Skirts are for Girls- how to play in the dirt and still feel pretty.

90380070In honor of Women’s History month I thought it would be appropriate to talk about an amazing pioneer.  I had the honor of speaking with Nicole De Boom, CEO of a company based in Boulder called Skirt Sports.  I interviewed Nicole for GEM Radio and most of what we talked about was her product- the running skirt.  De Boom has a long history in competitive sports, even making it pro in the triathlon.  Her skirt was developed as a way for her to feel pretty during arduous training and competition.

As an owner of a Skirt Sports running skirts, I will attest to the usability.  I have run in skirts from better known brands with larger marketing dollars- but will stand my belief in the fact that this product is by far the best and most comfortable running skirt out there.  It doesn’t ride up, and the length is perfect.  And please be aware that this is a completely unsolicited endorsement!  I just love the skirt (and other athletic clothing available) and I love that the company was started by a female athlete doing something she is passionate about!

I love Nicole’s story.  As a somewhat competitive athlete myself, (I honestly laugh at myself even saying that because I only race…  but don’t really compete because I am never fast enough at anything to put myself in that category) I have often found myself feeling less than “pretty” during my training.  Whether it has been marathon training, triathlon training, or just going for a hike, the workout clothes have never really been geared towards that feminine mystique.  Although I am not what one would call a “girly girl”, I love to be feminine.

I do believe there is a difference between the two.  It’s okay to celebrate femininity in all aspects of our lives.  It’s okay to dabble in pink, without the connotation of “I am not a pink girl”.  Funny how a color lends itself to such criticism.  I guess it goes back to our gender bias and desire to buck the trend of who society thinks we are and should be, rather than who we are.

Defined by a color.  Are you a purple girl?  Red?  Whatever your color- somehow it’s a connection to your own femininity.  There is nothing wrong with identifying with that.  For everyone it’s different.  Femininity and our connections to it are so deeply personal.

And of course in girl world, up for a great deal of scrutiny.  Long or short hair, skirts or pants, pink or black.  Girl world is vicious and as we grow older learn how to navigate it somewhat diplomatically, but it never really gets nicer or easier.  How we define ourselves theoretically should be in the eye of the beholder, but we all know deep down it’s not.

There is always that girl whose legs you wish you had.  Whose hair, whose style, whose body, whose sense of humor, whose athletic ability, even confidence.  There is always that person with whom you are compared (only by yourself of course).  That person who somehow defines something you are not.

I have a very vivid memory of my young girlhood.  I was in Pre-K at Graland Country Day School in Denver.  It was picture day.  I was not that little girl who loved to wear dresses.  I was a pants, play in the dirt girl all the way.  On picture day, my mother dressed me up in a beautiful light blue dress with white collar and light blue initials down the front tie looking thing.  She tied my hair half up with a red ribbon.

At first I hated it.  YUCK!  A dress!  But then I realized that just because I was wearing a dress did not mean that I couldn’t play in the sandbox the way I always had, and dove in to get just as dirty as I would have, had I been wearing pants.

In fact, the dress was even better because I stood up and the sand fell out instead of in.  And, somewhere inside, I secretly enjoyed all of the compliments I received about how pretty I looked that day.  It never seemed to happen when I was wearing pants.

Pretty somehow goes with skirts and dresses.  Which takes me back to Nicole DeBoom and Skirt Sports.  She got the formula right!  Without even knowing it consciously- she got it right.  Give a girl who prefers to get dirty a skirt- and BOOM- it’s a winning combination.

We get to have all of the fun without losing our perceived femininity.  We get to train for our athletics and see glimpses of ourselves in windows looking “pretty”.  We get to play hard, rough and dirty; we get to sweat and get stinky all while wearing a SKIRT!!!

My inner 5 year old is shouting from the sandbox high-fiving all the way.

(This is a completely unsolicited article about Skirt Sports.  I was so inspired by what Nicole DeBoom has accomplished I felt compelled to write about it.  But- for your sake, check it out at http://www.skirtsports.com)

To listen to Nicole’s interview on GEM Radio, tune in to KSKE (101.7- Ski Country) @ 8AM, or KKCH (95.3- The Lift FM) @ 4PM on Saturday April 5th.

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Black and White

How Nostalgia Should Teach us to Embrace Today

jogger.1Okay, I admit… I am obsessed with nostalgia.  While I love progress and the wonders of technology, I can’t help but think that they have not changed our culture for the better.  I long for poodle skirts and soda fountains.  I long for jazz clubs and juke joints.

Albeit the romanticized versions of these eras.  I would never have wanted to actually live during such socially oppressive times, but the romantic movie versions seem so simple.  So cool.

The obsession doesn’t just link to the days of old.  In fact, it’s as close to us as the 80’s.  I have a nostalgic obsession with the music of that grand decade.  I was what they call a “waver”.  I loved New Wave music that started with my introduction to PIL and the Meat Puppets in 6th Grade.  Okay, yes- that skews a bit more punk rock, but it can all blend into the New Wave genre for the sake of argument.

