this day trip was how easy and relatively inexpensive it was, yet how refreshing the simple change of pace could be. I suppose there are many ways of refreshing onseelf, but communing with nature and breathing different air always has a way of re-energizing me and putting regular life back into perspective.
Where do you go for a quick change of pace?
Ah, June. The summer is in full swing, vacations are being planned, and... half the year has gone by! Instead of getting sidetracked and distracted, why don't you make some goals for yourself? Pull out your New Year's Resolution again, or set a new objective for the summer.
What goals are you setting (or re-setting) starting now?
TWM's World of Wellness is in full swing. There's still time to become a sponsor and be featured in the weekly blasts. Plus, you get to reach even more people by writing a guest post for CHICKS ROCK!
Check out last week's email blast and get in touch with us today to join in on the fun!
I really do not like people giving me unsolicited and undesired advice. I doubt most people welcome it in their lives. I am all for constructive criticism, but let us face it; we get the other, more negative kind more often. The other day, I was confronted with it by someone I see a few times a year, on average. I laughed it off and moved on to another conversation. When I was younger, I may have been more defensive and insecure in my response.
We are our own worst critics, and we should really give ourselves a break once in a while. If I find myself criticizing myself for working on weekends when I do not need to, then I know I need a short break before resuming my regular routine. Instead of despairing that I have not had enough sleep in the last few weeks due to work, I just make sure to make the time, so I can catch up on rest. Not enough exercise? I simply have to make time to do it daily, and to do different types of exercise. Of course there are things about myself I cannot change or would not change at this point, such as my short stature or deviated septum. My self-criticism and the criticisms from others have taught me to accept my shortcomings, and work on the parts of myself that I can change for the better.
Of course when someone does give me constructive criticism I do make sure to be open to hearing and considering it in my mind. Sometimes I take the advice and sometimes I don’t; I consider that to be a good trait. After all, we are all teachers for each other, whether we are aware of it or not. Self-improvement for the right reasons is never a bad thing.
For the last few months, I've been moving non-stop. I had a dance performance this past weekend, and practicing for that was rather grueling. The luckiest of us ended up with hurt knees and one unlucky team member had a sprained ankle. I thought my trip to Vegas would give my body a break, but instead, I spent days walking up and down the strip. I even went to Spa Castle last week, where I soaked in hot tubs and tried to soothe my super-tight muscles under the jets, but it still wasn't enough.
So I've been waiting for months to give my body a rest and kept telling myself "after the show..." Except that as soon as I had time to breathe when the show was over, I realized that this week is the Chase Corporate Challenge, a 3.5-mile run in Central Park. I signed up with my co-workers a few months back and completely forgot about it. I was excited at the time and thought it'd be fun to get out and run a few miles in the nice weather. Now that it's here, I'm not seeing the fun in it at all. I wrote to a friend of mine who runs regularly and has been in a couple of marathons, and she gave me tips to get my mind and body ready in such a short time, but I'm still a bit panicky.
I'm not worried about the running itself, a few hours to listen to music and run without any distractions is not a bad thing at all. And even with my hurt knee, I know I can make it through (thank goodness my team captain bought us all knee braces last week).
No, the real problem is having this sneak up on me when I thought I'd get to be a lazy bum. I was looking forward to spending time sitting and laying down with little reason to move. And now, instead, I have to run 3.5 miles when I could be eating ice cream and watching tv.
Oh well, maybe next week I'll get to bum out.
So....dare I say we've all done it? Held a hairbrush (or whatever's handy) as if it's a microphone and practiced our Oscar-winning speech in the mirror? Oh. No? Not everyone? Just me? Well, that's embarrassing....
If you haven't guessed already, I was watching the 65th Annual Tony Awards on TV last night. I'm not an actor, but it's nice to dream. I'm not a playwright, either, but I dabble. Of course, watching the show makes me want to throw it all away and start writing The Great American Stage Play so that someday I might be able to get up on stage and cry and thank a bunch of people. The only thing that stops me is the knowledge that playwriting is not the medium in which I speak best. I'm a novelist because it's what I love, and what I'm good at.
But watching people who have risen to the epitome of their profession is always inspiring. It reassures me that all the hard work might actually be worth it in the end. For my particular world, the Tony/Oscar equivalent is the American Library Association's Youth Media Awards, which are announced in mid-winter and awarded in June at the ALA national conference. I'll be headed down to New Orleans for said conference in a couple of weeks. A few close friends/colleagues have been honored this year and I look forward to celebrating these honors with them.
