Hello friends, today I posted on my God and Coffee page with an update on Demetri’s surgery. Follow this link if you would like to read this post….
Monday, January 30, 2012
Friday, January 27, 2012
Have you ever had someone that you barely know reach out to you when you were at a vulnerable, shaky place in your life?
I did. And today, her youngest son is in the ICU at the local hospital. Can you spare a prayer? Today I posted on my God and Coffee blog. Follow this link if you would like to learn more.
It’s the least I can do.
Thursday, January 26, 2012
worries that go bump in the night…
During the last few weeks, something strange and inexplicable has been happening to me. I don’t know why, but I’ve been waking up in the middle of the night. No reasons, no sudden noises. I’ve just been opening my eyes and finding myself stone cold awake, swaddled in darkness and hearing nothing except the slow, comforting sound of Jim’s breathing in the room. In the blue glow of my alarm clock, I reach for my glasses, and I see that it’s two in the morning.
And then before I know it, my mind begins to wake up. And I immediately feel wary.
Because Life seems scarier to me during these hazy, dream-like hours; I don’t know why, but something happens to my rational-dependable perspective from this snuggly place beneath the covers. This is the time when my worries take over.
It begins with a passing concern in my mind, something I forgot to check on, and in the stillness of the night, this simple thought transforms into a full-blown disaster. Or I remember this one nagging, question that I forgot to ask my son, a minor detail that I would barely notice under the glare of daylight, and suddenly at this sleepy moment, it becomes an urgent matter, a ominous possibility that causes me to hop out of bed to add something to my things-to-do list.
I used to be utterly confused by the strange effects of this middle-of-the-night time warp; I used to hate the way that my mind could grab unto a small thing and make it big. And on those nights when I had trouble falling back asleep, I would hate those annoying, worrisome thoughts that made me feel tired and alert at the same time.
I wonder if you can relate
But now I know that this is a part of me. And I wonder if you can relate.
I know that these hours will add scary and distorting possibilities to my normal fears. I know that I will never be the kind of person that wakes up to a phone call at three in the morning with an optimistic outlook. And after all these years, I know that my wise husband is right. Things will ALWAYs look better in the morning. “Go back to sleep Les, it will be OK.” After years of careful examination of my middle of the night angst and worries, he knows his wife.
This too shall pass. I mumble these words as I turn over and bury my face into my puffy pillow and try to ignore my racing mind. And it’s true. The morning hours are my magic wand. Sometimes, when I wake up and sit on the side of my bed, I’m amazed by the sparkly hope that rises alongside the morning light. I’m surprised by how distant and unrecognizable my night time worries look from my daylight perspective.
But please don’t call me at three in the morning. Because when the phone rings, my head will yank up and pillow feathers will fly and I will immediately hear my heart beating wildly in my ears and it will be hard to hear you on the phone.
And the worst part is, that I will instantly expect the worst.
Because I’ve got a lot of worries that go bump in the night.
Can you relate to this post? Tell me what you think…
Do you think that women worry more at night? I wonder…
Tuesday, January 24, 2012
photo: Race to Nowhere
Last week, I finally saw an amazing film called Race to Nowhere at my son’s high school and I was so affected by it, I wanted to share these thoughts.
What is the Race to Nowhere?
First, have you heard about this film? It’s a powerful documentary that every parent should watch, but especially if you have teenagers in high school. It was made by a mother of three and—of all things—an ex-Wall Street lawyer named Vicki H. Abeles, who decided to expose the darker side of academic success. She believes that the road to college is a pressure cooker world that literally can cause our kids harm.
Ms. Abeles watched her own kids struggle with stress related headaches, anxieties and panic attacks has they pursued their achievement-driven lifestyle, one that included hours of school work, tutoring, and extracurricular activities. Over time, she became deeply troubled and began to re-consider her family’s options. Like a lot of other well intended parents, Abeles dreamed her children would to go to a top tier college. But she wondered, at what cost? She began to question the intensely competitive culture around her. And she began to ask important questions. Where was the healthy “down time” that all kids need in order to play, to express creativity, and to discover their passions?
