Do You Really Not Have Enough Time In Your Day?

Where did you rush off to this morning? Did you spring out of bed, speed through your morning routine, run to the bus or train, then power walk to the office, wishing you could stop off at Starbucks for a Grande Pike or a Latte but no time? No time. Never enough time! Home, school/work, back home, sleep, rinse and repeat.

Oh, the notorious lines of practically every adult; “How I wish I had a few extra hours in the day!”

Is that all? Are you sure that’s all you need? Is that your wish? Let’s pause here for a minute. A whole minute. Please count to 60 (with a Mississippi in between) and then get back to the article.

Welcome back! I’m sure you believe that I’m going to provide you with some type of infinite wisdom on how to gain a few extra hours in the day. Oh how I wish I was that powerful. Plus I’m sure you’ve already read quite a few articles trying to do just that. They tell you to stop surfing on your phone, or stop watching those cute, funny cat videos. Or stop binging on Netflix. Maybe the suggestion was to minimize reading emails, or articles on Facebook, or texting all day long. Do all this and you’ll gain extra time. But extra time to do what? Travel? Yeah, you didn’t gain THAT much time. Do laundry? Is that what you really wanted the extra time for? Overtime at the office? You already did your time there so keep it moving.

Here’s the thing…. the exact things they are telling me to stop doing is exactly what I NEED time for.

  • I need to surf on my phone for additional research on article topics. I gain information and in the process I’m learning a few things. I may also need to do this research for products or concerns for my everyday needs or for the kids.
  • I find joy in those cute, funny cat or monkey or piglet clips. They make me happy. They warm my heart. They make me laugh. Especially if I’m watching it on The DoDo!!!
  • I’ve also been wanting to catch up on that Netflix/Hulu show that I find so artistically captivating or just downright juicy. And watching all the episodes at once makes it even more intriguing, especially at night, with a cozy blanket and a glass of wine.
  • Most of my emails are important and NEED to be addressed which is why I have it in the first place. I keep them organized for easier reference and I have four different emails for different needs.
  • Texting my family and friends is actually quite the most efficient way to stay in touch with them, keeping ourselves updated on each others lives, sharing photos and videos, helping uplift one another, while still completing other tasks.
  • As for reading articles on FB, well, this doesn’t apply to me… to a degree, because I’ll read articles elsewhere (NY Post, WordPress, FlipBoard) so in the end, same “time” difference.

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So, listen up women… HERE is my profound wisdom. Stop allowing others to convince you that you’re falling short. If your home isn’t in shambles, and you’re completing all your work in the office, and your kids are laughing as kids do, and your hair has seen shampoo at least once a week, and you are not wearing your undies inside out due to laundry issues, then you’re using your time just fine for what YOU want or need to use it for. You wanted to do more? Well, then you’re an awesomely ambitious individual and I trust that if that extra task or two is truly important to you, then you’ll squeeze it in somehow, or swap it out for another. If not, then you always have tomorrow, or the weekend. Or you’ll multi-task and fold the laundry, as you watch the last 2 episodes of This is Us, while texting your sister/friend/mother. Problem solved!

As for the 60 seconds I had you count in the beginning? I just wanted to see if you’d really do it. Let me know if you did.

— The Pretty Platform

If You’re on Welfare, Put the Blahniks Down!

This is not directed to any one person in particular, but as the saying goes “If the shoe fits”!

My intent is not to discuss the particulars of the welfare system, but things do need to change. The system needs to incorporate better procedures or at least invest a larger budget to hire more social workers to monitor those who really need it vs. those who can get off their asses and go make a paycheck like the rest of us.

My actual gripe though is with those that use the money they “NEED” and getting it from their state fund but instead using it toward things they don’t. Case in point, let’s call her “Lady T” … (This may or may not be an actual scenario. And I just randomly chose the letter T)

  1. Lady T is a single mother, has two lovely kids, and works a job at a medical office. No complaints here.
  2. Lady T doesn’t pay taxes on this full-time job since she’s “off the books”. I’m not going to judge since some situations that we ourselves may not have ever experienced may call for this desperate option to truly get by. Moving on.
  3. Lady T sends one of her kids to an out-of-state college and pays for a dorm as well as college fees based on her hidden income. I will catalog this as a probable “need” since paying for higher education is an investment and sacrifice for bettering our future generations. (although I do NOT agree with this type of fraud in its entirety since technically that’s what student loans are there for).
  4. Lady T has an amazing apartment. I’ll force myself to also catalog this as a probable “need” due to statistics bending toward raising your kids in better neighborhoods contribute to enhancing their outlook and future. (Deep breath. Losing patience since I myself grew up in a shitty neighborhood and made my way out, but I know I cannot expect the same from everyone. Again, moving on.)
  5. Lady T owns a current year brand new car, buys expensive brand name clothing and goes out to expensive high-end restaurants and clubs. NO! Just an unequivocal, straightforward NO! Logically NO! No if ands or buts about it. Always a NO!

I’m a mid 40’s woman, I’ve worked all my adult life (on the books), I’ve been married and divorced, laid off once, been unemployed, been a single mother while unemployed, been homeless while being a single mother, I’ve even taken care of an ailing mother. If I go further back, I will also admit that I am a child that was raised by a single mother living off of welfare. Not a glorious easy lifestyle to say the least. But one thing I can say about my mother… she didn’t have an amazing apartment. She didn’t have a brand new car. And she definitely never owned anything with a brand name label on it unless you consider Alexanders or Woolworth brand names (throwback to the 70’s and 80’s). 

I don’t have the time to analyze the specifics as to the “why” someone is making use of financial help. I am here though to protest the actual using of that help for useless items just because you desire it. Here’s the thing… that money is NOT yours. That money is NOT earned by you. That money is given to you to help you and your children, to better your future, your health and your opportunities… WITHIN your means. This money is NOT to help you go above and beyond your means.

After paying rent, the bills, the groceries, and education, whatever you have “left-over” should and needs to be saved. Why? Because one day you will have an emergency. One day, inevitably you will get old and because you have not accumulated work history and put zero toward your Social Security or any retirement plan, consider the portion you’re stupidly using for the expensive meals and outings as your retirement dollars. The “sacrifice” you are making by sending your kids to college, will be quickly outweighed by the burden you put back on them to have to pay for all of your old age expenses because you did not prepare. (Believe me, I’ve been there. I had to do that for my own mother.)

As clearly stated by the Official website of the City of New York, “Public assistance includes cash benefits and programs that prepare you for self-sufficiency.”

In turn, I looked up the definition of “economic” self-sufficiency: “self-sufficient living is the ability and practice of providing for all of your own needs and the needs of your household without outside aid or resources. It relies on a myriad of knowledge and skills, as well as a spirit of independence and motivation”.

The brand new car, the expensive clothing and outings are not necessary items for self-sufficiency. They aren’t necessary for your children’s path toward learning self-sufficiency. Going back to school just might help. Taking courses to help you increase your value can definitely be a tool. Finding a mentor within your current place of employment can direct you in a positive path, maybe. Researching information that will educate you on how to break out of your financial rut, big time. But putting forth the actual effort to tap in to the ever so needed spirit of independence and motivation is a huge factor. Increasing your knowledge and sharpening your skills a definite.

Stop wasting away your helpful resources. Stop using your financial help for things that have no true long time value. One day you’re going to look back, or down at your Manolo Blahnik’s or Christian Louboutin’s and wonder how they never helped you WALK AWAY from welfare. They’re not to blame. You are!

— The Pretty Platform

 

All Kids Need To Be Taught Adulting Skills in School

Oh the days of Home Economics and Woodshop! Do you recall these High School classes being sexist in their most elementary foundation, segregating young women to Home Ec and boys to Woodshop to fulfill their “innate” abilities? Young girls were led to believe that a good “marriage material” woman needed to learn how to cook, bake, sew and clean house. While young boys were trained to build, fix things and to handle tools because that’s what it meant to be “a real man”. This left yet another generation thinking that these tasks were isolated to each of those particular genders.

Fast forward and thankfully these biased based thoughts are a thing of the past….but, lets not get it twisted; those classes are STILL very necessary…. and THEN SOME! In this case, just because there was a problem with the past doesn’t mean you do away with the idea. It means you need to refine the idea, evolve it to better society as a singular component. Cooking, cleaning, fixing things and using tools are essential tasks for survival for ALL people. Two television networks today, HGTV and The Food Network are extremely successful for this very reason. People have wonderfully found the beauty in these human basics and turned it in to a sensational movement.

Sadly though, our schools no longer feel these are important lessons to teach our children. Granted, parents can take on these tasks and train their own kids. But then we can apply that thought to anything, can’t we! … why teach the alphabets in Pre-K when parents can do that job? Why teach kids addition and subtraction when parents know how to do so as well? We can all definitely teach our own kids about basic world history. But as parents, and many of us, as working parents, we’re entrusting our children to an establishment to teach INFORMATION that is believed to be important enough to help our kids become educated and useful adults. And food for thought, let’s not forget those kids, our future generation that don’t have adequate home education either, so there’s that.

What type of information should be provided by schools today to help kids be aware of what’s needed to be a useful member of society? Todays young folks’ are calling it ADULTING. Sure you laugh, or as in my husbands case, cringe…but I say that’s a perfect way to describe this class discipline. Adulting….”The PRACTICE of Being an Adult”. And what makes you, any of us, true adults? Is it age? 18? 21? Is it the completion of higher education? Associates? Bachelor or Masters? Maybe it’s a Doctorate? What if your sweet bundle of joy is in their 30’s with a hard-earned Masters but living at home with you in your basement, trying hard to make it out in the world independently? Have they “mastered” the whole adult thing? Of course NOT!

Look, I want my kids to learn Science, Global History, Literature (my fave class) and all Mathematics. I want Music, Art and Physical activities to be brought back in to all schools. But let’s get real, the following needs urgent and serious consideration as well….

1. Credit: How to build good credit. How to read and control your credit score. How to manage a credit card(s). Understanding Interest rates. Understanding credit points and rewards.
2. Taxes: How to read, understand and fill out your W2 form. How to best fill out your end of year taxes.
3. Banking: The importance of a bank account. Do you need a savings account?
4. Personal Finances: The importance of budgeting. Investing. Reading financial statements.
5. Home/car rental/leasing vs. ownership: Mortgage, Taxes, Down payments, Security deposits, Deeds, Leases, Registration. Maintenance realities of each.
6. Insurance: Medical, accidental, rental, home, and car. Why and How.
7. Employment: How to create a resume, How to job hunt, How to interview and What to expect in each.
8. Shopping: The perils of over spending. The benefits of price comparisons. Needs vs. Wants.
9. Aging/Retirement: Age related health problems, Early retirement planning, Work and benefit limitations.

Each of these categories have a wealth of additional information to cover. Add to this the bare essentials like cooking skills, laundry, the importance of a clean home, how to fix a sink leak or clogged toilet, how to change a car flat, and yearly medical and dental visits and you now have 15, 16 and 17 year olds at least KNOWING what to expect, KNOWING what to research more on, because by observation alone, I’ve noticed that kids just don’t know what they don’t know. Let’s help them get exposed early. Let’s emphaize these life skills as important as algebra, and give them a fighting chance to be competent adults living on their own. This way we all get our basements and spare rooms back!

Additional silver lining? Some of these kids can help educate their older generation family members who are still stuck on the gender biased mentality and end this ugly cycle of unintentional and burdensome members of society.

— The Pretty Platform

Sorry? NO MORE… Sorry!

“I’m sorry, but can I ask you a question?”
“I’m sorry, I just need to grab that.”
“I’m sorry, but can I see the menu?”
“I’m sorry, but I really didn’t like it.”

If I were to ask you if these statements came from a male or female, what would be your guess?

My guess is that you guessed female, and I’m sorry to break it to you, but you would be right. There we go again. Apologizing for things that need no apologizing for. We need to urgently let go of this unproductive habit. Those two words demonstrate that from the get go we are subconsciously believing that we are inconveniencing the world with our presence. That everyone else’s time has more value than ours. That our opinions and our voice merits no attention as a standalone action without an initial disclaimer. If you research studies on why women tend to over apologize for things you’ll find varying opinions on this, so I’m not here to explain the why portion. Especially because there is no solid, singular reason that would encompass all women. The fact remains that it happens, and it happens more with us women. So, in essence, each one of us needs to ask the questions and urgently analyze our inner selves for the answer.

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Do you feel that apologizing is a demonstration of being polite? Politeness is definitely something we need to teach children, but if you are a parent of both boys and girls, do you teach them politeness any differently? If you are a teacher, do you remind your students to be polite but teach that it should be displayed differently depending on their gender? The overwhelming answer here would be, and should be no. And hopefully your own parents or teachers didn’t either. Note that men aren’t any less polite than women just because they don’t start off with an apology. Remind yourself that YOU can be polite without the apology. Try it…. “Hi, can I ask you a question?”; “Excuse me for interrupting, but there’s someone on the phone for you and it’s urgent.”; “Thank you for the suggestion, but it really wasn’t to my liking.” Polite statements without apologies are actually more effective for both parties.

Do you feel you disclaim with an apology as a form of respect? Back in the days of Kings and in some cultures even today, kneeling before a person of power was a respectful show of reverence and submission. I’ll take a wild guess here and say that you would never kneel before your boss. I’ll also take a wild guess and say that most of the men in your professional surroundings are not showing a lack of respect for their higher-ups every time they address them without an apologetic intro. You can hold someone in high regard and appreciation and still get your point across sans the “I’m sorry” portion of the program. Try it“Mr. Robinson, can I have a few minutes of your time to share with you my findings after analyzing the monthly financial reports?”; “Your Honor, yes, you would be correct in that statement.”; “Unfortunately Sir, the meeting had to be rescheduled. Let me know what’s your next available time to meet.” Each are strong respectful statements without minimizing the speakers confidence. Which then takes us to….

Maybe you’re apologizing due to a lack of confidence? This would be definitely the strongest of contenders of why you find yourself apologizing for practically everything. Once, I found myself even apologizing to the dog. The dog! When you introduce your ideas, your opinions, your needs with an apology, you give off the feeling that you are unsure or undeserving of the other parties attention or consideration. You give away power where none should have been allotted. This one is gong to take more time to help shift in a different direction since lack of confidence or a low sense of esteem is most likely rooted to deeper issues. But no need to apologize for that! You can still work on this by noticing or catching yourself each time you happen to apologize to others for things that didn’t require one. By becoming hyper aware of this habit, you gain the opportunities to understand the individual situations and why it triggered you to apologize in the first place. You take the moment back with you and you get to analyze things on your own time. I promise you… It works! When I started to notice WHEN I was biting my nails, with time I was able to find ways to stop myself when those same type of moments surfaced, hence slowly I broke the habit. You’re training your subconscious to notice before you do.

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Don’t rush your progress, be patient, but definitely prioritize this. By eventually letting go of this habit, you gain back control, you become more positive, more influential, you start to build confidence in both yourself and in how others should treat you. You’ll start feeling like a true participant in life as opposed to a burden. You’ll start holding others accountable and not sacrificing yourself for the sake of everyone else’s comfort. You’ll become your very own success story, one that deserves a “THANK YOU” and not an “I’m sorry”.

— The Pretty Platform

 

 

You + More You = Happiness

I need (______) to be Happy! (Fill in the blank).

The United States Declaration of Independence , postulates Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness” as three examples of the “unalienable rights” given to all human beings by our “creator”, and which governments are in turn “created” to protect. My quotation marks alone can start many fiery conversations, but lets put aside my issues with the statement that these rights are given to us by A creator and lets focus on Happiness.

Such a pretty word. Such a strong word. And such an abstract word for sure. Abstract because this word will most likely embody many different things depending on the individual that speaks it, questions it or feels it. “Happy Birthday” songs, “Happy Holidays” salutations and “Happy Friday” consolations. Three simplistic usages for a far too complex word.

Right now, before you continue reading, set aside all your preconceived notions, society’s imposed expectations or what your parents conditioned you to believe….

What is HAPPINESS to you? Dig deep and question everything. What will make you happy? Truly happy! Have you ever experienced happiness? Or did you just believe you were happy? Do you have a list of things that must happen in order to claim happiness? If you do (hey, we all do), look on that list and ask yourself exactly why that particular item is needed for your happiness.

One item that seems to comes up in bountiful proportions is the need of a partner to be happy. Man, woman, gay or straight, everyone seems to be looking for someone. People expend much of their energy and financial resources in this pursuit, all for the sake of this supposed or imposed “happiness”. Sure, some may say “easy for you to dismiss as quotation mark trivial since you’re married with kids….twice”. I can without a shadow of a doubt tell you that it is exactly because of this that I can. Well, correction…. I’m not dismissing it as much as stating that thinking that your happiness will reveal itself because of a partner is as fantastical as my beloved obsession with all things Tinkerbell. It’s a sweet childhood idea, but nowhere near the real deal.

I have learned, through life’s trials and errors, through ups and downs, that happiness can only be found from within oneself, and no exterior being… be it a partner, children, friends, family, or even a “creator” can GIVE you your happiness or give you the formula for it. They can love you, shower you with attention, build you up, keep you company and make you laugh daily, and you will still be missing the main ingredient to find your happiness. We watch fallen celebrities and wonder “how could this happen to them, they had it all?” We watch insta-famous women posting up their pretty color coordinated family pics and then read their sad captions. We listen to that neighbor on the news expressing shock about the nice, religious well-rounded family next door that seemed happy before they snapped.

As I was writing this article, I come across a video circulating on FB (I’m sure it’s gone viral by now). I’m not a fangirl, but who can resist clicking on a Will Smith video? And there he was, in all his salt and pepper beautiful glory (okay, maybe a little fangirl) expressing out loud exactly what I was already writing up.

Words are powerful, and I’ll admit humbly that some celebrities have more of an impact expressing depth than others. Call me a literary martyr, but I’m willing to sacrifice my written words as long as it benefits the masses… for now at least. With that said, if you choose to not believe me when I, beyond doubt, state that happiness cannot and will not  come from a relationship, even a great one; then listen to the words of the Fresh Prince of Bel Air here.

Whether you’re hearing it from a famous multi-millionaire or reading it from a humble middle class woman like myself, it’s still and will always be sound and necessary advice… find out who YOU are, get to know yourself, your likes, your dislikes, what makes you tick, what makes your heart skip a beat, what calms you, what fires you up, what you look forward to, what you’re good at, what motivates you, what distracts you. Don’t bottle it up. Let it out. Being selfish is NOT selfish. Whether you trust Will Smith or someone like myself, whether you relate more to him or to someone like me is irrelevant (meaning; it doesn’t matter).

What does matter? YOU. Then you can bring the best of you, the happiest of you to everyone else.

— The Pretty Platform

 

Quit Bellyaching Over Peter Rabbit!

Yesterday, my husband who knows me well sent me a link to an intriguing article about some parents boycotting Peter Rabbit the movie on the premise that it encourages “allergy bullying”. In a nutshell, this was due to a scene depicting the annoying fictionalized  bunnies who slingshot some blackberries in to the mouth of the farmer, knowing very well that he was allergic to the berry. Then causing the farmer to go into anaphylactic reaction and collapse, but thankfully had an EpiPen with him to counter the effect. As a result of this boycott, Sony provided an apology to all the offended parents  for the insensitive material.

I’ll have to admit that it took me more than just a hot minute to ponder over this and come to terms with how I felt about the situation. I mean, I have 3 kids and as any loving parent would, I worry about bullying on a daily basis. Initially I would not have thought much about it, but then all this pondering opened up a floodgate of many other things I worry about and find quite concerning with this movie. Here’s the thing though… I’ve searched the web, and I’m not sure why other groups are not speaking up.

Why isn’t the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (aspca)  boycotting due to what clearly is a depiction of animal cruelty as the farmer is always trying to trap/kill these rabbits?  Why isn’t the US Hunger Relief Organization boycotting due to the disregard for crops, when there are so many starving children in this nation? Why aren’t the Feminist groups boycotting the movie on the premise that the main character has a strong masculine name, Peter and his male sidekicks name is Benjamin while the females have names like Flopsy, Mopsy and Cottontail, which denote weakness and appearance attribution? Why aren’t  Law Enforcement agencies  speaking up and issuing a warning on the movie due its glorification of gang-like behavior, as Peter Rabbit and his Gang shows outright disregard for the law as they consistently trespass the farmers property, STEAL his crops and even try to seek revenge?

I think I may be losing sleep worrying that these parents who are boycotting the movie solely on the bullying scene though are in effect helping society minimize all these other offenses that may mold and nurture our children toward a life of crime.

Between the gang, the stealing, and the bullying alone, I’d say this 1 hour and 40 minute movie is a recipe for disaster for all our children, undoing ALL the positive qualities we’ve been trying to instill in them since birth.

Are you sensing some interjected sarcasm? Maybe a little.

You see, sans the “allergy bullying” scene, I can say with confidence that prior to buying a ticket to this movie, I already knew that taking my kids to watch it would mean they’d be exposed to rabbit misfits, stealing, conniving, trespassing and battling with an adult. The fact is that we are provided with all that information in the long-winded trailers littering kid friendly television time slots, and hence probably why most kids jump at the chance to watch it. As parents, we too have seen the trailers, because, of course every responsible parent is fully aware of what their kids are exposed to on television. And every prepared parent logically researches the actual premise of a movie before exposing their innocent and vulnerable offspring to these larger than life influential images. And every intelligent parent knows well to never allow animation fool us in to believing that all is wholesome in the world of Hollywood. Take those cute anthropomorphic bunnies and replace them with actual human kids and BAM!, an off-limit flick. Or, forget human replacement. How about substituting these bunnies with cartoon characters the likes of the Simpson’s, and BAM!, still off-limits.

A piece of advice to parents that get offended by Hollywood’s portrayal of ANYTHING. Go big or go home. Don’t pick apart a movie just because YOUR kid suffers from allergies, then minimize or turn a blind eye to all the other probable worrisome faults of the same movie.  Food bullying? Sure, that’s definitely wrong. But then boycott the plethora of issues with the entire movie. If your expectation is that an entertainment corporation needs to be sensitive to YOUR plight, then make sure that you too are sensitive to everyone else’s plight. How else will you be able to teach your child to be inclusive? Or will your singular concern teach your child that only HIS issues are worth your time and voice?

Here are other pieces of advice. Research thoroughly the context of anything. Watch with clear eyes the trailers and information given on anything. Use those negative portrayals to teach our children valuable lessons. Let us also teach our children that the world cannot logically accommodate every one and every situation, but provide them with great tangible solutions on how to handle each. And last, let us all remember to put the responsibility on to ourselves as our kids main source of values and stop expecting Hollywood, or religion, or politicians or our neighborhood to do it for us.

At the end of the day, your kid will forget Peter Rabbit in a month and remember everything YOU taught them in all their years.

The Pretty Platform 

 

Dear Future Daughter In Laws – My Sons Know About Your Period

The following is an open letter to my future daughter-in-laws. If in the case my son or sons are gay, this will not apply since this letter is specifically regarding my sons knowledge of a woman’s period and all that comes with that knowledge. (I will gladly write another letter to my future sons in-laws).

 

To all my future Daughter-In-Laws,

As I sit here writing this letter, all three of my boys are still too young to even contemplate marriage. Two of them still recoil and “eww” at the idea of having a girlfriend. For those two, I am still the one and only woman in their lives. But just as with the oldest, and in the true nature of life, this will not last for much longer. And that’s definitely okay with me. I actually look forward to meeting you one day and getting to know the other half that will make my boys turn in to a gooey mush. I look forward to watching from afar those stolen moments of laughter, inside jokes, a touch of the hand, simple sweet gestures, and those moments you both light up as the other walks in to the room. I look forward to not only seeing how much you will make my sons happy, but how much my sons will make you happy. And this latter one is just as important to me as it is to your own parents.

It’s been quite the journey, but I pride myself in doing all I can to raise three respectable, authentic, loving, kind, hardworking men… not just for their own benefit, but mostly for the future you. I have made it a goal to show them clearly what it feels like to be a woman. What life is like when you are a woman, through my own experiences. I remind them that it is both a wonderful and hellish thing to wear the female crown. There are the ideal moments where we shine, and there are the unpleasant moments where we don’t. I continue to provide them with the tools they need to make those unpleasant moments that much less troublesome for you and their future daughters.

When you’re in a partnership, both parties influence the happiness of the other.

So with that, please have the below list handy for reference. I want you to know what they know. I want you to know that they have been guided on how to be a positive influence in your most difficult times. Do not ever let them lead you to believe otherwise. Their mom (that’s me) did right by them, by you, and by my future granddaughters. You can send me a thank you letter or take me out for sushi and wine. Either will suffice.

∗ Your Tampons/Pads:

  • He is fine with buying tampons/pads without an ounce of embarrassment.
  • He knows the difference between a light flow, a regular flow and a heavy flow.
  • He knows that the tampon/pad boxes are color coded for flow indication.
  • He knows very well that Pearl is better than Cardboard, and why.
  • He knows that pads have wings and will never joke about it.
  • He understands the urgency and will go out to the store at a moment’s notice if you run out of tampons/pads.
  • He knows that some women prefer pads over tampons and he will never have a say in either.
  • He will keep in his notes your favorite brand. Just let him know if this ever changes.

∗ Your Period:

  • He knows about the monthly calendar menstrual cycle.
  • He knows it can last anywhere between 3 and 7 days.
  • He knows that it can be messy.
  • He knows about overflow and about the probability of staining the sheets at night or your underwear and will never make you feel uncomfortable about either.
  • He knows that it is probably very painful for you. Let him know what usually works to help with your pain and he’ll take care of the rest.
  • He knows that it’s a natural process in life and knows never to bring it up unless you do.

∗ Your Mood:

  • He knows about the emotional and physical definition of PMS (not just the acronym)
  • He understands that each month you might feel different from the month prior. Some women are consistent and others are not.
  • He is aware that you’ll try on 3 outfits and each one will make you hate your body.
  • He knows that during this time the sound of your sweet children’s voices sound more like screeching nails on a chalkboard to you and will do everything in his power to keep them quiet.
  • He knows that you can feel old and ugly even when you’re young and beautiful and will never minimize nor maximize your feelings on either.
  • He understands that WHO you are during your cycle is ONLY a product of your hormones and not who you are normally, but will never point that out, knowing the dangers lurking if he does.
  • He knows that you won’t be smiling much during this time.
  • He knows that your sleeping patterns and your eating patterns will change throughout your cycle.
  • He knows that keeping your favorite snacks stocked can help you during this time.
  • He knows to watch that chick flick with you and let you cry without flinching.
  • He knows to be more affectionate without the expectation of sex, unless of course you want to.
  • He knows never to use the term “on the rag” and think you won’t come at him like a bat out of hell if he does.
  • And above all, he knows never, ever, under any circumstance to use your period against you. This would be detrimental to him and there would be no coming back from it. Safety is key.

With much love and understanding,
Your MIL and ally.

— The Pretty Platform

My DNA Reveal and Nina Simone!

When I began writing this post, the first thing that rammed itself straight away in to my mind was Nina Simone’s song “Feeling Good”. The lyrics related to the hook especially. For those of you that don’t know Nina Simone’s original “Feeling Good”, you may have heard Michael Buble’s rendition. Whether you favor one over the other is inconsequential. What is relevant, or fitting, is that every day, every moment, every decision lends itself to hearing Nina’s soulful voice in my head … “It’s a new dawn, It’s a new day, It’s a new life for me”.

My post prior to this one explained my decision to taking a DNA test. A simple process which once received, then catapulted me like a missile in to a universe of feelings that seemed to be fermenting in a galaxy within my soul. Yes, I know, poetically dramatic, but descriptively accurate. (Hey, my feelings, I get to paint the picture here).

A DNA test not only comes jam-packed with the discovered scientific details of your 23 chromosomes, it also opens up possibilities of either 1.”feeling good”, 2. the opposite of that, or 3. floating somewhere in between. But despite which of these three presents itself to be, hopefully Nina’s following verse can still hold true for any and all of us (hopefully) ….

Sleep in peace when day is done, that’s what I mean
And this old world is a new world
And a bold world, for me

But what better way to understand both me and Nina Simone than to join me here on a trip into MY “#3- floating somewhere in between” outcome!!!

— The Pretty Platform

Who’s My Daddy? – Ancestry DNA Test

For those that do in fact know me, know the stories. The twisted, shake your head, kind of stories. The kind, dare I say, make some people think of me as a stereotypical statistic. Here’s the short version: I’m a (supposed) Latina from the Bronx. Raised by a single mother. I thought I knew who my dad was (a Latino), given that his name was right there on my birth certificate, yet never to have met him growing up. To only find out at the age of 36, that my father was actually a family friend (of Polish decent). Obviously, NOT the name on my birth certificate. When I initially received that nugget of information, I was actually happy to have not had father A as my biological half, but rather father B since I had acquired actual memories with this person. I wasn’t fazed at all that in an instant I went from being Puerto Rican, to being only half that and half Polish.

As the years have passed, and the fact that my mother, my birth certificate father, my revealed Polish father, and my sister have also passed on, I’ve become more interested in all the now unanswered questions. Questions that only these 4 people would have been able to truly answer and of which I never took advantage of when I had the chance. At that time, it didn’t seem like a big deal to dig deeper other than to confirm the surfaced fact.

So, now here we are. My many questions and no answers. Enter an awesome (albeit emotional) commercial on Ancestry.com where a group of people of different ethnic backgrounds congregated in a gymnasium to participate in a DNA test. I felt an overwhelming, gripping feeling to do the same. I wanted to know, because I was left with a bunch of what if’s and no one to turn them in to something credible and concrete. Years passed and I did nothing but talk about it. Talk about how great it would be to see if Polish father B was even a possibility. What if I had been misguided on that as well? What if Puerto Rican Father A was it all along? And because I only provided you with the short version of my insane identity issues, there were a bunch of other questions as well.

Oh how I love Christmas and 2017 was no exception. My curious husband gifted me a DNA test from Ancestry. I was elated. Funny how this is what I’ve been wanting for so long and yet it sat on my desk for a week. I was actually nervous to start the process. What if it revealed more than what I was ready for? But I bit the bullet and filled up that little vile with my nasty spit and shipped it out.

The waiting game begins. And a couple of weeks later, I receive an email that stops me in my tracks. I slowly open it up and it’s an update from Ancestry to advise me they received my package and that the process has begun. I didn’t realize I had been holding my breath. I let out a sigh of relief. Confirming that I’m not emotionally ready to find out the facts.

Well, time is up!!!

Ancestry has sent me my results. Though, believe it or not, I have yet to open them up. It’s been sitting in my Gmail inbox for two days now, TWO DAYS… waiting for me to take in the details. And STILL waiting. How long am I willing to wait? Why am I so nervous?

— The Pretty Platform

My Sisters Eulogy… A Celebration of Her! Unconventional at its Finest!

Unconventional, non-traditional and just plain-old different. That’s what my sister was. And if gathering all together to remember her life at a sports bar isn’t testament to that, then I don’t know what is. There’s salsa music playing in the background. There’s an art station with a Forget-Me-Not painting for all to partake in. Poster board selfies and group pictures to help everyone go down memory lane. And no prayer cards here to hand out. Instead, you have a biography pamphlet the likes of a Playbill as your keepsake. Unconventional to say the least.

My relationship with Nitza was no different either.  Even before I came in to this world she had made me an aunt. My only sister was 19 years older than me and hence began our awkward trip into siblinghood. We encountered some of the stereotypical ordeals many siblings go through. She’d yell at me when I’d touch any of her belongings. As the older sibling, she always thought she knew better. She’d give me orders and I would ignore them. And she’d try to pin our mom against me, all to win an argument and reign proudly as the firstborn. My most “traumatic” sibling rivalry memory?… I was 13 years old and I was having a hideous, frizzy, looked like a boy hair day in the 80’s. My mom who was big on understanding the ordeals of vanity, to my relief agreed to keep me home from school that day. But instead of having my sister on my side, she reminded my mother that beauty is skin deep and that she should not encourage the importance of outward appearance. She tapped in to that motherly guilt. Nitza one, Elke zero. To my dismay, I was sent to school. 

For all you here that have siblings I’m sure you can relate. As a kid though, I was torn between needing that sisterly bond with this adult woman, and just viewing her as another parental figure. And she was equally as torn. But despite this, I carry with me the fondest of memories of my sister. She meticulously put my hair up in rollers for my 4th birthday. She took me on my first pony ride when I was 6. She gave me my first lessons in playing handball when I was 9. She’d take me with her roller skating to the rink when I was 11. She taught me the intricacies of tanning when I was 12. She took me to a Menudo concert when I was 13 (I guess to make up for the hideous hair day ordeal). She’d badger me with boy questions when I was in HS. She gave birth to my beautiful niece when I was 15 (yes, I took that as a personal gift to me). She gave me advice for my “first time” to drink some champagne to help me relax.  When she found out I got plastered and sadly couldn’t do anything that evening because the room was spinning so badly, she laughed at me, and told me “I said SOME champagne tonta, not the whole bottle!” then gave me a hug.

And with all the beautiful, funny memories also came the arguments, the difficult times and the sad moments in life as I seemingly caught up to her. We were now two adults and both moms, with still a 19-year age gap. We always butted heads. We never let the other win an argument. She complained a lot, and I rolled my eyes a lot. I’d stand my ground and she’d get frustrated. She over shared and I under shared. But again, despite all this push and pull, when I needed an ally I knew that Nitza would be ready and willing to fit that role. 

