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Saturday, April 26, 2014

WHY YOUR INNER "DISNEY PRINCESS" ROCKS!!!

Years ago when we were all still single, a girlfriend of mine developed a humorous theory that women follow a dating template based on their favorite Disney movie relationship.  Girls who loved Cinderella were hardworking optimists who were not opposed to being swept off their feet.  Girls who loved Little Mermaid might change who they are to suit their man.  Girls who loved Belle from Beauty and the Beast were fiercely intelligent, brave and willing to take on a challenge.  Ladies who loved tramps…well, you know who you are.  She had a lot of fun questioning all of us about our favorite film without revealing her premise until AFTER we had explained the attachment.  And you know what?  In her small case study, women did pretty consistently conform to their Disney heroine’s path.  At least, until she asked me.

You want to know what my favorite Disney movie was growing up?  The Sword and the Stone.  When I made this response to her inquiry, I saw real concern develop in her brow.  “But why?” she asked, genuinely perplexed, “I mean what is it that appeals to you so much?”  I answered with complete enthusiasm, “Because it’s about a kid who lives with his Uncle and his cousin and they treat him like a servant and call him Wart but then Merlin teaches him magic and he pulls the sword out of the stone and becomes the KING OF ENGLAND!!!”  Now, if you don’t know me, you might think this blows her theory totally out of the water.  But while I will not speak for any of my ex-boyfriends, I am pretty sure my husband thinks not only that I might have some magical powers, but also that he is, in fact, married to the King of England.  Ha.
Albert Einstein once said, “If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales.”  The stories that resonate with us are the stories that speak to our souls, to who-we-really-are, and to who we hope to become.  As a Mom I have had the pleasure of re-reading some of my favorite childhood books with my son and it has been a powerful and moving experience to be sure.  I loved “The Wind in the Willows” as a child, but as an adult I am going to posit that it may be the greatest children’s book ever written.  It hits all of the right notes, from self-acceptance and self-expression to cooperation, sharing, taking risks, knowing God as all-encompassing…but to a child, it is a charming adventure of animals living on a riverbank.  I was in awe reading it again as to how it spoke to my life path and the many relationships and other “adventures” I have experienced.

I will tell you what got me thinking about all of this: the post “How Disney Sabotaged Our Love Lives” (check it: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ashley-crouch/how-disney-sabotaged-our-love-lives_b_5194639.html) on the HuffPo.   It compelled me to write this as some kind of rebuttal.  First of all, other than the title, there is barely a mention of Disney, per se, and how can one blame an institution for high divorce rates and then provide such scant evidence?  The real title of this article should be “How the notion of a soul mate sabotaged our love lives” and I say PHOOEY ON THAT!  Soul mates rock!!!!  And most of us have a plethora of them, not just that antiquated notion of a one-true-love.  Soul mates are people you recognize instantly; you have that shock of “Oh, there you are!” with a total stranger.  And it is not only NOT exclusively a romantic attachment, it is USUALLY not…most of my best friends in the world are people with whom I had an instant click, a sense of home, of belonging.  The notion that hoping to marry a soul mate is somehow destructive to your romantic dreams is kind of mean-spirited, IMHO.
A thing that speaks to your soul, whether it be a book, movie, song, painting or person…these are the things that matter most in this world.  Without them, we are lost.  These are talisman, markers on our path that tell us we are headed in the right direction, that keep us on course, that remind us to hope for the best but also know we have the resources to handle the worst.  Your soul is that most amazing and resilient piece of you, both highly individualized and yet connected to every living thing on earth.  When it is activated by anything…your work, your play, your relationships, your religion…this is a very, very good thing, the best possible thing in fact.  Disney does not sabotage us any more than any other piece of art, if it resonates with us.  Just, as I am living proof of, not all girls are destined to be princesses.  Some of us are kings.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

WHY A GIANT ZIT CAN RUIN YOUR DAY


Damn, I have a giant zit.  I have had it for three days now and it does not appear to be getting any smaller.  If it were any bigger, in fact, it could declare for secession.  And I would welcome that, because it is disgusting, disfiguring and all I can see when I look in the mirror.  Plus a little tender, you know?   I am no teenager and I declare this zit to be “off sides”.  I cannot be dealing with middle-aged neck and acne at the same time!  It is causing a rip in the space/time continuum of my life and nothing will feel quite right again until it is completely gone.

HA HA HA HA, you probably think I am joking, but sadly…I am not.  I can be pretty Zen and wise when my skin is clear, but WHOO!  This blemish has put my spiritual evolution on the backburner, you know?  So the question is, WHY IS THAT?  Why do we day after day and week after week deal with crisis after crisis—illness, death, divorce, job loss, money problems, natural disasters, unnatural disasters—and we keep our feet on the ground, our eye on the ball and persevere?  But a broken dish, a dropped call, a GIANT ZIT…these can derail us and send us into a tailspin.  Does any of this sound familiar yet?  You get through a giant presentation with flying colors, and then snap at your kid for spilling cheerios?  Because stress is stress is stress and stress will OUT ITSELF, whether we like it or not.  Sometimes in the form of a GIANT ZIT.

We all have coping mechanisms and crisis modes, ways in which we get through those things we absolutely, crucially have to get through…and we all have ways which we retreat, lick our wounds, duck and cover.  In general, this is a GOOD thing, and part and parcel of the grand charade we call “being human”.  But I recently read about a study that was done which concluded, in part, that we humans have a somewhat limited supply of what we would call “self-discipline” and that is why the containment of one addiction often leads to the blossoming of another.  We are simply not hard-wired for a monkish existence.  We need to get our FREAK ON, one way or another.  So I say, this applies to stress as well.  There is only so much we can take before something’s gotta give.  In my case, it is the integrity of my pores.