And even more crucial was the effect on the quality family time that she so valued in her life? She believes that for today’s college-bound kids, these hours have been replaced by stress-filled homework time and endless carpooling to the next activity.
Her film, Race to Nowhere is her is her call to parents everywhere. To stop and question the academic world of our kids.
Race to Nowhere is gaining grass roots support from affluent communities across the nation. Because it’s filled with real people. There are kids that look and sound like our own kids. Sharing their heart-wrenching struggles to adapt inside an educational system that’s become a breeding ground for higher rates of depression, anxiety and stimulant use in young people. These kids are describing an academic world where cheating has become commonplace, and where educators worry that we’re creating a generation of mechanized thinkers who are more adept at memorizing than learning.
Something is not right…
In probably the most gut-wrenching moments of the film, there are photos flashed on the screen of an adolescent girl playing the piano and frolicking in the water on a sunny day. She is smiling at the camera. Meanwhile, the viewer listens while her mother speaks on film and painfully describes how her talented, straight “A” middle school daughter, committed suicide.
From this mother’s perspective, it all began with her daughter’s simple struggle with Math, She recalled that daughter was “torn up” over her bad grade. Later, her father became worried and sought answers from the school, but the parents were reassured that they were seeing typical teenage behavior, and now, three years after their daughter’s suicide, the mother openly wonders if there were signs that were missed.
It was a riveting film.
And I believe the lesson of this film is about relationships, the ones we have with our kids. The message is, that we must work hard to keep real and honest conversations happening with our kids. Because we might not be able to change the current educational system our kids operates in, but we can change our part of it. And this happens with the realization that our kids are growing and changing before our eyes, and the deepest way to express our love for them is to take their feelings seriously. To care about what they’re experiencing. And if by chance they’re confused and unsure, it’s our job to help them figure out who they are, and what they want.
Even if it’s not what we want to hear.
Here are two questions that might help you support your own teenager. The first one has to do with us. And our honest feelings.
1. Could you be part of the pressure? (For instance, “Are you unconsciously trying to fulfill some of your own unfinished dreams through your child’s life?”)
This is an important realization. And maybe tough to acknowledge. But the more you’re trying to get your own needs met through your child’s successes, the less chance you’ll have of honestly “seeing” who your child truly is; because our emotions get in the way.
The second question involves the emotional skills of your teenager. What they’ve learned in the home.
2. How does your family deal with negative, intense feelings in your home?
The pressure-filled college process is only one of many stressful life experiences that your child may face. And although no parent wants to hear that their child is hurting, you can’t be afraid to hear their worries or their fears. Ignoring these feelings does not make them go away; instead, their feelings will simply stay hidden, which can lead to other problems. . Remember that the biggest compliment your teenager can give you is to trust you enough to open up… and share their feelings. Be prepared to really listen.
This reminds me. Near the end of the film there was a teacher speaking into the camera and I was struck by his intensity.
To all those parents who are surprised to learn that your kid is struggling, he has harsh words.
“…why ( are you so surprised)?” he says. “Because you thought they were a good kid? No. They were only a good performer; you never took the time to know if they were a good kid…”
It’s a powerful message for parents. Don’t get be fooled by good ‘performer.’ You might be missing some real pain.
I would love to hear your thoughts about this topic.
Your voice is so important.
Friday, January 20, 2012
Hey, it’s a Friday. What do you expect?
It’s time for all you girlfriends to take a break. Laugh. And read something utterly frivolous.
Click here to read these 35 tips for feeling hotter after age 35!
Bye for now!!
Wednesday, January 18, 2012
How do I love me? Let me count the ways… As Valentine’s Day approaches I thought it would be a novel idea to think about ways to show ourselves a little love, don’t you think? After all, we’re always so busy taking care of everyone else, that it’s easy to put ourselves on hold. But what’s a sweet-little-something you can do for yourself? How about sprucing up one of your little personal spaces?
