Saturday, February 21, 2015

The Danger with Fairy Tales (and Fifty Shades of Grey)


First let me say that I LOVE fairy tales. I have always wanted to be a princess and would happily walk around in tutus and tiaras if I could get away with it. I also read every book in the Fifty Shades of Grey series and found them very enjoyable. But at some point in my mid-twenties, while watching Ever After with Drew Barrymore (still a huge favorite) it dawned on me that there really is no happily ever after and it kind of pissed me off.

I think of myself as a strong woman who can certainly provide for and take care of herself. But I am also a hopeless romantic who has been told since I was too little to remember that if we looked hard enough, we would find our prince charming, that he would complete us and that that would be enough. What little girl doesn't want to be Cinderella or Ariel or Belle. And yes, I do believe in my prince charming, but not exactly the way Disney spins it.

First, the idea of "...and they lived happily ever after" is a terrible lie. This one should be self explanatory, especially if you are or have been married. And I am not saying that we won't find our own version of this, but...most fairy tales conclude with the dream wedding (another stupid notion costing absurds amount of money and causing way too much stress), they kiss and then it pans away and The End. Um...how about The Beginning. Cause shit gets real after that. The first year of marriage, kids, jobs, money issues, in-laws and so much more. We are not told the truth and we are certainly not prepared. Have you ever heard the saying that what screws us up the most is the picture in our head of how it's supposed to be? Yup, pretty much.

Another very scary notion that a lot of us woman buy into is that we can change him. There are so many stories of a "bad" boy falling in love and ending up as the nice guy in the end. It only took the love of a good woman. And this is where my Fifty Shades of Grey discussion comes in. Make no mistake, under the handcuffs and kinky sex, this is a modern day fairy tale. There is a young innocent girl who falls in love with and captures the heart of a cold, super rich guy who happens to have some dangerous habits. I loved the books and couldn't wait to see the movie (which I did really like as well). However, something happens when you see it on the big screen and the reality of "punishment" cannot be denied. On the way home, my husband to said to me, "I don't care how much I didn't like a woman, I would never hurt her." And that is when it hit me that in real life, the ending to this story would not be the same. If a man believes that it is okay to hurt a woman, even with rules and consent, girlfriend you need to run away and never go back. Because in real life, he does not end up changing and he is definitely not your prince charming.

I am very lucky to have been raised by a strong woman and kind father who taught me what real love and commitment looked like. I wanted what they had even if I didn't know it when I was 10 and wanted desperately to be Cinderella. I think that even as adults we still struggle with what Hollywood says we should want and the reality of life. I think Frozen was a huge step in the right direction, but we have a lot more work to do.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Before I Turn 40, 330 Days and Counting


As I sit here, 39 years old, leaving New York city on the train, I am in deep thought about who I am, who I want to be and what is important to me. I am not really that concerned with age and aside from the wrinkles and gray hair, I have no problem getting older. Age for me has brought clarity. The last couple of years I have decided that less is more for most things like material possessions, people that don't feed my soul and everything unhealthy. Once I removed those place holders from my life, I have found that I have so much more room for the things that matter to me like hugs and kisses, joy of time spent with loved ones and moments of happiness. And don't get me started on drama - I try to stay as far away from that as possible.

I spent the night in NYC visiting a friend and it was wonderful. Not because I was in the city that never sleeps, but because I was with one of my closest friends. We have been friends since sixth grade and while we don't get to see each very often, we pick up right where we left off every time. And while our lives have changed considerably since we graduated high school and have taken very different paths, we have both stayed true to who we are. Our friendship is proof that true love and soul mates can come in many forms.

I looked around the city as we rushed from place to place and I realized that I wanted exactly the opposite of what it all stood for. I know that many people have a love affair with New York City, my friend included, so this isn't personal against you if you do. But for me, I want simple and open and fresh. I want less stuff and less people trying to sell me stuff. And while you can live simply in the city, it sure isn't cheap. And as 40 looms around the corner, I want a life that isn't ruled by how much money I make or have, but more about how much time I have to enjoy my moments that are free. I want to play on the beach with my six year old or spend rare moments in deep conversations with my fourteen year old or quiet moments doing nothing much with my husband.

I will admit that I dream of living off the grid, being self-sustaining and adore the idea of a tiny house. But let's get real. The idea of living with a my six and fourteen year old in a 400 square foot home makes me want to stick a fork in my eye, plus I really do adore my home. And while homesteading is a huge dream of mine, I barely have time or energy to keep my one flower plant alive never mind grow a garden big enough to feed my family on. And so my goal for the next 330 days is to enjoy my moments more, focus on experiences over stuff and a live a simple, happy, healthy and meaningful life.

Disclaimer: I will still love you if my perfect life isn't right for you. I will not judge you, look down on you or gossip about you if you live a big, crazy, extravagant life full of shopping and junk food. As long as you are happy and true to yourself then go for it. And don't get me wrong, I used to love to shop, drink Coke and eat Doritos, but the older I get the less fulfilling those things are for me and so I decided to look elsewhere. But I definitely still look back with nostalgia.