Full disclosure requires me to admit that my first novel actually won one of these awards, a New Talent award under the Coretta Scott King Awards banner. (Yay!) I've even been to a televised award show (the NAACP Image Awards) for the same book. (Woot.) That was over a year ago, and I'm still very pleased and proud to have earned these mentions, but it doesn't stop me from dreaming of hitting the same jackpot again, and it certainly doesn't stop me from dreaming even bigger.
Who do you thank in your mirror acceptance speeches? If you sincerely dream of being on one of those famous stages, what are you doing RIGHT NOW that might help get you there?
We don't know about you, but we think barbecues are one of the best things about the summer. It's quaint cousin, the picnic, is also nice, even if it's not quite the same.
What are some of your favorite summer foods? Do you get to BBQ or picnic as often as you'd like?
CHICKS ROCK! is happy to have Kristina back as a guest blogger this week.
Kristina Leonardi is the founder of The Women’s Mosaic. She is a career/life path consultant, speaker, seminar leader and expert in the areas of women, diversity and personal growth.
As the saying goes, there are three things that are certain in life: death, taxes and change. Change comes in all shapes and sizes, some more scary than others. Climate change, career change, graduations, marriages and relationships changes, TV changes, sex changes, change of residences, and regime change to name a few - and June seems chock full of them!
Most folks have a hard time with change. We'd rather stay comfy and/or miserable rather than letting go of our crutches and seeing what else life might have in store us. We cannot control things but we can control how we respond to them: we can resist and go kicking and screaming or we can accept that change happens, and just go with the flow.
Going with the flow means listening to yourself, and giving yourself what you need at any particular moment. The best way to navigate change is to trust in yourself and be your own best counsel, so it's important to have that 'muscle' in place as you go over the white water rapids of feelings that come with this thing called life.
Change is not always fun, but it's almost always for the better, because change forces growth and growth is good. And once the change happens, we can't be like a goldfish who lived in a fishbowl his whole life but then when put into the ocean still swims around in a little circle as if he were still in a bowl!
David Bowie tells us time can change you but you can't trace time. So this summer, if you feel you are ready to be hatched, then fly, be free! Not quite like Mork's egg, but more like Steve Miller's Eagle or with the help of Bob Marley's Three Little Birds and the wonder of that other Stevie who sings, Don't You Worry 'Bout a Thing.
My aunt passed away this week, after being ill for a number of years. She was constantly going to the hospital for dialysis every three days, and she lived in the middle of a forest village! When I went to visit her in India after a number of years, I was shocked to see how remote it was, and what it must have been for her to live there, surrounded by trees and animals, with no hospital anywhere in the vicinity. I spent the night there with my mother in semi-detached quarters, which were connected to the main house but had its own entrance. The experience was frustrating, because I got little sleep because of the animals my mother perceived to be dangerous, and they were there just on the other side of the door. For a short night and early morning, I really stepped out of my comfort zone.
My aunt’s life was quite different than my mother’s; the former was born more than ten years before my mother was, and was made to get married at the tender age of 15, which was quite normal at the time. My mother told me that before she was pulled out of school, she was an excellent student. Years later when my mother faced similar pressures, she had the advantage of birth order and her mother’s support to continue with her education to become a nurse, and eventually settle in the United States. Through my aunt’s words and actions, it was hard not to notice that she felt left behind.
I was not close with my aunt; I had only ever met her three times before in my life. What I know about her is from my mother, who didn’t really know her either. She was only three when my aunt was married, so they never shared sisterly closeness. What my mother does remember is how opinionated she was, and what an excellent memory she had, even at the end of her life. In the end, I am glad she is is no longer suffering and at peace.
Since I've been keeping all of you updated on my vacations, especially my trip to Vegas, it seems silly to not end up telling you how it went. In a word: splendidly.
I ended up going with just one friend who was with me for the weekend. It was great to catch up with her and together we ate some mediocre food and some delicious food, went out one night, and saw a show the other. Once she left, I had three days to myself, which I spent reading and lounging by the pool each morning and then in my room getting work done, reading, or watching Game Show Network the rest of the day. I even had my own private dance party in my hotel room one night.
As I hinted at last week, I spent more money than I budgeted, but there were some great treats that came along with that. Well, one great treat, really, with The Beatles: LOVE, Cirque du Soleil's popular show inspired by and set to the music of The Beatles. I'm a huge Beatles fan so I had already seen most of All Together Now, the documentary about how they put the show together. But I had never seen a Cirque du Soleil show and nothing could really prepare me for how entertaining it was. There's really only one thing I'm glad I splurged on in Vegas, and it was that.
