Tag Archives: Pop culture

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.

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Kanye West: Total Douche -or- Media Mastermind

I was watching the Grammys this week and, like many of you, I was horrified by the behavior of one Kanye West. Now, there has been a lot of backlash out there about his frequent theatrics and, likely, narcissistic tendencies, but for some reason this man continually needs to come to the defense of Beyonce anytime she loses a Grammy award. The public response has included an amazing open letter by Garbage frontwoman, Shirley Manson, where she takes the high road and asks Kanye to cut it out (https://www.facebook.com/shirleymanson/posts/10152927970266387) and a Buzzfeed.com post depicting all the reasons why Beck should have beaten Beyonce in the Grammy race (http://www.buzzfeed.com/expresident/why-beck-beat-beyonce?bffb&utm_term=4ldqpgp#.kdYwjmRvqz) – this does not include the myriad of posts I have read calling Kanye a number of not-so-polite names.

I am coming at this from a different angle – is Kanye West a total douche or is he a media mastermind. Since Sunday night we have been talking about nothing Grammy-related without an in-depth discussion of his ridiculous behavior. He has found a way to keep himself topmost in our thoughts. If it is true that there is no such thing as bad publicity, this man has hit the motherlode.  If he would rather be vilified than forgotten, he is one happy camper these days.

There are some fortunate and unfortunate consequences of Kanye’s behavior:

  1. Winner: Beck. OK, Kanye totally douched him out of his big moment at the award show, this is 100% true. But, and this is a big but, the controversy surrounding this situation has exposed Beck and his music to an audience who may have been previously unfamiliar. He (though not exactly a media-whore by temperament) is benefitting by his name in the media and the sympathies of a Kanye-sick nation.
  2. Loser: Beyonce. Don’t get me wrong – she did absolutely nothing wrong. Kanye keeps stepping up to defend this grown woman who is doing just fine on her own. She is reportedly happily married, amazingly talented, enjoying motherhood, widely successful, and absolutely gorgeous. She does not need Kanye fighting her battles. His behavior only weakens her. She is strong on her own.
  3. Loser: Kanye. He may be a talented musician – this is somewhat subjective and likely depends on your musical preferences, but, by this point, I am not sure anyone even notices this anymore. He is a “character” not an artist.

Can we make this man stop? Nope. Absolutely not. Unless the award shows are going to start having bodyguards positioned around the stage to stop non-winners from storming the stage, he will likely continue to act like an ass. Really, the only thing we can do is ignore him. Consider him like a bully on the playground. Tell him, “No”, set the limit, and then ignore him and hope he will go away.

As Fame ↑, Common Sense ↓

Have you ever wondered where the line gets crossed for celebrities? You know the line where they cross from being “regular” people making “regular” money to becoming someone who doesn’t bat an eye at a $3000 handbag. They jet set around the world, wear expensive and designer clothes (even when designed to look casual and inexpensive), drive luxury cars, and live in humungous houses. Most of these people (but not all), were born average people who lived in average houses or apartments and had parents who made ends meet working more typical jobs.

You may wonder what made me think of this – well, it is something that has bounced around in my mind for years, but, recently, it was Gwyneth Paltrow who has received a lot of media attention for a recommendation for a “V-steam” she made on her GOOP website or in its newsletter. Now, from what I can gather, this is a relatively inexpensive indulgence (I think it was something like $25), but to families making ends meet, $25 to have your vagina steam-cleaned (seriously) seems the height of idiocy.

I read a lot of magazines largely geared toward a female readership. Often within the pages, there is a section dedicated to celebrity product recommendations (either direct or indirect). These can include anything from food products or beverages, makeup and skincare, clothing and accessories and/or furniture/décor. Rarely are these items anything a typical reader would ever be able to comfortably afford. Now, I know there are a percentage of readers who might simply enjoy learning some intimate detail about their favorite celebrities without ever hoping to purchase those items themselves, but I have to think there are those who are actually seeking product recommendations. Do these celebrities understand most people cannot manage $145 for 0.5 oz of La Mer eye cream?

