Tag Archives: Pop culture

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.

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The Twelve Years of Christmas (An Ode to My Daughter, Charlie)

The Twelve Years of Christmas


On her one year old Christmas
my daughter gave to me:
A pail full of stinky diapers

On her two year old Christmas
my daughter gave to me:
Two temper tantrums
And a pail full of stinky diapers

On her three year old Christmas
my daughter gave to me:
Three “no” to everythings
Two temper tantrums
And a pail full of stinky diapers

On her four year old Christmas
my daughter gave to me:
Four days of nonstop chatter
Three “no” to everythings
Two temper tantrums
And a pail full of stinky diapers

On her five year old Christmas
my daughter gave to me:
Five hours playing with Barbie
Four days of nonstop chatter
Three “no” to everythings
Two temper tantrums
And a pail full of stinky diapers

On her six year old Christmas
my daughter gave to me:
Six sticky fingers
Five hours playing with Barbie
Four days of nonstop chatter
Three “no” to everythings
Two temper tantrums
And a pail full of stinky diapers

On her seven year old Christmas
my daughter gave to me:
Seven loose teeth
Six sticky fingers
Five hours playing with Barbie
Four days of nonstop chatter
Three “no” to everythings
Two temper tantrums
And a pail full of stinky diapers

On her eight year old Christmas
my daughter gave to me:
Eight best friends
Seven loose teeth
Six sticky fingers
Five hours playing with Barbie
Four days of nonstop chatter
Three “no” to everythings
Two temper tantrums
And a pail full of stinky diapers

On her nine year old Christmas
my daughter gave to me:
Nine rounds of Just Dance
Eight best friends
Seven loose teeth
Six sticky fingers
Five hours playing with Barbie
Four days of nonstop chatter
Three “no” to everythings
Two temper tantrums
And a pail full of stinky diapers

On her ten year old Christmas
my daughter gave to me:
Ten preteen meltdowns
Nine rounds of Just Dance
Eight best friends
Seven loose teeth
Six sticky fingers
Five hours playing with Barbie
Four days of nonstop chatter
Three “no” to everythings
Two temper tantrums
And a pail full of stinky diapers

On the eleventh day of Christmas
my true love sent to me:
Eleven celebrity crushes
Ten preteen meltdowns
Nine rounds of Just Dance
Eight best friends
Seven loose teeth
Six sticky fingers
Five hours playing with Barbie
Four days of nonstop chatter
Three “no” to everythings
Two temper tantrums
And a pail full of stinky diapers

On her twelfth year of Christmas
my daughter gave to me:
Twelve epic eye rolls
Eleven celebrity crushes
Ten preteen meltdowns
Nine rounds of Just Dance
Eight best friends
Seven loose teeth
Six sticky fingers
Five hours playing with Barbie
Four days of nonstop chatter
Three “no” to everythings
Two temper tantrums
And a pail full of stinky diapers

The Saga of Loud Breathing Yoga Man

I went to Yoga class on Wednesday – not an unusual occurrence for me, I tend to go fairly often, but this was at a different time than normal. I walked in, took a deep breath and lay down on my mat to relax because I had 10 minutes to chill before class started. I lay there with my eyes shut, thinking about nothing in particular, just feeling kind of psyched I had been able to make it to an earlier class. I was, overall, happy to be there. I heard the instructor walk into the room, noticed her adjust the lights through my closed eyelids and began to rouse myself to join the class. That’s when I looked around and…ugh… the moaner/grunter was there.

Crap. Maybe I’ve mentioned this particular gentleman before – if you’ve taken a yoga class in the past, you may have had someone like him there. He is the guy who, rather than “breathing as a community”, waits a beat and then moans/groans – loudly. Really loudly. Every time. The studio where I take yoga is a relatively quiet place – an instructor softly speaking, people softly breathing and one loud moaner/groaner. (Can you tell I react strongly to this guy?) Here is the thing – I saw this guy and my immediate reaction was F this, I am outta here. I wanted to leave. I had gone from peaceful excitement about taking class to annoyance/avoidance in one glance. Then I had a bit of an epiphany. This guy doesn’t get to take this away from me. He wasn’t going to ruin this for me. I started to (internally) make fun of his noises and found myself being entertained by his ridiculousness. (I didn’t make fun of him overtly – I was annoyed, not rude.) I just smiled to myself and moved on.

