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healthy relationships

Mother’s Day is a different celebration every year at my house. Some years it passes without fanfare and simple expressions of appreciation, and others are day-long frenzies of gift giving and increased family time.

Mothers (and mother figures) are caregivers, protectors, role models and leaders. That’s a lot of hats. Moms teach us so much, and there’s no way to measure how much their lessons mold us…except maybe one. And that’s in the one lesson you know you’ve learned that will stay with you. What did your mom (or mother figure) teach you that you will never forget?

The best thing I’ve ever learned from my mom is self sufficiency. The cool knowledge and know-how to look out for yourself, thrive in an environment solo [even if you don’t need to], and find the resources without – when you need them, and how you need them. This kind of independence doesn’t discount the presence or the significance of diverse interpersonal relationships with others. Of course not. But knowing how many different relationships you’ll have throughout your life? It just makes that unshakable independence all the more important.

So for that: thanks Mom! Happy Mother’s Day to all you moms and mother figures out there! We do really appreciate you (even if we’re sometimes lame in how we go about showing it the other 364 days of the year).

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Mother’s Day is just three days away! Do you know what you’re doing (or, how you’re gifting) to celebrate and honor your mom?

It’s so important to have strong female role models in your life, no matter if you’re a guy or a gal. I consider myself very lucky in that aspect, not only with my mom and two sisters, but with friends, advisors, and the tough rollergirls I skate with as well.

Of course, one can also look back at history to see some pretty awesome legends of feminine grace and strength. I just finished Stacy Schiff’s book Cleopatra (Little, Brown and Company, 2010), and it’s definitely one for your to-read list.

one of few artifacts depicting Cleopatra

Cleopatra VII was so much more than what the legend that survives her tells us. You have to understand all the mistakes and blunders of her monarchical ancestry (which Schiff does a great job in telling) in order to appreciate everything Cleopatra did for Ptolemaic Egypt. She may have eventually lost everything (and thus aided in the fall of Egypt and the birth of the Roman Empire), but she put up one enormous and calculated fight. This woman was not the mere femme fatale that Hollywood and modern history might have us believe. No one really even knows what she looked like, but there’s no level of physical beauty that could possibly eclipse her quickness of wit, her ability to assess myriad situations, and her resourcefulness. Did that matter over the course of centuries? Nope. She’s seen by the world at large as a wily, ruthless vixen. Cultural connotations will have you believe she seduced the most powerful men of her time (Caesar, Marc Antony) for the sake of her kingdom’s prosperity. With so few concrete details of all the facts, why is it that intelligence and integrity of action are thrown out as a possibilities?! Maybe she was truly in love with Caesar and Antony (not at the same time by the way, if you’re unfamiliar with the history, as I was) AND had the best interests of her country in mind. Why are those two things mutually exclusive??

Those aren’t really questions that anyone, especially one author, can explain, but the book is definitely a much deeper look at the legend than Elizabeth Taylor and Claudette Colbert ever portrayed.

Sadly, I think many modern day woman can identify with this sort of problem. I speak mainly from my own experience and observations, but I do definitely believe that even in the U.S., woman have to fight to be seen as a force to be reckoned with, more than we might have thought we’d have to when we were growing up. No, it’s nowhere near as bad as in some foreign countries, and perhaps it’s just an occasional remark or action every now and then. But it’s still hard, and it’s still not justified.

It’s a complex issue, and it’s not just men versus women, so please don’t think I’m pointing fingers at the opposite gender. Women are guilty of either perpetuating female-gender stereotypes or discriminating against women, too!

It’s definitely a great idea to appreciate the strong women around you and throughout history as much as you can. Because (ladies) some days it’s so tempting to throw up our hands at the very real iniquities. Start asserting yourself now, whether at home or the office. And guys, we want to know you appreciate strength and brains; and if you don’t, let us know early on so we can move on, OK?

Maybe this seems off topic for this blog, but I absolutely think you have to be completely strong and confident on your own before you can sustain any type of serious (and healthy) relationship. Even when you’re not attached, you know what they say–it’s a tough world out there. Don’t let the sharks get ya!

Don’t blame me, blame the study. An academic study, recently published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology and summarized here, says that giving your partner the freedom to let their eye wander a little bit (or being given that leeway yourself) can make for a healthier relationship, one in which you’re less likely to stray and find satisfaction. Basically, I think what the study really conveys is this: if you know your quick double-take of appreciation to an attractive person who isn’t your significant other (and no, we’re NOT talking ogling here!) won’t result in an onslaught of resentment, you’ll be less likely to get defensive. Keep the peace and choose your battles, right? Unless you or the other person is truly being inappropriate, a resulting argument could do worse for the relationship than the checking out itself.

Of course, those who are totally and utterly happy in their relationship usually don’t even notice other attractive people, right?  Love is blind, they say. But, we all know the love-is-blind phase doesn’t last forever. And there’s a big difference between simply glancing at another attractive human being and letting your saliva drip to the floor.

I really don’t know how I feel about this one. One the one hand, what does a glance really mean? A good-looking person is eye catching…noticing their attractiveness doesn’t necessarily equate to actual attraction, and NOT looking at all is just one big elephant in the room. On the other hand, it’s still annoying, perhaps not enough to call attention to.

It’s a whole ‘nother story when it comes to celebrities through, because what I know for sure is this:  one day when I’m married, if I do happen to flip to a TV channel and see Keanu Reeves (or Gerard Butler, or Ryan Reynolds, or…well, the list could go on…) on the screen, I WILL stop and drool for a minute…or two. Trust me. And my husband will just have to deal with it.

Do you get annoyed when the guy or girl you’re with checks out someone else? And what do YOU do?