Monday, June 28, 2010

No More Excuses- Let Me Light a Fire Under You

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After having my ass handed to me the past two weeks in Bikram yoga, I decided this was a great time to answer some remaining questions and concerns you've been sharing with me regarding hot yoga.

So many of you seem to think you need to be in shape or have great flexibility or balance BEFORE you attempt yoga. This concern is antithetical to yoga- the practice of which is part of becoming more flexible, building your core, strengthening your body and developing a mind body connection.

So, I decided in order to allay any fear you might have- I went to the new beginner's class Sunstone Yoga is offering to those who have a) never done yoga before b) have done yoga but not hot yoga c) tried hot yoga but are interested in trying Sunstone’s "pain-free yoga" d) those who have done all the above and want to check in with their body and have an open forum to discuss form.

This class was not offered when I began my practice at Sunstone. I went in blind- five weeks after major surgery. One of my best friends, Julie, insisted it was unlike any yoga we'd ever done (and detested) before. I declined- though politely. When my doctor told me the only exercise he'd authorize me to do was yoga- I felt painted into corner- so I went.

I remember wishing I had any idea what I was doing at the time and am thankful they have now added the beginner's series.

Friday, June 25, 2010

What You Got Under There?

I was asked by a gentleman who is So Very Clever to comment on what currently is being called the "maxi-dress"- we’ve all seen or worn them. The long, often shapeless dresses- either with straps or without. This particular fashion AND figure conscious guy asked me to tell you ladies that nine of 10 dudes are saying, "Thanks for the look at your breasts but despite that, all we can think about is what you are hiding under there."

I burst out laughing when he said this because it makes sense.

Here’s a tip for wearing these fabulously comfortable and often quite stylish little numbers. If you are heading out socially- do not wear one. These should be reserved for women in relationships- when your guy already knows what lies beneath it can be very provocative for him to be denied a glance at your gorgeous legs, your perfect ass or even that fantastically flat abdomen. Always appreciated will be the generous cleavage most of them showcase.

This fear is extended to the "baby doll" top. While designed to offer some tantalizing glances at your breasts, men fear the muffin top underneath. So, when you head out on a first date, a blind date, to a game with friends or any social occasion- chose your attire wisely. Put your best features on the marquee.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Smiley to Miley to What?

Miley Cyrus is starting to bear little resemblance to that nick name her father gave her. Smiley Cyrus has become Miley. No longer smiley but sultry, at times a bit slutty and perhaps a bit too sexy for the legion of fans she acquired as television tween queen "Hannah Montana."

Again, I am not the moral arbiter here and I’d hate to stand in the way of a profit driven entity- BUT. This smacks of the fraud perpetrated on the public when Britney Spears decided to become a tramp in front of the little girls who followed her like the Pied Piper. We all see what happened to this charming young lady- is Miley next?

Her awakening sexuality turned into a profit center for all those who make a living from her? Let’s examine this situation and try to do so without me sounding like the judgmental Marion the Librarian "Sextrology" calls some women of my sign.

In all this making money, hand over fist, is there not the moral imperative to preserve this child and, yes, she still is a child, and the children she seduced in the smash TV hit conceptualized by her father? The answer to this is yes.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

I Have to Feed Them?


Regardless of where your wedding ceremony will take place, if you’ve taken my advice you have a wedding planner who will insist upon a rehearsal. If you are planning a church ceremony- church rules will need to be followed. Therefore, a rehearsal is necessary.

Count on your entire wedding party to be late. So, if a number of the attendants are from out of town, plan ahead and arrange for transportation from the hotel(s) to the ceremony site. Lure them from their rooms with a "cocktail" reception in the bar downstairs or in someone’s room (there is nothing like alcohol to lighten the mood- translation: ceremony rehearsals are boring- ply them with drinks and perhaps a snack to cut down on the inevitable complaining). No matter what- ask them to arrive 30 minutes prior to the actual start time- this will help to manage your temper.

