Thursday, January 27, 2011

Bad Girls Guide to Europe
I am planning a trip to Spain with three girls I went to high school with. I should reword that, actually. One of my friends is planning a trip to Spain and I am going. I have never been to Europe but I will break it in with the hubby first, traveling to Iceland. Since Hubby never talks about our upcoming trip and Friend does, I can't help but have Spain Brain. I try on clothes and practice dancing in them, picturing myself traipsing through all sorts of fun places over there.
Friend and I have both driven cross country and used the Bad Girls Guide to the Open Road, a gem that should be taught in all-girls schools' Literature classes across the land. I actually have no memory of how it came into my world but I can tell you that I couldn't be more pleased that it did! The guide basically has all sorts of funny little tidbits on things to do while pretending to be Thelma and Louise. It gets a little raunchy but it's a source of amusement. The pink vinyl book teaches you how to be a "road sister" and encourages road dating, chewing tobacco and empowering headwear. It helped me create many cherished memories on many a road trip, including wearing a frog eyed headband-hat through the Omaha zoo with my mother, en route to Graceland and a hotel with a guitar shaped pool.
So Friend and I are trying to think of ways to modify Bad Girl Guide principles to apply to our European adventures without getting ourselves featured on that locked up abroad show. We came up with a small list with items such as eating snails and getting pulled onto stage at a Flamenco show (I will be devastated if this doesn't happen to me!!!) but I need more ideas. I can't believe a book hasn't been written on girlfriends traveling abroad yet, to be honest with you. Maybe I will pen it myself upon my return but I need to have some risky, yet non-arrestable offense, fun as research before that is an option.
Therefore, I am hoping someone who stumbles upon this will suggest an addition to the Bad Girls Guide to Spain list for us or at least will be inspired to invest in some empowering headwear.
PS. We already have lots of Jersey shore quotes and songs to work with.
PPS. We also get a layover in London and Friend has already vetoed me wearing one of those Halloween cut looking things on my neck in honor of my girl, Annie Boleyn.
PPPS: But maybe the most important:) Friend just texted me to make sure I state Patent Pending on our European Bad Girls Guide. Sorry Ms. Tuttle, this one's on us!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Cat Tunnel

I bought the cats a crinkly, noisy tunnel to climb through and play in. The kitten is going back and forth the same way the 1 year old I watched last Saturday went through his. Pretty entertaining. This is further evidence of why I equate my cats to being my children.
 Meanwhile, there's an interview on TV with the guy who was dancing in the street and got hit by a speeding ice cream truck. Super entertaining. I always wanted to marry an ice cream man when I grew up. Those ninja turtles on a stick are quite tasty.

Monday, January 24, 2011


"Selfless and noble acts are the most radiant in the biography of souls"-David Thomas

Yesterday in church we talked about gratitude.

Before I even got there, in my car I had been thinking about ways to verbalize my appreciation for a family who was moving across the country and giving their goodbye talks that day. Oddly, the word "glowing" kept coming to mind. I thought it was just my non-morning-person brain functioning at a low level, able only to think of how shiny all their blond hair is. It turned into a metaphor, though. Glowing also relates to being a "shining example" and not hiding your proverbial light under a bushel. What I wanted to express gratitude for was service, fellowship, and example that was offered to me. Later that day, when I sat down to write out a card, I looked up quotes to aptly say thank you and the one above was the first one I read. Pretty amazing that it would follow the visual lighting theme of the day.

Part of the lesson about gratitude posed the question, "Are you thankful for your challenges?". Obviously, that is a harder task than being grateful for the wonderful things in the world like tulips, Nutella, and indoor plumbing. I will spare you my launch into the woes of my life and the requisite lessons I have learned from them, which are the silver linings for which I am grateful. I encourage you to give pause to this thought, though.

Both Oprah and a former clinical supervisor of mine recommended keeping a gratitude journal. There's plenty of research that shows that people who focus on the things they are grateful for each day are happier people. This is often a tool used in couple's therapy, too. I have a palm sized notebook that I can carry with me or easily keep next to my bed, and I try to list at least three things from that day I appreciated. I try not to duplicate these items from day to day but to find new things to be grateful for each day. It's pretty cool how this opens your eyes to see the good in the world, certainly not what we are used to hearing about!

I am by no means Pollyanna. Complaining is a favorite past time, in fact. Curmudgeon comments are a favorite quirk of mine. I guess I have to have something to balance that out, though.

So, in an effort to do so today, I will share my list with you and encourage you to share yours with me or someone else or just to write it down someplace. I always start the same way.

I am grateful for...
1. The turquoise sweatshirt I bought this afternoon
2. The sudoku book a client brought me today to keep me happy at court
3. A warm coat (It was negative two this morning!! Oh, and I still saw a man wearing just a t-shirt; we are hearty folk here in New England!)

