Category Archives: Current Affairs

Digital Dieting

I sat my daughter down yesterday and as difficult as it was, told her the truth.  She needed to go on a diet.  A Facebook diet.  She’s gaining some serious informational girth.

For the last month or so, she’s been photo-loading, binging on comments, and compulsively over-liking the pictures and status updates of others.  Clearly she has some form of an oversharing disease.  I tell her all the time to: Tone it down;   Stay under the radar:  Remember, people like a little mystery.

I’m being ignored.

Some of her FB friends have their own compulsive over-sharing issues as well and yesterday was the last straw for me.  She posted this picture of herself decked out in a Steelers hat and shirt.

No big deal.  Except she tagged 15 people on the photo which lead to  a Steelers VS Ravens FB fight between middle schoolers which ended when I logged in with the following:

Just an FYI – this entire conversation was sent out to everyone tagged in the above photo. Jarin’s parents. Her grandmother in Pittsburgh. Her adult neighbors. Here’s the thing people. Facebook fights/disagreements/talki​ng smack, call it whatever you want, are a bad idea, especially when people that don’t care are watching/listening. Everyone will be untagged as soon as Jarin wakes up.

It is my humble opinion that many FaceBookers are getting a little portly with their info.  And although she didn’t do anything wrong, this time, she along with many people on FB, could benefit from some slimming down secrets.  I’m not out to create a 12-step program or get famous from writing a self-help book, just a mom that needs to teach her daughter a few things.

Also, I’m not here to point fingers.  I’m simply going to describe some character traits that I’ve noticed on FB and if on some intuitive level you feel I might, maybe, possibly be talking about you – feel free to do something about it.

Cryptic Messages:  I’m not a big fan of the cryptic for various reasons.

  1. I’m lazy.  I don’t want to guess at what the hell you’re talking about.  Say what you and mean what you say.
  2. I’m also blunt which I know many find annoying, but I guarantee you, you’ll never walk away from a conversation with me and wonder, “Hmm…what was Linda, really trying to say?”  You’ll know.  Trust me.  I would like the same courtesy.
  3. I (like most people) have to actually hear your voice to understand if you’re kidding or not – especially if we haven’t spoken since high school.  If you post, “I know why people consider suicide…” it freaks me out.  Should I call the cops or not?!  If your day is that bad, call your best friend in lieu of messing with the minds of 297 of your FB friends scattered around the globe.

Liking Everything:  I have no doubt in my mind that you really like all the shit you “like”.  But after a while, if you like everything you see, your stamp of approval loses it’s power.  It gets diluted a little.  Instead consider:

  1. Reposting the link to your wall and sharing it with others in lieu of telling me how great it is.
  2. Maybe only “like it” if you truly “love it”.
  3. Getting an occasional “like” or comment from you , makes you seems discriminating and hence a better judge.  If however, you like everything I say or do, it feels like you’re my mom (who’s sort of required by law to like everything I say or do whether it’s deserving or not.)

Constantly Revealing Your Location:  This one really concerns me.  I’ve threatened my children with a complete end to their FB accounts as well as bathroom clean up duty for a year if they EVER put their location out on Facebook.

Newsflash: This applies to adults as well.  I shouldn’t know that you’re at the Jiffy Lube, or waiting to be seen at your gynecologist’s office or hanging out at a nude beach in France.

First off that’s clearly too much information.  I don’t want or need to know about your yearly pap and pelvic exam.  And unless you enjoy being burglarized, telling me that you’re away from your home is a bad idea.  Do none of you people watch, Criminal Minds?  Did no one see the episode when the unsub tracked down all of his victims via their social networking sites?  Spoiler Alert – HE KILLED THEM!  And posted videos of their killings to his social networking site. Oh and kept their bodies for his own sexual pleasure – ugh.  So to avoid being the victim of a serial killer, consider the following:

  1. Post your vacation pictures AFTER you’ve returned home.
  2. If you must tell me where you’re going, just say, “I’m off to the beach”.  Don’t post,  “Can’t wait to get to the Marriott in Ocean City, Maryland tomorrow!”
  3. If you must tell me the status of your uterus..And truly, I do not need to know, but if you must…tell me after you’re in for the day.
  4. Turn off whatever tracking shit you have set up between your mobile phone and your FB account.  Do you realize that I not only know where you are, but I’m given a map to your exact location in real time!?  I would crack my kids in the skull if that did.

Digitally documenting EVERY moment of your day:  I don’t need to see every photo you took today.  Just post the highlights or at least, delete the blurry photos or crazy closeups of your nose hairs.  A nice one of you and the family ocean side, is plenty.

Look, I had diarrhea of the mouth at 13.  But 13-year-old Linda had to dial a phone, keep the phone calls within her area code and could only talk to one person at a time.  Since she didn’t have call waiting and was attached to a wall, her talk time was limited in case others in my family were expecting a call or my conversation in the kitchen was interrupting the TV watching in the next room.  I can’t imagine what would’ve happened if I had the ability back then to share my every fucking thought with everyone I knew while roaming the streets with a mobile device.

My daughter’s diet is going to consist of a few levels:

  1. We’ll start via a cold turkey approach.  She’s to go 1 week without posting, liking, or commenting.  She can log on, read and enjoy all the idiotic stuff  that her middle school friends post, but I’m asking her to merely be an observer.
  2. Then will move on to moderate postings where she’ll be asked to think a thought and then wait 15 minutes or so before posting it to see if she even cares enough to post it at all.
  3. She’ll also be barred from posting from her phone.  She’ll have to stop what she’s doing and if she has to post something that badly, post it via the desk top computer.  This distance between thinking the thought and sharing the thought would be the dieting equivalent of wanting a Ho-Ho but forcing yourself to wait to see if you’re still even craving the damn thing or forget all about it completely.

If you’d like to join her feel free.  And if you have any other ways to stay a lean, mean Facebook machine, let me know.  I’d love to hear about them.

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Ode To Oprah

I received an offer from O, The Oprah Magazine for a $12 yearly subscription.  I haven’t been a subscriber in a while but since the show is ending and a $1 per month price is crazy, good, I decided to send in a check.  Besides getting a free O totebag and a chance to win a Kindle loaded with every Oprah book pick ever featured, I also got a leaflet that noted Oprah’s all time, top 10 “What I know For Sure” tenets.

In honor of the final Oprah show airing tomorrow and all that we’ve learned from her many guests, I’d like to give a shout out to Ms. Winfrey as these tenets definitely have stood and will continue to stand the test of time.  Some I’ve used. Other’s I’m still working on.  All I’ll try to pass down to my daughters.

  1. What you put out comes back to you.
  2. You define your own life.
  3. The past has no power over the present.
  4. When people show you who they are, believe them.
  5. Worrying is a waste of time.
  6. You become what you believe.
  7. The only prayer you ever need to say is Thank You.
  8. Your happiness is directly proportional to the amount of love that you give.
  9. Failure is an opportunity to go in an different direction.
  10. If your thoughts and choices are different from others the world will not fall apart.

Number 4 is the tenet that has helped me the most.  I’ve ended friendships, kept my distance from people, made important life decisions – all to my advantage by  following that nugget of wisdom.  I use it at work, at home, in my neighborhood and even at dinner parties.  I used to make excuses for people’s behavior.  I now see bad behavior as information that I need to have.

Other Oprah life lessons that I’ve benefitted from are:

  1. To get your attention, the universe will drop a pebble on your head.  If that doesn’t work, it’ll drop a rock, then a brick, etc.  I’ve found that over the years, I’m better at reacting to the pebble and not needing a piano to drop on me.  Thank you, Oprah.
  2. When you see crazy coming – Cross the street! Iyanla Vanzant  taught us that one and it’s very similar to the when people show you who they are, believe them philosophy from the above list.  It also works with when you see bitterness, laziness, judgement, I’m going to take advantage of you, or I’m going to be a pain in your ass, coming – cross the street as well.
  3. Knowing when you’re trying to be right versus trying to solve a problem.  (A Dr. Philism from his early days pre-his own show). This has assisted me when having discussions with my husband as well as shaped many an argument with my teenage daughters. I’ve definitely not mastered it, but at least it’s in my consciousness.
  4. Truly tapping into and trusting your intuition is one of the most powerful things that you can do for yourself.  I’ve had the opportunity to be in situations where I knew no one, had no background information and only had my intuition to guide me.  My internal guidance system was eerily accurate during those times. Thank you Gary Zukav for sharing this with your readers and the Oprah show audience
  5. Seeing fear as a gift that keeps you safe.  Security expert Gavin de Becker’s idea that you should ALWAYS listen to that voice in your head and never out logic yourself when it comes to your safety.  Who knows if it’s worked as I’ve never been a victim of anything violent, which could in fact be proof in and of itself.

I can honestly say that over the last 25 years, I’ve learned quite a bit from Oprah’s show, her magazine and all of the experts she’s featured.  Of course not everyone agrees.  Joan Rivers was once quoted by The National Enquirer as saying that “She feels Oprah’s real gift is exploiting people’s suffering and emotions and turning them into TV ratings.”  I don’t think she exploited people’s suffering as much as she’s wanted her audience to learn from it.  Many of her viewers featured these last few weeks have illustrated that point by coming forward to share how the show has changed them, or even saved them.

One woman said that a show about safety made her fight an attacker to avoid being taken to second location and thus saved her life as her attacker as she later discovered that her attacker had killed people in this manner.

Another viewer said that show about a stressed out mom who’s baby died when she forgot and left her in a hot car made her a more mindful parent.  When her own baby’s cries that she normally ignored as fussiness seemed different one afternoon, she remembered the mom that had been featured, walked into the nursery only to find her infant being strangled by the cord of her window blinds. She believes that being inspired to be more present saved her child’s life.

One mom said that advice given to a grieving mom on Oprah was her only “anchor” as she dealt with the overwhelming grief that she was experiencing when her own child died.

That’s powerful and important television.  How many talk show hosts even come close to that?

Oprah isn’t perfect.  Not every guest was phenomenal.  In fact, I’m still a little confused as to why she gave so much airtime to celebrities without medical training spouting medical advice?  But in the end, even the gaffes are okay because I also believe that…

  1. The universe honors intentions not necessarily outcomes

and I believe that her’s were good.  She never guaranteed results as much as she simply gave us more options.

I think the Season 25: Oprah Behind The Scenes show that’s been airing on OWN really drove home how the “Oprah Way” of doing things is not a bad way to live. Each week you get a behind the scenes look at Oprah and her team pulling together two shows.  Many of these hard working producers (that are clearly working long, stressful hours) are at their core, very centered and present people.  When something goes wrong, they are surprisingly calm, compassionate and gracious, even.  They, along with Oprah, seem to really live this “Oprahic lifestyle”, if you will.  Yes they get angry and disappointed and flustered, because they’re human – but they stay centered in a way that you don’t see illustrated in most reality shows. It makes you wonder what it would be like to work in an environment like that every day?  Or better yet, be the type of person that brings that energy to a work environment each day.  Maybe that’s why the show has been so successful – because it’s not only been hosted by Oprah, but produced by people that are very “Oprah-like”.  People with good intentions that are mindfully attempting to do their jobs well.

I’m definitely going to miss Oprah.  I think women over 50 are just beginning to settle into their power so imagine what else she could’ve taught us had her show stayed on the air?  I look forward to seeing what she’ll do with an entire network.  I’m guessing that it’ll be pretty spectacular.

Thank You Oprah.  Wishing you all the best.

Be An Investor Next Year

I stumbled on an interesting site this morning.  Kickstarter founded by Perry Chen, Yancey Strickler and Charles Adler, is (per their website description)…

The largest funding platform for creative projects in the world.  Every month, tens of thousands of amazing people pledge millions of dollars to projects from the worlds of music, film, art, technology, design, food publishing and other creative fields.

A new form of commerce and patronage.  This is not about investment or lending. Project creators keep 100% ownership and control over their work.  Instead they offer products and experiences that are unique to each project.

All or nothing funding.  On kiskstarter, a project must reach its funding goal before time runs out or no money changes hands.  Why?  It protects everyone involved.  Creators aren’t expected to develop their porject without necessary funds, and it allows anyone to test concepts without risk.

Each and every project is the independent creation of someone like you.  Projects are big and small, serious and whimsical, traditional and experimental.  They’re inspiring, entertaining and unbelievably diverse.

So what does that mean for you?  Like honey?  Super.  You can kickstart The Bees Of Crockett

Earl Flewellen's Artisan Honey, anyone?

and they’ll send you some of their delicious honey.

Enjoy street photography?  Then kickstart the documentary, Finding Vivian Maier

Her work was discovered at an auction and once revealed to the world via John Maloof's blog, has become a viral sensation.

and get a copy of the DVD.

Always wanted to write that book?  Make that product?  Develop that software? Start that business?  Finally get your yoga teacher training?

No really.  I’m serious.

Neal Pollack , writer of the very funny, Stretch: The Unlikely Making of a Yoga Dude got his 200 hour yoga teacher training funded on Kickstart.

Very funny book whether you're into yoga or not.

If you gave him a dollar, you got an email excerpt from his latest book and he promised satirical postings about his training.  If you pledged $200 you got signed copies of various books, handmade jewelry and collages from his artist, wife, Regina Allen, plus a private yoga class for you and 15 of your friends per completion of his training.

Of course now I’m wondering how I can kickstart something and what gifts I would give in exchange for getting my dream off the ground.  I could get my own public access talk show funded by giving free speech therapy to any donors that pledge, say, $500 AND have a lisp.  I could finally write the follow up to Confessions of a Self-Help Junkie, entitled, Confessions of a Diet Junkie, and promise folks free copies of my books.  And a food scale.   Or maybe, like Neal, I’ll get my 500 RYT training funded someday by a group of people that dig me, have a few bucks to spare, and just so happen to need accent reduction therapy or vocal training?

But enough about me and my pipe dreams.  Head on over to Kickstarter and see if there’s a project that resonates with you that you’d like to fund and get cracking.  Or better yet, dust off that great idea that you’ve been pushing toward the back of your brain and get moving!  You’ve got no excuses now.

 

Happy Holidays

I hope you’re not offended by the title of this post. I honestly don’t get why folks complain about the decreased use of the phrase, Merry Christmas.  Why would anyone be offended by the wishing of happiness between people?

I thought folks said “Happy Holidays” in order to cover both Christmas and New Years in one swoop whenever the oh so witty, “Merry Christmas! See you next year,” quip started to feel old and overused. I never thought people were trying to remove Christ from the equation. I just figured they were being verbally efficient.

I had 2 Jewish friends in high school and didn’t make any Buddhist, Hindu, or Muslim friends until college which is why it wasn’t until college that I thought about what it must feel like to live in a world where you’re inundated by another religion’s traditions every year. Where every commercial, ad campaign, window treatment and even the damn store hours are focused around a holiday you don’t celebrate.

As a parent, I wonder how non-Christian moms and dads deal with the television specials, Santa questions and plethora of decorations with their kids? How do you explain to a 5-year-old that he really was a good little boy this year, even though a fat guy in a red suit didn’t drop off a load of gifts during the night.

The way I see it, others have respected my beliefs for decades, no questions asked. Once I lived a little and became exposed to other religions, traditions, and belief systems I figured what’s the harm in respecting them?

The word holiday literally means, an official day without work; festive; and if you’re British, vacation, which is exactly what happens this time of year.  Most jobs give you December 25th off whether you celebrate it or not; you get invited to lots of festive parties and often times use the time to travel.  What’s wrong with calling this weekend exactly what is and wishing that it be happy?

The way I see if, if the new agers never bitch about the dropping of Thanks and Giving when wishing family a Happy Turkey Day and the religious fanatics don’t freak out when Halloween replaces All Hallows Eve and TV pundits don’t chastize folks for wishing each other a Happy 4th of July in lieu of Independence Day, then why do Christians bitch about the specific salutation terminology surrounding Christmas?

Personally, I think all of this fuss is a ruse to draw attention to the complainer (i.e., TV pundits, radio hosts and NY Times best selling authors), make them more money and has nothing to do with Christ or Christmas. If it did and we all were truly offended, none of us would perpetuate the Santa myth, put a live tree in our homes or a giant, inflatable snow man on our front lawns. Instead we’d  simply bake a cake that said Happy Birthday Jesus and focus on the true meaning of the holiday.

We don’t.

So cut the crap. What do you care if I wish you, Season’s Greetings?  Relax and enjoy a festive, vacation day.  You’re free to spend it worshipping, praying or watching the Christmas Story marathon on TBS for that matter.  No one can take the day and it’s personal meaning away from you and it’s time to stop pretending that they can.

Santa Clause – Burgh Style Annat

For full lyrics and more info about Pittsburgheeze, check out this old blog post from 2006.  Special thanks to my uncle Paul for posting this on Facebook.

I Swear I’m Going To Try This Year

I haven’t been a fan of the Christmas season for a while.  It’s not that I don’t like the holiday, I’m just not into the build up and required preparations.  I don’t find them fun…

Get and decorate a tree, decorate the outside and inside of the house, bake cookies, create and mail cards, buy and wrap gifts, create and prepare two major feasts in a 24 hour period, buy a nice outfit to wear to the Christmas party you were invited to, bring a side dish to said party, attend work holiday functions, participate in a secret Santa, come up with something nice but not too over-the-top to give to all of the neighbors, give an extra tip gift to anyone that provides an ongoing service (hair dresser, nail tech, door man) along with gifts of appreciation (teachers, school bus drivers, coaches).  And oh yea – pay for everything listed above as well.

I gave up Christmas cards a few years ago.  I used to enjoy seeing how a friend’s kids have grown or hearing about their life in a yearly update letter, but with Facebook and email, I have access to this information all year round.

I don’t like to shop, so I write checks or give gift cards. Let me be clear.  I’ve got no problem putting in the mall time necessary to buy a nice gift for a loved one. Nothing would thrill me more than to buy a gift that someone really wants.  I just refuse to walk aimlessly around Brookstone guessing at what to buy someone who doesn’t actually need anything.   Take my father for instance.  His wish list includes a new rotator cuff and a trip to Cossino, Italy.  The guy doesn’t need a  foot massager or a clock radio that beams the digital time on his bedroom ceiling.

When I was a kid, Christmas was the time of year that I finally got something I needed like a pair of  jeans or a curling iron.  My kids don’t wait until Christmas to finally get an album from their favorite artist.  In 1986 the cassette tape I had to buy to get the song I wanted to play cost $18!  Now it only costs my daughters 99 cents to download the latest hit from the radio.  No one waits until December 25th to do that.

Most people buy the small stuff they want – it’s the big, expensive, you-really-need-to-pick-that-out-yourself-type things that folks need.  So in case you’re wondering,  I need wall-to-wall carpeting for the second floor of my house not a candle from Bath and Body Works.

The problem is that I can’t figure out if I’m a genius or a lazy ass.  The other problem is that since the year 2000, with the exception of one holiday, I’ve had to travel to another state every Christmas.  When you’re not in your own home it’s much easier to let things slide.  You find yourself buying gifts based on whether or not they can fit inside your trunk and can be easily transported.  You don’t decorate your house because, no family will be coming over on Christmas day to actually see it.  Because you don’t have access to a kitchen, you don’t bring a dish for the family function as you’re only in the way of the hostess and her preparations.  Because you don’t have access to your house, you can’t host a party.  Because you’re taking up space in someone else’s space, its easier to defer to their vision and expectations.  Before you know it, a decade has gone by and the only holiday tradition you’ve created is stopping at the Hillcrest Drive BP station outside of Cumberland, MD for their homemade pepperoni rolls.

Maybe I’m not a lazy ass.  Maybe I’m just a victim of circumstance.  I’m still not sending out Christmas cards, but I will try to enjoy the season a little bit more.  The following commercial always got me in the mood back when I was younger.  Here’s to all of us getting a lift this Christmas.

Bravo Momma! Bravo.

Quite possibly  the greatest blog post I have read – ever.