Let’s admit it: Valentine’s Day – OK, Valentine’s WEEK and much of February leading up to it – can  be rough enough if you’re single and feeling particularly sensitive about it. (Like, ahem,  I am for example.) The one thing you wanna count on is your fellow single girlfriends. Well, have you heard this one before?

Girls who tell you they don’t wanna commit to an all-gal Valentine’s dinner/plans because they’re waiting to see if the guy they’ve “sort of” been seeing for a few weeks will suggest plans. Therefore, she doesn’t wanna make tentative plans with you. Better count her out because she would definitely cancel on you at the last minute anyway.

All I can say is: lameballs. Total effing lameballs.

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Have you ever noticed that married coworkers LOVE giving unsolicited relationship advice? Especially the guys. Especially the ones who’ve been married longer. (And on another note: is EVERYONE over 30 in New York married, or is my workplace an anomaly?!)

I just hope no one asks me if I have plans for Valentine’s Day. It’s just something that I expect awkward people to do. When did this holiday get to the point that single people have to pretend to love the holiday so they don’t appear bitter? Can’t a single person hate it as legitimately as many non-single people do?!
 

Someone get this girl a more comfortable chair!

No one likes to play the waiting game. In love, it can be the oft-depicted girl waiting by the phone. That cliché just might be too old-fashioned these days, but it’s as appropriate a metaphor as anything. Because what’s more annoying than waiting for that all-important next step to manifest?

It’s almost the middle of the year and I don’t know about the rest of you, but I feel like I’m in a holding pattern–in general. I have an application due for my day job’s professional licensing process in a month’s time. Funnily enough, I’m not too concerned about the list of things to take care of. Never mind that the application has to be painstakingly filled out; that the document has to be approved by a state regulation board; and that there’s an 8-hour exam in the fall to be ready for. Nonstop studying in my free time now till fall? Pshh. Not intimidated. Never mind all that–all that stuff will get taken care of, the hours will be put in, and as a sum of all the due diligence I will (*fingers crossed*) sit for the exam and pass with flying colors.

But–waiting out for the professional powers that be to designate me from someone in training to a legit, seal-bearing professional? THAT’S the frustrating part. Isn’t it strange that I’m not worried about getting my ducks all lined up, but rather the (seemingly unending) period of limbo just before a change in status is the killer? In my field, a professional is ‘in training’ for 4 years, and not one timeframe during the last 47 months has seemed so agonizingly slow as the one right now.

As in most things, it’s simply a matter of timing.

A lot hinges on this milestone, and a lot will change once I finally reach it. My other next big life steps (e.g. moving out of my parents’ house for the third and hopefully final time, for one) will get much needed attention and have more clarity. So too the case for most big things anyone is ever waiting on. There’s always something: the diploma, the job, the loan approval, the wedding day, the first child, etc. (Why did we ever wanna be adults again?!)

If you, too, are in a holding pattern in the midst of huge life changes, I definitely feel your pain. Rather than wax philosophical and quote old adages to you [aside from saying, with optimism, that this IS a phase and it too SHALL pass–blah blah blah…btw, I write that as much for my benefit as for anyone else’s],  here’s all I’ve got: I’m with you. Waiting sucks. Reminding ourselves that it’s really important to stay focused on the present, however true that may be, also sucks.

On the bright side, sources tell me that life gets a lot more enjoyable after you hit 30. Can we say countdown??

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).

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!

Being a Virginian, and with many friends and family who are University of Virginia alumni, it hits close to home that a year ago today, a female UVa. student was found in her college quarters beaten to death. And shockingly, her boyfriend is the one who stands trial for her murder.

Glamour magazine covered the UVa. story a year ago, but was disturbed when headline after headline in the media repeated that same story with different women and their partners. They conducted a poll with Harris Interactive of 2,500 women. The findings? That 30 percent of women in relationships have been abused by their partners. Looking closer, when the term “abuse” is expanded to include emotional as well as physical abuse, the number rises to an alarming 60 percent.

Have you ever been in a relationship where you were abused? Or, have you witnessed it happening to someone you know? It’s one of those things that might be easier to notice from the outside, and perhaps a grey area unless your friend confides in you. But should you say something? Absolutely. (Glamour has an article here about how to start this type of definitely-uncomfortable conversation.)

What’s also appalling is how underfunded one the biggest programs confronting domestic violence is. In 2010, the National Domestic Violence Hotline had to let over 80,000 calls go answered! What can you do? You can text TELLNOW to 85944 to make a $10 donation toward the hotline–up to $200,000 of donations will be matched by the Avon Foundation for Women. Also, check out Glamour’s new “Tell Somebody” campaign.

On a local level, the Help and Emergency Response (H.E.R.) Shelter in Portsmouth has a 24-hour hotline for referrals or information. H.E.R. also provides emergency shelter to women and children. Check out their website if you want more info.

One of the most annoying and confusing things you hear from happily married people about finding love is: “You know when you know!”

What?

Maybe it doesn’t always come down to the same type of moment for everyone, or an elusive and mind-boggling knowing-when-knowing. But, from another perspective, I think you can just look at a couple and unexpectedly glimpse something there that indicates it might be true love.

Did you catch the royal wedding? I’m not a 4 A.M. kinda gal, but I did manage to watch part of the recaps of the exchange of vows. I definitely have NOT been following the wedding leadup, so this was really my first time seeing the royal pair interact.

Call me irreverent, but I found the vow exchange to be cute and endearing. I was tickled pink, because royalty or not, the two acted like a pair of teenagers giggling during a first date. It was adorable! When the priest and bishop are speaking, you can kind of tell that the couple (and Kate especially!) is trying really hard not to crack a smile. A few times, before the vows, you even see them lean in and whisper to each other with mirthful looks, as if sharing a secret joke. How many couples, let alone those on a global stage, share a nuptial moment like that that’s even noticeable? I’ve been to my share of weddings, and I’ve never seen anything quite like it!

It might be just a tiny glimpse into what’s surely a complex relationship, but at that moment they stopped being two celebrities and seemed REAL. Genuine real, and so obviously more on the same wavelength with each other than a lot of couples who just go through the motions. Love is nothing if not down to earth and unequivocally authentic, right?

Did you watch the royal ceremony? Did you get chills at the beauty of it all? (Or tears? Yeah, I’m a sap!)