Love Affair Through the Ages

The dawn of each new season brings a welcome change, along with renewed energy, and a general sense of anticipation for the unknown.  Perhaps more important than all of these is the arrival of the latest Seasonal Wardrobe Lookbook and, more specifically, the latest handbag trends.  Yes, Mother Nature is working her hardest to produce a  glorious landscape, all of which is majestically honored and appreciated.  However, like most women, I tingle with excitement at the thought of which Handbag Will Be Chosen This Season.  I flip open my new, 10-lb fashion magazine, carefully reviewing each feature, advertisement, and runway collection noting many consistencies as well as differences among various designers.  This hefty book will soon be filled with dog-eared pages while flashes of burgundy, No! aubergine, fringes, flaps, feathers, fobbles of every sort flash through my mind.  Is this an obsession, I wonder, as I quickly assess dozens of handbags that glide past me each day hanging of shoulders, clutched to a wrist, or floating across a waist.  Eventually, one look remains constant in my mind.  One color I don’t already have in my collection and that I simply cannot do without.  This image enters my dreams making all of my current ensembles, quite fashionable mere months ago, seem lacking.  

Entering the store, the air crisp with new scents of the season, I spot the One I Must Have.  I touch it.  The feel is soft, even buttery.  The smell is warm, almost spicy.  The soft yet sturdy handle seems to glide on my shoulder already belonging  there.  This bag has claimed me:  it is mine!   Excitement abounds as I quickly dump everything out of last season’s Obsession and place it neatly into my new Carry-All.  Compliments hail to me (“Love Your New Bag!”) as I move through my fast-paced existence:  Work, Errands, Family Outings.  My Sister notices my new bag with envy:  it’s the perfect shape and color!  She approves my selection then smartly inquires about my previous love – the one in a brilliant metallic blue.  Could she borrow it?  Later, as I lovingly place the smart, blue bag into a box, wrapped with paper, ready to send to her, I am reminded of where this bag and I went last year.  It comfortably secured my possessions during a rare museum trip, went to my daughter’s school, and accompanied me on various shopping and errand runs on many occasions.  I think about the surprise of genuine happiness my sister will feel when she opens the box to find Metallic Blue enclosed with a note to “carefully use and return when finished“. 

Upon this recent reflection, I wondered whether I am in a small minority in my love of handbags or whether other women feel truly as excited.   If my sister, not nearly the fashion house fan I am, would be so genuinely excited over last season’s cast-off, then perhaps I am not alone.  I observed women of various fashion styles and ages carry their bags during their comings and goings.  A compliment to each brought a sincere smile that lit their faces.  Despite a lagging, suffering economy, women continue to spend a dominant percentage of their total clothing budget on handbags.  The Louis Vuitton (a mortgage note to many) reins king among the fashionable elite be they Housewives, Career Women, College Student, even the occasional tween.  Are we overindulgent Americans the purveyors of the handbag craze?  I think not as the aforementioned Louis, Fendi, Prada, etc., are not American companies.  Handbags were popular before America was born, in fact.  Fashionable women two centuries ago popularized the reticule (drawstring purse), to carry necessities for the evening.  Men carried similar pouches at their waist that are now replaced by wallets.  Looking back further through time, men and women alike carried herbs, medicines, or any other item necessary to their leave.   Today, Men, Women, Children carry purses, we even carry our small dogs into beautiful bags.  Modern mothers give their young daughters cute purses almost as a rite-of-passage into girlhood.

Corroborated with historical evidence, I surmise that my need for a handbag is, in fact, a necessity.  As civilization developed, so did our need to carry our possessions with us.  Egyptians buried themselves with their treasures while more modern cultures chose to carry theirs.  What is indicative of modern society is our need for “things”.  We cannot simply fathom leaving home with empty pockets.  I need a phone!  A lipgloss!  Money!  19th century people carried scented sachets and coins but still left their abode with something.  Cave men and women may have traveled with their home, so to speak, moving and camping in large groups thus requiring very little to carry around. 