A church coordinator or your wedding coordinator will likely want you to do a minimum of two run-throughs. This will involve explaining to you what needs to be done the next day. The flower girls and ring bearers will have the chance to brace the aisle without hundreds of eyes on them, the bride’s maids and groom’s men will understand how they are to get down the aisle and where to stand after, and the bride and her escort will begin to experience the emotion impending.

After the consultant and/or coordinator is reasonably sure you all can make it to where you are going the next day- t is customary for the groom’s family to host a dinner for the members of the wedding party and the out-of-town guests.

Clever Grooms, make sure you tell your parents this and don’t put the onus on your fiancee to do so. Discussions of money and traditions can be awkward. If you do not feel your parents are willing, the responsibility falls to you. Some of the best rehearsal dinners I’ve been to have been exceedingly casual- don’t feel you need to blow it out of the water for everyone to have a good time. While you might feel subject to some pressure given the scale of the wedding event- this is not relevant. I’ve attended weddings with a budget of $1 million and the rehearsal dinner was at the local BBQ restaurant- beer in buckets, photos instead of floral, iPod in the corner- everyone had a BLAST.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

So Very Clever Daddies- This is For YOU

Happy Father’s Day, So Very Clever Daddies. What a great honor you have, and I hope you are being acknowledged today. I guess that is what I want to query. Do holidays make us lazy? Shouldn’t we be acknowledging our parents, spouses and children year round? Must we orchestrate some lavish party on the birthday to make up for our failings of the year past? I think I am going to vow, here and now, to be far more intentional in my every day.

I’m going to let the people in my life know the immense value they bring to it, and my own fathers are a huge part of the agenda. There was a time I thought having both a biological father and a stepfather was a curse brought down upon my house- it didn’t take me too long to realize it was a gift. Maybe some girls need two fathers.

Today is a celebration of fathers and it shouldn’t be empty or hollow- imagine the vast responsibility a man takes on when he determines to become a father. I’m not talking about having sex with a woman and accidentally having a child- but the thought process he goes through in coming to the decision he is going to be a part of that child’s life. This is how you become and continue to be a father.

No matter at what point in the game a man commits to being an involved and poignant influence on a child, that moment will define the rest of his life. I’d like to spin a yarn (a fantasy if you will). In this fantasy- the woman presents her husband with a gift-wrapped box. Inside of it is a pregnancy test reading positive. When he looks at this woman, his wife, she changes completely. Inside her womb she now carries a part of him- she is a mother- and along with her he embraces the transformation about to take place.

She is no longer as "capable" in his eyes, she is to be taken care of- from what she puts into her mouth, to making sure she is comfortable, holding her hair back when she is experiencing morning sickness, making sure the room is entirely dark when the migraines begin, attending doctor appointments, shedding tears at the first sound of the baby’s heart, being patient and even amused by the unfathomable mood swings and emotion swelling along with her belly, not only attending but researching and suggesting parenting classes, initiating discussions regarding schooling, religious upbringing and parenting, appreciating the changes in her body and reassuring her it will take no time to get back to her fighting weight (keeping private fears pertaining to the changes in her body private). She is no longer just your wife, your best friend, your lover, your confidant, your counselor and advisor- she is the mother of YOUR child.

No longer will you simply be evaluated or appreciated for who you are as a man, a friend, a son, a brother, an employee, an employer, a nephew, a mentor, a lover, a husband- you are a father and were the moment you committed yourself.

The enormity of the obligation and responsibility settles over each man differently. There is much fear and trepidation along with unmitigated excitement and joy. Embrace it all- every day of your fatherhood. While it’s difficult to comprehend the fathomless moral imperative- it can be broken down to a few words.

TIME. LOVE. RESPECT. KINDNESS. COMPASSION. GUIDE. TEACH. PROTECT. PREPARE. DISCIPLINE.

Each moment you spend with your child, offer them eye contact. It’s not enough to be there- they know if you are engaged or not.