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Sobbing with the Sitcoms

Which TV shows make you cry?

 I'm sitting on my bed, relaxing after an exhaustive cleaning session, and trying to clean up my DVR. Just like aiming for the 50 point holes in the skee ball game, I go for the 2 hour shows first, to free up the most space. Tonight's pick was The Biggest Loser. This is a show that should only be watched via DVR, in my opinion. The drawn out beeping, waiting for this week's weight, is one of my pet peeves in life. I fast forward through all of that in addition to most of the chatter and even some challenges. I like to see the workouts and hear Jillian yell more than all of the other filler. If I watch enough Biggest Loser, her yells eventually penetrate me and I, too, go to the gym or prepare a healthier meal. At any rate, it helps me eat fewer Goldfish crackers, which are steadily becoming an obsession, winking at me from their shiny Costco sized bags.

Having sped through most of the show, I'm watching people weigh in and I find myself tearing up at a guy who just reached 350 pounds. Even as I type it, I realize how ridiculous that is. In reflecting, it dawns on me that I also got watery eyes for this week's Teen Mom 2 baby diagnosis/reunion with baby daddy hug. Celebrity Rehab's finale, wherein the patients report their aftercare plans tugged on my heartstrings, too. A final sob session was for the final contestant on the premiere of American Idol this week. The back story was about a boy who had lived in a homeless shelter for two years and was going to use whatever success he could glean from Idol to help his family out. Tears aplenty on that one and I don't even usually watch that show (except for the auditions, of course).

As you can tell, there's not a ton of time in my lineup for actual sitcoms, although when Sophia's son dies in a Golden Girls episode, my heart is always wrenched. I try to avoid that episode now because Sophia's sad words haunt me- they are like my family, after all.

So, what shows made you cry this week? I can't believe I am alone is this somewhat deranged phenomenon.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Country Strong

Ok, this should be a quick post but I had to comment on seeing Country Strong tonight. I have a good friend who gave me the greatest gift ever-a VIP pass to the local movie theater. Me + 1 can see a free movie every two hours all year. I hope your jaw dropped at that because it continues to blow my mind! The ultimate point is that I see far more movies than a normal human and am now happy to have a place to talk about them. That's where you come in.

So, back to Country Strong.....I loved it! Please note that one thing I DO NOT like is country music. But I love me a little drama, a little love connection, a troubled lead character. Alcoholism may ruin a life but it enhances a movie, in my opinion. This movie is a quote book keeper's dream, too. I wish I had something with me to jot down the one liners because there were a few gems. One I remember because I repeated it over in my head to hang on to. Gwyneth's character admonishes Leighton Meester's character ( probably just botched that spelling pretty horrendously, I know) to "Fall in love with as many things as you can" or at least something very, very close to that. What a great concept! It's like the saying, "If you do something, do it passionately", only a new, improved version.

I consider myself a pretty passionate person. I love some things so thoroughly that I am forever linked in people's minds with certain things (see favorite things column as some of those fall into that category) and I treasure that. It's my legacy. I have a coworker who is super pretty and thin and funny and kind and one day she brought bugels to a meeting. Do you remember bugels? The corn chip things that are shaped like cornucopeias? It's such an odd thing to link with this pretty extrarodinary female but when I was in Target tonight, living the dream, I saw bugels in the dollar bins and instantly thought of her. That will make her infamous long after our days of working together and that's pretty cool. Infamy via Bugels.

On a final note, Leighton's eye makeup throughout the movie is so stunning that it's almost distracting. And for a non-country fan, by the end of the movie I was having fantasies of singing karaoke duets with my husband. I call that success for that film.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Lululemon Manifesto:Aspire-ations

 If you would rather read in a more linear fashion, you can see it here

Two of my favorite suggestions from the manifesto are:

 Dance, sing, floss and travel.

Aren't you excited when you get to see new places and cultures? Don't you feel proud when you remove particles from your teeth? And speaking of dancing, have you tried the Just Dance game(probably not the actual title) on Wii? It's awesome!

Write down your short and long-term GOALS . Two personal, two business and two health goals for the next 1, 5 and 10 years.

This is huge in the company's culture. I interviewed for a part time position there (which I am still nursing a wound from not getting-I didn't realize my graduate degree didn't qualify me to hang sports bras in an aesthetic manner) . Regardless, I still love the message and culture Lululemon embodies. I saw something similar in one of my SELF magazines a couple years ago and cut it out to glue into my journal. It really helped me to focus on getting where I wanted to be. I set a goal to be a homeowner in five years but just sitting down and coming up with that goal put it at the forefront of my mind and we bought our own place within the year! Ok, that goal might have been pushed to the front of the list because we were living in a school with 20+ teenaged girls to look after, just saying.

