Do I have time for a selfie?

New Yorkers love themselves ... who can blame them?

The selfie phenomenon.

All the way from Istanbul, to Buenos Aires, to one horse towns and villages all over the world. It’s here. And it’s here to stay.

From the young to the elderly, from blue-collar workers to the Commander-in-Chief.
The selfie taking practice is being embraced by all. So much in fact, we can’t but wonder if it confirms we’re a narcissistic society.

Looking over my son’s shoulder as he browsed through Facebook this morning, I couldn’t help noticing the dozens of selfies of his young friends. Young women, in an array of poses, ranging all the way from the “head cocked to the side” position, to the “OMG, is this still going on?” duck lips.

Later today, just seconds after I posted my own selfie to Instagram, I pondered the reasons that motivate us to share our mug with, for the most part, strangers.

Do we do it as a way of recruiting external validation, or does vanity propel us to use the selfie to document our beauty?

Were these selfies to be unedited and “au naturel,” perhaps the subject wouldn’t bother me.

Yet, looking at my own Instagram selfie, edited with various filters and a blur effect, I realize we aren’t presenting our “true” selves to the world.

The selfie appears to be another way to conform to society’s definition of beauty; one whose sad message is that you’re only beautiful if you look a certain way.

“Not everything is motivated by the evils of society, mom,” chided the Son when I broached the subject at the dinner table. “Sometimes,” he said, “a selfie is just a selfie.”

But is it? Thinking back to the heavily edited selfies I saw this morning, I’m not so sure.

In all fairness, I’m certain there are those who take selfies for the sake of documenting a bad hair day. Others might take them to evidence what they look like at a certain age.

Yet the fact that so many of us partake in the selfie phenomenon raises the question of, do we need others to tell us we’re beautiful?

And that makes me sad.

Sad because, even words like “You’re beautiful,” aren’t going to help if we don’t believe it ourselves.

Sad because we may always depend on someone to validate us.

Sad because we are placing so much importance on physicality and so little on what truly establishes our worth.

Sad because the majority of selfies aren’t true representations of what we really look like.

Sad because in hiding behind an edited selfie, we fail to show the world our true beauty, complete with enlarged pores and imperfections.

We may not be able to stop the selfie phenomenon, but we can refuse to play by the rules of peers, society, and our own insecurities.

We can turn the selfie on its head and instead, use it as a tool to affirm, “This is me. This is what I truly look like and I am beautiful.”

Inspired by my sister, who posted a selfie of her beautiful, unedited self on Facebook, I took a selfie tonight.

No make up.
No edits.
Just me.

Join me in the effort to turn this phenomenon into something positive by posting your own beautiful unedited selfie.

Let us effect positive change in how the world defines beauty.

Show the world the beauty that is you!

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XOXO,

Note: If you post a selfie, please leave a link in the comments section so other readers can see it.

I would love it if you followed me on Instagram. You can do so by clicking on this link or the icon located on the sidebar!

Shall we fight or flee?

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This afternoon, as the Son and I patiently waited to get on the bus, we witnessed two women almost come to blows over who got on first.

I know I should have taken advantage of the situation and turned it into a teaching moment (forget the fact that the Son turns 23 this year) but instead, the words that came out of my mouth were: I was in a fight once.

The year was 1970 something.

It was a time when Mary Jane platforms and bell bottoms were all the rage.

It was also a time when fighting after school was a way of life.

Every day, my sister and I would go to school fearing it would be “our turn.”

Like candidates coming of age in the Hunger Games, we would fearfully approach the playground, all the while praying no one would “call us out.”

Calling out: The act of being singled out to fight.

Tentatively, we would walk toward the monkey bars, careful not to make eye contact with any of the bullies, and climb the metal bars that also filled us with dread.

Nevertheless, the fear of being a “callee,” far exceeded the fear of breaking a limb.

Day after day, a fight would take place after school; the result of someone having been “called out.”

And day after day, we’d quickly walk past the sanguine crowd that gathered to witness the fight.

Like Brad Pitt and Edward Norton, two contenders would duke it out until a victor was crowned.

Participation didn’t involve bravery, skill, or cunning.
It simply involved the will and determination to be the last one standing.

Not an easy feat for a nine-year old, but these were the 70s, a time when these “clandestine” activities were ignored by the administration.

One afternoon, as I made my way to my sister’s classroom, I heard the whispering.

Seeing my sister’s face, I knew she had won the lottery of being called out.

“Who?” I asked her.
“Russell,” she whispered.
I couldn’t stifle my horrified gasp.

Russell was one of the meanest kids in school and his winning record was attributed to his considerable girth.

We slowly made our way to the playground, unable to escape the murmurs of “It’s her. Russell called her out.”

I thought of going to the Principal’s office to alert him of the carnage that would soon take place. But my sister wouldn’t allow it.

“If I don’t do this, I’ll have a target on my back until we finish elementary school.”

Sadly, I knew she spoke the truth.

Timidly approaching the playground, my sister was unprepared for Russell’s formidable pounce.

Like an overweight panther, he leaped out and circled her.
Preparing to come in for the kill, he cracked his knuckles.

His side kick, a scrawny boy with greasy hair named Tim Finch, egged the crowd on.

“Fight, fight, fight!”

As the crowd got larger, I became more nervous.

Russell, unperturbed by the noise, lunged again.

Artfully dodging his punch, my sister ran.

And that’s when I saw Tim Finch do something I’m sure he’s regretted to this day–he pulled my sister’s hair.