80’s New Wave was music like no other.  The Cure.  Depeche Mode.  Flock of Seagulls.  Thompson Twins.  New Order.  Psychedelic Furs.  R.E.M. changed my life.  I will never forget hearing R.E.M. for the first time in front of my house sitting in my friend’s car.  It was that moment in life that something changes in you.  Something makes you so much more acutely aware of the world around you.  Colors change, perspective changes, it is that moment you know that music has a hold of your soul and will never let it go.

It could have been the fact that I was secretly in love with the young chap who was diving, but that crush remained unrequited.  My love of music did not.  The music moved me.  (And no, it was not drugs.)  But speaking of drugs, it was later that same year that I got high for the first time.  At 14, I started young.  All I wanted to do was listen to Pink Floyd The Wall.  I had heard so much about listening to this music high.

I AM COMFORTABLY NUMB

And since it was the first time I had smoked pot I didn’t know what to expect.  But once I was in it I discovered why they called it “getting high”.  We listened to Pink Floyd in my friend Mike’s older brother Bill’s room.  Mike was dating my girlfriend Angie and I was along for the ride.  Mike and Bill lived in a gigantic house.  We were tucked away in the room listening to “Comfortably Numb” and I felt like I was floating on top of the world.  Literally.  The music (in partnership with the marijuana) made me feel like I was high above the ground floating in and out of the beats, following the measures.  I was the lyrics.  I was The Wall.  I was high!

But I digress.  The point is, music.  I was listening to XM’s 1st wave the other day.  The song “Don’t Put Another Dime in the Juke Box” by The Flirts came on. My kids asked, “mommy, why do they keep saying not to put a dime in the juice box?”  Hmmm. Then, I tried explaining what a juke box was and there I was, reminiscing about the olden days.

I talked about what a Juke Box is, and tried explaining the origin of the Juke joint, and that got totally lost on the 5 and 8 year old brain. No concept of anything I was talking about at all.  I then went on, not taking a clue from the previous failure and explained that it used to cost a dime to play music.  Now it probably costs about $3 and I am not even sure if a real jukebox exists anywhere they would know.  Not the playlist on iTunes.

THE AGE OF AQUARIUS?

Then my oldest son asked why I always talk about things that are so old?   And why things cost so much more now? I began uttering the word inflation and stopped immediately.  Fool me once kind of thing…  you know?

I am grateful for movies that bring these eras to life.  Call it a love for history, or an obsession with nostalgia.  I am not certain the difference.  I know that there are times in the past that I am hugely curious about.

Give me anything gangster- movie or book, and I am completely entrenched.  The Untouchables is one of my all time favorites, in conjunction with an amazing book called Tough Jews: Fathers, Sons and Gangster Dreams by Rich Cohen.  The book was about the rise of the Jewish gangsters Bugsy Siegel (also the movie Bugsy), Meyer Lansky, Louis Lepke who was the founder of Murder, Inc. and more.

And while there is absolutely nothing glamorous about the mob, there is something scintillating about an era that was about immigration, business, turf wars, massive government corruption, prohibition, tax evasion, and Jimmy Hoffa.

POODLE SKIRTS AND SODA FOUNTAINS

But somehow the past always seems just a little bit better than today.  There is something about it that is romanticized.  Let’s be honest- would you have really wanted to live on the prairie in Walnut Grove?  A house with no electricity?  A blind sister?  No, but man did the Ingalls’ make it look awesome!

We lived through it once.  And while we lived through it, we never thought- “one day I am going to look back on this and remember it for all of the good.”  Living through the history is probably never as good as the fantasy that nostalgia leads us to believe.

Because isn’t that what nostalgia really is?  A connection to a time and place that aren’t real.  A connection to the past that only partially existed?  I know that the 80’s were not a particularly favorable time in my life.  I went through puberty and high school.  While my memories of those times are not terrible, it is not as though I long for them.  Yet, something about the music, or watching The Breakfast Club brings me back to a time that seemed much simpler somehow.

Perhaps that is because it is connected to childhood, and life as a child is far simpler than life as an adult.  Nostalgia is really just that deep connection to our childhoods.  A time of self-discovery and innocence. A time when there really are no cares.

And that is it.  We all have such deep needs to connect with those simpler times because they meant something to us.

So, maybe we should try to live everyday like we did, and our nostalgia would turn into our reality. Embracing Lady Gaga or Daft Punk because to some teenager these are the bands that are changing the way they connect with music.  To some teenager, this is the music that they will fondly remember as the soundtrack to their bigger moments.

We need to learn to connect with the today because in a few years we will be remembering it fondly.

To the future-

GEM

 

Zen and the Art of Dancing

86544763How dancing helps you live in the moment.  