She longed to listen, and did. She longed to be the shoulder I needed to cry on, and was. She greeted me with open arms whenever I’d have a shift in life or beliefs. We were the epitome of two sisters always trying to fit a traditional role knowing there was nothing normal about either of us.

And that’s what I hold closest to me about my sister. She was different. She was a lot of woman, a lot of person. She would laugh and dance and sing; and use that very same moment to be emotional, deep and reflective. You never knew what Nitza you were going to get at any given moment. She didn’t have to fit in to any expectations except her own. She was loving and strong, she was sympathetic and bad-ass, she was independent and needing of others. She was both the ying and the yang, the black and the white, the ups and the downs. And for some people, THAT may have been too much,, SHE may have been too much, I get it. But to the women in my family, to my sister, that was and IS our normal.

My sister was and will forever be loved.  People may think that not seeing eye to eye, or arguing on mostly any topic can compromise one’s love. But not when true love is involved. I have true love for this woman. And it pains me that I won’t be able to argue with her again. I won’t be able to tell her “I told you so”…again. I won’t be able to remind her that it doesn’t matter that I’m the younger one. I will have to dig inward to feel her, to hear her and to smell her scent. I will miss my dear sis dearly. But what keeps me going is that I am forever bonded to her even in this new stage of our lives. Yes, our new stage, because that’s what keeps us unconventional folks going.

So, I want to leave you with this. I don’t want people to remember Nitza in her finest days, or just in her younger vibrant years because that would mean her life stopped way before it physically did. I want you to remember my sister even at her worst. Nitza suffered from depression since childhood, and yet she never allowed it to stop her. She loved being out and about. She loved nature and sports. She loved dancing. She loved life. In her last three years, she struggled until the end. She wasn’t ready to go. These last three years of struggle NEED to mean something. What would my sister want you to learn from her early deterioration? That you need to dream NOW, act Now, make it happen NOW. Do something you love. Spend time with those that you love. Try something new. Do something scary. And be kind to others and especially to yourself. And in that way, you make my sisters unconventional story part of your history and wonderfully, also part of your future.

See you in my dreams Sis!

 

— The Pretty Platform

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Just a Little Jealous of the Kids!

Alanis Morissette’s song “Ironic” comes to mind. I have an extra verse for her… Only child status without actually being an only child.

The story of my life given that my sister came 19 years before my appearance in to this world. My only sister, my only sibling lived outside of our home, already a parent to her own child by the time I was born. I surely couldn’t compete with her own offspring for attention. As a parent myself now, I know she couldn’t just drop being a mom to be a sister to a little girl. But that doesn’t mean I didn’t want her to. Oh, how I yearned for the relationship some of my friends had with their own siblings, fights and all. I wanted to have a doubled wardrobe. I wanted to sit crossed legged in the dark with her talking about boys. I wanted shared secrets, and a secret language. Well, as we all know, we can go ahead and dream our lives differently, but that doesn’t change a thing. So you grow up, you acclimate and you move on.

Fast forward to my 40’s. I am now a parent to three boys, three brothers, three different types of personalities and hence three different types of relationships. But when I look at my two youngest boys, which are closer in age, I find myself fascinated with their dynamic. You may even say borderline jealous. No, no, not in a dysfunctional, weird mom kind of way. And no, I don’t have “sibling issues”. What I do have is a keen eye for the little meaningful things, the details, and that’s due to my endearing flaw of observing everything and everyone. That includes primarily my kids.

My two youngest, 8 and 5, will love each other to annoyance. I am constantly yelling at them to shut it, to be nice, to give it back, to stop the name calling, to stop tattling, to stop blaming, and to not hit each other. Sounds dreadful? Not really, since more than that are the moments I catch them chatting about “kid” topics, having shared interests, playing Nerf tag or air hockey. The eight year old helping the 5-year-old get through a video game level. The 5-year-old reminding me he needs to give his brothers a goodnight kiss before going to bed. I watch the two of them laying together in bed laughing about nonsense. They build forts together. They even share the same neighborhood best friend, for now at least.

 

I pride myself in having instilled in them the importance for closeness, the need to be there for each other, to share themselves, to defend each other against the world and to be “brothers” in both flesh and spirit. So yes, when I encapsulate the beauty of these two boys, I am an itty-bitty, teeny-weeny, itsy-bitsy jealous. Deep down wishing I had this same type of relationship with my own sis. Imagining what it would have been like had we been close in age, growing up together, experiencing things within the same household, driving our poor mother crazy. I would guess it would be somewhat similar (female version of course).

Hey, if you’re a parent and you take stock of your kids beautiful life and have gotten just a little green, don’t be so hard on yourself, albeit of course lovingly, functionally and sanely. I certainly don’t feel bad about it. We are giving them more than what we had. We are providing them with opportunities we may not have had ourselves. We are teaching and guiding in a way more suitable to them. And isn’t that what every parent wants for their kids? More opportunities, more love, more laughter, more fun, more adventure and more growth? Absolutely!!!

I’ll leave you to the rest of your day, since now I’ve got to go investigate what that sound of breaking glass was. I’m sure those boys will blame each other. Ah!, brotherly love.

— The Pretty Platform

The Sound of Silence

We can all agree that radio, television, children, and gatherings are all producers of sound, both pleasant and unpleasant… of course depending on the receiver. Your favorite song. A funny sitcom. Laughter from your little ones. Great conversation with family and friends. All positive things for sure, and I thankfully find myself being a willing receiver to it all. But equally… well, actually if not more important to me is SILENCE. It’s in silence that I can “hear” my own voice. If we take out time to listen to other people’s rants on various topics…be it on the news, or a YouTube channel, or reading it in an article, then one should also take time out to hear (insert your name here) internal voice, thoughts and ideas. Surprisingly though, through my conversations with different types of people, I have learned that silence is a very scary thing for many. They cringe at the idea of having thoughts running out of their inner depths up to the surface of their minds, and hence they look to drown out the opportunity with outward, loud, consistent sounds.

I have no right to tell you that you need to change, because change is a personal decision taken when your current path no longer benefits your needs. But since you’re still reading this, let me tell you that silence CAN be and IS a beautiful sound. It’s a put your feet up and cuddle with a soft, plush blanket by candlelight kind of sound. It’s a watch the sunrise/sunset with your feet in the sand kind of sound. Its a soak in a warm bath when you’re cold kind of sound. Silence can help with relaxing the mind to then allow for an inner thought to be heard.

During that silence, alone with that thought….

  • You’ll be able to hear your thought and even be able to outline reasons for the thought.
  • You can mentally scratch out the thought as “done” after coming up with various solutions.
  • You can make plans, you can set goals, you can recollect memories, you can even have a conversation with yourself.
  • You can nurture your imagination and fantasize.
  • You can judge your thoughts or you can excuse them.
  • You can analyze where you went wrong, or relive what helped you succeed.
  • You can become that friend to yourself that always listens and uplifts.
  • You can give yourself the advice you’re always dishing out to others, and actually hear it.
  • You can swear as much as you’d like in thought without disrupting others. When my eight year old gets angry, he asks me if he can swear to himself in thought. I tell him that his thoughts are completely his and he can definitely swear through his anger. As long it doesn’t escape in sound to others. He’s happy and ultimately, I’m happy.

And there’s always time to be in thought. Driving is my favorite time to discuss things with myself. Especially when the kids are not in the car. But when they are, and I’ve given them enough time to express themselves, I require some silence for thinking. They find it interesting that I want to just think, but by osmosis it’s becoming part of their weekly routine. Hopefully they will enjoy it and benefit from it as they travel in to adulthood. My shower time is also mine to be in thought. I’ve read that some people’s best ideas have come to them when they are sitting peacefully on the commode.

I really encourage you to try it. I encourage you to turn off the radio and television. Take off the headphones. Sure, it might be scary to be alone with your thoughts, but so was your first date, and you got through that. You may discover an amazing friend within yourself. And don’t forget to be a friend right back. Happy 2018 everyone!!!

— The Pretty Platform

#MeToo – Women Need To Stand Together

TRIGGER WARNING This article contains information about sexual assault which may be triggering to survivors.

Donna Karen and Eddie Bernice Johnson have something in common. Well known? Sure. Women? Obviously. But as of late they have shown themselves to be enablers. Enablers to a behavior that goes against humanity and morality. To a behavior so despicable that it leaves some people speechless and most people lost and angry. And without as much as literally holding down the victim themselves, their words carve a path of perception and acceptance that is detrimental to society, to both men and women, to the young and old, to the rich and poor. Their thoughtless words bestow blame on to the victim of harassment and assault, and removes the culpability and responsibility off the delinquent. They somehow believe that if I wore a short skirt and showed some cleavage it’s an open invitation for someone not only to make a profane, rude and flippant comment about my attire, but that its open season for someone to place their dirty disrespectful hands on to my body.

Let’s humor these women but for a hot minute and ask them… what exactly is the type of clothing that would be considered an invitation for another person to have their way with me? How short or long should my skirt be? How high up should my neckline be? How tight or loose should my clothes be? Should I wear long sleeves only? Or short sleeves? 3/4 sleeves? Are tank tops okay? Can I expose my shoulders? Or is my collarbone just too erotic? Erotic knees? I know, erotic elbows? Should we all be embracing the same burkini that so many nations condemned last year?  Are we saying that if a man showed his chest hairs or wore pants fitted enough it outlined his package, would it be equally okay for me to make a mention of his blessed endowment, pat his package or pick at his hairs? Should there be a written dress code for women and not men? Who should be allowed to determine the details and parameters of such codes? And finally, as the cherry on top of this debatable dessert… with all this discussion about exposure, does the Muslim religion have it right with the hijab and burka and should we be taking our cues from them?

I invite Donna Karen the clothing designer and Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson to answer each one of these questions. I invite them to sit with me or with any harassment victim and discuss this with them. Maybe they need to sit with a woman who has been raped and discuss how they believe that this rape victim was at fault and what she could have done better to have avoided such an unforgivable act.

Okay, maybe it’s not just the clothing. Maybe they are saying that it’s our behavior or lack of “proper” behavior that invites these men to have free range to step in to our personal space. Let’s run with that…. should I be quiet and demure? Doesn’t that make me an easy target? Or should I be loud and assertive? Doesn’t that trigger the thought that I may need to be “controlled”? I like to have a drink or two, sometimes 3. Oh, okay, I should have only one drink then leave? At that point, all bars, restaurants, events would be deemed a sausage party after just the first hour. Would a man then become frustrated but still have the sense to go home themselves and call it a night? Or would they feel compelled to follow a woman home? Wait, you mean I should have only one drink but remain at the event where all the men get to drink to their heart’s content? At least the women will be sober enough to fight off these men, because they are never held accountable either way? Am I remotely close to the point these two women were trying to make?

I’m sure some will say… I’m being unreasonable and extremist in my questioning. That I should know how to balance it out and know what to avoid in order to protect myself from these everyday predators. That I can only change myself and not others. Well, that makes total sense, because no self-respecting, hardworking, well spoken, conservatively dressed, sober woman has EVER had a man harass her or assault her or rape her. Well, didn’t THAT. JUST. SOUND. STUPID!!!

Here’s my last question to Donna Karen and Eddie Bernice Johnson; If women are being held responsible for being assaulted, will you with the same standard hold children accountable for being molested? I’d like to hear your stance on that.

Let’s make this easy and clear for everyone to understand. My clothes do NOT allow you to say something sexual to me. My behavior does NOT allow you to make sexual advances at me. Do NOT touch me in a sexual manner if you’re not my boyfriend or husband. And if you are my date, boyfriend or husband, if I say “no, I’m not in the mood” or “stop”, then just stop. And if I’m tipsy or flat-out drunk, acting stupid or even passed out, all these STILL HOLD TRUE.

And shame on anyone, especially women that blame the victim and don’t hold predators in their entirety for their lewd, nasty, filthy, unacceptable behavior. If Donna Karen or Eddie Bernice Johnson have never experienced this type of behavior from the opposite sex, then I am happy and relieved for them. If they have unfortunately experienced this and blamed themselves, then they would highly benefit from some type of therapy or support group. Because they are not doing themselves or us any favors by hiding behind the blame. And more importantly, they are not helping society in holding the proper parties accountable. Only when a criminal or prospective criminal is held accountable, can we have a glimmer of hope that things will get better.

This designer and congresswoman are only two people. But that is two people too many, especially with their type of exposure, expressing these ideas. These ideas are dangerous. These ideas are toxic. Don’t be a part of this toxic mentality. Use your brain, use your heart, use your words for bettering the world.

— The Pretty Platform

 

 

 

 

 

Promote Kindness – A Mother’s Story!

Unfortunately there have been too many articles exposing the experience of women, of moms that have been encountering judgement and criticism from…. OTHER MOMS! This is truly disappointing given that we live in a time where we have more access to one another and hence having a wonderful opportunity to becoming part of a large support system no matter where in the world we are at. And yet, the opposite is happening. Moms are finding themselves more alone than ever. Moms are finding themselves more depressed than ever. They are hiding their true feelings for fear of further judgement even from those closest to them. So they go through life internalizing instead of finding the help and support that they need. Let’s promote kindness, let’s be each others listen ear and shoulder to cry on. Let’s allow others to vent and help them to exhale. I wanted to share with everyone here the story of a mother who has finally spoken out. She has broken her silence. Her situation may not be something you may understand or ever encountered in your own life. But that’s the point. Learn from each other. If you listen with an open mind and open heart, you might find out all the different obstacles out there confronting moms everywhere. She needs to connect with other moms out there that may be going through the same thing, but may be too scared because they too think they are the only one. I want you to welcome this new blogger with open arms. This has to be one of the most amazing, heart tugging stories I’ve heard about. Let her share her story with you. Reach out to her with the support you would want in return if you were in a needed situation.

Here’s to The Life Stand! Let’s all take a stand together.  

https://seacabeo.wixsite.com/thelifestand/single-post/2017/06/23/The-Non-Mom

— The Pretty Platform

The Fear Factor

I don’t get it! What’s the appeal in jumping out of a plane anyway? My husband, during our first year of marriage went skydiving. One of those cool sessions where they even videotape you for an astronomical price, but you’ll have the memory forever on tape. When we gathered around as a family to watch it as he sat next to us safely in our living room, we saw something very interesting from this courageous soul. When it was time for him to jump, “one, two, three”, he grabbed hold of the edge of the door opening, stopping the jump. “I’m sorry, I did it without thinking”, he told the tandem instructor. “Okay, let’s try again”…. “one, two, three”, and his arms automatically and quickly shot up and stopped his jump again. As we watched, we all laughed. He laughed as well. Maybe out of surprise or maybe a bit embarrassed. The tandem instructor assured him that this was a very natural response from first time jumpers. That all he needed was a bit of a nudge and this time to brace his arms across his body. “One, two, three”… and out in to nothing they went, for what he says was the most amazing experience ever.

Fear is an automatic human response to help protect us from danger or threat. Hey, stepping out in to the open expanse of air with nothing beneath you is definitely a cause for fear. But fear is present even in moments where the end of your life is not an outcome. Like standing in front of a crowd to present a speech. Or asking the love of your life to marry you. Maybe you need to admit to your family that you’re gay. Or that you want to change your college major. Fear….even without a direct threat to your life, can stop you from taking that “jump” or step forward. It can paralyze you in to secrecy, or keep you stuck in your current situation.

But just like the tandem instructor told my husband, all you may need is a little nudge as you prepare yourself before stepping out. He didn’t tell him that it’s silly to be scared. He didn’t tell him not to be afraid. He told him to brace himself and accept a little help.

So, what would you do if you weren’t afraid? What would you do if fear was not a factor? What would you change in your life? The reality is though, you can’t stop the fear from occurring. But, you can admit what it is that you want to do, what you want to change, where you want to go, or who you want to speak to. Then…. take THAT knowledge and let the “nudge”, or help and encouragement from others to push you to take that all important step as you prepare yourself physically and emotionally to do it.

Here is hopefully the NUDGE you need as you brace yourself for your step out in to the open expanse of your new life. Listen to the video as I share my experience, and please tell me about yours.

— The Pretty Platform

Shunning is Abusive! End of Conversation!

If you are a parent, most surely you have used the “Time Out” method to discipline your child for unacceptable behavior. A moment for the child to “reflect”, if that’s even possible for a child to do on what he or she did wrong. The child is set aside, as the world around them either at home or school continues on. After about 5 minutes, a parent will lovingly kneel down next to their child, look at them straight in the face and ask them if they “learned” their lesson, give them a hug and kiss as the child promises to never commit their “horrific” transaction again. All is good in their world. But research has proven that neglecting, ignoring or rejecting a child leaves them without the proper resources to cope with difficult times. If they receive little to no affection or attention from their inner circle, they become open to anyone outside ready to cause them harm. They also develop depression, stress, social anxieties and personality issues.

Have you ever asked why a prisoner experiences solitary confinement? He most likely acted against prison rules/standards/laws and the idea is to punish them by depriving him/her from normal human interaction for a few days, in hopes to rehabilitate the prisoners behavior.  Here’s where it’s very different from a loving time out though. Regardless of where in the world, prison officials have been guilty of isolating prisoners for months or even years at a time. After countless research, professionals have found that this type of segregation has contributed to increased mental health problems, including anxiety, panic, insomnia, paranoia, aggression, hallucinations and depression.

Interestingly, some religions similarly practice shunning as a “loving” method to discipline congregational members for either committing a biblical sin, not meeting an organizational standard, or even just questioning certain religious ideas. This practice of shunning is in essence solitary confinement for the sinner or wrong-doer from all family and friends, by persistently ignoring, avoiding or rejecting the one targeted. And as with the two examples prior, depriving a person from NORMAL human interaction, in this case from their loved ones, will in fact have a negative effect. In religion though, just as long as the one being shunned turns BACK to the organization, then all has been validated, without assessing the psychological and emotional damage already done.

Take a closer look to what you truly consider as loving disciplinary methods and research the facts. I hope my experience gives you the strength to say “no more”.

— The Pretty Platform

I was a Jehovah’s Witness – No Blood Transfusion My Ass

What would you do to save your child’s life? Anything? Everything? As parents, it is not only our job to protect our young, but love moves us to do so innately. Would you sacrifice your child like the biblical Abraham was willing to do? Would you sacrifice your son for strangers like the Christian god did for the masses? Are you willing to do that right now if asked to do so? Where do you draw the line in the name of religion?

Please listen to my testimony and let me know what you would have done.

Mourn Me and Move On

“My mother has been following me”.

If I leave that comment “as is”, it allows you to fabricate your own assumption as to it’s meaning. Is my mother a psycho sneaking about, hiding among the dark corners that parallel my life?  Is she shadowing my every move? Is she the quintessential hovering parent?

Keep in mind, the following detail is of utmost importance… my mother is NOT alive. It has been nine years as of last week that she passed on.

Since I don’t believe in ghosts nor spirits, you then deserve an explanation.

For nine years my mom, (although not in the physical and not in the spiritual either), has been hugely present in my life and in those that dearly loved her. When I find myself scolding my kids, her words spill effortlessly from my lips. When I took up drinking coffee after she passed, I “feel” her presence with the soothing aroma of every freshly made cup. My eight year old asked me the other day… “Mom, what’s that wonderful smell?” I told him “That wonderful smell is coffee, one of your Abuela Lola’s favorite things in the whole world”. When I push a glass away from the dangerous edge of a counter, or ask the kids to stop jumping on the couch, or when I make sure to make my bed every morning… she’s there.

When I see another gray hair, she’s there. When I splash on Jean Nate after a shower, she’s there. When I have a fried egg over white rice, she’s there. When I wake up the kids on a school morning with a song and when I sing “Pollito Chicken” to my 4-year-old every night, she’s there. When I remember to sit up straight, she’s there. And when someone asked me the other day why I was smiling, I told them “I do so because my mom taught me that your smile is your most important accessory”, she was there.

Those first two years without my mom were truly difficult. There wasn’t a thing that didn’t make me burst out in to tears. I had to make sure to bring my sunglasses with me everywhere I went, even wearing them indoors. I was extremely “homesick” for her every second. I was what you’d call a bumbling mess. The third and fourth year were a little better. Here’s the funny thing though, I now started to feel guilty that I wasn’t crying for her every minute. One of those damned if I did, damned if I didn’t moments in my life. Once I entered my mid 40’s and became more aware of my own mortality, I self reflected on the “circle of life” that would soon come to me and my own children.

Then it hit me…we can mourn and move onguilt free. I did so for my mom, and it’s what I desire for my own kids to do when I’m no longer physically around. I want them to “see and feel” me in the little things. I want them to recollect my silliness and my advice without feeling sad about it. I want them to hear a song that reminds them of me and feel compelled to dance, not cry. I want them to take in the aroma of a meal that I loved or made for them as children and relish in each bite. I want my stories passed on to my great-grandchildren with pride and not with sorrow.

This year on April 5th, the anniversary of her passing, I declared outwardly and promised everyone that the day would not be used to mourn my mother but to celebrate all the funny and memorable things that encompassed my mother’s past. I didn’t shed a tear. She would have been proud. That was her legacy. And all done with her most important accessory… A SMILE!

— The Pretty Platform

Angry Women Are NOT Feminists!

FEMINISM!

FUCK!

Unfortunately, this word has become scary to many folks today. And I don’t mean the word FUCK. Feminism is no longer a representation of the movement of days past. Although if you  look up the word in the dictionary, it will still claim to mean the advocacy of women’s rights on the basis of the equality of the sexes.

EQUALITY!

Yes, that seems to mean different things to different people, depends on who you ask. Back in the day, being equal meant to strive to improve the conditions, offers and opportunities of all women to the supposed heightened privilege of man. The education, career and financial stability allotted to men was a life goal for women worldwide.

But fast forward and something was lost along the way. I didn’t even notice when exactly it happened, but I know when I noticed. 2016 was when I realized that my claim to feminism was now clouded by some very angry women who didn’t seem to care too much about the education, career and financial opportunities presented to them. They protested, posted, kicked and screamed more about the need to bring men to their knees. To oppress the oppressor, to abuse the abuser, to play the players. They didn’t want the type of equality that would improve their lives and those around them. Nope. They wanted the opportunity to beat down, mistreat and exploit the opposite sex.

Here’s the thing…. THAT IS NOT EQUALITY!!! THAT IS NOT FEMINISM!!!

That is just plain stupid!!! That’s not progress! That’s taking turns!

Think about it…. do you really want to raise your son or daughter in a world where now the tables are turned INSTEAD of bettering BOTH genders? In essence these individuals are just looking to settle a score (reparations), seeking revenge, or just trying to get a little taste of what it’s like to be what they define to be a “man”.

I can almost hear you…. it wouldn’t be “PC” for me to judge those judgmental women. Fine! You want to nurture your anger? I’m sure you can come up with many good reasons to be so. I can come up with a few, being a woman myself. I’m not oblivious to your feelings. But claim anger! Not feminism. Claim bitterness! Not collaboration. Claim revenge! Not progress.

Step away from feminism because what you want is to be the EXACT thing you claim to be fighting against.  And  clearly, nothing good or positive will ever come from that!

— The Pretty Platform

 

“I Had Strings, But Now I’m Free” – Ultron

When was the last time you felt trapped? Were you feeling seized due to a situation beyond your control or was it self-inflicted? I invite you to pause here for just a moment to think about this thoroughly and honestly.

I’m trusting you recalled the moment and you clearly remember what it felt like.

Let me begin by stating that I’m deeply pained and sad for those of you still feeling cornered and I truly wish for you to gain back your control.  I celebrate those of you that have found freedom. May both parties be able to relate with what I have to share next.

For the better part of my years alive, my life wasn’t truly my life. My choices weren’t my choices. My accomplishments, my smiles, my happiness were all superficial. They were all the result of the choreographed strings attached to my person as a whole. I was a marionette. My outward actions delighted the spectators that made up my inner circle, but inside I was wooden. And like Pinocchio I longed to feel the essence of ME. But I was trapped because everyone else around me, essentially the people I loved, all found contentment and peace in what had been carved out as my ideal life. The life of a jehovah’s witness.

Sounds a bit dramatic, doesn’t it?

But it’s the truth. It’s my truth. It’s how I felt and I kept if from everyone else. They got to know the me that was expected. The me that was considered exemplary. The me that allowed my circle to remain my circle. These people were my family, my friends, my world. If I was ever honest about what I truly believed in or didn’t believe I’d lose everything and everyone. No one is ever ready for that. No one is ever ready for pure isolation. So I became the best version of what THEY needed to stay in my life.

With that comes some serious repercussions. There will naturally be adverse effects due to even the unintentional hypocrisy of this behavior. Whether the actions came from me or from those around me, the foundation of it was never laid upon honesty. No one can truly remain in that type of “relationship” and succeed long-term.

I recently gained control of my own life, my own choices and faced the fear of losing the one thing they will always keep hostage. So all those that claimed to be my friends and family that have remained within that organization are no longer allowed to speak to me and are no longer allowed to perceive me worthy of life or even consider me capable of human decency. Those that claimed to be my friends and my family agree to those conditions.

And with one giant leap, what I once thought to be scary is now a huge relief. I desperately cut the strings that pulled me along and finally found safety, honesty and peace in the life that I choose for myself. It’s not wooden or choreographed or anyone else’s. I finally found freedom.

(This is an intro to a series of “declaration” posts that will appear regularly on this topic as well as a book revealing the life of a child trapped in an organization chosen for them).  

— The Pretty Platform

 

 

My Name is NOT Mommy!

A weekend conversation between myself and my seven year old son. A conversation every parent should have with their child.

**********************************

Mom! Mama! Mommy! Mother! Ma!

ENOUGH!!!

Darling…my sweet little boy…I’m so sorry, I didn’t mean to yell. But all day you’ve been asking me for stuff. Stuff that YOU want. Stuff that YOU like. And I know that for most of it, you need my help to either get it or achieve it. You’re too young to cook, I made breakfast and lunch. You needed permission for a snack after breakfast AND lunch, I served you a reasonable portion. You wanted to watch that movie on cable,  I entered the password. You requested time to go play outside, I granted it. You reminded me about that book, I read you a chapter filled with the fun voice effects you enjoy so much. You asked me to come see that gross video of that dog licking the screen for the twentieth time, I conceded with a smile. But really? You want juice? It’s in the bottom draw. You can get it yourself. No more. Not…for the next…two…hours.

But, mama….

No… Do you remember what my name is?

Elke?

Yes, Elke. My name is Elke. And do you know why I ask?

No.

I ask because THAT is who I am. I am Elke. Not mommy, not mom. When I was a little girl, I didn’t dream of growing up to be “mommy”. That is what YOU call me out of respect. And it’s a job I do willingly because I love you. But it’s NOT who I am. Do you know WHO I am?

Elke?

Yes, and I love my name and I love who I am. But did you notice that all day today was about what YOU liked to do and what made YOU happy? And it makes me happy to make you happy. But it also makes me happy to make ME happy. Do you think it’s fair for me to be happy by doing the many things that make ME happy too?

Yes.

And what things do I love to do? I know you know.

Read and write? Draw and paint?

Yes, you are correct again. Those are all things I love to do. But I need time to do them. What happens to all the stuff I love to do if I’m spending all my time helping you do all the things you love to do?

You can’t do the things you love to do?

Bingo. And do you think that’s fair when there are many things you can do for yourself and there is no need to constantly interrupt me? Is that fair?

No.

Great! So what’s the lesson to be learned with this conversation?

You need time to be you. And I should go do some things by myself?

Oh boy, I knew I raised you right. I love you so very much. And if there is something really important you need from me, you can find me in the home office. You know I never ever lock the door.

I love you too, Mommy…Elke.

Ha! Ha! Very funny.

 

— The Pretty Platform (a.k.a. Elke…. a.k.a. Mom! Mama! Mommy! Mother! Ma!)

Submissive Wife, Submissive Life

Picture a beautiful Saturday afternoon. My two youngest boys, seven and four, are sitting quietly in the living room watching Teen Titans Go after inhaling their PB&J’s. I decide to use the moment to do some clean up in the front yard. Before stepping outside, I tell the seven-year old… “C…I’ll be in the front yard. Make sure you both stay right here, you’re the boss”. Then I tell the four-year old… “Sweetheart, listen to your brother…he’s the boss”. As I’m backing out the door, the next few minutes flash before my eyes in a matter of two seconds. I’ve set this up to fail even before it begins. Maybe it was the grin and twinkle in his eye combination from the seven-year old, or the concerned look on the four-year old’s face. Maybe both, but I step back in, tell them to put on their sandals and come help me outside. What was I thinking?

My boys are equally young and inexperienced, although the seven-year old may beg to differ, but what does he know. As parents and experienced adults, with the sole responsibility of providing safety to those we love, we know that giving someone authority over someone else when it’s not theirs to have can only end in disaster.

We live in a world where power and position is pursued by many whether it’s in politics, religions, businesses or the household. Despite the amount of political news updates and memes filling our social media feeds lately about a probable misogynistic president, I agree… makes for great conversation, but my gripe today is in the household forum via religion. It’s the notion that a woman, once she enters the highly anticipated and joyful role of wife she must also agree to become submissive to her husband. Not too sure what the definition of submissive is? Allow this to soak in please….

Submissive:

  • Showing a willingness to be controlled by other people. (Cambridge dictionary).
  • Willing to give in to others (Merriam Webster dictionary).
  • Willing to do what other people tell you to do without arguing (Macmillan dictionary).
  • Ready to conform to the authority or will of others; meekly obedient or passive. (Oxford dictionary).

A beautiful quality or a need for concern? If you side with beautiful quality, then tell me…would you tell your son or daughter to be submissive at school? At daycare? How about at the neighbor’s house when they are on a play date? In the school yard? I know, maybe display it in college? How about at their first job? Should they do so when they begin dating? When they get engaged? I’m sure your reply would be an unrelenting and firm “Absolutely NOT”.  And why not? Clearly, in short it would be that showing this quality of “weakness” leaves your loved one open for danger. Yes, you too believe that it’s a weakness when applied in all of these aforementioned scenarios. Why then do we allow religion to masquerade submissiveness as a necessary quality for harmony in marriage? Why teach our children this is needed to accomplish a unifying partnership? And who exactly is directed to be submissive?

  • Colossians 3:18 –  Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as it is fit in the Lord.
  • Ephesians 5:22-24 – Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord.  For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything.
  • 1 Corinthians 14:34 – Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law.
  • 1 Timothy 2:11 – A woman should learn in silence with full submission.

This concerns me a huge deal, and honestly, it should concern every man and woman out there as well. We are fully aware of the disparity in treatment between men and women, based either on faith or cultural tradition. We complain and judge how others treat women as objects, slaves or nuisances. I’m not here to create a revolution. Women have been fighting for their rights for years now. But therein lies the problem…women should not HAVE to fight for what is rightfully theirs. So do we want to continue to cultivate generations of humans that will give fruit to this mentality and behavior? Do you want your son to expect his future wife to obey him in everything and control all that she does? Do you want your daughter to marry a man who expects her to obey him and give herself willingly to be under his control?

Two examples.

  • Here are the basic vows used by Jehovah’s Witnesses. Note that only the bride is asked to DEEPLY RESPECT.

Unless local law requires something else, these vows that honor God are used. For the groom: “I [name of groom] take you [name of bride] to be my wedded wife, to love and to cherish in accordance with the divine law as set forth in the Holy Scriptures for Christian husbands, for as long as we both shall live together on earth according to God’s marital arrangement.” For the bride: “I [name of bride] take you [name of groom] to be my wedded husband, to love and to cherish and deeply respect, in accordance with the divine law as set forth in the Holy Scriptures for Christian wives, for as long as we both shall live together on earth according to God’s marital arrangement.”

  • The second are these basic vows from the Islamic faith. The bride is to be OBEDIENT.

However, some Muslim brides and grooms do choose to also exchange vows. Here is a common (quite traditional) recitation:

Bride: “I, ______, offer you myself in marriage and in accordance with the instructions of the Holy Koran and the Holy Prophet, peace and blessing be upon him. I pledge, in honesty and with sincerity, to be for you an obedient and faithful wife.”

Groom: “I pledge, in honesty and sincerity, to be for you a faithful and helpful husband.”

Back to the moral of my initial story… give someone this authority over someone else when it’s not theirs to logically have, is to have disregard for the safety of your loved one. Teach your daughter that it’s a godly quality to be in subjection to a man as opposed to an equal partner leaves her as a wide-open target. Teach your son that he has godly backing to be the head and authority over his wife is to nurture a possible fire that should never be ignited in the first place.

Give your reasons as you may, but equality is the only way to a harmonious partnership. History along with present day events have proven time and time again that the hierarchy of man over woman does NOT work, nor should it have to. We are human, nothing more, nothing less. I don’t care if your god tells you that your penis proves otherwise.

— The Pretty Platform

 

“D” for Divorce – Scarlet Letter No More!

  • If at first you don’t succeed, try, try, try again.
  • If life gives you lemons, make lemonade.
  • It’s never too late.
  • Pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and start all over again.
  • Never give in and never give up.

Just a few uplifting quotes that totally did NOT help me when I was going through a divorce. Yes, that’s right…I’m a DIVORCEE. Did you just frown when reading that? Smirked? Felt bad for me? Well…don’t!

There was a time when I wanted you to feel bad for me, to show me some empathy, to side with me and not with him. I wanted the world to understand how I tried so diligently to keep us together but failed. How I wasn’t the one at fault. That I was wronged, and I was forced to become a victim. I wanted everyone to “see” within my four walls as well as into the confines of my mind and heart to understand ME, even if just for a moment. In hopes you would nod after listening to my vent session and say, “Ah! I totally understand, I would leave too”.