I saw her delicate features flinch in pain.

Throwing my book bag on the ground, I rolled up my sleeves.

I quickly approached the fight circle.

Russell and Tim were about to discover the power of team work.

Giving me a “thumbs up,” my sister threw her small body against Russell’s belly.

He quickly recovered and grabbed her head.

She kicked him in the shin.

I kneed Tim Finch in the stomach, and like a rabid monkey, jumped on Russell’s back.

Russell spun wildly, attempting to dislodge my arms which were tightly wound around his thick neck.

In the meantime, my sister took hold of his shirt collar and gave it a hard yank.

Within seconds, Russell’s shirt had ripped top to bottom, leaving him exposed to the crowd of instigators.

Silence filled the playground.

Russell, looking down at his bare torso, attempted to hold his shirt together.

Everyone started to laugh.

Running, he exited the playground, never once looking back.

Amidst the cheering, my sister and I picked up our backpacks and started for home.

We weren’t overjoyed.
We didn’t feel triumphant.
We didn’t feel like winners.

We were just two individuals who had exposed a mean kid for what he was–a bully.

Many decades have passed since the Russell incident, yet now and then, my sister and I will remeniss over what transpired that day and laugh.

Not at what happened to Russell, but at how we successfully pulled off a “David and Goliath.”

Yes, we could have walked away.
We could have tattled.

But at the time, faced with what we believed were life or death circumstances, we had exercised self preservation.

While it is not my intention to condone bullying or fighting, I am still a firm believer that there are times you have to do whatever it takes to survive.

Fighting over who gets on the bus first?
Not one of them.

Happy Thursday, friends!

XOXO,

Don’t you think you deserve it?

Happy New Year!
Image by Evan Leeson

A close friend called last night to tell me her divorce had been finalized.

Twenty three years of hardships and struggles had finally come to an end.

“I guess now I can tick the box that says single on my tax return” she said through her tears.

Hearing her sob on the other end, I felt confused.

During the two years it had taken for her divorce to become final, I had heard her talk about how unhappy she was, of how she felt like a prisoner in her home, how she wished she could break free.

Yet the day had arrived and she had welcomed it sobbing.

“What will I do now?” she wailed. “I feel utterly incomplete.”

For once, I was at a loss for words.

Should I tell her to host a party to declare her new state of independence, or should I voice the old adage of “This too shall pass”?

I did neither.

Instead, I listened to her fears of starting over, of finding her place in the world, of joining the ranks of single mothers who struggle to raise their children.

And when she was done, I simply said:

You’ve been given the chance to do something many women wish they could do but don’t.

You’ve been given the chance to start over.

To live your life the way it was meant to be lived.

Without restrictions.
Without disapproval.
Without someone policing your every move.

You deserve to be loved unconditionally, without having to act, be, or look a certain way.

You deserve to be appreciated, respected, admired.

You deserve someone who truly listens, and cares about what you have to say.

You deserve someone who doesn’t chastise you, tears you down, or reduces you to a state of invisibility.

You deserve someone who values your independence and encourages you to soar.

Someone who supports you, motivates you, and desires you.
Someone who thinks you’re perfect just the way you are.

Yes, my friend, you’ve been given the chance to reacquaint yourself with the old you.

The chance to leave behind the excess baggage that has held you down for so long.

The chance to resurrect the woman you were before, or reinvent a brand new you.

The chance to meet new people or reconnect with old friends.

The chance to process lessons learned and plan new adventures.

You are free.
Your life is just beginning

I thought long and hard whether to publish this post today and not one I had written on New Year’s resolutions.

Yet it’s today’s date which makes this post all that more significant.

A New Year–a new beginning.

Tabula rasa.
A clean slate.
A chance to rewind, fast forward, hit play.

This post goes out to anyone who is unhappy but unsure of what to do.

As you ring in the New Year, remember, you deserve to come out of the shadows and into the light.

You deserve to be all you were meant to be.

Happy New Year!

XOXO,

How Bella got her groove back

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It’s so easy.

To stray off the path,
Get lost in your thoughts,
Fall into a funk.

The kind that grabs you by the neck, shakes you like a doll, and leaves you gasping for breath.

It’s so easy.

To procrastinate,
Pretend you’ll do things tomorrow,
Take care of it soon.

Yet before you know it, days turn into weeks, weeks turn into months, months turn into years.

And you’re standing in the same place,
In the same room,
In the same spot.

You notice the neighbors have put up their Christmas trees, strung their lights, hung wreaths on their doors.

Seasons have changed,
The wind’s gotten stronger,
The cold has set in.

Everything has changed.
Everything seems different.
Everything but you.

The desire to write,
To create,
To inspire,
Has long since expired.

It’s easier to sit.
Look at the walls
Twiddle your thumbs.
Do nothing at all.

No dreaming, no imagining, no mentally visiting far away places.

Just you.
Your dog.
And the wish you could turn back the clock.

Then one day you realize, nothing’s going to change.

This is as good as it gets.
So you take what you get
And you don’t get upset

You struggle and grunt, run a hand through your hair, and pick yourself up.

You breathe.

Deeply,
Slowly,
Loudly.

It’s a brand new day.

Time to move on.
Time to create.
Time to get back in the groove.

And with hearty resolve, you hear yourself whisper,

You can do it.
You’ve got this.
It’s a brand new day.

And now for some Roxy love.

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What motivates you to keep going?