Debunking a few Parenthood Myths

This is my third year into motherhood so I feel morally obliged to share some insights. It has changed my life immensely and it has been by far the biggest blessing I ever received, but I wish there were more sincere aspects of the hurdles of first time parenthood on the web to prepare women for this life-changing experience.

So here it goes, debunking some myths:

“Balancing career and motherhood will sort out itself ”: The African saying “It takes a Village to Raise a Childprobably sums this up best.When you decide to start a family and you are a professional person, the first thing you need to do is look around you and identify what is your support network. Are your parents or your in-laws retired and willing to give you a hand once you return to work? Can your salaries afford you a nanny or daycare, and would you feel comfortable leaving your new born with strangers for nine hours per day? Obviously these are questions that should be addressed beforehand.

Breast is Best. Ok, this is such a sensitive topic. Obviously breast is best. But sometimes I feel I agree with the French on this one. You should always do what keeps you balanced and sane. You are an intelligent human, not a feeding machine. Couples today, eager to be the best parents possible, go to extreme lengths to prolong breastfeeding, and are very proud when little Sofia, that has a mouth full of teeth and can speak sentences,pulls mom’s blouse down in public to drink milk. Stop feeling a failure or guilty if breastfeeding did not work out or you simply did not enjoy it.

Early Potty Training. Just like breastfeeding potty training is another topic that sparks lively database and attracts the most condescending and smug  comments from parents that trained their baby as soon as he could hold his head up. Enough with this madness. Sooner or later they will learn, and rest assured, they will not go to school wearing nappies.

Playdates: As a new mother I felt obliged to take my daughter to playdates way before she was interested in engaging with others or even inclined to liking others. I would say that toddlers from the age of two onwards are likely to look for the company of children but earlier than that, I am sorry to say, but it is a waste of time. Yes, it can be also a social opportunity for the mom to meet other moms but don’t expect to get a second for an adult conversation,let alone an intelligent conversation of any kind. Most of the time you will be either pretending to tell off your baby not to scream, cry and throw things down (and pretend in front of others that there is some logical explanation for that “This is totally because she didn’t have a nap today”) and, secretly planning your escape when she gives her best and loudest performance. “I ll take her home for that nap that we were saying”.

I take care of my baby while I work from home. Since I became a parent I came across this urban legend of the professional (usually a mom) that works from home while she takes care of her baby. Even though I am not familiar with the specific working arrangements of every person this sounds like the equivalent of trying to write a text when you are driving a motorbike at high speed. When I work I need to be able to focus on what i am doing, which is virtually impossible with an awake baby in the house. If however someone offered me the kind of job that you can do while taking care of a baby, and paid me with real money for it, i would take it in a heartbeat.

The second one will be a breeze. I left my favourite for the end. In life you can never keep people happy. When you are single people want to know when you will tie the knot, and when that happens they regularly interrogate you when are you planning to get pregnant. Just when you thought you have ticked all the boxes and they will finally leave you alone, there is the question of the second baby.I once had a mom that tried to convince me that having two kids is easier than having one just because they keep busy playing with each other. As a new mom of one, I thought it was one of the most outrageous arguments I had ever heard.  Even if it holds true for some part especially when the children are older, the popular idea that the second baby is a breeze and it will simplify your life is ridiculous. Sure, you already have all the know-how but that does not make the 3am feeds any easier, or lessens the overall responsibility of raising another human being.

So have more kids, but because you welcome the joy and the hard work, not only to provide the first one with a play mate.

Why I am refusing to put that pizza slice down.

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A moment on the lips, a lifetime on the hips. If a powerful genie appeared and offered to grant me just one wish, the first thing that comes in mind is this: I would like to be able to eat everything that I want and not gain a gram. If your first reaction is to mock my base instincts and lack of sophistication, please try to reconsider. Just imagine all those delicious comfort food feasts I could enjoy: pizzas and beers, buckets of buttery pop corn and eating ice-cream out of the box would definitely make life sweeter, once the prospect of looking like a bloated whale was removed from the equation.

