Is Marriage Overrated?


I’ve been thinking about this subject a lot the past few months but two things spurred me on to finally actually write about this. First, I came across the below graphic that quite succinctly sums up everything I will try to say here. Second, Tom Brady & Giselle’s divorce has been all over the news lately which means the subject of marriage & divorce has been ubiquitous.

Part of the reason I’ve been hesitant to write about this is because I know people from my family & hometown will read this & it will be very tempting for them to assume that I must be having my own marital problems. While I’ll be the first to admit that we’ve definitely had our moments, the truth is my husband & I are still very happily married. Certainly we have disagreements & say things we don’t really mean from time to time. Sure we take each other for granted occasionally & have to find ways to acknowledge that & fix it. But no, we are not getting divorced or separated or even remotely considering doing so. Sorry to disappoint on the gossip front but that’s genuinely the truth. Just had to put that out there before any rumors got started…

Also, I don’t want anyone to read this as an indictment of my parents or anyone in particular. This is more an indictment of SOCIETY, rather than any particular person or group.

Having said all that, my husband & I are at the age now (mid 30s) where we are seeing a fair amount of our friends/colleagues getting divorced, or even remarried after a previous divorce. Probably because of my own naivete & because of how rare divorce is in my own family, I always had this silly idea that our generation would have a lower divorce rate. I think I assumed that because so many of us grew up with divorced parents that we would somehow find a way to avoid repeating the pattern. Deep down I suppose I knew there was nothing special about us & we were likely to make all the same mistakes every other generation has made, but hey, a girl can hope, right?

There’s a lot I want to say here but I want to get this part out of the way first. Despite how much I was taught that marriage is for life & when you say I do that means forever, I actually DON’T think that divorce is the end of the world. Is it ideal? Well, probably not, but LIFE isn’t ideal. What it comes down to is that a lot of marriages were never healthy relationships to begin with, & when you look at it that way, you realize that divorce isn’t always such a tragedy after all. Sometimes it is by far the best option. In other cases, relationships do start out healthy but become “diseased” over time- sometimes simply because people grow & change- & sometimes that means growing apart. Is that ideal? Well, maybe not, but it’s LIFE. In the end I think it does more harm to children, individuals, & society in general for people to stay in unhappy, unhealthy marriages for years on end than to just be rational, end things, & move on. I know multiple people who swear their lives would have been better as kids/teens if their parents had just gotten divorced rather than being miserable together, which sometimes meant taking out their own problems on the child. And I’m sure there are tons of others out there who feel the same way. If you’re reading this & you’re in an unhealthy marriage, that’s something to strongly consider.

I for one find it very interesting that religion (& society in general) places such a strong value on marriage & yet so often does almost nothing to teach people what a healthy relationship actually looks like. All we’re told is “get married, have kids, be faithful, go to church, pray together, make it work.” That all sounds well & good but when it comes down to the nitty gritty, it’s not actually very helpful. Not to mention that because of the religious association with marriage & the fact that divorce is usually viewed as a sin, many people are encouraged to stay in unhealthy- or even downright abusive- relationships. I don’t know how many times I’ve heard older people (& sometimes younger people too) say “Marriages just aren’t the same these days. Not like the good old days. Marriages just don’t last anymore.” What I always want to point out to them- but rarely do for fear of seeming rude- is that there never actually were any good old days. You’re incredibly naive if you think that your grandparents & great grandparents & their parents & grandparents before them all had happy, healthy marriages. I’m sure some did but I’m also sure plenty didn’t. A lot of these people stayed married because they HAD to– they didn’t have any other choice! There was either no legal way to get divorced or else the societal stigma around it would have been so great as to make it effectively impossible. (Not to mention that a lot of women wouldn’t have had a way, outside of marriage, to support themselves or their children. That’s a whole other can of worms.)

What I’m getting is this- the real issue is not so simple as “Oh, people just can’t (or won’t) stay faithful anymore.” The real issue is that society puts so much pressure on us, especially in more rural areas, to get married & have kids but provides us with very little practical advice on how to do so in a healthy manner. (I’m speaking mainly of American culture here, though I suspect this is a problem worldwide, but of course I can only really speak to the culture in which I live.) And why is it that we are given so little direction on building & maintaining healthy relationships? Well, the reasons are myriad of course but I think a significant issue is that a lot of people, even older people, have NEVER experienced a truly healthy relationship themselves, so how could they possibly teach others how to have one? (As an aside, I also think there is a certain amount of resentment among older folks who have experienced their own unhappy marriages who are essentially jealous when they see younger people realizing they don’t have to live in misery forever.)

Seeing as we have now been married over a decade, my husband & I have definitely had our own challenges. We have had to contend with varying communication styles, different love languages, & other such challenges, but because of our genuine connection/friendship & understanding of each other, we have found ways to make it work, ways that actually aren’t even that hard. Do I sincerely hope that we will live up to our marriage vows of “till death do us part?” Of course. But I’m also willing to admit that if we ever get to a point where we are genuinely unhappy & unhealthy together for a long period of time & we cannot find a way to repair things, that I hope we will have the presence of mind to move on before we cause further damage to ourselves, our daughter, or others. I genuinely hope that never happens & I like to think that because of how we have learned to communicate & work together that our chances of avoiding such a fate are quite good. But I also know that life isn’t a fairytale & sometimes things happen that we can’t foresee. That’s just how life is.

To be clear, I am not in any way trying to say that I’m some kind of marriage or relationship guru, but I will say that I do think the relationship my husband & I have is fairly rare & somewhat unique. And for that I am very grateful. But I don’t think such relationships should be as rare as they are. While I am not even going to attempt to write up some kind of “blueprint for a healthy relationship,” I do think the following questions are good things to consider very early in a relationship- or maybe even before the relationship really takes off at all. Some of these are things I/we were taught to consider & some are things we’ve just learned along the way. Remember, everyone is different & there are really no right or wrong answers here.

  • What is your love language? Remember you may have more than one, depending on the circumstances. What is your partner’s? Are you comfortable discussing this with each other?
  • What role will or does sex play in the relationship? In my opinion, it should never be used manipulatively, & furthermore (in my opinion), you can’t have a truly adult relationship without sex. Thus waiting till marriage is illogical to me. BUT to each their own. Regardless, know your thoughts here & be willing to communicate them.
  • What is your communication style? Can you be direct about your wants/needs (including sexually)? What is your partner’s style?
  • When you have a disagreement, how do you handle it?
  • Do you want kids? Does your partner want kids? Who will play various roles if you do have them? (E.g. Will one of you be a stay at home parent? If so, who?)
  • How will you discipline said children? Can you communicate your own childhood experiences & why you want to repeat them or avoid them?
  • Can you discuss politics, even if you disagree about something, while maintaining respect?
  • Do you want to spend time together, even if it’s just doing really mundane things like grocery shopping?
  • How do you expect to split household chores? This is a big one. I see a lot of women unhappily married because their husbands are basically adult children who expect their wives to be their mothers. That would be a huge turn off for me, as it seems to be for most women. Men, keep this in mind!
  • Are you an introvert or an extrovert? Which is your partner? If you’re not the same, will this become something you resent about the other person?
  • What are your views on finances?
  • Last- but perhaps MOST important: How comfortable does this person make you feel? Would you want to spend time with them or get to know them even if you weren’t dating (or planning to date)? Forget the whole “makes your heart skip a beat” nonsense. Real love makes you feel COMFORTABLE & safe, not nervous & unsure of yourself.

Again, I by no means think I’ve “got it all figured out” or have a “perfect relationship.” Absolutely not. But these are things that I’ve learned over the years from my own relationship, as well as from studying other marriages/relationships around me. And I truly believe a lot of pain could be avoided if more people addressed the above issues before getting married (preferably LONG before getting married). I know that as our daughter gets older, we will be actively teaching her these things, no matter how awkward or uncomfortable it may be. I don’t want her to think that she HAS to get married & that if she does, it HAS to last forever, even if she’s miserable. More than anything I want to her to know what a happy, healthy relationship looks like. I don’t want her to grow up thinking that marriage has to be boring or a “trap” or anything negative like that (not that I grew up thinking that, but I think a lot people do). After all, that’s the best way to ensure that someday she has a happy, healthy marriage of her own (if she wants one).