In modern society (speaking merely from observation), the actual bag has become just as important as the contents it carries.  I could not imagine carrying my cosmetics, tissues, what have you in a plastic Kroger bag!  Arrghh!  The thought!!   Yes, of course we are materialistic.  I do accept the fact that I love being noticed when I look great, when someone of whom I do or don’t know compliments some item of my possession.  Does a bag say something about a person?  Absolutely!  My large, trunk-like bag says “I have a lot to do, I’m busy!”; my petite, dainty bag says “I don’t have so much to carry, I’m just pretty“.  A young woman’s fringed, studded, rocked out bag shouts “See me!  I want you to see me!”; the lady’s solid, austere, minimalist shoulder bag says “I am efficient and orderly”.  So, the next time you notice a woman’s bag… be it feathered, bejeweled, or fuss-free…know that this mere bag was carefully chosen and mindfully purchased among all of the Season’s Glory to represent Where She Is Going and Who She Is.  Now go clean out your purse!!

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

A Perspective Change to Pay Forward

My husband, intense, sexy-smart, results-driven Project Manager that he is, recently had a cathartic moment when his repeated grumbling about work issues incited his more mellow colleague to tell him, “Dude, you’re looking at this the wrong way… change your perspective, man.  See, this [vendor/company] is really doing you a favor by….. “.  Grumbling stymied for the moment, my husband spent the rest of the day processing this simple direction.  When I met him at church that evening, he had applied this mantra to various scenarios within few hours.  During a church meeting, our group learned that a perspective change was all that was needed to accommodate a scheduling issue.  Over dinner later, I was promptly informed that my challenges with my children would be solved with a change of perspective.  Still later in the evening, our daughter was instructed to change her perspective when dealing with her younger brother.  And so it went.  The next day at work, I heard myself remind a colleague who felt overworked to change their perspective.  The realization that my husband’s message had been absorbed and passed on by me was not immediate.  Driving later, I realized that  truly “changing perspective” is a great solution for many of life’s problems:  your perception is directly linked with your actions and reactions.  Not to get too philosophical, this mindset, I decided, was the perfect answer to start off 2011.  I went into January seeking a renewed spirit to begin a better year.  My self-centric mindset always puts my issues or struggles at the forefront; but, now I am reminded to look at something from another person’s point of view.  The barista at Starbucks who did not get my order right may have had a rough morning.  The person I’m following too closely on the way because they’re driving below the speed limit while talking on the phone may be hearing some shocking news on the other end.  Who knows what’s going on from the other person’s side?  I will also focus on enjoying the moment a bit more as part of a perspective change.  Instead of concentrating so much on a long to-do list, I need to remember to be grateful for other blessings:  my energetic children are beautiful beyond words, my husband who frustrates me daily is also so very kind and supportive, my job, while demanding, challenges my creativity.  How can you change your perspective – to transform negativity into something positive?  Who knows how long this paradigm will last for me… hopefully, someone will remind me to “change my perspective” if my scowl becomes more commonplace than my smile.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Get-Your-Greens Incredible Hulk Smoothie

This Spring has been quite seasonal with plant sperm blowing like snow on my car windshield, across asphalt plains, and in my open windows.  It has tainted my clothes, made a nest in my hair, and filled my nostrils with yellow dust.  As I suffered through my 3rd sinus infection since January, I found myself with no apetite and feeling energy-deprived in 80+ degree-hot early May weather.  How’s a healthy girl to get her greens without the ability to crunch while simultaneously breathing??  No carrots, barely an apple, deprived of salads, and with a couple of mangoes lying around, I lived off of the following smoothie recipe for at least 7 days.  It was so good!  It filled me with energy and left me feeling satisfied and refreshed.  To get my 3-yr-old to try my bright green concoction, no other name but the “Incredible Hulk” would do.  He loves it!  My finicky 5-yr-old daughter who pushes away most fruits AND veggies drank this heartily!!  Yeah… Score 2 for Mom!!   A week later, I’m back to salads breathing better than ever.  I can’t wait to try my smoothie again while on-the-go with kids, at the pool, whatever.  Try it – it’s a great way for you and kids to get your greens!

Get-Your-Greens Incredible Hulk Smoothie-Shake (recipe makes (1), 8-0z smoothie.  Adjust ingredients accordingly to make more or larger amounts.  Freezes well!).

INGREDIENTS:  

  • Ice – 4-5 cubes
  • Banana - half or whole (I prefer frozen to yield an icier texture and use only half to lower carbs)
  • Mango – up to 1 cup (fresh/frozen – frozen will make drink icier)
  • Spinach – up to 1 cup fresh leaves (washed & dried)
  • Green tea – up to 3/4 cup cold; or, could use few tsps of Matcha powder
  • **optional** Ice cream/Frozen yogurt/Greek yogurt – up to 1/2 cup (I prefer Soy Vanilla Ice Cream from Trader Joes)
  • Protein Mix – 1-2 scoops (use your favorite brand – I use Nature’s Plus Source of Life Energy Shake full of whole food & vitamins from fruits, veggies with lots of iron, folic acid, B-Vits, etc.)

