Monday, August 29, 2011

Blog #89: 10 Dating Tips for Guys That Want to Go Out With My Friend Amy (And maybe this will work on other girls too.)

*DISCLAIMER* When my friend Amy asked me to write a post with dating etiquette tips for guys, I was uncertain. I don't date much, nor do I care to. I find dating, when not set up by at least a little bit of friendship, to be awkward, uncomfortable, artificial, and a little weird and I've decided not to do it anymore. Seriously, two mostly strangers decide to have a meal together and see if they can make a relationship out of it? THAT IS NOT REAL LIFE. I am busy and when I have free time I want to spend it doing things I like to do with people I like already, so that pretty much means no more random dates for now. I'm a terrible date. I'm a really good friend and a really good girlfriend, but date? Not so much. I talk too loud and about things like where I like to shop for jewelry and how I hate the smell of buttered popcorn. I have trouble maintaining eye contact and then I feel guilty that this nice guy has bought me a meal and I don't feel interested. So, for now anyway, any possibility of me being a girlfriend would come from being a friend first, and isn't that really preferable anyway? (End disclaimer)

That being said, I still want to help you guys out. I want to help you get a date with gals like my pretty and smart friend, Amy.You can decide whether I am capable of giving this kind of advice after the disaster that was my first paragraph, but here goes nothing.
This is me with my friend Amy. She's in high demand, but no one seems to understand the best way to woo her. I think that's probably true for most of the educated, attractive, and strong female set. So, please heed these guidelines:

1. I know smart, pretty, and strong girls can be intimidating, but being wishy washy and passive is NO WAY to get her attention. Strong girls aren't necessarily looking for weak men to push around, but rather strong men to partner with. That means that you need to be man enough to handle possible rejection face to face. Look, I get that it is much easier said than done, but your chances of rejection are actually LESS if you forgo the texting/emailing/facebooking and just call or walk up to a girl and ask her out. (I mean, not out of nowhere though. Then you're just the creepy guy who asked her out without at least talking to her first.) It's much harder to say no to someone in person or on the phone than it is via text based communication. Bonus, even the act of asking in such a direct manner shows how interested you really must be.

2. Don't go to a movie for the first date. I mean, come on. How is she supposed to realize how strong and awesome you are if your sum conversation over the evening is "Hey, you look nice (insert two hours of silence here) Well that was fun!" You don't have to be crazy creative, just thoughtful. Go to a nice, quiet restaurant where you can have a real conversation. (This probably means no to any place where there are TV's on the walls.)

3. Even strong, intelligent, and pretty women like to have doors opened for them. At least the ones I know do. Open the passenger side car door for her, open the restaurant door for her, OPEN ALL THE DOORS. Maybe not the one to her apartment, that could be a little presumptuous.

4. Be interested in things. That means have some kind of real hobby so she doesn't feel pressured to be the main entertainment in your life if she agrees to go out with you. Nobody likes to be "insta-girlfriended." It's too much too fast. Whether you never miss your alma mater's home football games or you have a standing poker night with your buddies, do something. A dating life should add to a full life, not be needed to complete it.

5. Listen. This seems obvious but is harder than it sounds. This means don't be thinking of charming responses to what she's saying while she's talking, don't daze off wondering if she'll invite you in for a night cap, don't just stare at her. Hear the words she is saying, and respond to them. It never stops being flattering and refreshing when a guy shows that much genuine interest in what girls have to say.

6. In my opinion, the first 3 dates should take place in no less than a 3 week period. That could just be me and maybe other girls would like seeing you 3 times in 3 days... but it feels like "insta-girlfriending" to me and it makes me wonder if you have any sort of life or friends outside of this brand new dating relationship. I mean, it's great that you want to spend so much time with her and I get that, look how awesome she is! However, each date needs time to marinate and process. That doesn't mean there can't be any communication in between. It just means you respect her time enough not to monopolize it right away. (And, it shows that you are an interesting person with a full life.)

7. Have your sh*t together. Part of showing strong girls/women that you are a good and strong match for them is having your own life plan and be working diligently towards it. That coincides a lot with #'s 6 and 4.

