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Stuff I’m Fed Up With: Boys will be Boys

30 Jan

The other night, I was cruising through the Netflix tv series catalogue, trying to find something to watch. We just finished all of the seasons of Breaking Bad and had started watching season 2 of Californication, but the thought of those shows and other shows were just making me grumpy. I turned to my boyfriend and said:

“Frankly, I’m sick to death of watching irresponsible men as the central plot. Why don’t women get to get away with being irresponsible?”

And so I thought I’d try out Weeds. This seemed promising. Drug pushing suburban mom. But no…she was pretty sensible for a drug dealer. How about Nurse Jackie? Oddly enough, the drug addicted, philandering nurse is doing some pretty awesome work. It seems that even women who behave badly are, at base, incredibly solid. The only exception to this rule I can think of are my favorite duo: Patsy and Edina as AbFab. Drunken, irresponsible, shallow, selfish…everything most women aren’t portrayed as in mainstream movies and tv.

But I’ve always been miffed by the way the male population is pretty much given a free pass on bad behavior from the time they are young. “Boys will be boys,” is the lame excuse I heard muttered time and again from mothers. Blew up the garage? Haha. Boys will be boys. Got in a fist fight? Oh my. Boys will be boys. The same behavior from a young woman is still not tolerated in the same way.

And it continues through life. I often hear stuff like “a man needs his man cave” and other eye rollers for grown men. People excuse the inability for a man to be able to find laundry soap in his own cupboards because his wife or girlfriend takes care of that stuff. Meanwhile, women are taking on the same responsibilities outside the home while we remain stewards of the home. Breaking Bad was a series that started out promising and slowly turned me into a Walter-hater. I cheered a little each time Skyler, who is brilliant and badass herself but wasn’t given near enough of a role in the show, acted out. Still, she held everything together at the end of the day.

One particular scene I could watch over and over (sorry for any spoilers) was in Season 4 when Walter decides to buy their teenage son a sports car and Skyler tells him to bring it back because it would draw too much attention. Her words echoed my frustration at that very moment:

“Once again, he’ll blame his bitch mother for taking away what his loving father gave to him. Thanks for that. But you know what, Walt? Someone has to protect this family from the man who protects this family.”

I think it was the only time in the whole series I cheered out loud. A quick check online shows that Skyler’s character is highly UNpopular for many of the fans of the show. I know why. She keeps stopping the fun. That’s the big rub in all of this. Not only are the women expected to clean up the mess left behind from their irresponsible, reckless men, but they also get labeled buzzkills and bitches when they complain about it.

I’ve listened to the stereotype of the man who ‘settles down’ and is both taken care of by a woman and ‘whipped’ by a woman all of my life. Why is growing up a bad thing? Why do men get to rest on some sort of biological imperative to act out while women who act out are characterized as out of control wrecks (see Lindsay Lohan, Tara Reid, etc)? It’s not super natural for me to be the responsible one, but I’m judged more harshly when that truth comes out. A bad father is a bad father. A bad mother is a bad person.

This deserves more than a post, but I wanted to rant it out a bit before too long. If there is any reason that women get angry at men, I think this may be at the root of it.

I’m fortunate to have a man in my life who doesn’t see responsibility as something that is against his nature. I think we’d both agree that he is the more responsible one of the two of us. At times, he gets resentful about my lack of attention to the home and living and I need to step up and contribute. He has every right to resent my blase attitude towards the basics. It puts more pressure on him to take care of things. We need to share responsibility. That is the only way that both of us will be able to thrive. Boys will NOT be boys. Girls will NOT be girls. We all have needs and one gender isn’t more deserving than the other.

Let’s not be irresponsible at the cost of the people who love us.

My Skin and the Mind-Body Connection

24 Oct

I was going through a tectonic shift in my life from identifying as a grad student to identifying as……person-with-a-9-to-5-job. I threw myself into work without putting too much conscious thought into identity. I didn’t have the time! However, this uncertainty was showing in my face.