Anyway, this is nice, concise list of little tidbits of things to aspire to (which are cutely placed on all of their reusable bags) .  I have exercise on my mind after my first long-ish run in months last night and the resulting sore legs today. I still wish, though, that some of those New Years resolution folks would give up, already, and leave some space in my gym classes....

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Commenting on comments

So another snowy day on the East Coast has me stuck inside and on a personal day from work, thus giving me way more time than usual to do whatever I want. Just as I was enthralled when I first joined facebook and posted and commented far too frequently before coming back to my senses, I am a bit too focused on the potential of this blog so have been coming back and toying with it all day. Looking for ideas on how other people design their pages and what they muse about, I have been reading interesting commentaries all day.

One of the blogs I read mentioned all of the comments people posted in response to the article I cited as the inspiration for my first blog post. At first, when I started to read them I got irritated, as I usually do when I read any kind of comments sections. I added the "addendum" to my first post and carried on. Lack of motivation to trek through the snow to get the gym and a multiple handfuls of Goldfish crackers found me reading more of the comments. I just can't help but make my own comments in response.

Some people, probably the same who like conspiracy theories, guess that the women in the blogs are not real. At least a couple residents of Utah, aka Mormon home base, chided in to say life there isn't that peachy keen. I feel I can attest to the reality of those women. Even if I don't know them personally, I know plenty of similar women who could have been in the featured blogs. I would also argue that they really are that happy. Furthermore, having lived in Utah briefly, particularly Provo, I think it's fair to say that it's a little more cushiony than the outside world. While not everything is as it seems behind closed doors and blogs are meant to showcase the good times, not to air out family feuds, I think people living in a tight knit community with a belief system that focuses on kindness and service have the happiness odds swinging in their favor. And though Utah was not a good fit for me, the square peg, I don't think the happiness of the people there is at all insincere. Furthermore, most of the young hipster blogs featured were coming from cities like DC and NYC, not SLC.

Part of what drew my attention is not the focus on religion or even the contrast with the societal focus on work and education and worldly success but the point the author makes about women of my generation (I clock in at a whopping 30, for a point of reference), trying to forge our own path. Our parents generation, having babies in the 80's, when our culture shifted toward white collar, Wall Street, Alex P. Keaton mentality, did so at the expense of marriage success rates and fulfilling personal time. Fast forward to today, with a failing economy and a focus on all things "green" and it's no wonder that self-reliance and personal industry are coming back into fashion, even among people outside of the Mormon community, which has never given up promoting it.

So here we are. We are a generation of (not only) women who want to find some way to live in between the extremes of the 60's housewife and the 80's business woman. Therein lies the dilemma but I don't think it's an insurmountable challenge. Lots of people have overcome much greater obstacles.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Why I can't stop reading Mormon housewife blogs

Why I can't stop reading Mormon housewife blogs

I highly recommend you read this link as it is the inspiration for this blog. Maybe that is only partially true. I have thought about starting a blog for a long time, perhaps for some of the same reasons this article sites: I have kept a journal since I was 12, I'd like a creative outlet, etc. I never knew where to start, to be honest, or what to say. This article provided a focus, a jumping off point. While celebrating Betty White's birthday,  watching a Golden Girls marathon and dyeing our hair, one of my best friends set me on this path (and started her own, I might note).

The link, above, basically says that young, educated professional feminists with no children find themselves drawn to reading the blogs of young Morman housewives who cook and sew and can things, happily. I am caught between these two worlds and it can be perplexing. By day, I work in a field stemming from the feminist movement and advocate for the equality and rights of those who are victimized. On Sunday, I go to church for three hours with my mother. My husband doesn't attend my church and I have no kids to tote with me, an anomaly for my age in Morman culture. I have a nose ring (deemed naughty) but I love my food storage and yearn to bake my own bread. In short, I'm the square peg.

I called the blog "Aspiring to the Middle" because it sums up my goal of balancing my two complicated philosophies. It also speaks to the balance of finding a middle ground between working, being a good wife, trying to be spiritual, and to do all the other things we need to do to find balance, health and happiness in our lives: exercise, clean, socialize, learn to grow up. Finally, the middle ground is kind of where I aim to land. I'm not the fastest runner (far from it!) or the best singer or anything of the sort. Despite my lack of specialization of skill, I do a lot of diverse things to varying degrees of success and think that makes life interesting.

So while I try to cook and feel like a phony, making a meal that only I will eat, I can now type about it and air it to the world.....

Addendum: Don't read the comments if you are trying to keep your blood pressure within a healthy range. I should know this as I bump into this problem all over the place in local newspapers and such but I guess I just don't learn! Surely everyone is as entitled to their opinions as I am in my own response to this article but I'm not sure why we can't just make meaning of things for ourselves and keep the aggression to a minimum.