Recently I came across this sweet looking photo of a women’s vanity, which looks nothing like the spot where I put on my make-up. And it got me wondering …
Where is your favorite spot to put on your makeup?
Personally, I love this picture; it’s so light and airy and a tad funky with the empty frames hanging against the pale blue walls, only it made me realize that I really deserve a nicer makeup area, especially since my favorite place to put on my make-up happens to be at my office desk, right next to the window where all the gorgeous natural light comes shining though, and yes, right next to my computer screen.
My bathroom vanity? Not my spot.
Why should you decorate this personal space?
Well, it seems that average woman spends twenty minutes a day putting on her make-up, and while that doesn’t sound like a head-turning statistic, it does add up to a whooping 330 days of make-up time over a typical lifetime. (Yes, somebody actually spent time calculating this fact) And what’s the point? Well, that’s a lot of precious time to be stuck in a bland, uninspiring space, don’t you think?
By the way, if you’re interested to read more about this British poll, along with the Seven Make-up Practices Men Hate, you can click on this Beauty Spot link .
In the meantime, even if you’re not a fan of wearing a lot of make-up, and I’m not, it’s still nice to give yourself a peaceful, pretty setting to sit in while you apply your moisturizer and lipstick.
How about you? Where is your favorite spot to put on makeup? Are you lucky enough to have a beautiful vanity that’s pristine and organized? How about these marble counters? I think this is my favorite vanity area!
Do you prefer to stand while you put on your mascara?
…Or do you have a place to put your cup of java while you dig through your makeup kit?
Do you have a small mirror with a magnified side that works well for you?
Or do you sit in front of a large, elegant looking mirror?
Does your favorite spot resemble this fresh, country looking table in this Martha Stewart photo?
Or do you prefer a more sophisticated, high glamour area?
Are you one of those women who keeps all your jewelry organized and easily accessible, or do you find yourself always searching for that one misplaced earring, like me?
Do you use any interesting pieces like this vintage frame, to add personality to your make-up area? Here a gilt frame was laid flat and a piece of fabric (or paper) was inserted to make a unique vanity tray. For more organizing tips click here.
How about this idea? In this photo, a small table is used. Favorite photos have been slipped under the glass to add a little charm to the space, while a simple etched glass holds the makeup brushes.
In this photo pictures have been cut-out of a calendar and slipped under the glass to carry on the same decorating/color theme in the bedroom.
Do you like to have your beauty items displayed openly? You might consider the tiered approach.
This clear IKEA compartment box can help you organize your items inside your drawer. I need one of these!
Well, I hope you liked this lovely photos. And remember, if these spaces seem a tad unrealistic right now, how about starting with a good light, splurging on a nice mirror, and pulling up a comfy chair from another room? And pop this quote into a small frame:
“The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen.”
― Elisabeth Kübler-Ross
Always strive for inner beauty. Thank you for visiting me today…
Monday, January 16, 2012
photo by Jacques Lowe
One powerful truth I learned from my years working in the eating disorder field is there is no such thing as a perfect anything, and no matter how physically attractive a person is, or outwardly charming, glamorous, or happy they might appear to the world, there is always a deeper story quietly tucked behind the appearance of a “perfect” life.
This is the reason I was mesmerized by my latest book, Jack Kennedy, Elusive Hero.
Despite my admiration and fond impressions I had of this President, I had heard the stories of his flagrant womanizing; I had seen the grainy photo of him smiling with Frank Sinatra, and heard about the secret file J. Edgar Hoover kept, that exposed a more human side to this man. But after all, I’m a clinician at heart, and when I picked up this book, I was drawn to those pieces of his life that had been purposely tucked away from public view.