So- to answer the title of this post: Is marriage overrated? Drumroll…

Well, like just about everything in life it’s not a simple yes or no answer. If it’s a truly healthy relationship, then no, marriage is most definitely NOT overrated. However, I will say I think there are plenty of people who have healthy, committed relationships who aren’t actually legally married, & I don’t consider those relationship as any less worthy of respect. Marriage is great- IF it’s with the right person (keep in mind there is no truly PERFECT person), but if it’s an unhealthy marriage then, it IS in fact overrated. Thus as a society we need to focus more on healthy relationships rather than just marriage for the sake of marriage.

You’ll Have to Eat Me As I Am


Today’s post is something that even a few months ago I would have scoffed at the very suggestion that I might write it. Well, not the MESSAGE of the post itself but the INSPIRATION behind it. You see, today’s post is inspired by none other than Demi Lovato. Yes, you read that right. Thanks to my favorite YouTube channel I have fallen head over heels in love with Demi’s latest album. I NEVER thought I’d say that, seeing as prior to this album I didn’t know a single one of her songs & generally regarded her as just another silly pop star. While I still wouldn’t call her my hero, there is no doubt that she is talented, & with this album she has really spoken to me in ways I would never have imagined possible. And for that I am very grateful.

I could write a whole post devoted to this album, & may yet do that someday, but today’s post will be focused on the fourth song on the album, Eat Me. I’m including the lyrics below & I strongly encourage you to read them & go listen to the song, at this link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zSmvW2sZ3ZU. Yes, the song includes some “choice” words. No, I don’t care.

Be more predictable
Be less political
Not too original
Keep to tradition, but stay individual

Dirty but washable
Winning but stoppable
All that I’m hearing is
You wanna make the impossible possible

Is this what you’d all prefer?
Would you like me better if I was still her?
Did she make your mouths water? Ugh

I know the part I’ve played before
I know the shit that I’ve ignored
I know the girl that you adored
She’s dead, it’s time to fucking mourn
I can’t spoon-feed you anymore
I can’t spoon-feed you anymore
Dinner’s served, it’s on the floor
I can’t spoon-feed you anymore
You’ll have to eat me as I am
You’ll have to eat me as I am

Clean and digestible (clean and digestible)
Less of a spectacle (less of a spectacle)
More one-dimensional
Try to be sexy, but don’t be too sexual (don’t be too sexual)

Please be presentable (be presentable)
Bit more accessible (bit more accessible)
Get up on your pedestal
Everyone’s watching, so don’t be forgettable

Longer hair and tighter clothes
Would you like me better if I didn’t oppose?
Silver platters, pretty bows
Fuck

I know the part I’ve played before
I know the shit that I’ve ignored
I know the girl that you adored
She’s dead, it’s time to fucking mourn
I can’t spoon-feed you anymore
I can’t spoon-feed you anymore
Dinner’s served, it’s on the floor
I can’t spoon-feed you anymore
You’ll have to eat me as I am
You’ll have to eat me as I am

Choke on it
Choke on it

I know the part I’ve played before
I know the shit that I’ve ignored
I know the girl that you adored
She’s dead, it’s time to fucking mourn
I can’t spoon-feed you anymore
I can’t spoon-feed you anymore
Dinner’s served, it’s on the floor
I can’t spoon-feed you anymore
You’ll have to eat me as I am
You’ll have to eat me as I am

With this song, Demi has written an anthem for women everywhere because it so often feels like no matter what we do, we can’t live up to the world’s expectations for us. As someone who has lived almost her entire life in the limelight of celebrity, I can only imagine how much more intense things must feel for Demi. (Read about her past as a Disney star & you’ll really understand why these lyrics are perfect for her life.) I actually think men can probably relate to this song too because they too have plenty of societal expectations that are often contradictory or competing against each other in such a way that they feel like they can’t possibly fulfill every demand. In fact, I’d LOVE to see a male rock star (or any male musician, for that matter) write a similar song from a man’s perspective. I think it could be very therapeutic for men. And perhaps help some women better understand that men struggle too.

Having said that, this song is clearly written from a woman’s perspective & that’s probably why it resounds so strongly with me as a woman. After all, while I can empathize greatly with men, I have only experienced life as a woman, so that’s all I actually KNOW. I am so grateful for a husband who loves me exactly as I am & appreciates all the growth & change I’ve experienced with him over the years, just as I do for him. But even with a really supportive spouse, it can still often feel like I’m not living up to the world’s expectations for me. I’m trying not to make this post about ME so much as just about women in general, but I did want to give my husband the credit he deserves.

In any case, here’s a list of some of the things that women nowadays constantly struggle with. Some of these I strongly identify with, others not so much, but I observe them in other women. Many of these are likely not unique to my generation, though some are:

  • Am I thin enough? But not too thin- I don’t want to look like I’m on meth or heroin!
  • Am I showing too much skin? But I don’t want to look like a prude either.
  • Is it my fault that someone harassed or abused me? Was I asking for it?
  • Am I being too assertive & thus “bitchy?” But I don’t want to be a doormat!
  • Do I swear too much? Is that “un-ladylike?” Then again who really gives a damn about being a lady? What did being a lady ever accomplish?
  • Am I eating healthily enough? Am I giving my kid(s) enough vegetables? Are they going to be obese & diabetic at a young age because I’ve allowed them too many carbs or too much sugar? Am I setting them up for a lifetime of health problems?
  • Am I recycling enough? Generally doing enough to help the environment?
  • Am I keeping up with politics & current world events? Nevermind that doing so often feels impossible & incredibly anxiety-provoking…
  • If I say what I really think, I may alienate family & friends. But if I keep my thoughts to myself, I hate myself for being “fake” or repressing my beliefs.
  • Do I post too much on social media? Or not enough?
  • Am I being too strict with my kid(s)? Or not strict enough? Are they going to be in therapy as adults because of me?

This is just a brief list, & I’m sure a lot of men can relate to many of these points too. But I bet the women reading this are REALLY nodding along. And probably thinking of things I should have included but didn’t!

I am a born people-pleaser, as I think many women are. I’m not NEARLY as extreme about it as I used to be, but at the same time I don’t think I’ll ever outgrow the distaste I have for disappointing people who love me or have expectations for me for whatever reason. There is a part of me that just yearns to make people proud. And yet I also know that I can’t live my life in ways that are untrue to who I actually am or what I actually believe. So I’m always caught between those two desires, & it’s a strange line to walk sometimes. Thus when Demi snarls “I can’t spoon-feed you anymore, you’ll have to eat me as I am,” that speaks to my very soul. After all, the WORLD doesn’t have to sleep with my conscience at night- I do. And the same is true for each of us! The world- maybe even your family- is never going to give you the validation you seek, even if you did everything exactly as they’d prefer. Only you can do that. That’s just not how life works. People- & thus life- are more complicated than that.

I don’t know about y’all, but I definitely feel like I’ve turned out differently than predicted or expected, but I like who I am, & I am trying to learn to care less about whether other folks do or not. But it’s definitely a daily struggle. Now we do need to be careful not to use this mindset to justify true selfishness or truly bad behavior. But that’s a post for another day. So for now I’ll just be jamming out to Eat Me & telling the world “I can’t spoon-feed you anymore, YOU’LL HAVE TO EAT ME AS I AM!!!”

Prozac Makes Me a Better Person


I had a whole other blog post typed up & ready to go, just a few minor edits needed, but I decided it was going to have to wait because this is more important. As some of you know, I started this blog almost a decade ago largely as a way to manage my own anxiety & also just because I’ve always loved writing. Writing has been a therapeutic exercise for me for almost as long as I can remember. Anyway, maybe a year or two after I started the blog, I ended up starting medication for my anxiety. I had tried therapy, music, writing, exercise, etc, but I had just gotten to the point that I knew I needed more. My therapist at the time was the one who encouraged me to start medication because she realized that I had exhausted my other resources. It was very difficult for me to admit that I needed medical help for something as “silly” as anxiety, but once I started Prozac I found myself asking “Why the hell didn’t I try this sooner?” I’ve remained on Prozac (actually the generic form fluoxetine, but I’ll just refer it to as Prozac here for simplicity’s sake) for the majority of the past eight years or so. I’ve been able to get off of it for a few months here & there, but I always come back to it sooner or later. It’s always a very low dose & it’s entirely possible that the positive effects I see from it are all a placebo effect, but at this point I don’t care. Results are results, right?