In my 20s I did not value food that much. That did not mean I did not like food (quite the contrary) but i was happy to have a couple of glasses of wine for dinner. When I took a holiday I never looked for the the best restaurants or best ice-cream parlours, and neither did i try to educate myself on the local cuisine. Spending money on restaurants was not good on my wallet, and neither was it on my waistline. You see, being single and overenjoying your food is never such a good idea in today’s market, as you ladies probably already know.

Today when I travel I could probably skip a few museums, historic churches and monuments. If I have a great meal somewhere this makes it a nice holiday. If I am so lucky as  to eat well every day it is simply unforgettable, even without the museums and the churches. I guess it is one of the hidden advantages of growing older: You find more pleasure in the small things that when you were younger you either did not care for or you took for granted.

I remember when I was pregnant we travelled to New York. Before the trip, I spent hours, if not days, looking for things I would like to eat and restaurants I would like to visit. In this capital of fashion, not being able to indulge in cloth shopping was liberating. We visited twice Lombardi’s and both times I enjoyed a huge  NYC style Italian pizza. No guilty afterthoughts either. It was all “for the baby”.

Food gives us humans so much pleasure. There are of course numerous other pleasures in life that can make us incredibly happy. But at the end of the day, life is tough and, for better of for worse, the pleasure of food often requires less effort and is more readily available than other things.

I am not saying that eating like pigs and accepting obesity is a good thing. I am not obese and I would definitely not enjoy being one. We all hold on to the phantasy that one day that Jennifer Anniston diet will work its miracles and we will look so effortlessly chic and naturally glowing. (Diet? Daaarling, I eat everything in moderation) But as I said, life is not always a piece of cake. So you sometimes need a piece of cake to make things right after what appears to have been the shittiest of days. When this happens you should eat without a hint of guilt or sense of failure. Give yourself a break.

You deserve it.

Losing the extra weight: What I have learnt

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Being someone who has always experimented with weight loss, I have my own observations that I would like to share. With the exception of my post pregnancy weight where I had to shed around 28kg or 62 pounds, my main concern has always been the last stubborn five kilos (10 pounds), the result of love for food, loss of motivation and ignoring the caloric value of certain foods. I have never consulted a nutritionist or a dietician, (even when I successfully shed those 28 kg) but I always had a good general idea of the things I should and should not eat and I made my own diet plan according to my personal judgement.

Disclaimer: When you must lose  more than 6-7 kg it is best to visit an expert and get a a professional diet plan. The dietician will give you the right food combinations to cover your nutritional needs while cutting down on calories, and inform you about your personal ideal pace of weight loss.

However no dietician can make you thin, you are the the only person that can do that. Your motivation is your best friend in your weight loss journey, your driving force without which your goal cannot be achieved.

Below are some tips that I hope will help you keep it up and succeed.

Honesty with the scales: I myself have noticed that the times I tend to put on weight are those that I avoid stepping on the scales. Even though you should avoid obsessing over a number (numbers can lie) you still need to be honest about weight gain. No you are not “bloated” every day and it is impossible to gain significant muscle with little or no weight training, so just  be brave enough to admit that those pizzas and buckets of pop corn have turned into body fat that you now need to get rid of.

And now what? Relax.Once you get a cleat picture of the amount of extra weight that you want to lose, take a long deep breath. Success in weight loss requires that you are focused, yet relaxed. Stress, obsession, worry and impatience are only obstacles. The popular role model of the lycra clad  woman in a constant obsessive fighting mode against fat is likely create more stress and waste of your vital energy. Acknowledging that these extra pounds do not change a thing about you being a beautiful, sexy, intelligent person, but you would feel  so much better without them, is the way to start your journey.