I was confident that getting a divorce was the best decision. Nothing and no one could make me sway or doubt myself. But there was a progression of sorts, an unfolding of events I first needed to go through to get to this point.

This wasn’t a spontaneous idea or a notion that maybe being single was better suited to my nature. There were conversations I fought to have, I analyzed everything, I questioned all sides, I put myself last and thought about the effects this would have on others, I allowed everyone who had an opinion to tell me what they thought was best. But eventually I had to take a look deeper inside the one person that kept quiet for so many years, that stayed on the sidelines as everyone else played the game of life and she was a mere spectator. And when she got the chance to play, she did so only by following the game plans created by others. I finally tapped her on the shoulder, handed her a megaphone and gave her a voice. She spoke, deliberated, exposed  all things and cried. I listened….and to this day, I stand by my decision.

What transpired after that though was truly unexpected. I was branded, a SCARLET LETTER of sorts, a big tainted “D” for divorce. Those that scorned validated their disdain on the basis of their own opinions.

  • “God hates a divorce” (So much for receiving understanding from a god of “love”)
  • “You broke up a marriage” (No, HE did that when he did what he did)
  • “I’m sure it could have been worked out” (Tried that)
  • “You didn’t trust that god would help you fix things” (I trusted that a loving god would have intervened BEFORE he did what he did)
  • “Your son is now from a divided household” (This one tears my heart to this day)

I dealt with this for years. And this came from people in my life that I trusted. People that I thought would understand me and support me. Most people showed no interest for the WHY of my divorce. They never asked. They were so blinded by this big ugly red “D”. I stopped becoming a person. I became a statistic. They looked at me and saw a DIVORCEE, a SINGLE MOM, a woman with NO HUSBAND, a FAILED MARRIAGE.

Don’t be mistaken though, I celebrated; and my bestie was there to celebrate with me when that piece of paper was finally stamped, sealed and delivered. It was now official. As time passed I learned that if I could get through years in a misguided marriage, then I could most certainly deal with the snub looks and whispers behind my back. If my divorce made people uncomfortable then I made sure to make it easier for all of us…no need to have you in my life. If I learned to move away from a bad marriage, then I learned to move away from bad friendships. My divorce was not about to become a nasty four letter word for myself nor for my son.

Here’s the upbeat part of the story… Along with time came clarity. It became clear that being divorced was not an impediment to feeling accomplished or complete. Along with clarity came freedom. Freedom from the past, the mistakes and the anger. And with that freedom came comfort. Comfort to be myself. Comfort with this new me. Deliverance from any guilt. And this new me was good. Correction…this new me was GREAT. Divorce was no longer a burden nor did it equate failure. Divorce was my teacher and my wings. Because of it, I was now able to fly. And I haven’t stopped flying since, and my son has been flying right by my side.

And that scarlet letter? Scarlet being synonymous with Jezebel, like her I have thrown it out the window and allowed the stray dogs to absorb every bit of it. It becomes someone else’s meal. One that I will never partake it.

Let us keep in mind Jim Morrison’s words…”Each generation wants new symbols, new people, new names. They want to divorce themselves from their predecessors”.

— The Pretty Platform

 

 

Do You Remember Picture Day?

Picture Day!!!

Do you remember that day as a kid or only now as a parent? What is it about this day that gets a person all out of sorts.

I remember the days leading up to picture day as a kid in elementary school. Picking out the right outfit while trying to convince my mother that my opinion on the ideal outfit was better than her opinion on what I should wear for that day. My hair was always another issue. Growing up with a ‘beautician’ had both its benefits and drawbacks. The drawback? She thought she knew best when it came to styling MY hair. Any other day I’d give in to her whims, but this was MY day, MY picture, MY moment to shine. And then there was practicing the smile in the mirror. Teeth or no teeth. Serious and mysterious, or happy and lively.

The day was here and you would walk in to class that morning hoping your choices held up to those of your classmates. Lisa wore a dress too. Good, I wasn’t the only one. Thelma wore dangling earrings, I wish my mom allowed me to wear those. Is Trisha wearing a bit of makeup? Never in a thousand years would that fly in my home.

Now you find yourself in front of the photographer on a cold metal stool propped in from of a humdrum backdrop. A stranger that questions his career choice every time he has to deal with over 100 kids in one morning. A stranger that doesn’t care if you blinked. A stranger that doesn’t care if your collar wasn’t straight, or if you had a hair out-of-place. “Sit up straight, face the lens and smile”. A bright light, you blink and it’s over. “Next!”

Let us not forget the class picture. Row positioning was of great importance. You created an entire outfit around this moment in hopes that it could be displayed front and center. Tall kids second row, the rest of us shuffled between sitting in the front row or having to stand on a bench behind everyone else. Front row, third seat in. Score!

And just like that, the day is over.

Your stress now enters the next phase…WAITING. The weeks go by. Then one day, after everyone has settled in to their seat, the teacher asks you to come up and grab your long-awaited envelope as she calls your name for attendance. A little portion of my spirit dies in that moment. We are given about 30 minutes to mingle and show our classmates our picture. For some it’s a moment to “show-off”. I do not fall in to that category. I hesitantly open my envelope, I glance in and let out a sigh of relief. I’m happy with it. My hair, my outfit, even my smile holds up to my expectations. We all laugh, admire one another and even comfort others.

Fast forward about 35 years. Today was my son’s picture day. Last night I filled out the form highlighting MY choice of backdrop. Blue. I picked out his outfit, nothing dressy and nothing stuffy. A nice tailored grey t-shirt, long pants. He’s been wearing shorts to school so far since technically it’s still summer. This morning, I present him with the chosen outfit and have to go in to some diatribe about the long pants. We compromised with a pair of shorts in his backpack if he wants to change afterwards. He holds still while I gel up his hair just the way HE likes it. And then we take literally 30 seconds to practice his smile and he stresses out about his two missing front teeth. He’s relieved when I tell him that’ll be the best part of this picture.

I have now entered the next phase as a parent….WAITING…. but this time I’m not stressed. Because no matter what, I know I’m going to just love having my son’s 2nd grade school picture. I just hope he showed off his missing front teeth and his one dimple.

I love picture day!

— The Pretty Platform

 

 

Don’t Oppress the Oppressed

I don’t know what I don’t know” and “there are things that I know that I don’t know” take much humility to admit. Don’t worry, my claim of humility is not a self-righteous declaration but a true personal daily effort. It’s not easy to admit you don’t know something for fear of looking uneducated on a particular subject. But admitting it opens the door to true insight. True insight to the facts, to other perspectives, to cause and effect. Opening yourself up to knowledge though comes with first, admitting ignorance, and then displaying interest via inquiry. And in my book, that means asking a boatload of questions. So when I heard that France had banned the burkini…well, that set the Wheel of Questions in motion.

What was the burkini? Where did it come from? Who and why was it created? Why did an entire country ban an article of clothing? Was there a greater purpose for this ban? Who was being affected? Would the ban bring on positive change, and if so, for whom? Or would it bring on negative change?  Did top officials take the time to ask these questions and if they did, who exactly did they ask? Were experts consulted to determine all possible outcomes? Did they ask the party that would feel the ban the most? Did they care to? Do society’s personal fears create blinders to the reality of the oppressed one’s daily life? Do the majority’s fears carry more weight than the minority’s freedom? Have you already picked a side? Do you personally know what’s best for these women? Is this truly providing a platform to empower women or just another way to victimize the “victim”?  Most people reading this have probably already developed an opinion on the burkini, burka, hijab, naqib, al-amira, shayla, khimar, and chador without truly having the inner knowledge of each or the experience of walking in the users shoes.

Honestly and humbly, prior to this ban, I had never ventured to know more about the women in question. I never judged harshly, but what I did do was sympathize in silent ignorance, which in itself can create a biased understanding and give forth a discrimination toward the very same people you’re wishing better upon. Unfortunately, my daily routine between work and home has not equipped me with the opportunity to meet a woman who possesses this cultural or religious lifestyle as to receive personal one on one information.  So, in an attempt to now gain some insight, I read articles written by women from both sides of the argument. Not the politicians side. The woman! The women!

I surmised that after “listening” to countless different perspectives, I’d find myself ready to make an absolute decision on where my loyalties would lie. Instead, I was now understanding bits and pieces of each argument and trying to apply them to what I knew was the bigger picture.

Here’s where I take issue with France’s edict… politicians are dictating what Muslim women shouldn’t wear on the grounds of teaching them that no one should dictate what they should wear.  Ban the burkini, fine the few women donning the modified wet-suit, embarrass them publicly and perhaps this will compel the women to stand against the Muslim law and choose for themselves what to wear.

burkini-vs-wetsuit

Oppress the oppressed! Religious freedom by ways of governmental constriction! A perfect example of constriction is the old-fashioned waist-cinching tool, the corset. Used by women since the 1500’s to acquire a desired appearance without understanding the extent of underlying damage to the user. Ironically, the corset was introduced to France by the wife of Kink Henry II himself. Even more ironically, Queen Catherine Medici, who held some influence in the political life in France, enforced a BAN of thick waists at court attendance during the 1550’s, making the corset a required necessity of law. Similarly today, French politicians seem to have shot from the hip, missing the target entirely. They enforce a secular appearance, losing sight of the damage they are causing the women they claim to protect. Just as the corset in the 1500’s compressed women’s lungs, crushed organs and fractured ribs, this century’s ban piles on an additional pressure that can leave women with less breathing room, possibly crushing their spirit and risk fracturing any possible progress they may have made to date.

Absurdity at it’s finest. Ethically wrong and morally questionable.

corset

There is in fact another side of the coin though…and I readily admit that I can understand the need to pass a law to protect the people from attire that allows citizens to conceal their identity. How comfortable would you feel at a bank when suddenly a gentleman or two strolled in with their faces completely covered? You would instantly think bank heist and most likely make your way out the front door. If a person cannot be identified (see Niqab/Burka below), it increases the risk of the wrong people taking advantage of that freedom to commit acts they would normally think twice about if people could clearly see their face. And this should not change just because the person behind the concealed garment is believed to be a woman. Yes, women commit crimes as well.

hijab-niqab-burka

But the burkini clearly does not fall under this category of safety issues based on concealment of identity, just as a wet-suit for a surfer or diver does not risk the safety of others. Don’t argue this… a wet suit IS just a tight burkini. Many divers and beach surfers use a head covering to keep their hair out of their faces…hence leaving only their faces, hands and feet exposed. Using the burkini as an excuse to deal with religious oppression and terrorist issues is on par with Trump’s idea that a wall between Mexico and the U.S. will solve our illegal immigration issues. Stupid ideas with no real solution to the bigger problems. Politicians dealing with a small can of worms because they are too afraid to open up Pandora’s box.

Someone once told me that opinions don’t mean anything if facts are involved. Although I can concede to that for most any argument, We The People better start opening the forum for suggestions, because the politicians seem to need our help. Let’s then start from the beginning. Politicians don’t know what they don’t know. But they need to start admitting that there are things they don’t know. And just like the rest of us, it may have behooved them for the sake of us all to have researched the issues, ask the right questions, get to know the people from all sides, and brainstorm a little longer for true solutions.

Go ahead and make it your priority to end terrorism, religious oppression as well as gender inequality, but go to the top, to the originator, to those in power. Pick on someone your own size and stop oppressing the already oppressed.

— The Pretty Platform

Back To School – You’ve Been Warned

In the spirit of back to school season, I wanted to quickly send out my sympathy and empathy to all the Moms and Dads out there worldwide that will be receiving the torturous, tedious, and distressing task of… HOMEWORK. (cue the dramatic sound effect). 

This comes in the guise of little Timmy’s homework (insert your child’s name here), quietly nestled in his take-home folder which Timmy so excitedly chose himself during your back-to-school shopping outing together. But don’t be fooled!!! This is actually a long-established custom, proven to test each household adult claiming responsibility over little Timmy (note that I don’t have any kids named Timmy).

It innocently begins with all the handouts that ONLY the parents or guardians are to fill out and sign that first week of school.

  • They are assessing our sense of urgency by how quickly we send them back with Timmy.
  • They are sizing us up by how accurately and detailed we fill out each emergency contact section.
  • They are scrutinizing the short cuts we may take by abbreviating or writing in “same” for each parent or siblings address we need to list out.
  • My husband lovingly describes me as a conspiracy theorist, but I’m sure they have Graphologists on site to analyze our handwriting patterns to psychologically identify us and evaluate our possible personality characteristics.

Continue reading “Back To School – You’ve Been Warned”

No More Pets Please

I commence the following diatribe as a way to reach out to the many out there that may be feeling the same way, but are too afraid to speak up, too afraid to admit this out loud, too afraid of being judged. We live in a society that claims freedom of speech. The beauty of speaking up and being honest, but in doing so, the masses gather to bully in retaliation to the point of harassment. I will take one for the team. Life has callused me. I’m ready to hear what you have to say, but only after you hear what I have to say first.

Picture this… It’s the summer of 2006 and Big O suggests that we visit a quaint little place called Puppy Boutique. At the time we were NYC dwellers of a substantially sized 2 bedroom, 14 foot high ceiling downtown apartment with gorgeous views of Battery Park City. He must have been stealthily planning this for a while now because this store was not located in the vicinity. Needless to say, it wasn’t even in the city at all, but in Brooklyn. When did we ever travel in to Brooklyn? I cave and approximately 30 minutes later we find ourselves surrounded by the tiniest, mushiest, fuzziest, yappiest puppies ever. What did I just get myself in to? Nothing good is going to come from this. My gut was yelling at me, “GET OUT, GET OUT, IT’S A TRAP!!!” But it was too late. It is noteworthy to mention that we had never spoken about buying a dog prior to this moment. As I was coddling every puppy my hands could possibly handle, I hear his voice from behind me; “THIS IS THE ONE”. I turn to look, and my eyes feasted upon a site that melted my heart. He was right. The tiny golden chihuahua barely visible in his arms was THE ONE. I should have named her Neo but she became our beloved Lola.

Fast forward quickly out of the posie-filled garden storybook sweetness of it all, we enter many sleepless nights and exhausted mornings of whiny whimpering howling puppy woes. There’s pee on our bed, pee on our hardwood floors, she’d miss the wee-wee pads completely as if they weren’t even in sight. Poop! Oh the poop everywhere! On our floor, on the dog, and one evening even on the walls of our bathroom. That day haunts us still. How can a small dog create such a mess? How high did this tiny dog jump when we weren’t looking? And the hair was everywhere. We were unaware, uneducated to the fact that Chihuahuas shed their fur, all day, every day. It just kept coming. By now the dog should have been bald, but they seem to have a never-ending instant-grow gene that keeps them warm and US pissed off. But we loved her and we trotted with her everywhere. We dressed her, socialized her, entered her in to competitions, and bejeweled her in the trendiest bling NY could offer. We were her crazy humans.

Then the unexpected happens… I find myself one year later standing again in the middle of Puppy Boutique surrounded by more cuteness than I can handle. How did I get here? Did he hypnotize me? Deja vu! I’m sure we did NOT talk about this. Lola was still not fully trained. What made us think being here was a good idea? Bad idea maybe, but there SHE was down on the ground trying to stay warm cuddled among the other puppies. If the group of puppies moved, she moved with them in a backwards motion just to find her ass meet with a warm body. Each time she did this it sent me in to an empathetic whirlwind. Always cold myself I felt a warm tug to my heart. Her beautiful white fur, her floppy ears and her big paws were all wrong for her breed, but I fell in love. Her eyes sent cupid-like arrows straight to my heart. I was hooked. We scooped her up and off we went with yet ANOTHER chihuahua. What! The! Fuck! Did we forget these dogs shed? Now we multiplied this issue along with all the other nuisances that come with a pet. Along with the hair, came more pee, more poop, more whining, more food, and this dog could bark. Not a yappy, yippie little-dog bark, but her larynx was hijacked by the spirit of a Rottweiler, I was sure of it. But Ginger was home to stay.

Two dogs, three kids, one house and a move to NJ later we eventually lose Lola during one of the most difficult evenings of our lives. As we struggle to keep her comfortable, after about 5 straight seizure episodes, Lola’s heart stopped and so did ours. This tiny dog didn’t take up more than one foot of physical space and yet left a huge emotional gap in our home. It took a lot of time for all of us to readjust to our everyday lives, especially Ginger. It’s been almost 4 years now since that sad rainy night. Ginger will be turning 10 this upcoming January, and yet she remains to be the baby of the house. We all love her and can’t imagine our home without her, despite the insane amount of hair everywhere.

One day we will also lose Ginger. We will mourn her and feel empty. We will miss her bark and her floppy ears and her out of control playful spins on the bed when she gets excited. We will miss cuddling with her. We will miss her dark, dreamy, hypnotic eyes.

And here IT is…

I will not miss the hair all over the furniture, the floor and on my clothes no matter how much I sweep, mop or vacuum. I will not miss the money we spend on wee-wee pads because she refuses to ever do her business outdoors. I will not miss having to prep her hard food with soft food of only one kind because she’s a picky eater, or the money we spend on that as well. I will not miss randomly finding vomit on the floor because she has the most sensitive stomach I’ve ever seen a dog to have. I will not miss not being able to stay anywhere we want when traveling due to the limitations of having a dog (We refuse to leave her at a kennel since she gets depressed if left with anyone else). I will not miss the pee nor the poop. I’m sure you realize by now how much I hate poop. I will not miss the added responsibility. I will miss my Ginger, but I will NOT miss having a pet.

When the time comes, I’ll be ready to have the extra cash, the extra time, and more worry-free moments. I do not want to immerse myself again in nurturing yet another living being, especially one that cannot express back its needs or concerns. At the rate Ginger is going it’ll be almost 2 decades caring for a pet. I don’t want to partake in it after this. When I initially expressed my feelings to Big O and the kids, it was not kindly received. I was the cold, mean mommy. They tried spinning the pro’s of all other types of pets…Lizards, Chinchillas, Sugar-gliders, even a Hedgehog. I will not budge. I’m tired. I’m really tired. It’ll be MY time. Just as is the case when our kids grow up and leave the nest, it’ll be MY time. I will not be looking to have any more babies in my 50’s, nor will I want any more pets of ANY nature. I want to write. I want to paint. I want to come and go as I please. I want everyone to care for themselves. No more trips to Puppy Boutique (Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me for not beating your ass the first time). No trips to the shelter. Very limited amounts of time watching puppy or kitty videos on YouTube. It’s cold turkey after this. I know there is a life after pets, and I’ll be damned if anything is going to stop me from finding out what exactly that feels like.

— The Pretty Platform

Learn A Thing Or Two From The Tourist

If you’re a New Yorker like myself, or really any city dweller will do, you’ll notice that your friendly neighborhood tourists all have something in common. Other than cladding themselves in the usual fanny pack, sun visor and DSLR camera, they seem to have a propensity to come to a full stop and..well, LOOK UP. They look up. They are always looking up. Regardless of the usual annoyance, eye roll, or sidewalk rage this causes to the speedy pedestrian, it will certainly never deter or discourage any tourist to feast their eyes upon the glory that is our high-rises. They tune out the hustle and bustle surrounding them all but for a chance to take it all in. Rubbernecking along every street and avenue admiring these impressive pillars of brick and mortar.

But what happens when your every Monday through Friday is congested with concrete and scaffolding? When you have every architectural detail already burnt in to your memory? Sadly, many of us stop looking up after the acclimation and admiration period has come and gone. I’m 45 years old, traveling in to the city on a daily basis since I was 18, and well, you do the math (in case you hate receiving random math challenges like myself, that’s 27 years).

In our busy, focused lives we forget the spectacle that may be hovering just above us. My husband is an architect and he has passionately pointed out how most people will never feel the need to admire the beauty of a ceiling when sitting at a restaurant. Many modern-day designers even forgo the importance of this forgotten “wall”; a lost opportunity to express creative beauty. What if the Romans neglected this blank space for additional expression? The Sistine Chapel or The Pantheon would not be the completed masterpieces as we know them to be.

For the past six years I have lived in the suburbs of central New Jersey and still traveling in and out of NYC. I don’t think it’s possible to completely wean yourself from city behavior when you are there for most part of the day, the week, the month, oh boy, for most part of the year.

But when I stepped off the bus on Friday ready for the weekend, on my schlep to the car I was greeted with the most amazing view ever. Although I have trekked this same path for six years, Friday’s sky was hard to miss. And just like that! I became a tourist in my own town. I came to a full stop and….. I LOOKED UP! Up and out across the wide open space. There was poetry and art in the sky. The layers and layers of clouds climbing over each other for front row presentation to its viewer below. The sun they were trying to conceal beamed light so intense it created depth and alternating shadows between them. There were details and curves and movement. The sky was powerful and yet cottony soft. It declared an upcoming storm, and yet whispered beautiful nothings to me.

I was compelled to share the moment. After I peeled my eyes from the canvas above, I texted my son.

“When you step off that bus…make sure to look up at the sky and see how beautiful the clouds look. See how artistically fascinating they can be. Notice the details, how the light behind them is creating depth and layers. Yeah, that’s it. I looked up and I don’t want you to miss out.”

I then picked up the two younger boys and before they jumped in to the car I made them stop. I pointed up and asked them as many questions about the sky that evening that would force them to see as much of what I was seeing and hopefully feel a bit of what I was feeling.

I wish I had texted you too. I didn’t take a picture because the phone lens would not have done it any justice. Wish I had that DSLR though. Just remember to stop and always look up. You’ll thank me later.

— The Pretty Platform

 

 

 

At 58 Madonna Is Still My Material Girl

Have you ever experienced a moment that slapped you straight in to reality? A moment of self-awareness so sudden that you didn’t realize you had even stopped breathing? A jaw-dropping run-of-the-mill fact that sent you in to momentary denial? I’m sure you have quite the story to tell and I would love to hear all about it over some coffee someday.

But mine was at 6:30 this morning and I’m still feeling the effects. I was in the car driving the hubby and myself to the bus stop. Of course I was driving. When am I NOT driving? Either way, I had the radio tuned in to the Z-Morning Zoo show with Elvis Duran and the gang. Love them. And then IT happened. They read off their routine daily celebrity birthday list. Who cares, right? And I normally wouldn’t care. No big deal. We all have one of those.

But today, TODAY, this year… Madonna turned 58. 58! Fifty-eight!!! My reaction? If you didn’t already guess, I hope I’ve captured the essence of the moment here… First, an instantaneous gasp. Next, with my mouth still open I furrow my brows in disbelief. Then I let out the following… “What? What?! No way! Noooo! She can’t be 58. No! She’s 58? No! Ughhh! Damn it honey! (As I look at the hubby and I hit the steering wheel and laugh. He’s also laughing. I continue, as I’m somewhat pouting in the process) My goodness (as I shake my head side to side and my shoulders drop and my posture slumps), she’s f’ing 58! You know what this means Hun? (as I resume a high pitch) Do you?! I’m going to be 58 soon. Yeah, it’s coming and it’s coming quick. That’s going to be me. Arghhhh!!! It just got real here. Damn it!”.

A comical moment for sure. And even more comical for the spectator of this mini morning breakdown. Here’s the thing…she was my Virgin and Material Girl. She nudged me to Express Yourself. I’d daydream of being someone’s Lucky Star. I pictured myself on La Isla Bonita. My heartstrings tugged for Papa Don’t Preach. I crossed the Borderline. Felt like everyday was a Holiday. I’d fall to my knees and bellow out Like A Prayer and practiced in front of a mirror how to Vogue.

For 30 years her music made me dance like no one was watching. For 30 years her continuous transformations proved that we can always change in to better versions of our prior selves. She was never afraid to say what was on her mind. She fought for what she believed in and she took risks to reach her goals. And during all this time, she seemed to embrace a youthful spirit despite the years darting by.

But this number, 58, was just a reminder that I have to get moving. I have to hustle to enjoy and experience all that I could. That I have goals I still want to reach. I will not waste my time on other people’s drama or expectations of what I should be. That I can’t waste time thinking there is always enough time. Because time rushes by, and my 45 today will be my 58 tomorrow. I will continue to be strong, fearless and fight for what I want until then. I will continue to enjoy even the little things.  I will both laugh and cry with unparalleled emotion. I will enjoy life, people and what this earth has to offer. I will live, sing and dance like no one AND everyone is watching, shouldn’t matter.

And I will always remember that “Poor is the man (or woman) whose pleasures depend on the permission of another” — Justify My Love.

— The Pretty Platform

It’s Getting Loud Up Here In My Head!


My thoughts are like unplanned and uninvited guests.  They usually pop in when I’m on my own during a relaxing drive. For some people it’s a stroll through the park as they contemplate the sights and sounds of nature. For others it may be a long soak in the tub as the lit wick of a candle dances in the dimness of the room. Sure, those seem to be an open door policy as well, but given that I find myself driving everyday to and fro from the daycare, during that daily hour it can get very busy and noisy up in my head. Personally, I dread the To-Do list thoughts like home repairs or shopping for back to school supplies. I prefer to shove those out and jot them down on paper to keep them from pacing around in my head. Then there are the thoughts that if allowed to put its feet up and stay awhile can be quite enlightening. On Friday, during my usual drive, a humorous and somewhat questionable bit of advice handed to me way back in my 20’s opened the door and walked right in. It caused not only a chuckle to escape, but it seemed to be an open call to many other pieces of advice I’ve received in my lifetime. From the profound to the useless. People will gratuitously provide us with information that we can consider either genius or just plain stupid, having acquired it from either tradition or experience. Many have stayed with me throughout the years. Some I’ll keep alive, while others I’ll make sure to keep buried forever.

Here are some I’m willing to share with the world. Some may be equally helpful to you as they were for me, while others just provide simple entertainment. Please share some of your lifetime favorites at the end of this post. My door is always open to good, weird, funny but effective advice.

From my Mother…

 

  1. At the young age of 20, I was about to be married and I was a virgin. The night before my wedding, my mother who had never spoken to me about sex which means I never received “The Talk”, had now offered up the following…. (original advice was given in Spanish) … “Make sure to have either tissues, wet wipes or a hand towel on your nightstand since having sex can get messy and you may be too tired to go wash up”. She told me to trust her. Yuck! Was this my “Talk”? Unfortunately I had nowhere to hide.
  2. “A sincere smile is the best beauty tool you’ll ever own”.
  3. “Don’t accept anything anyone tells you as truth. Always ask for proof”. I wish I had taken this bit of advice early on in my life.
  4. “Let go of the negative stuff and hold on tight to the positive”.
  5. “Don’t wash your hair everyday. It’ll dry it out”.
  6. “Sit up straight”.
  7. “Beware of men that feel a need to sell themselves like a used car salesman. Beware of men that remind you how great they are or how lucky you are to be with them. Let their actions speak for their true nature”.

 

From my Aunt…

 

  1. “Never lend out money to family or friends without a written and signed contract”.
  2. “Never invest in a brand new car. A used car does the job just fine”.
  3. “Forget the rainy day. Save, save, save, for when the storm comes”.
  4. “Hire a lawyer to settle your ownership of your house”. This one proved to be my saving grace.
  5. “Don’t judge others if you want to be accepted as you are”.
  6. “Take care of yourself first so you can then take care of others”.

 

From my Boss…

 

  1. “If you want something done immediately make sure to NEVER use the term ASAP”.
  2. “Go home. You can finish this tomorrow”.

 

From my Husband…

 

  1. “Who cares what others think. Be yourself. To the hell with everyone else”.
  2. “Find what you love to do and do it”. This replayed in my head a million times, then this blog was born.
  3. “Stop cleaning and relax”. Yeah right!
  4. To an article I asked him to critique before I posted it up… “It’s good, but not great”. This always pushes me to strive for great.
  5. “These shoes would look great on you”. I bought the shoes.
  6. “Never stop learning”.

 

From an ex-boyfriend…

 

  1. “Let him speak first. Wait your turn without interruption. Then you can go in for the kill with all information in hand”. His advice to me when I had to go to a child custody court hearing.

 

From a total stranger…

 

  1.  “I can tell by looking at you that you are NOT completely Puerto Rican. Go research your ancestry”. I’ll be doing a DNA test soon for my ancestry percentages, but this stranger was right after I did some digging. I’ll share the results after I complete the test.

 

From a friend…

 

  1. “Keep writing”. So simple but exactly what I needed to hear.
  2. “Rub the steering wheel twice around to the left, once around to the right and ask the Parking God to guide us to a spot, and now go straight. Trust me.”. I laughed but humored her. Then screamed when there was a spot waiting for us instantly. Take note we were driving around for quite some time and just wanted to get on the beach. Hysterical, eerie and weird!

 

From my seven-year old…

 

  1.  “Mommy, you need to brush your teeth. Your breath smells bad”. I had coffee breath. Kids are brutally honest.

 

Now how can I go on after THAT?! Share some of yours below.

— The Pretty Platform

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Son’s Open-Heart Surgical Scar Reminds Me Of…

Would you say that you are one of the many people today that lean heavily on the statement… “everything happens for a reason”, especially after an emotional event? Attaching a meaning to a traumatic moment seems to help many cope with the shock that trickles in quickly thereafter. Although I could empathize with this very “protective” behavior, I do not believe the mainstream superstition behind this claim. But I will admit that I have an ability to work out a lesson nonetheless; a “what’s the moral to this story” from almost anything that has occurred in my life. We can all thank our favorite childhood fables like The Boy that Cried Wolf or Little Red Riding Hood for instilling that useful habit. After each relationship, I’ve learned how to make better partner options. After each uncomfortable call with a debt collector, I’ve learned better budgeting skills. After each medical scare I’ve learned how to take better care of myself. Even after burning toast a few times, I get to “know the settings” of each new toaster allowing me to achieve a perfectly golden brown slice. Aside from the toast, these experiences have provided very valuable lessons that have changed my life … although my oldest toast-lovin’ son will beg to differ on the latter. He says I make the best buttered toast. Now there’s an accolade you don’t often come across.

I’m very comforted by the fact that I personally bear the control to draw out the lesson (or lessons) from all that happens, and NOT that every event was set, destined or allowed to happen to provide me with a lesson or test.

Think about that for a minute. Imagine IF for just one second I was wrong.

My youngest son who is to turn 4 in a few months comes to mind. Some know my experience with him, but I’ll fill you in. When I was about 6 months pregnant, my munchkin was diagnosed with TGA (Transposition of the Great Arteries). In a nutshell, a fluke in his arteries. They were flipped from their normal position. Simply put… he could survive “normally” inside of me since I was breathing for him, but he would not survive in the real world without having to undergo open heart surgery for an arterial switch immediately after being born.  We had already gone through 2 rounds of IVF to create him, now we had to keep him alive.

When I look back at the moment I shared the medical news with others, an outpouring of emotional suggestions came with it. Pray to god was the most popular. Pray to Jehovah for strength and comfort. Some even went as far to assure me that “everything will be alright”. There were other reminders sent my way… “Jehovah doesn’t abandon those that serve him” and “God does not test us beyond what we can handle”.

We set out for the best surgeon for this procedure. We carried on until the memorable day that my son came in to this world. I couldn’t even touch his newborn skin since they had to rush him away to get him hooked up to a breathing tube and stabilize him. I saw him for only 2 seconds then I was left in that room, alone, to contemplate all that had happened to lead up to this moment and to meditate on all that we would about to experience.

Fast forward … my son survived it, and so did we. So, does that mean that everyone was right? Everything WAS going to be alright? God did not abandon us? He gave us the strength needed?

What lessons did I make sure to pull from this experience?

  1. If what others or what the bible teaches is correct, I would have to rest on the fact that God had tested us. He tested us with the life of an unborn child. An innocent baby. A human life. Sure, it wasn’t beyond what I could handle, but it does not minimize the lack of moral standing of testing someone with the life of another.
  2. I gained strength in the love I had for my son. I gained strength as all parents do when it means having to protect their young. We had insisted on creating him, no way we were giving up now.
  3. Prayer did not help save my son. A cardiologist that detected the condition early on did. A team of doctors that came together. A surgeon did. His skill and experience in this procedure gave my son a chance of survival. And a blood transfusion is what sealed that deal. Even though the surgery itself was a success, a child that small and new could not generate enough blood on his own to bring up his levels. And according to the religious organization I once belonged to, that action in itself is going against god, so obviously, god did not save my son, nor was god with us.
  4. That morality and a sense to do good and what’s right comes from within and from logical thought. Not through the hundreds of different teachings and beliefs in the world.

Seeing my son’s scar is a constant reminder to live, to explore, to learn and to grow. And saving my son’s life was the moral thing to do, the right thing to do, the human and loving thing to do. And how dare anyone try to tell me or guilt me in to thinking otherwise.

— The Pretty Platform

 

 

I Questioned my fear… and I learned from it

I’ve made many changes this year. Due to that, as of late, I’ve been taking advantage of every moment of silence to pull apart the inner depths of who I am, what I want and how to reach my goals. On the bus to and fro from the NY office, there are days I never get around to opening the book I’m reading. As I drive to the daycare, I rather listen to my own thoughts than blast the radio to the sounds of Adele. And say what you’d like, but on our way back home, to allow for my moments of meditation, I equip the boys with their own tablets and headphones. Everyone is happy and to cover my parental bases, I make sure to ask them about their day as I’m tucking them in to bed at night.

These moments when I’m deep inside my head, despite the amount of people and commotion that surround me can be enlightening or filled with anxiety, many times both. I have not yet found a way to take up residence in the confines of my mind and not have an emotion emerge from the experience. Positive or negative though, it’s quite educational.