To be clear, I am not necessarily your “typical” anxious person. My anxiety is not the stereotypical kind where you sit around imagining horrible scenarios like car crashes or cancer or things like that. Interestingly, I am in many ways NOT a “worry wart.” For example, when I got married, multiple people told me “You are the most chill bride I’ve ever met!” Furthermore, public speaking has never much bothered me, which is odd for an anxious person, nor have I ever had real testing anxiety. My anxiety, as I’ve written about before, manifests in different ways. It’s more of a heightened sense of awareness, a tendency toward OCD behaviors (or at least OCD thinking), a brain that just NEVER SHUTS UP (people have often told me I think too much- but I don’t know how not to!), a tendency to go “from zero to 60” in just a few seconds. By the latter I mean that when something goes wrong, I often get stuck in a flight/freeze response, rather than being able to actually address the situation productively. Honestly, I struggle to really explain my issues, but an incident happened last night that may serve as a good example. My daughter got her ears pierced this past weekend. As I was putting her to bed last night, I realized that one of the earrings had fallen out. I immediately freaked out. I went running to my husband more or less screaming “She’s lost an earring! I have no idea where it is! We’re going to have to have it redone! This was expensive! HELP ME!”

Now my husband & I have been together for our entire adult lives so he knows me VERY well, but even he was a bit surprised by my outburst. He basically had to tell me to sit down & be quiet while he took care of the situation. He found the missing earring in the bathtub & was able to reinsert it in our daughter’s ear while I sat in the living room more or less hyperventilating & borderline sobbing. Needless to say, I was very grateful to him for handling the situation like he did, & furthermore I apologized to our daughter this morning for my behavior. But that situation made me realize that stopping my Prozac a few weeks ago was probably a crappy idea. I actually hadn’t told my husband I’d stopped it because I wanted him to be as impartial/objective as possible. After we got her to bed, I told him I’d stopped the medication & asked him to be brutally honest with me: Had he noticed a difference in my overall behavior the past few weeks? Did I seem more anxious or irritable or generally “off”? It came as no surprise to me when he said yes because I am self-aware enough to know that I HAVE been more anxious & irritable since stopping the medication- even something as “simple” as the dogs barking has been setting off my anxiety lately. So, needless to say, I restarted the Prozac.

The truth is that even after all these years I still hate being “dependent” on a medication to manage my own brain, but, damn it, it’s also true that Prozac makes me a better mom/wife/person. The problem is that I am really good at managing my anxiety when I’m at work, even without medication, but then I come home & all that pent up anxiety gets let out on my husband & child. And that isn’t fair to them- or really even to me. That’s just the way it is. And it’s not like Prozac is some “miracle pill” that suddenly makes me happy & carefree all the time. It’s definitely not. But it’s still pretty damn good. If I envision my brain as a roiling ocean, Prozac has the effect of changing those roiling, crashing waves into more of a gentle, bobbing current. Instead of the Atlantic Ocean, it’s more like the gentle waves you get at the Gulf of Mexico or Lake Michigan. That probably isn’t the best metaphor but hopefully you get the point.

Having said all of that, one of my greatest gripes with modern society is that we tend to want an easy solution to everything. Whether it’s obesity, high BP, diabetes, anxiety, depression, or any other number of issues, so much of the time we just want to pop a pill & hope it cures us. And frankly that just isn’t realistic. One of my biggest complaints about healthcare is that too many doctors don’t provide truly holistic care & too many patients frankly don’t want it. So often we all just want the easy way out! HOWEVER, what I’ve realized over & over again is that Prozac calms me down just enough that I can actually focus more on my other coping strategies– whether that be writing, music, or doing the really difficult work of analyzing my own life experiences & trying to figure WHY my brain works like it does, what my triggers are, & how to overcome those triggers when they happen- because inevitably they will. But all of that stuff is really hard, & frankly many people never do that kind of inner work ever, so if taking a low dose of a medication makes it easier for me to actually do those things & work on myself as a human being- well, maybe that isn’t such a terrible thing, right?

One of the things I learned in therapy is that sometimes we just have to accept that certain things are out of our control. I keep coming back to an old(er) Five Finger Death Punch song called Will the Sun Ever Rise (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JUWHQGXELGo). It’s all about Ivan’s struggles with his own mental health issues & alcoholism. Anyway, there’s a line that says “Why am I like that? I’m trying to understand myself, Trying to fight through this hell.” That line of “Why am I like that?” runs through my mind a lot. And I do think it’s worth unpacking my past to try to understand WHY my brain functions the way it does, as mentioned above, but I also think sometimes I just have to accept that my brain is the way it is, & that’s not necessarily a good thing or a bad thing. It just IS. The good news is my OCD tendencies & general hyper-alertness/awareness make me a really good nurse. The bad news is too often I drive myself crazy & I can’t relax. Therefore the secret seems to be in finding the balance. And Prozac helps me do that. Maybe someday I will get to the point where I can manage my anxiety without it. But for right now, I think it’s just another tool in my “anti-anxiety shed,” & if it helps me use the other tools in that shed a bit better- well, why the hell not use it?

Lastly- & this is a whole other blog post right here- but I continually have to remind myself that our brains were not meant to handle even HALF of what we have to handle as modern human beings. For most of human history people had no clue what was happening 100 miles from their house, much less what was going on quite literally on the other side of the world. Our brains simply have not evolved fast enough to be able to absorb all of the information we are constantly inundated with these days. Do you think the average parent for most of human history was constantly besought with thoughts of “Am I making healthy enough meals? Are the chemicals in this food going to give my child cancer someday? Is my kid getting too much screen time? Am I doing enough to help the environment? Am I saving enough money for my child’s college fund? Am I being actively anti-racist?” And the list goes on & on. I am not saying any of these concerns are illegitimate or should be ignored. Not at all. But the fact remains that parents, & just humans in general, are processing more information than we ever have at any point in history & are being asked to think more long-term/big picture than ever before. At the same time many people are isolated & have less real human connection than ever before, especially with Covid the past two years. Is it any wonder so many of us struggle with anxiety &/or depression? No, it’s not- not at all. Because our brains simply haven’t had time to evolve to handle all of this!

Just to be clear, this post is not an endorsement of Prozac. I am in no way saying it’s a magic pill or that it’s the solution for everyone. Or even that medication in general is the solution for everyone. All I can say is that it works for me- but again, in combination with other strategies- not as a panacea or as an excuse not to do the inner work I still need to do. But I figure there is probably someone out there who needs to hear someone else say that it’s ok to take medication if you need to. It doesn’t make you weak. One of the greatest strengths we can have is knowing our own limitations & using whatever tools we can find to address them. And for me, at least for now, that means taking my Prozac, whether I like the fact that I need it or not, because it’s important that I be the best version of me for myself, my husband, & our daughter. And if that best version is obtained partly through Prozac- well- so be it.

5 Traits of Successful People


As some of you know, I am an avid reader & have been for basically my entire life. Here lately though, in addition to reading, I have also gotten into podcasts a bit. Because I’m old school & don’t have Spotify or Apple Music, or whatever other platforms people use for podcasts, I just find them on YouTube- you know, the “old fashioned” way. Ha! Anyhow, as far as books, I do love fiction & still read more of that than anything. But I also really enjoy autobiographies & memoirs, particularly from rock stars I admire. So it should come as no surprise that a lot of the podcasts I enjoy are also essentially interviews with my favorite rockstars.

Obviously I enjoy reading/hearing about the lives & backgrounds of musicians whose work I enjoy, but beyond that I also really enjoy hearing about their struggles to find success & how they managed to do so, particularly at a time in history when being a rock star is nothing like it was back in the 70s or 80s. The people living the old school “rock star” lifestyle aren’t actually rock stars now- they’re rappers, pop stars, or even country singers. Rock & metal are arguably more “alternative” & outside of the mainstream now in the 21st century than they were in the 20th century. The point of this is that anyone who finds a way to make a living doing this kind of music nowadays (really any music, but especially rock/metal), whether you like the music or not, is worth a second look. Because, believe me, they haven’t gotten there by pure chance or luck.

Having said all that, between the various books, interviews, & podcasts I’ve consumed about a variety of bands, as well as a handful of athletes that I find interesting (Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, Gronk, Baker Mayfield, Arian Foster, to name a few), there are certain trends I’ve noticed in these people. Just about all of them will acknowledge that some of their success is due to luck or genetic factors over which they have no control, but lots of other people have those same factors or experience the same type of luck & don’t achieve the same kind of success. So- what sets these people apart? Let’s take a look.

(Keep in mind that most of my examples here will be musicians but that doesn’t mean these traits aren’t applicable to other fields- even those of us “regular Joes” with normal jobs.)

