Category Archives: Life

The Sounds Of The Silence Of My Blog

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Hi everybody! I’m still here…just busy, busy, busy! I’ve been helping the boys finish up this last couple of months of school (why do they schedule literally EVERY special activity and project in the last month???), and finishing up my own master’s program. I’m in week five now of ten of my very last college course ever! I’m done. Stick a fork in me, I’m done. I have been a part time or half time college student now since 1998. I’m not sure I know how to be anything else at this point in my life (more on my neurotic jitters of getting back out into the workforce in a later blog). When I started out, I simply wanted to correct what I considered to be one of my biggest mistakes in life–not finishing college right after high school. And now, here I am, well over a decade later, about to finish up my second master’s degree, wondering what I’m going to do after graduation.

Not unlike this guy…

Except, since I’m 46 and female instead of 22 and male, I also have her problems…mostly her tendency to say inappropriate, slightly shocking things to the wrong people…Well, okay, maybe not quite this bad…

However, being an optimistic type, I feel that good things are ahead for me (unlike poor, aimless Benjamin and sexy but borderline Mrs. Robinson)…Stick around to see what’s next! Maybe something in plastic, perhaps? ūüėČ I promise I’ll have some witty take on whatever happens, or doesn’t happen the way I planned and envisioned it.¬†

Coo-Coo-Ca-Choo…Until Next Time…

You Want To Make A Difference, You Say? Encourage Someone!

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A year ago I got some of the worst news of my life. Someone I loved dearly, someone I just assumed would always be around as long as I was, died suddenly, and at a relatively young age too. This past year has seen me pretty much at a loss trying to fully accept it and to move forward. Truth be told, you never really get over or past something like that. It’s just too shocking, too rage inducing, too sad….and too much. But, you can learn to incorporate the new reality into your reality. And you can find something positive to make of it, because there is always something positive to be made from what is left behind, no matter what.¬†

The friend that I lost was largely responsible for a major positive turnaround when I was in my mid to late 20’s…when I’d lost faith that I’d ever overcome the circumstances of my life, and “make something of myself”. When it seemed that everyone who was supposed to love me the most had turned a blind eye, or their backs, or both–this person believed in me. I mean really believed in my potential, and even in who I was right then and there, because he didn’t seem to think there was a damn thing wrong with that either. And then a funny thing happened…I started to believe in me too.¬†

If you’ve ever had someone like that in your life, when your life happened to be particularly hard, you’ll understand exactly what I’m talking about. If you’ve always been surrounded with people like that, and grew up with loving, unconditionally supportive family around you, you may not totally get it. But, I think just about everyone can appreciate the value of encouragement…sometimes it’s a special teacher, or a career mentor, a family member, a religious leader, a friend, etc.¬†

I think it is Native American culture that honors those who have left this world by adopting one special trait that person displayed in life as your own. That has to be about the smartest thing I’ve ever heard. And it is definitely the best way to ensure that someone you loved, who was important to you, lives on forever. So today, January 11, the same date on the calendar that my friend left this world, I will make it a point to encourage someone who needs it, and to help them believe in themselves, because that is the thing that will make a lasting difference. I’d like to ask everyone who reads this to do the same.¬†

Choose someone who is having a bad day…or a bad year…or maybe yet another day of what has been a chronically bad life. And then say something, or do something, that will make a difference to them. It doesn’t have to be a grand gesture, or anything that seems like a big deal. Trust me, it will mean the world to them and they’ll never forget it–or you…

“I am a success today because I had a friend who believed in me and I didn’t have the heart to let him down”. ~ Abraham Lincoln

 

From Slow Road To Burnout To Energized & Motivated; My Hour With Liz Murray

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You know, those of us who are doing okay in life…not fabulous, yet not worrying where our next meal is coming from, or how we’re going to keep a roof over our heads–literally, are at risk. We’re at risk for going through the motions…doing what we’re supposed to do…looking good on the outside. But so often we’re crying out inside. Not so much so that we would ask for help, or so as you’d notice, but just enough that we need someone, somewhere, to give us a reason to keep on moving forward, to keep reaching for a better life, to make something beautiful and meaningful in this world with so much sadness…so much ugliness. And today, I, Lisa Casas, aka, “WittyBizGal” got that reason.¬†