Only I didn’t expect to be surprised. But in author Chris Matthew’s narrative, there are rich anecdotal stories shared by those closest to Kennedy, that not only weave together a picture of a complex man who tended to compartmentalize his life, but I found one stunning truth that JFK managed to keep from the American public. Here it is.
John F Kennedy suffered his entire life with poor physical health
Sure, I had heard, only never realized the extent of his struggles; the daily pains that he coped with from the time he was a little boy, ailments that landed him in bed for weeks, sideswiped his college plans, his travels, his military physical, and weakened his body for months at a time. How serious was his struggle with his health? On three separate occasions Kennedy was so close to death that a Catholic priest was called in to perform last rites over his body. Think about this. Three death-bed experiences.
Why is this the one piece of his compelling life that I’m choosing to focus on? Well, first of all, it’s because I believed those physically robust images. Jack Kennedy (as Matthews fondly refers to him) became seared into our nation’s mind as the symbol of youthful vitality, masculinity and political power; he epitomized strong leadership during one of our nation’s the most frightening stand-offs with the Soviet Union, steering our nation from the brink of nuclear war. He is associated with wealth and power. As the son of a billionaire, Kennedy grew up with all the benefits that money could buy, only it couldn’t give him the one thing that most of us take for granted: a strong, healthy body.
The second reason I’m touched by this knowledge is because it confirms the comfortable truth about real life. The fact that you can never judge another’s life based on mere image. Deeper layers are always there, ready to present a fuller understanding of a person that outsiders can’t know.
The irony about JFK’s poor health, is that this “weakness” that he worked so hard to hide, actually sheds light on his inner strength and sheer guts, those parts of his personality that equalized his physical impairments, his charm, his sunny outlook, his natural curiosity, and his amazing intellect were all there in an extraordinary combination.
Here are a few fascinating facts about JFK’s health that you might not know.
- Contrary to the robust, athletic images of the Kennedy family, John Kennedy had a lonely childhood beset by chronic illness. He was a sickly kid, and as a young boy he was constantly bedridden, suffering from scarlet fever and persistent stomach problems that mystified specialists. After his death Jackie elaborated about the effect of this kind of aloneness. “History made him what he was, this lonely, sick boy in bed, so much of the time. All the time he was in bed he was reading history…Marlborough. He devoured the Knights of the Round Table...”
- Later Jackie Kennedy had harsh words for his mother, the devout Rose Kennedy, whom she described as an image-driven woman, one who relished the societal benefits of being the ambassador's wife but had less interest in the warmer sides of mothering. “His mother never really loved him,” Jackie said.
- Despite his scrawny weight, and persistent back problems, on the night of August 2, 1943, he towed an injured crew member four miles to an island, after their PT 109 boat was cut in half by a Japanese sub. Pappy McMahon, the rescued man with the badly burned arms, remembers Kennedy casually cutting his life jacket strap and pulling him in the Pacific waters for hours with this strap between his teeth, while McMahon looked at the sky and listened to Kennedy’s heavy breathing. At this moment, he didn’t know that Kennedy had been rejected by the army due to his poor health, and initially was turned down by the navy because of his bad back. Kennedy had stubbornly trained for five months to gain muscle and weight in order to pass his military physical. That night, McMahon and the other crew members followed Kennedy to an island, then watched him leave in search of help with a 38 pistol tied around his neck, and with a flashlight in a life jacket to keep it afloat. He later returned around noon, after hours in the ocean, looking “scrawny and exhausted with yellow skin and bloodshot eyes. He vomited and passed out.”
This is a photo of the real coconut that Kennedy carved with his pocket knife. The next day, Kennedy assembled his men on an eight foot plank and still dragging the injured McMahon, he lead them to another island where he passed this coconut to natives who then, passed it to Australian allies. After they were rescued, Kennedy had this coconut transformed into a paperweight which he kept on his desk.
- Although JKF was considered a physically handsome man, especially popular with female voters, when he was twenty-eight years old, one mayor, Mike Neville remembers thinking, “I couldn’t believe this skinny, pasty faced kid was a candidate for anything.”