So the next time you are absolutely jonesing for a piece of chocolate cake, remember the 400 things you did NOT let yourself have and the 400 ways you exercised self-discipline and realize—one piece of cake isn’t going to kill you.  And next time a broken shoelace reduces you to tears, remember all the times you were strong for the people you loved when they needed you to be and go ahead, have a good cry.  And the next time you have a GIANT ZIT and want to obsess over it, remember how many things—hurt feelings, broken dreams, irreparable relationships--you have had to let go over the years, and hang on.  Hang on to that stupid zit for dear life.  Because if we are going to manage all of the big stuff that gets thrown at us every day, we sometimes need a good old-fashioned distraction.  Like a giant zit.  But I highly recommend a great book or movie, if that will work instead.  Less disfiguring, you know?

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Why My Life is HORRIFYING!

What makes a person LOVE being horrified?  What makes a person CRAVE the experience of FEAR?  Why do I cackle with glee when a horny teenager is impaled through the throat with a corkscrew, when others would visibly wince and look away with disgust?  These are probably good questions for a trained clinical psychologist, but screw all of that fancy schooling, I am going to go ahead and take a “stab” at what makes a true horror buff:  courage.  The deep seated need to be brave in the face of all that revulses, repulses, revolts and reviles.  Horror buffs are armed (metaphorically speaking in most cases, thank God) and dangerous (again.)  There is something that speaks to our very souls in looking the worst possible case scenario in the face and…laughing.  Crazy.  Sick.  I know what you are thinking.  Unless you are just like me.

I trace my love of fear to my earliest childhood memories.  When I was a toddler, my family lived in a house that had the misfortune of having a stream in the backyard.  My actual memories of said stream are nil, but my actual memories of my sibling’s tales about the stream are crystal clear.  This being the 70’s, and me being a baby, my Mom did very little actual supervision of my activities.  HA HA HA HA, just kidding Mom!  By today’s standards, I mean.  So instilling a healthy fear of the stream was wisely delegated to my older siblings.  Who were older enough to be a) kind of twisted and b) very accurate in guessing what exactly would keep my berth from said body of water as wide as possible.  They told me a monster lived in it.  Yup, they went Scotland on my ass, and I bought the tale hook, line and sinker.  Older siblings suck, but often in an incredibly useful way.
So there I am,  at the full and ripe old age of three, terrified of the backyard.  One of my most vivid memories of childhood is being “out there” with my older sister who, in her defense, was 13 and clearly hormonal.  She received a “very important” phone call and left me alone for what was probably minutes but felt like hours.  Hours and hours.  Hours and hours of standing, scanning the horizon for signs that the monster had in fact emerged from it’s lair, ready to feast on a plump and rosy little blonde.  Who was left waiting, a sitting duck for sure.  I shudder to remember those moments, my eyes splitting time between the back door (from which my sister might emerge at any moment to rescue me) and the back yard (clearly a haven for beasts from beyond).  Good times!  Childhood is such a lark, right???

But that was not the only way in which I was traumatized by my siblings.  My brother, only ten at the time, felt it was highest hilarity to deliberately lure me into compromising situations…involving the TV.  Being a toddler as I was, I harbored a great love for “Underdog”; being a toddler as I was, I also harbored a tremendous fear of the monster who emerged from behind buildings to grip Underdog in its sweaty palm during the opening credits.  My solution was to hide behind the green chair in the living room until the credits were over.  My mistake was allowing my brother to coax me out from behind the green chair…just in time to see the monster grip Underdog in its sweaty palm.  I don’t know what it is about being three that makes one so gullible, but my recollection is that I fell for this "prank" on an embarrassing number of occasions.  My brother has a great innocent looking face, and when he told me the monster was finished, I too frequently believed him.  And LOOK AT ME NOW.
I was primed for fear.  Primed to be afraid.  I suffer from a total recall of my cousin George repeatedly informing me on April Fool’s Day that I had a spider on my back.  I was in preschool, so each time he said it, I believed it.  A dozen times over the course of one day.  Damn, little kids are dumb, am I right?  But I was plugged into fear.  In those same years, my brother was a fan of the serial “Dark Shadows”.  I remember being both attracted and repulsed by it, hiding behind the same green chair, peeking out for moments and hiding my eyes and plugging my ears for others.  For whatever the reason, fear was my guide and my mentor.  Remember Kevin McAllister in “Home Alone”, with his (totally rational, imho) fear of the basement and his creepy neighbor?  Well, put the kid on steroids and you have me, from my very earliest memories and recollections.

I could go on and on about this but for now  I would simply like to say that my life has been HORRIFYING.  And I like it like that.  Would you know what to do if the inevitable zombie apocalypse were to suddenly occur?  I WOULD.  Would you be able to handle the very delicate real estate dilemma if say, a vampire moved in next door?  I WOULD.  Would you have a clue as to how to effectively alert the authorities if the madman you had been supervising in a high security mental facility were to escape?  I WOULD.  I am prepared, people!  When I hear a strange noise in the basement, do I cower under the covers and hope it is nothing?  NO WAY!!!  I make lots of noise myself, turn on lots of lights and go to confront said noise because I already have my escape route carefully mapped out.  Being  afraid can be fun sometimes, but also empowering.  So next time you enjoy the sensation of your stomach in your throat on a rollercoaster, just realize this:  you are I aren’t as different as you think.