I’m blessed to have pretty well behaved skin overall. It’s dry sometimes and prone to redness and blah blah blah. Whatever – it’s good skin. I get a pimple or two when overindulge in something truly awful, which is usually when I’m not living right. Same thing when I’m about to get my period. It’s a small price to pay for having a fully functioning endocrine system if you ask me.

But, suddenly, it wasn’t so good. I got a new pimple every day, not every month. They ranged from cystic pimples (those red angry pus geysers-in-waiting) to those ones that sat scattered on the surface for minor bathroom surgery. It wasn’t acne; it was centered around my t-zone and making me look unhappy…and this is what bothered me.

I wasn’t unhappy, I was uncertain. Uncertainty meant that I was wading forth in uncharted waters, not sure if it was about to get really deep, really quickly. I was proud of getting wet, actually, but it was stressful. I was in a transitional phase and it was written all over my face. I was trying to assume my new role and responsibilities and my face was telling the world that I had NO clue what I was doing. In short, I felt like an adolescent again.

Enter Perfect Skin, found at my local health food store. It’s a fish oil based supplement with a few added ingredients like chromium and selenium (what for, I don’t know). All I can say is that it worked. The nasty breakout phase passed after taking it for about 2 months and it hasn’t returned.

I don’t have any interest in this company except to say that it worked to settle one relatively minor problem in my life at an unsettled time. For this, I’m grateful.

What are YOU Looking For? (survey)

21 Oct

With the Fall here, Halloween in a few weeks and the holidays right around the corner, what is on YOUR list of stuff you are looking for? For example, I’m looking for a new black handbag and would love help. We want to get a sense of what types of things people are searching for right now. You never know…we may even be able to help you! (give some details)

I’ve invited you to fill out the form What are YOU looking for?. To fill it out, visit:
https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/viewform?formkey=dFlNalBsb0w5S2RqYlptdzdWX3NtZkE6MA

Being Stylish on a(n ACTUAL) Budget

20 Oct

I always love those fashion blogs that claim they are written for the ‘budget conscious’ girl. Sure, if your budget is about $1000/month for clothes! My budget is NOT $1000/month. Hell, it’s probably more like $150/month (if that). I’m a startup co-founder. Which means I’m lucky if I make $20,000 a year working 100 hour weeks right now (I’m banking on a big exit someday that will pay off… ;)).

But I also like to be on top of fashion trends. And I don’t have time to sift through Goodwill and second hand stores. I do subscribe to A LOT of flash sales and daily deals, but sometimes I have something specific in mind and when I do, I never seem to get the flash sales to satisfy the urge.

With this in mind, I just posted my Top 5 Must-Haves for this season. And guess what? I can probably get every one of them with my shopping sense. What the heck? Fur? Leather? Capes? Hats? Red boots? How?! Let me tell you how:

I never spend on a trend.

Which means that I will never spend over a certain amount of money on something that is a must-have for a season that I won’t wear past a season. I also don’t want to buy crap that is made in a country that exploits women’s labor. So how do I do this?

#1. Go to ETSY!!!

I heart Etsy.com with every fibre of my being. Sure, there is a lot of stuff on there that is way expensive. It should be. People are making a living and putting a LOT of work into their creations. But there are also quite a few newer designers that are trying to get themselves established. Those are the Etsy stores I go to. I bought this amazing Cowl Neck Pocket Tunic Dress from Emily Ryan‘s store last year for $30 less than she is selling it for now. With a designer label on it, she could sell it for 5x this price. It’s an amazing dress. Flattering. comfortable. Versatile. Great to pack. I’ll have this one for a while.

$124 is not chump change, but it is better than department store prices and you get to support a small business in North America.