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Throw ice cubes and banana in blender pulsing with Ice-Crusher function.
  2. To ice-y mixture, throw in spinach, mango, and about 1/8 cup of cold green tea.
  3. Blend (try “Shred” function) these ingredients until spinach leaves are completely torn and integrated adding more green tea, as needed (up to 3/4 cup), while blending.  Drink will now be dark green & thick.
  4. Add remainder of green tea (if any remains), ice cream, and protein powder
  5. Blend again briefly, pour into glass, and drink… Mmmm so thick and creamy!  Tastes like a mango-vanilla shake with hints of refreshing cucumber!

Note:  Smoothie ingredients are flexible.  Add more or less, replace other fruits or veggies that you prefer.  Red berries will darken drink to a tan/brown.  Carrots make a good addition, too!

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

“A Mother’s Arms”… in verse

As I was driving the other day with my two children, an experience that is never quiet or still, I reached behind me to hand or remove something from my 3-yr-old’s grasp while keeping my eyes and wheels on the road.  My young daughter, sitting shotgun during a rare moment, wondered in amazement how I could reach so far behind me.  Her amazement instantly brought recognition of mine – and all mother’s – amazing abilities and wondrous transformations.  In this instant, flashes of my pre-Mom self ran through my mind especially the curvy, soft limbs indicative of relaxation and calmness (activities I yearn for but am rarely allowed).  During this awareness of my physical and emotional changes – nee growth – during these few years of motherhood, the following verses came to mind…

A Mother’s Arms

Enclosed and protective

Like feathered wings

Strong and mighty

Warmly loving

Tender and safe.

A Mother’s arms

Always reaching

Stretching, pulling, shielding -

Always equal to

More than enough.

Sinewy muscled;

Softly slender before.

A Mother’s arms

Transformed

Youthful girl gone

No longer caressing

Flesh to flesh entwined.

Loving, yielding

Yet able

To disarm

Carry, remove.

Long and languid

Always loving

Ever-protecting

Safe and warm.

Strong arms of motherhood -

A child’s home.

 

Happy Mother’s Day!  Enjoy every adventure your life brings.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Social Media Accountability

During church on a recent Sunday, the Pastor informed us that our church is now on Facebook – as well as the Pastor himself – to which the congregation collectively applauded warmly acknowledging our church’s reach farther into the world.  Leaning toward my husband, I snickered, “Would you want your Pastor as a “Friend”?”.  I thought not as flashes of Facebook posts affirming overindulges and hearty complaints instantly coming to mind.  This thought stream remained with me throughout the day. 

Social media is everywhere.  As a marketer, I would advise any client to get onto to Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc.,  and be active because whether you are “on”  or not, your clients are.  Regardless of the core demographic you target, there is a core market on-line – and making buying decisions.

In this new paradigm shift in which our society has entered (due to the economy), social media is perhaps the largest consumer-focused media outlet.  People make decisions based on a company/service(s) presence on the web almost exclusively.  Advertising in traditional media through print and radio are become secondary priorities as they fail to illicit the direct consumer response that social media receives.

Knowing all of this, it makes sense to have all of my key contacts as Facebook “Friends”.  This is not only how I keep in touch with everyone important to me but provides an opportunity to market myself.  As I thought about “friending” my Pastor, I realized that certain access requires a certain level of accountability.  While my oldest is nearing the age of 6, it will not be long before she’s a member of a social network.  I know of a few 10-yr olds with accounts and wonder whether I will “friend” my daughter when the time comes.  Suddenly, I realized that this accountability reaches far – to my spiritual leader, my daughter, family (my Dad’s now a “friend”), acquaintances, colleagues…

The Pastor’s sermon was about the image you show the world.  Think of yourself as a product:  What message does your “brand” reveal?  Is your marketing effective?  Are you reaching the intended target audience?