Too often we allow people to have too much power over our lives. Have you ever gone to work and discovered you were assigned to work with a less than desirable co-worker and allowed it to ruin your day? Have you arrived at a party and noted someone you really didn’t like had been invited as well? Did it interfere with your ability to have a good time? These people don’t get to interfere with your life like this. Find a way to turn it around in your head. If they are annoying, make it funny for yourself. Focus on the people who you do enjoy.

I am not saying I will deliberately be seeking this guy out so we can take classes together in the future. I still really find him annoying and he messes with my concentration, but if I happen to walk in and he is there, he won’t chase me out.

The Truth about Santa

I have may have mentioned previously that I have a 9-year-old daughter. She is still a professed Santa-believer (though we have serious doubts she is really 100% on board vs. afraid of how things might change). My husband and I have had frequent talks about how to have “the talk” with her about Santa and when we should have that conversation. We have (maybe out of avoidance) opted to wait for her to come to us. We answer any question she may have, but are not seeking her out to burst her bubble. We’ve come close a couple of times. She has come to us in previous years and shared what a friend has told her about Santa. We’ve never “lied” exactly, but we have sugar-coated the truth, each year coming closer and closer to confessing.

The most recent conversation had to do with the Easter Bunny. We were sitting at Easter dinner at my husband’s restaurant (he had to work that year, so he wasn’t at the table – lucky Bastard to avoid this conversation). We’re eating dinner, having a wonderful afternoon. Imagine us, surrounded by families and enjoying a delicious meal when my 9-year-old looks up at me with her huge hazel eyes and asks, “It’s really you and Daddy who put out my Easter basket, right?” I nearly choked on my dinner! She’d be an amazing detective – totally blind-sided me and caught me unprepared. What does a psychologically-trained professional like me do? Once I could breathe again, I said, “Why don’t you ask your father.” Seriously? Why don’t you ask your father? I totally dropped the ball (and then punted it). As far as I know, she never asked him.

Well, this year we know we are living on borrowed time. She is 9, almost 10. She isn’t asking us, but is making end runs at other trusted adults in her life. Just two days ago, she was in a dance class with her most trusted dance teacher, the divine Miss Erin and slyly asked about Miss Erin’s Elf on the Shelf and whether she moves it for her kids or if the elf moves on its own. This amazing lady reiterated what we had always told her – something about Christmas magic – and Charlie moved on. So, I know it is coming. What am I going to do?

I have decided to be honest. There are letter suggestions out there (http://www.pinterest.com/pin/163959242659866164) and I love, love, love the sentiments of this letter and will include many of them when I finally have this conversation. I will not be writing her a letter (though this definitely appeals to my desire to avoid a potentially uncomfortable, awkward, sad conversation). It is important for me to tell her that Santa is about the spirit of Christmas and even though (spoiler alert) Moms and Dads tend to buy the Santa gifts, Santa is still about the magic of the season. I would stress the importance of allowing the spirit of Santa and Christmas to remain alive for others. (Unlike my older sister who blew the secret when I was only four – I still bear the scars of that psychological trauma). I will explain to her that, like Spiderman, with great knowledge comes great responsibility – she is responsible for allowing the joy to continue for other kids.

Now comes to million dollar question – when am I going to tell her? Well, I am defaulting to “the next time she asks”. I have a strong suspicion she already knows (or at least has a significant gut feeling), but I will allow her to address this as she is comfortable. I don’t feel it is my role to push her to believe or not believe any more. I am going to support her wherever she is and answer her questions as they are posed. The selfish part of me is hoping it isn’t for a couple more weeks – I would love to have one more Christmas with Santa intact.

Maybe it is a Little Bit You…

We’ve all heard those break-up stories – the couple sit there while one looks into the other’s eyes and explains they want to end the relationship. They try to let the other down easily and say those five little words, “It’s not you, it’s me.” What is this supposed to mean? It means the person ending the relationship is saying they aren’t able to be in the relationship despite the fact the person being dumped is fabulous and wonderful and a perfect person/partner. Do they actually mean this? Well, maybe/maybe not.

