Tag Archives: good enough

The Beautiful People are not Perfect – (and it’s OK)

We all know that celebrities are fabulously attractive people – they are pretty and thin and seem to glow from within. Another thing we know is we can’t trust the images we see of these same celebrities – there is amazing lighting, hair and makeup experts and, of course, Photoshop. There were a number of stories in the media recently showing photos that were leaked of female celebrities before the photos could be Photoshopped prior to publication. There are pictures of Beyonce from a L’Oreal ad campaign depicting less than perfect skin (http://www.entertainmentwise.com/news/165572/Beyonce-leaked-pictures-Untouched-photos-of-LOreal-campaign) and photos of Cindy Crawford’s photo shoot for a Marie Claire 2013 issue (http://www.justjared.com/2015/02/16/cindy-crawfords-unretouched-lingerie-photo-goes-viral/) showed she may no longer have the body of an 18-year-old. (Hello, she just turned 49!) I do not think either woman’s representatives have confirmed or denied the photos as real, but in my ever-so-humble opinion, it doesn’t matter at all.

Look, in my book (Life Lessons for the Teenage Girl – http://www.amazon.com/Life-Lessons-Teenage-Girl-Inspiration/dp/1630472026/ref=tmm_pap_title_0?ie=UTF8&qid=1424926550&sr=8-1), the amazingly multi-talented Miss Kat Graham shared with my readers, “what you read in magazines and see on TV isn’t real.  That it’s sometimes the furthest thing from reality.” How are we so shocked that Beyonce may not be perfect – she might actually have a pimple – or two! Cindy Crawford might actually have slightly loose tummy skin after carrying two children and living for nearly 50 years. Seriously? Let’s have a reality check, my friends. They are beautiful people to be sure, but they are people. This means they have flaws – we all do. If we don’t recognize that celebrities might have flaws, how will we ever accept those flaws in ourselves.

Taking the High Road

It seems there are a lot of people in my life lately (both personally and professionally) who are processing through a divorce. None of them, unfortunately, are currently in that friendly divorce stage we all fantasize about. You know that fantasy stage, right? The one you talk about when you are still happily married and joke how , if you ever get divorced, you would keep it super friendly and civil and would ALWAYS put the kids first before any hurt feelings. I love that fantasy stage, but I can say I have rarely, if ever, actually seen it. The closest I have ever come has been several years post-divorce, when all the garbage has already been resolved.

OK, as I was saying, I have experienced a lot of divorces in my life lately. People who are getting divorced are inundated with advice from anyone and everyone at all times. Everyone feels entitled to give insight based on their own experiences. They are told not to be the “nice guy”; to fight for themselves; to lead by example and take the high road; to love the kids more than they hate each other. So much conflicting information!

I am here to advocate for the high road. You are not doing this for them, but for yourself. You can get consumed by anger and hurt and rage and not be able to recognize yourself in the mirror. Your Ex may not deserve the high road you are taking. They may deserve all of your revenge fantasies (and worse). But, and here’s the big but, you don’t deserve what that negativity will do to you and your life. You are not letting them off the hook by taking the high road, you are letting yourself off.

You are free to think they suck, to be disappointed they were not who you thought they were, and to generally not like them as a human being. But, I want you to focus on you. Focus on finding happiness in your own life. Choose positivity instead of negativity. If you have to see your Ex because you share children, be civil – you don’t have to ever be friends, but make it easier on yourself (and your children) and be civil.

I am a firm believer that people ultimately get what is coming to them in life. You don’t have to be the harbinger of their doom. Live your life. Focus on positive things for you and yours. The high road is all about you.

Challenge for Challenge Sake

When I was much younger, a teenager really, I would seek out relationships with men who were unavailable. I don’t mean they were taken already (I was not a total bitch), but these were guys who didn’t want relationships or were just really bad risks. Now that I am much, much (quiet, you) older, I realize I was seeking out these relationships for two reasons:

  1. I was not emotionally ready to be in a “real” relationship and dating crappy people reduced the likelihood of anything serious ever happening. The guy known as a player, the one who is drunk all of the time and the guy who is a borderline criminal are unlikely to settle down anytime soon.
  2. I was excited about the challenge. If I could “break” them and make them change then they must really be into me. The sad thing is I broke a couple, but then I didn’t want them anymore. This is the danger of being after the challenge – once the challenge is gone, so is the spark.

