Tuesday, October 25, 2011

40 Lessons for a Fab Life

BREAKING NEWS: I just turned forty a couple of days ago.  Hopefully my students won't read this post; those who don't know my age and have no concept of age think I'm somewhere between my late twenties and mid-thirties.  If they find out I'm older than they thought, I might not be so cool to them.  Nahhh, I'll always be cool no matter how old I am.

I'd been thinking about turning forty since my 39th birthday.  Literally every day I thought about this particular milestone.  Poor 39th year.  It never had a chance.

About a month ago, I was seriously having a mid-life crisis.  I hope I live longer than eighty, but I can't think of any other concept that matches what I was feeling more than "mid-life crisis".  I called one of my friends and told her, "I feel like nothing I'm doing means anything."  She was like, "Are you serious?"  This is because she's cool, calm, collected, and doesn't put up with my dramatics.  Truthfully, she's great at listening to my angst-ridden reflections, but she's not quite the drama queen that I can sometimes be.  (Sometimes.)  I also met up with an old (not in age) friend who'd just turned forty earlier in the year and had this same conversation.  Both of them made it clear that the crisis does not last; with phrases like, "It is what it is", and "I don't give a flying kite about anything", they made it seem like forty is when worrying lessens, life gets a bit less serious and a bit more peaceful and enjoyable.

I figured, though, that some of the lessons I've learned over time should be documented for posterity.  You know, for those who want a road map or cheat sheet on their way to forty.

1. Stop spending time worrying about how you look, because in reality, everyone else is too busy worrying about how they look to pay that much attention to you.

2. If you like someone, just tell that person.  The worst that can happen is that they laugh in your face.  I laughed in someone's face when he said he liked me, and I ended up marrying him.  We got divorced a few years later (minor details).

3. Take your foot off the gas pedal when you want to slow down.  Don't put your foot on the brake.  You'll mess your car up that way.  I don't know how exactly, but I'm pretty sure I'm right.

4. Mistakes won't kill you.  They'll make you humble.

5. Strive for excellence, not perfection.  We just can't be perfect.  Plus, no one really likes perfect people.

6. Working out really does relieve stress.  Just don't spend a lot of money on a gym that's completely out of the way of any other place you go.  Makes no sense.  Take it from me.

7. When you go work out, don't take your phone with you.  Turn it off whenever you can.  At school, at church, at the gym.  These are places where you feed your mind, spirit, and body.  No one needs to interfere with that.

8. Put your general doctor's, gynecologist's, dentist's, eye doctor's, and mechanic's numbers in your phone.  And the number to one good pizza place, and one good restaurant that makes your favorite pasta dish.  You never know.

9. DO NOT, I repeat, DO NOT break up with someone when you're experiencing PMS.  You might possibly change your mind.

10. Go to sleep when you're tired.  Your mind doesn't work when it's tired.

11. Make sure your house and work place are stocked with some form of chocolate.

12. Wine.

13. No matter how much your mother or father piss you off, for whatever reason, don't stop talking to them.  They may regret how they've acted (or not acted) towards you, but you don't want to live with regret because you left things unsaid.

14. Floss.  Plaque can kill.

15. Demand an HIV test with documentation.  You think plaque kills?  Try AIDS.

16. Carry some kind of antibacterial thing for your hands.  People do not wash their hands after they use the bathroom.

17. Just in case you're one of those people, wash your hands after using the bathroom.

18. Put your hair up or wrap it if you're going to cook for others.  I don't care if your hair is clean, I don't want to eat it.

19. Walk on the right side.  Especially when you're walking up or down NYC subway stairs.

20. Half way there...Reward yourself with a glass of wine.

21. Indulge. It puts a smile on your face, and sometimes a nice memory.

22. Don't worry about hurting a guy's feelings.  It will remind him that he has them.

23. Get up right now.  Go to the mirror.  Say, "You are just too sexy", or some variation on that, while sticking your butt out with your hand on your hip.

24. Smile when you're putting blush on.

25. Go somewhere by yourself.  The movies, Starbucks, Disney World.  It will force you to spend time with yourself and appreciate who you are.

26. No lipstick when you're kissing a man.  They do not want that taste.  They want you.

27. You don't always have to match your clothes perfectly.

28. However, you should match your wine and food.  Cupcake Red Velvet Wine and a Chocolate Merlot cupcake match perfectly.

29. If you're bored, it's because you're not requiring enough of yourself.  Raise your expectations for yourself.

30. Expectations.  You can have them for yourself, not so much for others.

31. Do what you love, even if you can't do it for a living.  Even if it's writing a blog post about once a month.

32. Encourage others to do what they love.  They will love you for it.

33. Don't compete with anyone but yourself.

34. You're smarter than you think you are.

35. You're smarter than they might think you are.

36. Open your heart so that everyone can see just how beautiful you really are.

37. Open your (spiritual) eyes and ears so that you see and hear what God wants to show and tell you.

38. Stop being so angry.  It makes you ugly.

39. Work through your pain.  It will make you a better person, and you will love yourself more.

40. LOVE.  The noun and the verb.  Life will feel so much more real and you will feel connected to everything in this universe.

And an extra for good measure:

And stop to taste the wine.

Love, Trish

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Who You Callin' A B*tch?

Appropriate for female dogs.
Not for women.
This has been an interesting week in the world of Facebook. Every once in a while certain posts catch my attention, in both positive and negative ways. Sometimes, I find empowering posts by women for women, such as this one:

This photo contained a story about a sign posted at a gym with a picture of a thin woman. The caption read, "This summer, do you want to be a mermaid or a whale?" The post went on to tell the story about how wonderful whales are; they are surrounded by friends, sing beautifully, and are dearly loved, while mermaids do not exist. At the end of the post, the writer states: "We are not fat, we are greatly cultivated." I thought the french model pictured above was beautiful, and I loved the story, so I posted it to my Facebook wall. Since it received mostly positive feedback, I thought it was empowering to women. 