There is nothing more amazing than watching little kids dance.  They are unabashedly enjoying the movement of their bodies in rhythm to whatever music is moving them at that moment.  No care, no inhibition, just pure connection.  Connection to their bodies and to the music.  They are not really worried about what other people think, or how they look.  I will venture to say that my 5-year old takes the cake in this department. He is wonderful to witness in this purity.

It doesn’t matter how he is dressed (usually he is not once he comes home from school), or what the music is.  He will dance to anything. He is unabashedly into the groove.  And as often as possible, I will groove with him.

Dancing is one of my favorite past times.  We break out into impromptu dance parties in my house very often.  Bhangra or Beat Box, Hip-Hop or Happy Birthday, dancing in my house is almost a requirement.  No matter how you feel before going in, you always come out feeling a weight lifted off your shoulders.  Dancing makes life better in every way.

“DANCE LIKE NO ONE’S WATCHING”

Watching children dance makes life absolutely complete.

There is something so special in the way they absolutely 100% do not give a shit.  Watch them as the move.  They don’t care what they look like, if they have good rhythm or even if they move in time to the music.  They are the purest of pure in that moment and they are beautiful.

So what changes in us?  When is it that we get so embarrassed about ourselves.  So aware of our inadequacies that we stop dancing.  We go from being the truest forms of ourselves to the most inhibited ashamed forms of ourselves within a very short time.  It’s not just with dancing either.  It’s everything.  Somewhere along the way, we lose our ability to be free.

“FREEDOM, FREEDOM, FREEDOM…” 

I remember a few years ago my girlfriend’s daughter and her friend were running around our neighborhood in their bikinis.  I couldn’t help but think, wow!  I would never do that.  Look at how much fun these little girls are having, and not even remotely thinking about what their bodies look like.  (Thank goodness!  They were 7.) They were just playing.

When we are kids we are desperate to get older.  But when we are older, we are desperate to have those things we so desired losing.  Like naps, or the ability to bend like a pretzel.  The way that kids can bounce back from a night or 2 without sleep and be just fine.  Mostly, we lose the ability to experience pure joy from nothing that significant.  We lose the ability to play.

Play.  That is a word that means so many different things to so many different people.  The actual definition of Play is “to engage in activity for enjoyment and recreation rather than a serious or practical purpose.”  Lucky for us living here in the mountains, we have so many fun things available.  Perhaps that is why we chose to live here.  It is so easy to play every day.

But how often do we allow ourselves to be in the place to experience the joy that comes with what we do?  The joy of being in that moment at that moment. “Zen and the art of learning from children.”

“YESTERDAY IS HISTORY, TOMORROW A MYSTERY, TODAY IS A GIFT.  THAT IS WHY THEY CALL IT THE PRESENT”

There are so many theories and philosophies surrounding the concept of living in the moment.  Proof that it can make you happier.  Websites dedicated to tips about it.  Songs written about the idea of just being in the here and now.  Isn’t being present in the moment, by nature; going to make you a happier person?  Even if that moment is not a great moment, all moments are fleeting. We move from one moment to the next moment and learn that everything is finite.

Children are great teachers.  I absolutely love spending time with them.  Children are some of my favorite people in the world.  Not just my children, I genuinely love the ones that I am privileged to hang out with.   They are full of life and lessons.  They always force me to look in the mirror and recognize when I am falling out of line.  They remind me when I am not present.

In a world that goes whizzing by at speeds of unknown proportions, I believe it is so important to stop.  Life gets crazy and moves by in a blink.  We lose people we love all the time.  It is so easy to get caught up in the realities of everyday life.  Paying bills, work, what’s for dinner.  You know the drill.  I am not telling you anything you don’t already know.  But the next time your life is getting overwhelming on the outside, turn up your music really loud, grab a kid and watch them dance.

There is no way you won’t show up to that dance party.  And while you are there, enjoy the moment.  Because when you are dancing, all you can think about is the way that music is making you feel.  When you dance, you just are!

Namaste

GEM

Please feel free to share this, and stay tuned for next week’s musings on life from GEM.

 

 

 

 

Food Glorious Food

178702830HOW DO WE EAT WELL AND NOT COMPROMISE?

I have issues.  I know, I know, no big surprise here.  And if you know me, you know that they run deep.  I try really hard to not be too high maintenance about them, but inevitably I am afraid I am.  I don’t mean to be. It just happens.  In fact, someone who had a meal with me decided that the best nickname for me would be “Sally”.  You know, from When Harry Met Sally.  If you need a refresher there is a great video clip.  I swear, it’s me!

