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

 

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

 

 

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

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

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

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!)

“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

 

 

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 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

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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

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

 

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

 

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!

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.