The Unexpected Genius of Miley Cyrus

Ahh, Flowers by Miley Cyrus ( It’s all the rage these days, filling up my social media timeline & sparking new memes galore. And for once I’m actually in the know about a pop song! Shocking, I know. Usually I am either blissfully unaware of pop music or I intentionally ignore it like the plague. In fact I told my therapist the other week that I almost pathologically ignore anything that is overly popular in society, whether that’s movies, music, TV shows, or books. It’s something that may or may not be healthy. Anyway, THIS time my curiosity got the better of me & I’m glad it did. Last week the song showed up on my YouTube recommendations- which is a bit odd because I still only know a grand total of three Miley Cyrus songs, the other two being five to ten years old at this point. And I certainly don’t listen to enough other pop music to trigger the pop algorithm. But in any case, it showed up & I was intrigued- but not enough to truly check it out. HOWEVER, after seeing so much about the song on social media, I couldn’t help doing a quick Google search on it to try to better understand the popularity of the song. That was enough to get me curious again & THEN I noticed that one of my favorite YouTube channels did a reaction video to the song. Considering I have a lot in common with the musical tastes of the guys who run the channel, I decided to watch their reaction video ( & thus check out the song that way. As it turns out, I was just as enthralled by the genius of the song as they were. But I’m not sure that I love it for the same reasons everyone else does (or seems to).

I see a lot of people comparing this song to Goodbye Earl by the Dixie Chicks (yeah, yeah, I know they go by simply The Chicks now but they’ll always be the Dixie Chicks to me), & while I can certainly see why that’s a tempting comparison, I’m not sure it’s actually as fitting as a lot of folks think. Now there are internet rumors that Miley filmed the Flowers video at a house where her ex-husband (Liam Hemsworth- I couldn’t have told you who her ex-husband was before last week) cheated on her with some 14 other women. While I haven’t done a deep dive, a cursory Google search tells me that Miley has explicitly stated that infidelity was NOT the reason for her & Liam’s divorce, so I’m inclined to say there’s nothing much to substantiate such rumors. Plus, if you really look at the lyrics, this to me is not actually a revenge song- & that’s why it’s so brilliant.

You see, the reason I love this song is that it encourages people (especially women) to have a healthy, fulfilling relationship with themselves first. As trite as it may sound, I truly believe that’s the only foundation for a stable, mature, fulfilling relationship with anyone else anyway. So if you don’t have that, all of your other relationships will suffer & perhaps fail altogether. I’ve never been a fan of Miley- in fact I struggle to think of her as anything other than the scantily clad girl who twerked with Robin Thicke a decade ago- but this song has made me read up on her a bit more & give her a lot more respect. For example, I think it was very insightful how she talked about her & Liam clinging to each other & jumping into marriage in the aftermath of the fire that burned down their house & realizing later that, while that may have seemed logical at the time, it didn’t actually erase all their prior issues or magically make their relationship healthy. Furthermore, I love that she acknowledges that even though their relationship wasn’t perfect, she still misses it at times. Now, isn’t that true for all of us? Whether it’s an ex-partner, a town where we used to live, or even a job, there are so many things & people in our lives that are ultimately toxic or hurtful, yet we still find ourselves missing them at times. That’s just human nature. And I think acknowledging that is incredibly important. Furthermore, Miley never tears down her ex in the song- in fact she says she forgives him for everything. Thus, I see this as a very mature way to heal from a relationship that was clearly imperfect but also very important in her life.

Now is it possible- as internet rumors tell us- that she chose the suit she wears towards the end of the video because it was Liam’s & he wore it at a movie premier where he rather cheekily told her to “behave for once”? Yes, that’s possible, & I can’t say I blame her (though, having watched the brief clip from that movie premier, I can’t totally blame him for what he said either). Is it also possible that she shows off her incredibly well toned body in the video in a sort of “Ha! See what you’re missing!” manner? Yes, that’s entirely possible also, & again, I can’t say I blame her.

While Flowers was clearly based on a romantic relationship, I would be remiss if I didn’t point out the other reason I love it so much. The beauty of art- especially music- is that it can be interpreted in multiple ways, even ways that might not have been intended by the artist. So, while I cannot relate to this song in the sense of a failed marriage, I can relate to it in other ways. When I listen to it (& inevitably sing along), I’m not thinking about an ex-husband or partner who did me wrong. Instead I’m thinking about society in general (as well as certain people in particular) who have rejected me, ignored me, or generally told me I’m not good enough, disappointing, or otherwise not up to par. As much as I sometimes long for greater acceptance by certain groups or people or society in general, at the end of the day I have to remind myself that it’s MY conscience I have to sleep with at night. And if that means that in some areas of life I will always be a bit of an outsider, well- that’s ok.

After all, “I can buy myself flowers/Write my name in the sand/Talk to myself for hours/Say things you don’t understand/I can take myself dancing/And I can hold my own hand/Yeah, I can love me better than you can.

Now, don’t y’all worry- I haven’t gone totally soft. I’m still listening to plenty of the heavy stuff. In fact, just last night I discovered a new (to me) German metal band that I’m geeking out about. AND I’m counting down the days till I get to see Papa Roach & Falling in Reverse in a few weeks.

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 ( 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 ( 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 ( 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.

I Am the Fire

I don’t usually do short blog posts like this, but for some reason I feel compelled to write this one today, so here we go.  Perhaps it’s because it’s a Monday morning which marks the start of a new work week.  Perhaps it’s because in addition to that it’s February 1 which often times marks the day on which many of us realize just how poorly we’ve done with our new year’s resolutions.  destiny choice

In any case, today just feels like a day on which a lot of us could use some motivation, a good swift kick in the ass to remind us that the only thing standing between us & our goals is US . . . And any & all of the inordinate number of excuses we so masterfully create!  If we spent as much energy working towards our goals as we do creating elaborate excuses for ourselves, imagine how much we could accomplish?  In other words, no one has the power to change your life except YOU!  While initially this might seem scary, I choose to think of it as empowering.  And you can definitely do the same.change yesterday

With all of that self-empowerment in mind, I’d like to share one of my favorite songs off of Halestorm’s latest album Into the Wild Life (which some of you may recognize as my choice for the best album of 2015).  If this song doesn’t make you feel like you’re ready to take on the world, I don’t know what will.

into the wild life

You need this album. You really do.

Here are the lyrics:

Am I brave enough?
Am I strong enough?
To follow the desire
That burns from within
To push away my fear
To stand where I’m afraid
I am through with this
Cause I am more than this
I promise to myself
Alone & no one else
My flame is rising higher

I am the fire
I am burning brighter
Roaring like a storm
And I am the one I’ve been waiting for
Screaming like a siren
Alive & burning brighter
I am the fire

I’ve been sacrificed
My heart’s been cauterized
Hanging on to hope
Shackled by the ghost
Of what I once believed
That I could never be
What’s right in front of me

I am the fire
I am burning brighter
Roaring like a storm
And I am the one I’ve been waiting for
Screaming like a siren
Alive & burning brighter
I am the fire

I don’t believe I’ll fall from grace
Won’t let the past decide my fate
Leave forgiveness in my wake
Take the love that I’ve embraced

I promise to myself, me & no one else
I am more than this
I am the fire…

I am the fire
I am burning brighter
Roaring like a storm
And I am the one I’ve been waiting for
Screaming like a siren
Alive & burning brighter
I am the fire

change your life