Do you think this is a gradual process? Do they start out feeling comfortable and confident with a $30 purse from Target only to move onto a $150 bag from Fossil? Are there Coach bags and Michael Kors on their way to Louis Vuitton and Berkin handbags? Does your average celebrity marvel at the cost of her clothing (even though she can afford it or gets it for free)?

What do you think? How does it happen?

Finding pleasure in the effort, not in the results.

I was recently sitting with a client discussing why he wasn’t making progress on his goals – he has many of them and they are fairly clearly defined which might make them more achievable, but each week he comes to see me and has made absolutely zero progress on his goals. For a while, we talked about the importance of breaking his goals into smaller, more manageable pieces. We talked about how they need to be quantifiable, so he will know when his goal is complete (i.e., writing 3 blog posts per week). We discussed the importance of not having too many goals operating at the same time – you really CAN spread yourself too thin. We talked about it. You know what we didn’t talk about? Fear.

Fear about what happens once your goal has been reached and is now outside your control. I know a little about this – I wrote a book last year (Life Lessons for the Teenage Girl: Quotes, Inspiration and Advice for Women by Women, Morgan James, 2013). For the longest time, my goals were to make contact with various famous/successful women, research specific sections or work on writing certain chapters. I could control whether or not I accomplished these goals. Do you know what I couldn’t control? What would happen next. Would anyone actually buy the book? Would they think it sucks? Was I wasting a crap-ton of time and energy?

I realized this is what was going on with my client. He was so focused on whether or not people would like this final outcome, he couldn’t get anything done. We need to change the way we look at things. It isn’t about the results, but, instead, needs to be about the process. You goal is about completing the process to the best of your ability. If no one likes it – OK, that sucks, but it doesn’t change the fact you accomplished your goal.

Here are some examples:

  1. A client told me he was always afraid his girlfriend was going to leave him someday. We talked about the importance of knowing he was doing everything he could to be a great boyfriend. He could not control her feelings, only his actions. We can never make anyone stay with us (at least not legally), but we can know we’ve done everything we could.
  2. My book. Hey, it may suck. I don’t think so, but you might. I cannot control how you might feel about the book. All I could do was my best to make it good. I can’t control the outcome, only my efforts.
  3. I have a number of high school seniors in my life right now (both professionally and personally). College applications are all submitted now and all they can do is wait for the acceptances/rejections. I have had a number of conversations about how they have now done everything they could to submit strong applications (grades, extracurriculars, essays), but it is now out of their control. Satisfaction needs to be found in the process.
  4. I have mentioned a few times that my daughter is a dancer – she dances in competitions with her studio. All the kids can do is go out and do their best (and hopefully enjoy it). The results are completely in the hands of the judges. Whether they like your music or costume or dance style or your face all impacts on how well you fare in the competition. Enjoyment needs to be found in performing, not in winning.

This is a long, perhaps drawn out, way of explaining we need to find our satisfaction in our efforts. Too much in life is out of our hands for us to be able to rely on the outcome for our pleasure. Learning to be proud knowing you have done the best you could will carry you farther than inconsistent trophies, raises, promotions or praise.

Super Bowl Commercials: Winners and Losers

These are placed as ranked by Ad Meter which rates viewers responses to various commercials. I might have rearranged them a bit and added/dropped one or two, but no one asked me.

  1. Budweiser, “Lost Dog” — Ad Meter rating: 8.10

Let’s be real – Budweiser knows how to pull the heartstrings. Cute puppy being cared for by gigantic Clydesdales – it’s a gimme. Hot farmer doesn’t hurt…

  1. Always, “Like a Girl” — 7.10

I really like the idea of this commercial. It sucks that women were even making fun of running or throwing “like a girl”. It was a “nice” commercial.

  1. Fiat, “Blue Pill” — 6.87

I don’t mind admitting my initial concern this was a commercial for Viagra. I have nothing against Viagra per se, but I really didn’t want to see a commercial for it – ageism? Loved when I realized it was a car commercial. Clever.

