Dec 31, 2012

NYE…New Years Eve aka, Not Your Expectations

New Years Eve…the holiday we love to hate, and hate to love.

It’s interesting though that it gets that much attention, considering it is such a low-maintenance holiday. Like Thanksgiving or Fourth of July it requires no gift-giving or card buying. Most people don’t have a signature New Years Eve dish or cookie. The only effort this holiday requires is showing up and celebrating…yet we still complain?!

Although we don’t have a tangible obligation of something to; buy, bring, make or bake, there is an intangible stress that hovers around NYE.

I remember when I turned 21, I had some innate need to go out every Friday and Saturday night. I had waited my whole life to be “legal” and go to the bar/club, so I made it my duty to get dressed up and hit the town every weekend. I felt that if I staying in I was acting ungrateful for the fact that I now had nothing holding me back. I built up the big 2-1 in my head for so long, that I had to make the most of it.

At first, it wasn’t a problem. But, as that 21st year marched on, I found a sense of guilt come over me when I wanted to stay home and watch a romantic comedy in PJ’s on a Friday night. As my phone would flash and the Sex-In-City ring tone filled the air, I found it incredibly more difficult to tell my friends I wouldn’t be heading out that night. It was “Party-Guilt” and I allowed it to motivate me to get into the shower and get dressed to face another night out.

Thinking back to that year, there were a few nights when I did find myself, drink in hand, surrounded by friends, on the center of a dance floor somewhere, dancing like I’d never danced before—those nights I’m happy the “Party Guilt” got me out there. But that was a rare occasion.

For the most part, when I went against my gut instinct to lay-low and spend the night in, I found myself yawning at bar, stuck talking to some D-list, guy who thought HE was the most interesting person HE’D ever come across. While my friend (whom guilted me to come out) talked to his equally disappointing wingman.

Needless to say, those nights, did NOT make it into a facebook photo album. No great memories to stash away, just a filler-night—One of the many “other” bar nights in between all the great times.

And that is the same risk we run with New Years Eve. It could be a night to remember for all time, or it could be a night where you just wished you were home in PJ’s in front of the TV.

However, New Years Eve, has an extra component of stress. The involute decision of choosing the right way to ring in the New Year; A black-tie fancy party in the city, a low key shin-dig at a friends home, or a night in. Then we have to commit to a certain group of people to surround ourselves with; friends, family, all of New York City in Times Square. There is an endless list of options to commit to.

And that’s what I think the problem is…not the options but the commitment. We don’t stay committed to what we really want to do. We have “Party-Guilt” to do something wild and make this year like no other. Then once we’re half-way into the night, if we find ourselves not having fun, we are stuck. These are the plans we made, so we stick it out until midnight.

I remember a New Years Eve when I was in law school. I went out to dinner with family earlier in the night, a tradition we’ve had for many years. I remember, that year at dinner we had a fabulous time—a couple martinis, great food and laughing with my family. Sometimes it doesn’t get better than that. As the last plate was cleared from the table, I remember thinking that this great dinner was a foreshadowing of what was to come for the rest of the night. That this was just the beginning of a great New Years Eve.

As, I buttoned my jacket, kissed my parents goodbye, and left the restaurant, I had high hopes for the evening. Unfortunately, it didn’t turn out that way. The party was a dud. As the ball dropped and I counting backwards from 10, I wished that I was back my family.

But I didn’t leave. I decided on going to that party and I was committed. Mentally, I committed and would have felt bad leaving. Physically, it was New Years Eve and everyone I knew was drunk, so I was out of options for a ride home.

Nevertheless, as I sat trapped in the awful party, I made a promise to myself. I promised that if I ever found myself in a situation where the thought of watching reality TV on DVR, while snuggled in my PJ’s sounded more fun, than I would cut and run—No matter what the date!

So maybe that’s the key to a fabulous New Years Eve. Maybe we need to let go of all cliché “Supposed To’s.” Forget about the “Party-Guilt” and be honest with ourselves about what we think we want to do. But we have to remember that we’re human, and we’re fickle and we change our minds. Therefore, if we find ourselves in a situation, where we thought we’d have fun and it turns out a dud, it’s okay to cut and run. Plans are not set in concrete. Things come up, feelings permutate, and it’s okay to be flexible and change your mind.