#2. Shop Last Season Stores

In Canada, we have Winners. In the US, it’s TJ Maxx. In Europe, it’s  TK Maxx. There are other chains and stores that do something similar. There are 10 fashion ‘drops’ per year where the designers try to sell out their lines into retailers/distributors. Winners, TJ Maxx, TK Maxx and all of those awesome flash sale sites you subscribe to get the leftovers! That means it isn’t really last season’s clothes. It’s just a few months or even weeks behind what the department stores would get.

The only caveat here is that going through a Winners is a LOT like having to go through a second hand store. It takes serious time. And you don’t get the planetary benefits of buying used. However, you DO get the fashion benefits of potentially finding that amazing faux fur handbag for $40 instead of $400 when the faux fur handbags are still hot to wear.

#3. Be Patient

This is my hardest lesson. I’ll find that perfect something that is WAY out of my price range and feel that I need it right now, so I spend my entire year’s budget on it only to find it’s exact replica popping up at H&M a month later for $20. Many of these stores: H&M, Forever 21, Zara, BEDO, etc. are in the business of knocking off really great fashion quickly. Now…I don’t want to spend all of my money at these stores because I’m afraid the way they are able to sell stuff to me so cheaply is because they use bad labor practices, but the occasional Leather Dress or other piece that would otherwise break my bank can’t hurt…right?

#4. Spend More on Staples That Last

So no matter what we say about ‘classic’ clothing, nothing really looks good forever. We either wear it out, or it looks outdated (even jeans or blazers) after about 5 years. But think about pieces you can mix and match as something you can stretch out quite far. A black v-neck sweater, a turtle neck, skinny jeans (even if they go out of style, good ones can be worn under long sweaters), a good pair of winter boots, leather gloves, scarves, strappy sandals, shift dress…all of these pieces can last for a decade. And my tailor is my best bud. Hemline too long? Baggy? Waistline too high? Take it to your tailor. He or she will update it for $20-30.

#5. Make a List

What ‘MUST YOU HAVE’ versus, “OMG…that is SO cute!”?

That’s why I make a list of the season’s staples. I don’t buy anything else unless it is a killer deal. I think about what I already have and how I want to put together my wardrobe for the next 4 months and I whittle it down to 5-8 items that I feel will present me as up-to-date fashionable while fitting in with last year’s pieces as much as possible. And then I set a budget for each that I stick within.

Then I take my time, use my patience and shop around to find the best deal for the best quality on each item. So far, I’ve found my leather leggings (Club Monaco $129 – my budget was $125), my fedora (street vendor $5 – my budget was $25) and my cape/sweater (Winners – big, floppy sweater $29.99 – my budget was $75). I am combining 3 months of clothing budget into 1 because I’m buying for the season.

Overall budget: $450

1. Colorful boots – $150
2. Fun handbag – $50
3. Leather leggings – $125 – actual – $130
4. Fedora – $25 – actual – $5
5. Cape – $100 – actual – $30

…because I bought myself a bonus (the leather dress at Bedo) for $120, but I’ve saved $85 on the other items, I may want to skip the fun handbag or look harder for a better deal on the colorful boots (though I really love the Tsubo’s that are a bit out of my budget). Or, I could give myself a break and, because I had NO money last season to do any shopping, I could let that leather dress slip and say I can spring for the Tsubo’s. ;) But in my case, as well as many others right now, it’s not as light hearted as ‘oh well’. Going over budget means I take it out of basic living. Which means a pair of red boots can signify I don’t go to any restaurants, movies or events all month. :/

So I remind myself that the world won’t end without getting everything on my list. Nor will anyone notice but me.

At the end of the day, even though I love fashion, it is a luxury not a necessity. And though I love shopping, sometimes the pursuit is more satisfying than the purchase. Or at least that is what I’m telling myself while I’m on a budget.

So…how do you keep yourself reigned in? Do you stick to a budget? Or go wild until your credit cards are declined?

Migraines and Middle Age

4 Oct

Migraine Barbie has Snapped!