  1. Microsoft, “Braylon” — 6.74

I love the story. I love that Microsoft was working to help this little man – at least I think that was what they were implying. Not sure if this makes me want to buy a computer or not, but it does give me squishier feelings for Microsoft than I may have had before. I think I am being manipulated. Oh, wait – they are commercials – of course I am being manipulated.

  1. Doritos, “Middle Seat” — 6.71

Who hasn’t wanted to pull out this bag of tricks to avoid having someone sit in the space-invading middle “bitch” seat on an airplane? Cute idea. Nice twist at the end being forced to fly next to a baby – potentially one of the nine circles of hell.

  1. Dodge, “Wisdom” — 6.64

At first, they shared very positive, sage (kinda boring) advice. Just when my attention started to drift away, they got twisted and funny. What a great idea to show another side of centurions. Great tie in.

  1. Toyota, “My Bold Dad” — 6.59

OK – I may be slightly biased toward this one. I am a mom of a little girl and I chose a really amazing dad for her. I was weepy within a few seconds of this commercial. It really pulled at my heartstrings. I loved how they showed the dad always being there for his girl and what a subtle twist of having her enter the military instead of the more expected college drop off.

  1. Coca-Cola, “Make It Happy” — 6.50

I really love the idea of changing digital interactions from negative to positive. I have to admit I am not 100% on board with this commercial – it fell a little flat for me, but, again, I really liked the concept.

  1. Nissan, “With Dad” — 6.47

I am a little ashamed to admit that I didn’t really get this one. I understood the dad travelled for work (as a race car driver) and that the son and mom missed him throughout the years. Not sure I knew he quit to be home with his family though…

  1. McDonald’s, “Pay with Lovin’” — 6.45

OK – McDonald’s – don’t sue me, but I don’t eat McDonald’s. I have allergies and try to eat pseudo-healthy, so McDonald’s is not on my go to list. (I will admit that while I was pregnant, I craved McDonald’s sundaes with wild abandon). Despite all of that, I liked this commercial. It made me feel slightly warm and fuzzy about McDonald’s. I even found myself thinking about stopping by the fast food restaurant on my way to work this morning. I didn’t, but they definitely mind-melded me!

And I could not forget:

The Hall of Shame

The Nationwide Dead Kid Commercial

Oh Dear Lord! This commercial was absolutely horrible. It was so bad, I immediately started talking with friends and family on Facebook and Twitter as soon as it was over. So… the kid never got to travel or get cooties or get married… because he died in an accident. This is the Super Bowl people! What a downer. Someone (or a lot of someones) needs to be fired. I wasn’t planning on contacting Nationwide for my insurance needs anyway (I am all good in this department), but now they are permanently associated with a dead kid in my mind. No thanks.

What do you think? Am I full of crap?

Unanswered Prayers

I’ve talked about my daughter before – her name is Charlie and she is almost 10 years old. She is awesome and I love her, but she has recently taken a turn for the dramatic (could it be teen hormones already?). Anyway… I was tucking her into bed the other day and she looked at me and asked, “Why doesn’t anything ever go my way?” (Like I said, a flare for the dramatic). We had a long talk about what it was that was bothering her and resolved her current crisis as best we could at 9 PM. I even added a little reality check about using words like “never” and “always”.

Everything seemed good, but it got me to thinking – we (all of us) have a tendency to assume not getting our way is always a bad thing. We assume if something else had happened, everything would have been better. Let me give you an easy example- a client was recently in a car accident. It wasn’t anything too traumatic, but there was car damage which is always a hassle. My client was in my office complaining how she keeps getting screwed by life and if she had only left 5 minutes later (or earlier) the accident could have been avoided. I think it is perfectly natural to feel this way, but it is important to remember things could have been actually worse. Maybe a different, more serious car accident would have occurred. It is impossible to know. We can waste so much time focused on what “might” have happened.