Fortunately, I reached a point when these reasons were not the way I chose my relationships. When I was ready, I chose for much better characteristics – fun and friendship, attraction and chemistry, loyalty and passion. What I am realizing, though, is the tendency to focus on things only because they are a challenge – not just relationships. We do things just to prove we can. In and of itself, not tragic, but it is important to know why you are doing things. I ran the LA marathon in 2004 just to prove to myself that I could. There was no other reason. It was a challenge, I faced it and I never need to do it again (it was hard). If I had approached that marathon expecting some other outcome, I would have been terribly disappointed.

Know why you are acting. If it is a challenge, for challenge sake, know it and accept it. If you want there to be a higher purpose behind it – identify that goal and determine if it is a realistic one or not. If it is – great, if not – it is time to reassess and change your game plan.

The Pressure that is New Year’s Eve

Here I sit, just one day away from New Year’s Eve, trying to figure out what I want to do that night. Now that I am “older”, I can look back on a wide variety of New Year’s Eve experiences – the high school events where we pilfered booze from our parents or hit up older boyfriends to buy for us; college where I worked in a bar (and therefore worked EVERY New Year’s Eve for five years); grown parties where we could buy decent food, good wine and a decent night out; and, finally, as parents where we celebrate with other families with kids in the under-10 crowd. With all of these diverse experiences, there is one thing that stands out – the less expectations I put on the night, the more fun I had. The amount of time I spent agonizing over what to wear, where to go, what to eat and who to hang out with was negatively related to how I good of a time was had. (Am I the only one who has been through this?)

Have you noticed this? When you expect it to be “the best night EVER”, it rarely is. Every little letdown becomes huge somehow. So here is my advice to you. Make whatever plans sound fun to you – game night with friends, night out at a club, quiet evening at home – I don’t really care what it is, but plan it because it sounds fun as is. Don’t create this perfect fantasy full of perfect moments. You are only setting yourself up for disappointment. You evening doesn’t have to be perfect. Your outfit doesn’t have to be perfect. Your friends don’t have to be perfect. Your date doesn’t have to be perfect. It just has to be.

Someone may be rude. The food may be burnt. The bar will probably be too crowded. You could spill on your dress. Your friend may puke (gross). And you know what, you will have fun anyway. So, what am I going to do this New Year’s? I don’t think I have fully decided yet, but whatever it is – it will just be.

The Danger in Making New Year’s Resolutions

I am not a fan of New Year’s resolutions. Typically, we set ourselves up to fail and then use this failure to beat ourselves up. “I suck.” It sounds like I speak from personal experience, right? Here is why I think they are horrible for us – somehow we have established an arbitrary date on which we are going to begin to change our lives. This unfortunately means we wait until that date has arrived to begin to make these changes. It becomes like a light switch, prior to January 1st we don’t have to change and BAM January 1st happens and now we have to change. We are not perfect people. Most of us will not be perfect in our New Year’s Resolutions either and, often, as soon as we are not perfect, we give up. Go to any gym on January 5th – it will be filled to the rafters. You will find ridiculous numbers of people lifting and running and spinning and stretching. Go visit that same gym three months later – 50% of them will be gone. Studies show that 88% of New Year’s Resolutions are broken.

The ten most commonly broken New Year’s Resolutions:

How can you survive the New Year’s Resolution trap? Don’t wait until January 1st. If you want to eat healthier, exercise more, get out of debt or spend more time with your family then there is no time like the present. This is not something you wait to start, start today. If there is a day where you are not fantastic at this new lifestyle, shake it off and start again. You can do it. Just remember these are all things you keep working on – these are long term goals, not accomplished within a day, week or month. Establish an accountability partner – someone who will help you to keep trying to meet your goals – they will meet you at the gym, talk you off the ledge when you want to do unnecessary shopping or will call you on your crap when you give up.

Life Challenge: Showing Up

I was sitting at work the other day, nearly done for the afternoon, and all I could think about was going home, putting on comfortable clothes and vegging out in front of the TV. Totally reasonable, right? Here is the challenge – I had a bag packed so I could go to yoga on the way home from work. My daughter was at dance class for several hours and my husband was at work. I was free as a bird and knew, knew, knew I should be going to yoga rather than to the couch. The couch would make me feel terrible and would likely lead to me munching on a bunch of really unhealthy things that would make me feel even worse.

I had an epiphany. Showing up at yoga would be an automatic win. It didn’t matter if I completed a single pose correctly or if I burned a single calorie – just walking in the door made it a victory. Why? Well, it kept me off the couch and out of the fridge (for at least a few hours), it increased the chances I would engage in actual exercise (I was already there) and made me feel more productive overall (yoga vs TV). There are so many areas in our lives where just showing up is the most important part. What you do after you show up matters, but not nearly as much as getting through the door.