- Throughout his political campaigning, his wartime exploits conveniently provided a cover for the chronic health problems that beset him. There were helpful rumors spread that blamed his sallow, unhealthy complexion and his frighteningly gaunt frame (140 pounds at one point) on the malaria that he had during the war. John Kennedy was finally diagnosed with Addison’s disease, a secret that Lyndon Johnson threatened to expose prior to be offered the Vice Presidency.
- Ironically, the steroids that John Kennedy took to manage his Addison’s disease had the benefit of filling out his thin face, so that when he was running for President against Richard Nixon, and struggling to manage this illness, “he never looked better.” (pg. 291)
- In the spring of 1954 Kennedy’s back pain became unbearable. His X-rays confirmed that the fifth lumbar vertebra had collapsed possibly as a result of years of steroid use. Although historian Robert Dallek reported that he could no longer bend over to put a sock on, and only managed to get up and down stairs by walking sideways, snapshots taken at this time show Jack, Jackie and Bobby Kennedy playing touch football in the park, and happily playing tennis.
Photos: courtesy of Caroline Kennedy; seldom seen image of JFK with corset
- After surgeries in 1954 and early 55’ he continued to suffer with back pain due to his loss of bone mass. In 1957 while traveling the country, he required hospitalization to remove an abscess from his back in the New York Hospital. His traveling companion on the political circuit during this time, Ted Sorenson, recalls all those rural drives and stops at small motels without proper mattress support “in retrospect, it is amazing that, in all those years, he never complained about his ailments.” (pg. 224)
- In one of his most life threatening back surgeries, Kennedy was warned that he might die on the table due to possible complications from his Addison’s disease. It didn’t go well and he later went into a coma. Evelyn Woods, his personal secretary was told that he was not expected to live through the night. News spread in the Senate, and Richard Nixon’s secret service man remembers hearing Nixon moan out loud, “That poor young man is going to die. Oh God, please don’t let him die.”
- While John Kennedy was recovering from back surgery he wrote, Profiles in Courage in conjunction with Ted Sorenson, his trusted advisor and speech writer. Those around him during this time remember him lying flat on his back with pen and paper above his face. He coordinated writing efforts over the phone with Sorenson, and later received a Pulitzer Prize for this book.
Whatever you may think of the man, he had incredible fortitude.
Did I tell you something you didn’t know? Do you believe that Kennedy’s weak health would pose a problem in our elections today? Do you think his leadership qualities would be questioned as a result of his health problems?
It’s an interesting question. I would love to hear your opinions. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or leave a comment.
And tell me what book you are reading. Bye for now!
photos: JKF Library unless otherwise noted; quotes from Elusive Hero.
Thursday, January 12, 2012
Are you in the mood for a dramatic change, something that won’t break your budget but will still give you that sudden jolt, that renewed feeling around your house?
What about a Black Door? According to Feng Shui theory, you should definitely consider a black door if your home is facing North. You can read more about this here.
Black doors look elegant and make a beautiful backdrop to those seasonal wreaths you have. I love the colors of this green boxwood against the black wood.
Do you already have a black front door? According to this quiz on blogthings, a black door personality is one that is elegant, fashionable, likes power, and can be hard to know. Does this sound like You?
Wow, how about these front doors? Look how fresh and clean this entry looks. Can someone please make my house look this tidy?
Now this is starting to look like Home. Someone left the door open, the flies are getting in, and there are random shoes left in odd places. But, I sure love those bohemian-looking colors behind the door.
photo: a well dressed home
If you’re still hesitant about taking the bold step with a black front door, you can always find a place inside your home to experiment. Painting inexpensive interior doors makes a strong impact. Very chic.
Photo: Cote de Texas
I especially love black when it’s paired with white.
Photo: ally kellar
Hey, what about the pantry door? (Now if only I had one)
Do you have any boring closet doors that need sprucing up? Only I’m not sure about that high gloss, what do you think?