I don’t know where my food issues came from but they started when I was 12 years old at my cousin’s wedding.  I guess I had too much time in my own head during the toasts which at 12 meant nothing to me.  All I really remember is the giant turkey.  I watched and watched and watched during what seemed to me endless hours of meaningless conversation.  All I could think about was that it once had feathers, and used to be alive and that it’s head had been chopped off.  It had been butchered.  And right then and there I swore I would never eat meat again for as along as I live.  I took it to the extreme (who doesn’t as a teenager) and didn’t wear leather (great for the pocket book- hello Payless shoes), didn’t use ANY products that were tested on animals (throw away any and all of your Gillette) and eventually even became a vegan.  That’s right- no animal products for three years.  I did relish the day that pizza became one of my four main food groups.  It was college after-all.

During all of this time what really ended up occurring was that I developed a huge understanding and appreciation for where my food actually came from.  It was hard not to at least give it some thought during the year and a half that I lived on a working farm in college.  Amherst, MA (home to my alma mater) is actually quite rural and very agriculturally based.  In fact, the University of Massachusetts has a school dedicated to agriculture and sustainability in it’s Stockbridge School of Agriculture.  Farms were everywhere, as were farm stands that were manned by the honor system, back in the day when farm fresh cost less than the grocery store.  Speaking of a grocery store, there was even Bread and Circus which was similar to Whole Foods long before Whole Foods was cool. A small batch store featuring local and organic goods.  It was an evolving world of food that was still food.

“CH..CH..CH..CHANGES”

Not to say that I grew up pure.  Although we had a huge garden in my backyard growing up, I distinctly remember eating and loving one of my all time favorites-  Pasta Meals.  Remember them?  A pasta meal in a jar?  My friend Melonie and I practically lived on those things during our freshman year of high school.

But food has always been something that I have thought a lot about.  I have always been very aware of what I was putting in my body.  Maybe that is just growing up girl, or maybe that is just me.  But food has been on the forefront of my mind for a long time.  And it is now on the forefront more than ever.

In raising my two boys, I try desperately to not make my food issues theirs.  My husband’s family has a ranch that houses cows for slaughter.  And while I will never eat that meat, I am happy that my kids can.  We know where it came from, how it was raised and sometimes even its name.  They don’t need to be vegetarians.  But they do need to eat real food.  It has been a long and arduous course in food education for my husband and happily, he is finally on the bandwagon.  He is pretty head strong and far be it from me to be the one to make him change his ways.  For years and years I insisted that dairy is not a necessary component of our diets.  I mean, what other species on the planet actually drinks another’s milk?  I fought him pretty hard until one day he came home and told me that he and his colleague were talking about how bad dairy is for people and his family only drinks almond milk.  And guess what- ever since then, milk has not made it’s way into our refrigerator again.  I guess it doesn’t matter how you win the battle as long as you win…

He has also come a long way in understanding the importance of eating organic.  And while it may cost more (which is another article in its entirety) it is more worth it.  We are what we eat and I truly believe that medicine is food and food is medicine.  If we are poisoning our bodies with chemicals every day, it gets tough for our bodies to fight off real disease when it is working so hard just to clean and process our food.  Not to mention, organic foods are virtually guaranteed to be non-GMO (Genetically Modified Organisms).  There is a ton of information available about the facts and myths of GMO’s and I highly advise everyone to read up on this issue.  It is a very important issue. But between the GMO’s and the food dye’s I don’t know what matters more.

“YOU ARE WHAT YOU EAT”

As I mentioned, raising two boys has made me so much more aware of the poor choices of food we have.  Valentine’s Day.  I swear this holiday is soon going to trump Halloween in the amount of candy ingested.  Maybe it has already.  And the candy that these kids are putting into their little growing bodies is absolutely sickening.  Ever wonder about those little conversation hearts?

This is the list of ingredients broken out into what it is and what it does:

Sugar Sugar
Dextrose Sugar
Corn Syrup Sugar
Modified Food Starch (Corn) Thickening agent (the origin is impossible to know and the corn most certainly GMO)

 

Cornstarch Another thickening agent (also not organic so very likely GMO corn)

 

Glycerin A natural by-product that comes from soap

 

Gelatin A solid substance derived from animal by-products

 

Natural and Artificial Flavors Who knows what these may be.  There are no requirements demanding that these are spelled out

 

Red 3 Recognized in 1990 by the FDA as a thyroid carcinogen in animals and is banned in cosmetics and externally applied drugs.

 

Yellow 5 Causes sometimes-severe hypersensitivity reactions and might trigger hyperactivity and other behavioral effects in children

 

Yellow 6 Caused adrenal tumors in animals and occasionally causes severe hypersensitivity reactions
Blue 1 An unpublished study suggested the possibility that Blue 1 caused kidney tumors in mice

 

Red 40 It may accelerate the appearance of immune system tumors in mice. It also causes hypersensitivity (allergy-like) reactions in some consumers and might trigger hyperactivity in children
Soy Lecithin Soybean oil extract (also GMO as 94% of the US soybean crop is GMO)

 

Now, doesn’t that give XXOO a whole new meaning??