As a child, I remember my mother locking herself into a dark room at certain times and asking us to not disturb her for a few hours. I knew that we shouldn’t disturb her because she had a migraine and it rendered her completely incapacitated. She would describe it as ‘making her stupid’. She couldn’t focus on anything (even with perfect vision), light would bother her, her speech would become smaller and strained and her answers vague.

I am now getting these migraines and they are completely related to my hormones (they were also related to my mom’s).

I just read that 70% of migraine sufferers are women and, to no surprise, these migraines are completely tied to hormones. I never used to get migraines but as I’ve aged, my estrogen levels have dropped. And that’s the trigger. Damn.

So, estrogen levels dropping lead to all sorts of crappy things that I don’t really want to talk about here (loss of elastic-ness EVERYWHERE, see, I told you!) but the foremost bit that bothers me is that more and more frequently, I have to lock myself in a dark room, take a bunch of extra-strength headache killers, dramamine and hope that the killer headache and nausea goes away within a couple of hours. This time it held on for over a day. One whole painful, unproductive, incredibly annoying day.

Does this mean I need to start doing some sort of bloody hormone therapy!? God I hope not (and this was stopped in 2002 because clinical trials found that the damage outweighed the benefits). But I have found out lately from all sorts of brilliant female friends that there is a way to keep estrogen levels up the natural way:

DIET

Eat more soy. The Japanese don’t have a word for hot flashes because, well, it’s so uncommon in Japan to have them. And why not? Because of estrogen rich diets that include lots of soy, brown rice and alfalfa sprouts. Other foods to consume more of? Millet, Barley, Flax seed, Lentils, Kidney beans, Lima beans, Rye, Clover, Fennel, Chickpeas (garbanzo beans), Apples, Celery, Parsley, Beets, Bok choy, Broccoli, Cauliflower, Carrots, Cucumbers, Mushrooms, Brussel sprouts, Seaweeds, Squash, Pumpkin seeds, Sunflower seeds, Cherries, Olives, Pears, Plums, Tomatoes, Prunes, Barley, Oats, Brown rice, Wheat germ, Bulgur, Brewer’s Yeast, Black-eye peas, Mung bean sprouts, Navy beans, Red beans, Split peas and a handful of Spices (cloves, ginger, hops, oregano, red raspberry, sage tea, thyme and turmeric).

Funnily enough, though, while doing research, I found out that soy can induce migraines in some people. Must not be hormone-based migraines?

Foods to avoid? Pretty much everything I love. Coffee, tea, chocolate, meat (except for the organic, free-range stuff) and sugar.

VITAMINS/HERBALS

Black cohosh originated in North America and was used by Native Americans to cure muscle pain and indigestion (as well as cramps for women). You can buy it in various forms at your health food store (tablet, tea, etc). However, the benefits aren’t scientifically proven and some side effects seem to be equivalent to what we are trying to cure (headache, nausea, etc).

Rhubarb extract has been popular amongst German women for years. It’s more effective for curing hot flashes, but I imagine it would also work on other areas of estrogen depletion, too? I’ll give it a whirl. I’m a fan of rhubarb. :)

If you aren’t a fan of soy (or are allergic), you may want to try flaxseed oil, which apparently can also be applied to the skin…hmmmmm…count me in!

OTHER STUFF

Bad news: more exercise helps. Good news: more sex helps, too! I’m all about balance here. At the end of the day, aging sucks. And aging sucks more than ever because of all of the hormones in our food that are messing with our bodies even more than our ancestors. I also still need to write a post about my Four Hour Body diet, but it looks like bits of it may not be so good for being a woman heading towards 40. The amount of beans I eat on the diet is a bonus, but the lack of some of the grains may be hurting me.

Anyone else get migraines? Are they hormonal or just ‘normal’? What do you do to fight them? I remember my mom had little blue pills that she told me were expensive, but miraculous. Anyone?

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