There is even a song about it. Do you know Garth Brooks’ song “Unanswered Prayers”? Here is a peek, if you aren’t sure (http://www.rollingstone.com/music/lists/the-13-greatest-country-songs-for-thanksgiving-20141125/garth-brooks-unanswered-prayers-1990-20141125). It’s all about a man who goes back to his home town and sees his high school girlfriend with whom he had so desperately wanted a future. The relationship had not worked out and both had moved on. When the singer looks around, he realizes how not getting what he wanted actually helped him to get what he really needed after all (wife, kids, happiness). The ways that not getting what we want actually serves us is not always so transparent or direct, but it is important to try not to spend too much time on what might have been at the detriment of what actually is.

My stepdad died about 12 years ago after a painful bout with pancreatic cancer. I was living on the West Coast while he and my mom were in Michigan. I got a call one day I should come home because the doctors determined he did not have much time left. I booked a flight for the next day, but he passed before I got there. For a fairly long while I was torn up about not having had an opportunity to say goodbye. I had this dramatic vision of a Hollywood deathbed goodbye where we shared our feelings (all good) and he peacefully went to “sleep”. I felt cheated of this. Over time, I became aware that his deathbed was likely nothing like this. He was not conscious and communicating. I was spared seeing him so ill. My last memory of him is not him sickly and weak, but up and about and teasing me. I was not cheated, but was spared. I did not get what I wanted, but it was for the best.

So, here is my takeaway – if you get frustrated about something that happened (or didn’t happen), remember it may have been in your best interest. Even if you can’t see how it is good for you, try not to dwell too much on what could have been (or should have been) and, instead, focus on what is. Try to make your “is” as good as you can.

Post-Holiday Slump

A frequent complaint of patients in my office this time of year is something they call Seasonal Depression. This is a very real diagnosis and many people suffer from it. What I find, though, is many people who self-diagnose as Seasonal Depression are really experiencing a post-holiday emotional slump. Regardless of whatever holiday you may celebrate (religious or otherwise) there are a number of celebrations that occur during November and December each year. Due to these celebrations, we are disgustingly busy during this 6-8 week period and are often running from one social event to another. By the time we get to catch our breath, it’s the beginning of January. Now, if you live anywhere besides the Southernmost states or California, it is also a time of bitter cold and related household lockdown.

For most of us, after the excitement of New Year’s, there isn’t much new coming up until Valentine’s Day (and the emotional whiplash THAT holiday causes). I call this the post-holiday slump. We have been so busy with November and December that we don’t know what to do with ourselves and all our current free time. There is also, often, little to look forward to. This is my recommendation. Create things to look forward to. Plan a vacation. Schedule a meet-up with friends. Put a massage on the books. Find something to give you some excitement.

Post-holiday slump is typically short in duration – a few weeks, a month maybe. If you find it is lasting too long or the symptoms are too difficult for you to manage on your own or if you consider doing anything to hurt yourself or anyone else – get help immediately. Do not walk, run to your nearest mental health professional – in a pinch, call 911 or go to the local Emergency Room so you can get immediate help. You do what you can to manage your symptoms, but there is never any shame in needing help.

So… Your Friend is Transgendered – Now What?

I have gotten a number of emails, phone calls, tweets and general comments over the past couple of days about the tragic suicide of a transgendered young woman, Leelah Alcorn (born Joshua Alcorn). Much of the focus of discussion has been on this young woman’s suicide note (you can link to it here if you haven’t read it or want a refresher http://lazerprincess.tumblr.com/post/106447705738/suicide-note), her transgender status and/or her Christian parents’ refusal to accept/acknowledge that transgender status. I’ve been listening to criticism of her parents and debates over whether or not transgender is real. I don’t really care if you think transgender is legitimate or not (though I can tell you as a mental health professional it is), but what I can tell you is this young woman was in immense pain.

We need to do a better job of taking care of each other – especially our children who may not have adequate coping skills to manage life’s challenges. I am not going to jump on the bandwagon and rip her parents apart. If what has been has said about them is true, I do not agree with their parenting choices and wish things had been managed differently, but that isn’t what I want to talk about today. I want to talk about the need to keep an eye on one another.