The respect you have for the person your child will become will create a foundation of respect they learn to have for themselves and others as they navigate on their own.

All children deserve kindness in all aspects of parenting.

To acknowledge a child as a person with feelings, emotions and needs is how you show compassion. It’s OK to say "I understand that you are upset because you can not have …" When they know you recognize their feelings, they feel validated.

There will be no greater influence in your child’s life than you as one half of the parenting partnership. Take it seriously and pour your life experiences into the teachings you can offer. This will prepare them for life.

Don’t be afraid to be unpopular. Do not shift the burden of discipline onto your wife. It’s unfair. When you committed to becoming a parent- you agreed to be a comprehensive influence in your child’s life. This obligation does not stop at discipline. Discipline is critical to a child’s development and helps to establish boundaries and structure.

The two most valuable aspects of parenting are LOVE and PROTECTION. Everyone defines love differently- the most important aspect of which is that your child feels love. As far as protection? You are the first line of defense for your little ones- this is the greatest role you will play- protector. And there is So Very much to protect your children from.

I’m afraid my feelings regarding discipline and protection will require two individual posts in upcoming weeks.

I need to pick up where I left off on the wedding planning tips. As I mentioned- I’m working on "So Very Clever Groom’s Guide to Surviving the Wedding Planning." I’ve shared some of the content on Clever and appreciate your feedback.

I’m thinking of offering an incentive to readers. Refer me, readers, and I will photograph your wedding or the wedding of your choice (sister, mother, friend). This would be a "contest" valid in the continental U.S. for a wedding that would take place before Dec. 31, 2010. The contest would last only one month so you’d have to be So Very Clever sending readers to Clever.

OK- that’s it for me. Happy Father’s Day to the So Very Clever Daddies. Keep up the critical work you are doing, loving intentionally and with purpose.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Catching Up With Clever Girl, the NBA and the NHL

Greetings from the Great White North (Barf. That was sooo touristy), Clever Tribe. I’ve missed writing So Very Much. Just to give you an idea what is going on, since so many of you have asked about the Tweeting and FB references to my novel- I thought I’d do another potpourri post.

Alisa (my oldest friend- in years, not age) and I penned a novel together about six years ago, and if you can believe it, it’s just NOW been picked up by a publisher. Randi Ertz, of The Little Things Publishing LLC, and her team of professionals found “Consumed” worthy of a considerable investment of time and money.

Alisa and I are working through the manuscript with Meredith (our fantastic editor- and no I am not sucking up- she really is THAT good). The process is thus- comb through every single word of a 464-page document. Sounds like a drag, eh? Not a chance. This is the type of thing that really gets my blood moving. Words are my greatest hobby and I get such a charge out of turning a phrase.

In addition to checking grammar and punctuation- we have to make sure each character’s “voice” is cohesive. By that I mean- they all have to have individual identities when they speak- as we all do. The characters are “people” and it’s critical they seem real to the reader. There is the issue of adding information a “cold reader” might need for the story line to flow. As the authors, we assume people “get it,” so we need to make sure all aspects of the scene make sense.

There are stylistic issues, and I know this is more information than anyone really wants to know, but I am asked constantly about the intricacies of what I am doing. So, style. Mmm. Thing about your favorite author (other than yours truly, of course) and wonder if you could identify their writing without knowing they were the author. I am not referring to one chapter- but a body of work? This is because they write with a certain style. I have a certain way I like to write dialogue- and it would seem Meredith is not a fan- so there’s been a fair amount of cajoling and begging.

Once this is complete- Meredith will do another read through and debate each and every comma and verb. That sounds like a dying of thirst to me, but it is something editors get a charge out of. Barf. She will then hand it off to our graphic designer, who will work on the formatting and type setting. So you know, the read throughs NEVER end. We will be reading this manuscript as it is being packaged to go to the printer.

So, if all goes well, in October we will have what are called “ARCs”- advance reader copies. These are forwarded to reviewers in hopes to get some good “blurbs” to include on the book jacket. So if you know any- let me know. Target release date will be December 1st so everyone will be able to buy their 20 copies as Christmas gifts.