On the other hand, I saw some other posts that disturbed me. Now, some of these posts were by people I'm friends with on Facebook, so I've removed their names, because I'm not attempting to debate these particular people; I just question their posts.

This week, Apple icon Steve Jobs died. He was a positive person who followed his dream, and in the process he changed technology in ways that people truly appreciated. There were several Steve Jobs quotes circulating the social networks this week, and it was obvious that many people personally felt affected by this great loss to the field of technology. Take this person's post for example:
"Im not gonna name them out but some ppl are flat out fffing stupid!!! ..... so she says.... "I'm sad that I there won't be any new ipod versions...but at least I have the latest ipod."..... Really!!! WTF!!! SMH!!!.....Rest in peace and rest assured Steve Jobs...your legacy is rock solid and yes there will [be] newer versions of the Ipod...what a stupid bitch!!!"
Obviously, this person was deeply affected by the loss of Steve Jobs, and the post, I'm sure, was meant to portray his respect and admiration for the iconic figure. However, regardless whether he was upset at the loss or just woke up on the wrong side of the bed that morning, was it necessary to call the woman he refers to a "stupid bitch"? I mean, the woman who thought there would never be new versions of the Ipod obviously wasn't a brain surgeon, but I'm not quite sure what it was about her post that made her a bitch. I remember reading that and getting this feeling in the pit of my stomach that stayed with me for awhile. What made it worse is that a woman responded to the post with the always articulate, "LMAO!" (Yes, I'm being sarcastic. It doesn't take much to get me to laugh really hard; it takes a lot to get me to respond to anything with an "LMAO".)

Just a few hours ago, I got on Facebook and saw the following picture:

Underneath it, a woman commented twice:

"marilyn is so beautiful. i have her picture on a poster behing my bed, and others all over my alls." (SIC)

"that other bitch..... will never be on a poster..... and damn sure never in my room."
Let me be clear: I. HATE. DUCK. LIPS. I wish I could just tell every young woman out there that she looks absolutely ridiculous poking her lips out in such an unattractive manner. And honestly, does the young woman really think that expression, along with the peace sign, make her cool? I won't assume. But the commenter felt compelled to call her a "bitch". Why? Honestly, if you look at both photos, Marilyn may be sending a message to men that she's ready and willing to cater to their every need. The young woman on the right could be sending any message, but it looks like she doesn't care what anyone thinks about her, and as far as I'm concerned, that's a bit more empowering than Marilyn's "Give me your love package" look.

Here's the thing. Not all women are necessarily going to care about their image. Not all women are conscious about their words and actions. However, whatever our mode of expression might be, be it through our words, our body image, our facial expressions, or even our attitudes, there's no reason to call us bitches.

I'm strong, I'm confident, I'm bold, and I say what I think. Some people might think I'm a bitch. I disagree. Whatever I do and whatever I say, my intention is always to do and say it with love. If that makes you uncomfortable, then it's your problem. Calling me a bitch won't resolve your issues. All it does it demonstrate your lack of ability to appreciate me for all of who I am, especially if it doesn't conform to your perceptions of who a woman should be in this society.

Don't go around calling women bitches. Unless you're okay with men being called assholes. I'm sure when men stop to think about it, it's the last thing they'd want to be called.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

The Importance of the Verb

A verb is a part of speech that conveys action.  Verbs appear alongside nouns, and without verbs a sentence is not complete; it is just a fragment.  Without a complete statement, the person hearing or reading will, in most cases, be confused, and will misunderstand the idea being communicated.

"Action" can be defined as something that is done or performed, an act or a deed.  Actions are different from feelings in that actions are demonstrable, while feelings are a state of consciousness that can be subject to interpretation.  As a counselor, I listen to my clients and attempt to identify the emotions they are conveying.  Most people don't walk into a meeting with me ready to state that they feel insecure, depressed, sad, or rejected, as these emotions convey vulnerability, which most people won't admit to.  As a counselor, my job is to lead my client on a journey of self-awareness where he or she identifies emotions and the thoughts or events that led to those particular feelings, and then takes action so that he or she can move forward.  In other words, our conscious minds produce thoughts that lead to feelings, and those feelings lead to actions.

A verb is an action.  An action is clear, demonstrable, and connotes decisiveness.  An action, while still subject to interpretation, provides more clarity than a lack of action.

I've learned the difference between a noun and a verb; a feeling and an action.  I've been told "I love you" many times by several people.  Hearing the words "I love you" makes my heart swell and makes me feel alive.  Then, I want to take action.  I want to see the person.  I want to talk.  I want to spend time with the person.  Being around the person gives love (the feeling) the opportunity to be love (the action).  When love is demonstrated, it clears away confusion and brings clarity to the relationship.

I've learned that some people can easily say "I love you" as a feeling, but can't seem to translate that feeling into action.  I've learned that, even when I want to take action, others might have guards up that prevent them from moving forward in that love they claim to feel.  For me, love without action is incomplete. Just as a sentence without both a noun and a verb is a fragment, love (the feeling) without love (the action) becomes unclear, confusing, and easily misunderstood.

I've learned that when you give your heart to someone, you have to be ready to take action.  You also have to keep in mind that, if that person doesn't take action, his or her love for you is incomplete.  True love is demonstrated.

Love as a noun is a good start.  Love as a verb is what moves us forward.