One emotion that had surfaced some time ago was fear.  Traveling in to your own head and heart can be a scary thing.  I had to quickly sort out exactly where it was stemming from and learn how to combat it. This required more thought, more meditation, and it was time to use my analytical skills.  I had to walk down that stereotypical path of “facing my fears”. I made sure to question everything to help understand everything. I summoned up the basics I learned back when I was in school and found that using the five W’s was useful at a moment like this.

Below are a few of the questions I found needed resolution (not all are included since this brain was on constant overload). Personally, I found it helpful to write these down in a journal for the occasional reference.

 

Who?

Who am I, for real, deep down, without filter, without guilt, without imposed expectations? Who do I want to be? Who’s supportive of my life and decisions? Who’s a true friend? Who can I count on, eyes closed and heart open? Who’s been there through it all without judgement?

What?

What do I expect of myself and others? What positive things do others bring in to my life? What drama and negativity do I need to avoid? What am I so concerned about? What purpose do I want to fulfill, not what others or an organization expect me to fulfill? What makes me happy? What have I learned from this experience?

When?

When did this all begin? Was the timing of my changes right for me and my family? When do I want to take a stand against negative folks and negative talk? When will I say “enough is enough”? When will I give everyone else that bring nothing to my table the finger?

Where?

Where do I place those that have turned their backs on me as far as importance in my life? Where do I see them in the future? Will their absence truly matter? Am I in a better place without them?

Why?

Why was this bothering me? Why are they behaving this way? Why does it matter? Why do others that claim to be good people find justification to treat others so poorly? Why did I need to make the changes in my life despite the risks?

How?

For journalistic integrity, I instinctively kept in the How as well. This part was definitely essential…. How do I move forward? How do I close the door on the ugly and open the door to a brighter me? How do I release the fear of losing some people, or being judged or shunned? How do I accept the inevitable?

 

After I answered all of the above honestly I realized that the people I was so concerned about were not in my life when I was at my happiest or when I was most in need. They were not there to contribute one iota to my goals, they were not there when I got married, they were not there when I was caring for my ailing mother. They either provided superficial support when my youngest son needed open heart surgery or they weren’t there at all. Plus they didn’t care to understand my changes by asking questions or showing interest.

I realized that the reason stepping deep in to my brain and heart was so scary was because they were taken hostage for so long by the organization I belonged to. My thoughts and heart needed to belong to their teachings. If I veered from that, even in the slightest I would lose everyone that was part of my social circle, my children would lose their so called friends, my religious family would easily turn their backs on us all. And in the process I had to forget who I was, who I truly was, forget who my children could be and mold in to their expectations. But we all grow up some time. Just as children need to leave the nest and find a great big wonderful world out there filled with adventure and information and make it on their own, at 44 I finally grew up and away from the trapped expectations of others.

What I once feared losing is what I now fear being a part of. May they too find their true selves one day.

 

— The Pretty Platform

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Power of a Loving Alchemist

Her heart was repeatedly shattered.
Pieces of it scattered.
Never to be mended, forever fractured.
Fragments of her incense never to be found.
Some in the attics of people’s past, locked and bound.
A wilting beat, a dying drum…a fading sound.

 

An alchemist stepped into her world, daggers hurled.
Her sharp edges a warning,
to keep him from exploring.
Within the wilted corridors of her dusty soul, the past flows.
Hopeful doors leading nowhere. Thoughts that cannot be closed.
He dodges her black clouds and scary crows.

 

He listens to her echoing cries
Over his affections she’s agonized.
In matters of love, life has been unfair.
Resonating sounds of lonely despair.
He gathers her tears, sorrows, lies and fears.
Collecting remnants of her nightmares to expel them someplace, somewhere.

 

Wielding his alchemical still
he melds her parts, he uses his skill.
Her rusted heart he refines to gold.
He values her life, he treasures her soul.
Bringing her out of darkness is his goal.
With his elixir he extracts her beauty and beholds her worth.
She’s found her light and heaven on earth

 

— The Pretty Platform

The Happy Pill

He chooses a pill to fill him with the joy
that was lost so long ago.
When she left. She left him sad.
She left because he was already sad.
Well, she didn’t necessarily leave.
More like escaped.
And now he too needs to escape the memory of her.
He falsely remembers being happy.
Happy with her.
If he remembered the truth,
the truth that he was never really happy,
he just may end it all.
He chooses a pill to stay happy.
To remember she too was happy.

To survive.

— The Pretty Platform

I’m No Makeup Artist but I Do Know Art When I See It

I love the artistic world and Big O and I do our best to immerse ourselves and the kids in it. I love expressing myself through my writing and painting. Big O also writes and plays the violin and is now teaching himself the guitar (electrical guitar and it’s driving me crazy). The 18-year-old developed a love for writing and is studying Graphic Design. The jury is out on the two little ones, but if I have to put money on it, they’ll follow suit.

The artistic culture is continuously expanding and comes in various forms, be it through painting, words, music or performance. Artists will use their imagination or skill to express their views of the world or to declare who they are through it. And if you practice any kind of art you will agree that it’s a consuming and thrilling thing to create AND feel, regardless of all the critics you may encounter.

And boy, is this world filled with critics!!! I’m not speaking of those that have mastered an artistry and qualify somewhat to apply their professional opinion, and at the end of the day, that’s all it is, an opinion. Why? Because art is SELF-expression. It might appeal to some but not to all, and for the artist this is absolutely acceptable.

One art form in particular has been under heavy artillery lately by practically…well, the whole world. All sorts of folks have been launching missiles and blasting out cannon sized comments with the intent to hurt, damage and put these artists out of business. These artists under fire are the new wave of Makeup Artists that have hit the ground running. When I was a kid in the 70’s/80’s, the only cosmetologist I knew was my mother. She studied it along with hair and the only running joke back then on this career choice was the Grease musical performance “Beauty School Dropout”. Makeup has definitely come a long, long way since then. With FB, IG and YT tutorials we find ourselves exposed to the many people out there that have found pleasure in this art form. From the beginner and self-taught to the seasoned and educated artist. From personal beauty to theatrical artistry, the videos I have come across are endless. They contour, enhance and coverup scars, these skilled individuals are like magicians. Some do it to help others, some for fun, and some for imaginative application. And yes, as with other mastery, there are those that are complete frauds and mislead by using insane and dangerous practices to achieve the unattainable. Go ahead an insult the obvious con-artist, but careful to not judge the others based on YOUR personal preference. 

Honestly, I don’t use much makeup, I don’t even own much of it. (Thanks to some girlfriends, I finally own a high-end red lip pencil). Today, it took me literally 3 minutes to apply my makeup on the bus on my way to work. (Yes, I timed it for the sake of this article). Just because I don’t like using the product much, doesn’t mean that the art is up for judgement. Everyone talks about accepting yourself as the reason to discourage this art form. And as much as some of you don’t want to agree or understand, makeup is something many people actually do love. THIS is who they are, and should we not accept that as well? So what if they look like someone else once they remove all their makeup. It’s JUST their face. Who they are in the inside is still the same. The same can be applied to clothing and shoes and jewelry. You wear it because you love it. And once you take it off, you’re still the same person.

And for you guys….please, if you can’t notice that a woman has makeup on, then the problem is you, not them.  

To all you makeup artists out there. I applaud your art, I am amazed by your skill, and I will continue to delight in watching the transformations created by your steady hands and keen eye. May you continue to practice and grow as the true artist that you are or are meant to be. 

Much love and respect… from one artist to another.

— The Pretty Platform

0 New

“It’s The Thought That Counts” NEEDS ACTUAL THOUGHT

We’ve heard the saying…. “There is more joy in giving than in receiving”. If you’re a kid (or when you yourself were a kid) this is utter nonsense, admit it. As adults though, well…let’s all agree that this is only partially true.

Sure, we enjoy watching our children light up and do their happy dance when they are presented with a box wrapped with shiny cartoon-themed paper and a huge bow to match. And that sweet moment when two lovers exchange anniversary gifts after enjoying an intimate candlelit dinner, each one happy to present the other with a box in representation of their growing love. Or your sweet old Aunt that comes to visit your home for the first time and she’s excited to bestow upon you a housewarming gift.

The givers are filled with delight for contributing to the receivers happiness. Blah, Blah, Blah! Don’t deny it, we all love being on the receiving end MORE. Deep down inside you feel loved just a little extra. Your insides emanate a warm fuzzy feeling knowing that someone else thought about YOU. You’re elated that someone else took out time from their busy schedules to think of you and scout for the perfect gift.

Or did they? Did they actually take out the time to find something that would suit the receiver? Or did they hurry through the isle to buy what I call a DEFAULT gift. You know what a default gift is…yes you do…we’re all guilty of it. Those CVS/Walgreens pre-packaged hand cream or spa kits, or those men’s cologne tester sets. You’re smiling because you’ve either bought these for someone or you yourself have received them. I think I have half a tube of  citrus coconut scented cream in my desk draw from like two years ago. “But, but, it’s the thought that counts!”

 

creams

spa kit mens cologne tester

 

Don’t get me wrong, these definitely can be great thoughtful gifts….IF you actually thought about it. Not if you realized last-minute that you forgot a gift, ran in to the nearest pharmacy and stuffed one of these in to a gift bag and picked up a card while you were at it and filled out the card while you were in the driver’s seat of your car between lights on your way to meet the person.

In my case, any one that truly knows me would NEVER get me flowers as a gift or even as a gesture. This is what I call a COPOUT gift. Plus, don’t gift me anything I need to nurture (nope, not even a cute little puppy). I have enough darn little living beings in my house to nurture.

And let’s be real, you knew in advance that you needed to get a gift. You had time to plan, to think it through, to Google some ideas. To ask around. To check the recipients likes on FB or IG. As for holidays and birthdays, these did NOT sneak up on you. They’re the same since the day you were born or from the moment you’ve known this person, or from the moment you received that invitation to the party you knew you should not go empty-handed to.

And if you really put some thought in to it, you’ll realize that you don’t need to spend a lot of money to make that person feel special, to show them that you truly do pay attention, that you actually know them deep down. It doesn’t need to be complicated, just THOUGHT THROUGH.

Personally, I’m happy with a book, a scented candle, a new paint brush, a new nail polish color or lip pencil color I wouldn’t normally buy for myself, a book mark, a cute nail file, just about anything to keep my stuff organized, anything handmade, an inexpensive $8.00 bottle of Cabernet, or a handwritten note instead of a generic Hallmark card. Those closest to me must be delighted that all it takes is a couple of dollars to get a smile on my face. Don’t give me anything in the color pink then tell me it’s the thought that counts, because it means that you DIDN’T think about the gift OR me at all. I don’t do pink. Everyone knows that. I’m sure your recipient has a certain thing or things that they have been vocal about not liking as well.

How about you think back at one of your least favorite gifts and then make sure to not become that same type of giver. Make it simple, but make it count. That’s true thoughtfulness and at the same time joyful to both the giver and the receiver.

That kills two clichés at once.

— The Pretty Platform

Is Doing Nothing a Good Use of Your Time?

HELL YEAH!!! (Pulled the thought right out of your head, didn’t I?)

Don’t feel bad about it either. According to the world of Physics (Of course I had to look this up plus Big O confirmed it), Nothing IS actually Something. Sure, it’s more complex than that, but I am not fully qualified to explain it, and if I ask Big O to do it, it’ll just add to his ego. So, lets just move on with the Nothing is Something idea.

***Disclaimer: This does NOT apply to the habitually lazy, slacking, freeloading leech. This is directed to all those hardworking folks (me included) that never seem to find any downtime. 

Finding a moment of personal time can be challenging to many individuals. And most of us believe that once this time is carved out, be it an entire weekend, a day, or a few hours it should be somewhat “productive”. We yearn to do SOMETHING we love as long as its not work or home-chore related. I can’t argue with that. Personally, I have yet to come across anyone that loves cleaning the toilet or folding laundry.  Without a doubt these are not popular pastimes or hobbies. Although there is a British journalist by the name of Bryony Gordon that absolutely loves it. This IS her hobby and she even reported that 1 out of every 3 women secretly love to clean. Can you believe it? Either way, I honestly need to befriend one of these women in hopes for a service exchange.

As for the rest of us, that’s two thirds of women along with men and teens that prefer to spend our free time on other types of activities. Some love hiking, going to the movies, visiting a museum, golfing. bowling, visiting the zoo, shopping, attending a sporting event, going to a concert, skating, and/or hosting a party with friends and family. I agree, all of these are great fun pastimes. But fill your free time up with these and you’ll be exhausted come Sunday night. Now, the following lists some things, that when asked “What did you do for the weekend?” most people will reply with a shrug of the shoulder and a disheartening “Nothing really, I just…”

Well, NO MORE!! Given that Nothing is actually Something, when you get back to work on Monday, hopefully more relaxed, you can proudly and emphatically say that you did NOTHING or claim stake on it as truly SOMETHING.  Go ahead and enjoy any of the following activities. Depending on who you are or what your stress level is (because you are a hardworking individual on a daily basis), something here will inevitably help you unwind. And THAT is definitely a good use of your time.

  1. Read a book
  2. Page through a fashion magazine
  3. Listen to your favorite album on repeat (look up the lyrics so you can sing along)
  4. Watch music videos
  5. Daydream about your future vacation
  6. Meditate on anything
  7. Sip on some tea/wine/coffee and watch the rain fall
  8. Binge watch a television series
  9. Soak in the tub
  10. Sit on your porch and say hello to the neighbors as they walk by
  11. Stretch your arms, back, legs, neck
  12. Do a word search puzzle
  13. Cuddle with your pet
  14. Watch a stand up comedian on TV (Laughter is good for you)
  15. Chat with a friend on the phone (texting counts)
  16. Light various scented candles and enjoy how they mix
  17. Draw on a pad (doodling counts)
  18. Google something new (You’ll be a little smarter)
  19. Write down your thoughts (about anything, no to-do lists though)
  20. Look at old pictures (go down memory lane)
  21. Rewatch the Ross and Rachel “We’re on a break” episode and learn from it.
  22. Watch AFV episodes (I have my kids to thank for this mindless viewing)
  23. Scroll through Pinterest for inspiration
  24. Add songs to your playlist
  25. Take a nap (so many of us don’t have this luxury or feel guilty about it)
  26. Enjoy a game (Bejeweled and Candy Crush count)
  27. Stare, observe, take in your surroundings (even if you’re home)
  28. Enjoy a bear hug from your kids (then send them away to play)
  29. Eat in bed
  30. Count how many licks it takes to get to the center of a Tootsie Roll pop (I did this twice and averaged 286 licks)
  31. Focus on your breathing
  32. Moisturize your hands and feet
  33. Sit by your fireplace or fire pit and stare at the dancing flames
  34. Enjoy a soft throw blanket against your skin
  35. Makeout with your significant other

Did I miss something? Let me know what kind of “Nothing” helps you relax. I’m always open to new ideas.

 
— The Pretty Platform

 

 

 

Fear Life… Not GOD

When we’re kids, the norm is to be taught by our parents with regards to what’s right and wrong. Along with that, teachers seem to also have a hand in how our psyche evolves toward these two elements given how much time we spend under their influence. I’m no doctor, but I was definitely a kid, and as kids, we are vulnerable and modifiable to the standards by which we are raised.

Right or wrong. Yes or no. Stop or go. If you’re a kid, you hear these CONSTANTLY. As an adult, you hand these out like hotcakes to your own kids.

And with these standards come the dreaded consequences. A smack to the hand, a timeout, no gadget time, parental disappointment. Temporary stings that adults hope will be enough to teach these little people cause and effect.

What happens though when you’re all grown up?

In most cases knowing the difference between right and wrong can be simple. It can be logical, so as long as the adult, for argument sake is of sane mind and emotion. As for the scenarios where the line between the two get a little fuzzy, for the most part, it’s an ethical stand that begins to trump logic. But the logical aspect of even those blurred moments still hold the foundation of the argument in question. “Sure, it’s still wrong to (kill, cheat, steal)… although (A, B or C, fill in the blank with self-defense, true love, poverty)“.

And what is our punishment as adults for these infractions? Again, logic comes in to play here. If the offense is one against a set governmental law then we get court time to be then handed our sentence accordingly. Not difficult folks. Depending what that judge and jury dishes out, the “sting” can be either temporary or fatal.

Cause and effect.

Now take the two; childhood and adulthood and add the FEAR OF GOD to the equation. What happens then? Does it change anything? Does it change people? Without thinking it through, you may instantly say that it does, but I can tell you with all certainty that it does NOT change a thing. Don’t be too quick to get offended. My statement is not one of blasphemous or critical nature. That’s just reality.

Growing up, as many other kids, I was initially taught about a heaven and hell. An eternal hell-fire that waits for anyone, man or child if disobedient to god. A place of torture as the ramifications of going against his written rules. Other religions do not teach about this place of torture, but it does provide eternal death as the consequence. Long term punishment. From a higher being. Your creator gives you life and he can easily take it away or make you pay forever.

Cause and effect.

What I have noticed is that the knowledge of someone more powerful than yourself does NOT deter someone from taking a certain path. Knowing the possible consequence of a Hell or eternal death is not enough. Even those that are “god fearing” do not take this as their foundation of determination. I was raised in two different religious organizations, and although they are filled with some very spiritually righteous people, they are also filled with the spiritual inversion of that. Sure, you find that everywhere in the world, but my point though is that being closer to god, or neck-deep in religious activities, or truly believing in a god does not change your desire to act differently. People don’t truly fear god. If they did, they wouldn’t  “serve” god and sleep with someone before being married. If they truly feared god, they wouldn’t smoke. If they truly feared god, they wouldn’t gamble, or swear, or get inebriated or secretly celebrate events that are against their organization. They wouldn’t consult psychics, masturbate or watch porn. They wouldn’t allow women to teach (I understand your reaction to this last one, but hey, it’s actually in the bible). They wouldn’t try to justify their actions with their “imperfect” ideas. They wouldn’t minimize their god’s standards with human reasoning. They just don’t fear god.

What have I seen though? That many of these very same people (myself included) do actually fear, but it’s life and the consequence their actions have in ‘learned’ effects that they (we) fear. Smoking can equal cancer and other ugly and painful health issues. Constant inebriation can lead to alcoholism, blackouts, cheating. Sleeping around can lead to diminished dignity, disease, unplanned pregnancy. Cheating will most likely lead to a broken family, lost trust, and in many cases violence (a partner scorned is a dangerous thing). Drugs can lead to brain, heart and organ damage along with crime, violence and even death. The smaller stuff like swearing like a truck driver is usually perceived as unprofessional (although I occasionally curse too).

As a kid, I watched my nephew, who I adored make some very bad decisions in life. And with those decisions came a life that I definitely did NOT want anything to do with. So with each of his actions, I did the complete opposite. We used to joke around how he paved the path for me and my “better” life. He used to claim all the credit as to why I avoided the “expected” life of a young Hispanic girl being raised by a single mom in the hood. We joked about it… but it was entirely true. His life became unnecessarily difficult, lonely and dangerous. I FEARED his life although I was taught to fear god.

More kids today need to be exposed to this unwanted life, to the reality of a decisions outcome within their lifetime. Kids and teens alike need to understand, up front, in their face what can happen to people when they make the wrong decisions. Not through a TV screened commercial. Not through a FB article on their phone. Not through a YouTube video. And certainly not through a supposed “on paper” teaching of a torturous flamed destination.

Will this help with everyone? No, but it will up your chances as a parent to avoid heartache if your child feared real consequences. If they truly learn and grasp other people’s suffered consequences. If they see where they can land in life, and talk to the people best suited to tell them the truth. As a parent you can find the best way to do this for your child, but take it from this chick…. without that type of exposure, I’m not sure how much I would have truly feared.

And for THAT, although saddened for my nephew (who has passed away), I am still grateful for having SEEN his truth.

— The Pretty Platform

 

 

WTF! A Deeper Look

I receive a late night text from a friend with a link to an article she wanted me to read along with the following message:

“This article left me with my mouth wide open. I think someone needs to write their views on motherhood and what it means to be on maternity leave.  😝”

I bet you a weekend with all three of my kids that you already know what she’s referring to without even peeking at the link included below. If you guessed the Me-ternity debacle, then get ready because my kids are a handful.

I didn’t get to read or even glance that link until about two days after she sent it. Once I did, my reaction can be classified as…let’s see…WTF!!! along with some laughter, a shake of the head and a smack of my hand to the forehead (my forehead, not hers, but you probably figured that out already. Although it would have been more satisfying the other way). I was ready to give my counter article to what I thought was an absurd notion. As I began to spew thoughts on to paper, I remembered my motto to never write something when I’m emotional about it. I took a step away from the laptop and gave myself a “time away” to stop even caring about this woman’s skewed perspective toward maternity. I didn’t even know her. Her words would affect me in no better or worse way. And even if this woman caused many women out there, child-free women, to believe the same way, it would still not affect a mother’s right to maternity. And then I thought about the future of many of these women… “Ah! One day they will know the truth! They will be enlightened and VINDICATION will be supreme!!!”

That was back on April 29th. Today is May 13th. Between work, kids, home, life and a few glasses of wine, I’ve done some extra research online. No, no, not about maternity leave. I’ve got that one down pat after bringing in three boys in to this world (please refer back to my last post Stop Claiming That Women Are Weak. That one’s a doozy).  I’ve actually been reading about other people’s point of view on what Ms. Meghann Foye has openly and courageously admitted, out loud, with her face plastered everywhere, with a grin. I wanted to make sure I wasn’t speaking out of line or just regurgitating what hundreds of women have already expressed, especially since I’m a bit late to the Me-ternity-slam bash. Here’s what I’m bringing to the table.

Jealousy

From all the articles I’ve read, Meghann Foye had expressed jealousy or envy toward fellow coworkers that received maternity leave after giving birth. Sure, these emotions can convey some type of malice or resentment. But can any of us, without truly knowing this woman, really discern her feelings every time she witnessed another coworker happily grow the size of their family? Just stop and think about it. A 31-year-old woman at the time, who seemed to have it all and yet SHE was the envious one. Her hard work, for 10 years was getting her all the perks of her dreams, and all she was concerned about was the fact that other’s clocked out earlier than she did?  She said and quote, I loved my career. As an editor at a popular magazine, I got to work on big stories, attend cool events, and meet famous celebs all the time.” Yet this woman could not appreciate at the time ANY of it. This speaks volumes to the fact that this was HER empty issues, not any one else’s.

Confusion

She implies that once her fellow “mommy” coworkers clocked out at 6pm each day, Meghann had to pick up THEIR slack. Why? Were these coworkers not competent to finish their mandated work for the day? Were they not coming in the next morning to continue what was on their desks? What kind of company did she work for that would not be aware that all these moms were not completing their work?  I’m a bit confused. Is Meghann Foye complaining about the work picked up while a parent was on Maternity Leave, or the “slack” picked up when a parent left for the END of the work day?

I will have to agree with one thing….there are people in the workplace that clock out at the end of the day leaving urgent matters undone. People that don’t know how to manage their time in the day correctly. People that work overtime on a consistent basis because they spend valuable work hours socializing more than working. People who go on vacations or take personal days or go on a sabbatical without as much as tying up loose ends or completing their projects before they take off. PEOPLE…. with or without kids. Working 13 years in a company I’ve seen people like this come and then eventually GO! Because a responsible company, a successful company will not tolerate this type of behavior for that long.

Mistaken Identity

This author’s biggest mistake was (or was it?) thinking or claiming that maternity leave was a beneficial perk.

“I want all the perks of maternity leave without having any kids. A sabbatical-like break that allows women and, to a lesser degree, men to shift their focus to the part of their lives that doesn’t revolve around their jobs.” 

Apparently she didn’t do her research to understand that in many states, the states where her book would hopefully fly off the shelves of, maternity leave is aptly classified as being on “disability”. Sure, it’s a personal decision. But that’s like saying that someone who chooses to play sports, an athlete, and then becomes injured due to their personal decision, is now reaping the benefits of their injury. Is that disability time a perk for them? Is this handicap a perk? Is getting a handicap parking tag to be closer to the mall one of those “perks”?

Fake Friends

Her so-called “friends” took a leave and she made an assumption on why certain changes in their lives occurred.

“And as I watched my friends take their real maternity leaves, I saw that spending three months detached from their desks made them much more sure of themselves. One friend made the decision to leave her corporate career to create her own business; another decided to switch industries. From the outside, it seemed like those few weeks of them shifting their focus to something other than their jobs gave them a whole new lens through which to see their lives.”

It seems, sadly, those weren’t truly her friends. If they were, she would have visited, or been invited to their homes as they “grappled” with their new lives and emotions with this unknown little being. She would have known what her friends were feeling during this getaway. That becoming a mom, at least during these first few weeks makes a parent more UNSURE of themselves as they get used to their new roles in life. It’s sad that not one of these women were comfortable enough to share their true lives or feelings with Meghann. Did Meghann know that her friends weren’t sleeping enough? Did she reach out to them to give a helping hand? Did she know they were in pain? I mean, heck, she could have still done some research, but she did make the disclaimer that this is just how it “seemed” to her, from “the outside”. True friends are on the inside. They show an interest and confide in one another. No one seemed to be confiding in Meghann. Meghann was on the outside.

Comparability; “of equal value”.

“As for me, I did eventually give notice at my job and take a “meternity” of my own. I may not have been changing diapers, but I grappled with self-doubt for the year and a half that I spent away from the corporate world. And I grieved the loss of my dad, who had just died after a long illness.”

This is a three-parter….

  • She gave notice to take a “MEternity”. Fine, for argument sake, I’ll say that’s comparable. I gave notice of my upcoming MAternity leave as well. That’s where the comparison STOPS! She took a YEAR AND A HALF leave. Maternity leave is at most 3 months. I really wish I could have done that, but unfortunately, the U.S. gives UNPAID maternity leave. Hey, she may have gone unpaid as well. If that’s the case, then that too is comparable. But she only had to support HERSELF! Parents on the other hand, cannot stay away from the workforce that long without the security of both a paycheck and health insurance for this new human being.
  • She made a note about how burnout syndrome is “well documented”, how self-doubt is something SHE suffered from. Can she claim that she educated herself equally to the burnout and self-doubt parents feel during maternity leave? Or the burnout parent’s feel because they have a SECOND job at home that they don’t get to clock out from? Self-doubt is something every parent suffers from. Am I doing this right? Am I a good parent? Was this the right choice? Will my actions send my child to future therapy? And many moms SUFFER a serious and uncontrollable case of this, it’s called Postpartum Depression. What if I hurt the baby? Why doesn’t it stop crying? Can I truly do this? Please, if you’re going to make a comparable claim of need, make sure it’s… well… COMPARABLE.
  • It’s a very emotional burden to take care of a deteriorating parent and then lose them in death. I know. Many of us know. And I will not be insensitive to her feelings on that, I will be realistic though. I am happy that she was able to get away for that long to truly grieve him. To deal with the feelings of loss and loneliness. Most of the U.S. only get a 3 day bereavement window. Again, not even closely comparable. But I’m sure she knew that already.

Finding Oneself…AND FAME

“My first novel, “Meternity,” was just released, and is about a woman who fakes a pregnancy and discovers some hard truths about what it’s really like to “have it all.” “Ultimately, what I learned from my own “meternity” leave is that any pressure I felt to stay late at the office wasn’t coming from the parents on staff. It was coming from myself. Coming back to a new position, I realized I didn’t need an “excuse” to leave on time. And that’s what I would love the take-away for my book to be: Work-life balance is tough for everyone, and it happens most when parents and nonparents support and don’t judge each other. I want kids in the future, and I might still take a traditional maternity leave. I might not. But either way, I’m happy my “meternity” taught me to live on my own terms and advocate what works for me.”

Maybe Meghann should have led with this statement first, accepting that her initial perception was a making of her own mind and not a reality of life….

OR maybe, just maybe everyone needs to understand that THIS….ALL OF THIS was a marketing ploy. She didn’t have to do much research to know that mothers are a power to be reckoned with, a group of women worldwide that will fight to the death for their rights and position in this world as people who truly are doing their best to DO it all and give it their all. She worked with moms. She saw how hectic their lives were. She observed them like primates at a zoo and an idea illuminated. She took a sabbatical to not only “find herself”, but to find her first novel. Yes, it takes that long to write a book. She knew that. And why are people really upset anyway? Does anything this woman say really matter? It’s a fictional character. And EVEN if Meghann herself did believe all that she wrote, that TOO is fictional in the real world. Mothers know that. Why do we need to convince HER? Don’t worry about it. Like I mentioned earlier in this post, one day she will have kids, she will feel the pain, both physically and emotionally. And watch, she’ll write ANOTHER book and continue to remain relevant.

— The Pretty Platform

Meghann Foye’s NY Post 

http://nypost.com/2016/04/28/i-want-all-the-perks-of-maternity-leave-without-having-any-kids/

For your viewing pleasure… You need to follow this blogger. 

http://thatsinappropriate.com/index.php/2016/04/29/no-maternity-meghann-foye/

Or you can view the video on her FB page:

https://www.facebook.com/thatsinappropriateblog/videos/1205394882834707/

 

 

 

Trapped in the Quicksand of Love

Here’s something a bit different. Actually, very different. I’ve been challenging my writing with stabs at… Poetry! I sometimes need to step out of my comfort zone, away from my safety net and this definitely makes me feel both vulnerable and somewhat uncomfortable. I’ll be posting them up regularly. Let me know your thoughts. Be honest (honestly) since like I said, this is supposed to be a challenge. (But if it’s accolades you want to bestow upon me, well, who am I to stop you).

 

Love was your mask.
Bitterness disguised.
Not ever genuine.
Our kinship and bloodline
you compromised, sacrificed.

Love was your hold on me.
Frequently misused and confused.
Your self-appointed power.
A reign you abused.

Suffocated in your excuses.
I was left breathless,
mute, expressionless.
My inner self insignificant.
An outer shell, lifeless
For you to possess.

You never saw me.
You never cared for me.
You used love to guilt me.

I listened to your words.
Read between the lines.
You’d convince her to never birth me
if you could turn back time.
You alone,
to shine in her eyes.

You torture me
for the love you never felt.
You blame me.
You shame me.
You nail me
to the cross
for the life you couldn’t help.

My heart trusted you
gold-plated
served on a platter.
I hoped for you.
She asked me to.
None of it ever mattered.

Now empty and buoyant
Exhausted and depleted
One day I’m to rise above.
Until then I remain static
to avoid drowning
in your quicksand of love.

— The Pretty Platform

Quit Claiming That Women Are Weak!




It was nine in the morning, a Monday, after a long weekend and it felt as if I didn’t just have three days off. Even worse… I had cramps. If you’re a woman, you’ll most likely know the kind of cramp that not only sends sharp lingering pain into your lower abdomen, but resonates all the way around, choking your sides and lower back, anaconda style, making you squirm, wiggle and stretch in your seat to never successfully find a comfortable position. That’s what I have felt for on average 5 days, every month, every year for the past 32 years.

THIRTY…TWO..YEARS…OF…PAIN!

Since the tender age of 13. I’m what you’d call a late bloomer compared to some other poor souls that had to endure this as early as 9 years old. I can’t imagine having to decide between playing with Barbie’s or laying up in bed hoping the Midol will kick in while dealing with the nuances of a nasty bulky maxi pad. I don’t care if they have “wings”. They’re still nasty, messy and uncomfortable.

As I consider this cursed rite-of-passage of  the female LIFE, my dear husband, Big O comes to mind… and I smile. “Oh, he’d totally buckle to his knees if he felt what I felt”. Then my 18-year-old son comes to mind. Then every other testosterone surging male I’ve come across.

Sure… a good part of the male population works out and takes pride in the size of their bulging 17 inch “biceped” arm (not a real word). Some can probably lift over 300 lbs or qualify to compete in The Strongest Man Alive by pulling along a truck set to neutral. Other men love bar brawls as proof of their ability to take a punch. Some reduce themselves to crushing beer cans against their foreheads. While a handful of stupid ones will take part in Jackass Movie-like antics to test their strength and endurance. You can’t EVER convince me that there is humor in Wasabi Snooters.

Science may prove them all “strong” by nature as far as a generalized gender, but I assure you that if succumbed to the following scenarios…

THEY… WILL… CRUMBLE.!!!

1. Menstruation, Period, Aunt Flo, The Crimson Wave… I don’t care what you call it. In essence, it’s our glorious (sarcasm included) body preparing itself for pregnancy. Why a young 9-year-old girl needs pregnancy preparation just makes this even more cruel. And more irritating is the fact that not all mammals menstruate. We just happen to be one of the “LUCKY” few. It’s the “Tough Mudder” equivalent of being a woman. No reward at the end except the pure satisfaction of knowing you made it through. “F” that…I want a damn medal! The obstacle course? Ready? Sharp abdominal pains, lower back aches, migraines, boob tenderness, bloating (everywhere), changes in skin (not for the better), increase or decrease of appetite (this may be a perk for some), diarrhea or constipation, sometimes both. Spikes and dips of serotonin better known as mood swings which include but not limited to different levels of depression, anxiety, attachment or detachment to loved ones, an insatiable need to cry (chick flicks should be banned), feelings of incompetence, prone to anger, easily offended (keep opinions to yourself during this time), irritability and maybe paranoia (was there a tone to his text), to only name a few. EVERY MONTH….FOR YEARS! The boys in my household cry when they get a splinter. A SPLINTER!