What else is going on? The Chicago Blackhawks won the freaking Stanley Cup, which I was pretty confident of. Their depth is impressive. They go deep. I’m very happy for them and am already looking forward to the draft and spring training. Is it too early?

Tonight is game six of the NBA finals. The Laker Dynasty might just topple- the Celtics are hot on their heels and can close the deal and secure the championship tonight. So, Clever Girls, I am hoping to manage your expectations in case you are surrounded by hoops-loving men. Make other plans if you must- or be understanding if this is a night out with the guys. My gosh, I have no idea what time zone I’m in as I am TZC (time zone challenged)- so the fact is- the game is just hours away. This is a HUGE night in the lives of fans of either of these teams.

This is a great opportunity for me to point out two things- I absolutely detest Ron Artest- see the “Brawl at the Palace” on YouTube for a great idea why. Let me give you a hint- it has something to do with the fact I find him worthless as a human being.

Additionally, I fear the basketball coach at my alma mater is about to become the next hired gun. In addition to the insult this is to a Michigan State Spartan- to even suggest Izzo would need to speak with LeBron James prior to making a decision makes me want to hurl. Either you desire to be an NBA coach or you don’t. Who you coach really should have little bearing on it. Non?

OK- that’s enough of me ranting- but I just spent three days in Michigan and I am horrified by what is going on in my home state. For my observations- and warning, it will have shades of political rhetoric - tune in later this week.

Back to the grind.

X

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

It's Easier to Stay in Shape than Get in Shape

So, the dude who married the hottie on the left probably doesn't expect her to gain 80 pounds this year. If she did- would it be FAIR?

What is it about marriage that breeds complacency? It could be the binding obligation each party has to stay. Perhaps it’s the pressure one’s family puts on the import of the union and the absolutely unacceptable option for divorce. Either way, more and more I’m seeing examples of complacency.

I had a conversation with a friend the other day and he was telling me of an interesting scenario he was going through. "Dave" has been married to "Molly" for 15 years. Over the course of such time, she has gained about 80 pounds between having a child and "life." While he stayed "faithful"- he wasn’t physically interested in his wife any longer. Cheating not within his genetic make up- he tried to talk to her about the problem, but she was mortally offended each time, citing childbirth, leading busy lives and how sex should not play a role.

So … a year later Dave finds out Molly has been having an affair- with someone well overweight. WTF? Dave remained "faithful" and I put that word in quotes because while you aren’t having sex outside your marriage you aren’t having sex inside your marriage either. So, feeling neglected and undesirable, Molly fled the marital sex and found comfort in the arms of another man who "didn’t place such emphasis on physical appearance."

Alright, hold it. This is out of control. First of all … when you enter a marriage you tacitly agree to take care of your spouse and yourself. Part of doing such is to stay in shape physically. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle will most definitely provide a rewarding appearance. Now, should you feel obligated to do so for your spouse? I think so. It’s not fair to lure someone with the full package- brains, kindness, compassion, looks and physique- only to let yourself go after five years.

Looks DO matter- it’s the first thing that likely put you on radar- and while the Clever initiative in part is to help us move away from such emphasis on our "perceived" value (how we look) and move toward our "actual value" (who you are)- looks still play a part in attraction.

This goes directly back to expectations. Let’s say you meet, you’re both 50 pounds overweight- you fall in love, get married and then one partner decides it’s time to shed the unwanted pounds that are starting to create knee and back problems. Suddenly, the husband is looking smoking hot and the wife, content in her, uh, "fluffiness" decides she has been "left behind." We ALL know being overweight leads to health problems and let me tell you (and I can NOT believe I am about to quote Cindy Crawford), "It’s easier to stay in shape than get in shape." When one of the persons in a marriage decides to make a change- it is important the other person supports them. A great way to support is to join.