Have you had this experience? Let me think of some examples (in case you are too lazy to think of them yourself). Say you feel kinda cruddy and don’t really want to go to work, but aren’t really sick. Walking through the door is your victory. Ever felt like bailing on friends and hiding out at home rather than going out? Show up – you win. You get the idea, right?

Here is the amazing thing about showing up – you usually are really happy you did it. Once you get through the door, you are able to power through – you are able to get a decent workout, put in a full work day and have fun with your friends. Even if it is not fabulous, at least you went and you tried. I often will tell my husband to remind me (when I don’t want to get out of bed to go for a run) that a crappy run is better than no run any day of the week. Remember this – show up. The hardest part is getting off your ass and pushing through the door. After that, it all gets easier.

You Teach People How to Treat You

You teach people how to treat you. This is important enough that I am going to say it again – you teach people how to treat you. If you are frustrated because you feel like the people in your life treat you poorly, maybe it is time to consider why this happening. You are an active partner in their dynamic – what are you doing to perpetuate this relationship? It is critical you figure this out if you want the situation to change because you cannot change something you aren’t aware of.

You can (and should) set limits and boundaries with others. If you have a friend who cancels on you often or blows you off, it is perfectly reasonable to tell them this isn’t OK. Explain how this makes you feel like you aren’t important to them and your friendship doesn’t matter. You friend is given fair warning their behavior is not OK, if they do not change you have a choice. Accept the relationship as it is or leave it. This is 100% your choice and you are responsible for what happens after that. You can’t continue to complain if she bails on you, you’ve accepted her as is.

If you allow your boss to call you at all hours regarding work or to demand long hours of overtime or to belittle you at work or to overwhelm you with unrealistic workloads, you are indicating (even silently) this is acceptable to you. This is a tricky situation. You and your boss are not equals. It is more difficult to set limits with her since she can fire you. If her behavior violates the law your situation might be clearer, but this is often not the case. You can attempt to discuss with her what you are willing and not willing to do, but she may tell you to go pound sand. You then have a choice – accept it or leave. If you choose to accept it, stop complaining or get out. (Reference previous blog on this topic: https://psychobabblechat.com/2014/12/11/you-have-no-right-to-complain/ )

You teach your mother whether or not it is OK to show up unexpectedly at your house. You teach your loved one if it is OK to be out of contact for a few days. You teach your friends if it is OK to make “jokes” at your expense. You teach your boss if it is OK to publicly chastise you for your mistakes. You teach your roommate if it is OK to have regular parties at your apartment. How do you teach them this? By allowing the behaviors to occur (often). Notice a pattern here? When faced with a situation where you are not happy with how someone is treating you (no matter the situation), you only have two choices. Accept it or leave it. If you accept it you are telling the other person it is OK to continue treating you the way they are. You are teaching them how to deal with you.

You Have No Right to Complain

This is a wee bit of a rant. I apologize in advance if you are offended, but sometimes things need to be said anyway…

You have heard people say something like, “If you don’t vote, you have no right to complain”, right? (Don’t worry this is not a commentary about politics or people’s political participation.) Well, what does this mean? It means you can only complain about something for so long before people expect you to start doing something about it. If you don’t try to do something about it, you lose your right to complain. I see this a lot, both personally and professionally. (Heck, I am guilty of it myself sometimes).

  • You don’t like your job? Start working to find something else. Search the job listings. Get some additional training/education. Do something!
  • Lonely? Find ways to meet more people. Get a hobby. Go to church or temple or mosque. Online dating. Invest in getting to know people. You cannot wait and expect a great group of new friends to knock on your front door – unless you are really into Jehovah’s Witnesses. (If you are, cool, maybe they will ring the bell).
  • Think you’re fat? Exercise. Eat Less. Go to the doctor to discover if there is something contributing to your weight retention. Check yourself – are you being unrealistic about your weight. You may be fabulous the way you are.
  • Tired of being broke? Find a way to make more and spend less. Maybe you need a second job or a better budget. Consider training for a position that will pay you more. (If you don’t have a terminal rich aunt, you are the only one who can make this better for you.)
  • Bad relationship with your mother/father/sister/brother/friend? Work on making it better. Go to therapy. Talk things out. Consider moving on. Figure out what you need to do to find peace in this relationship.