2. Pregnancy and Labor. I shouldn’t even have to explain this one, but here it goes. Apparently, Mother Nature has been preparing us all our lives for this moment (hence point #1 above), but it doesn’t even hold a 10-foot candle to the reality of this 10-month ordeal (yes, it’s 40 weeks). Some men truly believe that just because women are willing to go through this more than once, that it can’t be all that bad. Honestly, I too sometimes wonder why we insist, but regardless, it doesn’t minimize the level of pain that one suffers to bring all these men… and women in to the world. Let’s begin with the intense need to sleep and at the same time not being able to do so successfully due to the discomfort of having a watermelon sized human growing inside of us. Big O falls apart if he has a full week of insomnia, let alone months. Once again, we endure the back pains. Add to that the shoulder pains due to our growing boobs (no, this is NOT a good thing. Yes I’m talking to Big O.), edema of the feet and legs making our once cute feet now 2 sizes too swollen for our shoes, changes in our skin (despite popular belief, we don’t all have that “glow”), weight gain, nausea, nausea, nausea, burning hemorrhoids the size of marbles, and an abhorrence for what was once our favorite foods and odors. Did I mention nausea? We are permanent riders on the emotional roller-coaster, we get kicked by the foreigner residing inside of us and get prodded and poked by the doctors on the outside. For argument sake, I’ll go as far as to forgo all these “symptoms” and get to the meat and potatoes of it all. We go into LABOR. Intense, stabbing, sharp, heated, razor-blade pains called contractions occur to “let us know” that it’s time. If we choose to get an epidural, as I did, all three times (they didn’t all work), you still need to find a way to sit completely still during these contractions as they stab your spine with a HUGE needle. I’ve known women with a true fear of needles still give in to this procedure because labor TRUMPED fear. I have a male friend who’s muscular, athletic, plays football and endures injury, but literally cries when he sees a needle.

If a woman decides to go drug-less…well… ready for this? My epidural wore out during labor with my 2nd born. If contractions weren’t enough, I was not ready for the ignited burning sensation that would encompass the perimeter of my stretching vagina as my sweet unknowing baby crowned and passed through in to this world. This is aptly referred to as The Ring of Fire… considering that the ACTUAL Ring of Fire is an area in the basin of the Pacific Ocean where a large number of earthquakes and volcanic eruptions occur. Sounds just about right! Oh, and the “piece de resistance” has to be the fact that during this time of baby crowning, a woman risks ripping. Yes, the spontaneous ripping of flesh. Are you still with me? If that happens, then she just gets sewn back up to never look the same again. Hello? Are you still there? Along with this are the women that get sliced in the abdomen if she needs a c-section. No, she is not spared from pain just because she had local anesthesia as they lifted her bundle of joy from her midsection. She needs to recover, and I can tell you from experience, the feeling of your skin trying to fuse back together is no picnic when you have to cough, sneeze or laugh. Any one of these involuntary actions will make your skin feel like it’s slowly tearing your soul apart.

3. GYN  and Mammogram Exams. I’ll try not to get too personal on this one for the sake of keeping the male reader going if he was able to make it past #2.  As women, we need to get at minimal a yearly gynecological exam which in essence means that this doctor slaps on a glove and pokes around inside of us….BOTH ENDS as his assistant stands behind him “watching”. This never fails to freak me out. Yes, that person standing there makes me more uncomfortable than this poky doctor. The doctor then clamps us open, and takes a cotton swab the length of a garden hose, I’m exaggerating of course, and swooshes it around up inside of us for “specimen”. Sure, many men need to deal with a colon exam where that rubber glove incident is comparable, and believe me, I know how much you hate it. I’m truly empathetic to your plight. But they only begin this process later in their lives (unless there’s a history of cancer), not the moment they become “active” in the playing field (I’m not talking about sports people…sex!…the moment they start having sex).  If men had to deal with this standard examination at an earlier age, heck! it just may reduce the amount of names on their phone list. Then as if it weren’t enough dealing with our nether regions being invaded, we get to our forties and must now endure the dreaded mammogram. This wouldn’t be so bad if it weren’t that even in this technological advanced year of 2016, the equipment and procedure used on most women is EXACTLY the same that was used on my mom in HER forties. Getting my boobs squished and flattened between two metal plates, while having to distort my body in some unnatural pose and hold for a few seconds, just seems so primitive and downright wrong. Imagine flattening the male testicles between two metal plates. I know, stupid comparison. Point is, it just SHOULDN’T happen.

4. Hair Removal. Yes, this one is by choice. But… in the spirit of the topic of this article… I’m including it. Personally, I can withstand getting my hair ripped off my skin for the sake of vanity. When I asked Big O how he’d feel if the same was done to his “down-there-boys”, he stone-cold stared me down with a lingering dirty glare. “Why? Why would you do that?” I could see the pain in his eyes at merely the far-fetched “what if” thought of this primitive practice. I laughed and moved along. Now, I understand that there are men out there that join the forces of women in plucking, waxing and ripping in order to have coveted baby smooth skin. Once you do the math though, the numbers prove that this is a female dominated practice…all in the name of vanity. After mulling it over, I guess you can safely equate this to a “shake your head” Jackass Movie antic.

The only point to this article was to declare that I’m not weak. Women are not weak. A self declaration of sorts. A declaration for all! Sure, I’m “weak-ER” than Big O on many aspects. I can’t bench what he does. And he chuckles when I land a full forced punch to his arm. “That’s cute. Pretty good, but cute”. I wouldn’t be able to take a punch to the jaw, but most men, (unlike in the movies), can’t either. Women withstand consistent physical pain and we want a medal. We deserve a medal. Well, I want a medal (and a glass of wine)! Plus, the Aleve and hot tea are not working, so I’m irritated and needed to let off some steam. This too shall pass.

— The Pretty Platform

 

 

 

A 40-Somethings “AHA!” Weekend Away

Many times we coast through life blinded to the lessons waiting at the end of each moment. Despite being slighted, they simmer there for as long as it takes us to collect them for later consumption. And it’s a good thing, since allowing a lesson to shift our thoughts for personal growth is only possible when we are good and ready. I’m at a point in my life that I make sure to meditate after each experience to pull as many lessons possible I can from it…you know…for safe keeping. By doing this, I ensure that my experience was both a memorable one as well as purposeful, no matter how small or insignificant the moment seemed.

This weekend was surely a purposeful one. The type of trip that I knew would be an “Eat, Pray, Love” revelation (except not alone) even before it started. So, as I sit here on the plane going through some heavy turbulence, I reflect back on the last couple of days.

This was a well deserved and long overdue trip with my girlfriend of 18 years. Just the two of us away from our respective lives, offices, and families.

  • Friendship: A time to bond, reminisce, uplift, gossip, vent, and laugh. One where we could remember who we were, how far we’ve come, discuss where we both missed the mark and help each other see where we hit the target. A time to catch up and ask questions and realize that sometimes you don’t always know someone as much as you thought. What a beautiful opportunity… to know you could keep learning things about those most important to you. That who you were and who they were 18 years ago, or 10 years ago or even 5 years ago is not the same person in it’s entirety, but that the essence of what has kept our relationship as strong as it has through all these years, is still unquestionably in tact, and we allow these new revelations to keep the friendship fresh and exciting. “How did I not know that” or “did you tell me that and I just forgot” can be common questions among all types of relationships, be it friends, lovers or family. I take what I know, or reminded, or recently learned and embrace the details as another little charm to our friendship bracelet. And who doesn’t love those cute little charms, that create such a sweet sound when mixed all together.

This trip also enlightened me toward…..well, ME!

  • Self: Spending most of your everyday life surrounded by work, husband, kids and home, you usually conclude that the life you lived prior to having all of these things can’t be enjoyed anymore. That going out for drinks in a dark crowded bar with strangers, staying out until “last call”, trying to have a conversation over the ear-splitting sounds of huge subwoofers, does not fit your “lifestyle” anymore. And hence pops up the adage “I’m just too old for that”, which is a stupidly depressing thought. But, it turns out, we weren’t too old for it after all. We pushed through it reminding each other to relive good old “28” again. We didn’t feel out-of-place. We didn’t feel awkward. We looked great, felt great and we had a blast. And despite feeling every achy bone in my body the next day I wouldn’t take back the night before. But…. I’m happy to say that the issues is not that I’m too old for that lifestyle, the enlightening moment is that I don’t WANT to party that way anymore. I don’t really yearn it or miss it. The realization is that I truly like being who I’ve evolved into now in my 40’s, not because I NEED to live this way, but because I enjoy my new self and along with it the interests that have flourished. I love sitting by the lake and taking in my surroundings, I relish in browsing through antique shops with my husband, I look forward to eating out at new restaurants trying different cuisines. I want to go to quaint art exhibits, and book readings, and exploring tucked away towns. I plan fruit picking outings. Search out winery tours.  And finding the perfect cafe that serves gourmet coffee, tea and pastries (none of that typical bakery stuff found on every corner) is like striking gold. And as for you 20-somethings…. just know that you’re never too young for my “lifestyle”.

If I have to pull yet another lesson it will be this…

  • Other folks: Sure, I was the only one that got away from the normal routine of the every day. And yet, Big O and the boys seemed to have benefited as well. I was excited for Big O to have the bed all to himself and allow the room to get as cold as he liked, without me complaining that I was turning in to an icicle and who could live like this. Not to mention the constant nagging I do for him to turn over in hopes to stop the unrelenting snoring that keeps me up all night. I was relieved that the kids had a chance to have an all-boys weekend without mom constantly reminding them to put their pants on, or that the sofa is NOT a trampoline. They all got to live as freely at home as I did in a hotel room. People (even kids) need time away from each other. They need to realize that life is not always about other people being there with you or for you. Another well-known adage “Distance makes the heart grow fonder” is unmistakably accurate. We all need a break from what we know and need time to miss each other (no, not in a Ross and Rachel kind of way). Time-away allows us all to feel connectedly refreshed and renewed. You just may find it heartwarming to be welcomed back home with the cheers, smiles and kisses as if you’d been away for months instead of just 4 days.

Now, on to plan the next getaway!

 

— The Pretty Platform.

 

 

 

 

 

Surprise, Surprise, I Didn’t See THAT Coming!

Things have been hectic lately. Between work, home renovations, the kids and all that they require to survive and thrive, daily chores, spending time with Big O (that’s my husband for those that don’t know) and just trying to be me, life has been a whirlwind of just….stuff….lots of stuff to do. It’s been like this for quite some time, so in the spirit of trying to keep my sanity, for my 45th birthday I treated myself to a trip. A trip away from everything I know to be my normal everyday life. A trip away from the home, away from the chores, away from work of all kinds. A trip away from the husband and kids. Did I forget to mention that there’s a dog too? Yeah, away from her as well. A long overdue trip with my Bestie for a Ladies Only weekend. (I really hate using the term “girls”. It’s a thing with me). In all my planning leading up to today, yes, I’m sitting here at the airport waiting for my flight to be called in about three hours (hey, better safe than sorry), all I could think about was how glorious it’s going to be to sleep in late. How awesome it’s going to be to wake up in the morning and not worry about getting breakfast done for the little ones even before I have time to brush my own teeth. What a treat it’ll be to just sip on some coffee and do whatever the hell I want in the morning, from reading the news to just staring at absolutely nothing while absorbing the peace and quite that surrounds me. And how nice it’ll be to fall asleep in a bed where, well, to put it simply, no one is snoring. This is all I’ve been thinking about for the past month. Daydreaming about these 3.5 days of re-energizing, in a Seven of Nine Borg kind of way.

Counting down to today, last night I had to make sure that any loose ends at home were tended to if I wanted to leave worry free. Tidy up the house even though I knew all too well that the four men in my house will undo all that I’ve done, to just put it all back together right before I get back home. I needed to make a Target run to get the seven year-old an orange shirt since tomorrow the first graders are going to be the orange part of a human rainbow at school for a PBS event. How he didn’t already have an orange shirt in his closest is perplexing. Red, he has about 5 red shirts. Who needs that many red shirts? Iron two cute outfits for the two smallest ones to look presentable for their trip today with Dad for Take Your Kids To Work Day. Yes, Big O bravely ventured to take BOTH boys to the office. I needed to make sure they had snacks, their gadgets plus those life-giving chargers to make today a bit easier for him. I also needed to put together a nighttime routine mommy video for Big O to play for the kids at bedtime. Clearly you can understand why I need to get away for a few days. And wait, I still needed to finish packing.

Kids asleep, loose ends handled, teenager content in his room, dog oh so pleasantly plopped on the bed. Big O settling in to the dining room to do some writing. Then it happened. I didn’t know it was going to happen. It just did. I didn’t really think about it. It’s not like it was festering. But I was suddenly compelled to ask O if he minded to do his writing in the bedroom while I packed. He laughed and asked if I was lonely. No, no, I wasn’t lonely. I hesitated. Then I sheepishly explained that I was going to be gone for three days and although I didn’t think I was going to miss him in all the excitement of my trip, but, well, the thing was, that as crazy as it sounded, and believe you me, I was surprised as well, that I already, at that moment, started to miss him. Can you believe it? He too seemed surprised, pleasantly surprised, big grin on his face surprised, “But you haven’t even left yet”. I know, weird huh? Here’s the thing….Big O is a lot of fun to have around. He jokes around, loves to laugh and is skilled at almost any topic of conversation. He loves life just as much as I do. He’s my friend.

Moral of this story, I was humbled by this sweet, touching moment. Don’t get it twisted though; I’m still happy to be leaving for this short trip. I still look forward to the much-needed “me” time. I believe everyone needs time away. But it reminded me that in between all the chaos of errands and work and chores and kids and husband and dog, there are things that make me truly and deeply happy right there at home. I need to slow down and look past the dust cloud of errands and work and chores, to enjoy more time with the kids and husband and dog. More importantly, this moment reminded me that I don’t necessarily WANT to get away and that in itself is probably the most reassuring thing I NEEDED at this moment.

— The Pretty Platform

 

 

Things I Wish I’d Done Differently in HS

When asked what age they’d like to go back to, I have found that most folks, if given the chance, would sprint right back to their high school years. This group of people would most definitely NOT include me. Why? Well, for starters you’re expected to behave like an adult without any of the freedoms or perks of adulthood. In opposing response, you behave like a child and then are labeled an immature trouble-making brat. It’s like being stuck in Limbo. None of the perks of Heaven but you can’t party in Hell either. You get to watch in confusion, trying to make the best of what you have and what you’re allowed. It’s a trap. Therapists, Psychologists, Teachers and Parents try to soften the blow by insisting that it’s your “training” to becoming an adult. “It’ll be the best years of your life” is the scholarly catchphrase. When YOU are the one in “training” this is just pure horse manure nonsense. Fast forward to many years later, as you simmer in your forever state of adulthood, you get to reevaluate what you could’ve, would’ve, should’ve done. Damned hindsight is always 20/20.

Here is MY “hindsight” list. Feel free to share yours…

1. I would have joined an extracurricular club. Most kids do. This would have allowed me time away from home and more time to bond with fellow trainees. I always went straight home after school, to sit in a 5th floor, pre-war one bedroom apartment. Fun!

2. I would’ve been nicer to the guys that showed physical interest in me. I’m guessing I was either in culture shock since I drew absolutely no attention in Junior High or my strict religious upbringing condemned my thoughts before I could even act on them. Some say this was a blessing. I say ‘Shut! Up!”

3. I would have accepted a “Hookie” party invitation. If for nothing else to have the memory of what went on in one of them. Or to know what apartment was holding all these kids during school hours. It’s still such a mystery to me. (disclaimer for those that knew me in HS and may call me out on this: yes, I did play hookie or cut class, just never had the cojones to go to one of the parties).

4. I should have gone to all the school dances. Okay, at least to some of them. But we were both poor and religious. No money for a new outfit befitting the fashion of an 80’s dance party, plus according to my mother it was the breeding ground for sin, especially the prom. I’m telling you, no Heaven or Hell for me.  Just the bland grayness of Limbo.

5. I would have taken a Physics and Calculus class. Before you write me off as crazy on this one, let me help you understand my madness. It comes in the form of a husband. More precisely, my husband. Who’s a physics and mathematical genius. Seriously, having some knowledge on these subjects would be the equivalent to a romantic evening out and whispering to him across the table that I have gone commando under my slinkiest dress. “Can we PLEASE get the check?”

6. I would have spent more time in the College Bound office researching a career more catered to what I loved to do. Instead, I allowed my mother to choose what I was going to study after high school based on her religious beliefs. The outcome? I’m now 45 years old and although I proudly paid off my school loans, and make a good living, I am no where close to working in my studied field. I know that many people through the ages have experienced this outcome. In my case though it was due to a lack of initial action.

7. Refer back to # 2 for this next one. I could’ve had my first kiss in HS. As a kid! As everyone should. Instead, my first kiss came in conjunction with an I Do (note to reader: that was to my ex husband. Not to the genius mentioned in #5).

I know most lists are in neat numbers of 5’s or 10’s, but seven is what I’ve come up with. Plus I’m starting to develop some pain in my medial temporal lobe trying to recall details this long ago.  I do have some good high school memories, but imagine how much more awesome my memories or stories would be if I’d taken a bigger leap, or spoken up a bit more for the things I wanted to enjoy, should have enjoyed. Adults need to listen to their teens more and teach them that it’s okay to communicate with us on THEIR level, not on ours or how we expect them to be. Remember, they are no longer babies, but they are not yet fully grown. Don’t treat them like children, and don’t rush them to be adults. Just let them be, and maybe they can live “the best years of their lives”.

— The Pretty Platform

I Don’t Want to Play with the Kids Today.

I’m not your typical mom. At least I don’t think I am.

Although I love reading about other bloggers discuss the issues and nuances we all share as moms, I personally don’t feel compelled to always write about my kids. It bores me… or maybe I think it bores other people… or maybe it’s a little of both. I also feel I’m being redundant to whatever you may have read somewhere else. I don’t think my experiences as a mother differ all that much from my sisterhood of mothers worldwide. Maybe with a different twist at some point, but we can all relate to poop conversations, a messy home, tantrums, clothing dilemmas, homework battles, opposite sex drama, to mention only a few. Plus some of the mommy/daddy bloggers I follow have such a wonderful ability to write about poop and keep me wanting more. How can I possibly compete with that?

But, every so often I come across a situation that makes me feel like I need to vent and well, since this is MY platform to do just that, here I am.

As I stated in the beginning, I’m not your typical mom. At least I don’t think I am. I love my children, and don’t get angry at what I’m about to say, but they are not my world. They just play a part in it. Sounds horrible, doesn’t it?

Let me explain as I take you back a few years. Well, many years considering that I’m no spring chicken anymore. I was about 9 years old. Raised by a single mother. She made many mistakes, but was still overall a very loving and nurturing parent. She was doing the best she could. I’m not going to get into all that she did or didn’t do. I want to focus on one aspect that can help you understand where I’m coming from before you start to feel sorry for my kids. To keep this story as short as my chatty self can make possible, my mother caught the eye of a very nice gentleman. They had a lot in common and shared the same standards in life. In essence, he would’ve been awesome for her. One day, my mother asked me, a 9-year-old child, if I would like her to ever get married one day. Without understanding fully the future repercussions of what I was about to say, and without knowing the progression of their relationship, I told her what most kids being raised by a single parent would say. I wanted it to be ONLY her and myself together forever.  Yes, at 9 years old, kids still believe they will be living with their parents forever under the best relationship scenario they know. Her response? “Okay. I will never get married for you.” Gave me a hug and we went about our day as usual. And my mother based her entire future on that one statement. She allowed me to become her world.

Do you know what that does to a child growing up? I never forgot that moment. As I got older I started to develop feelings for the opposite sex and BINGO…. that one statement started to haunt me. The understanding of what I did to her came full circle. I didn’t want to be my mother’s world anymore. I wanted her to have a life outside of me. The guilt became burdensome. I felt obligated toward her. She missed out on a beautiful relationship because I was her beautiful relationship. I became whatever my mother wanted me to become. Sure, that may sound like the ultimate recipe for a good kid. And yes, I was a “good” kid. But I felt trapped. Lovingly trapped, but still trapped nonetheless. And she was trapped as well. We had a very dependent relationship to the day she passed.

Fast forward to today. I have seen many parents other than my own mother live their lives mainly for their children. Everything they do is centered around their children. Their hobbies become their children. Their conversations are only about their kids. Their vacations are always with Junior in mind. Where they go out to eat, or what movies they watch, even what clothes they wear. They forget what it’s like to be an individual and their identity becomes Mom or Dad. I’ve seen couples transition out of Honey and Sweetheart and even start calling each other Mom and Dad.

I have seen empty-nesters fall in to deep depression because they no longer know what to do when they get home and the kids aren’t there. I have seen couples have nothing to talk about because they no longer KNOW each other without the kids around to be their buffer. I had one mother once tell me after her daughter grew up and left home, “I don’t know who I am anymore. I was a mother. What am I now?” My heart aches for her. I told her she now had the opportunity to get to know herself again. What an adventure that would be. Unfortunately nothing worked.

I adore my children. I love helping them. I enjoy watching them grow up. I’m happy to provide them with new experiences. I take pictures and videos of every moment (Heck, I have to buy another back up drive since I don’t trust only “The Cloud” to hold all my memories). I celebrate anything and everything with them (nothing is too trivial to buy cupcakes for). But….and this is a huge but (no jokes please)….I look forward to one day coming home and not worry about homework, or meal preparation for the tykes, or washing clothes for 3 growing boys, or school events, or the dozen of classmate birthdays or having to watch another episode of the Thunderman’s. I look forward to not doing any of this anymore because I make sure to fit in myself through all of this. I look forward to spending time with myself and my husband more. I love to write and want to do more of it. I want to read more and join a book club. Painting is one of my most loved hobbies and I want more time for it. I love comedy clubs. I love eating out, a lot. I love bookstore visits. I love listening to the ocean and watching the waves. I love sipping wine and eating cheese. I want to go visit Jazz clubs more often. I want to go to museums more and contemplate art in silence. I want to volunteer more. I want to go to weekly yoga classes. I need to do more cardio. I have an entire bucket list of things I need to complete.

I look forward to an empty nest on a daily basis. Sure, I’ll invite the kids to come and visit on weekends and holidays. And after quite some time, the grand-kids will come and I’ll do the Abuela thing and I’ll do a kick-ass job at it. But I’m proud to say that my kids can be independent from me and feel like its okay that Mom and Dad are on their own now and that we too will survive. That their Mom and Dad will do more than just survive, that we will live life to the fullest. I’m happy to know that I didn’t create a burden on them for my personal happiness and self-worth. And I’m relieved to be aware that I’m doing ME now so I don’t forget later who I was to begin with.

Disclaimer: This is not criticizing other parenting methods, just what works for me and based on my past experience with my own mother. I love you Mom!

— The Pretty Platform

 

The Not So Good Ol’ Days

My eighteen year old son called asking if I’d allow him to go out to eat with his friends tonight. He reassured me that all chores were completed. It was 6:00 pm, I’m on the bus on my way home from work, halfway through a 1.5 hour commute and still needed to pick up his two younger brothers from daycare. The idea that it would be one less mouth to feed was a glorious gift in itself, so without hesitation I supplied him with a quick “Yes! Go have fun”. No need to ask me twice. I reach my stop, scoop up the little ones, grabbed some pizza and finally made my way home. I slowly drive up the gravel driveway. As my son knows to do before he leaves the house, he kept the front porch light on as well as a dim light in the living room. Same routine. Nothing out of the ordinary. The kids climb out and run up to the front door anxiously waiting for me to catch up. I click on the alarm and make my way around the car. As my eyes set on the house I instantly caught the shadowed image of someone gliding by the dining room window and then lost sight of the person. My heart made a divers leap straight down in to the very pit of my stomach. Light-headed at the idea that there was a stranger in my home, I think I forgot how to breath for a just brief moment and the thick darkness of the night closed in on me. I frantically waved the boys away from the porch and back toward me. I do consider myself an intelligent woman, I promise you I am. But in this very moment I became that senseless character in every horror flick that moves TOWARD the sound of danger to investigate instead of away; far, far away. I reach for the door handle since it must be unlocked. Its locked. What am I thinking? I put my ear to the door hoping to hear some sort of commotion inside. Silence. Did they hear the car alarm go off? Did they sneak out the back door? I quietly insert the key; apprehensively open the door at a snails crawl. I’m an idiot, I know. It seems as if this entire time I had forgotten about the two rugrats behind me that deserved my protection. Where’s my head? As I step in to the room with my keys intertwined between my fingers in weapon mode ready for something (I’m originally from the Bronx), I’m instantly confronted by this “gliding image”. I let out a scream flamed  with fear and then relief puts it out quickly after that. My head finally connects with the moment. “What the hell are you still doing here? Why are you weirdly hanging out near the foyer? You scared me! I thought someone had broken in!” all in one breath. My son apologizes with compassion in his eyes for scaring his ‘old lady’ and explains he was just waiting for his ride since they were behind in schedule. He adds a small chuckle in hopes to lighten the moment. My hand is on my chest feeling the rise and fall of the emotions still struggling inside of me. Still shaken about the incident, I hug him with un-quantifiable relief. He returned the gesture then off he went as his chariot had arrived.

The little ones aren’t still outside with no help from their “super-mum”. As nature would dictate they followed me in, without realizing the potentially dangerous prowler that lurked inside. They weren’t alert to the obvious signs of my body language nor did they question why I had waved them away from the porch in the first place. Why would they consider that their very own home could warrant recoil? Why would they fear their haven? They have never had to fall back on a past experience that would have made them all the wiser in this type of situation. My children have been protected; sheltered from the life and environment I grew up around. They live in a nice house, in a nice neighborhood, with good schools and have never been personally affected by the actions of scary human beings. My husband and I do what we can to help this continue as such and as long as it’s in our reach to control. 
 
But what happened tonight has me skipping running down memory lane. No yellow brick road that leads me to a powerful wizard that would grant my inner wishes of peace and safety. No fairy godmother, no guardian angel. Just a tough, dysfunctional and concrete environment I would never want to revisit.  
 
I recently overheard a song on the radio by Twenty One Pilots called Stressed Out. Aside from the catchy tune, I found it to have a deep emotional message worth discussing. The chorus goes as follows:
 
“Wish we could turn back time to the good old days when our Momma sang us to sleep but now we’re stressed out”. The song continues to speak of a happier time when they’d play pretend and build rocket ships and dreaming of outer space. A time of when nothing really mattered. That given the choice between student loans and tree house homes, they’d take the latter.

My psyche has chosen to loop these verses in the past few days, challenging me to come clean if I’ve ever felt the very sentiment that is so simply delivered in this song. A related sentiment to the one that many adults chant to their own children; “Oh, what I wouldn’t give to be a kid again”, “You don’t know how good it is to be a kid” or referring back to the ‘good old days’ as they gingerly reminisce the days of their youth’. As I sit here deep in self-interrogatory thought, trying to channel THAT nostalgic feeling, it seems to be completely vaulted in some dark abyss never to surface. I question though if it ever existed. When I press myself to recollect, there are no doubt some pleasant keepsake moments to look back on. From my 4th birthday party to the times I’d stay up late watching the Twilight Zone with my mother. From watching Saturday morning cartoons to cooling off in the hydrant on a steamy summer day.

Despite these flickers of lovely memories, my childhood cannot be described as a carefree one. Don’t get me wrong, arguably it could have been that much worse. My heart is heavy with the understanding that so many children have and continue to suffer at the hands of some very scary adults and I cannot begin to ever know what it’s like to walk in their shoes. But when I reflect back to the “little girl” version of myself; I feel sad for her. She was exposed to more than what I would have liked her to have seen or heard at such an early age and with such constancy. The memories that flood the recesses of my brain, to mention but a few are more along the lines of drug dealers cajoling on the corners; the occasional gun shot echoing outside my window; coming home to an apartment that others felt at liberty to trespass and help themselves to our possessions; getting groped by a passerby on my way home from school; one friend that lost a game of Russian roulette; another friend was taught a fatal lesson when bound to a chair and pushed off the rooftop; a single mom that cried and prayed incessantly because she never knew where the next meal or pair of shoes for a growing kid were going to come from; a home invasion while we slept then woken up in a terrified state when confronted face to face with the intruders, of which I never truly recovered from the duration of my dwelling there. Interlace that with all the personal “secret” dysfunctional issues that occurred within the household circle itself.

As a child, I may have daydreamed, but it was dreaming of a time when I could control my own destiny. As a child I didn’t get to choose. I had no personal power against my surroundings or even my own life. My life belonged to the adults around me. I obeyed and quietly worried about not having money, food, rent, at too early of an age. Too young to contribute to changing my current fate. I dreamed forward, I wished in to the future, I hoped for the years to pass quickly so I could earn my way through life. I needed to get through school, I needed to choose a career, I needed to work. Work would be my magic carpet out of these scary streets. Along with this carpet came student loans, bills and rent continued, but I welcome it. Although I didn’t build a rocket ship to fly in to outer space, I most certainly built a new life far, far away from the one I grew up surrounded by. A life that has propelled me away from the time when no song from my Momma could put me at ease. And THAT is better than the old days.

 

— The Pretty Platform

 

Human”Kind”

I freed my mind.
I made myself strong.
A decision many feel is wrong.
Electing my own path.
Despite the daggers and wrath.
All because I did the math.

Wrong with what though?
Not putting their leaders on a throne,
or not feeling they’ve been bestowed?
To not serve your way or not regret?
Or to be an Independent Thinker lest not forget.

So I’m shunned despite being a good mom and loving wife.
A hard worker and loyal friend is how I live my life.
Guiding my children to love and respect,
Because I believe differently; then my worth is stamped REJECT!

I’m told that I’m loved and missed.
That I’m in their hearts and thoughts.
But my address hasn’t changed.
My phone remains same.
I reason I’m the same person,
But to deaf ears my words are lost.

I didn’t lie to a leader, extort from a loved one, or betray a marriage oath.
I didn’t harm a soul.
I didn’t turn my back on a friend.
No justice to me, Whatever they say goes.
Even though they surround themselves with an excess of this,
magnified on overload.

“All of this is pardoned” they profess,
“So as long as you confess”;
“The rule of forgiving up to 77 times”.
But I myself committed NO crime.
Yet you bow your head as you walk by
and can’t look at me in the eye.

So I stand firm despite your opinion on “my kind”.
I set an example to my children that loving kindness has no confines.
It doesn’t start and end with those of like mind,
elitists’ are self-assigned.
We are all of human-kind, which means that in MY book…
No man or woman are left behind.
Extending a simple word or smile on to others is how I like to shine.

My exposed thoughts are never meant to offend.
These words are meant to help others comprehend.
I’ve promised to be open and honest from the start.
That I will no longer pretend.
My worth as a person and woman will no longer be pulled apart.
I advise all to take heart,
and be smart…
There is no shame in an open mind,
and that’s all I have to impart.

— The Pretty Platform

Clean Slate or Closure…Choose Wisely!

This year has been quite an interesting one. My only post of any significance before this one was a quick overview on how 2015 “Hulked” in strong, kicking my ass. At that point I believed, erroneously it seems, that I had met the peak of that figurative roller-coaster and was coming down back to the platform where I’d be able to exit, exhale and put my feet back on to solid ground. Talk about false expectations. Call me delusional. It is now October, and I look back rewinding my thoughts to all the valuable lessons I’ve learned.  I can properly bullet point all the lessons that have made their way in to my life, but I’ll leave that for my year-end review post. Today, I have an insatiable need to speak of one in particular.

Before I actually mention what that it, I refer back to a moment of clarity about ten years ago. I see it now…. my younger self standing at the bedroom closet, trying to calm down after yet another argument with the ex-husband, (I’m sure about something logical to me, but illogical to him, or the other way around. Who knows). I’m exhausted and pained that THIS, ALL OF THIS has become my life. “When will he change?”, are the words that were on a continuous loop in my head, like an annoyingly rooted jingle. “When will he change?”, are the words that I longed to have an answer for. “When will he change?, was the question I wrongly thought needed an answer. If HE changed, then MY life would be easier. If HE changed, then MY life would reap true happiness. And then, true to the word, I had an epiphany. More like I face planted in to what seemed like the solution, with…. another question. Why was I waiting for HIM to change? Why was I allowing MY happiness to be paved by such a negative force? So, I made the only change possible. ME! And so began Clean Slate Brain.

During our lives, many of us become conditioned to believe in the strength and power of a thing called ‘Closure’. I haven’t done the statistical research, but in retrospect many of the women I’ve come across in my lifetime, and lest not forget some men, have held on to this coined term as their key to a happy new start. They are waiting for answers. They are waiting for reasons. They are waiting for someone else to help them put it all behind them, for someone else to validate their next step Waiting for someone else to fix them or “it”.

The term, in the world of psychology, is the state of experiencing an emotional conclusion to a difficult life event. I sit here thinking about that one powerful sentence. (Go ahead, reread it. I’ll wait). Doesn’t that make you as sad as it does me?… To think that so many people hold on to the unrealistic expectation that there is ever, ever an absolute emotional “conclusion”? I included an alternate definition below as well. Whether it’s divorce or death or unemployment, all these things mold us and become a part of us, but it’s never fair, and never without consequence. We can’t ever truly discard it. We need to accept and learn to make this so-called experience work FOR us, not against us. And as a determined, assertive, independent woman, I’m also done with the fairy tale ideal that other people or forces are to provide me with the emotional cure so I can move on.

