Is There A Script For Life?

We are born, we live, we die.  Is that the script? What about all that’s in between, you ask?  Is there a script?  Before you say no too quickly, consider this.

We are born.  We are identified as male or female.  We are dressed in pink or blue.  We are given dolls or trucks to play with very often at the exclusion of the other.  And letting a brother play with his sister’s toys doesn’t count.  When was the last time you brought a Tonka truck as a gift to a little girl’s birthday party? Or a Barbie doll to a little boy’s birthday party? See. We’ve been trained. 

We are being indoctrinated from the minute we’re born.  If you’re born a boy, you like this, do this, act like this.  If you’re a girl, you say this, do this and don’t do that.  Sit like a lady.  

Then we are forced to go to school.  There are rules.  Even the parents have rules to follow.  If they don’t, there are consequences.  They could be as simple as an eyebrow raise.  But you are being told you did bad.  You did something wrong.  And it’s enough to make you stop.

By the time we’ve made it through Kindergarten and then another 12 years of school, we’ve learned a lot of rules.  One of the biggest parts of that is what we’re supposed to do for the next 12 years.  Go to school.  Get good grades.  (More of the same).  Graduate.  Find a job.  Move up the ladder.  Make money.   Buy stuff.  Get a nice car, buy a house, get all the latest gadgets.  Get a boyfriend or girlfriend.  Turn them into a husband or wife.  (Ladies, don’t ask.  That’s his job).  Have a wedding.  White dress.  Then come the kids.  And then you indoctrinate them to take your place in this world.

There are some allowable deviations from this.  You could get a job right out of high school instead of going to college (or a trade school). Depending on your family background, no one would question that.  You could start a business. All that really matters is that you’re making money.  And you just have to do a little better than your parents did to be considered a “success.”

Still not convinced?

If there’s no script, then why do we try to make sense of the people who don’t follow it?  The people who don’t get married. The people who don’t have kids.  The ones who quit a “good job” to start a crazy business.  The woman who divorces her perfect husband.  The mother who gives the father primary custody.  The people who voluntarily smudge their perfect, enviable life.

Just talk to a woman approaching 40 who isn’t married and doesn’t have a boyfriend.  What’s wrong with me?  Why can’t I find someone? I’m never going to find a husband.  I’m going to spend my life alone.  I’m going to be an old maid. 

Then eavesdrop on the people talking about her.  What’s wrong with her? Why is she scaring the men away? Why can’t she keep a man?  How can she still be single?  She must be doing something wrong.  

Need an example? Jennifer Aniston.

These judgments are life’s way of trying to auto-correct the people who aren’t following the script.  Like a GPS when you’ve turned down the wrong street.  It will automatically recalculate the route.

I am a successful lawyer.  Very often when I talk to someone for the first time about leaving the law I get the cockeyed confused dog look.  But why would you want to do that?  You’re a lawyer man!  You made it! 

Made it where?

The only acceptable deviation from the script is if it ultimately makes you rich.  If it made you rich, then you’re brilliant.  If you took a risk and you’re still broke, you’re an idiot. A cautionary tale.

Please prove to me that I am wrong.  I might be able to be convinced.

Am I Missing Out Without Kids?

It’s 10:00 AM on a Friday.  I am sipping coffee at my breakfast table and watching the Today Show.  Hoda Kotb is talking to her co-host Jenna Bush Hager about making friends later in life. Jenna suggests that she naturally makes friends with her kids’ parents because they all have their children in common.  This got me thinking.  How many things am I missing out on because I don’t have kids?  Or rather, am I?  Missing out on anything, that is?  I’ll never make those friends that I perhaps would have made because we don’t have the kids in common.  But then it begs the question: What else do you have in common?  And if you didn’t have the kids in common, would you be compatible as friends at all?

My boyfriend and life partner (of 9 years and still counting) always says that when couples have kids, they disappear.  They make new friends with other people who have kids.  We don’t get invited to the barbecues, the birthday parties, the this, the that, because we don’t have kids to bring.  That’s what he says. I used to laugh at him, but I am finding it (sometimes) to be true.