I work with a small nonprofit here in town. We work diligently to give women in our community a hand up. The hand up part is very important because, although we address their immediate needs, our overarching mission is to help them help themselves toward independence–financial and otherwise. About a month ago we held a planning meeting to discuss the upcoming graduation ceremony for our Independence Program. As of that date, there was no keynote speaker, and we were kicking around ideas. Since I’d been thinking about her since last year’s graduation, I suggested Liz Murray, best known for the Lifetime movie made about her life, “Homeless to Harvard”. The graduation committee liked the idea and ran with it, which led to today…

Liz Murray ate lunch with us, then rose to speak inspiring, motivational words to our graduates, first through sharing her harrowing tale of a childhood with drug addicted parents, not enough food to eat, and no external encouragement for her to end up any better off than her role models, who sadly eventually died of AIDS. Then came the truly important part–how she turned that little spark inside of her, that spark we all retain no matter how old we get or how jaded we become, into a flame which carried her through the Harvard intake interview and New York Times Scholarship interview on the same day, both of which she almost, almost blew off.¬†

And today, with my more or less ordinary life that nobody would ever consider making a movie about, ¬†and my little blog that I think only my friends, family, and probably a few frenemies I’ve collected over the years read, Liz’s words helped me find that spark in myself again. At just the point where I had begun to ask myself, “Why bother?”, I remember why…Among other reasons, the world needs people who believe in themselves, and believe in their own dreams. Because it’s catchy!¬†

First, believe in yourself, then go out there and motivate somebody else to do the same! 

If you’d like to see Liz Murray’s Lifetime movie, go here: Homeless To Harvard; The Liz Murray Story¬†

To purchase Liz’s autobiography, published in 2010, click here: Breaking Night¬†

To book Liz Murray to be a speaker at your next event, try this link: Liz Murray 

If you’d like to follow Liz on Twitter, this is her account: Follow Liz On Twitter¬†

I’m about 1/3 of the way through Breaking Night myself, so stay tuned for a book review on that!¬†

Until next time…

 

 

 

The Beginning Of The End Of The Cougar Trend?

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Cougar, Before Cougar Was Cool

A couple of years ago, I wrote a member contribution article for MORE Magazine: Multiculturalism And The Cougar¬†Please don’t be impressed–you shouldn’t be. Anyone who signs up with MORE online as a member can write and submit articles for their online site, so trust me, I’m nothing special there. In the article, I offer my own observations and theories about the so called “Cougar” trend, completely invalid scientifically, as always. I was taking a course in multiculturalism at the time and it occurred to me that while there seemed to be an uptick in middle aged women dating young men that was getting a lot of attention, this particular phenomenon always seemed to be characterized by said middle aged romantic partner looking/acting/being anything but what she really was–a 40+ female. This is a reality which is in direct opposition to the concept of multiculturalism, in which differences are embraced, even emphasized, and thought of as equally desirable to the former ideal. I do this a lot actually when I’m taking a class–when immersed in a lot of hard facts and academic research, I whimsically apply what I’ve learned to pop culture, probably to stave off boredom and narcolepsy during class. This was especially puzzling, albeit entertaining to my decidedly left brained Armenian astrophysicist professor when I took Astronomy during my undergrad adventures. Needless to say, I didn’t take a lot of hard science in school–only what I had to have to graduate.¬†

At any rate, I thought I was onto something then, and today, with the tabloid and social media rumor mill working overtime to cover a possible Demi Moore/Ashton Kutcher split due to his alleged serial cheating with young college aged women, the buzzers are going off again. Now, first of all, who knows if there is truth to this story or not? Nobody, that’s who. None of us knows what really goes on in relationships outside our own, and that goes double for celebrity gossip that is often spun up by tabloid “journalists” on slow days, or even the stars’ own publicists when increased attention is needed to promote this or that new project. This could certainly be the case here, as both halves of this May/December couple have something new to promote right about now. But, that’s not the point. The point is that, given the nature of the Cougar trend, this is a very plausible outcome…

It’s my opinion that in the vast majority of relationships, the Cougar/Cub (god help me) thing is simply not built to last. Certainly, “women of a certain age” can be very attractive, even to much younger men. Why wouldn’t they be? Women who take care of their appearance can be beautiful at any age. And here I’ll insert a very Kelso-esque exclamation–DUH! But, it’s my feeling that a fleeting (and flattering) sexual attraction does not a lasting relationship make. Those natural, healthy differences between people with 15 or more years difference in their ages will always come back to bite them in that body part that you can bounce a quarter off of–in the case of Ashton’s 23 year old alleged girlfriends, that is. This is particularly true when the younger man, as in Kutcher’s case, doesn’t even act his own age (33), instead his public behaviors resemble that of his former television character, Michael Kelso, a high school student who was none too bright to boot. I’m just a couple of years shy of Demi Moore’s age. She’s 48 and I’m 46, and he strikes me as really immature, perpetually partying, punking people¬†sophomoric-ally….cheating or not, living with him and being his wife would get on my nerves pretty quick.