 

closure

 

Back to October 2015. What’s this particular lesson learned? You see, I almost forgot myself, almost lost myself. I allotted others more power than merited. With each passing month, I hoped, prayed and hoped some more and well… nothing! That’s the problem. You can hope all you want, but nothing will come from it, when you put your eggs in to someone else’s basket. So… with that said, I’m once again taking a stance against the unrealistic need for closure and creating a clean slate. A clean slate gives me back the power to live my life to the fullest, without resentment or regret. It allows me to break free. A blank page; one where I get to write my own path, my own adventures and my own reactions to the outcome. No more waiting around for someone else to change or for the right words to be spoken, or for a dragged on discussion to be had. I decide what is in my best interest. I get to choose. Only like that can someone regain the power that was thought to be lost during a difficult time in one’s life.

Repeat after me… “To the hell with closure”.

And just in case you were interested, (and even if you’re not), I’m finally off that damned roller coaster. For now at least.

— Elke

 

Have Anniversary… Will Celebrate

celebrate-small-success1

What causes you to celebrate? Is it getting that beautiful diamond ring from your boyfriend? Or maybe the offer of that dream job? Did you see that highly anticipated plus sign on your pregnancy test after two years of trying? Or receiving the finalized divorce papers from the lawyer? Hey! Don’t judge. Reasons to celebrate come in many forms. For some its hearing that the tumor is benign; or that the hospital found you a perfect donor match. Others dance at the news that the person that wronged them was brought to justice and their ass is now in jail or paying the consequence. I’m just sayin’.

Moving on… these are what I call life’s big-ticket items. Front row seat, all out celebrations. But why leave celebrating for just the big things? Your son got an A on his test? Celebrate. Your two-year old made his first toilet donation? Celebrate. Make an anniversary out of anything that is truly important to you. Go ahead and celebrate each year the day that you bought your first home. Or why not celebrate the anniversary of when your kids graduated college? Here’s an awesome website that gives you 365 quirky and insane holidays to celebrate. Pick your poison.: 365reasonstocelebrate.wordpress.com.

This week I choose three reasons to celebrate…

***First and foremost, tomorrow my most inquisitive 5-year-old turns in to my most inquisitive 6-year-old. That’s right, on April Fools Day… that’s double the fun.

Cristian

***Then this past weekend was my one year anniversary of The Pretty Platform. This blog is a huge part of me… so pass the wine.

Screenshot_2015-03-30-17-44-22 (2)

***Then, on Friday, April 3rd marks the day my beloved and so very missed mother was born. A perfect time to reminisce the great moments we had with her.

mom

So… here’s to Cristian, to The Pretty Platform and to Mom. Thanks for giving us a reason to celebrate life. Next week will bring many more.

— Elke — I feel it so I speak it!

SISTERHOOD OF THE WORLD BLOGGERS

sisterhood-of-the-world-bloggers-award

These first three months of 2015 was a difficult one for my blogging, more like I lost my mojo, my inspiration, my desire to even open my brand new touch screen laptop, of which by the way I got an awesome deal for. Thankfully I’m back with happy mojo in tow. Last week I decided I had to catch up with my comment feed.and it just added fuel to my happy fire. One was this wonderfully kind nomination back in January from Jessie Janelle Reyna. Reading her blog is like sitting at a cafe, on a comfy lounge chair, with an espresso in hand, with your funny and “say it like it is” girlfriend. It’s real and I’m sure you’ll relate to her and all her posts.

As I accept this nomination, the following must be accomplished:

1. Thank the blogger who nominated you, linking back to their site. (Check!)
2. Put the award logo on your blog.(Check!)
3. Answer the ten questions sent to you. (See below. Check!)
4. Make up ten new questions for your nominees to answer.(Also see below. Check!)
5. Nominate seven blogs.(And yet again, see below. Check!)

Jessie asked and here are my answers:

1. what is your everyday life like? what would you do to change it?

My everyday life is probably the same as most. My husband and I wake up, get the kids ready for school (all 3 boys), then make our way to New York for work, sit at my desk, analyze reports, speak to my accounts and reps, help the owner make more money, make my way back home, pick up the kids, whip up a close version of a healthy meal, get them to bed and hopefully find an hour or two to spend with my husband before turning out the lights to just do it all over again the next day. Pretty boring when written this way, and although somewhat mundane, it still provides me with some sort of accomplishment. But I would definitely change the dynamic of this by working only 3 days a week and having a 4 day weekend. How awesome would that be? And to add to perfection, it would be ideal if we could have siesta time during work hours. I think we’d be happier Americans. At least more rested ones. I think that’s the problem. We’re all sleep deprived.

2. what are your new years resolutions, if you have any?

I don’t like to make resolutions. Not absolute ones at least. Sure, I want to blog more frequently, and do something fun every weekend, spend more time with family and friends. In one of my latest post “2015 Kicked My Ass” I mention how we make plans and god laughs. Sometimes, the best resolution is to just wing it. You just may be surprised of the outcome.

3. what’s your guilty pleasure on television right now?

For the hot steamy sexy part of me…. It’s SCANDAL. And for the badass part of me… It’s BLACKLIST.

4. what has your blogging experience been like so far?

It’s been a surprisingly liberating one. I write what I want, with no set deadlines, no one else to critique or edit, no direction except for my own, and it has helped to filter who my true friends are. I don’t care what anyone else says, we all want a voice, we all want to be heard. But it’s funny that when we do just that, those around us will either go into offense or defense. I say… just go.

5. what did you want to be when you grew up at the age of ten?

I can’t remember wanting a career at that age. What I do remember clearly is making a promise to my mother about leaving the Hood as soon as I grew up and that I would never go back. I kept true to that promise and took my mother with me. I’m proud of that 10-year-old girl.

6. what is your most embarrassing moment?

Can you believe that I’ve sat here for 15 minutes trying to think of one and couldn’t come up with any? Sure, I’ve tripped and fallen, but nothing too awesomely embarrassing. I guess the most embarrassing thing are throwback pictures of me in the 80’s sporting some of the worst haircuts and outfits known to humanity. Don’t laugh. Look at those haircuts.

another haircut pic  1980s disaster hair

7. when have you been at your happiest?

On vacation. Anytime when we get away from reality. We transform in to the happiest, most fun-loving, most adventurous. I love vacation. And we don’t need to necessarily travel anywhere. I love a good well planned stay-cation, doing things locally you normally don’t have time to do.

8. if you could marry any character from a novel, who would it be and why?

Unfortunately, none of the men come across as worthy enough for me to even envision them as a husband. Don’t worry though, when I finish writing my book, I’ll choose the male protagonist from there.

9. what are some of your pet peeves?

So many, so many. Within the house, I hate toothpaste splatter on the mirror. I have 3 boys and I require them to SIT when peeing. I clean the bathrooms and I don’t care for those under seat pee stains. Ewww. I have to stop buying glass coffee tables because I hate seeing any fingerprint marks on those. Oh, and when I do the laundry, I hate, hate, hate when I have to pull out socks from the hamper and find them inside out. Yuck. I have to touch those smelly socks and bring them right side out again.

As for outside of the home, my biggest pet peeve would have to be grammatical ones. When folks use Than instead of Then or vice versa. I know someone who always uses “do” instead of “due”. And the biggest one has to be when they use “Your” instead of “You’re”. I don’t want to see an email saying Your Welcome, when it should be You’re Welcome.

10. what is your favorite blog post you’ve written?

There’s two of them. The first would be “No, it’s Not Okay”. It’s about how we all need to learn how to really watch our words when trying to comfort others. Sometimes we need to practice what to say before confronting them. We want to be a source of relief, not one of contention. And my other would be “A Time Machine For a Cup of Coffee”. It’s about my mom. She’s no longer with me, but how I’d love to just have a cup of coffee with her now.

 

Here are my Questions for my Nominees:

  1. If there was a book written about you, what would it be titled?
  2. If you could go back to any age in your life, which would it be, and why?
  3. What single accomplishment are you most proud of?
  4. Country living or city living?
  5. What’s your favorite joke? Do tell.
  6. Are you an ugly or pretty crier?
  7. If you could donate money to one cause, to one organization, which would it be?
  8. What do you think should be taught in schools today that isn’t already?
  9. How do you like your steak cooked?
  10. What vacation spot did you enjoy the most?

My Nominees. I just recently came across some of these Blogs and I’m so glad I did.

  1. Fighting Off Frumpy
  2. GlamitupMakeup
  3. Dirty, Naked and Happy
  4. We Don’t Chew Glass
  5. I Am Begging My Mother Not To Read This Blog
  6. So Then Stories
  7. Erin Lyon

So, thank you again to all those that find the time in their busy schedules to visit, read and comment. That is the real reward!!!

— Elke — I feel it so I speak it!

2015 Kicked My Ass

Its been practically 3 months since I’ve figuratively put pencil to paper. That wasnt my plan; so far from my original plan. So what happened to my so-called plan?

I clearly remember December of 2014. At this very moment it seems like so long ago. I was in the middle of finishing up a hysterical post about a project my son had completed in one of his classes. At the same time I had all these ideas taking root in my head knowing that 2015 would be a great year for my writing. I felt happy knowing that it was all sorted out perfectly in my mind, both for my creative self as well as for my personal life.

Then… the midnight clock struck loud and hard, welcoming the year that kicked me, and my loved ones swiftly in the ass. While everyone else heard laughter and bells and exchanged kisses…2015 had other plans for me. You’ve heard the saying, “you make plans and god laughs”. Well… I may not be the type to apply that literally but Jeez, the concept of it is definitely on point. While others worked hard to keep to their new positive resolutions, I struggled to even care. All those seemingly rooted ideas wilted away, suffocated by darkness, by sadness, even anger. My brain was loaded, weighed down. 2015 was intent on molding me in to someone I no longer recognized. Into someone I didn’t want to be.

But how do you get away from your own self? Simple… you don’t. You just fake it. You fake it for others and you hope, that all this pretending would convince even your own mind that all is fine. That the ugly moments have passed. That you picked yourself up, dusted yourself off and all is whole again. Well, joke was on me, because that can last only for so long before your own self turns on you. Reminding you that those ugly moments have not been solved, that you truly haven’t picked yourself up, that you are still sitting there planted, ass to floor. Honestly, it felt like i was eternally pms’ing, every… single… day. And as any woman knows, that is the equivalent of….HELL!

So, it is now March 23rd and here I am, finally writing something. Why now? Did something change? An epiphany? A mood changer? I’m recalling a conversation I once had with my niece quite some time ago. Here’s a young woman who has encountered so many roller-coaster loops in her life that she’s developed these suction cups on her feet just so she can adjust regardless what direction life has her facing. When she was much younger though, after many disappointing decisions she asked me how would she know when she’d have to change things up. “When you get sick and tired of the life you have. When you get sick and tired of feeling the same pain. When you can no longer accept the same outcome. That’s when you decide to choose a different path, a different option”. Not sure at this moment how that applies, but it’s what came to mind and it’s a great story.

So, either way, I was ready with my lists, with my goals, my well devised thought out plans. So when 2015 came in like one giant maze with mirrored walls, trapping me in I felt lost. Any direction I faced, I was still staring at myself, and apparently that person in the mirror, nor I had a clue as to what was really wrong. Then recently, from within those walls, as I sat knees to chest in a corner defeated, I overheard an attack on a loved one. Forgetting myself for a moment, I apparently sprang to my feet and took both offense and defense. Instead of trying to find the way out, I just crashed and shattered each mirror as confronted. Sometimes, the way out is right THROUGH the problem. A well needed match under my ass.

Going back to the previous story about my niece, THAT’S the application. I found my other option. Meeting each problem head on, not worrying about the solution, just trying to defeat it regardless of the pieces that fell. I’m humbled to remember that life is more than the way we plan it. True success and achievement is how we adjust to the different paths that come our way and not allowing any of those changes to defeat us. A perfect plan does NOT exist for me.

Looking back at my life, I see that each perfect plan was shifted to force me to recreate myself. And although each of those “shifts” may have caused some sadness, I can say with confidence, that I LOVE how I’ve been able to recreate a new me, a better me, a stronger me, a more substantial open-minded me. It’s still a work in progress, I’m still a work in progress but I’ll take it. Better to progress than to be standing still.

So, here’s to the next 9 months left in 2015. I know with certainty that I’m about to encounter some huge, gravity defying nasty loops. But if love for my family and friends is what lights a match under my ass enough to go head on to it all; and if I’m being shifted to become stronger and more keen to it all, then I’m hopeful that I’ll see myself right in to 2016. And this blog post, being the first of this year, is proof that I just shattered down one of those mirrors. To the hell with bad luck, broken mirrors is just what I need.

— Elke

Hero Brian Took My Son’s F-Bomb Virginity

Parenting is capital “D” difficult. Can I get an “Aaa-men!”. Restraint is difficult. Showing restraint as a parent is an elevated level of difficult. (I’m feeling every parent reader nodding enthusiastically in camaraderie agreement). So, when I hear and read about how evil video games are or how children shouldn’t watch television, I retaliate with a Blah! Blah! Blah! and a roll of the eyes. I’ve been a parent a few times over for 17 long, long years. Without either of these things, parenting and restraint would have been even more difficult, not to mention down right dangerous. In moderation and yes, with supervision, both are just fine and desperately needed in our abode.  But just as life would have it, we slipped a bit in the supervision department. Well, more like full on, greased up, slip-n-slide. Not the first time though. It happened once before when our oldest was only 13; it was such a traumatic experience… for me! We forgot to activate the parental restrictions on our cable boxes after moving in to a new place. No biggie, what would my 13-year-old angel do with that anyway? Well, I’ve been sworn to non-bloggable secrecy on the details of that evening. But it did end with a stiff drink and lots of ugly crying…again, from me. Nonetheless we thought we learned our lesson.

cristian

Fast forward to our now 5-year-old, our sweet innocent kindergartener. Our bushy-tailed, inquisitive baby. Thanks to early onset peer pressure he was introduced and captivated very quickly by Minecraft. Sounds innocent enough. Just wait! We researched the game and it was actually rated as a beneficial, thought-provoking, building skilled game for kids. Great! Pat ourselves on the back for careful parenting. Yeah, just wait, it’s coming! Sitting at the dining table one evening last month, family time with the kids, we allowed each to play their respective games as we passed the time. A sudden BOOM, I’m displaced. The light goes dim and I’m feeling faint. My ears are bleeding in pain and horror as an F-bomb, AN F-BOMB, gets launched from across the table. (No laughing matter, I’m not overreacting here).

f-bomb logo

The small  perpetrator, standing on the chair hunched over with his hands planted on the table on each side of his tablet, stared at me like a deer in headlights after hearing the gasp that apparently escaped my mouth. This boy, my angel, who had no idea what this word meant surely understood WHEN to use it. He got angry and out it spewed. My brain begins to race. A thousand thoughts in a split second. I had to react, but what was the best reaction? If I get angry he’ll have this as his future secret weapon to spear through my motherly heart. Note to self: Don’t get angry. If I laugh or shrug it off, soon he’ll join forces with the two-year old to F-bomb the house to oblivion. Do. Not. Laugh. So with a deep stern, controlled voice I ask who did he hear that word from. I’m ready for him to quickly throw a classmate under the bus. I’m ready to take that information and march up to this troublemaker of a kid, this menace and give him the needed direction that apparently he hasn’t learned in his own home.

minecraft-xbox-one-edition

Hero Brian.

What? Who?

Hero Brian.

Did you just say Hero Brian? Who’s Hero Brian?

My fawn in headlights does his best to enlighten me as to who’s tainted him.  This jeopardizing mischief-maker was no kid. Bambi here points to his tablet. What? There’s cursing in Minecraft? How did we miss that? How did YOU miss that as I turn to the Stag sitting next to me and accuse him of missing this very important detail in his research. This so-called Hero Brian is actually called Herobrine but my five-year old understood it as Hero Brian. This grown man is a voice in various YouTube Minecraft tutorials, which my son has been following. Wait…you were approved to play the game, not to follow some grown potty-mouthed man hiding behind a kid’s game to create a cooler world for himself.

Who told you about YouTube tutorials? You can’t even spell complete words, how did you find a Minecraft tutorial? And he took every one of my concerns, every one of my questions and answered them in the most simplistic honest way only a five-year old can. Part of me was amazed how such a small person handled this with the grace that he did, as opposed to…well…me. I was not seduced by his cuteness though, I stayed focused, I kept my glare. Ok, fine, we didn’t punish him.

cristian in a mask

He got ONE and only one free pass, but with a long-winded and boring explanation as to why it is absolutely inappropriate and unacceptable to use that word, under ALL circumstances. We’re not idiots, we know that fear will last only until his teen years absorb his entire being. But for now, no more tutorials unless they are viewed in our presence, which is no easy task for….ME. Those voices in the background explaining every feature of the Minecraft world as they play is right up there with listening to nails dragging along a chalkboard or the constant nag of a drippy faucet.

I know what you’re saying thinking judging; just ban the tutorials. Here’s the thing; as a concept they are quite educational for the game task at hand. They provide ideas to later use themselves. Now, he is most definitely banned from listening to what he calls Hero Brian, which interestingly enough turned out to be a unisex tag team by the names of Pat and Jen of PopularMMO’s. I don’t like to pre-judge based on the words of a rookie potty mouthed 5-year-old. So I put aside some time, took one for the team, strapped on my headphones and hit play on one of their videos. Did I already mention the nails dragging on a chalkboard? For you parents out there, because if you are childless why else would you have seen these, but did you have to sit through and endure Spy Kids 3D or Cat & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore? I’m sure these are part of some secret approved list to be used for horrifying Ludivico treatment sessions for some of the worst criminals in the world.

thediamondminecart

Moving on, I finally come across one tutorial that is definitely child friendly plus he has this awesome British accent which helps sooth me as a secondary listener. His name is Dan from TheDiamondMineCart. Score! As for Hero Brian, this name will forever be imbedded in to the core of my memory as the person, thing, character that helped my 5-year-old F-bomb his innocence to smithereens. Hopefully this will be my last slip up, but I’m not going to place any bets on that. I’m safe with cable restrictions,  but now my two-year old is just starting to talk. Oh F%#*$@¥!.

cristian and preston

— Elke

FunnyBlogFriday Raffle Winner!

Have you ever noticed that the longer you stare at a written word, the more “wrong” it looks? Well, that’s my problem right now with the word “winner”. Trying to celebrate my first ever winner by creating this post, the more I’m plagued by this word. So as to end my misery, here goes my announcement:

And the winner of my Funny Blog Friday raffle is Ben from Ben’s Bitter Blog. Go check out his blog along with all the other amazing bloggers below that participated in this first ever fun event. Thank you Victoria from Angst Anarchy for bringing all us loons together. Thank you to all the readers that made it out alive. And welcome home to all my new followers. We’ve been waiting for you.

Ben,

Hope you enjoy the Jeter jersey. Wear it in good health!!!

– Elke

 

Funny Bloggers involved:

Victoria of Angst Anarchy

Alanna of White Girls Be Like…

Jamie of Fits of Wit

H.E. Ellis of H.E. Ellis 

Jessie of Jessie Reyna

Alice of Alice at Wonderland

Ben of Ben’s Bitter Blog

Jenn of Properly Ridiculous

Lisa of Buddhaful Britt

JC of JCS Bloggery

Sarah of No Cry Babies

Elke of The Pretty Platform

Jack of The Things I see Up Here

Chicks A & E of Too Funny Chicks

Charly of Crazy Life

Kevin of Trailer Trash Deluxe

Karilin of That Nameless Color

Arthur from Pouring My Art Out

 

Spilling Secrets Over Drinks – A Family Reunion

Happy Friday everyone! I’m part of a Blog Hop today. It’s like bar hopping, only better. So grab a drink and enjoy the first ever Funny Blog Friday #FBF event.  It’s a Blog Hop Party filled with funny posts and giveaway raffles. Drum roll please……today I’m giving away a FREE YOUTH XL (size 18/20) DEREK JETER REPLICA JERSEY to the winner of my contest below.  *** But first (yes, yes, there’s always a catch) please READ on to find out some of my Family’s Dirty Little Secrets now exposed. 

 

You’ll agree that this past weekend was a beautiful one. Perfect weather for anything outdoors. Anything! We were doomed excited to stay inside. Our weekend plans were to revolve around my 84 year old Aunt. She’ll be leaving NY to be with my cousins out in NC. She’s not well, but it’s not as dismal as you think. For my independent and strong willed aunt, “not well” means that she has slowed down a bit and can’t scrub the tub, which technically defines ME now in my 40’s. There’s no way I’m reaching 84. 

We trek from NJ to the dreaded Bronx. We safely squeezed 10 people into her 3rd floor walk up. Amazing, I recollect that as a kid being raised in a one bedroom apartment in the hood section of the Bronx, THIS house was my idea of a mansion. Now? Nope, not so much. You see, this house is more like a wannabe brownstone with each floor portioned out to a tenant, and my Aunt “The Landlord” has the 3rd floor apartment. Folks in the Bronx would love to call this a Condo. Sure, okay, let’s play along. We are all gathered in… “The Condo”.

We feed the four noisy kids and try to keep them secluded in the adjacent living room using television and handheld electronics as their shackles. This works brilliantly except when their darn bottomless pits keep them coming back to the dining room for more rice, beans and pernil. Damn all this interruption. This dining room is where the adults have always reunited to celebrate family time. My Aunt always takes the same seat, closest to the phone as if she’s anticipating a call, never fails. Everyone else has to fight for the remaining three comfortable chairs. The unfortunate others having to pull in the rickety seats from the kitchen.DINING TABLE

As the night progresses, those poor kids are still banned. Occasionally I see one sneaking by to make their way to the bathroom. If they stopped eating they wouldn’t need to visit as often. KIDS

The adults yap and cackle catching up with each other’s lives. We sum up the present to quickly make our way back to the past. Going down memory lane has always been a form of camaraderie for us. This time though, we use this lane to dish out the unknown.

  1. We eat and drink like kings. Well, everyone else drinks while my Aunt bravely admits about how she has never taken a drink in the past 52 years. What?!!! She exclaims this as if it was some sort of badge of honor. We all bark out our sympathies as our curiosity peeked. “How drunk did you get 52 years ago that you had to deny yourself for a lifetime?” we tease. “Really, we need to know”. She shrugs this off. We know she heard the question. After poking and prodding for an answer, we have to respectfully let her slide. But soon we’ll have to come up with our theories, because… 52 years? 
  1. One cousin declares that he JUST found out he was conceived out of wedlock. I mean, he’s now in his 50’s. He’s stunned to know that his parents never married. “Um, I knew that already” I mention with somewhat disappointment since I thought he was going to dish out something pretty juicy. This was juicy…for HIM. He was now even more shocked by the fact that he was the only one that didn’t know. “How did you not know this?” We all burst out in laughter and turn back to my Aunt to now banter her about her risqué lifestyle. She smiles but refuses to fuel the frenzy. Her lips are sealed. We’re going to have to slip something into her coffee. “One drink? Please? We’re here to protect you.” She doesn’t budge.
  1. The attention now takes a sharp turn from his moment of illumination to mine as he makes a mention of my father. “Well, he’s not really my father”, I confess. He’s shocked. “Wait, what do you mean he’s not your father?” Another person chimes in “Hold on to your seat for this one”. I take him through all the details about the fact that the person on my birth certificate was not my father, but actually the man my mother unconditionally loved. When he had left for an extended period of time due to ‘The Law’, well, she became involved with someone else. A friend. A friend with benefits. (Get your mind out of the gutter. The benefits were that he was an honest hard working business owner that offered her the world, a house and a chance to leave “the hood”. Shame on you!) Unfortunately, when the non law abiding love of her life showed up she welcomed him back with a clean slate. Damn it! Coincidentally she’s pregnant. Hmm, what a conundrum. (fine, the friend came with those benefits too). Of course her heart convinces her that this baby (that’s me) belongs to the love of her life. Long story short, I’m born, he gives me his name, he disappears again, forever (until I turn 30 but that’s another story), and I grow up in a single parent home….still, in the hood. But his abandonment never hardened her heart, nor did she ever stop loving him. (I feel a Nicholas Sparks movie coming on). All my life I heard amazing stories about how great this “deserter” was. I wasn’t convinced. Nor did I ever feel compelled to search him out, almost as if my intuitive self knew. (My audience is now salivating). Before my mother passed away, the truth surfaced. I confronted her with a hopeful heart. She confessed. I did a happy dance. Finally, what I had hoped for. You see….I remember that friend. As a kid he’d visit, spend time with me, taught me Polka music, and brought me bags of M&M’s. This friend passed away when I was still a kid. But finally I knew that I was part Polish and I’m darn proud of it. Everyone at the table now starts to make sense of how different I’ve always been. That’s because my dad was a man named Charlie and NOT some loser called Ramon.

My Aunt is squirming in her seat, not pleased about these conversations. I tell her that her problem is that she won’t have a drink. If she did, she’d see how entertaining all this really is. I get “The Look”.

  1. Another cousin dishes out how her grandfather wasn’t much of a catch either. “Polito had dealings with the Spanish Mafia when he was younger. He had a very successful bookie business and refused to keep to his own territory”. My Aunt interrupts to add her details to this story. (Oh, so now she has something to say when it’s not about herself). She corrects it by stating that he had a successful “floral business” and refused to sell it to them. Sure, okay. Cousin respectfully continues the story about how he got kidnapped for a week and was later found dead with 2 bullets to the back of the head. Surely he wasn’t killed because they were threatened over the growing success of his “flowers”. Silence due to all the dropped jaws at the table. “Pass the Jack please”. He was mourned by practically every woman in the Barrio. That probably explains the 26 kids. Well, at least the ones they know of. 
  1. Same cousin continues with another tidbit that although her parents have been divorced for over 20 years, her father is still in love with her mother. “Didn’t he remarry?” one cousin asked. “Yes, but he’ll quickly leave his wife if my mother would have him back”. The pandemonium of laughter at the table. Here’s the thing… her mom lives in a nursing home, and well, her dad is reducing away under the evil powers of her step mother. Comments start to fly across and around the table. Her parents were doomed to be apart, but made to be together. “Can you imagine rekindled love in a few years once they hit their 70’s?” More laughter. Maybe it’s the alcohol. “And have you SEEN his wife? I’d go back to my Ex too”. 
  1. We all laugh about these dysfunctional cohort decisions of mafioso’s, drug dealers and cheating communists of our senior generation. That’s right, I said it, cheating communists! 

It was after a mention of the latter that the old lady had enough! She slowly stands up, next to her walker, assertively leans over her side of the table and scolds us for dishing out family secrets. She’s raining on our parade. After her emotional rant, I explain, with a chuckle that “hey, it’s all still in the family. No harm, no foul”. That definitely didn’t make it better. So I quickly compensate with the fact that we honor those no longer with us even through their mistakes. That was a part of who they were and we loved every part of them. We all come together to celebrate the craziness of this family. All of these off-the-wall, hard to believe, would make for a great best seller mistakes remind each of us here that we’re not all that bad, mistakes and all. Honestly, our kids in the next room will have absolutely NOTHING juicy to talk about. And for that, we all have another glass of wine (or Jack & coke).

Well, all except for my Aunt. Honestly, we should have slipped her something, anything.

— Elke

TITI

Now that you’re almost like family, click on the link below to enter my contest. I’ll contact you as well as post who the winner is by Sunday!  Thanks for stopping by! (I apologize if this giveaway takes you off my site. But please still enter! The Jeter jersey is worth it)

A Rafflecopter Giveaway – Enter Contest Here

Here are the other amazing blogs participating in the party…it’ll be worth your time to check them out! Don’t forget to take another swig of your drink.

Funny Bloggers involved:

Victoria of Angst Anarchy

Alanna of White Girls Be Like…

Jamie of Fits of Wit

H.E. Ellis of H.E. Ellis 

Jessie of Jessie Reyna

Alice of Alice at Wonderland

Ben of Ben’s Bitter Blog

Jenn of Properly Ridiculous

Lisa of Buddhaful Britt

JC of JCS Bloggery

Sarah of No Cry Babies

Elke of The Pretty Platform

Jack of The Things I see Up Here

Chicks A & E of Too Funny Chicks

Charly of Crazy Life

Kevin of Trailer Trash Deluxe

Karilin of That Nameless Color

Arthur from Pouring My Art Out

 

NO! It’s Not Okay!

My son was growing beautifully, safely tucked away in the depths of my womb.Preston wired up Well, safely is probably not the most accurate word to use. At around my sixth month of pregnancy, the sonogram technician detected something abnormal. Now that’s a word that no expecting parent ever wants to hear. Needless to say, after sending us immediately to a pediatric cardiologist for a closer look, my tiny and perfect baby was diagnosed with TGA (Transposition of the Great Arteries). To simply sum that up, that’s when the major arteries to the heart are flip-flopped in their position. The end result would mean that the heart would not be able to pump out oxygen-rich blood to the body, and hence my boy would not be able to breathe once he was no longer sheltered inside of me.  A beautifully easy labor was quickly overshadowed by the nurses scurrying him away without having the chance to even hold him, feel his skin or kiss his little toes. It was time to stabilize him and get him ready for surgery. We had learned of an amazing surgeon, a god in this field, with an averaged 99 percent success rate. And this is where the true point of this article begins.

At some point in each of our lives there comes a time when we will need to provide some type of understanding or sympathy for someone else, be it a friend or a coworker. For many, this can be an uncomfortable situation since they find themselves at a loss for words. Admit it. Have you not ever had to buy a sympathy card and felt the need to write more than just the cheesy generic words that are already factory printed but you have no idea what to say? You know it’s necessary to say more than just sign that card. So you Google search, “what to write in a (fill in the blank)”. There seems to be a boatload of folks out there needing some guidance since “in a sympathy card” is the second most searched option. (wedding card was the most searched which only means we seem to live amongst a generation of people who can’t come up with an original thought even on happy occasions). You scroll through what just may be hundreds of suggestions then pass one off as your own thought, or at least some version of it. Don’t feel bad. Join me please in this over populated prison cell for the Hallmark plagiarist, I’ve saved you a seat.

But when faced with someone ‘real time”, in person, face to face, many crutch on to the ever so reliable “It’s okay, everything is going to be fine”.

The news of my son’s upcoming surgery was now common knowledge amid many, which left us exposed to a bombardment of the “It’s okay”; “He’ll be okay”; “You have a great surgeon, it’s all going to be okay”. In tandem came the infamous rub on the back; the sympathetic squeeze of the shoulder; or the nervous raise of the eyebrows with a combo tilt and nod of the head as they blurted out the words they thought were the most comforting. Unfortunately, I may not have been the kindest person nor was I receptive to this type of consolation. “What makes any of this okay?”; “How do you know it’s going to be okay?”; “There are parents out there that landed into that one percent and their child did NOT make it! WPreston 2 years oldhat makes us any different or any more special?”; “I could be that hopeful mom in the waiting room eventually down on bended knees crying after hearing the doctor tell her that her son didn’t make it out of surgery because his little heart was too weak”. Two years have passed since that surgery and thankfully, yes, all turned out great. My tiniest one is doing well.

Life experience has definitely slapped some sense into me. It has enabled me to feel what it may be like to walk in someone else’s shoes/boots/heels, you name it. I’ve definitely become a lot more empathetic. But as is my nature, even my empathy comes with a controlled amount of emotion and gets balanced with logic. And it’s this mix of emotional logic, or better yet, logical emotion that curbs my words even if someone else’s plight makes ME uncomfortable.

Empathy involves not just compassion and warmth, but its main attribute is recognition, comprehension, having insight, being on the same wavelength.

Simply put, if your friend tells you that they were up all night with a sick child, your response stating that little junior will be fine does nothing by means of empathy.  I promise you that telling her “You must be exhausted, I don’t know how you do it” shows more understanding than brushing off her concerns with a happy, life is great, all is good in the world comment. Your neighbor happens to vent how he’s distraught that his young 19-year-old daughter just announced her pregnancy. Making light of the subject by joking how he’s about to be a grandfather won’t help the situation. But acknowledging his plight with “I’m sure as a dad you envisioned it differently for your baby since we already know how difficult it is to raise a family especially when you’re that young” will help validate his feelings entirely. Your teenage kid finally breaks down and lets you in on their agonizing over getting dumped by their true love. “You’re young, you’ll be fine. It’s a rite of passage. Years from now you’ll know what true love really is”. Wrong answer. Are you kidding me? Your kid finally lets you in and you reduce their feelings to such a dismissive basic reply? How about acknowledging the pain, and digging deep to find the memory of losing your own first love back in the day?

True sympathetic words should never have to fit more into your own comfort zone than the person that needs the comfort. As the listener you have been granted the opportunity to make a difference in the life of the news bearer, even if for just a few minutes. As the listener, as the friend, as the family member, as the one graced to receive the news, this is your moment to show true camaraderie. Don’t mess this one up. Don’t tell someone who says they are worried to not worry. Don’t tell someone who says they are scared that there is no reason to be scared. Don’t tell someone who expresses sadness to not feel sad. Point blank, just don’t tell someone how to feel. Those comments are not comforting. They’re a cop-out, a way to dodge the emotional bullet. Take stock of how you can be a true shoulder to cry on, a true listening ear, an actual “I’m here for you”, a person that can relate. Do your research. Practice, practice, practice. Remember, it truly is okay that not everything is okay.

— Elke

Kim Kardashian and Her Stupid Earrings

Standing in the shower, my eyes closed feeling the water hit my back, listening as the drops meet the porcelain floor, my mind starts to wander. A moment of tranquility is quickly overtaken by moments of chaos thinking about my eternal To Do list. I can’t believe I have one kid starting his senior year in high school and another starting kindergarten, with picture day happening the first week of school. Kids need a haircut. We have projects around the house that need to be completed. Fixer upper, good idea? Yeah, right! (sarcasm noted). And I still need to go get my first ever mammogram done (Too much information?).