There is a report that recently came out discussing 11 foods that we eat that have been banned in Europe.  These are as follows:

  • Blue #1 and Blue #2 (we’ve discussed the food dyes)
  • Yellow #5 and Yellow #6
  • Red 40
  • Brominated Vegetable oil- A synthetic chemical used as a flame retardant found in most sodas
  • Azodicarbonamide- a plastic chemical found in yoga mats and rubber shoe soles
  • Potassium Bromate (bromated flour)- strengthens dough and has been linked to cancer in animals
  • Olestra (olean)- a fat substitute that interferes with your bodies ability to naturally digest nutrients
  • BHA/ BHT reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen
  • rBGH/ rBST- increases not only production of milk in cattle, but also many different types of diseases and side effects, warranting more antibiotics to treat.
  • Arsenic- a deadly poison

How can this be?  How can we continue to be okay with this stuff being in our food?

I had a major victory the other day when my son called and told me that they were going to get snacks and they promise they would get ones with no food dye.  Hooray.  I have to take the little victories all the while keeping in perspective that they are children.  And as I mentioned, I don’t want to pass on my food issues to my children.  I truly love hearing my children ask, “is this junk food mommy?  If it is, I don’t want it because I want to be healthy.”  The little inner cheerleader does splits and cartwheels with her pom-poms!

It is so difficult in this new world of corporate food conglomerates and Whole Food prices to eat well, but I will continue to ascertain that you are what you eat.  I would rather spend money on good, natural, organic food than a great pair of shoes (although it would be a tough sacrifice).  And if my kids glean anything from me, it’s that we need to be aware of where our food comes from and respect that it is of this earth, and if you don’t know what the ingredients are in your food, you probably don’t need to eat it.  And somehow I need to figure out a way to find the happy medium and balance.  Every time my kids bring home candy or eat cake with bright blue frosting, I cringe.  But maybe we need to stand up and be more like our European brethren and say this is not okay.  We need to change our own thoughts about food.  And it will take time.  But at least my family is getting there one kale chip at a time.

Yours in health,

Valley Girl

Some great resources for learning more (but this doesn’t even scratch the surface):

http://www.nongmoproject.org/

http://www.nongmoproject.org/wp-content/uploads/2010/08/GMO_Myths_and_Truths_1.31.pdf

http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/02/24/usda-gmo-report-idUSL1N0LT16M20140224

Please feel free to pass this along and stay tuned for next week’s musings.

Dreams

BLQ-buddha-you-are-what-you-think-shape-thoughts-Choose-positive-thoughts-for-blog-300x300May All of Your Dreams Come True

The Olympics are inspiring!  My family and I have been watching them religiously (even watching what we have already seen because they are being recorded).  I am amazed by these athletes who have dedicated so much time and energy to their respective crafts.  These are the best of the best.  The elite.  And as we all know, their success and their glory did not come without a price.  They haven’t always been winners.  They haven’t always been the best.  And even now once they achieve Olympic status, they are still not all of those things.  There is still only one gold medal, one silver medal and one bronze medal to be spread around fields of much larger numbers.

Why am I talking about this?  My son is a recreational ski racer.  I say that because he is a part of a ski race league called the Buddy Werner League.  And while we live in Vail and we have access to Ski and Snowboard Club Vail (which has churned out many Olympians) my son is not interested in only focusing on racing.  He loves to be able to ski most of the day and spend some of the day running gates.  So, I deem him a recreational racer.  However, what I have learned about him through his racing is that he may be a recreational racer, but he is a fierce competitor.  He wants to win.  And he is good enough to win.  He has podiumed in two of the three races he has competed.  And the third race is the one he will remember forever.  The race in which he did not get on the podium and walked away medal-less.  That is the day he cried out of a frustration so pure I honestly did not have the words to help him feel better.  He cried for a little while (and far be it from me to not allow my little boy to cry!  I applaud his emotion!!) and felt sorry for himself, but mostly he felt the shattering reality that every single competitive athlete has felt.  That is why we hear “the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat”.

Granted, he is 8 and has a long way to go in his quest for medals.  And next year, he moves to the top of his age category and will kill it.  But for now, he is a disappointed kid who bested his time and worked his very hardest to at least make it on to the podium and didn’t.  This is real.  At least I was able to tell him that I know how he feels.  I have trained for 2 marathons, completed one official and one unofficial.  The unofficial was the Run Anyway NYC Marathon in 2012.  I worked and worked and worked to get there only to have the race cancelled 2 days before.  I melted into a puddle of tears.  Not because I felt the decision was wrong but because of everything that went into getting me to that point in the first place.  The second was the Chicago marathon in 2013.  Again, I worked and worked and worked.  I felt better and more prepared than I had for New York.  I had my eye on the besting my time in NYC of three-hours and fifty-five seconds.  And it was a flat course and an easy course and I had prepared hard.  At mile 5- my calves seized so greatly that I tore them because I continued to run the race.  And I was in tears for the next 21 miles.  Not because of the pain.  That was actually excruciating.  A pain greater than birthing my two children.  No exaggeration!  That was not what the tears were all about.  Okay, maybe a part of the tears were the pain but the pain was mostly emotional.  I had 21 miles to feel sorry for myself, be angry at the situation, question why this shit always happens to me?  Feel the absolute crushing blow of disappointment.   THE ABSOLUTE CRUSHING BLOW OF DISAPPOINTMENT.  And hearing people congratulating me for finishing in spite of what happened didn’t take that feeling away.  There really was nothing that anyone could say that would have made me feel better at that moment.  And who knew that my experience would come in handy to help my son through something so hard for him.  I had a way to relate something to him that actually helped him feel better.