What can you do if someone in your life is dealing with transgender identity (even if the person isn’t talking about suicide)?

  1. Talk to someone. I am not saying “out” them, but if you need to process through your own thoughts and feelings – talk it out. You can maintain their confidentiality while working things through. You may not know what to do to help. Ask for help! Talk to a teacher, a parent, a school counselor, a priest, I don’t really care who, but talk to someone until you get guidance. All too often, we avoid things that make us uncomfortable – you can’t do that here. This is too important.
  2. Be there. Talk with your friend or family member about what all of this means for them. Even, as in Leelah Alcorn’s situation, you are not “supportive” of transgendered identity, there are still “safe” topics of feeling lonely, sad, and isolated. This is still the same person they were before you learned they are transgendered. If he is a good friend, she will be, too.
  3. Refer to support groups (not just for your loved one, but for you, too). Knowledge is power!
    1. http://community.pflag.org/transgender
    2. http://www.glaad.org/transgender
    3. http://www.transgender.support/
    4. http://susans.org/
    5. http://www.iamtransgendered.com/SupportGroups.aspx

These are but a few of the online, national organizations available to provide information and support, both to the individual and to their loved ones. There are also countless programs available within your own community. When I worked at Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles (CHLA), I became acquainted with their amazing program (http://www.chla.org/site/c.ipINKTOAJsG/b.7501767/k.5FBA/Transgender_Services__Adolescent_Medicine__Case_Management__Health_Education.htm#.VKSWvCvF_EY). Check out what might be available in your town.

  1. No matter what you might think or feel about transgendered individuals, do not make fun of, attack verbally or physically, or shame them. Doing any of these behind their backs still sucks – it’s just more cowardly. Remember life is hard enough for each of us without some jerk making worse. Don’t be that jerk.

Did I miss something important? What else might you recommend? As always, I am open to suggestions.

Drama only Belongs on the Stage

We’ve talked about toxic people in the past, you and I, and the toll they can take on you and your relationships. But when I asked my daughter for suggestions about this blog, she asked that I write about drama and the people who seem to enjoy creating it. It is kind of sad, really, that my 9-year-old is already picking up on this in others, but maybe that’s because she seems to enjoy creating it herself at times and that helps her to recognize it in others.

There are a number of different types of drama queens. (I use this term non-gender specifically, as there are just as many male drama queens as female – maybe more):

  1. The attention whore – This drama queen needs to be in the center of attention at all times. She always has an exciting story to share at the top of her lungs, so you couldn’t ignore her even if you tried. She is often extremely entertaining, so most of the time you don’t mind at all. She can be tiring over long periods of time, though.
  2. The chronically ill – I don’t mean people who are legitimately sick. This drama queen always has a headache or an upset stomach or a hurt foot or a sore back. You get the idea. There is always a complaint and she loves sharing it with you. It gets to the point where, instead of saying, “Hi”, you want to say, “So, what hurts today?”
  3. The pot stirrer – Ooooh, this queen is a sneaky one. She creates the drama behind the scenes. She tells Person A something about Person B and then tells that reaction to Person C. She then sits back to watch and see what happens. She doesn’t want to be involved in the fireworks, but sure enjoys the show.
  4. The exaggerator – I don’t think this drama queen even realizes she is doing it, but everything that happens to her is HUGE, at least when she tells the tale. Every date is epically good or bad, all disagreements are explosive, and all successes deserving of a parade. Her life is one of extremes which is exhausting to all involved.

If you see a queen, you don’t necessarily have to run screaming in the other direction – remember, sometimes they are fun. What you do need to know is with whom you are dealing. Know if someone in your life is a drama queen. It will help you to decide how best to interpret what she shares with you. Do you take it at face value or do you need to translate it through some anti-drama program to get the real deal? You may save yourself unnecessary time spent in an emotional wringer.

What do you think? Did I miss anyone? I’d love your suggestions about any underrepresented drama queens.

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.