Dave should have felt comfortable saying, "Moll, I love you like crazy, but the weight is not appealing. Work out with me. Let’s talk to a nutritionist. I know how hard it is to juggle work, home, child, wife- I want to help." Dave said he never felt comfortable telling her this. Why? You have a contract. If one of your clients was in default of their contract, you’d bring it to their attention- non? BTW, Dave is stacked and works his ass off to be so- all he was asking was for her to be a reasonable facsimile of the woman he married.

Now, I know as well as anyone the effects aging has on the body. It just means you have to work harder, make time, read the labels on the food you eat. Just don’t be lazy- it’s simply NOT Clever. Now, there are people who are affected by weight due to a health issue, like thyroid or depression, and in cases like those, communication is critical.

Fact is- it’s not fair for one person to work hard to look good for their spouse (or because they want to) and the other spouse to let themselves go. It’s a recipe for disaster- I promise. Sex is a component of marriage and it is likely more enjoyable if both partners are healthy and confident in the way they look.

On the same note- it is catastrophically unfair for the "out of shape" partner to become jealous, possessive and insecure due to the other partner's fitness. The other person will start getting more attention and the confidence they feel will create more attention, but it is NOT Clever to start accusing the other person of becoming fit for others or because they are "planning to leave" you. Grow up and enjoy!

Saturday, June 5, 2010

War Stories

OK, Clever Girls- I'm hoping you've had some time to work through the action, comedy and sports films- or at least had the opportunity to dazzle your Clever Guys with some suggestions. As a tribute to what I consider the greatest TV show ever and one of the coolest characters created ("24" - Jack Bauer), we move into some really nasty territory- the genre almost as excruciating for most women as sports: war/military films. Again, the "*" indicates non-negotiable films in this genre. "**" indicates films non-negotiable film if you have a military or ex-military man in your life.

** "24" (A stunning series- available from seasons one through eight at a rental store. I can't recommend it highly enough)

** "Behind Enemy Lines" (Mentioned in the action films section- it is both military and action. Fantastic performances by Owen Wilson and Gene Hackman)

** "Platoon' (Berenger, Dafoe and Sheen, and the moral crisis of war and combat)

"A Few Good Men" (Cruise, Nicholson, Moore, Keifer, Bacon and Pollack)

** "Full Metal Jacket" (The quintessential Marine movie)

** "Saving Private Ryan" (Just add Tom Hanks. Barry Pepper is nice to look at)

** "Flags of Our Fathers" (If for nothing but the historic value, it’s a must see)

"Black Hawk Down" (based on the true story of a mission in Somalia)

"Pearl Harbor" (Hartnett and Affleck star in this love story, though, they’re not the couple in question)

* "Shindler's List" (This one is heavy)

"Band of Brothers" (This is a series- I believe from HBO- excellent)

Most men will watch a movie they have seen 100 times, and 100 times more if it means they don’t have to watch "Runaway Bride," "Pretty Woman"or "Miss Congeniality." Once you establish you can be trusted to bring home an amusing movie and that you are flexible at the box office, he might agree to see the occasional chick flick. Otherwise, see them with the girls. That is what they are for.

I cannot tell you how valuable seeing "Saving Private Ryan" was for me. I have several men in my life who took part in the Korean War or Gulf War, or who spent time in Afghanistan. If nothing else, I'm more understanding and compassionate toward and fascinated by those who have served our country.

Until seeing this film- I took my Dad's reticence about his time in Korea as part of his usual reticence. When I saw the movie- I realized vividly I've lived my life in a vacuum. I'd never faced one moment of true hardship or experienced patriotism. The movie is tough to take whether or not you know anyone who served or is serving in the military. It shows you unequivocally what our country asked of it's soldiers. When I left- I drove straight home and wrote my dad a long letter telling him how thankful I was for him as a man and soldier and that I felt honored to be his daughter.