You see, despite all the New Years Eve stress and pressure, the day is actually about personal reflection and hope. It’s a time to look back and pat yourself on the back for surviving the past year. To take a moment and appreciate all you endured. To cerebrate and hold strong to the lessons you learned in the past year. To congratulate yourself on how far you’ve come in a years time. To think about the things you want to fix in your life. This is where the hope comes in…

Despite your feelings about the past year, on this night, it is over. There is a hope. Hope for a new year, for better things to come. Hope for the opportunity to be a better person, live a better life. Hope to take new risks and open yourself up. Hope to make changes, take chances, and find adventure in the unknown of the 365 days that lay ahead of you.

No matter what kind of year you’ve had, on New Year’s Eve you can reflect and celebrate the past year, or you can hope and celebrate a new beginning.

The key is to not feed into the “Party Guilt.” Do what you WANT to do and if midstream it’s not what you thought it would be, cut and run to change the scenery. It’s not about where you physically are at midnight; it’s about where you are mentally. So get to a good place, do what will make you happy, and welcome the New Year with open arms.

The point of New Years Eve is to celebrate. Sift through the “Party Guilt” and forget about clichés. Do what you want and when, or if, it’s not fun anymore, do something else. There are no rules and no “supposed to’s.” But don’t lose the real meaning of the night—REFLECT, HOPE and CELEBRATE!

Happy New Year!


“If you always do what interests you, at least one person is pleased.” Katherine Hepburn

Oct 18, 2012

Bullying…The New Epidemic…NOT

Another person falls victim to bullying.  This tragic and horrible epidemic is newly taking over the teen and tween population.  Spreading like wildfire amongst the most impressionable generation all because of the bastard internet.

Okay, wait.  That’s not true.

In fact, bullying has been around forever. I remember sitting with my grandmother.  A 5’ foot tall, Irish woman, who had the sweetest face, and the sharpest tongue.  She was cute as a button, but that was only a façade.  I must have been only 5 or 6 years old and I remember her teaching me a little song.  I sat on her floral couch, wide-eyed and singing along.

           Here’s my pinkie…
Here’s my thumb…
Here’s my fist you better run!

It was a silly little song, and with each line, we performed the corresponding movements.  We showed our pinkie, then our thumb, and finally raised our fist with a very serious look on our face (crinkled nose and all).  After the song we would laugh and laugh.  Then she would become very serious and looked at me with those piercing blue eyes.

You listen to me honey; this is just a silly song.  And I want you to know that you never throw the first punch… ladies don’t act like that.” 
I shook my head in affirmation. “Okay Grandma.” I said.
She continued on, “But if someone does start pushing you around, then you raise that fist and defend yourself like the feisty Irish girl that you are. 

I smiled up at her.  She was the picture of class, with her pearl necklace and long pink skirt, but those who knew her, knew better than to cross her.  She could hold her own.  She was everything I wanted to be when I grew up.

I held onto the talk with my grandmother.  Drawing on it time and again, as the tween and teen years approached.  I never did have to recite the rhyme and throw a fist, but I used my words to fire back quite a few times; stood up for myself when no one else would.

I distinctly remember 7th grade, riding the bus home from middle school. An 8th grade girl, who, for whatever reason, decided to pick on me.  She made small comments about how she wanted to cut my hair, rip my pink backpack off my back and beat me up.  After about a week of this, I told my mom I didn’t want to take the bus anymore.  Through sobs I explained each humiliating moment to my mother.

She sat stoic, listening and offered me a comforting hug.  Then she looked me straight in the eye and said, 

I am not picking you up from school.  You are going to take that bus and your going to tell that girl to pick on someone one else.”

I remember panic washing over me.  Didn’t my mother know that that was the LAST thing I was going to do? I wanted to avoid her and that bus… forever.

Lana, girls like this are all bark and no bite.  You stand up for yourself and she won’t know what to do.  She’s a bully and she’s used to pushing people around.  Don’t let her push you.”