Then…seventy five thousand dollars spring to mind. An entire years worth of work for many. Life savings for others. Seventy five thousand dollars. $75,000!!! Why did I think of this? Is it my $75,000? Oh, no, no, no. I’m not sure exactly why it presented itself, but I do know the origin of this quantity and the more I think of it, well, the angrier I get.

Picture a young woman. Exotic in nature possessing beauty enviable by many. She travels the world and engages with royalty, political powers and those well-known to fame and fortune. Many male contenders waiting to profess their love. Life has privileged her with a large family, good health and exceptional wealth. She is not naive to this elite lifestyle, she actually does all she can to maintain it. The world watches her every move. Young girls want to emulate her. Opportunities at her very fingertips. Every door opening without as much as a nudge. You see, I told you it wasn’t me. But, if it was, I wonder if my perspective towards life would be the same as hers. I would like to believe I would be different. How would I want to be different given the same opportunities?

Well, for starters,  those seventy-five thousand dollars would NOT have been spent on a pair of diamond stud earrings. Yes, one single lonesome pair of studs cost this much. Don’t get me wrong, I would definitely want a pair of expensive earrings. Sure. I’d be a hypocrite if I said anything otherwise. What I’d hope to avoid though are the extremes that these people  of fortune proudly display as a badge of honor. What about spending “only” a thousand bucks? Extremely expensive still in my eyes but would that be considered low-end for her? As I continue to put my thoughts down on “paper” it hits me as to what led me to think of this large sum of money in the first place.

It was part of my to do list. My five-year old is starting kindergarten. Along with that comes a school supplies list, of which two of every supply was requested. In conversation with my dear husband as we browsed through the aisles at the dollar store for these supplies, he asks why would our son need two boxes of tissue. I tell him it’s because we are all contributing to the classroom supplies. Dear husband’s mind is blown. Boom! Personally I thought this was common knowledge. I continue to tell him that teachers need to buy a lot of their own supplies. (This dollar store actually caters well to that purpose. The Dollar Tree rocks!) Yes, out of their own pocket to teach our children. Dear husband’s head is spinning in disbelief. “What the hell! They should just refuse.” Poor guy. “Well, then they’ll be out of a job. It just comes with the territory”. Fast forward, he has to look this up to disprove this so-called theory of mine. Fast forward a little more and yes, he admits I’m right. (This doesn’t come often so I’m recording it here for future reference). His appreciation for teachers has now increased with the knowledge of this little fact. Seventy five thousand dollars for one pair of earrings or donate to hundreds of classrooms? I would like to think that put in to the same scenario I’d choose the latter. Or would I? Be honest, would you?

I’m not quite sure what crosses ones mind to dish out that amount of money for an inanimate object that ultimately will collect dust as its abandoned into the corner of a jewelry box. I’m sure these have been forgotten along with the many other earrings in her arsenal of gems. Would she ever feel compelled to take a handful of her jewelry and trade it in for the cash value to use toward a greater cause? Who’s to blame here? When this young woman was being raised, was it enough for her parents to just remind her through words alone about how important it is to be thankful for all that she has because she could have ended up like one of the 3,000-6,000 folks living homeless on Skid Row, while they still exemplified a life of extremes and greed? We seem to live in a society where this lifestyle of extreme is associated with success. Where the wrong careers are celebrated and most compensated. I understand that many athletes and entertainers are hard-working and talented, and I’m not here to start arguing the definition of “hard work”. Talent, or the talentless can also be argued, but I can leave my opinions on that for another time.

Drew Brees himself recently told WWL radio in New Orleans via the teams official website regarding if they get paid too much; “Yes, we probably do. Unless you’re finding a cure for cancer or creating world peace, I don’t know if anybody deserves to get that much money.  That’s the industry that we’re in. You could probably say the same for actors, actresses and entertainers.  We’re in the entertainment industry and business is business and there is a market.  The market establishes what you get paid.” You must know who Drew Brees is… but in case you don’t, he is a football quarterback for the New Orleans Saints of the NFL. Now THAT’S a smart man. But don’t get this twisted, he’s no idiot. He’s not going to turn a blind eye to his generous contract pay. What?!!! None of us would.

This is what I’m talking about. Someone that realizes the craziness and unfairness of the industry they work for. At least he uses it to give back. Quite the philanthropist,  he and his wife founded The Dream Foundation to help children of New Orleans. After Hurricane Katrina,  they donated 2 million to help the community. After Hurricane Sandy,  they donated 1 million to those affected by the storm. What’s crazy is that this amount equals the quantity donated by the NFL. The NFL could have easily reached down deep and donate a little more generously considering the magnitude of the organization. And here comes a foundation set up by a man and his wife, a man contracted by the NFL itself, and shows them up.

Imagine for a second all the good that can be accomplished if each excessively, I mean, disgustingly wealthy person that splurged on their abodes alone “downsized”, by a couple of million. Heck, I’m not saying that the rich and famous should live like us everyday middle class peons, but would it be so detrimental to Bill Gates survival to cut down from his 147.5 million dollar house??? Damn it, is that house self-cleaning? Does it “George Jetson” him out of bed on to a conveyor belt guiding him to mechanical arms that dress him each morning? Is he compensating for a life of nerdiness and being bullied with the excessive size and worth of this place? Okay, we get it, you’re rich. You’re beyond rich. Now I can’t complain too much about this man either since he’s like the KING PHILANTHROPIST. But unfortunately not many of those blessed with this opportunity donate so generously. They give just enough to soothe their so-called conscience or some don’t give at all.

My fury comes from seeing so much need, so much poverty, so much lost hopes in our own country. Then Americans try to hold a single government accountable, which they should be; in part. But let us not forget that people themselves can make a  load of difference. There are plenty of wealthy folks with the means to make a difference even in ONE persons life. Personally,  I Iive in a 5 bedroom house, fixer upper, that sits on an acre of land. I know for a fact that an acre of space is definitely not necessary unless you are the Duggar family (what are they up to now, 20 kids?) If I can admit that, then I’m sure Christie Brinkley can admit that her 30 million dollar home with 11 bedrooms with no children occupying any of them is more than she truly needs. I’m sure Kim can survive without those $75,000 pair of earrings. I’m sure that Justin and Jessica’s 6 million dollar wedding didn’t help them stay together any longer than they did. And none are more ridiculous than Lady Gaga dropping 50,000 real dollars on an Electro-Magnetic Field Reader which is a device that claims to detect ghosts. What the hell are they thinking? I didn’t realize that “stupidity” had a dollar sign attached to it. I finish my shower maybe a little more grateful for not being born in to the filthy rich. And I smile knowing that at least I make enough to contribute extra supplies to my 5 year-olds kindergarten class. How can you make a difference?

I thought this was the end of my post, but one last thought before I end this diatribe; we really need to start rethinking as a nation as to what jobs are truly worth more compensation. Reality TV star or Police officers / Firefighters? Basketball player or Teacher / Daycare director / Assisted living coordinator? Actors or Social workers / Paramedics / Ambulance dispatchers? Chances are you will benefit more from all these underpaid workers. Chances are you have already been affected greatly by one or more of these underpaid workers. Chances are that one of these underpaid workers took a personal interest in your well-being. And yet we all continue to dish out money for those that already make too much of it. Shame on us!

— Elke

Who Cares What Size Your Butt Is

Let me just say this…I’m Hispanic and I don’t have a big butt. My boobs are not that much to write home about either. There…I said it. I almost feel like I have to belong to a support group. Why? Because my culture as in many others thrive on this look. And if you belong to a cultural background that doesn’t, well, no fear to be left out. 

In this age of the Kardashians and Minaj it’s well promoted as the desirable way to be. Is that a good thing? A bad thing? Why does it have to be a “thing”? 

What has me talking about this is a comment that was recently made by Nicki Minaj when asked why she decided to make the nasty, dirty, borderline soft porn video Anaconda. (Those are my personal adjectives).

“I wanted to reinstate something,” Minaj told ABC News. “Because of the shift in pop culture, even hip-hop men are really glorifying the less curvy body. “I wanted to say, ‘Hey ladies, you’re beautiful,’” Minaj said. “Hopefully, this changes things and maybe it won’t change things, but I love it.” 

Let’s get this straight and understood. First and foremost, I didn’t go searching out this video. I was asked to watch it after a conversation about how women think they are taking control of their bodies but in reality they themselves are just setting back any progress made in true body acceptance. Not sure what I was more focused on though. The video or my surroundings to make sure no one would notice what I was watching. I felt like a teenage boy trying to sneak a peek and terrified of getting caught and being thought of as a pervert.  

But back to Nicki’s comment. Lets call it what it is, how does the saying go? Call a spade a spade? (my husband mocks me because I always say “call an ace an ace”). I’m sure Nicki, being as cute as a button while being deemed the most powerful woman rapper on the scene today didn’t expect to be asked WHY.

“What do you mean why? Because I’m Nicki Minaj, and I need to make sure I have more shock value than Madonna, Lady Gaga, Rihanna and that skinny chick Miley. Relevance! I need to remain relevant”.

No, she did not say that. But THAT I would have believed more. Shallow, but believable.  Don’t try to spin this into a noble declaration of self-image acceptance. Have you seen this little display of apparent “curvy girls unite”? And what do you mean that the less curvy body today is being glorified? What rock have you been living under? 

Here, I’ll throw out a few names and see if you can put your finger on what the common denominator is amongst them; Jennifer Lopez, Kim/Kourtney/Khloe Kardashian, Nicki Minaj herself, Iggy Azalea,  Beyonce, Scarlett Johansson,  Shakira, Serena Williams,  Sofia Vergara,  Christina Hendricks, Jessica Biel, Jennifer Love-Hewitt and Eva Mendes. And those are the ones I can come up with all on my own. I’m sure there’s a list of big butts on Google for sure. 

Most of these women have been on the scene for quite some time now and celebrated for their curves. Oh wait, even model turned actress Kate Upton. Ok, fine, not a big butt, but still very curvy. Think about it, the last time a young, thin, non curvy celebrity decided to twerk her way to sensational she was criticized for her LACK in the back. So, what did all the mocking do for the non-curvaceous generation?  So, just slap the same performance on Nicki and it’s a positive thing? That screams hypocritical to me. And for the record, Nicki’s performance reduces Miley’s twerking to a sad, theatrical shame. 

So, now that we’ve established that our generation APPLAUDS curves, let’s discuss how being half-naked or having air sex or having phallic symbols in your video is supposed to help promote body acceptance. Since the days of “I Like Big Butts” have male rappers used women’s bodies as a selling feature, reducing women to mere objects. Hey, male Latin artists have done the same for years. So, is Nicki not promoting the same thing? Is she not sooner promoting sex as a woman’s main tool to success instead of showing that body acceptance should be isolated from how much appeal you have to the male society? There are any number of things she could have included in her video instead of bananas on a turn table or spilling coconut milk (don’t act like you don’t know)

To help promote acceptance I challenge her to highlight any ten of the following in her next video: read the literary classics for self advancement, take an art class, ride a bike, work harder to better your grades at school, read to kids at the local library, become a big sister, be part of a team, learn to skate, visit museums with your friends, spend time with your family, learn a new language, go to the gym to be healthier and not just sexier, exercise to gain endurance going up a flight of stairs and not just for intimate reasons,  travel, take a road trip, find and nurture your spiritual side, read the newspaper, take on a hobby and be great at it, learn to eat better, learn how to budget yourself and save money,  invest in a 401k plan, dress classy and not trashy, learn from your mistakes, learn to express yourself in proper English, learn how to interview, start a business, learn to walk away from abuse, develop a support circle of friends and family, be a mentor, stop gossiping, be ambitious, set goals, play an instrument, learn how to change a tire, better your credit score, get out of debt. 

Any handful of these things can be accomplished by any woman; curvy or rail thin. These are the things that increase self-esteem in life. These are the things that will help empower women. These are the things that will allow the female society to stop focusing on the superficial because they will live for the more substantial things. This is what makes us stronger, smarter, better and yes, even more beautiful. 

It’s not the size of your butt jiggling in the air. It’s not playing patty cake with some girls butt cheeks. It’s not wearing the skimpiest outfit leaving absolutely nothing to the imagination. It’s not lap dancing some guy. 

So Nicki, stop justifying your video as woman power. You’re behaving just like any objectifying man…and that my dear, is NOT beautiful!

Marvel and DC Have Nothing On This SuperHero!

What crosses your mind when you see a fire hydrant? Some folks don’t even give these a second thought. Others are bothered by it when the only parking spot available is, of course, a foot too close to it. Maybe the image of a pissing dog comes to mind. While most of the female population will vouch a hot fireman to be the image that happily comes to theirs. But there are a handful of us, in comparison to the magnitude of this world, that carry a different type of memory when contemplating these metal water conductors.

My story of recollection begins in a questionable neighborhood, or The Hood as some may refer to it. Summers were “cook an egg on the sidewalk” sizzling. We could never depend on the relief of an air conditioner except when we’d take a trip to Food City or McDonald’s. Even the local Pizzeria just kept their doors propped open in hopes for an occasional breeze and to let out the heat generated by the steaming ovens. Depending on the year, my mother’s old jalopy of a car either had working cool air, or didn’t. We never owned one in our apartment nor did any of our neighbors. (An interesting fact  that as an adult now myself, looking back, I think the grown-ups purposely chose not to be “that” apartment with a unit in fear of being the catch-all to the neighborhood kids).

Those were the days when ceiling fans, window fans, and full height floor rotating fans populated each room. To add insult to injury, most of the furniture, everywhere, were protected by thick, stiff plastic. Sitting on those always created a pool of sweat right beneath our thighs. When we’d try lifting ourselves up, we had to peel ourselves off since the heat somewhat soldered our skin to the plastic. The only solution to that dilemma was to cover the already covered furniture with a flat sheet (amazingly, to this day, I never use that flat sheet as bedding. Makeshift tent for the kids, beach/picnic blanket, but not bedding).

As for the thought of a swimming pool, well, this was so far from reality, we could only covet them when seen in movies like It’s A Wonderful Life, Mommy Dearest or The Graduate. Crystal clear, refreshing but above all NOT accessible. This, by no means brought down the summer morale. For certain all us school aged children could logically deduce what we were missing, but we didn’t go around sulking about it. We may not have been graced with picture perfect tree-lined streets that would have provided us with temporary shaded alleviation of the sun’s discomfort. We didn’t complain nor did we stay away from the outdoors.

What each street DID have was a savior of sorts. A liberator, a knight in NOT so shining armor. A cast iron Super Hero. “LA POMPA”!

This was a Hispanic neighborhood with a couple of black families and definitely not one “gringo”. Although all the kids spoke English fluently, you’d never catch any one of us using the word hydrant. I can’t ever recall even knowing that was the actual word for it until adulthood. A typical summer afternoon went something like this: “Mom, it’s hot in here. Can I go downstairs with the other kids to play en LA POMPA?” Amazingly, no whining was ever needed to accompany this question (hint to my middle child). Any other reason to go out would have prompted an immediate, without hesitation, big fat “NO”. Parents knew the powers encapsulated within this cast iron hero. They understood the trickling effects that would occur by allowing LA POMPA to entertain us for a couple of hours. They could get in some housework without us kids making a mess in their tracks. They could catch up with their VCR recordings of their favorite Novella. And best of all, we’d be so exhausted upon our return, solidifying a quiet evening. Mom’s response? “Esta bien (translation: fine/ok/sure/no problem). Stay close to the sidewalk. Please, careful with the cars.” Score! “Love you Mami”.

And down five flights of stairs I’d rush, skipping as many steps as possible along the way in hopes to get there all but five seconds sooner. At the lobby, even before running out through the double doors of this prewar building, you could hear the excited laughs and cackling of the neighborhood kids. A group of kids that normally wouldn’t find themselves within the same social circle on dry land (think The Breakfast Club). But unlike detention, it is HE that brings us all together on this scorcher of a day. There HE stands in all his glory. Spiderman may shoot out webs, Superman boasts ice breath, but it’s LA POMPA that gushes the perfect stretch of water rocketing our level of amusement and washing away the discomfort of the day.

On any given day ages could range from toddlers to teens, with the occasional parent joining in on the fun. There were the kids that sported cute bathing suits or trendy trunks, and there were the kids that just wore their tees and shorts. No one judged, no one whispered, not one kid was above another. LA POMPA brought peace, forged temporary friendships, helped wash away not only the bullets of sweat, but helped cease fire on all conflicts even if for just a moment. He reminded us what it meant to truly laugh. He reminded parents of the benefits of letting your kid just be a kid, to allow them to just break free, to squeal without regard and to jump around without a care.

Oh, what an exciting scene this was to observe. There were kids on either side of the street. You either chose to stand on line to take your turn to direct the water from behind LA POMPA or stand with the rest of the group as the squawking recipients. Each position had its glorious merits. When it was your turn to step up to direct the water, you’d braced yourself behind LA POMPA, feet planted solid to the ground, bent over with an empty prepped can (open on both sides) well gripped between both hands. The kids on the other side would stand there waiting with bated breath for you to slowly bring that can around, down and over the open hydrant. This was a skill that took a few turns to perfect. If you didn’t know what was coming when you lowered that can over the water, the pressure alone would pull you in, chest slammed in to the hydrant and send that can flying to the other side as all the kids would take cover behind their own arms. But once you had the hang of it, with much assertiveness, you’d tightly hold and direct that can upward feeling the force of the water pulsating through your hands all the while watching as the water took to the sky. And as gravity would have it, watch it then wonderfully fall upon all the sweaty kids below. You AND LA POMPA were cheered on, feeling like a hero. A few minutes later, in honorable nature, you’d pass on the torch to the next kid in line and happily take your place under the cascading water.

You know those television commercials advertising the perfect vacation portraying a woman under a gorgeous waterfall, clearly showing her exhilarated pleasure when the water hits her skin relieving her of nature’s heat and humidity? Well, that’s what it felt like for us when the arched water dropped from the sky. With arms held up high as to catch the water and embrace it. Running around, laughing and bumping in to each other. Jumping knee high to land on to the puddles being created beneath our feet. Kicking up the water that’s become a stream along side the curb traveling away making its way down the sewer. And to top it off, the thrill when a car showed up, slowly inching down the street. We’d tense up just a bit waiting. But when that driver showed equal pleasure by stopping and giving us the thumbs up to allow the water to wash away the dust from their car, well, he just climbed his way in to cool status.

Honestly, there are so many additional details that made this moment glorious. Asking our parents to donate empty cans to the cause, removing our shoes to feel the stream of water flowing through our toes, bracing yourself with your back to LA POMPA waiting for the forceful pressure of water when directed straight at the group and still getting knocked on your rear, taking cover behind parked cars for a little reprieve, watching the sun go down behind the buildings knowing that soon you’ll be summoned upstairs, understanding with respect when an adult would come with the special tool to close down LA POMPA for the evening, watching as the last of the water would trickle away, the feeling of wet clothes sticking to your skin as you made your way back home, waiting at the door as mom would bring me a towel to dry off and ending the evening with a bath, hot meal and relaxing by the television. 

It was all this, encapsulated, that allowed us welfare kids to believe that nothing else in this world mattered except for that moment right there. We didn’t go away on vacation, we didn’t have pretty houses or manicured lawns or backyards or pools or soft green grass to play on. We had dull grey hot concrete under our feet. We were trapped by six-story buildings lining the streets and all the crime within them. We had worries that kids should never have. We felt the heat of this environment year round. But thankfully, LA POMPA, with all it’s streaming forceful powers gave us the relief we needed to be just a kid and smile another day. That’s a superhero in my book.

–Elke

From Five Months To Eleven Years To…

I glanced and contemplated a man,
you were young and prideful but caught my eye.
I kept pulling my thoughts away,
for you seemed less reliable and more of a wise guy.

 

You couldn’t possibly be all that I dreamed of,
all that I needed and all that I waited for.
You insisted that you were the one to share my life, 
and pushed like waves against the shore.

 

You found creative ways to change my mind,
small touches, sweet words and witty remarks.
You reminded me how great it was to laugh,
and before I knew it I felt the sparks.

 

I gave in to the possibility of something wonderful,
you courted me with class and respect.
Although I was somewhat guarded and broken,
Once my heart joined in, it was love I was able to detect.

 

It didn’t take long to know what we both wanted,
five moths later holding hands we declared “I do”.
Many told me I was crazy and it wouldn’t last.
This year I’ll happily celebrate my eleventh year with you.

 

There was the clichéd “we had many ups and downs,
with love and patience you get through it all”.
The truth is that what made us stronger,
was the net we provided when the other would fall.

 

We’ve pushed at each other harder than we should,
pulled away from one another when we should not.
But as many trials our love may continue to face,
it’s your strong shoulder drawing me in as my consoling spot.

 

Are five months enough to get to know one another?
It’s not a route I’d recommend to someone else.
But our own eleven years are proof enough to the world,
that with determination our love became our wealth.

 

You willingly went from wise guy to father.
You’ve deciphered how to slowly break down my wall.
You’ve helped clean all of the “dirty laundry”.
Three sons later we help one another stand strong and tall.

 

Eleven years are a true testament of who we are.
Boy, do we have quite interesting stories to tell.
What the next eleven years will bring we do not know,
but it is in your arms that I will always choose to dwell.

 

“Happy Anniversary” is the customary phrase of choice.
Two generic words that truly do not suffice.
I hope these words clearly indicate the depth of my love,
five months or eleven years I’d easily do it thrice.

 

–Elke

Clash of the Titans (when this couple butt-heads on practically everything)

For anyone that has had the privilege of watching this movie, either the original or the remake, (stay far away from the sequel “Wrath…”), you’ll recall that the male character, Perseus, exuded the muscle and strength to fight for the damsel in distress, Andromeda. He encountered witches, two-headed dogs, chopped off the head of Medusa (referred to as a Titan in the original), and fought The Kraken (also referred to as a Titan) to bring life back to normal for the woman he loved. In the original, the gods predict that Perseus and Andromeda will live happily, rule the kingdom wisely, and produce children. Zeus then forbids the other gods to pursue vengeance against them. In the remake, Perseus declines the offer to wed Andromeda and goes on his way. The end. (Disclaimer: In actual Greek Mythology, neither Medusa or The Kraken are Titans, but that’s not the point here).

Let’s get it clear, before I continue, I am NOT Andromeda. Far from it. And my male counterpart is NOT Perseus. When we both met, dated and wed five months after (yes crazy kids, only 5 months), we quickly learned that we are both representations of Medusa and The Kraken. Two powers trying to coexist in the same lair. Both vying for the same title. The tricky part is trying to determine which of us is Medusa and which is The Kraken. I put a lot of thought in to that, but for the sake of this article, I’ll proudly take on the role of Medusa. (The Kraken would agree).

Let’s go back to those five months we dated. Bliss! We had only one argument and it lasted as long as a good nights sleep. I lived in a uber cozy one bedroom attic apartment in Queens. It took true creativity to furnish and decorate this tight space. He’d visit and pour laud on to all that I did. He even mentioned lied how he loved the curtains that I sewed up myself. As for his own living arrangements, he shared a city apartment with some chick, claiming just the bedroom as his space. It was all white. No joke, no color. No throw pillows, no wall hangings, not even a lava lamp. No sign of personal taste or expression. And he sported a 13″ round tube television. (For the younger, out of touch generation, this is an old-fashioned television, horrifyingly had no remote and was the size of your laptop. We now refer to these as vintage). Did I mention that The Kraken here is an architect?

Fast forward to a City Hall “I do” and we excitedly move in to our first apartment together. We pop open a bottle of champagne and contemplate the large open space. Lots of space. This is where I begin to realize that the grass is not always greener on the other side. Most of my girlfriends complain that their dear husbands never give their opinions on how to decorate their home. They don’t seem to care what color the walls will be, and little less if the throw pillows coordinate, tying in the colors with the furniture. Their only contribution is where to hang the flat screen television and to make sure there is a suitable coffee table to prop their feet upon. Done! They suspect I’m fortunate to have a partner to bounce ideas off of and think it’s great he has an opinion on such things. Foolish women, they know NOTHING! To sum up the last eleven years, I wanted horizontal stripes, he wanted vertical. Of course we nixed the stripes. He painted the spare bathroom a pastel green, I painted over it. He loves bright colors I love all shades of gray. I like the chevron patterned pillow, he liked the floral. To just agree on a nursery wall color was a huge production of discussions, scrutinizing, comparing, debating and convincing. You think it’s funny, it’s exhausting. The Kraken thinks he knows better due to his career experience. He forgets the powers of Medusa. Once turned to stone, the Kraken is useless, so remember that!

And this doesn’t apply just to decor. Cooking can be a bonding moment. Many couples come together to chop, season and stir while sipping and laughing over a glass of wine. For us it can turn in to a moment of some serious eye rolling and head shaking. He enjoys piling on the different flavors, I prefer to simply bring out the natural flavor. He needs sauce, I want it dry. I want over-medium, he wants to poach. Every cooking moment is a five-star, twelve course meal opportunity for him. I like a quick boil or steam and call it an evening.

I would love to help you out and say that this is where it ends. No chance. Let’s continue with how he will soon enough burst in to flames if he doesn’t get the constant frigid blast of the air conditioner. I’m currently looking for someone who will design heated clothing. At this point he’s actually come to regard my flannels as sexy. As far as drinks go, he’s a liquid gold Jack Daniels kind of man, while I favor a deep earthy glass of Cabernet. He needs to empty a barrel full of ice to every drink. I prefer all my drinks at room temperature. Lately he’s become a powerhouse with his workouts. I dread AND excuse my way out of even the guilt of not going downstairs to my basement to workout with all the equipment we invested in. His music is hard and loud, rap and metal, and he cringes at my love for Justin Timberlake. He reads science journals, I lose myself in a novel. He uses math for most of his major decisions, I use common sense. (No, that’s not insulting. He will proudly and loudly claim that “geniuses” are more mathematical minded. Don’t even get me started on that).

Are we doomed? Is this what we get for only dating five months before we bit the marriage bullet? Is this enough to send the biggest commitment-phobe running away from a visit to the Justice of the Peace? Which Titan will win?

Doom is so absolute, with death or destruction as the final outcome. Don’t get me wrong, there are days where the fantasy of such crosses both our minds. We are Titans of course. But in those 5 months, we learned a lot about each other that solidified our decision to take the plunge and we’ve been validated for the past eleven years.

Laughing and having a good time is tops for these Titans. We frequent comedy clubs and watch stand up on television because we love to laugh. Marvel superhero movies make us both very happy. A future visit to comic-con can be found on both of our bucket lists. Since our first date, trying out new restaurants and just eating out is such a pleasure. We are of like mind when choosing where to go on vacations and planning out our itineraries. We love to sight see and learn about each locations history. Titan nerds.  Putting the kids to bed early every day so we can just chat is a given. We always end up proud and satisfied with our final decor/renovation decisions. He’s great at cooking and I’m great at cleaning. We love coming together with a cheese platter and a drink to wind down. He’s introduced me to Neil deGrasse Tyson, and I’ve introduced him to The Blacklist. Together we dislike, strongly dislike anything Bieber and Kardashian. We both agree that we are never ever, EVER to share smelly “taking a crap” bathroom time. No interest in sharing this foul activity, right up there with looking dead straight in to Medusa’s serpent haired face. And inspired by The Venture Brothers, we even came up with our very own secret victory hand gesture.

As for the important stuff, well, we’ve joined forces and yoked our stand on religious beliefs, moral standards, financial decisions and how to raise our three boys. Never a snap with two strong minds, two type-A personalities. But these topics were always a given from the moment we met. That’s right folks, we talked about all these social “taboo” topics from the get go.

The lesson? Who knows. I challenge you to find one.

All I know is that the movie wasn’t called Perseus and Andromeda. No one cared. It’s the Titans. Every one remembers the Titans!!!

— Elke

 

 

 

My Paradise In the Hood

I was only ten years old when I boldly told my poor mother that I’m leaving this horrible place and never coming back. In retrospect,  I’m sure not an easy thing for my poor mother to hear coming from her favorite (sorry sis) daughter. She  fought hard to make things better for me but despite all she did to protect me, the surrounding elements had other plans. A concrete jungle. A forgotten class. If she couldn’t control the outside forces, she damn well made sure that things were different in one small spot. A refuge of sorts. It was my paradise in the hood, apartment 5G.

This was a beautiful prewar building with a lobby that boasted super lustrous floors and two stairwells with marble landings. A quiet Jewish neighborhood. We were Hispanic. This was far from being a  symbiotic relationship since “our kind” were not wanted there. As was my mother’s nature she was not taking no for an answer. She scrounged, she saved, the woman actually bribed her way in.  And in no time 5G became our home. We acclimated quickly and were accepted warmly by all.

If I had to imagine how the Daily News classified post presented this apartment it would look like this;

One large bedroom, possible junior 4. Large eat in kitchen with fire escape access. Washing machine connection set up. Ceiling height cabinets. Laminate countertops. Deep double sink. Extra large living room with popcorn ceiling and walls. Lots of windows throughout. Very sunny and breezy. Open view. Three large closets. Hardwood floors. Quiet neighborhood. Close to schools, shops and transportation.

That description may have baited my mother but doesn’t entirely explain the personality and character of this sweet and cozy apartment. I never thought of this place as just a rental apartment. This was home. Maybe no fireplace. Maybe no backyard. What I had though were a whole mess of other cumulative details.

The funky yellow and red velvet couches I’d relax on to watch The Odd Couple and Twilight Zone even on a school night. There were those times we’d plop down and sit Japanese style at our glass coffee table to eat take out chicken wings with fried rice straight from the cartons. This was our interpretation of dinner at the dining table. The oddly placed yellow washing machine in the kitchen I’d sit on to listen to my mother tell and retell the same childhood stories as she cooked dinner. All the windows with a view to the Bruckner Boulevard Highway that introduced and filled 5G with the humming sound of the cars that zoomed by. This sound music became my lullaby. Mom would frame all those windows with delicate sheer lace curtains that would dance and float softly with each subtle breeze that rushed through. It was beautiful to watch, like a ballet of sorts. The incredibly shiny hardwood floors my mom would devotedly wax every weekend with Mop and Glo. I’d suffer, patiently waiting until I could play out my rendition of Tom Cruises infamous scene in Risky Business and slide across the slippery floors in my socks. Having a fire escape provided a multitude of uses as an extension of the apartment. Tanning bed. Social venue. Best of all? A launching pad for my G.I.Joe army men to catch the air just right under their parachutes as they gently floated down one by one into the alleyway. Two large Shepards awaiting their chew toys below. The long red shag carpet mom decided to cover the entire apartment with improved the coziness factor 5G already exuded, but sadly halted my sliding performances. The prominent bulky green rotary phone on the kitchen wall with a cord so long you could walk the entire apartment with it. I tested this. It extended as far out as to the next door neighbor. Deep closets were Mom’s supposed ideal hiding place of choice for surprise gifts. That’s what I allowed her to believe. I perfected the surprised “is that for me?” look at an early age.

Surely these simple everyday things added to the comfort of 5G. But Mom’s continued efforts to keep it entertaining came barging through when she built forts from bedroom sheets, or put the mattress on the floor so I can flip, twist and jump myself to exhaustion. She’d grant me the decision on how to rearrange all the furniture in the living room and with our backs as leverage,  we would push and slide until my 10 year old self was satisfied. And hysterically, at times all items landed exactly where they started. And as every parent knows paradise wouldn’t be complete without the addition of a few furry friends. Although poor mother didn’t have much by the way of financial means that definitely didn’t stop her from opening her heart and home to two hamsters, one dog and a cat. My loyal companions.

And so I look back and reflect on why she did it? Why did she do any AND all of this? The answer lies in why at ten years old I told my poor mother I was leaving this horrible place and never coming back. Horrible? Despite my mom’s efforts to buy her way into what she believed would be the optimal environment conducive to raising her favorite child, her dream soon transformed into a nightmare when this so called perfect environment took a drastic turn for the worse. What was once a beautiful quiet Jewish neighborhood with the older generation sitting on lawn chairs watching the kids playing skelzies and Double Dutch quickly became a breeding ground for crack heads and dealers. These older folks died off,  their children moved away and affluence was a distant memory. Low income, no income, welfare income and section 8 populated. Unfortunately,  “my kind” populated.

My poor mother bought her way in and at 10 years old I was looking for a way out. Am I bitter? Did I become a product of this sad and pitiful environment? Did I go from favorite child to dreaded teenager?  I couldnt. My mom’s plans never changed. She worked hard to get into a great neighborhood and although she was presented with many bumps in the road, it had no effect on what went on in 5G.

If Boynton Avenue and all those in it wanted to dig their own graves, mom created heaven. Boynton Avenue was hell, but 5G was our paradise.

#4StressfulWeeks – Week 3

Wouldn’t you agree that sometimes it’s the little things that make the most impact? When it comes to that theory in the realm of happiness; a single flower from a partner, a tight hug from a parent, a pasta picture frame from your pre-schooler, or a letter received in the mail from a friend. These or similar tiny actions surely remind the recipient how damn lucky they are. I remember when my oldest came home with this simple paper laminated bookmark he made for me at school when he was about 7 years old. Honestly, best gift EVER. 10 years later and I still cherish that gift as if it was the found Holy Grail treasure itself.  So, equally impactful are the small momentary nuances of everyday life, when piled up on each other, make giant doom impending mountains out of what should remain mole hills. Here are some of my odd ball mole hills. I’m sure you’ll be able to relate to some of these.