For the past several years, I’ve seen a lot of media that holds this twosome up as some sort of golden couple…a shining example of how and why the Cougar trend is here to stay, and something that middle aged women should aspire to. But, in reality, what I see is that it doesn’t really work as well as they’d like to believe it does. As I covered in my piece for More.com, the only way it works to begin with is if the older female half of the equation spends an indefinite amount of time and energy on convincing herself, and everyone else, that she’s something she’s not. Can a 40+ year old woman be attractive…”hot” even? That goes without saying. Can a 40+ year old woman be happy in a relationship with a man many years her junior, long term? The answer is maybe, but I rather doubt it. And it’s for those reasons I mentioned in the article–an atmosphere of multiculturalism is not yet present when it comes to middle aged women. Meaning those of us willing to admit that we are 40+ in every way, including all the inevitable changes in our looks, our personalities, child-bearing inclinations and capabilities, our entertainment and lifestyle preferences, etc.


Cartoon by Jeff Berry, http://berrystudio.blogspot.com/

The reality is that people do change as they age. A 23 year old woman isn’t really the same as a 43 year old woman, just like a 43 year old woman isn’t the same as a 63 year old woman. And despite what popular media would have us all believe, it really is a rare romantic relationship with a multi year age difference that will work long term without the older woman exhaustively working to be 40+, but look and behave only 18+. And that’s sad, for all concerned. Over the last couple of years especially, I’ve watched Demi Moore age, yet frantically diet and exercise to the point of being thinner than she ought to be, constantly tweet sexy photos of herself, and in general try to project an image that she naturally exuded as a 23 year old–when she was 23. And what it looks like to me is part of an overall futile, and I believe completely unnecessary campaign to hang on to that infamous Cougar/Cub relationship of hers. Not to say that these two don’t have a deep affection for one another, which they may genuinely share.¬†

This makes me sad because I think Demi Moore is better than this. We all are. I hope that she sees herself as she really is, and lets her middle age flag fly in all its glory. That would serve as a true inspiration to women our age, I think, rather than the phony, fleeting one that has been served up to all of us for the past few years, in order to keep up the Cougar image. What I’d like to see is all of us being who we really are, in that true spirit of multiculturalism I talked about. Then, if intergenerational love happens, it happens…and it’d be real for a change….maybe it would even last, who knows? But, my gut tells me that it would be the beginning of the end of the Cougar Trend…a trend that would probably fade away on its own for the most part, having run its course. With a few exceptions that fall into the “you don’t choose who you love” category, I think we’d see a better trend…one that is characterized by women coming into their own, no matter what age they are, and going out there and getting everything they truly deserve, romantically and otherwise, with men who are their equals and are mature enough to appreciate authenticity.¬†

Trading the Cougar Trend for an Authenticity Trend…hmmm….that’s a trend I could promote!¬†

 

Two Kids Of Infamously Bad Famous Parents Navigate The Forgiveness Culture

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for·give·ness [ fər gívnəss ]   Audio player
  1. act of pardoning somebody: the act of pardoning somebody for a mistake or wrongdoing
  2. forgiving quality: the tendency to forgive offenses readily and easily

This morning, as I do most mornings, I was perusing the pop news articles, looking for interesting stuff to tweet to my followers. I ran across two articles that effectively demonstrated the polar opposite flip sides of the same coin. 

The first was a piece about Christina Crawford, child of Mommy Dearest, all set to expose Mom Joan’s “naked tapes”: ¬† Burn!¬†

And the second was an article about how Ryan O’Neal has found someone new to blame for his troubles with his daughter–Oprah Winfrey: Ryan O’Neal Blames Family Drama On Oprah¬†Of course he does…:::Insert eyeroll here:::

Both of these stories really stem from tragic tales of children wronged somehow by parents during their years growing up, and even beyond, but choosing very different ways of dealing with that reality in order to move on with their lives. 