  1. Successful people have unwavering, unshakeable self-confidence. This kind of confidence may even come across as arrogance sometimes, but the fact of the matter is, if YOU don’t believe in you, why should anyone else? It might not be fair but that’s just the way the world works. In a recent podcast Aaron Rodgers talked about how he envisioned being an NFL quarterback long before it actually happened. That might sound ridiculous, but as the host of the podcast (Marcus Aubrey) stated, Rodgers would never have made it there if he hadn’t first believed he could.
  2. Successful people do not embrace a victimhood mentality, even when at times it might be justified. Instead, they embrace a “no excuses mentality.” Look at Lzzy Hale. She could have said “You know what? Female rock stars rarely make it. Screw this.” But she didn’t. Diamond from Tetrarch could have said “I don’t see any other black female guitarists in metal bands. This is going to be too difficult. Forget it.” But she didn’t. Ronnie Radke could have said “I’m stuck in prison & my band fired me. I’ll never make it now.” Instead, he formed a new band & wrote an entire album while in prison. And he was performing on the main stage of Warped Tour within a few months of his release (& it’s only been up from there)! From Ashes to New could have said “Man, we lost our singer. No one cares about nu-metal anymore. Forget it.” But they didn’t. And they’re doing better than ever now! Leland Melvin could have said “I don’t know any other black guys who are astronauts or scientists. Forget this.” But he didn’t. Tom Brady could have said “Damn, I was a 6th round draft pick. I’ll never be a star.” But he didn’t- & now he is arguably the best quarterback to ever play the game. Zoltan Bathory of Five Finger Death Punch came to the US knowing almost zero English. His first guitar was made out of a wooden coffee table. No excuses- he made his dreams come true. And the list goes on & on . . .
  3. Successful people are willing to suffer & take risks to achieve their goals. They know that the route to the top doesn’t come easy & they’re willing to do whatever it takes to get there. If that means touring in a crappy van & barely making enough money to buy Ramen or food from the McDonald’s dollar menu (hello, Motionless in White), they’ll do it. Palaye Royale used to tour the country in their mom’s SUV with guitarist Sebastian doing the vast majority of the driving. How he survived, I’ll never understand because there is no way he was getting more than a few hours of sleep each day. Andy Biersack/Black of Black Veil Brides dropped out of high school as soon as he turned 18 & moved from Ohio to Los Angeles to pursue his dreams. At times that meant living in his crappy, old car that barely even worked. But he did it. The guys in Lamb of God used to come off tour & go straight back to being dishwashers & construction workers. It wasn’t glamorous, but that’s how they could pay the bills & continue to pursue their musical dreams. Asking Alexandria moved from England to the US & lived in an RV in a Wal-Mart parking lot in their early days. It wasn’t glamorous either, but it’s how they eventually got the success they have today.
  4. Successful people work harder than anyone else in the room. They don’t count on talent alone to make them successful because they understand that “hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard.” Ice Nine Kills just opened up for Metallica- the biggest metal band in the world- but one of their guitarists (Ricky Armellino) went straight back to work on his other band’s music after the show. Could he have basked in the glory of his accomplishments? Absolutely. But he knows that the constant grinding is a large reason why he’s achieved what he has so far, so why stop now? Long before their current success, Ice Nine Kills frontman Spencer Charnas used to sell his CDs at Warped Tour. His band wasn’t even playing the show! He was just wandering around talking to people & somehow convincing them to buy his music. And he set an insane goal- I think it was 1,000 CDs a day or something like that. And as one of his bandmates recounted in an interview, he never left until he met his goal. Talk about dedication! And talk about an insane belief in yourself to even attempt such a thing! Hats off to you, Spencer.
  5. Successful people are willing to adapt & admit to their own mistakes. A lot of the musicians I’ve listed here have struggled with drug &/or alcohol addiction at some point in their lives. Yet all but maybe one of them are now sober & thriving. Why? They realized their addictions were ruining not just their careers but their lives. And they were willing to do the hard work of addressing why they were using those addictions as coping mechanisms in the first place so they could come out on the other side bigger & better than ever. On a less serious but still important level, think about the bands (or even TV shows) that have really stood the test of time. Most of them don’t sound the same now as they did on their first record. Why? Because they grew & evolved & experimented with new ideas over the years. And people appreciate that because that’s what we as human beings should do- we should grow & evolve & experiment with new ideas over time. And even if we never have to overcome something as crippling as heroin addiction or alcoholism & the gamut of problems that accompany such substance abuse, we should all be “big enough” to admit to our own mistakes & constantly strive to do better.

I talked about this in a previous blog post, but it seems like nowadays people feel like they have to tip toe around their successes for fear of making others feel bad. There is also a lot of focus on self-help books & prayer but not a lot of focus on getting out there & doing the real dirty work that actually leads to success. As I also discussed in the same previous post, we all have a different vision of what success looks like to us, & there is nothing wrong with that. For example, as much as I love rock music & reading/hearing about the artists behind the music, I have absolutely zero desire to live that kind of lifestyle. I’m very happy to be a “regular Joe” (or perhaps I should say Jane?). But I still find a lot of utility & inspiration in hearing about the struggles my favorite artists have faced. My challenges in life may be very different but the mindset I need to overcome those challenges needn’t be so different. And the same is true for you.

I’m a One & Doner & I’m Finally Ok with It


For many of my friends, today is the first day of school for their children. Needless to say, my social media timelines have been filled with posts like this:

“I can’t believe it’s my baby’s first day of Kindergarten. My mama heart isn’t ready for this.”
“My babies are growing up way too fast!”
“I wish I could freeze time. I want them to stay little.”
“Please don’t grow up on me.”

Actually, if I’m being honest, I see these kinds of posts on social media every single day. There’s probably just a higher concentration of them today because of the back to school business. In any case, every time I read these posts, I feel a little pang in my heart, a little voice in my head saying “Why don’t you feel this way? How come you aren’t sad that your baby is growing up? Why don’t you want her to stay little like everyone else? WHAT’S WRONG WITH YOU?!”

If you have talked to me in real life, or even just online, any time in the past two years or so, you probably know that I’ve been struggling with the question of whether or not have another child for quite some time now. If you know my back story, you know that for many years I confidently declared that I was never going to have children, though if I’m being 100% honest, even then I knew there was a good chance I’d change my mind someday. And change my mind I did. Once I got pregnant (100% planned), I initially thought “Ok, we’ll have two kids, two or three years apart, & while it might be hard at first, it will be easier in the long run.” Then our daughter came along & she was jaundiced & somewhat prone to colic. I struggled with breastfeeding & PPD & suddenly I realized “Yeah, I won’t be having another baby any time soon.” Well, five & half years have gone by & I STILL don’t feel ready to face all of that stuff again.

To be clear it’s not pregnancy itself that’s holding me back. While I definitely wasn’t one of those “glowing” pregnant women, I didn’t hate being pregnant either. But neither did I absolutely love it like some women do. Nor is it childbirth holding me back. As painful as that was, if that were the only thing I was hesitant about, I’d be able to get over that in a heartbeat. But no, it’s not any of that that’s holding me back. It’s everything that comes afterward. It’s the long, lonely, sleepless nights. The feelings of helplessness when you can’t soothe your baby any way other than breastfeeding but you’re so touched out that you just want to scream (& sometimes do). It’s the PPD that has colored all of my memories from my daughter’s early months/years. It’s the constant feeling of “I have no idea what I’m doing & I don’t feel naturally suited for this one bit.”

You see, I’m the kind of mom who enjoys her kid more the older she gets, who truly doesn’t miss the baby stage. I’m the kind of mom who hates lots of noise & chaos. I’m the kind of mom who can’t stand crying babies & toddler tantrums but loves teaching her child how to read & write & do math. I find it quite natural to handle my daughter’s emotions when she’s upset about something now that she can verbalize what is bothering her. Even when she’s crying or frustrated, I am good at walking her through those emotions & validating them while also teaching her that she does have to find useful ways to act on those emotions. Because of this I truly believe I won’t struggle that much during her teenage years. (Go ahead & laugh. Everyone always told me I’d regret wanting to grow up but you know what? I don’t. I love being an adult. So there!) As a nurse I know how to handle difficult conversations about mortality & death. I know how to hold the hand of the dying & not be afraid. So talking to my child about difficult subjects? Yeah, I’ve got that covered. No problem.

But dealing with a fussy baby or completely irrational toddlers? Nope, that’s a whole other ball game to which I do not feel at all qualified. Now obviously I survived it once & therefore it would probably be “easier” to repeat the experience, because almost everything is easier the second time, but the fact remains that I just don’t WANT to do it again. And frankly that’s all that really matters, isn’t it? Isn’t it more important that my husband & I maintain our own mental health so that we can successfully raise the child we already have rather than sacrificing that just to have another? Whatever anyone else may think, I certainly think the answer is yes.