  1. I’m an extremely organized person, but for the life of me I can’t seem to be able to master the ability to organize my mail. How difficult can this task really be? I guess procrastination has something to do with it, so it continues to pile up. Currently, I think I have a full 2 weeks worth of mail in a basket on my vanity. Here’s the funny thing though, I bought that basket to organize my mail. Ironic, isn’t it?
  2. Don’t judge me, but along the lines of procrastination, I keep forgetting to set aside time to make all doctor appointments for the family. That’s kind of important,  huh?!   I know we should visit the dentist every six months. I promised myself of that the last time we saw him….almost 1 whole year ago. Maybe the pain in my tooth will start reminding me. I’m sure of it. You’re judging me, aren’t you?
  3. Simply put…my mind has to spread its wings and span wide from college applications (for my soon to be 17-year-old) to kindergarten registration (for my 5-year-old). What was I thinking???
  4. A family of five and flying to your vacation destination can never ever cohabitate under one cohesive possible thought.  Instead, we will venture in to a torturous 15 hour drive in a mini van with three kids and a dog. May God have mercy on my soul on the soul of my three boys. Who knows what underlying deep dark traits from within my own soul will surface and reveal themselves.
  5. I have this Kaboodle filled with beautiful glass bottles of nail polish, so many pretty colors.   The women adult equivalence to that of a kids 64 piece Crayola Crayon box. The one with a sharpener in the back. And yet my nails look like colorless crap. I give great manicures, but you’d never know by looking at my hands. And I refuse to go pay for one. Downright refuse.
  6. Work leads me to the Office. The Office leads me to Coworkers. Need I say more?
  7. And just today Evernote erased my latest assignment for Blogging University Writing101, assignment #11. All that work, POOF!!! Gone!!! ALL GONE!!!

I can’t be too bitter though. All these little “mountainous” details are still a reminder of how grateful I should be. A house, my family, teeth, the ability to go way on vacation, a good paying job with vacation days, awesome fellow bloggers, and pretty colorful bottles of nail polish.

Need I say more?

My last entry is going to be a doozy for this segment. I’ve been waiting and biting my colorless nails. But I’ve been patient. Truly, truly patient. Hope you’ll come back to read my #4 entry of #4stressfulweeks.

Until then, please enjoy all the small details. In the words of Author Richard Carlson – Don’t Sweat The Small Stuff.

Calling vs. Texting – The 5th Round KO (Writing 101)

Writing 101 Day Seven

The world is our arena. All spectators are present. Young and old. Men and women. True hard-core fans. Each one excited to support its chosen team. Differences dividing couples and causing rifts between families. A source of tension amongst friends. Anxieties increase due to internal conflict.

The contenders?  In one corner the warm and classic Phone Call. In the other corner the cold and modern-day Texting. I’ve placed my bets and this is MY recap of the game.

 
Round 1: Just Catching Up With a Friend

  1. PHONE CALL – Back in the day before texting entered the scene, people had no reservations about picking up the phone and calling a friend. Heck, it’s all we knew. No other option than to put aside some special time to talk, laugh, cry or celebrate. You listened to each others actually speak. You could actually hear them giggle after you said something funny. You could tell your friend was worried by the quivering of her voice. You heard her sniffling when she told you her mom passed away. And the excitement that came pouring through the line when he told you he proposed to his girlfriend. You can’t fake this stuff. (Well, unless you’re really, really good at faking stuff. Another time, different post).
  2. TEXTING – Laughing has been replaced with LOL… And if it was really, really funny never fear, that’s what LMAO is for. Can you even remember what your friends laugh sounded like? Want to say congrats? Surely you can express your excitement fully with the obnoxious amount of exclamation marks you include. Happy? Sad? Disappointed?  Nervous about the new job? Doubtful about your new boyfriend?  Oh, don’t worry, there’s an emoticon for that. A little yellow face replacing the sound of your friend’s voice. (These emoticons are taking over the world).

Round 2: Need To Cancel Plans

  1. PHONE CALL – Nerve wrecking to say the least. But do you have a legitimate reason to cancel? She’ll understand that you came down with food poisoning, right? Will she notice that you’re lying when she hears your voice trembling with minimal confidence in the excuse you’re using? Of course she will. Plus the dread of actually hearing  her disappointment as she tells you “I hope you feel better”. Too much to handle. So you tell her the truth, just like a friend would.
  2. TEXTING – Oh what a breeze this will be. An excuse? Ha! You have 5 sure-fire excuses on file. Any one of them can sound convincing as long as you add those stupid emoticons. A few sad faces, followed by an “I’m sorry, I’ll totally make it up to you” and you are off the hook. Or are you? Could you truly say for a fact, without hearing your friends reaction that she’s not pissed that she went through all the trouble of making those reservations, then you cancel on the same day? Did you truly think that her “sure, not a problem” was truly not a problem? IT’S A PROBLEM.

Round 3: Mom, I’m At Jakes House

  1. PHONE CALL – “Put Jake’s mom on the phone right now!” (BUSTED) “Get your butt home right now. We’re so going to have words later”.
  2. TEXTING – “Is there an adult in the house?” (of course). “What are you there for?” (we have to complete a homework project). “Next time ask me before you go, okay?” (Yeah, sure mom, sorry). “Two hours tops, then go home. Let me know once you get home”. (Yeah, sure mom, of course). “You’re welcome”. (Oh yeah, thanks). YOU’VE BEEN PLAYED.

Round 4: Out With The Guys/Girls

  1. PHONE CALL – First, what’s the constant need to be checking in if your significant other knows in advance you made plans to go out? (I’ll rant about that at another time). Did you lie about where you were going and now fear calling because she’s going to hear either the booming, thumping music at the club you guys planned in advance to go to? Or he’s going to hear the jeering female screams cheering on the male stripper at the Chippendale you girls planned for months to go to for what’s her names birthday? You have a better chance that an actual phone call will keep them honest or just make them work harder to find noise canceling solutions. Or here’s a concept, maybe just telling them where you’re going to in the first place.
  2. TEXTING – Similar to Round 3. “Hi, you guys/girls having fun?” (Yes, it’s nice to catch up with them. Long overdue). “Where did you guys/girls go?” (Quaint little restaurant/hole in the wall dive/mani pedis/sports bar). “Tell them I said hi”. (You send a well choreographed pic of the group having fun). “Cool, next time we should do a couples thing”. (Absolutely,  they said they can’t wait to see you next time). “When you coming home”. (Honey, it might be a bit late. I’ll wake you with a kiss). “Love you”  (me too). And BAM! just like that, they go back to that dance or back to slipping a dollar in to that thong.

Round 5: Dating Overall 

  1. PHONE CALL – Oh the day when a young boy and girl or a man and woman, would spend many hours and days talking and listening to each other over the phone. To hear his voice tell you how beautiful you are. To hear his excitement when he first hears your voice on the other side of that line. To hear the flirtatious comments. To listen as he answers all your questions. To fully understand which of those questions actually made him nervous because you could hear his hesitation. To know which of your own replies he actually listened to because he repeated them and acknowledged them  accordingly. To know exactly when he began to lose interest because of the silence. To later hear the sincerity in his apology because he was just distracted with the game but didn’t want to lose the chance of having you there with him on the line. And to hearing each other breathe as you both almost drift off to sleep and saying good night but neither wanting to hang up first. (True story. Really, this stuff happens).
  2. TEXTING – Where do I even begin with the problem with date texting?! Okay, you both meet. Both exchange numbers. And instead of him growing the sober courage to pick up the phone and call you personally to ask you out on a date regardless of the outcome, he cops out and sends an impersonal text. And you? Oh, you swoon because he texted you? Are you seriously kidding me? He texted because he was nervous? So. dag. on. freaking. what! When did nerves become a true man’s downfall? Aren’t all men boasting about how it’s all in the challenge? And now the challenge arises and his choice of weapon is to cowardly hide behind a text?  First sign of weakness. (Run for the hills). But let’s say you look past that and accept the date. You like to give guys the benefit of the doubt. DOUBT HIM!  He still doesn’t pick up the phone to personally discuss the plans? And he texts you to let you know he’s on his way? And he texts you that he’s outside waiting? And finally, you get to hear each other during dinner. Laugh during dessert and look forward to another date as he drops you off at home. Perfect? You guys continue to text for days. Perfect? Do you even remember what he sounded like? Are you sure he’s set aside time to “talk” to you or have you allowed him to “fit” you in because texting is so easy. Hasn’t he asked, or wait, texted you for another date? And was that text a sincere reply? Did he have a tone when he sent that last text? He texted you 15 times yesterday but only 12 today? He didn’t text at all? How long has it been since his last text? He just told you WHAT over a text? You guys didn’t seriously have a text argument, did you? You guys broke up over text? We’re you even dating? (Hope you learn your lesson for the next dude that tries to date text you).

You hard-core texting fans can continue fighting for your right to text. Don’t get me wrong, there are times I sport your team jersey. I’m no hypocrite. Texting can help you out in a jam by group texting something important when you don’t have the time to call everyone individually. And if you’re somewhere that requires silence or if where you’re at is too noisy, well, then a text is your saviour. But use this tool weapon wisely and sparingly, because in the end, after all strategies are considered, the good old Phone Call will always win. At least 80% of the time. (Yes, that’s my own imagined percentage based on my own imagined statistics). 

And here’s some additional rants on texting: You lose communications skills. You forget how to talk to each other. All these acronyms are taking over the actual english language. People are actually saying omg, lol, wtf and smh in real person to person live conversations. Please tell me you see a problem with all of this. Do not succumb to the “everything text”. Please do NOT text your friend to read about this awesome blog you just read. Trust me, call them and you can laugh about it, together, over the phone. And you can thank me later.

— Elke

A Little Sunshine Goes a Long Way

sunshine-awardI am never at a loss for words, (the concept is just utterly dreadful), but Mara Eastern has definitely found a way to make me blush and stutter looking for the right words of appreciation for this Sunshine blogger award. Being a newbie blogger, this is huge for me. Huge! I don’t care what others think, this is my OSCAR!!! And I will display it with humility and appreciation. It’s just great knowing that others have visited, read and enjoyed what I’ve put out there. So, from the bottom of my heart, all sarcasm aside, I thank you Mara for thinking that my blog is inspiring. Your nomination has inspired me even more. Not sure if you do, but I feel this sudden deep connection to you my fellow Bookworm, Snapper and Coffee addict. Happy Blogging. (Can you hear it? You are my Sunshine, my only Sunshine, you make me happy when skies are grey. Lalllaaaallla…….).

How to Accept the Award?

  1. Link to the blogger who nominated you and say thanks.
  2. Nominate ten bloggers who positively and creatively inspire others.
  3. Link to the nominees and tell them about the nomination.
  4. Include the award logo in your blog post.
  5. List ten random pieces of information about yourself.

My Answers

  1. I don’t know how to whistle.
  2. I have a twitch in my left shoulder that I always blame on my uncomfortable bra strap.
  3. I secretly love it when others ask me my age.
  4. I fantasize about becoming Vulcan.
  5. I miss my Mom terribly although I may not talk about it much.
  6. I don’t accept making the same mistake more than twice. It’s insanity, illogical.
  7. I hate body/shoulder massages. Only my hands and feet.
  8. I refuse to partake in the demise of the bookstore by buying an e-book. Never have bought one, never will.
  9. I love silence.
  10. I pick the actual chocolate chips out of the cookie and discard the dough.

My Nominees

  1. Kate at Kate-Inside-Out.
  2. Lana at Sweetlittlesomethingsnet
  3. Sarah at NoCryBabies
  4. The Editing Girl at TheEditingProcess
  5. Lhu at Lhu Wen Kai
  6. Ingrid at Pussyhasfurballs
  7. Jacquie at JacquieNavarro
  8. Kelsey at Misswinnieandaminiskirt
  9. Sidney at Fashionbarbie16
  10. Mollie at IfDestroyedStillTrue
  11. Shanelle at GlamItUpmakeup

So, thank you again to all those that find the time in their busy schedules to visit, read and comment. That is the real reward!!!

A Killer in Sheeps Clothing – (Writing 101)

Writing 101 – Day Four

I’m not that old. I don’t think i am. No, no, I’m not… Well…by my standards I’m not. (To my grand-niece: this is not old!!!). But I have observed many things in life. I have seen the world transition in my 40 years. Sometimes toward great progress and sometimes it seems as if it’s gone into nostalgic remission.

Everyone looks to move forward, and don’t get me wrong,  I’m right in line always ready to jump on to that wagon. Ask anyone about the dozen cell phones I’ve had in my years. But at the same time, this so-called progress has crept in like a killer and taken away from me, from us, from our children and their children something so beautiful that we didn’t know it until it was too late.Yes, yes, I know, sounds a bit dramatic. But I promise you this will tear at your heart-strings.

Recently, my oldest son inquired about our dating years when we were younger. Not when we dated each other, but our young teenage loves. Don’t even get us started on stuff like that. We reminisced about what it was like for each of us. Similarities are abundant in these type of stories. Those first looks. That feeling when you first hold hands. Going to a fast food joint together because that’s all you can afford. Your friends making sure they pile into the back seat of the car around you just so you’re both squeezed in tightly together. And one of our all time favorites was how we expressed our feelings for each other through the words of our favorite songs…..

THE MIXED TAPE (a.k.a The Mix Tape)

And just like Video Killed the Radio Star, technology murdered the mixed tape. More like slaughtered and dismembered. Almost impossible to gain back all the components to resurrect. Gone forever are the days when a young man would slave over his boom box waiting for the radio to play all the songs he wanted to record for his beautiful young love. Waiting on the weekend for American Top 40 with Casey Kasem to come on so he could dedicate that entire morning to this laborious job. When he’d steady his finger on the PLAY button for just the right moment to push it downward then sit out the entire song to stop the recording before the DJ started to speak again. And it took a skillful recorder to capture only the songs and avoid all those radio commentaries and commercials. The same procedure for every song he had in mind and until there was no more room on the tape. It was an art.

I remember getting my first mixed tape. It was a true proclamation of his love. He was willing to give up that time with his friends or video games just to create something that expressed his feelings for me. He took his time, he handpicked specific songs, he isolated himself from the world, locked in his room, just to impress me. Then, with additional effort and in his best penmanship wrote out all the tracks on to the card provided in the cassette case. All to impress me. And because I too had gone through that same grueling task to create mixed tapes of my own, I knew precisely how important I was to him when he gently put that tape in to my hands without a word said aloud. He didn’t have to say anything. That little box said it all. Back home, light-headed I’d listen and deciphered his message through those songs.

My poor son will drag and drop for a stupid, boring, playlist. How do you hand a girl a playlist? I hate lists! I mourn for his loss!

— Elke

 

 

A View Unlike Any Other – (Writing 101)

Writing 101 – Day Two

It’s a view unlike any other. A non-traditional scene. But quite the scene nonetheless. A special place not just for the body, but one for the mind and soul. Others escape to the sounds of the ocean or to the soft touch of the sand on their toes. Many find comfort with the silence atop a mountainside. Not to be missed is the beauty found when faced with a twinkling universe.

All worthy, all equally magnificent.

My eyes are set on a place that encapsulates all this and much more. I would be doing it a dishonor if I didn’t start from its simplistic details. For all the parts of it is what makes it whole. My furthest memory takes me to my childhood at a time when I couldn’t quite appreciate the beauty of it. It surrounded me, all of its parts only contributed to a sensation of vertigo. I couldn’t focus on any one detail of its panorama. It felt burdensome, obligated, more like a foe. Oh, what a stupid kid I was. My eyes so  blurred to all the colors and opportunities. Missed adventures. All I needed to do was open my mind and walk through. I needed to extend my arm, reach out and relinquish my time to it.

Fast forward…you may deem me insane or even worse, mundane. I’ll accept either gladly just for a visit there. The planning and anticipation of going makes me giddy like a young couple on their first date. I must be certifiably insane. But once I step through those doors, I’m transported. It’s a reprieve from the scorching heat outside or a destination of brightness when it’s dark. So it doesn’t matter what time my story is set at.

I scan from left to right and back again. I smile. I go to the left. I always start at the left. Here i am not rushed, the city sounds disappear, only my thoughts accompany me to the left. The soft carpet beneath my feet. There’s an irrefutable smell in the air. Go ahead, commit me, but I promise you  there’s a smell. My eyes land briefly on to each cluster that carry similar traits. Planted and displayed for contemplation. I take my time to study each specimen, to learn either intensely or briefly. Some for educating the mind and others for mere entertainment. I spend time in this wide open expanse but feel the rest of the room tugging at me. I can’t limit myself.

There are rows and rows of towering oak-like walls housing these beauties. I allow my fingers to flirtatiously skim them all as I weave out of one aisle and in to another. Each aisle providing me with the chance to  visit the Great Wall of China. Or stand with a soldier on the battlefield during WWII. I hear the sweet but strong voice of a young girl through her diary as she hides out with her family. I cry with all the twins that experienced atrocities at the hands of an enemy doctor. This place allows me to step through a wardrobe door and into a secret place frozen in eternal winter needing a warrior to help break it free. And then whisks me away to the middle of the ocean for 227 days on a lifeboat with a tiger as my companion. Where else can I have a grand tour of Mars, and at the same time listen to a well renowned scientist take us through the cosmic journey of life itself. I cheer on the God of Thunder as he protects all of humanity as I also live vicariously through teenage love doomed to fail.

I live with Hobbits and Princesses, dance with Geishas and fly with fairies and dragons. Here I see skyscrapers, baron deserts and the deep dark abyss.

I escape to this room not only because it is a beautiful view itself, but because this bookstore and all its adventures and insight just opened my view to the world and everything beyond it. Now THAT’S magnificent.

— Elke

 

Time Is Against Us – (Writing 101)

Writing 101 – Day One

It’s a scary moment for most of us. It’s a haunting feeling. Time is against us. We think we’re okay with it, but it’s just a lie we tell ourselves in order to survive. I look down as my fingers tap against the keyboard, I stare at them as they translate what’s in my mind on to the screen. They are swift, but I’m sad when I look at them. They are not the same. The arms that extend from them either, and let’s not mention the rest of the connecting structure. Time is against us. Our eyes blur to the reality of it. We get so jaded with youth, that we get side swiped when we finally realize it. An out of control, heavy feeling. Mr. Life has educated us well on it. So why are we so stubborn to accept it? We hold on tight, refusing to let go. We work diligently to cover all traces of it. We labor to pry time in reverse. Time is against us. We have a drawer filled with vitamins to slow it down. A vanity littered with creams to diminish its appearance. A makeup bag to cover the bad and highlight the good. Boxes of dye to bring back the color. Dozens of polish to distract and enhance. I’m exhausted just trying to keep up. What product will provide us with the acceptance? Time is against us. We revert back. We reminisce. We revisit places and people in our memories. Those times, those stories, those experiences make us happy, so why do I feel so sad? That first kiss, my first car, that mixed tape. The prom, those friends, the phone calls. Road trips, rollercoaster rides, club nights. I know you’re smiling. The first time I held his hand. The first time I heard that song. Every time I get a whiff of that smell it transports me back. The bitter sweetness of it all. Time is against us. Each decade with a beauty of its own. How is it that 10 years forward seem so far away but 30 years have passed in an instant. I had goals that still need to be met. I have places still need to be seen. I have many more experiences to add to my treasure of memories. It’s my bucket list. And for every one item I complete, I realize I need to add two more. I have a love hate relationship with all lists but this one in particular. A constant reminder of what I have not yet completed. A cruel tease. I hear its voice mocking me. Time is against us. I passed a beautiful woman on the street. Slender and energetic. A slight smile on her face. Not for anyone but just for herself. Was she thinking of something or was she just innately happy? More of a confident smile. Shoulders pulled back. Chin held high. Not rushed but certainly with a destination in mind. I admired her as a whole. I wanted to capture her image on to my phone. No need since its permanently branded it into my brain. Her hair so white. A crowning attribute to her lost youthful age, but not lost was her youthful behavior. I promise that’ll be me 20 years from now. Time is against us. For now, I’ll cover, conceal and dye. For now I’ll take my vitamins. For now I’ll balance a healthy diet while still making my soul happy with a treat. I’ll accept my declining vision with a stylish pair of glasses. I’ll have a glass of wine while those young chicks are dropping back shots. I’ll enjoy my growing kids while those 20 somethings are trying to figure it all out. I will continue to plan, enjoy and discover with those that I love. I will look at my hands and be proud of its ability to lay it out there for you. I will smile. While I still have the time.

#4StressfulWeeks – A Blogging Series – Week 2

2nd Installment of #4StressfulWeeks


What did you think? An easier week? Not a chance. Not for me, and I can probably bet my first-born son that it wasn’t an easy one for you either. Geez, just trying to get to the second week of this series was like going through the Tough Mudder challenge. That moment you think you’re just about done, when your body is going to give out from all the obstacles you jumped, climbed and swam over and through, then, comes that electroshock therapy field of 1,000 live wires. Who does that!? Why? Some sick sadist thought it would be fun to watch a bunch of masochist endure that last trial?

Whatever, my point is that just when I thought I had some time to get my words on to paper, some other “electrifying” obstacle presented itself. And just now, true story, I leave my husband dealing with the one thing that inspired my Week 2 of #4StressfulWeeks;

The Kitchen! (Evil organ sound effect “Toccata and Fugue” by Johann Sebastian Bach).

I have come across some beautiful kitchens. Close your eyes and picture yourself in a spacious, chefs kitchen. High ceilings. Top of the line, clean white space-saving cabinets that will house everything from cutlery drawers, gliding trash and recycling bins, drawers deep enough for pots and dishes, to those really cool thin pullout spice racks. All smudge proof stainless steel appliances. Granite counter tops. A huge center island with pull up bar stools conducive to socializing and two huge industrial lantern pendants hanging right above. That really cool pot filler right above your 6 burner commercial grade range, with pretty red knobs. A high styled faucet that sits pretty above your farmhouse sink, not to mention that unnecessary extra sink in the center island for washing your veggies. Oh, and dark hardwood floors so warm you’ll want to sleep on them.

NO! That is so far away, so galactically distant from what I have. Ask anyone. We bought a true fixer upper. My kitchen is stuck, trapped in the 50’s. And not even that cool retro looking 50’s. NO! What we have is VISION of what it could become. We MUST maintain those positive visions if we are to survive what this kitchen is doing to us. Of course, as life would have it, this kitchen which should have fallen apart years before we bought it, decided to go into rapid dilapidation in the 4 years since we’ve been here. Here’s a rundown so you can feel my pain:

  1. The oven door no longer closes. Yes, folks, if I wanted to bake a cake, or roast a pork shoulder, we have to resort to the “ghetto” way and use masking tape to keep it shut. Good thing I never took to baking.
  2. The dishwasher, just last month decided to throw in the towel and gave up its career in cleaning. Orlando took it apart, bought it a new filter, cleaned the tubes, but could not put Humpty back together again. I have not had a manicure in a month. Let’s not even talk about my nasty cuticles. 
  3. The fridge. That one is new. We bought that when we first moved in. A beautiful jewel that commanded admiration in this ugly room. But I guess it too has succumbed to the peer pressure of its kitchen counterparts, and has decided to go on strike. The digital screen says it’s cold, but the rotting milk in it would beg to differ. 
  4. I’m guessing that back in the 50’s, the pretty little lady of the house didn’t have many counter-top appliances, and hence, only needed ONE location for a counter level outlet. What the hell. I have a toaster, microwave, and coffeemaker that battle for this outlet on a daily basis. And it only gets worse when we whip out the George Foreman and the toaster oven (which is our solution to #1 above). 
  5. Then there are those boxes with doors we pretend to call cabinets. Did someone actually believe this was the handy work of a skilled carpenter? On the surface, they may seem utilitarian, but after a detailed inspection you will discover doors that don’t align, drawers with no tracks, and rusting wire pullouts and hinges. Dig a little deeper and you’ll find that most of the cabinets don’t even have side walls, making all the items housed inside spill into each other. 
  6. It is said “It’s the little things that count”. Well, so as to not be forgotten, here are the smaller details that drive me to drink in this kitchen. 
    • The radiator has stopped producing steam, which made for a cold kitchen this past winter.
    • The range hood has an exhaust that goes NO WHERE.
    • The laminate formica counter tops are becoming unglued. 
    • And the ceramic tiles seem to have accumulated layers of 50-year-old dirt. No matter how much I scrub that floor Cinderella style, my only option is to invest in black socks for everyone. Out of sight, out of mind at this point.

As I stated at the onset of this series, stress is a huge part of our everyday lives. So despite all of my griping, this kitchen and all of its non-working parts, make up my daily existence, Better this than having nothing is what I keep chanting to instill appreciation, or at least trying to convince myself of such. “Remember the vision“, he keeps whispering to me. “Remember the vision“. 

I’ll gather all my strength to get you my 3rd installment of #4StressfulWeeks by next week (Here is Week 1 if you missed it). And as with the constant drama found in reality television, may MY horrid kitchen help you appreciate YOURS that much more.

–Elke

The Game of Chicken in a Bathroom Stall

I’m not a daredevil by nature. I refused to ever take a dare from other kids when I was younger. I always opted for Truth when playing Truth or Dare. Only once did I fall prey to the peer pressure of the constant bantering to take the Dare on this game and ended up, red-faced, nibbling on some dudes ear. Eww, never again.

“I’d like to know what’s behind curtain number one, two AND three please before I give up what’s in the envelope in my hand” (game show reference).

And despite knowing monsters don’t exist (well, except for the MIL that lives with me), and that no one will truly be slashing in to me with a chainsaw in one of those haunted houses; the mere thought of someone or something jumping out at me will stop me dead in my tracks even before getting to the front door. “I’ll just wait for you guys right here, where it’s safe”. 

So I find myself in quite the quandary when I sense I’m being forced into a sorts of Game of Chicken in a public bathroom stall (in this case, the only 2-stall ladies room on our office floor). For those that don’t know, the principle of the game is that while each player (interpretation: stall mates) prefer not to yield to the other, the worst possible outcome occurs when both players do not yield.

Honestly, I know neither of us fancy the idea of being there in the first place. We all recoil at the thought of having to do more than just taking a quick pee in such a tight spot, with only a tissue thin wall separating the players. Yes, that’s how I view it because wouldn’t you know it, that I’ve had actual, wake up in a sweat nightmares, even into adulthood, about this wall. And in the depths of my nightmare, this wall is ALWAYS missing just at the precise moment of when nature calls.

But this game HAS to be played because neither of us can be in there at the same time for the same purpose. We’re not that close. I don’t share this time with anyone, not even at home. (It’s a side of me that my husband will never ever know. Ever!). I don’t know who exactly is looming behind that wall. Our office stalls don’t allow for a peek of the challenger’s shoe, which if it did, the idea of being identified would surely have them scurrying off with a paper trail in their dust. And the dread of being caught, they’d forgo the 20 point hand wash portion of the event.

But now, we just sit. We sit and wait. Wait to see who can hold off the longest. We monitor our breathing. Some opponents believe that making some type of movement will break me down. A foot tap here, a paper crumble sound there, and an occasional flush. (I must confess, at times I too have used these same strategies).

I maintain my stance. I’m not here for amusement you know. I actually have a purpose. And although I’m sure you do too, it’s the one game, the one dare, the one challenge that I will face, head on. But be careful, weary opponent, that there are some things that I cannot control. You risk getting to know me a little too well. 

I do apologize, my dear reader, for now I know I’ve made you a bit uncomfortable. But admit it, come clean, you’ve played this game as well. And unknowingly, you may, perhaps have challenged me before.

 In the rapid speech delivery of “Motormouth” John Moschitta:
***(When playing, please make sure to adhere to all proper stall etiquette. If more than two stalls, leave one in between. The more space between opponents the better. If both parties choose to remain on course, please make sure to adhere to all flushing etiquette. Don’t act like you don’t know what I’m talking about).

Movie Trivia:
Griff: What's wrong, McFly? Chicken?
Marty: What did you say, Griff?
Griff: Chicken, McFly.
Marty: Nobody calls me chicken.

 

(Please MEMORIZE this)

image courtesy of blogspot
image courtesy of blogspot

— Elke

 

 

#4StressfulWeeks – A Blogging Series

#4StressfulWeeks. A blogging series. 

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Have you seen the new social network craze of #100happydays? A noble movement, to say the least, to encourage everyone to find daily happiness in the small things in life and then post up a daily picture recording and sharing it with the world. Beautiful isn’t it?

Well, THIS isn’t THAT!

What THIS is, is my way of embracing the ONE thing we all encounter in everyday life. Irregardless of who you are, where you live, or how old you are, we all have it. It’s a part of us. It’ll follow you to the ends of earth. It’ll disguise itself then pop up in your face like that annoying clown from a wind up jack-in-the-box toy. (I really hate clowns).  Doctors have agreed though that a balanced amount of it can actually be healthy for us.

STRESS! 

Yes, if stress is such a permanent fixture in our lives, then why fight it? It’s probably one of those things that the more you fight against it, the more exhausted you become, the weaker you get, and hence “STRESS” wins, as the referee, pounding on the ground counts down your defeat.

If all of humanity is sharing Happy Pharrell  moments with each other, even random  strangers, in hopes to connect or impart, then ditto. My purpose here is to share my  everyday, grey hair, teeth grinding, pencil snapping stress inducers to connect with you, my fellow stressed out reader.

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Sure, I am happy to have a car. I even “upgraded”, to my husband’s dismay, to a minivan for the extra room and comfort. I swear, his reaction to my request rivaled that to when he watched the infamous cold-blooded saw off the leg scene in the movie Saw. But with 3 growing boys it was a sacrificial welcome. Now, every kid has their own designated seat, methodically placed so as to avoid the whole “I’m not touching you” scenario. But if that was all it took to make all things right again in the world, then this post would be all wrapped up with a pretty pink bow. 

Damn it! This car has been a pain in my ass. Case in point, just this morning, we park in the commuter lot right before having to catch the bus to work. We step out of the car and hear a sudden hissing sound. What IS that? As we twist and search around like dogs chasing their tails, our eyes finally land on the back tire. We stand there like idiots with our jaws on the ground. We got a flat tire? What the hell? We didn’t hit any potholes on the way, no indication of tire imbalance. And in 5 seconds flat (pun intended) the tire was empty. No time for this crap now. We need to catch that bus. We’ll deal with everything tonight. Normally, this would be one of those “just a small bump in the road” moments (yes, another pun) IF we had the spare to use. But that would be too easy. As this day would make sure to remind us that there IS a hell on earth, the spare was occupying the other back tire. 

Fast forward to 7 pm. I’ll sum it up since my stress inducer here is the car itself and not the hell of what this day continued to be. All flat fix locations in the area are closed. Of course. We call a friend. He lends us a hand and his time. We pick up the kids at daycare and then head back to the car.  Use his air pump to locate a hole in the tire. None. Cool right? Nope. The tire air valve snapped. How does something like that even happen anyway? Either way, not something we could fix. Jump in to friends car, with tire and kids in tow (I’m filled with these today). Mother Nature decides to partake in this game and sends us a heavenly downpour as we drive half hour to Pep Boys. Not fun. Once there, the guy at the repair shop says that he doesn’t have our cars valve sensor in stock. This CAN’T be happening!  We plead with him for some type of resolution since we’d be without a car otherwise. This “angel” rips out our valve sensor and replaces it with a regular one, and then doesn’t even charge us for it. A little moment of reprieve? Back at the car, Mother Nature seems to have gotten somewhat pissed off because she upgraded the downpour to a flood watch level storm. Hubby finished changing the tire. Bid friend farewell. We’re all drenched by the time we get home. And all I can do is make a mental list of all the latest snafus, in an attempt to validate my contempt for this automobile.

  • The wipers snapped while scraping ice during one of our latest snowstorms. I swear, all I did was tap it. 
  • The ever so common (read sarcasm) pinhole in the radiator hose connector. Because of this, the antifreeze leaks and when it squirts against the engine the car starts to smoke. To get professionally replaced; $350.00. Pinhole is and will still be there. We seem to be getting used to the car being a chain smoker anyway.
  • The back sliding doors refuse to open after a snowstorm. Did the manufacturer even test this? I can’t believe that I have to climb over the front seats to get the kids strapped in. No easy task when we all look like Eskimos with clunky snow boots on, all the while trying to avoid getting snow on the seats. Ultimate FAIL.
  • Why does that damn engine light keep coming on? Mechanic said all is fine, but I can’t help but feel like she’s sticking out her symbolic tongue at me every time it lights up. She also seems to be flipping me the bird each time the words “change oil” flashes on the dash, even after we JUST got the oil changed.
  • Remember the spare already being used as the other back tire? Well, on our way to dropping off the kids to daycare one morning, of course we hit what I call a small pothole. My husband would debate that description entirely. It doesn’t matter who’s right or wrong here. (He’d debate that too). Outcome was still the same. This car must have the “Steve Rogers before turned Super Soldier” version of tires. Because we now had no ordinary flat. The entire metal frame bent like a pretzel, making it obsolete to even hold the rubber tire in place. And wouldn’t you know it… IT WAS RAINING! Mother Nature has a wicked, wicked sense of humor. We’re still waiting to receive the tire frame in the mail, the frame we had to search all of the Web for, so as to avoid the astronomical local costs for a new one. 
You know, I’m actually feeling a little better now that I’ve shared this with you (along with the 2 very relaxing glasses of Cabernet). Thank you for sticking through to the end. And given that my car is a doozy, I think I’ll close my 1st stressful week installment without adding any more “fuel” to the fire. (That’s the last one, I swear).

See you next week with my 2nd installment of #4StressfulWeeks. And may YOU TOO find a way to share your stress with all of humanity. (No way would 100 days of stress be possible… too stressful).

– Elke