8. Walk the fine line between disappearing and being clingy. This is a toughie. Doing the whole "wait 3 days before calling or texting" thing is old and in this day and age of fifty million ways to communicate feels like an eternity and gives the vibe that you're not actually interested. However, writing on her facebook wall, AND tweeting at her, AND sending a text, AND writing an email, AND calling later that night is a little (a lot) much. It might seem exciting and sweet at first but gets old very quickly (like, before the day is out). Find a middle ground.

9. Wear a nice, collared shirt and either khakis or slacks. Don't show up for your date in jeans and a t-shirt or hoodie (at least, not a first date). Take some time to look nice is another way of communicating that you respect her time. That's not to say you should go crazy on hair product and douse yourself in cologne. Don't do those things. Remember, everything in moderation. It shouldn't look like you spent as much or more time getting ready as she did. Rather, that you recognize the magnitude of opportunity you have with this date.

10. Don't take yourself too seriously. I know this kind of goes against the 9 other things I just said, but everything is a tightrope. Balance is important. Just make sure you're having some fun while trying to follow proper wooing etiquette.

Can any of my other smart and pretty girlfriends help me out with more tips?

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Blog #88: Kids & "Diets"

I have already posted today, but this needs said. Kids should be taught healthy eating and exercise habits. They should learn how to be mindful about their food choices and eat to nourish their body as well as find active forms of play because our bodies deserve to be taken care of with love. They should be taught what foods are good for them all the time, and what foods should be considered special treats. With that being said, the word DIET should never, ever be a part of their relevant vocabulary. I'm pretty much against the idea of "dieting" in general because it is a temporary change in habits for the sole purpose of weight loss. It works, habits go back, and weight comes back. Ultimately, it is an unsuccessful money sucking venture. Conversely, a healthy lifestyle and taking good care of yourself by making choices that make you feel your best will be what brings about a healthy body size and shape (which is most certainly not always a size 2 or 4 frame). THAT is why I have an immediate problem with this book, being released soon: 
There are so many things wrong with the cover image ALONE, that I can't even begin to go there. Read more, including the appalling blurb here.

Most people recognize right away that this is absolutely NOT how to go about teaching healthy self care habits to our kids, but some people (ahem, psychiatrist Dr. Keith Ablow, featured here on, go figure, Fox News website.) (Another aside, isn't it funny how the author and the only person I've seen so far in outright support of this book are both middle aged men? Tell me, what insight do they have on the intricacies of the minds of these preteen girls?)

Here are a few tidbits from his article, and what I think about what he had to say.

"Nutritionists and child psychologists who charge that Kramer's book will cause eating disorders presume that telling children to eat healthily—even if that means eating less and exercising—will make them sick"

Immediately a sweeping generalization here. In fact, the issue is less the concern that a young girl will read the book and immediately start starving herself, and more that she will read the book and have one more thing tell her that being thin means being healthy, loved, and happy and that being large is always unacceptable and unworthy of love. Diets DON'T work. They lay the ground work for black and white thinking in regards to food and body which can lead to even more pathological methods of controlling weight.

"The same people criticizing Paul Michael Kramer and his Maggie Goes on a Diet are the people handing out ribbons and trophies to their kids whether they win or lose. They're the people who are letting their kids use Facebook and disseminate mini-reality-bending, narcissism-inducing autobiographies of themselves to hundreds of fake "friends." They're the people who are buying candy and ice cream for their overweight sons and daughters because saying "no" might injure them in some mysterious way that has never been proven—ever. These are the people who also, by the way, fuel America's false economy with fake stimulus packages and bailouts and the printing of fake currency."

Again, really? I don't believe in any of those things. I can't stand it when I see anyone under 15 on Facebook, I believe that kids should eat foods that provide nourishment and sustenance and energy. I believe kids should be physically active and that life isn't fair so trophies/ribbons need only be given to the teams that earned them with victory. I believe in portion control and telling your kids "no" for their own health benefit.  I DON'T believe in telling a story about a 14 year old girl that went on a diet and because she lost weight had her dreams come true because that is NOT reality. The sequel to this book would probably be something like "Maggie Gains Her Weight Back" followed by the next in the series, "Maggie Goes on Another Diet"  and then "Maggie Stops Eating,"and so on because dieting is very rarely permanently successful. 