But probably the best thing about my trip was spending time alone. Once there, I instantly realized how much I needed it, given how hectic my schedule has been. I can't remember the last time I spent more than a couple of hours with myself and it's been the same way since getting back. It wasn't enough to fully recharge, but it was a bit of breathing room.
So maybe my Vegas vacation was anything but your typical Vegas trip, but I still enjoyed it.
Do you like spending time by yourself while on vacation?
It happens to everyone. You lose steam on a project that once excited you. Dread waking up to go to work in the morning for a period of time. Drag your feet. Hit a wall. Lose focus. Drift aimlessly. Fall into a slump. Whatever you want to call it, it's never a good feeling.
I'm not sure what causes these slumps; surely it's different things at different times. If the cause is obvious, I tend to find it easier to deal with than when it's a mystery as to why I just feel a bit OFF from time to time. I got over a cold recently, yet even after my symptoms disappeared I still felt fairly slumpy. I felt myself struggling to create (which is my job, being a writer and all) and to relate (which is pretty essential in life and work in general). In short, I turned into a great big grump.
I was happy to realize over the weekend that my grump alterego has finally retreated to her cave. Hooray! Rising out of such a slump is both a relief and a source of excitement for me. I go to my computer in the mornings reminded of why I chose the work I chose, instead of annoyed that I have to do it. I feel productive and energetic and like I can start all over again. What could be better?
The one little question that tickles the back of my mind is: what did the trick? What helped me get over the slump? Was it simply a matter of time? Or did I inadvertently stumble upon some magical formula of strawberry cheesecake, peanut butter sandwiches and corny romantic comedies (Yes, these are some of my go-to items) that reversed my grumpy slumpiness? I feel that some additional research may be required....
When you feel stuck, how do you un-slump yourself?
Whether it's a 10-year high school reunion or that group of kids you hung out with at summer camp ages ago, at times there seems to be a constant flurry of messages from people in your past.
Has anybody from your past ever tried to reach out to you again to get together? How did your reunion go?
There's been a lot of great stuff to read out there, so let's jump right in with the links, shall we?
Awaken Your CAREERpreneur gives real-life examples of how choosing something that seems off-course may be the best decision in the end.
Downtown Dharma reviews the movie Bridesmaids and offers a good life lesson we can all take away from it.
Girl w/Pen looks at something that affects all of us and our expectations for ourselves: stereotype threat.
In Good Company considers different ways of looking at entrepreneurship and what it means to make that choice based on the life you want.
Lindsey Pollak has a great strategy and helpful tips for getting a job by trying out (wait for it) blogging.
The Woodhull Institute's blog featured what sounds like a great book! It looks at what events in a woman's life impacts her happiness and self-confidence.
That's all we've got for today. What have you been reading and writing online? Leave links in the comments.
Now that summer has unofficially begun and the temperatures have climbed, I see everyone wearing lighter and fewer clothes and reveling in the sunshine. Sometimes I wonder if they have sun block on, and if they know that they have to re-apply it every two hours, no matter what color they are. In Western cultures, the general feeling is that being tan is best, and getting sun without getting sunburn is the best and inexpensive way to go. Of course there are tanning salons with tanning beds and spray tans, but nothing beats going to the beach and laying out in sun’s rays, premature aging and the possibility of skin cancer be damned.
When I was walking outside the other day, I saw a fair skinned woman of Asian descent walking with a bright red umbrella, which she had opened to avoid the darkening effects of the sun. It reminded me of my times in India and Indonesia, where dark skin is generally thought to be something that should be lightened for beauty. I would see commercials for skin lightening creams everywhere, and when I went to with a friend to a local Body Shop in an Indonesian mall to do a makeup test, they used lighter foundation for my neck and face at first; I told them to match my natural color. They looked shocked when I told them that I liked my skin tone and had no desire to be lighter. One time I made the mistake of asking for a bottle of self-tanner in a high-end mall’s beauty supply store; I walked away amused by the store employee’s look of horror at the idea of such a product.
I have no desire to sunbathe and expose my skin without protection in the afternoon sun, because I don’t want to damage it. I prefer self-tanners to “fairness” creams, which can be found at almost any Asian market. Staying healthy and even-toned are goals that are far more important to me than pursuing Western or Eastern standards of skin beauty.
|Join Our Mailing List|