I apologized for never asking about his time in the military- not realizing the danger he and other young men had faced in the name of preserving the freedom and safety of future generations. I hadn't even been born when he served time. He was just a kid- what if he hadn't lived? I can guarantee the world would have been denied a great man. Since reading and watching "Flags of Our Fathers," I've gently opened up some dialogue about his time in the military and have been stunned by the emotion he displays speaking about it.

Late in life I've learned things about a man of whom I've grown up in the image- it was shocking the burdens he's carried alone. Now I know why men sit around and tell "war stories"- because the only people who can truly understand the abject horror of what they not only lived through but what they were exposed to are one another.

Ladies- do not deny men this valuable time or diminish it in anyway. I'm not sure what the military ratio is male to female- but I'm pretty sure most women in this country will never know (God willing) the reality of combat- hand to hand or otherwise.

Another thing I learned after viewing these movies is that I might have judged harshly someone to whom I once was very close. He went to Marine boot camp and emerged after four years an entirely different man. My affection for the young man who went into the Marines made the man who came out impossible for me to reconcile. It's So Very NOT Clever to judge someone without walking in their shoes. Hell, it's So Very NOT Clever to judge at all. Fact is, I've never strapped on combat boots and gone through the most grueling physical and mental training to which one can be subjected- so who am I to judge how that "should" affect you?

These movies have historical and practical significance. They shed light. Don't stay in the dark- it's So Very NOT Clever- or safe. Copy that. Over and OUT.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

All the Good Ones are Taken ... or Divorced?

In response to an anonymous e-mail I received last night ...

His complaint is-- all the women who are "attracted" to him are either married, separated or recently divorced. He is wondering if it is a scent he is throwing off. He did impart some critical information, which will allow me to elucidate. People have long told him he was gregarious, charming and funny and he is admittedly a Quixotic romantic. Wow, what a lethal combination for a woman stagnating in a marriage, newly out of a stagnant marriage or DONE with a stagnant marriage.

Think about it- cheating is more a "symptom" of a problem in the marriage than it is a function of desire or anything else. What is considered "cheating" or "inappropriate" is the new hot debate. Just like what now determines whether you are a virgin or what is considered "sex." The myth of marriage is centered around the concept you should never again be attracted (deeply) to another person- emotionally, intellectually or physically. Further, once you marry, in theory, you will never have sex with another person again. Hmmm. That is a lot to swallow, when you break it down. Imagine being 20 and getting married. Is it really sustainable not to be attracted in any way to another person until you die? Perhaps for some.

We are all guilty of looking at grandparents and parents who have weathered the tempest of marriage for 40, 50, 60 and even 70 years- but I bet if you could sit down with them, get them hammered, you'd learn a few things about marriage and the reality of it. After all, didn't you see "The Bridges of Madison County"? Perfect wife and mother reveals her true longing through letters after she is dead. This movie alone could destroy my reputation as a Guy's Girl and, frankly, I was under duress at the time of viewing- too drunk to care. My gay roommate and I snuggled together- him bawling, me cynical (OK- a bit of hyperbole- I may have shed a tear).

So, to my anonymous e-mailer ... the women who are drawn to you are so because you are satisfying something missing in their marriage or that was missing in their marriage- you are being viewed largely as someone who can "entertain" them, fulfill them in some way and either not "threaten" their marriage (after all, what is a little harmless flirting?). Or, you seem emotionally safe for a women who just exited a marriage. You are playful and fun and charming. If this is all you want, you have picked the right audience- but if you are looking for a "deeper" relationship, you might steer clear of this set as they might need some time to heal and get to know themselves again before jumping into another relationship.

For you- be honest with yourself regarding what you want. Too many people spend too much time talking and thinking about what they DON'T want. If you want a girl who watches sports (because they love sports- not because they are spying on the guys), drinks beer, knows who Dan Patrick is (and cares) and isn't opposed to seeing the occasional Mafia movie- you need a Clever Girl. They are out there- there are about to be more than you know what to do with. In the meantime- stay Charming and Chivalrous. The world needs you.

x

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