Saturday, December 31, 2011

You're So Full Of...

I read my older daughter, nearly four, a story at bedtime each night and cuddle with her until she falls asleep.  This ritual can prove incredibly frustrating at times, as I have read more princess stories than the Pope has read Bible verses.  That said, at times it proves the most beautiful moment of my day- or year.

“Today was a really great day”, she said during a recent snuggle-sesh.  Her body was relaxed, her smile enormous, and her heart warm.  There was a satisfaction and fulfillment in her little voice that I rarely hear from the voice of an adult, let alone a rambunctious child.  As she fell peacefully to sleep, my mind played the moment on repeat.  The producer in me wanted to get it on tape; the mother in me knew it could not be replicated.

Of the many times my kids have gotten me to thinking about the bigger picture, this was certainly one of the most significant.

This time of year, the words “I’m so full” are spoken just frequently as the uber-generic (and now government mandated) Happy Holidays.  So full are our bellies, our mailboxes, our social calendars and our credit card bills.  At some point during the holiday season, each of us will be "so full"- but why will so few be fulfilled?

No need to read on if you are one of those looking for a quick answer to that question, as I am not.  In fact, I am believer that once you are certain you’ve found the answer, you have guaranteed that you never will.

Tonight when you make your New Year’s Resolution, keep it small enough to come just within reach, but grand enough to keep you striving.  And just every once in a while, as you partake in your bedtime ritual, remind yourself that the day could have been a great one- hopefully it was.

Happy New Year!

Christmas, December 1977

Thursday, December 8, 2011

365 Days of Christmas

T’is the season of giving, and giving back.

But in the rush to decorate, shop, wrap and address stacks of holiday cards, I can’t help but wonder… Why does the desire to give drive us 25 days a year, and not 365?

Several things motivate charitable giving.  For many, it is an urge to please others.  For some, it’s self-fulfillment.  And for a select few, it truly is the selfless desire to give back for the greater good.

Motivation aside, I have given of myself in many ways throughout the years.  Whether spending the summer as a hospital candy striper during high school or visiting orphanages in third world countries as an adult, the end result contains a common thread.  Each time, the gift that I receive is even greater than that which I have given.

Here’s a recent example.  This past weekend, I attended a Step Up Women’s Network event where professional females spent time mentoring high school freshman girls.  Each woman was paired with a teenager having career aspirations similar to her own.  I took an immediate liking to my mentee, fifteen year old Vanessa.
Photo: Amy Tierney/f8f11 Images
As a television producer, I am usually the one with tough questions, but it was Vanessa who took the reigns.  Upon her asking whom I most admire, I fumbled for an honest yet inspiring answer relatable for a teen.  She smiled gently as I responded, then paused and looked away as I lobbed the question back to her.  She replied softly not with Selena Gomez or the cast of Twilight, but simply “I am inspired by the homeless, because they have nothing, but keep on surviving”.  My heart skipped a beat, but we quickly moved on.

Vanessa was most excited to ask if I knew the cast of the Jersey Shore, and her Christmas came early when I filled her in on some of my time with them.  But it wasn’t the excitement about Pauly D or JWoww that put the greatest light in her eyes, nor in mine.

Vanessa maintains an energy of freedom, innocence, creativity and passion for learning unlike anything I have experienced in some time.  This, I learned, is what gives her light.  Her remark about the homeless was what gave me mine.  It was a gift… one I hope to carry with me for some time.

There are 16 shopping days left until Christmas, 11 until Chanukah.  I am sure that many of you will give to greater good in some way during that time.  My hope, though, is that more of you will remember to do so in the other 340-ish days of the year.

People say it is better to give than to receive… but sometimes, it isn’t.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Because Fat Isn't the New Phat

I was the fat one.

Of the 3 children in my family, I was the chubbiest.  Of my best girl friends in high school, I was the heaviest.  Of all my college roommates, I was the one that could never borrow a dress for a formal.  And of all the women in the DMV when I got my first California license, I was the one that lied (the most) about my weight.

On the outside, my ‘outside’ wasn’t a huge detriment.  I was smart, popular, and loved.  But on the inside, I was always striving for perfection in other aspects of my life so my waist size wouldn’t be the focus.  And I succeeded.  Even my keg stand abilities were above par (which may have contributed to the problem).

Now, I live and work in an environment overflowing with some of the country’s most (physically) beautiful people.  Which makes me wonder… Are issues with body image something that I surround myself with, that follow me, or that are just impossible to avoid?

Nearly ten years ago, I worked on Extreme Makeover (the surgery addition).  Day in and out, I was surrounded by people who thought a nose job or tummy tuck could save the world.  Later, I worked on the pilot for The Biggest Loser.  And the icing on the (Weight Watchers) cake was a several year stint on The Bachelor & The Bachelorette.

One might think this would cause a chubby to pop diet pills like they were French fries.  But exactly the reverse occurred.

I have seen more Crystal Light consumed than could fill Lake Superior.  I’ve seen drastic (and often dangerous) measures taken to lose weight and look good.  If I had a dollar for every time a woman told me she hadn't used the bathroom in days, I could buy Louboutin boots.  My response was always the same.  Just like the expression "you can't win if you don't play", you can't go if you don't eat.

Meanwhile, I have a closet full of amazing shoes, but am always in flip flops.  I have designer clothing still adorned with ridiculous price tags, but am always in sweats.  And when I am a “weekend warrior”, it isn’t at the gym- it’s at Chuck E. Cheese.  I've learned that (for me) beauty isn't always comfort, but comfort is always beautiful.

I have insanely curly hair that I have fought years to tame- and finally won.  My secret to success? Do nothing.  I’ve learned that if I simply towel dry my hair (without brushing it) and add a tiny bit of leave-in conditioner, I have curls even Andie Macdowell would kill for.  (God, I miss the Brat Pack…)

Bringin’ it home, my lesson is this… Fuggeddaboudit.

I know what you are saying right now. No matter how mean a glare you get from The Soprano's "Big P*$%@", you can't fuggedaboudit.  My suggestion is, just try.

When I stop obsessing about my weight, I find myself in a much happier place.  Gone are the extremes I had once taken, and in comes a more balanced, healthier, happier attitude. Granted it took a few decades, and there are still times that I stray, but it was well worth the “weight”.

So the question remains.  Are issues with body image something that I surround myself with, that follow me, or that are just impossible to avoid?  For me, the answer is a combination of all three.  The solution is a bit more challenging.  Find a way to be comfortable in yourself, and the beauty will come from there.

Funny thing is… the information on my driver’s license is no longer a lie- and I never changed it.