November 27, 2013

A note for all of you about love… and how to have a great Holiday no matter what your situation.

For many, the holidays can be lonely, bring feelings of sadness or be a reminder of financial or health problems.  Not everyone is surrounded by large, functional and happy families like the ones we we see in those Old Navy commercials. To the millions of Americans suffering financially this season or worried about their job, stretching a tight budget to accommodate for Christmas gifts and hosting Thanksgiving dinners can create added stress rather than enjoyment.   For anyone who has suffered a big loss (for me, it is my father), holidays remind you of how they will never be the same as they once were.  

Additionally, the modern day commercialized holiday season continues to completely disconnected us from the real meaning of these holidays even further. Turn on the t.v. at any given time and it's all about Santa Claus, Black Friday and hosting a perfect dinner party to Martha Stewarts' standards.  Holidays can sometimes create friction and family divide.  And I am sure my generation and younger is too busy instagramming to actually connect, causing even more of a divide.  Often, with priorities focused on all the wrong places, disappointment follows as a reminder of what is really important. 


You know what?  We could all stand to re-evaluate our attitude towards this Holiday.  None of us have the right to pity ourselves when we have the same power and choice to feel good about ourselves- in any situation.  Why choose sadness?  Why choose to surround yourself with negative people this Holiday when you're ready to rise above it?  Why wish for something different when when you can act?   The person we see each morning is more or less the result of our life decisions- in relationships, financially and in health. Circumstances that challenge us aren't "bad luck" or misfortune- they're all opportunities that are meant for us to find out what we're really made of.  I can understand that it's hard for everyone to see it this way though, because sometimes life does just seem unfair.


In contrast, we forget that we should be grateful for the strength, courage and determination that has made us who we are today.  We forget to be grateful to the people who've helped us become who we are.  We don't celebrate life's little triumphs nearly enough- we often wait for holidays to do that.  We take for granted the little things in life that are missed the most when they're gone.  For all of the little achievements and big successes you've worked hard for this year, give yourself a pat on the back.  You earned it.  Celebrate.  

I want to share a little paragraph from one of my favorite books that really resonates with me. I am hopeful that any sadness, loneliness or problems you may be facing this Holiday can be overcome by a simple mind shift.  Everything changed for me once I started to make decisions and live according to this understanding:

"Every action taken by human beings is based in love or fear, not simply those dealing with relationships.  Decisions affecting business, industry, politics, religion, the education of our young, the social agenda of your nations, the economic goals of your society, choices involving war, peace, attack, defense, aggression, submission, determinations to covet or give away, to save or to share, to unite or divide- every single free choice you ever undertake arises out of one of the only two possible thoughts there are: a thought of love or a thought of fear." -NDW

We make our choices out of only two emotional feelings: either fear or love, and the definitions of the two words are not what our English dictionary limits us to.  Love is the energy that reveals, opens up, shares, heals, expands and connects us all.  Fear the energy that closes us down, draws us in, runs, hides, hoards and harms.  All of our decisions are made out of one or the other, and nothing in between.

This Holiday Season, I hope you will share more love, and remember why we should be celebrating.  Be conscious of decisions you're making out of fear.  Remember how to really connect deeply with old and new friends, share everything you have, heal a broken heart, help those less fortunate to realize their opportunity, offer the greatest gift you can give: your time.  Do this and I promise you won't be disappointed this Holiday. 

Sending all my love this Holiday!

Cheers,
Valerie






November 4, 2013

Posting Etiquette for the "ME" Generation

It used to be "keeping up with the Joneses", now it's keeping up with and out-doing your 3,000 friends online. Posting, sharing, streaming, following and uploading everything we do is about is as second nature as brushing your teeth.  Anyone under 30 knows that iPhones are now a part of table settings and Instagram breaks are an understood, undisputed part of both work and time with friends.  We view our world through the lens of our camera phones and social media. 

I  think one of the beautiful things about connecting via our online networks is that we can and should be able to share whatever we want- even if it's only the "Kodak" moments.  Sharing the highlights and keeping in touch with friends and family is certainly the primary use of our Facebook, but how do we know when we are sharing too much? And importantly, who can we trust to give us an intervention on sharing etiquette if we need it? 

My generation (already known for being entitled and self-absorbed) took the lead on using social media as the perfect vehicle for over-doing the self-promotion.   And then, somewhere around the time Instagram became popular a couple years ago, everyone could take a great photo and "selfies" started to take over.  I know people who have taken literally hundreds of selfies (and that doesn't include the 20 out-takes per photo that didn't make the cut).

Scary enough, I am almost numb to the shock value of the over-sharing of some people's posts. I have a lot of model friends on Facebook and they never hesitate to post a topless or nearly nude photo of themselves.  A while ago, an older gentleman sitting next to me on an airplane did a double-take at my phone once as I was thumbing through my Facebook feed before we took off. It was embarrassing- I think he thought I was looking at something way raunchier than my Facebook. I put the phone away, limited their posts from my newsfeed and now only check Twitter before take-off and someone is sitting next to me.