Look, harsh reality here – sometimes it really is you. Hearing this can spare you from having to hear these words again and again. I want you to pay attention to patterns even when they aren’t totally obvious. Do your relationships with boyfriends seem to end when you try to get too close too fast? This could be important information! Do you keep getting laid off from jobs as soon as they have an opportunity to downsize? Take notice! Are you struggling to connect in friendships and end up excluded with little to no explanation? Consider the role you may be playing in these relationships!

If you don’t notice these patterns, you are doomed to repeat them. Ooooh! Another saying is especially meaningful here – “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it” (George Santayana). If someone tells you “It’s not you, it’s me” take a moment and think it through. Maybe, just maybe, it is a little bit you. This doesn’t have to be a painful reality – it is information you can build on to make your life even more amazing. Use it. Learn from it. Make changes as necessary and leave your ex in your dust.

Chivalry is not DOA

I know many people say chivalry is dead. I disagree. It isn’t dead, it’s just… different. When Jason and I first started dating, he never let me open a door. Like, ever. It became such a joke between us, that I “don’t touch doors”. We’ve been married more than 15 years and I still don’t. (Unless he’s not there because that would just be weird – me standing there, staring at the door). There is one other thing my husband does I don’t want to give up – whenever we walk outdoors, he always positions himself on the side of traffic. This is to protect me from a runaway car or crazed kidnapper, I suppose. I am completely comfortable with Jason holding the door open for me and shielding me from abduction, but am completely skeezed out when he tries to run around and open my car door for me. I’m not sure what it is about standing there waiting for him to open my car door that makes me feel like a complete tool, but I hate it. I know it makes no sense, but it works for us.

Chivalry is not just for those with male genitalia though – the definition of chivalry: the sum of the ideal qualifications of a knight, including courtesy, generosity, valor, and dexterity in arms. Nowhere in that definition does it say anything about the person exhibiting chivalry having a penis. I know this assumption is based on the past, knights always being dudes way back when, but come on ladies, buck up! Chivalry is something we could all manage a bit more.

  • If you are walking through a door and notice someone a few steps behind you, stop and hold the door for them. Those few seconds will not destroy your entire day and maybe you will get a smile and a “Thank you” in return. (Side note – if you are approaching a door and someone stops to hold it for you, please, please, please, say “Thank you”. Seriously, drives me crazy when people sail through with an air of entitlement, “Of course you hold the door for me, you peon!”).
  • If someone nearby sneezes even if (or especially if) you do not know them, say “Bless You” (or if you aren’t religious say. “Gesundheit” which means good health). It is nice to acknowledge someone else’s sneeze (I’m not sure why), but just do it.
  • If you see someone struggling with packages and your hands are free, offer a hand. (Unless it is a creepy guy by a van – serial killer alert). Being helpful to other people makes you both feel good.
  • If you are able bodied and are sitting in a seat and you notice someone less able bodied and there are no more seats, offer them yours. What does “less able bodied” mean? This could mean a lot of things, someone elderly or sick or pregnant or traveling with little kids or who knows. If they seem less able to stand than you for any reason – get up!

Are there others I have forgotten? Suggestions?

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.

Young Adult Apathy

A colleague and I were talking recently about the number of clients we were seeing with a similar complaint – uncertainty about what the hell to do with the rest of their lives. These are typically people in their early twenties who had either finished or nearly finished an undergraduate degree of some sort. Often, they studied some general type of program, like Communications or Psychology, and had no current plans to attend graduate school. Because of this, their degrees may not have prepared them for any specific career path. These patients often present for treatment with a mixture of anxiety and depression and are looking for some help determining the best direction. They live with their parents (or are supported by their parents outside the family home) and rarely are working for any type of pay. Every possible career option is quickly shot down with complaints of not being interesting, being boring or “not sounding very fun.”

What do we have to say to these young adults? Get a job – any job. I don’t care where – Target, an office, the library, a restaurant – anywhere. You need to be doing something while you are figuring it all out. Your temporary job may help you figure out what you want to do (or at least what you don’t). You are not likely to achieve clarity sitting at home playing video games. You do not get to be a burden on society or on your parents. Sitting at home will only make you more depressed. Get out of the house.

Actually this is a good rule for life – if you aren’t 100 % sure what you should be doing, take small steps until you figure it out. Even if you aren’t taking long strides, short steps keep you moving forward.

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.