Saturday, August 25, 2007

the trap.

OK, I give. Let's talk about Lindsay Lohan.

I, like much of America, have been trying to pretend I don't care about the abject antics of La Lohan and her partners in pathos — Britney, Paris and their wispy little wannabe sidekick, Nicole — and I certainly don't want to admit to following their every maniacal move via the girls-gone-wild-saturated media.

Still, this trio of trainwrecks make it awfully hard not to rubberneck. From the Hollywood-garden-variety run-ins and rerun-ins with the law, to the head-shaving, Brazilian waxing and repetitive rehab-dabbling, it's hard to keep up with the number of rings at this cirque de so-lame. And I think many more of us than care to cop to it have fairly severe cases of figurative whiplash from all the gaping, gawking and glaring we've been doing at these young, beautiful, unholy messes, as they teeter up on the highwire, sans net.

But of the three, it's Lindsay who saddens me most. The Brit-Wit and Paris the Heiress are both easy to pigeonhole: the redneck whitetrash and the blueblood celebutante, one who came from too little to cope with fame and fortune, one who came from too much to handle real life and its limitations. Somehow, a twisted remake of the now-retro TV sitcom "Green Acres" comes to mind ... but I digress.

Lindsay, though ... Lindsay was an upper-middle-class girl from the Bronx. A darling auburn-haired, freckle-faced girl, she was too embarrassed to tell her middle-school friends about her big break starring in Disney's remake of The Parent Trap; when she returned home following eight months of filming, she told everyone her family had gone on a long vacation. It wasn't until the movie was released that she conceded, "Oh, yeah. I also did this movie." That was ten years ago.

The other simple, yet apparently rare quality Lindsay possesses that paints a sadder portrait for me is talent. The girl's got a gift — she is, quite clearly, an actor. And by almost all accounts, an actor already respected by other, much more seasoned actors. That is, until her off-screen shenanigans sloshed over into her day job.

For all of us People-magazine-buying, Entertainment Tonight-watching judgers out here, there's plenty of fault to go around for Lindsay's unspooling: her felonious father, her eye-on-the-Hollywood-prize mother, the Disney Slut Machine [as I lovingly refer to it], the recklessly indifferent entourage, the perpetually present paparazzi. And of course, Lindsay herself can't be held completely blameless; she is, as of July 2nd, a full-fledged adult, presumably capable of making her own choices about what and who goes into her body, and who gets to witness and/or record it.

Yes, it's preposterously painless for us to sit on our living-room couches or stand around our water coolers and shake our heads and waggle our fingers and condemn those responsible for Lindsay losing it. But before we all pitch the big ol' stones we're holding at that particular glass house, let us pause for a moment and reflect upon past lessons in lost wonders, and whether we've really learned them.

Consider this, as I have been, from's Rebecca Traister:
"It's easy to wistfully romanticize the demise of talented and beautiful women like Marilyn Monroe and Judy Garland, who we now understand got so sick because of the pressures they faced to be what their audiences wanted: pretty and energetic and sexy and available to everyone. But we lack that perspective on the objects of our contemporary obsessions, whom we likewise pressure to perform for us, by dancing on tables or leading torrid public love lives we can follow like weekly serials, until they finally wear out and collapse, sometimes taking other people with them."

Put into that sobering perspective, let's hope Lindsay and all of these young women get the help, support and maturity they need to abandon their death-defying feats high above us, put on some big-girl panties, and save their own lives by climbing down to Earth.

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Self-care is not about self-indulgence;
it is about self-preservation.

— Audre Lord —

As little ones return to school, I'm thinking especially of my sister mothers, simultaneously grateful and just a little grieving at this bittersweet time of year. So here's to you, from Austin author and life coach Renée Trudeau's book, The Mother's Guide to Self-Renewal: How to Reclaim, Rejuvenate and Re-Balance Your Life, some thoughts about taking care of Mama:

Self-care is about nurturing yourself on all levels — physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually — so you can live, love and parent optimally.

Most of us would never imagine denying our children of sleep or nourishment, being judgmental of them or allowing them to ignore their emotional needs. Yet, as mothers, we do this to ourselves on a daily basis.

Here are several examples of how you can begin nurturing yourself and start making self-renewal part of your everyday life:

Physical Care
— Eat healthy and energizing foods that make you feel good.
— Exercise for energy and less stress.
— Get enough sleep and drink plenty of water.