At times do I feel like I’m depriving my child of the blessing of having a sibling? Or my parents the blessing of having another grandchild? Yes, absolutely. And those are no doubt reasons why I’ve felt like I “should” have a second baby. And, of course, like everyone, I also suffer from FOMO (fear of missing out)- worries like “Will I regret this someday in the future?” And naturally there is always the feeling of “Well, everyone else has had a second (or third or fourth) kid. Why haven’t you? If they can all handle more than one kid, why can’t you?” Trust me, those thoughts run through my mind more than I’d like to admit.

But at the end of the day, my parents, nor my daughter, would be raising any additional child we should have. My husband & I would be. And if we truly don’t feel like having another one, none of the above reasons matters, not one single bit. Furthermore, when I’ve really examined my reasons for wanting a second child, what I’ve found is that most of them are more along the lines of “Well, you’re SUPPOSED to want another kid” rather than an active desire for one. And frankly that is nowhere near good enough of a reason to bring another life into this crazy world.

So how have I finally started to come to peace with this decision? Well, that’s a big question. One thing I’ve realized is that a lot of moms base their identity on being moms. This is probably one reason that “Mama” T shirts are such a big item these days. And by no means am I saying this is wrong or unhealthy, although I do think there are times when some women expect too much from their kids because of failed relationships. But that’s a whole other blog post right there. The point is, as much as being a mom is my most important role, & as much as it’s the fulcrum on which I make almost every life decision these days, it is not how I identify as a person. Or at least it’s only one of many ways, if that makes any sense. The sense I get is that a lot of women find their value in being needed by their children. For better or worse, I’m just not like that. I find value more in what I can teach my child, just like as a nurse I find my value more in what I can teach my patients & in helping them make informed choices about their health rather than purely in “taking care” of people. What it boils down to is I already felt like a valuable human being before becoming a mom. I already felt like I had a purpose. So being a mom didn’t “save me” the way it does for a lot of women. And again, there is nothing wrong with those who do feel that way. In many ways, I am jealous of such women because I figure they can handle the trials of motherhood better, knowing how much it has also transformed their lives. I mean, if I found a lot of value in my child needing me, I’d probably have handled breastfeeding & colic a lot better. Just saying…

Having said all that, I am finding peace with this decision to be a “one & doner” largely from realizing what I already knew before becoming a mom: I have other uses in this world. Being a mom is a wonderful thing, no doubt, & my child is my greatest & most important “project,” no questions asked. But there are still a lot of other useful roles I can serve in our society that aren’t centered around producing progeny. A lot of this is wrapped up in my career as a nurse of course. But there are other things I do that I think are useful, like donating blood regularly & even writing this blog. And as arrogant or obnoxious as it may sound, I think one of my greatest “callings” in life is simply being a person who encourages people to ask questions, to think about things in new & different ways, to question the “accepted norms” of society, & to be more empathetic, even to those who might seem unworthy. That’s largely what I’m trying to accomplish with this blog- that & just trying to maintain my own sanity of course.

Now obviously most women who have more than one child fulfill many of the same functions in society I just mentioned (& many other functions too). But the fact remains that I don’t think I could do all of these things nearly as well if my sanity were stretched any thinner by having a second child. If other women can (& do) handle multiple kids & work & volunteering, etc, that’s fantastic. But I know my limits & that’s all there is to it.

Lastly, I’m not ruling out the possibility of changing my mind on this. Anything is possible. But I think it’s unlikely at this point. As proof, last week I gave away some of my daughter’s baby clothes to a family in an adjoining neighborhood who are about to become foster parents. That’s something that I have struggled with so much over the years, but finally I was able to do it & not feel super conflicted about it. To be clear, are there moments when I feel sad knowing I’ll likely never use some of her cute baby outfits again? Absolutely. But like all hard decisions, it’s not “black & white.” It’s ok to feel some sadness but also know you’ve made the right choice (same as leaving a job where you like your coworkers but the role has become toxic for whatever reason).

So, if you’re reading this, & you only have one child & really don’t want another one, no matter how much you love the one you have, just know you are not alone. You are not crazy. You are not doing your current child, your parents, your spouse, or the world a disservice by being a “one & doner.” And you can vent to me any time you like about anyone who tries to make you feel bad about your decisions.

11 Lessons From 11 Years of Marriage


Saturday will mark 11 years of marriage for my husband & me. In a way it seems like we just got married, & in another way our wedding day feels like a lifetime ago. A lot has changed but a lot has stayed the same too. My husband just got back from a 10 day work trip & while a few days apart is occasionally nice, I can truly say I missed him & was absolutely thrilled when he got home last night. Even after all these years! Now by no means do I think we are a paragon of marital virtue, but I do think we have some wisdom that’s worth sharing. So today I thought it would be fun to share 11 things I’ve/we’ve learned over the past 11 years.

If I’m being really honest, we learned most of these BEFORE we were married since we were together so long before actually getting married. But these lessons have definitely become even clearer with time. Keep in mind that I am not saying anyone has to follow all of these because not everyone is like us. Also keep in mind that we don’t view divorce as the absolute end of the world either. A lot of people realize they married the wrong person altogether – therefore, divorce is the only logical conclusion. Others might have married the right person at the time but then they grow apart over the years. And that doesn’t have to be the end of the world either. It happens. Obviously we hope neither of those situations every happens to us & we’re doing everything in our power to avoid it, but I just want you to know that if you’re reading this & you’re divorced, it doesn’t mean I think we’re somehow better or smarter than you. Not at all.

Having said all that, here are some lessons we have learned over the years that I think can be useful in keeping a marriage (or any serious relationship) intact.

  1. Express your appreciation often. It’s so easy to take each other for granted but that will kill a relationship. Say thank you & generally let the other person know how much you appreciate them & all the things they do for you on a regular basis. Also, remember that love isn’t expressed so much through tangible gifts as it is through the daily acts of caring for someone & making their life a little easier or better.
  2. Communicate, communicate, communicate! Don’t expect the other person to read your mind. Say what you mean & mean what you say. Bitterness blossoms where communication withers. That picture at the top of the post? Do NOT be that person. That is toxic bullshit that is immature & frankly abusive. Don’t do it!
  3. It’s ok to maintain some separate interests. You don’t have to do EVERYTHING together. Yes, you’re a couple but you’re still two individuals. Maintaining your individuality will only strengthen your relationship.
  4. On that note, it’s ok to have separate bank accounts. This doesn’t mean you can’t share expenses or pass money back & forth as needed, if one of you has a big purchase to make. Or maybe you have a shared large expense (say a new roof for the house) & one has more savings than the other. So you help the other person so that the burden is shared. The point is that you won’t argue as much over discretionary spending if you have separate accounts. “He spent how much on native plants?!” “She spent that much on earrings & CDs?!” See, we avoid these arguments entirely by having separate accounts. I realize this won’t work for everyone, but I think it’s something to consider that most folks don’t even realize is an option.
  5. When you do have an argument, don’t run to your family or friends about it. And definitely don’t run to the internet about it. The more you bring other people into your relationship, the more complicated it will be. Just don’t do it. It never ends well.
  6. Never talk down your spouse in front of others. I realize we all need to vent once in a while, but it’s best to keep that to a very small number of people, & as a general rule we should not be running around bitching about our partner all the time. It only breeds negativity & resentment.
  7. Never stop having sex. I know, I know, it’s hard sometimes to find the time or energy- but make it happen anyway. Perhaps the number one way to kill a relationship is to stop being intimate. As far as I can tell, if you don’t want to have sex, that points to far deeper issues in the relationship than the sex itself. I could write a whole blog post just about this. Oh wait, I already did. You can read that here:https://athicketofmusings.wordpress.com/2021/06/04/do-we-owe-our-spouses-sex/?preview=true.
  8. Share the housework. It’s ok if one of you primarily does certain tasks, but in general things should be shared. If one person is doing everything, that person is going to get burnt out & resent the other person. It’s just human nature. And if the other person takes on a task you normally do & does it slightly differently than you, just go with it. Don’t berate them about it because that just makes you seem unappreciative & decreases the likelihood that the other person will want to help you in the future. Again, that’s just human nature.
  9. Don’t sweat the small stuff. Your husband doesn’t change the TP roll? Your wife leaves hair in the shower? Just pull an Elsa & LET IT GO. No matter who you live with & no matter how much you love them, everyone is going to drive you crazy now & again with certain habits or mannerisms. Think back to your college roommates or your siblings as a child. Didn’t they all do things that annoyed you even if they were also your best friends? I bet the answer is yes. Keep the bigger picture in mind & don’t ruin a relationship over trivial matters that won’t amount to a hill of beans in the long run. (Yes, I just threw in a very country idiom there, just for fun.)
  10. Make time for each other. No matter how busy life gets, make sure you have at least a few minutes each day when you reconnect with each other & check in on how things are going. Even if it’s just 5 minutes before bed talking about your day, it still counts. If you find yourself telling your friends or family about things that you haven’t even told your spouse yet (unless it’s a surprise party you’re planning), that’s a problem.
  11. Marriage isn’t always easy but it really isn’t that hard either. At least if you’re married to your best friend it shouldn’t be. (I for one wouldn’t recommend any other type of marriage.) I think people often say marriage is hard but what they really mean is LIFE is hard. It’s just that the two often go hand in hand. So yes, life will throw you curveballs & you will likely face challenges you didn’t anticipate, but if you’re married to your best friend & you keep the lines of communication open, anything is possible.