Look, there is a certain timeframe in which you are free to complain – bitch and moan until your heart’s content. Get it out, but then you need to move on. It’s time to either accept it as is (without any more complaining) or do something about it. No one can tell you exactly how long you are free to complain, but once you have crossed that line, your audience becomes a lot less sympathetic and it is time for you to start taking steps. Have you ever had the experience when you have tried to keep bitching way too long and it felt like people began to turn on you? Felt like crap, right? Avoid this when you can – start planning on how to make your life better. The people around you will thank you and you will feel better, too.

Introduction to Life Lessons for the Teenage Girl

Final Cover

In my professional life, I’m a psychologist and frequently get the privilege of working with teenage girls like you. I’m constantly amazed by the strength you show in overcoming life’s difficulties. Sometimes, though, you get just a bit lost. I know you’re not stupid. You’re far from stupid as a matter of fact. You’re so much savvier than I was at your age (eons and eons ago, but, despite what my daughter thinks, there were no dinosaurs). Despite your obviously superior smarts, many of the challenges I faced during my teen years continue to frustrate you and your friends today. A primary struggle may be knowing which people you can believe in and trust. Who can you look to for advice when you’re struggling? Often you may not want to discuss your problems with your parents—it’s OK; that’s how it’s supposed to be. You’re learning how to find your own way and can’t do that if you’re looking to your mom and dad for everything.

I frequently hear that parents can’t relate any longer and are too old to understand. Unfortunately, your parents do sometimes know what they’re talking about, and you may miss out on that guidance. It may be incredibly hard to believe, but your parents were actually teenagers once dealing with love and friendships, parents, and problems much the same as you are now. Your mom may be able to understand what it’s like to get your heart broken and tell you how she got through it when it happened to her. You dad might have had a jerk teacher who treated him like crap and may be able to talk with you about how he handled it.

So, if not your parents, where else can you turn? Can you look to your friends? Well, they can be a source of phenomenal support and may be insightful in many ways—they’re in the trenches with you and can relate in ways others may not be able to. The trouble is that they don’t necessarily have any more life experience than you do. There’s something that can be gained from learning from those who have gone before you. So…where do you go?

Frequently, this insight may come from celebrities. These can be people older than you who have had more life experiences than you—all good, right? Well, maybe. The problem is that articles about them rarely contain any real advice. In interviews they are asked about fashion, how they stay thin, and the details of their love lives. These topics may make you feel worse rather than better. All too often the details of the celebrities’ lives are glamorized, which may cause you to feel as though your own life is insignificant. Articles discuss the exciting places where they travel or the other celebrities they date. Some will discuss the fitness regimens the celebrities use to stay in shape, but it will fail to acknowledge their personal trainers or chefs who prepare their meals.

How are you supposed to feel like you can compete? Celebrities are also rarely asked real questions in their interviews that real people can relate to. Maybe they’ll be asked what guidance they might give someone who is trying to break into their industry. Helpful to some, but most of you are not planning a career in the entertainment industry. It also fails to account for women who have achieved success in other industries (for example, business, politics, and sports).

That is where I got the idea for this book. I wanted to ask these successful women what advice shaped them during their teen years or for a piece of advice they wish they’d received when they were teenagers. I left the topic wide open for these women—they were free to write about whatever they wanted. I wanted this book to include women from a variety of industries as well as backgrounds. I wanted to include women whose names might be immediately recognizable to you because they’re actresses (like Kat Graham) or musicians (like Elie Golding), but I also wanted to include women you may have never heard of but definitely should, including politicians (like Janet Nguyen or Mimi Walters) and businesswomen (like Becky Quick).

You may be wondering how I picked these specific women in the first place and how they went from my dream list to actual participants in the book. This was trickier than you might think—it definitely was harder than I thought it would be. Initially, I brainstormed a list of women who I thought would have something useful to contribute. I searched the Internet and picked the brains of my friends and family. I made a list of their agents, business managers, public relations team, attorneys, personal assistants, and corporate contacts.

I then did something somewhat boneheaded. I mailed these contact people a letter explaining the project and why their person should participate. Interestingly, I learned almost no one reads letters anymore—especially unsolicited letters from a complete stranger (me). When I received little feedback from the letters, I realized email would be simpler. I again scoured the Internet to get contact information for those same agents, managers, and publicists, etc., and emailed a similar letter explaining the project. A few more responses began trickling in. Then I remembered the joy that is Twitter. I began tweeting like an idiot, trying to explain the project in 140 characters or less to women who have thousands of followers. This was key. Responses began flooding in.