My Mom taught me to develop my self-image through the physical (wearing appropriate clothing, grooming, attractiveness).  As I am becoming more wise, I suppose, I realize the importance my inner self reveals through words and actions.  The complaints, tone taken with my kids and husband, are not in correlation to the “brand” I hope to promote of a happy, tolerant, thoughtful and caring woman.

Facebook “friends”:  Keep me accountable!  Let me know how I am doing – perhaps many of us could use a Social Media Makeover…

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Revolutional Revelations…at 35

My 35th year has been a pivotal one:  I have learned things about myself – both good and not so good – that provide clarity and help me in relating better with others.  Earth-shattering, mind-boggling? Not so much.  This year was the year that I went from focusing on work/career to accepting the most challenging position I have ever had:  Full-Time Mom.  This year, I learned that I am a creative idealist…and perhaps a bit arrogant (quite a shift for someone who used to awkwardly lack self-confidence).  This is the year that  I realized I focus too much on minor details.  I am learning to stop striving for perfection – it’s not possible.  I have too let go of trying to keep a perfectly clean, smartly decorated home (with small children, not possible!).  If my husband/daughter/son’s exuberance exceed my ideal noise level (especially in the AM or at the dinner table), I remind myself to enjoy their happiness rather than berate it.  If I arrive late, I am no longer going to stress over this.  I have decided I am simply going to do my best to not become distracted and multitask while trying to get everyone out the door.  Does my daughter’s hair have to look perfect before school when she’ll mess it up in 10 minutes anyway?  Does our breakfast need to be cleaned from the table before leaving?  Life is full of reasons to stress…and just as many more reasons to let go of the things that cannot be changed.  I can only  pray for grace, patience, and the wisdom to let little frustrations go.  Maybe when I am 40 (or 50), I will have reached a higher state of consciousness necessary to achieve serenity (let’s hope!).

This is the year I realized that my Mother seeks my advice more frequently and I have begun to seek hers less.  I have gained more confidence and some wisdom to be able to address some of my problems independently and offer some sound advice to others.

I feel – at 35 – sexier and healthier than I did 10 years ago (perhaps because I am healthier?).  I am stronger physically and emotionally than in my 20’s and look forward to the strength I will develop in further years (I refrain from saying “older” – that’s simply not my mindset).

I have realized that intimacy in relationships (whether husband, friend, or child) needs to be practiced purposefully and often in order to be maintained as well as deepened.  Both sex and abstinence can become habits as can sarcasm and criticism.  Practicing intimacy with your husband creates a stronger bond, feels good, and simply needs to become part of your routine (with young kids, this is not easy… but so necessary). Critical words can become a model for your children to replicate.  I recently determined to set a more positive tone, to which hopefully my argumentative daughter will adapt.

I am learning at 35 that my various roles – Wife, Mother, Daughter, Sister – can not be compartmentalized.  Instead, each of these define who I am.  I have spent too much emotional effort searching for ME-time (which truthfully should  be stated as “Quiet Time” since peace and relaxation are really what I am after) when being “Me” IS playing with my children, cooking a colorful, healthy meal, sharing a TV show with my husband, creating a loving home – these tasks ARE Who I Am and I am thankful for these daily moments and reminders.

35 has been an exciting, contemplative year; I can’t wait for the adventures that 36 will bring….

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Parental Truths

While compiling a list of parenting objectives for our group parenting class at church, it struck me that the traits I hope to teach my children were the ones in which I need to improve upon myself!  Imagine that… I expect a person 30+ years younger to behave better than I do!  My mental conundrum lead me to explore how I could teach tolerance and selflessness when I am materialistic and self-indulgent (case in point could be the new designer handbag and spa day I’m craving despite the fact that some people in our community are struggling with daily necessities!).  How do I expect my 5-year old not to scream, whine, or complain when she hears her mother perform those same acts (more frequently than she should hear, I might add…)?  While I do harbor guilt for my shortcomings, I do know that I am a good mother most of the time; still, I am just learning (at 35) what should have been obvious:  I am a role model for my children.  Not only a caretaker or someone to instill order during chaos, I am also in charge of modeling the same behavior I want to achieve from them.  Just as in any profession, to achieve the desired result, I must put forth the necessary effort, preparation, and knowledge.  I am learning to become a better person by working toward being a better parent.  Our small class group has recently discussed the reasons why we parent – perhaps God allows us this blessed role so that we can become our best selves.

Parenting is an unending challenge and adventure… but so is being a Mother, Wife, as well as my best Self.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized