Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Who Do You Collect?

"I have been collecting addicts all my life...starting with my mother."   

This is an excerpt from an article that did more than grab my attention.  It actually spurred on a whole new thought process.  Do we collect people?

I find that I tend to collect people with less self-esteem or a misguided self-concept.  I would venture to say that is because I am passionate about finding my own Sense of Self so that I can maybe share my story with other women on their own journey.  I am a firm believer in the influence of your social environment.

What do the people in our life reflect about us?  It has long been said that you can not choose your family.  I believe that you can not choose your bloodline, but you can choose your family.  I struggle with my own family relationships on a daily basis, and I know that I am not alone.  Everyone has a different dysfunction they characterize to their own family.  The holidays even highlight many of the idiosyncrasies.

You may find that you collect different types of people to compliment or challenge parts of you.  At the end of the day, what is the point if we don't understand why we need them?  Do we need them?

"That’s one of the biggest lessons I learned about those of us who choose addicts: We Don’t Notice. We’re just not that aware or self-actualized. I think back on some situations and wonder how in the world could I think that was normal?"

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Speak Up and Speak Out

I am a huge fan of Mary J. Blige. Her music, her philanthropy, and of her sense of self.  She first came onto the music scene years ago, and she has made a complete turn around in her life since then.

From my earlier post today about gearing information about abuse and other topics toward teens, I am reminded of a great site affiliated with MTV U.  A station dedicated to campuses that often plays in student unions across the nation.  They have an interactive site that reached out to troubled youth across many different topics that are found to be trending: eating disorders, violence, drinking and drugs, mood disorders, etc.

Half of Us utilizes real life youth and celebrities who are willing to share their story. On theme with abuse and violence I viewed Mary's story. Watch her video below, and check out the site to find a topic that relates to you or someone you know who is struggling.

Mary J. Blige video  

How Much of the Proceeds...?

We are very familiar with the marketing towards products that benefit charities during the holidays.  This week I participated in a virtual vigil in memory of a victim of domestic violence who was only a college student when she passed.  Members of Facebook, Twitter, and various blogs took the time to change their picture to a lit candle in her memory.  The same night of the vigil, I watched the program "16 and Pregnant" on MTV and witnessed dating violence.  I became frustrated and rather disappointed in our youth, because this wasn't the first time I had seen it on a related program "Teen Mom".

MTV promoted the website Loveisrespect.org and so I checked it out.  It turns out this is not the website I would expect to see.  It is actually a promotional tool for a helpline.  I couldn't help but think, what teenager is going to call a helpline?  After all, these are not the days of Saved By The Bell.  Teenagers spend hours blogging, tweeting, and updating their status while catching up on the latest viral videos online.

So I searched the site for PSAs and tools that would attract a teen, I came up pretty short.  That is not to say that a teen in an abusive relationship should not use this site, but it is not as user friendly as I would have hoped for.  The website does link you however to other resources.  The best one I found is thesafespace.org where teens engage with social networks and even has a promotion of an upcoming made for TV movie.

I am NOT saying that they should not read these sites and engage in any way that they can to prevent abuse, but perhaps we should promote this cause in other ways as well to cover all of the bases.  I have been using a brand of makeup for years now and they have created a program that does just this.  The company is mark. by Avon, a cosmetic and lifestyle line geared towards youth.  They have a great movement for dating abuse m.powermentHere they have videos and links much like the other sites.  

But what's different?  They sell jewelry and makeup to young women that not only benefits their cause, but that donates 100% of the net proceeds to their foundation.  We always see 10%, 20%, 50%, but 100%?! Their products can be found here: m.powerment products.  Look to the bottom of the page to see just how much per piece goes to the cause.  Those numbers are amazing, especially for a seemingly smaller cosmetic company as compared to your drugstore favorites.

This movement is the type of thing that I feel gets the word out.  Girls wear the products, talk and discuss, and also contribute to a philanthropy as well.  They have engaged in the cause and now promote it in a positive way in their social circles.  This company appears to understand exactly how to reach their customers in a way that benefits their cause, and promotes this cause in a healthy way by encouraging a healthy self-concept.  Makeup is fun during these years and appearance is so important to most girls.  Why not make them feel pretty and offer a healthy dose of education as well?!

Check these products out this holiday season for a young woman, older woman, or even yourself this season.  It actually makes a difference.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Help Yourself to Some of You

So I know I am forever linking you all to articles online, but seriously there is just too much good information out there. We are all pretty aware at the moment that the holidays are fast approaching. For many of us the holidays often = stress! Where to stay? Who to buy for? Where to eat? How long to stay?

Granted some families have a status quo that that we try to emulate within our own families, but perhaps the real issue is within us. What kinds of pressures are we placing on ourselves in order to fulfill the needs of others during this giving season?

I was reading a great site Goodtherapy.org and found an article about Self-esteem for the Holidays, Part 1. I never thought about viewing the season from that perspective. Could our feelings of pressure, inadequacy, failure, apprehension, etc stem from our own self-esteem and confidence during this time of year?

The article discusses two fictional characters who go out of their way for others during the holidays. We all know the wiehgt our society places upon doing for others during these few months, but does it mean doing so at the expense of ourselves? Is going into debt to please your friends and family really what they want from you? Is spreading yourself so thin that you are no longer enjoying this time really worth the work to please others, when a the end of the day you are so stressed out and tired that that you can't even give them the quality time they are actually looking for in your presence?

The article says it best:

..."We feel responsible for “getting it right” by making others happy. And if we don’t put everyone else ahead of ourselves, we’re not doing it right.

We worry that if we focus on our own needs at this time of the year, we are being selfish, or at best, we’re not in the holiday spirit.

Here is a thought to consider: Doing things to meet your own needs this holiday season will not only NOT make you selfish; it will help you communicate clearly with loved ones, and will give them permission to meet their own needs too. "...

Yes, there can be a fine line between narcissism and meeting your own needs.  However, could it be that the narcissistic individual would be worrying about this right now?  Do yourself and your family a favor this season and take a moment to give to yourself.  If you really are that people-pleaser that everyone says you are, then you have worked far to hard all year long to not be able to at least reward yourself as well.  Treating yourself with the same love and care that you exude to others will in fact do more for them in the long run, and isn't that your goal?

Monday, November 15, 2010

What's your "unhappy" place?

An article caught my attention this weekend.  I don't know about you, but my mind wanders a lot.  I am a daydreamer.  I am constantly thinking about the "what if" and the "would've been" and don't forget the "will be".  More often than not, these are positive thoughts that involve my analysis of an event and the solution that will maximize the best result.  Or these are scenes playing in my mind over and over again of people, places, and things that I would like to experience--my happy place.

Here is the kicker...this study says that wandering minds do not necessarily have a positive impact on us.  Essentially, our wandering minds are leading us into negative territory i.e. our "unhappy place".  Most people who were surveyed in this study reported being unhappy after their daydreams.

Pay attention to this study; you'll be happier

I do not want to discount or fully support the study, but I do think it is a great topic of conversation.  How do our thoughts impact our daily lives?  Many many many books have been written about the power of positive thoughts.  But is this really realistic way of life?  We are plagued daily with anxieties, fears, and so many other emotions that leave our glass half empty. 

So I just want to leave you today with these questions to ponder: Do you live in a world of scarcity or abundance?  Do you feel that there is enough for you to attain, or do you feel like you are constantly fighting to win?  What personal values and mantras do you hold onto that impact your daily life in a positive or negative way?

I am inviting you to take a look at the foundation of your life and how it is reflected in your inner and outer self.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

If not for you, for them...

One of my passions in life, is the advocacy for healthy eating patterns.  The hard part is, our society is inundated with mixed messages 24/7.  For example, the E! network has many programs that highlight the insufficiencies of many of our role models in the celebrity culture in terms of their style, physical attributes, and activities of daily living (what is on their plate, what kind of food or beverage they enjoy, how they do or do not stay fit, etc).  However, this network also has a new show called "What's eating you" that has been developed to call attention to disordered eating patterns and health.

This is such a strong mixed message.  And with that, I begin to think about women who have disordered patterns of eating and their capability to understand how to begin to heal.  And on top of that, would we know how to exactly help them through this process?

NEDA (National Eating Disorders Association), has published a  two page document to help with this.  I am linking it below:

Sharing with EEEase

Essentially it focuses on the individuals quest for healing, but I do think that it can be helpful for a friend, family member, coworker, or simply just a bystander to understand from this perspective the most effective way to address these issues.

First, it is important to understand the general idea of disordered eating.  Not all eating patterns fit into anorexia or bulimia.  I tend to think of disordered eating as a range beginning at the lowest level of your conscious eating choices (for this reason or that) to the diagnosable eating disorders outlined by the American Psychiatric Association in their DSMIV-TR (Google it!). 

As it is helpful to be able to understand and recognize if someone has disordered patterns, it is equally if not more important to know what to do if they reach out for help.  NEDA uses three E's: Establishing a Safe Environment, Explain the Situation, and Educate with the Facts.

More importantly however, the document lets you know: who to tell and what to say.  I believe that for anyone who is struggling or for someone who is trying to help ridding yourself of those anxieties associated with not having complete control can often discourage the individual from acting.  If you are working hard to control your eating, not having control over your healing is a horribly scary event that may in fact encourage to further control your patterns.  Educating yourself, creating a plan, and securing a support system will allow the individual to still exert a level of control of their life that may pull them from their bubble even for a second.

And for the outsider, fear of making the situation worse can often lead to a failure to act at all.  Identifying the most probable option for success will at least provide some comfort and security that intervening is the right thing to do.  Again with that word "control".  Being aware that not all methods are 100% successful is another realization that must be actualized in order to really understand the depth or the range of the patterns.

In whatever manner that you chose to address this situation, keep in mind that support and genuine love are the real patterns that matter.  These patterns are not of a weak nature, and do mask various deep-seeded issues that plague the mind.  For this reason, take care with your mission and your decision.  Remember to also maintain your sense of self and only act in ways from which you are truly motivated to do so.  Become the change that you want to see, and utilize the resources that are available. 

My dad once gave me a soccer statue that said "You miss 100% of the shots you do not take" and though I missed quite a few times, I always succeeded eventually--I just had to make it worth the wait to myself.  And that gave me a sense of self that is worth more than any goal or any win ever was.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

A new kind of bully

Is your daughter a self-loathing "body bully"?  I really encourage every parent and every young woman to read this article. It does focus on the parent-daughter relationship, but I feel that this article translates amongst all relationship levels.

Whether its a close friend, significant other, relative, or just an acquaintance, be mindful of your words and actions and how they might impact those in your environment. Be mindful as well of the environment that surrounds those in your environment: school, work, sports, organizations, family, and friends.

Is your daughter a self-loathing "body bully"?

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

You Should've Called

I went out of town this weekend to Gainesville, FL to support an organization very close to my heart.  During my time there, I realized just how dependent we are on our smartphones and especially on social networks.  Case in point:  I arrived at my destination on Sunday afternoon, and instead of calling or walking upstairs to greet a person, I texted her.  Within 5 minutes she was downstairs and in my room.  We conversed like two normal people from that point forward.

Why couldn't I just call?  I can tell myself that I didn't want to disturb her, or that it was just easier to text.  However, after pondering this action of texting, I don't really believe myself.

I spent most of my day yesterday updating my personal facebook page in celebration of a milestone in the organization, yet I did not actually talk face to face with more than five people about it.

There is a fantastic website Half Of Us that addresses many of the issues facing our youth (by this I mean from your adolescence through early adulthood).  I found that video about social media and how it is impacting college students.  Since my trip was to Gainesville, FL home of the University of Florida, I felt that it fit in with this post.

This video brings a whole new perspective to the table, or I guess it is safe to say the message board or mini-feed.  These media oultets are making a huge impact on the mental health of our future leaders.  There is such a wide range of emotions associated with the use of these mediums leading to depression, anxiety, and a lot of times euphoria.

  • How did you feel when you realized you had the most recent text message?
  • How many times a day do you update your facebook, and are the statuses positive or negative?
  • What is the real reason behind not calling and sending your next text?

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Apple: Do you mean the fruit or the computer?

Lately all over the morning TV shows, there has been a ton of talk about the absence of civility in our society. Due to the advancement of cell phones, iPads, Kindles, and the like, our society now finds it practical to walk down the street with our heads facing downward into the abyss of social networks and text messages.

So you wonder why this is even an issue if everyone else is doing it? I can tell you that although people are totally checked out of the world around them, they still remain ill-tempered and apathetic to it. And what the heck does that mean?

Hypothetical: You are walking through the mall this holiday season and not one but two people in a row bump straight into you. Now this is not your typical bump, this is a sideswipe from a mom who is texting her daughter to meet for lunch in the food court, and t-bone from a 50-something single businessman who is tweeting how much he loathes the mall aside from the fact that he can strike up a convo in the linen section.

Now, I don't know about you, but I myself would say "excuse me" while trying to suppress the flat out impending temper tantrum that is imminent upon my next breath. But needless to say, the offenders fail to suppress their feelings and lash out before you can blink. What the crap is their problem?

They bumped into you. They failed to engage in their environment. They displayed a complete lack of civility. And so you are then left to wonder the age old question of "what has this world come to?"--and yes you are now officially of the age to ask such a question (speaking to my fellow peers in their late twenties and early thirties).

During my time of unemployment, I have had plenty of time to utilize the social networks for subject matter for this blog. About a week ago I came across a post from a "friend" who linked this page:

George Washington's Rules of Civility & Decent Behavior in Company and Conversation
*Read the rules and see what your missing.  If only there were an app for that.

Yes, our forefather GW--of the apple kind not Texas, is the patriarch of our country and our social structure.  We have failed him America.  Granted some of these rules are a little out there because lets face it they didn't have toothpaste in those days (read the rules and that will make sense), and it was a much simpler time.

But I ask you, does our presently complicated society mean that we can excuse bad behavior?  I think not.  I really try to make a conscious effort to treat others the way I would like to be treated.  I consider myself pretty self aware, and because of this, I intend to create an environment around myself that lends to happiness and positivity.  By this I mean: I don't blare my headphone music on airplanes, I hold doors open for others when entering and exiting a building, I say please and thank you to service employees, and I let random strangers know if their outfit is cute or if they have TP on their shoe (insert pat on the back).

In my oh so humble opinion, I feel that you do in some way create your world and we know for sure that the very environment that you live will impact your life.  So then I ask, why the heck would anyone want to be so disconnected from society that they now blame others for their discrepancies?  Their connection to Facebook and twitter have become more important than manners, and then they get mad and post about it.

I will give some people the benefit of the doubt that they simply were distracted and are polite people, but then there are the citizens that actually use their mobile device as a divider between their internal and external worlds.  We have even become so detached that we can't even call someone on their birthday because a public acknowledgment on Facebook give us more satisfaction because others can see that you made the effort.

There are arguments for both sides, and I have weighed both.  I would still like to advise everyone to Sign-in to their real social network every once in a while, you know the one that works without wi-fi?!  Or at least sit down on a bench and update your status to include how many people you see walk by in a 2 min period with their heads down--double points for collisions.

Monday, November 1, 2010

The Giving Season

November marks the beginning of the giving season.  As the stores transform their color scheme to red, greens, silvers, and golds, we tend to focus on the impending shopping season.  We can all agree that the breast cancer foundations do an amazing job of publicizing awareness of their cause, and many people do their "good deed" by contributing to a cause that everyone recognizes, or that is close to their heart. 

November also serves as a month for awareness and on the eve of the 2010 holiday season, it might be nice to take a second to look at how you can impact these causes as well.  Who knows, you may even find a way to give to a cause while you try to think of the perfect gift for someone else.

Check out this site:

November Awareness

Why do we feel the need to give anyway?  I can speak for myself, and possibly others, when I say that giving of yourself is a great way to set an example for the change you want to see in the world.  Whether it is your time, money, etc. giving something will impact your environment.

Something I want you to think about comes from the tv sitcom "Friends".  Joey claimed one episode to Phoebe that there were "no selfless good deeds".  That phrase can mean many things to many people.  I tend to view myself as a selfish person with wants and needs for the world that I live in.  I am not trying to change the world that I live in to only make it better for you, because who says that you would agree that it is better?  I am working to foster the change that I want to see happen, so that I can nurture my Sense of Self, and foster positive changes in my community.

My foundation will work to serve my interests, just as your contributions this month will work to serve yours.  Poof!  Change.  So yes, there are no such things as "selfless good deeds" because if their were, nothing good would come of it. 

Some might argue that not everyone cares enough to contribute to anything, and to those individuals who cant find it within themselves to foster change for their world, I invite them to begin or continue on their journey to nurture their Sense of Self.  At the end of the day we are only as good as our environment will allow us to be, and if you want better you must do better.