I compare this situation to all the “friends” I’ve had at various jobs over the years. I spent every day with these people.  We ate meals together, went to parties and functions together, celebrated birthdays and promotions with each other, commiserated about any setbacks of the day, the new boss, the lost promotion.  I always thought these were real friends and surely we would continue to be a huge part of each other’s lives after the job.  Well, that hasn’t really turned out to be the case most of the time. (Sound familiar)? I have a few friendships I have made at work over the years that have been long and enduring.  But what about the rest of them? It seems they are simply casualties of  the job change.  It’s not that they weren’t meaningful friendships at the time.  They were and I look back on those times fondly.  But they were situational.  Once the common denominator that tied us together was eliminated, the relationship dissolved.

Back to the kids.  As I contemplate the friends I’ll never have because I don’t have the child denominator, I wonder if this is just one aspect of the whole experience that I am missing by not having children.  So what else am I missing?

When I think about my life, I (rightly or wrongly) divide it into segments.  There is everything that came before something and then everything that came after. Only you can characterize those events.  For me, law school was one of those events that completely changed my life and was so monumental that there was a pivot in my life experience that was identifiable.  I think for many people, that “pivot” is having children.  Not only does your daily life change by necessity (it’s no longer about you) but your focus and your intentions change as well.  Whereas before, you could be selfish, and me-focused.  You could spend more time planning personal development, educational pursuits, make aggressive career moves, and just go out to dinner whenever you want to!  After kids, your focus shifts to what the children need, how to be the best parent, how to juggle work and childcare responsibilities, etc.  (I don’t have to have children myself to see that this is how it is).

There is also the experience of being a parent.  Having your kids cry for Mommy (or Daddy) when they fall down.  Fretting over whether your school district is the best choice for your children.  Are they going to fall behind the other kids?  Are they developing normally?  Is it too early to give them peanuts?  Is she ready to start toilet training?  Am I a good role model?  Am I modeling bad habits? I was recently a witness to a conversation among some moms who were sharing their experiences about decorating the Christmas tree so the kids couldn’t grab the ornaments and buying presents without revealing the true nature of Santa.  These are all wonderful sentiments.  I had nothing to add.  The common denominator is missing.

It seems that what is missing for me is the pivot.  I will never know what life was like before or after the children.  My childless life will be one continuous experience.  What is there instead are other pivots. Perhaps pivots that others will never experience. For me, those pivots have been going to law school, which changed my life forever (I was the first one in my family to even go to college), and then becoming an entrepreneur and owning my own law firm.   There are more pivots in my future too.  (Check back here often and I’ll share them with you).  I can focus on what I may have lost or sacrificed, but I choose to see what I have gained.

I welcome your comments and insights.  Please feel free to comment on this post or private message me: ChristinaEsq@iCloud.com

 

 

 

 

 

Don’t Be Afraid of the Smoky Eye

I recently went to Vegas where I felt it was not only appropriate but necessary to rock a smoky eye.  In the land of excess, how could you not?  There are few things in life that create the same level of stress and awe as a successfully executed smoky eye. The stress comes before and during the execution of the smoky eye, which I imagine for our grandmothers’ generation was like attempting Julia Child’s turducken recipe. (Be prepared to wrestle those birds).

This is nothing like doing a natural eye. Anyone can do that. One brush and two colors will do. No need for a transition color. Not with the smoky eye. We’re in a completely different territory. We’re with the big boys, er girls, now. The professionals. You’re either coming out of this looking like a champ or looking like you wrestled with a pool cue and lost.

I am proud to say I came up with a successful smoky eye. It wasn’t Mario Dedivanovic quality, but it was deserving of the number of likes it got by admiring amateurs like myself. Kind of the same awe inspired when you’re the first one to start wearing a bra in grade school.

As with most things, practice makes perfect. I found that after getting really lucky on Day 1 of the smoky eye, it got easier.  Day 2 required two dress rehearsals before getting it right on attempt #3 but I still consider that part of the learning curve.  I would suggest doing your eyes first and then moving on to the rest of the face.  That way you can easily wipe off your eyes and start again if it’s not going well.  (I learned that the hard way).  I realize now that this is why Neutrogena makeup wipes were invented. Someone had a bad smoky eye day.

