Do You Really Not Have Enough Time In Your Day?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

— The Pretty Platform

My Sisters Eulogy… Celebrating Her!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

See you in my dreams Sis!

 

— The Pretty Platform

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Just a Little Jealous of the Kids!

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

— The Pretty Platform

The Sound of Silence

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

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

During that silence, alone with that thought….

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

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

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

— The Pretty Platform

#MeToo – Women Need To Stand Together

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

— The Pretty Platform

 

 

 

 

 

Promote Kindness – A Mother’s Story!

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

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

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

— The Pretty Platform

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

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

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

Mourn Me and Move On

“My mother has been following me”.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

— The Pretty Platform

Angry Women Are NOT Feminists!

FEMINISM!

FUCK!

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

EQUALITY!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

— The Pretty Platform

 

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

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

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

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

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

Sounds a bit dramatic, doesn’t it?

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

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

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

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

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

— The Pretty Platform

 

 

My Name is NOT Mommy!

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

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

Mom! Mama! Mommy! Mother! Ma!

ENOUGH!!!

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

But, mama….

No… Do you remember what my name is?

Elke?

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

No.

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

Elke?

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

Yes.

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

Read and write? Draw and paint?

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

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

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

No.

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

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

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

I love you too, Mommy…Elke.

Ha! Ha! Very funny.

 

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

“D” for Divorce – Scarlet Letter No More!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

— The Pretty Platform

 

 

Do You Remember Picture Day?

Picture Day!!!

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

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

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

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

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

And just like that, the day is over.

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

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

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

I love picture day!

— The Pretty Platform

 

 

Don’t Oppress the Oppressed

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

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

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

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

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

burkini-vs-wetsuit

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

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

corset

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

hijab-niqab-burka

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

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

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

— The Pretty Platform

Back To School – You’ve Been Warned

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

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

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

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

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

No More Pets Please

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

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

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

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

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

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

And here IT is…

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

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

— The Pretty Platform

Learn A Thing Or Two From The Tourist

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

— The Pretty Platform

 

 

 

At 58 Madonna Is Still My Material Girl

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

— The Pretty Platform

It’s Getting Loud Up Here In My Head!


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

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

From my Mother…

 

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

 

From my Aunt…

 

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

 

From my Boss…

 

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

 

From my Husband…

 

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

 

From an ex-boyfriend…

 

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

 

From a total stranger…

 

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

 

From a friend…

 

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

 

From my seven-year old…

 

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

 

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

— The Pretty Platform

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fear Life… Not GOD

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

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

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

What happens though when you’re all grown up?

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

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

Cause and effect.

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

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

Cause and effect.

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

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

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

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

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

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

— The Pretty Platform

 

 

Trapped in the Quicksand of Love

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

— The Pretty Platform

Quit Claiming That Women Are Weak!




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

THIRTY…TWO..YEARS…OF…PAIN!

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

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

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

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

THEY… WILL… CRUMBLE.!!!

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

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

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

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

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

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

— The Pretty Platform

 

 

 

About Me

I’m not that complicated to figure out. I’m a 40-something woman mostly like any other. Like you I come with baggage and issues. I come with both happy and sad moments. I’m a woman who works hard while looking for ways to enjoy the little moments in life. Like you I cry, I laugh, I scream, I curse.  I love my family and my friends. I want to reach out more, but get caught up in the day-to-day. I occasionally feel parental guilt. My husband and I fight and then make up. I question myself many times. And many times I’m my own cheerleader. I sometimes feel the weight of the world around me but consistently remind myself to let go of the negative while keeping the parts that teach me to be a better me. I have a love/hate relationship with food and working out. I’m getting older but still feel the youthfulness within my soul.

I’ve been told that I have a knack for giving advise and seeking inspiration. Those that know me well know that I have a strong need to always speak up. And if you were able to look deep into my soul, you’d see that my desire is to encourage, empower and inspire.

I’m a married woman, twice over, originally from the Bronx , spent the beginning of my adulthood in Queens, tried out Manhattan for a few years, and finally put down roots in Central New Jersey. My husband and I are now finding ways to raise 3 boys and an angst ridden dog.

— Elke (a.k.a The Pretty Platform)