I Will Not Apologize for My Success


“You know she used some kind of diet pills to lose all that weight, right? There is no way she did that on her own.”

“I wish she’d stop posting those workout pictures all the time. No one cares about her stupid workout.”

“She must have slept with her boss. There is no way she got that promotion otherwise.”

We’ve all heard it, & we’ve all been guilty of it at times, myself included. We see someone else doing “better” than us, whether it’s related to fitness, wealth, career, family, or something else entirely, & suddenly we feel like we’re not up to par. What’s the natural human reaction when we feel like this? Tear down the other person, of course! They must have “cheated” somehow. They must have found a loophole or an easier route to success, right? Surely they couldn’t have accomplished whatever it is without some kind of “hack,” right? Right?!

What I’m trying to say is that I’ve noticed a trend nowadays of constantly minimizing or apologizing for our own success in life, largely out of fear of creating some kind of jealous backlash from others. I don’t know about y’all but I think this is nonsense. I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve had some tremendous advantages in life- namely being born in America into a stable, loving family who values education & hard work. That right there is worth more than any wealth or material things. I’m also white & I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that that’s still an advantage in this country (& probably in most of the world). Having said all that, I am sick of seeing people, myself included, feel like they have to tip toe around anything they’ve accomplished for fear of making others feel bad. And worse yet, I’m sick of seeing people tear down others who they feel have accomplished more than they have.

Am I endorsing constantly bragging about your salary or extravagant purchases or anything like that? No, of course not. There are ways to be tactful & there are certainly times in which it’s best to keep things under wraps a bit. For example, if your best friend has just had a miscarriage, now is not the time to be bombarding her with your own pregnancy updates. Duh. I’m all about being compassionate & sensitive to the needs of others, which if you know me in real life, you should understand. On the same token though, if I’ve lost weight & want to share about it because I’m proud of myself, I shouldn’t have to be afraid to do so because it might make someone else feel bad. Or if I’ve gotten a new job, I shouldn’t be afraid to tell people because it might make them doubt their own career choices.

What I’m getting at here is that how we respond to other people’s success says a lot more about US than it does about the other person. If I’m doing well at something & you’re not, I’m not responsible if my success makes you feel bad. On the other hand, if you’re doing better at something than I am, you are not responsible if your success makes me feel bad. Life is not all about feeling good all the time. Sometimes we NEED to feel bad- it’s how we get motivated to do better!

To be clear, I am writing this mainly from the perspective of what I’ve seen & heard from friends & family rather than what people have said about me/my husband. One of the best things about moving out of our hometown & into an urban area where hardly anyone knows us is that people don’t really talk about us. Not enough people here know us, especially outside of work, to really have any interest in gossiping about us. And if anyone gossips about us at home, well- we’re blissfully unaware of it! And my suspicion is there are far more interesting folks than us to talk about there, anyway. (Ha!)

However, because this is such a part of human nature, I’ve also noticed this phenomenon in the media/social media with celebrities, musicians, etc. As you may know, I am a huge fan of rock/metal. One thing I’ve noticed quite often is that when a band starts doing well, people start making excuses for their success. “Well, they knew so & so.” “Wow, they really blew up overnight. They’re so lucky.” What these people are almost always missing is all the YEARS (sometimes decades) of hard work that were poured into the music PRIOR to that success. They didn’t witness those years of the band touring in a van & living off of Ramen & the McDonald’s dollar menu- because the band wasn’t successful yet, so they weren’t even aware of their existence.

The same could be said for all kinds of situations. People want to think that someone just got lucky & that’s why they’ve accomplished XYZ success, but the truth of the matter is that luck is usually only one small component. Is it true that some people are born with certain advantages that others aren’t? Of course. We’d be lying if we said otherwise. But one thing I’ve noticed over & over when I read the stories of successful people (or talk to them in real life) is that they never focus on the obstacles in their way or the reasons why they “can’t” achieve their goals. They do NOT embrace a victimhood mentality even when at times perhaps it could be justified.

So, the next time you see someone achieving their goals & generally being successful in life (however you define that), & you start to feel bad about your own life, I challenge you to ask yourself two things.

  1. Do I actually want that kind of success? Each of us has a different definition of success so there is no need to be jealous of someone if their version of success doesn’t match your version anyway.
  2. How can I use this jealousy or these feelings of inadequacy as fuel to light my own fire? Instead of tearing down the other person or wallowing in pity for myself, let me take some time to define my own goals & start taking concrete steps to achieve them.

I will end by saying I am writing this as much to myself as to anyone. I’m over here struggling to lose the same 10-15 lbs I’ve been trying to lose (or losing & then regaining) for 5 years now. (Major face palm!) Sometimes I see other women (or men) who are in better shape than I am, & it is SO EASY to think “Oh well, they must have better genes than I do. They must have more free time than I do,” etc. But you know what? Whether those things are true or not doesn’t change the fact that I still have to do the work if I want to see changes.

Having said that, I’m off to do a workout! Putting some action behind these words!

A Treatise on Plastic Surgery


If it’s controversial, I’m going to write about it sooner or later- y’all should know that by now. And what could be more controversial than plastic surgery? Well, a lot actually. Nonetheless it’s definitely a topic that’s sure to raise a few eyebrows & has a lot of grey areas. There are a couple of reasons why this subject has been on my mind recently. First, I’ve seen an increase in the number of patients coming in for surgical clearance for plastic surgery at my job over the past few years. Second, I’ve seen an increasing number of my own acquaintances undergoing plastic surgery. Third, Rammstein, the infamous German metal band, recently released a new song called Zick Zack which is a critique of our society’s obsession with plastic surgery (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hBTNyJ33LWI). And yes, it’s exactly as humorous & grotesque & profound as you would expect it to be, coming from Rammstein. Last, over the past few months I’ve been trying to FINALLY finish watching the TV series New Girl (yes, I know it’s been off the air for years now), & I’m currently on season five which guest stars Megan Fox who has become something of a poster child for plastic surgery (https://mostcommonplasticsurgery.com/megan-fox-plastic-surgery-before-and-after/). There’s no denying that she’s gorgeous, but I just can’t look at her without feeling like her face screams “fake!” And when I look back at old pictures of her, she was ALWAYS gorgeous anyway. It seems a symptom of a greater disease that someone like her would feel so compelled to surgically alter her face over & over again . . .

Anyway, before I go any further, let me remind you that, as always, I speak for no one other than myself here. I make no claims to be perfect or to have special wisdom on any subject. I don’t expect, or even want, everyone to agree with me. I write these kinds of posts simply to clear my own mind & to encourage discussion & critical thinking. That’s it. Furthermore, when speaking of plastic surgery in this post I am NOT referring to the following things: plastic surgery done because of scars, burns, or other traumatic injuries; mole removals (even if done purely for cosmetic reasons); breast reductions; breast implants done in the context of breast cancer (or even in the context of an elective mastectomy to prevent breast cancer). Nor am I referring to rhinoplasty done in the context of surgery to fix other nasal problems (e.g. deviated septum). If you have to go under the knife anyway, why not get a little more out of it? I think most of us can understand that.