Ok. Here’s my version, in my own humble abode. Only, I wish I could find my Before photo with the white French doors…but this is all I have…
…a quick shot after I painted them black, only with my home’s old golden wall color.
Final photo: My Entry Way (with my black doors)
My last step was to add some Beadboard in the entrance to establish more of a separate space, (yes, I have one of those open floor plans) and a coat of white paint so that my black doors would really pop. That’s it. And I have noticed a difference, besides the visual change.
I like the feeling I get when I sit in my office and look through these doors now, it actually adds a calming effect. Really.
What do you think? Have I convinced you about the allure and drama of the color black?
I hope I gave you some ideas….Have a wonderful day, friends, more later.
Tuesday, January 10, 2012
Tell me what you think.
According to a recent poll by FeelUnique.com, this should be one of most gorgeous, perfect-looking faces you’ve seen.
That’s because this face has been created by Photoshop, and is comprised of the facial features of female celebrities that are most admired by their 9,350 shoppers.
These are the results.
The best celebrity features chosen were:
Hair: Kate Middleton
Eyebrows: Megan Fox
Eyes: Cheryl Cole
Nose: Kate Beckinsale
Cheekbones: Keira Knightley
Lips: Angelina Jolie
Chin: Gwyneth Paltrow
Chest: Kelly Brook
Is it just me?
But something's missing from this picture.
A woman's beauty cannot be reduced to some mathematical formula comprised of a perfectly proportioned bone structure and individually hand-picked facial features.
That's why this picture looks so odd, it's a fantasy vision that's little more than a Frankensteinian Barbie Doll; like a blank stare, this image is devoid of those mysterious intangibles that make a woman in real life beautiful, that ‘special something’ that transforms an interesting looking face into an intriguing person.
Have you noticed this phenomena on the big movie screen?
It's curious the way a woman with all the classic features that make up a "beautiful face," will often appear flat and uninteresting on the big screen, quickly relegated in our minds to “just another pretty face,” while a woman with more unusual--even plainer features-- can light up a screen with that unforeseen “it” factor, that mysterious quality that showcases the emotional depth in her eyes and hints at the hidden dimensions of her person.
What is this “it” factor with its physically transformative powers?
The French call it the je ne sais quoi.
And it’s that intangible blend of something that transcends one’s physical looks; instead of perfection, we're charmed by a full-bodied laugh, a teasing, sideways glance with a toothy grin.
Or it could be the way one walks into a room of strangers or barrels through life with a relentless intellectual curiosity.
It might be kind heart or a quick mischievous wit or a bawdy sense of humor.
Any of these might add that sexy twinkle to a woman’s eyes that wasn’t there at first glance.
And yes, I pity the man who has not figured this out.
Imagine if Mr. Darcy had fallen for the most beautiful Barrett sister instead of Elizabeth, the feisty, judgmental, playful and immensely intelligent woman whom was overlooked by others, and eventually transformed before his eyes into “the handsomest woman” he knew.
The beauty of substance.
It's an idea that's illustrated nicely in one of my favorite scenes from When Harry Met Sally.
Harry Burns, the ultimate guy’s guy. A meat and potatoes man who likes his women “hot,” and staunchly claims that men and women can't be friends.
Only a funny thing happened when Harry finally declares his love to Sally; instead of focusing on her physical beauty, what he realizes is that it’s Sally’s sheer complexity that seals the deal, her quirky, endearing, --even exasperating-- flaws that he “sees” and loves.
Remember these lines?
“I love that you get cold when it's 71 degrees out.
I love that it takes you an hour and a half to order a sandwich.
I love that you get a little crinkle above your nose when you're looking at me like I'm nuts.
I love that after I spend the day with you, I can still smell your perfume on my clothes.
And I love that you are the last person I want to talk to before I go to sleep at night…”
Harry sounds a lot like a man who understands the mystique of a real woman’s beauty.