“All our dreams come true if we have the courage to pursue them”- Walt Disney

We have spent many hours discussing the race and his lack of perceived success.  I keep pointing out the positives in that he did better than he did in the last two races, his age group is also getting better as he is, etc…  the typical mom fodder.  But what I am the most impressed with is this desire to achieve.  To complete a goal and fulfill a dream. A dream to make it to the state championships.   I am unsure if he will go.   He has a good shot, but I don’t know if it’s a great shot.  Regardless of that, it is a dream.  And I am proud of him that he has one and that he has focused on something that he wants to achieve.  And whether he makes it or not, he tried really hard to get there.

And back to the Olympics- it is so inspiring seeing these athletes go for the gold.  Literally and figuratively.  Achieve a dream.  Somewhere along the line someone believed in these people enough to help them believe in themselves enough to go all the way.  And maybe that is the difference in those that succeed in achieving their dreams and those that don’t.  A belief in themselves that they can do it.

There is a saying “Fake it ’til you make it”.  And maybe that’s the key.  If we feign confidence, people may believe that we actually have what it takes even if deep down inside you are scared shitless of failure.  There is also another great quote- “You are what you think”…  Perhaps this is the better of the two.  If we think we are winners, we will be winners.  If we believe in ourselves enough to achieve our dreams, we will.  And our dreams don’t have to just be of the athletic kind.  Our dreams come in all shapes and sizes, and everyone has them.  But not everyone goes after them, even though they should. Life is short right?!?  So why not go for the gold in all aspects of our lives.  Work, love, sports…  They all matter.  But something stops most of us from going for the brass ring.  Why are we so afraid of failure?  Because even if we don’t get to where we thought we wanted to go, usually we end up where we need to be.

So, during the Olympics, let’s maybe spend some time reflecting on our own hopes and dreams.  On our own goals and use these amazing athletes as inspiration.  Search our own fears and try to let go of what stops us all from moving towards our true inspiration.  You will never know what you miss unless you try!

In luck and love-

Valley Girl

Please feel free to share this!!  And stay tuned for more musings from Valley Girl next week.

Enough is Enough

IMG_1635What is it about us women?  I often wonder why it is that we are so hard on ourselves.  We are somehow programmed to do it all.  Be the best at what we do and be the best at ALL we do.  Mother, sister, wife, friend… whichever role it is, we put pressure on ourselves to handle it all with grace and strength.  So why do we add to the pressure of our every day lives by looking at ourselves in the mirror with a critical eye?  I always hear, “everyone has something about themselves they would like to change.”  Botox, plastic surgery, expensive face creams.  The list goes on in regards to what we have at our finger-tips to change the way we look.   And while I agree that feeling good about your physical appearance helps us feel better on the outside, it certainly does not take away the problems on the inside.

I was hiking up Arrowhead mountain the other morning with my favorite four-legged hiking partner Castro.  For those of you who don’t know, Arrowhead is a beautiful mountain that is frequented by uphill travelers.  The climb is approximately 2,000 vertical feet and kicks your butt each and every time you climb.  When I am out on these hikes, I spend a lot of time in my head.  I thought about how lucky I am to live in a place where women see themselves differently.  We don’t have a lot of girls here that are focused on being the skinniest.  Or wearing the smallest sized shorts.  The women here are fit and driven by how hard they can push their bodies physically.

We hike, we ski, we bike, we swim, we kayak, we raft, we snowboard, we run.  We are mountain girls.  I remember talking to the owner of the aptly named Valley Girl Boutique.  She told me that it was a struggle for her to find jeans that fit that active girl (translation, those of us with ample booties).  But we have muscle in that area and a lot of the girls here need that extra space.  The athletic woman does not fit in clothes the same way the super-model will.  We have bigger shoulders, bigger thighs, bigger arms.  But bigger because they are full of muscle and vitality.  Bigger because of the miles they have racked up.