A better story would be "Maggie Learns About Healthy Choices" wherein a 14 year old girl decides she's worth more than the way she's been treating herself so she decides to eat more vegetables and drink more water (but still allow herself treats on occasion) and plays soccer because she wants to have fun while being more active. As a result, she is healthier and happier and feels better about herself, oh and hey look, as a by product she lost some weight too.

I have seen my body as an enemy since the age of about 11 and "dieted" countless times since then. Poor body image is toxic and can lead to overall low self esteem and only continue to perpetuate itself in a vicious cycle. When you feel good about yourself, truly, you WANT to do things that are good for you. However, you can't diet your way to a better self image, and the book's implication that you can is very irresponsible. 

Blog #87: Fall is creeping up on us...

And I for one, am thrilled. I've decided to dedicate Friday evening to total closet organization. I'm going to get everything all set up and ready so that I can start making the most of this season. After all, next weekend is Labor day (which is the "unofficial" start of Fall) and all the great things about Fall will be quick to follow that, like the first football games, the pumpkin spice latte, and the appropriate time to wear boots. BOOTS. Oh, I have missed you so. Here are a few things that are going to be on my mind:

1. Getting full inventory of possible layering opportunities (tanks, tshirts, long sleeves, cardigans, scarves)
2. Figuring out what key pieces I should shop for to complete my Fall wardrobe (in my mind I'm already thinking of long socks to layer under boots, and a pair of knee high low heeled brown boots. Oh, and tights to wear with boots under shorts)
3. Finding an organized way to keep my accessories (I want it to be easy to add belts, jewelry, and scarves to any outfit.)
4. Getting all my sweaters back out and in their place. It will probably be October before they are actually appropriate for wear, but I want to be ready for that.
5. Boxing up some things that I feel I am definitely done with for the season (this will make it easier for me come moving time in February.)

I'll be doing all this while blasting sing a long music (lately, I've been on Adele. Is there a better artist to sing along to with passion and vigor into a hairbrush microphone? I don't believe so.) and watching preseason football. Go Chiefs (look, we are not a preseason team, and I'm fine with that. Winning in the preseason is like the points on Whose Line is it Anyway. It doesn't matter.)

Monday, August 22, 2011

Blog #86:If you don't have something nice to say...

Being kind to yourself is important, especially in self talk. I know you talk to yourself. Everyone does. Maybe not out loud, but come on now. (I talk to myself out loud most when I am grocery shopping, which is likely quite disconcerting to Hyvee's other patrons.)

 Something I'm taking a step to actively work on is being less hard on myself in my self talk for making human mistakes. Even little things, like forgetting something back at my apartment or misreading a word in an email often results in me berating myself ,"Ugh, I'm such an idiot." Being forgetful or missing a small detail are really not that idiotic. In fact, most idiocy is more intentional in the face of better choices. These little things are just mistakes. I'm not sure what the overall impact is of this kind of self talk, but I had found that I was shredding myself at least once or twice a day for things that are just not big deals. It is something I would confront and question in a client, and I would NEVER stand for anyone else treating me in such a way for simply being human, so why is it alright that I do so to myself? It's not.

So, I'm trying a little perspective shift. When I catch myself in the act of self insulting after a mistake, I stop, and instead think of it as funny and endearing that I am fallible to such silly human things. For example, I started to leave for a day on the lake without my sunglasses yesterday and had to pull back into my apartment parking lot to go back in and get them. It's not a big deal, but my first instinct was, "Marissa, you moron." I caught that, and then thought about how silly it was that I was headed out for a day in the sun without glare protection. I changed my thought to, "Marissa, you're such a trip... going out without sunglasses? Hilarious!" Again, that is a teeny tiny probably insignificant example but it gets the point across. It still acknowledged my humanity without abusing myself because of it. I'm looking forward to seeing what kind of changes this simple new behavior will bring about in my mindset and self image.

How could you treat yourself with a little more kindness?

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Blog #85: Read any good books lately?