What I AM talking about are breast augmentation, liposuction, Brazilian butt lifts, rhinoplasty, blepharoplasty (eyelid surgery), face lifts, etc that are performed PURELY for cosmetic reasons. Now, far be it from me to deem any of these procedures right or wrong, good or evil, or to say they should be illegal. If you’re reading this & you’ve chosen to undergo one of these procedures yourself, far be it from me to judge you for it. One of my core beliefs as a libertarian is that we all own our own bodies & can & should be able to do with them as we please. If that means surgically changing them, well, that’s our right.

HOWEVER, I also think that we as a society need to think about the greater implications of these things. What kind of message are we sending our children, especially girls, when we reinforce the idea that a “perfect” body is necessary for happiness? What does it say about our society when so many adults hate their own bodies so much or feel so unhappy with them that they are willing to take on all the risks of surgery to “fix” them? And how many people undergoing these procedures actually understand all the risks they’re taking? For example, in recent years I’ve seen an increase in the number of stories about women having breast implants removed due to a myriad of health problems associated with them. Former racecar driver Danica Patrick just shared her own story about this a few days ago (https://www.si.com/extra-mustard/2022/05/04/danica-patrick-former-racer-opens-up-breast-implant-illness-instagram-post). In fact, there have been so many issues related to breast implants that they now come with a black box warning from the FDA. Does that mean I think they should be illegal? Absolutely not. But it DOES mean that women need to have a much greater understanding of the risks they’re taking. As one doctor pointed out in an article I read about this yesterday, if you’re going to have the surgery, you better make sure you have the money not just for the implantation but also to have them removed in case that becomes necessary in the future. Having them removed can be even more expensive than the initial surgery, which is something most women don’t realize.

I know a lot of people say “What’s the harm in doing something that makes you love yourself more?” No doubt that argument is very tempting. But where does it end? It’s a slippery slope if you ask me. Sure, there are things about me I’d have changed if I’d been able to construct my own face/body. But that’s not how life works. I think one of our biggest life lessons is learning to love ourselves as we are, even if the reflection in the mirror isn’t exactly what we want to see all the time. Does this mean we should never take action to lose weight or gain muscle or generally get ourselves healthier or in better shape? Absolutely not. But it does mean that we need to value ourselves for more than our physical appearance. After all, physical beauty is NOT paramount.

If you’re lived longer than about 25 years, you should know by now that external beauty is not the “be all end all” of existence. When life gets hard, you are not going to care one bit if your partner has six pack abs or DD perfectly perky breasts. That’s not to say that physical attraction isn’t important in relationships. We are animals after all- so of course it is. But we are also capable of a lot more than just animal lust. You can’t sustain a relationship long term if the only attraction is physical. (It’s entirely possible that a great example of that is playing out in the courtrooms right now with Johnny Depp & Amber Heard.) In the end, a person’s sense of humor, their goals & ambition, their compassion & empathy- these are the things that, when combined with physical attraction, will keep a relationship going for years & years. And yes, I am speaking from experience but you certainly don’t have to trust me. I think most adults will admit this. And it’s not even just about romantic relationships. Self-love that is actually sustaining & mature must necessarily be based on a lot more than just physical appearance as well. After all, the most important relationship any of us will ever have, the one that shapes & informs all of our other relationships, is the one we have with ourselves.

If I’m being perfectly honest, do I wish my stomach were as flat as it was before Rachel? (Who am I kidding- it was never perfectly flat- but it was flatter than it is now.) Yes, the truth is I do wish that. But am I going to surgically alter my body to change it? No way! Did I use a topical cream to aid in “erasing” my pregnancy stretch marks? I sure did. But that has no potential for long-term consequences. There is no inherent risk with that like there is with surgery. Do I wish my ribcage & hips would go back to their “original” dimensions (what they were pre-baby)? Yes, sometimes I do. But my husband certainly doesn’t care. And if it doesn’t affect his attraction to me, why should it affect MY attraction to me, if you know what I mean? I never want to have to tell my daughter that I surgically altered my body because I didn’t like the way it looked after it carried her. What an incredibly damaging message that would send to her! I never want her to think she ruined my body because she didn’t. And I never want her to think that she isn’t good enough exactly as she is. So if that means living with my own “less than perfect” body, so be it.

Again, this isn’t meant to demean or judge anyone who has had plastic surgery or is considering it. But I do wish people would stop & think about the long-term consequences, both physical & emotional, of these things, & the messages we’re sending to each other when these kinds of procedures are normalized. I would ask you to ask yourself- “Is this REALLY going to make me happy or am I just covering up for some greater internal self-hate that I don’t want to face? And I am willing to face the consequences if I have to have this reversed or experience complications related to the procedure?I’m all about people making informed choices, even if they choose very differently than I would/do.

Feel free to share your thoughts on the matter. I sincerely hope this came across as nonjudgmental because that’s how I meant it. I just want to spark conversations & critical thinking about a subject that I think has become far too normalized & even celebrated as somehow being an empowering thing to do.

The Evolution of Modern Pop & Rock Stars


I’m technically an 80s baby but I don’t actually remember the 80s (my first memories are probably 1991 or 1992) so calling me a 90s kid is a more apt description. Now that my generation are in our 30s I feel like I see a lot of nostalgia for the 90s. In a way I get it- I think it’s natural to feel nostalgia for the time in your life when you were “young & innocent.” However, if I’m being honest, I can’t say I share in this nostalgia very much. It’s not that I had a horrible childhood or anything like that. But the way my brain works I’ve just been much happier as an adult. In other words, I’ve been “old at heart” for almost as long as I can remember, so being an adult just suits me a lot better. Therefore, I can’t say I share in much of the 90s nostalgia. Furthermore, while there are some societal changes that have occurred over the past two decades that I’d rather hadn’t happened, I think a lot of the changes we’ve seen have actually been good. I won’t get into all of them here because that isn’t the point of today’s post. But one of the changes I’ve noticed is the difference in both pop stars & rock stars from the 80s-90s or even early 2000s vs those today.

I’ve thought about this subject quite a lot over the past few years but the reason it came to mind now is because I recently discovered a Norwegian pop star called Sigrid. I found her because she did a song with a rock band I follow called Bring Me the Horizon (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o4552tadeuM). The song is absolutely gorgeous, both musically & lyrically, & I’ve been very pleasantly surprised with Sigrid’s other music that I’ve checked out over the past few days. While pop music will never have the same appeal for me as rock or metal- I NEED my heavy guitars & drums, I really do (they just SPEAK to me- if you know, you know)- I have been very impressed with her gorgeous voice & her unique appearance. While she is far from ugly, Sigrid is definitely not your stereotypical pop star. She wears little if any makeup & usually dresses in jeans & T shirts. Much like Billie Eilish she is NOT the overly sexualized pop stars of my youth. Watching their videos, these girls are so different than Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, the Spice Girls, & that whole coterie that dominated pop music when I was young. And for that I am very grateful. Maybe it’s just proof that everything is cyclical. Or maybe it’s proof that the MeToo movement has indeed had some positive impacts across our greater culture.

While I don’t think there is anything inherently wrong with sexuality- it’s obviously just part of our biology- I also ascribe to what I call the Lzzy Hale belief that talent & skills should always come first. In other words, it’s ok to be sexualized at times- it’s probably inevitable, especially for women- but it’s better to be valued & known principally for other things. As she said, “Anything I have done has been purely because I wanted to do it. So I feel lucky being that way, but my rule is it can’t start & end with just the high skirts & the high heels. You have to have something to back it up. Again, my encouragement to anybody is do what you want to do, but if you’re going to be in music, don’t just be the long legs. Make sure that you work very hard at your instrument & your band.” (http://sofa-king-cool-magazine.com/halestorms-lzzy-hale-sex-and-rock-n-roll-go-hand-in-hand/). Ideally I think we should be able to appreciate people much more holistically, even if they do present themselves in an overtly sexual manner, but the truth of the matter is that just doesn’t happen very often. I think you could argue that male “sex symbols” struggle with this sometimes too, though perhaps to a lesser extent or in somewhat different ways. But that’s a post for another day.

In any case, I for one find it much more encouraging to know that some of today’s pop stars aren’t as overly sexualized as the ones from my youth. They’re wearing more clothes, their lyrics are more introspective & far less vapid, & their dancing isn’t half as “sexual.” Granted there were/are pop stars from my younger years that I feel like were less sexualized- or at least did it more in their own way rather than just being the product of a record label. (Pink & Lady Gaga are good examples & I enjoy both of them.) But overall, I feel like pop stars like Britney Spears were largely just victims of a music industry that was using them for as much as they could get, long-term consequences to the women themselves or greater society be damned. I certainly am much more comfortable knowing that my daughter has a greater chance of growing up with female pop stars who are far more empowering than the ones from my generation.