And up until recently, I felt that we were above being victims to media about our looks.  But then it dawned on me.  We are not.  Although we live in a place that breeds healthy behavior,  we as women still fall prey to our inner demons that somehow find a way to hate the way we look.  The mask is different, but the core is the same.  We still look at ourselves and wish “I had more muscular legs”, or “stronger arms”, or a “smaller butt” or “more ripped abs”.  Although we use our bodies every day for our sports of choice, we still find a way to think that we are not enough just as we are.

I had seen a video by Jean Kilbourne in college called “Killing Us Softly”.   The video left a deep impression on me and changed the way I forever viewed ad campaigns.    To my surprise, recently surfaced on Facebook is another video by Ms. Kilbourne.  “Killing Us Softly 4”.  I can’t believe that number 4 is out, and that there is even still something to talk about.  I saw the first video 22 years ago.  And the fact that there is still enough out there to be continuing this discussion blows my mind!  It is so worth the time to watch.  It will astound you.

The video makes you realize why we are so hard on ourselves.  The fact of the matter is, it starts young.  Too young!  I have several friends who are raising daughters and that “fat” is even in their consciousness makes me sick.  Where does it come from?  It is just part of the cultural conversation of women.  We are always telling ourselves that we are not good enough, pretty enough, thin enough, smart enough.  And where I live we are not fast enough, strong enough, tough enough.  We are never enough.

In my activity on You Tube, I also came across a video the other day that showed celebrity Photoshop before and after images.  After looking at this, it is no wonder we never feel good enough.  The women in these pictures are fake.  Yet, we are hammered day in and day out with these images.  Images of fake people with no flaws.  I know, we hear it all the time.  But somehow the collective consciousness of women does not change.  We batter ourselves to be perfect in every way.

So what is the solution to this age-old problem?  Boycott the magazines?  Don’t buy the clothes that support these types of ad campaigns?  Sure- but is it realistic?  It wasn’t until I moved to Brooklyn, NY that I learned to appreciate my butt.  The way that thing had those Brooklyn boys talking was astounding to me.  I literally had someone circling me on a bicycle admiring my back side explaining to me that I “have the nicest ass I have ever seen on a white girl”.   If that doesn’t make you stop and think, I don’t know what will!

And it wasn’t until I was pregnant and having babies that I learned to appreciate my hips.  My body was made for carrying children and did it well.  Despite my kids both being born early, I had no complications with either pregnancy.  These hips could hack it!

How do we learn to love ourselves?  See ourselves for the beauty we all possess?  Whether we are 20 or 50?  35 or 75?  Pregnant or athlete?  When are we going to learn that the images we are bombarded with day in and day out are  not representations of who we should or shouldn’t be?  They are made up versions of perfection that can never be attained.  I guess the answer is simple.  Find our inner beauty and know that we are all perfect as we are.  The problem is, the answer is also very cliché and unrealistic.  Until these images stop being the standard of beauty, our inner consciousness will always try to be what we can never be.  We will always want to be more than what we are.  We will never be enough.  Somehow we need to find a way to rise above these unrealistic standards and just be proud of what our bodies achieve every day.  It takes a lot for us to just get out of bed.  Our hearts beat, our brains fire synapses, our muscles twitch, our lungs breath.  Our bodies are truly the finest machines out there.  We need to take the very best of care of these machines and be as good to them as they are to us.  Appreciate the simple things and realize that they are indeed enough!

Be Good To YOU!

Valley Girl

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“We Didn’t Start the Fire”

IMG_1311“Running on Empty”

Sometimes it’s hard to figure out what I want to write.  There is always so much on my mind and throughout each week I find myself jotting down notes about some random thought.  But today as I sit looking out of yet another snowy window, I feel compelled by sadness.  RIP Philip Seymour Hoffman.

I did not know this man personally, but his death has rocked me, and apparently many others around the nation, even world.  Facebook is abuzz about the horrors of addiction, were his actions selfish, heroin is making a comeback.  I am certain this is not the intended posthumous effect Mr. Hoffman was seeking.  It seems that maybe he didn’t know exactly what he was seeking, or perhaps he found it.  We will never know.  What we know is that we lost an amazing actor.  His children lost their father.  His parents lost their son.  He was an amazing fighter.  Sober for more than a decade.  But something took hold and now he is gone.

In a world that is filled with what we humans deem as progress, I am not so sure that we have really evolved into better human beings.  Our machines may be faster, stronger, smaller, louder, but our humanity seems to be deteriorating.  When I was a very young girl I often had very clear visions.  Resembling Billy Joel’s “We Didn’t Start the Fire”.  Frenetic.  A lot going on.  Scary.  I saw myself hovering outside of the earth.  And the earth would spin faster and faster and get more and more crowded and everyone would yell and scream and eat and fight and push and shove and spin faster and faster until I yelled at the very top of my lungs “STOP!!!”

And it did.

The earth would stop spinning so fast and the noise would quiet and there was peace.