Now unless you’re a Kardashian, most of us have no reason to wear a smoky eye every day. However, I believe a smoky eye is a metaphor for life. It’s greatly coveted in our material world.  It signifies a certain status in the world. You either know how to do a smoky eye – or you can afford to pay people who know how to do one. Either way, it’s a luxury.  And practice makes perfect.

I would venture to guess that if given a choice, most women would give up their right Loub to have the muscle memory necessary to effectively execute a perfect smoky eye every time. But as with most skills, it can be learned. After each successful application, you’re closer to becoming a pro. Once you know how to wield that brush (brushes – a good smoky eye requires numerous brushes), you will never fear again.  It will become as easy as putting on your underwear in the morning.  Remember what it was like learning how to drive? Well you have mastered that, haven’t you? If you can manage to navigate a 2-ton piece of machinery, you sure can learn how to maneuver your way around an eyelid with some powder. Think about all of the other things you can master with a little fortitude and some practice. Every expert was once a novice.

Mastering the smoky eye also has some other fortuitous side effects. Whenever you don a smoky eye, it confers a certain confidence.  You know that feeling you get when you’re having a good hair day?  Same thing, except better.  So don’t be afraid of the smoky eye.  Watch a few good YouTube tutorials on the subject.  (There is no shortage of them).  Break out the shadows and the brushes, roll up your sleeves and get to work!  The first few tries may be a disaster.  They WILL get better.  Then…put on your highest heels, chin up and go into that world you ferocious warrior!

Share your photos with me @theprev on Instagram.   I want to see that smoky eye!

 

Living Las Vegas

Have you noticed that when you go on vacation, you feel a sense of freedom that rejuvenates all of the nooks and crannies in your soul and your psyche…like you can do ANYTHING?  Like the world has been a closed oyster all this time and now it’s finally open?

No place seems to inspire this for me more than Las Vegas.  The tingling sensation starts before the plane has even touched down on the Nevada soil.  I look out the window, see all of the houses lined up in a row in the residential areas on the outskirts of the city.  In the distance lies the Vegas skyline lit up like my old Brite Lite.   The colors fire off all of the dopamine centers in my brain.  I imagine all of the possibilities waiting for me.

People refer to NYC as the melting pot.  Vegas is a melting pot of misfits.  Misfits who literally ran off to join the circus.  (Have you ever seen Cirque du Soleil)?  All one has to do is go to a Vegas show or sit down at a bar and talk to one of the bartenders to know that what happens in Vegas…well, often doesn’t happen anywhere else.  (Social media has ruined the adage “what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas”).  It’s a hodge podge of people, young and old, who mostly came from somewhere else.  Looking for a dream.  Looking for a fortune.   (Or looking for something more nefarious).  And just never left.

For most of us though, there comes a time when we have to go home.  And then the “Brite Lite” feeling starts to wane.  We start to think about all of the responsibilities that we have to return to at home and at work.  The myriad possibilities that seemed to exist on the way to Vegas seem like they’re being left behind in Vegas.  Perhaps unfulfilled.

But is that really true?  Isn’t the bright lights, big city feeling of Vegas really just inside all of us?  Which means we carry it within us – all the time.  Even when we go home.

I think of it kind of like when we were kids in Kindergarten, presented with a blank canvas, an oversized paintbrush and huge paint bottles. You could dip your brush into red, yellow, green, and blue paint and dump it onto the page with wild abandon.  But once the paint was spilled onto the canvas, you can’t take back the red, the yellow or the blue.  It’s done.  You can’t undo it.  Going to Vegas (or anywhere on vacation, for that matter) can feel like the blank canvas. Leaving the old behind.  Creating something new.  But eventually it’s time to go back to the old canvas.  The one with the crusty old paint on it.  The yellow and red that has faded.

What we fail to realize though – unless we shift our focus – is that the canvas is never done.   You can always throw on more paint and make it look bright again.  And the possibilities of Vegas – they are not in Vegas.  They are really inside you.  The power and energy that you feel in Vegas, or wherever you are on vacation, just needs to be awakened again.