Mental Care
— Read a good book or watch an intellectually stimulating movie.
— Learn something new, like a skill or hobby.
— Sign up for a class or workshop on something interesting to you.

Emotional Care
— Have a heart-to-heart talk with a close friend or mentor.
— Journal — write down your thoughts and feelings.
— Go out on a fun date with your partner or the girls.

Spiritual Care
— Meditate, pray or reflect on your gratitudes.
— Do something creative — write/sing/dance/paint.
— Take a walk out in nature.

The book is available at Renée's website, at, or locally at Book Woman, Book People or The Crossings.

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A gentle reminder.

Be gentle with yourself.
You are a child of the universe,
no less than the trees and the stars.
In the noisy confusion of life,
keep peace in your soul.

— Max Ehrmann, Indiana attorney and prose poet —

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Give yourself a break.

Another fine reminder to be gentle with yourself and your kids during these days of transition:

My daughter is learning to read. She doesn't read perfectly, and it's OK. Isn't it? You don't expect a child to be perfect when they're just beginning to learn, do you? Well, why are you so easy on them, yet so hard on yourself? Somewhere between learning to read and now, have you come to expect yourself to get things right, right from the get-go? Just watch a child learn to do anything — walk, talk, read, write — and you'll see that true success comes from many attempts of getting it not quite right. Give yourself the same freedom. Create change imperfectly.

from Aby Garvey's Simplify 101 Newsletter
[click here to subscribe]

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Because if Mama ain't happy . . .

Here's news of the DUH: Being the mom of a young child is rich and rewarding, but also a significant strain on your mood. Golly, really?

Seriously — according to a University of Michigan study, moms ranked taking care of their child(ren) lower than watching TV, eating or exercising, and only slightly higher than working, housework or commuting in terms of activities that make them happy. Of course, psychologists are quick to clarify that while children don't necessarily enhance daily enjoyment, they do deliver transcendent moments, which can overcome day-to-day frustrations.

Further good news for moms is this: You can teach yourself to accentuate the positive, and learn to make it a practice in your everyday life. Click through to the article, which features tips on how moms can create such a choose-happiness habit; suggestions vary from the overtly obvious (get enough sleep) to the mildly profound(actively notice things, play to your strengths).

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Happy teenagers — isn't that an oxymoron?

What makes 13- to 24-year-olds happy? Baffling question, with a stunning answer: Spending time with family. Again, seriously — the Associated Press and MTV recently conducted a survey of young people, inquiring open-endedly into what makes them happy, and hangin' with the fam was their top response. Additionally, almost 75% of them said their relationship with their parents makes them happy.

And the hits just keep on coming: Most young students like school, and over 90% say they believe marriage will make them happy and want to be married someday; most also want to be parents themselves eventually.

OK, I know what you're thinking — what about sex? Well, among 13- to 17-year-olds, being sexually active actually leads to less happiness, and for 18- to 24-year-olds, sex might lead to happiness for the moment, but not overall (oooh, I remember those days — zoinks).

The downside of the survey: It showed a clear racial divide, with whites being happier than blacks and Hispanics, regardless of economics. Not surprisingly, many young people feel stress, especially middle-class kids and — sadly — females more than males.

A final note for a happy ending: Asked to name their heroes, almost half of the youngsters answered with one or both parents . . . and just a tad more often, Mom.

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15 ways to give today.
from Body & Soul magazine, 9.2007

1. Make a donation, whatever you can afford, to your favorite charity.
2. Send a thank-you card to someone who's been kind to you.
3. Put yourself in another person's shoes.
4. Confront a friend who needs confronting.
5. Let your spouse sleep late.
6. Applaud a great performance.
7. Rescue an animal from a shelter.
8. Laugh.
9. Reduce, reuse, recycle.
10. Give your full attention.
11. When you see trash, pick it up.
12. Give a compliment.
13. Let go of an old grudge.
14. Write a letter to a person who's made a difference in your life.
15. Tell your mom you love her.

If we all share what we've been blessed with,
then we bless others with our sharing,
& so it goes.

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Celebrate the everyday.

  • September 13th — International Chocolate Day

  • September 15th — Wife Appreciation Day

  • September 16th — Women's Friendship Day

  • Remember, where there is connection, there is power.
    Where there is power, there is hope for change.
    For ourselves, and for our world.

    We are all connected. We are all powerful.
    Until my next post, be well, be happy & be hopeful.

    Please feel free to send along comments, questions, ideas, suggestions, or requests to be unsubscribed.
    I honor them all, just as I honor you.

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