So why would these amazingly successful women take time out of their busy schedules to participate in this project? Well, it definitely wasn’t for the money. There was none. They didn’t get a dime for their time and efforts. They did it for two reasons: First, they care about you. These women wanted to offer guidance to you as you navigate the difficult teen years. They also wanted you to know that you are not alone in your struggles; they’ve been there too and made it through to the other side. You can survive it too. The second reason was these wonderful women care about charity. I’m donating 50 percent of any royalties received to Children’s Hospital Los Angeles (CHLA).

CHLA is a nonprofit hospital that depends on generous donations to help heal children in an environment that lets them thrive. Each year, more than 96,000 sick children come to the hospital for care. I worked at CHLA for a number of years and was consistently awestruck at the quality of care they were able to provide, and I wanted to find a way to contribute to that care. These women saw contributing to this book as a way to also contribute to CHLA. Follow the examples of these amazing women and find ways to give back. You can volunteer your time (or money) to a good cause (anyone you like) and Pay It Forward. You too can positively impact the lives of others.

All of the direct quotes that appear in this book appear entirely as I received them. They weren’t edited for content.

How to Divorce without Destroying your Kid

 I was talking to my 9-year-old, Charlie, about my blog – we were brainstorming ideas for my next few posts and she piped up with “When you get divorced from your parents.” I knew what she meant – I think. We’ve noticed more and more over the last few years how many of her friends from school and dance are being raised by divorced parents. I’ve observed divorced parents of all shapes and sizes with as many types of dynamics as you can imagine. They range from so incredibly close that they still spend holidays together (and you almost wonder why they broke up in the first place) to hate-filled and incapable of being in the same room together. My daughter’s focus for this blog was on how kids can handle these situations, but I don’t think a lot of kids read this blog, so I am focusing on you adults, especially those of you who might be parents.

  1. You’ve heard this before – always remember to love your kid more than you hate each other. As much as you are able to keep your co-parenting relationship a positive one, your child’s life will be easier. (They will also be less likely to be able to use the divide and conquer strategies children of divorce have been using for decades). This will make your life easier, too.
  2. Coordinate with your ex as much as possible so there is consistency across households with regard to rules and expectations, as well as rewards and consequences. Kids like it when things are predictable and they know what to expect – make it easier on them and have it be stable no matter who they are with.
  3. Keep your negative thoughts about your ex to yourself. Your child is half that parent and you don’t want them to think “I am half asshole”. Talk with a friend, a family member or (surprise, surprise) your therapist about your complaints about your ex. Your child is not, and should not be, your confidante.
  4. Do not introduce your child to the new man or woman in your life for a while. I’m talking at least a year. Give your child a chance to adjust to having two households before complicating things with your boyfriend or girlfriend. Only introduce them to someone who you think will be a permanent fixture in your life – like marriage. Your child does not need to get used to a steady stream of men and/or women rotating through their parents’ bedrooms.
  5. Outlaw the Disneyland parent. This was really common when I was a kid. The norm used to be that moms had primary custody and dads would have visitation every other weekend. Well, dad had a limited time with his kids and wanted to make the most of it. Therefore, they didn’t work on homework or clean bedrooms or do chores – instead they went bowling and out to eat and to the movies. All fun, all of the time. This created the idea that mom was boring and made them work and dad was a party and non-stop fun. Ban this in your relationship with your ex. You can both be a little fun and a little boring – it is more accurate and realistic.
  6. Be prepared to answer a lot of questions – “Why aren’t you and Dad together anymore?” and “Can’t you and mom move back in together?” You will likely be asked them repeatedly. Your child will be making sense of a new situation. Try to be consistent in your responses and keep your tone light and positive. Focus on how much you and your ex both love your child and how that will never change.
  7. Do not bring up finances with your child ever. Your child does not need to know their father is not paying enough in child support or their mother is not covering child care costs. These are conversations for you and your ex (lawyers, too, maybe), but never for your child. If your child ever asks, your response should be along the lines that this is not something they ever need to worry about and you and the other parent have it covered.

I may have forgotten a few things – any suggestions? The basics are try to be a kind person. There was something about your ex that you loved enough to have children with them and marry them. Remember that. I don’t care if they lied and cheated – if they are a loving parent and will treat your child well (well, well enough, no one is perfect) then get out of the way and be the bigger person. It may feel like you are letting them off of the hook, but really you are only letting your child off of the hook.