 I'm trying to spend some time reading more for pleasure now that I don't have classes bogging me down with stuff I don't feel like reading. Of course, one of the books I'm reading right now actually IS for my upcoming weekend intensive, but it is one that I would have gotten to on my own anyway because I'm interested in it. I'm trying to get a good balance of fiction/nonfiction happy/sad going at once so that I'm not overwhelmed by any one genre/mood. Reading also keeps me sharp for my internship in the absence of classes, which is nice. I typically can read several nonfiction/self improvement or research type books at one time but only one fiction book at a time lest I get my stories jumbled. So, my reading docket usually has 3 or 4 books listed with only one of them at the most being a novel.

CURRENTLY reading:
1. Authentic Happiness - Martin Seligman - I'm reading this one for my upcoming class on Positive Psychology but it has been on my "to read" list for awhile anyway. Very interesting stuff thus far. Martin Seligman is big into the positive/preventative part of psychology which revolves around building and reinforcing adaptive and positive traits and perspectives intentionally before any disorder is diagnosed and treatment required. So far, to me, it's the equivalent of medical doctors preaching a daily multivitamin, healthy diet, exercise, etc. Believe it or not, this approach to self care and self fulfillment as a means of dissuading potential development of disorders is relatively new, though one might think it common sense. More on that when I'm through with the class.
2.Les Miserables - Victor Hugo - I already told you about this one. I'm loving getting lost in the story so far. This is serving as my current fiction fixation.
3. Beautiful You, A daily guide to Radical Self Acceptance - Rosie Molinary - I need to get back on track with this one. It seemed a little daunting and so I pushed it aside, but the activities and journal questions could be really meaningful if I took them seriously.
4.The Happiness Project - Gretchen Rubin - The author basically looked at a ton of philosophies and research regarding the happiest people and attempted to make changes to her life in a one year span to test their effectiveness on her own situation. It's another positive psychology kind of thing but without the shiny empirical data in Authentic Happiness and more anecdotal but I am looking forward to spending some more time reading it.

On my TO READ list:
- Malcolm Gladwell's stuff
- Flourish, by Martin Seligman (more positive psychology)
- Heaven is For Real, by Todd Burpo
- Social Intelligence, Daniel Goleman
- REREAD The Happiness Hypothesis by Jonathan Haidt
- The Hunger Games? Maybe.
- Friday Night Lights the book. Who wrote that? Yes, I know how Google works. I'm just lazy.
- Chelsea Handler's stuff
- Mindy Kaling has a book coming out in November. Very excited for that!
HAVE READ recently & would recommend:
- When Children Grieve, by John W James & Russell Friedman with Dr. Leslie Landon Matthews
- This Thing Called Grief, by Thomas M. Ellis
- The Book Thief, by Markus Zusack
- Any of Wally Lamb's stuff. I need to REREAD.
- Bossypants, by Tina Fey (WONDERFUL)
- This is a Book - Demetri Martin (weirdly fantastic.)
- Love Wins, Rob Bell. Whether I believe/agree with him or not is irrelevant. The beauty of this book lies in challenging currently held beliefs and asking hard questions inspiring discussion of difficult topics.

There's certainly much more in every category I'm sure, because as many people would know I get excited about pretty much everything pretty easily. Do you have any recommendations for me?  (for more things book and otherwise that inspire me, check me out on pinterest.)

Monday, August 15, 2011

Blog #84: Here I go again.

Musicals are THE BEST. I had a very low key Sunday and turned the TV on to see if basic cable had anything to offer me during a lazy evening after cleaning my apartment and it did indeed! (I mean, besides the 90's Diane Keaton movie and what appeared to be a karaoke murder mystery.)

PBS so graciously was showing a stage show of Les Miserables, which I (believe it or not) had not seen despite knowing and loving many of the iconic songs from the performance. I also knew the basic tenets of the story. That didn't stop me from being moved by the beauty of the story and passion of the music. Wow. I've been listening to the original cast soundtrack all morning and am now in the process of reading the Victor Hugo novel.