Now when it comes to rock stars, I think it’s very interesting to observe that the whole “sex, drugs, & rock & roll” thing has really changed course drastically. In the 80s, bands like Motley Crue (whom I love) truly embodied that phrase- to their own detriment of course. Then came the early 90s & grunge, which I’m too young to remember of course, but I do love a lot of that music. Sadly, between cocaine & heroin far too many of those musicians never made it out of their 20s. Obviously drug use is still a problem in the rock scene, as evidenced by the recent tragic death of drummer Taylor Hawkins from the Foo Fighters. But in general I think drug use, even heavy drinking, has radically decreased over the past 10-15 years among most rock stars. When I think about most of my favorite rock stars, many of them have either been sober for many years now after recovering from previous addictions or they have managed to avoid those addictions altogether. I’ve even got a list to prove it:

Chris Motionless from Motionless in White has endorsed a “straight edge” type lifestyle his entire musical career. He has spoken openly about never using drugs or alcohol & having no interest in trying them. He has even spoken out against “hook up” culture.

Andy Biersack from Black Veil Brides had a brief course of alcoholism & minor drug use early in his career (during which time he was largely underage anyway) but has since been completely sober for many years now. Furthermore he is married to the same woman he’s been with since he was about 20 (he’s now 31).

Brent Smith from Shinedown is another recovered addict. So is Sully Erna from Godsmack. And Dorothy from the band of the same name. And Randy Blythe from Lamb of God. And Corey Taylor of Slipknot. So are Ivan Moody & Chris Kael from Five Finger Death Punch (as well as their former drummer Jeremy Spencer). And the list goes on…

To be honest the only truly modern band (as in whose members are 20-30s) I can think of that really embodied the whole “sex, drugs, & rock & roll” philosophy is Asking Alexandria (& I guess some members of Five Finger Death Punch years ago- but they’re also a bit older). And you know what? They quickly learned it wasn’t going to work for them. Now all five guys are married or in long term relationships & all but one have at least one child. They all quit drugs & either cut out or minimized alcohol years ago. And that’s probably why, unlike so many other bands before them, they’re still around.

Nowadays a lot of rock (& pop) stars are anything but the proverbial “bad boy.” Sure, they might have long hair, loads of tattoos, a couple facial piercings, & some may even wear more makeup than most women, but many of them are genuinely good people whose “fearsome” appearance belies their true nature. Granted this was probably true for a lot of older rock stars too. But many of them really DID use a lot of drugs & generally lived up to the sex, drugs, & rock & roll lifestyle. Nowadays, in the age of social media, the MeToo movement, environmental consciousness, etc, I think society demands a lot more from our rock stars. We don’t want to see them trashing hotel rooms or read about them screwing hookers backstage while snorting cocaine off their bodies. No- that’s not cool anymore. And for that I am very grateful.

So yeah, I don’t really miss the 90s. If that makes me an uncool millennial, well, so be it. After all, I’ve never been very cool, so why start now?

What do y’all think? Has our society made positive steps in what we demand from or appreciate about our pop/rock stars? I certainly think so.

My Thoughts on Cam Newton’s Latest Escapade


In case you missed it, Cam Newton has recently found himself in hot water over some comments he made about women & relationships on a recent podcast (see this link for a quick summary: https://nypost.com/2022/04/11/cam-newton-opines-about-women-who-cant-cook-and-dont-know-when-to-be-quiet/). For some background, in case anyone isn’t familiar with why I even care about what Cam Newton says, he has been the quarterback of the Carolina Panthers- the only NFL team in our state- for most of my adult life. Cam is also my age & led the Panthers to an almost undefeated season in 2015, capped off by a Superbowl appearance against Peyton Manning & the Broncos (which unfortunately they lost). Since then, if I’m being honest, his career has been mostly downhill. But there is just something about Cam that I have always liked. Maybe it’s his winning smile, maybe it’s the way he loves to throw footballs to kids after scoring touchdowns, maybe it’s the confidence he has to wear ridiculous outfits & not care that a large portion of the press (not to mention everyday Americans) makes fun of him for it. Whatever it is, there’s just something about the man I can’t help but like.

Now on the surface, I’ll admit his recent comments make me cringe a bit. They were clearly badly worded & generally in poor taste. And- let’s be real- I’m not sure Cam is someone I’d consider a bastion of romantic wisdom. This is a man who fathered four children in just under four years with a former stripper with whom he had an on-again, off-again relationship (Kia Proctor)- AND had an affair with an Instagram model which resulted in a child who was born shortly before his last child with Proctor. Let’s be real- maybe HE is the one who needs some romantic advice! This, of course, many have pointed out. I’ll admit I found myself laughing & nodding along when I read the reaction of Kayle Nicole (Travis Kelce’s girlfriend): “That man ain’t had a job in months. He has nothing but time to “be quiet” and get that ass in the kitchen.” I mean, she has a point, a very legitimate point!

Having said that, one of my main goals in life is to judge every concept on its own merits. What that means is I sincerely try not to throw the baby out with the bathwater. In other words, even if I generally like someone, it doesn’t mean I take every word they say as gospel. Furthermore, even if I generally don’t like someone or don’t respect a certain aspect of their lives, it doesn’t mean everything they say is garbage. I still try to judge their words & actions as objectively as I can. Isn’t there an old Biblical proverb about how even an ass speaks the truth every once in a while? (Yes, there is- I looked it up. Google it if you don’t believe me.)

Anyway, the point is, yes, I generally like Cam but I also am very willing to admit that he probably isn’t the best person to be dispensing relationship advice. Also, it’s entirely possible that what I’m reading into what he said is just an attempt to “whitewash” it & make it more acceptable to myself since I do generally like him as a person- though obviously I don’t actually KNOW him, & he could in fact be just as much of a sexist pig as most of the media has been screaming ever since his recent comments came to light.

Enough preamble. Let’s get to the meat of the issue! Upon closer inspection of Cam’s comments what I’m hearing him say is that men these days no longer feel needed. Perhaps at times they don’t even feel WANTED. And this is something that I think we ladies need to seriously consider. Let’s be real- as women we NEVER have to worry about feeling superfluous. If for absolutely no other reason, we KNOW that men will ALWAYS need & want us for sex. Always! And any decent man will want us for more than just that. Men on the other hand- especially in the age of IVF & sperm donors, financial independence, & general societal equality (all of which are obviously good things)- do actually run the risk of feeling superfluous- or, to put it bluntly, unnecessary. Does this mean we women need to go around catering to every man’s needs & desires & foregoing our own? Of course not! But what I think Cam was trying to say is that he is tired of hearing women say “I’m a strong, independent woman & I don’t need no man.” And then wondering why men aren’t interested. Or why men feel unwanted. It’s the same phenomenon that happens when women constantly bemoan all men for being liars & cheaters & then wonder why decent men avoid them.

Now obviously I think it’s fantastic that women don’t need men for many of the things we used to need them for (e.g. bank accounts, generally supporting us financially), but at the same time, relationships cannot survive if both partners don’t feel needed & valued emotionally. That’s just basic human psychology. And I think maybe that’s what Cam was rather ineloquently trying to say. So as tempting as it is to just throw him under the bus as another sexist entitled brat- which, naturally, is the popular feminist thing to do- I think his comments touch on some deeper issues at play in our society & thus are worthy of some deeper inspection. Is he (or someone like him) someone I’d be jumping up & down to date? Not hardly! But that doesn’t mean everything he has to say about relationships is garbage. After all, ladies, if we expect men to take our criticisms of them seriously (& obviously we do), then we have to return the favor. If we can dish it, we have to be able to take it too, as the old saying goes.

Again, I will gladly admit that maybe I’m just twisting Cam’s comments into something I think is valid or acceptable. That’s always possible. But the contrarian, anti-establishment element of me just can’t help but speak up when I see (almost) everyone else running the other way & decrying Cam as just another sexist idiot. Maybe he is. Even so, maybe he did touch on something worthwhile, albeit not in the most eloquent fashion. Or maybe he just needs to hang out with some women who have actual life skills & goals & aren’t just pretty faces on sexy bodies who are likely just after his money. That’s always a possibility too!

What do y’all think? Did I read way more into this than I should have, likely just to make myself feel better? Or is it possible I’m onto something? In any case, I’ll end by saying this- even if I’m wrong about what Cam meant by his recent comments, I still think the idea of men feeling superfluous in our society is a legitimate concern & something that we all need to consider.