My mother continued on with this inspiration “Rocky Speech” to get me pumped up.  Throwing in that my grandmother would have never let anyone push her around, and I had to carry that legend on.

The next day, after school, I boarded the bus, sat in my seat and took a deep breath.  Trying to collect my thoughts as the bus pulled away and she began to taunt me.

          Nice side pony tail!  Sike!  You’re such a loser.

When we reached the first stop, I stood up and cut her lewd remarks off.

You know what Rachael, if you want to beat me up so bad, then get off the bus and do it.  She fell silent, so did the whole bus.  Come on, you hot shot, you want to yell at me every day then back it up.”  I took my back pack off and walked to the front of the bus and got off.

The driver looked at me while I stood waiting and gave me a wink.  The bus sat at that stop for three full minutes.  Nothing happened inside.  When I stepped back on, Rachael was sitting quietly in her seat.  As I walked back to my seat, I shouted one more thing to her. 

          “If you don’t have the guts to back it up, stop flapping your mouth!”

I sat back at my seat.  The bus didn’t erupt into applause or anything like that.  This was real-life, not some Lifetime movie.  But that girl never bothered me again.  In fact she never bothered anyone again.  She was so embarrassed that someone called her bluff, she never made another peep.

So why can’t people just “handle it” in modern day, like I did in the 90’s? Why?  Because there is no shame, or embarrassment or ownership in a typed comment that is posted to a public wall or profile.  The opportunity to say it in person is lost in the incessant comments and postings. 

Bullying is old hat, but it’s only recently that the internet has thrown it into the spotlight.  Before the digital era, kids could only bully each other at school or at an after school event.  Now with the internet, the bullying can follow them home and onto their social media pages.

It’s sad really; that the drama of the day, can’t fall idle when the hallways become quiet in the after-school hours.  It used to be that whatever kid was bullied or humiliated that day would most likely be out of the spotlight the next day.  You see, the 24 hour window of after-school time was enough for the adolescent brain to move onto the next oh-so-dramatic event.  Leaving the kid that was Thursday’s sacrificial lamb, to be old news by Friday—If not, definitely by Monday.  In current day however, there is no quiet time for the humiliation to sizzle out.  Instead, the fire is fueled, kept alive and well, on facebook, twitter and other new media.

But it’s not solely the internet’s fault.  I still think the onus lies on the parents.  Why are theses kids, ages 11-17 even allowed to have facebook pages, webcams, YouTube or twitter accounts?  If posting pictures could be considered child-pornography, because you’re underage, then you shouldn’t have Facebook.  Facebook was created for college aged students in the early 2000’s.  It then grew to be inclusive to older populations who could join the city they lived in as their network to create a page. Somewhere along the line, the idea of having to be “part of a network” died and Facebook was available to everyone.  So parents allow their tweens and teens to create digital identities.  So I say to you parents…what the hell did you expect to happen?

We’ve all been bullied.  We’ve all been picked on, teased and embarrassed at some point in our adolescence.  If you haven’t, well then you’re lying.  But what I don’t remember are kids that were “cutters” or “emo.” (Which by the way, stands for EMOtional?) This whole generation of hyper sensitive, fragile paper-thin tween and teens need their parents to pay attention to them and teach them coping skills.

So why expose your children to an adult forum that you know will only encourage the taunting?  What do you honestly think will happen to a middle or high school aged child who has Facebook?  Do you think they will post life experiences, perspective and respectfully comment on friend’s posts and pictures?   Get your heads out of your asses.  Be neotenous, and remember the soap opera of your teenage years.  The same stuff is going on. Remember how hard it is for your kids and do them a favor by telling them to get off the computers.  They don’t need social media; they need to learn social skills in real life.  Set them up for success NOT failure.


Talk to your children! Teach your children to communicate and speak about their emotions from an early age… then as they get older it won’t be difficult to speak with others if they are being bullied, harassed or threatened  in any area of life… Standing up for yourself is what each and every one of us needs to be comfortable with.

“Stand up for what you believe in, even if you’re standing alone.” –Anonymous

“Bullies are always cowards at heart and may be credited with a pretty safe instinct in scenting their prey.” –Anna Cooper