I find myself reliving this image over and over.  At what point are we going to take a step back and just STOP?  We are our own worst enemies.  And while our life expectancy is increasing, it is short-sided for us to think that we are immune.  History repeats itself does it not?  Animals become extinct.  Either we are going to pollute the air enough to speed the global warming process and kill our natural resources, or we will kill each other.

How did we all get so off track?  As a huge Bronco fan, I was supremely disappointed by the horrible and humbling loss at the Super Bowl.  But, the losers of the game walked away pocketing $49K each.  I don’t feel badly for them.  Not to mention their already multi-million dollar contracts.  And in the end, all they do is provide entertainment.  They are not contributing to the betterment of society (although some players do work in their respective communities).  They are not developing any life saving technologies.  They are playing sports and are making ridiculous sums of money for doing so.  The same goes with actors.  Ridiculous sums of money.  Musicians… I won’t event begin to touch Miley Cyrus and Justin Bieber…  same story.

We are killing more people on the road because of a phenomenon called distracted driving.  Texting and driving.  And I admit- I have been known to send a few.  I can’t lie about that.  But my kids made me put a sticker inside of my car that says “don’t text and drive”.   And they get very upset with me when they see me pick up my phone.  And it is working.  Now, when I do grab the phone to communicate with someone at the very moment that I have a thought (instead of trying to remember it and be in touch with them later) I think about my kids.  And I think about all of the ads about people dying from texting and driving.  And it is working.  I start a text, and put the phone down realizing that nothing is that important to say.  And if I can remember later, when I am off the road I will try again.  But that’s just it.  There is such a need for immediate gratification that we are training our brains to be dumb.  We are dumbing ourselves down through our own progress.  Our own technology that takes brilliant minds to think up, in turn, is making our brains mush.  We can’t remember things long enough to wait to tell someone.  Cell phones have killed any form of real communication between a husband and wife.

“Please Talk to Me”

There was a time that parents had to actually communicate about what was happening in their families lives.  Communicate to each other.  Now, we just go about our busy lives, and call each other during the day to find out what we should make for dinner, or who is picking up whom.

In a world that has criticized drug addiction, which is much more obvious, we fail to recognize our own addiction to progress.  God forbid I should be without my phone for an hour.  I feel naked.  I feel like I am going to miss something very important.  I am addicted.  My kids come home from school and instantly jones for their fix of the iPad, or the phones on which they play games.  (I refuse to get an xBox or Wii…  I absolutely can’t go there).  They are addicted.  How many times have you checked Facebook today??  You are addicted.  And did you do that from your computer?  Or your phone?  Phones are getting bigger (which is an ironic twist because it used to be cool when they were tiny.  Remember that??)  Computers are getting smaller.  Cars are getting faster.  And we are getting dumber.  Our addictions to bigger and better, faster and stronger, keep us from actually living.  Disease is increasing, allergies are changing, kids are getting diseases reserved for adults.  Why?!

Always wanting more is a dangerous thing.  It keeps us from living in the moment.  It makes us envious.  It makes us push ourselves in ways we weren’t meant to push.  There is a yogic belief that everyone is born with a certain number of breaths.  Imagine how many breaths you wasted today while stressing out about whatever it is that stresses you out.  When was the last time you looked up at the sky and watched the clouds move?  It is one of my favorite past times and has been for as long as I can remember.  When was the last time you sat down at a meal with a person who didn’t have their phone? Maybe not on the table, but on.  Somewhere on their person, knowing that it is ringing or dinging or vibrating.  Look around a coffee shop next time you go in- how many people are on their phones? Main-veining information.  Addicted to now.  Addicted to having it this second.  Unaware of the life they are missing that is sitting in front of them.

So, this is my challenge to you.  Your own personal 12-step program:

  1. Turn off your phone (or tablet) when you are in the company of others.
  2. Take a walk outside with your family and hold hands
  3. Play (actually play) with your kids (Sled, play a board game, play tag…)
  4. Look up at the sky for 5 minutes a day and watch the clouds
  5. Remember to slow down and breath.  Don’t waste the breath you have- it is truly a gift.
  6. Have a slumber party with your children.  In the fort they build, or in your bed.  Their cuddles are finite.
  7. Spend time finding out how your parents are.  But truly.  How are they doing in their lives?
  8. Write a letter to a friend and mail it.  Do not use Facebook to communicate.
  9. Enjoy the security and warmth of love.  Take time to really feel what that feels like.
  10. Turn off the TV and stop watching the News.
  11. Read a book with actual pages.  The kind that turn.  Not the kind on your e-reader.
  12. Do something kind for someone else and feel what that does inside.

We are all in this together.  It’s important that we slow down and help each other through our addictions.  It is really true that life is short.  We need to enjoy it.  So, who’s ready to check out and move with me to the beach?!?!

Yours in recovery,

Valley Girl

Please feel free to share this if you like it!!  Stay tuned for next week’s musings on life.