Because I can't just like something in passing.  You all know this about me by now.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Blog #83: Eventful

This might start off a little whiny but I'll try to reign myself in. Yesterday after a "leave the apartment before 6am get home after 9pm" day, I watched a single episode of FNL and went straight to bed. I was exhausted, and I knew I needed to get up at a decent time in the morning because I had to actually get ready for work and not just use the "first clothes I see on the floor maybe brush my hair maybe not" method for getting ready, as has been my habit lately. That's because today we have some important potential clients coming in and have to look extra nice. I avoided the disaster of picking out a decent outfit with fuzzy morning brain by setting out an outfit before I went to bed. I thought I'd be set. Then, I woke up this morning and all I could think of was how much my throat hurt and how even the mere act of showering seemed unbelievably daunting. Oh no. Not this. Not today. Not right now. Somehow, I got out of bed, got ready and got to work. I began to feel hungry on the drive in, which I took as a good sign. Oatmeal sounded so good and I knew it would feel good on my throat, BUT, it would require getting up from my desk to make AND eating it with a spoon. Both of these things seemed like too much work, so I had a scratchy granola bar instead. I DIDN'T EVEN HAVE ENOUGH ENERGY TO PUT A BOWL IN THE MICROWAVE AND EAT WITH A SPOON. Fantastic.

My weekend was wonderful though! Friday I saw Mamma Mia at Starlight with MY mamma, and it was delightful, seriously so fun. Saturday was a rough day at Solace House but followed by an evening with this guy:
We danced, we played, we ate ice cream and Cole practiced his best Blue Steel. It was the best. Sunday I got to sleep in and then almost died in a scary thunderstorm on the side of the road on 635. No seriously, that happened. I went off meet someone to sell some stuff from Craigslist and noticed it was getting cloudy/windy. And then on the way home like THAT boom, it was torrential downpour and hail and thunder and lightning. I seriously could not see 3 feet in any direction and had to try to pull over just hoping to God there wasn't any other cars around. I may have screamed and cried. No judging. Anyhow, almost as quick as it came it left and I treated myself to a QT Freezoni to calm my nerves. Then I picked up the little cousin and took her to her first ever concert - Sugarland at the Sprint Center! It was good times.

Of course, it also meant that I did not get any sleep Sunday night... and the week started off on a sleep deficit right away, which is probably why I'm feeling so sickly and weak right now. Work has been busy with my boss getting back from his 3 week vacation, so I haven't had much of a spare second to catch up myself.  I'm nursing a coffee in hopes that it energizes me for the day ahead. Yeesh.Bright side... FOOTBALL RETURNS THIS WEEK! I find preseason football as pointless and annoying as the next person, but am so excited in general that NFL football will be on TV again that I don't even care.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Blog #82: Fractions!

The weekend was 2/3 the adventure I expected it to be. I'm sure things should probably be weighted a little differently and that my fraction is probably inaccurate but I'm proud of myself for even including a fraction in the blog post so I'm going to go with it. Numbers and I don't typically get along unless I'm doing basic arithmetic to figure out how much a $50 pair of shoes on sale for 40% off is. ($30... GO ME!).

Anyhow, I simply was attempting to say that 2 out of the 3 amazing things I had planned for this weekend went off with very little of a hitch. My sister in law and I saw Cinderella at Starlight Friday night and though there were a few sprinkles near the end of the show, we avoided major rainfall. Saturday was HOT. I mean that both ways. One, in that the temperature on the field at Arrowhead Stadium during the AWESOME Zac Brown portion of the concert rivaled that of the Sahara Desert (in my mind, at least. I've never been there.) Secondly, in that cowboys are HOT. I could just look at Billy Currington forever, unless Chris Young was nearby. The third event, and one might argue the MAIN event of my weekend was SUPPOSED TO BE the Warrior Dash. Rachael and I were SO ready.

And then Mother Nature got all hot flashy/menopausal on us and the heat became "dangerous". Nevermind that 1. it's called the Warrior Dash, not the "too wimpy to run in hot weather" Dash and 2. we sign a waiver saying we know the risks. I actually could have been a lot more empathetic to Red Frog Event's position had they handled the cancellation of the afternoon waves in any semblance of a professional manner but I digress.My new plan is to take a weekend trip to St. Louis in October to see my best friend and doing the Warrior Dash near them.

In other news, I'm getting ready to start selling things so that I can start stowing away money for my big move in 6 months. A rolling stone gathers no moss and whatnot. I need to sell my crap so that it doesn't hold me back. February 1st is moving day. Austin, TX is going to look real good around then.