So as  I now find myself getting grumpy and depressed as my Vegas trip is winding down (it’s my last night here), I realize that the “shiny newness” of Vegas is really just the euphoria of abandoning old responsibilities that are just that: responsibilities.  I can bring that newness back home with me if I really want to.  Instead of “Leaving Las Vegas,” I can “Live Las Vegas.”  Meaning, I can have that bad ass, all-is-right-with-the-world, I-can’t-wait-to-see-what-the-day-brings attitude all the time – not just in Vegas.  Vegas is a state of mind.

 

Plastic Surgery Isn’t Just For Old Ladies

I don’t know why but it seems that when the topic of plastic surgery comes up, women talk in hushed tones, look around to make sure no one is listening and, even then, exchange only the minimum amount of information necessary.  It’s almost as if they are engaging in a black market transaction and don’t want to be “found out.”

But why?

Is there something wrong with wanting to look good?  Or is there something wrong with being willing to do THAT much to look good?  We act as though there is some reason to be ashamed? Or as though we are doing something wrong?  But how far removed is plastic surgery from spending thousands of dollars on clothes, shoes, makeup, the gym, spa treatments, waxing, highlighting, keratin treatments, manicures, pedicures?  Why is plastic surgery the line in the sand?

And then even in plastic surgery circles there are boundaries.  For instance, there’s the ones that draw the line in the sand at doing anything invasive such as actual surgery.   They feel as though Botox is fine, chemical peels are fine, getting needles and injections in the  face is fine, but anything that requires a scalpel and anesthesia is excessive.

Again, why?  Who decides where the line is?

I have been doing Botox for about 7 years. It was the first “procedure” I had and so it began my love affair with medical-grade esthetics.  I once had a female co-worker look at me in pity and say, “I just think it’s sad you feel the need to do that.”  Meanwhile, I was busy thinking, “I think it’s sad you came to work dressed like that.”   I thought she could care a little bit more. Obviously, she thought I cared too much.

This problem is widespread. I have always felt that the beautiful people on the west coast, particularly those in southern California, were more hip and far ahead of the curve on accepting plastic surgery and medical treatments.  It’s as normal as getting a manicure.  And while it is true that you will typically see fatter lips and straighter noses in sunny California, I am not sure that they are much more open about it than the rest of us.  For instance, have any of the Kardashians come forward and acknowledged their treatments? Not that I am aware of.   The most obvious question in my mind is how is Kim K more comfortable having a sex tape out there than she is admitting she has had plastic surgery enhancements?  (Disclaimer: I have no personal knowledge of Kim having plastic surgery but it is mighty suspicious).

What irks me the most about this is that women are not getting good information about cosmetic treatments because they’re not talking about it.  For instance, the misconception of my generation (and the ladies a bit behind me) is that treatments are solely for anti-aging.  Their thought is, “I’m not old yet so I don’t need that.”  Well, like the title above says, plastic surgery isn’t just for old ladies. In fact, if you wait until you’re an old lady, well you waited too long.

Additionally, cosmetic treatments defy age because they are not necessarily for anti-aging.  While this is certainly a by-product of many treatments, it’s not necessarily the sole purpose.  A great example of this is none other than Kylie Jenner’s lip enhancement.  Even if you think she went a bit overboard, the fact remains that young women are getting enhancements totally unrelated to anti-aging.  They are getting treatments to enhance their features and look better.  Another example of this, which has been around a long time and perhaps is more accepted than the modern-day lip treatments, is breast augmentation.

Let’s all admit that we are doing this.  The technology is there.  There are more treatments  (invasive and non-invasive) for skincare, anti-aging and beauty than ever before.  There are many treatments you can get without going into the operating room that are safe, effective and affordable.  And they are not for your grandma.  If you want to stay ahead of the curve, if you want to take care of your skin and have a preventive approach towards looking healthy and youthful, visit a local board certified plastic surgeon.  Sometimes the best thing you can do for your skin is to have regular facials, exfoliate and moisturize.  Get the good stuff from your doctor. It’s not shameful to care how you look and want to take care of yourself.  We need to get over feeling like taking care of ourselves “this much” is “too much” – it’s not vain and it’s no different than going to the hair salon.

Love yourself.  XOXO