One is society’s heroine, due to her apparent devotion to the ever growing, wildly popular forgiveness culture which dictates that in order to move on and heal from hurts inflicted upon us by others, sometimes those who were charged to love and protect us, we must forgive that person–at all costs. We have to “let it go” in order to be whole and happy. Is this true? I’m not sure, but it sounds a little too easy if you ask me. Yet Tatum, bless her tender broken heart, is doing her level best to forgive her Dad, who clearly–clearly is neither sorry, nor even aware that he has done anything the least bit wrong. If you’ve watched even a clip of the reality show on Oprah’s network starring Tatum And Ryan O’Neal, you’ll know exactly what I mean. In gut wrenching, painful reality scenes, Tatum so obviously wants nothing more than for her father to own up, and moreover, to be sorry for the past and agree to change the hurtful behaviors–or at least try. What is also obvious is that Ryan O’Neal has absolutely no intention of doing any of that, or even looking at himself seriously in any way. Yet Tatum soldiers on, and strives to forgive anyway, in the one sided, supposedly soul enriching way that is advocated by every self help guru and life coach, hiding under every rock these days.¬†

Clip from The O’Neals

And then there’s the one boo’ed by those experts and society at large in the Forgiveness Culture–Christina Crawford. Christina had this to say on the topic of forgiving her mother, explaining why she would have none of that hogwash, ¬†‚ÄúForgiveness is a two-way street and she never took responsibility for her behavior.‚ÄĚ To me, this seems the more realistic perspective on the matter, and could be healthy for folks if they do not remain simultaneously obsessed with the offender, making a career out of their mother’s career, vengefully spending waking hours looking for dirt on her to exploit in the context of a one woman show. Yikes! This seems to be going too far the other way, when naturally running screaming from the Forgiveness Culture, which imposes what I think are unrealistic expectations on wronged people to forgive those who aren’t sorry and very likely would do the same things ten times over if given the chance.¬†

“Why Did You Adopt Me” Scene From Mommy Dearest

I think what these two women and their experiences have to teach us is that the right answer is more than likely a response which is somewhere in between Tatum’s painful to watch, willingness to allow her narcissistic Peter Pan of a father to gut her as many times as he likes from now on in the spirit of forgiveness and enlightenment, and Christina’s cringe inducing, love/hate, don’t let it go even if it kills you, inability to separate herself and her identity from the mother who nearly destroyed her, in the name of backlash to a somewhat annoying, unrealistic Forgiveness Culture.¬†

So what is that happy medium? Well, it beats me. But something tells me that not many of the experts, or relationship gurus and writers write about it because it’s not a solution you can guide masses of people to find easily with a $29.95 hardback and accompanying lucrative speaking engagements. It has to be a journey that is individual, thereby unique to everyone who undertakes it, with no clear or easy path to the end. And it has to be an undertaking that will leave you whole, nobody’s free ride or doormat, but letting the past go to the point where you are truly focused upon your own life, making yourself the best you can be, and cultivating healthy relationships, not necessarily remaining hell bent upon singlehandedly fixing the ones that perhaps, sadly, will remain unfixable, because forgiveness really is a two way street…

What are your thoughts on forgiveness? 

Born Perfectionist Faces Imperfections. Retains Sanity (For Now)…

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I was born a perfectionist….

I’m naturally sort of an all or nothing type of person…impatient…my own worst enemy….you know the type. In the past, if I haven’t magically achieved perfection on the first try, I’m the one who quits inexplicably…leaving everyone to scratch their heads and wonder what went wrong. After all, I had so much promise…if I’d only stuck with it.¬†

Well, I’m trying to turn over a new leaf. From now on, I’m going to strive to be the sort of individual who is openly flawed, makes mistakes–sometimes big ones, maybe even is whispered about behind her back–but stays the course. Until now, I’ve been the sort of individual who is openly flawed, makes mistakes–sometimes big ones, definitely is whispered about behind her back–but disappears into the ether.

To that end, this weekend, I have finished my very first real jewelry project! I brought my jeweled vision to fruition. I wrapped very stubborn, less than freely bendable wire, attached jump rings and clasps, kept curse words to a minimum (well, okay, not really), and made myself a pretty decent Twilight Inspired set of jewelry which I fully intend to wear (proudly) to the long awaited premiere of Breaking Dawn, Part 1. ūüôā¬†

My wires are not wrapped evenly in all spots & my loops are somewhat differently sized throughout, but here it is…my beautiful, flawed, set of Twilight Inspired necklace, earrings, and somewhat loose anklet…As I say on Facebook sometimes to my small circle of Facebook Friends…Ta-Freakin-Da!¬†