Weight loss journey. Weight loss in a journey whether you need to lose 4 or 64 pounds. It is a change of attitudes and the realisation that healthy eating and exercise is a way of life. In fact, you need to accept that excessive eating and, unhealthy foods will always make those extra pounds creep back on. Unfortunately, the older you get, the more you have to watch your diet and eat clean.

Weight Plateaus: Embrace the idea that they exist. If there is one thing to be said about weight loss this is that is is not linear. It might appear that you are dieting for one or two months and the scales has not moved. The truth is that your body fat is a result of long term eating habits and what you need to do is to readjust these habits- in the longterm-to eventually find your weight where  you want it to be.

Learn to say no: Myself being Greek means that I come from a culture where throwing food away and not emptying your plate is the gravest of sins. I still remember as a young child my mother coaxing me to eat the last piece of bread “because children in some places in the world die of hunger”. Having this attitude makes it hard for you not to transgress, especially if you have a partner or child that orders pizzas and heaps of french fries and then does not finish them.Take responsibility for yourself and learn to say no to food. Are you willing to eat all the food available in the restaurant or all the food sold at the supermarket to rid the world of hunger? I thought so.

So do not give up. Weight loss is above all an attitude and a mental state . If you get there with your mind, the body will follow.

Kate Moss inspired fashion advice

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If you like fashion and you are always on the look for smart tricks to look good, model Kate Moss is a good example to take inspiration from. The secret behind Kate’s good looks, (apart from the fact that her bone structure is close to what some describe as the golden ratio of beauty), is that she never seems to try too hard. And if you look closely she has a specific personal style to which she stays faithful most of the time. Kate Moss has given the world some fashion advice which is not much, but then again there is not much to tell about fashion anyways. In reality it is not that complex.

The reason why I suddenly look to Mossy as a good stylistic example for the fashion-confused like me is that the more I grow up the more I find it hard to understand fashion. The other day I ventured a trip to Zara – one of my favourite fashion retailers for my kind of budget— and for the first time I did not find a single item that I felt I could wear. Everything looked like it was designed for tall and willowy girls and channelled a certain 60’s/faux vintage persona with an artsy, jet set-aspiring lifestyle. The clothes charmingly looked like they had “a story to tell” but after inspecting for the tenth time every single cloth rack in the hope of finding something that “made sense” I had to sadly admit was not my story.

The general factual truth with fashion trends is that the more women wear them-copying the example of models, actresses and other celebrities- the more they normalise the trends, so they gradually stops being edgy, over the top or even ridiculous and become conventional. Furthermore, our fashion conditioning sponsored by the same high street powerhouses wants us to think that a daring outfit equals a daring or confident personality. For instance take the popular Mtv show Plain Jane whose job is to transform “plain” looking girls to modern goddesses with the noble purpose of giving them enough confidence to ask their school crush out on a date. The show host Louise Roe, a woman who would ,no doubt, look good in a bin bag, is a fierce advocate for high street fashion. Louise encourages “Plain Janes” ,who would rather go out in jeans and a t shirt ,to try instead bright colours and bold prints, statement earrings , bling necklaces and sexy high heels as an exercise to learn how to radiate confidence and femininity. The show is very entertaining and surely only does some good old high street promotion, but the truth is that no girl should take its tips too seriously.

Here is why: In real life nobody over age 25 has the time, the energy and the necessary “talent” needed to figure out whether the orange bare midriff dress combines with the turquoise scarf and 5 inch platform heels, let alone actually put them on and walk down the street feeling no doubt uncomfortable and slightly ridiculous. No woman should be made to feel like that on fun her night out when she should above all feel comfortable and relaxed and allow herself to have a good time. IT IS NOT A CRIME TO BE IN YOUR COMFORT ZONE. (Also, in real life it takes more than mustering up the courage to ask the guy out to make romance happen, and at the end of the day if he was into you he would not wait around until he was asked).

Going back to Kate’s advice, here are some personal observations/inspirations that could help fashion conscious women keep their sanity.

Kate wears denim most of the time, especially her trademark skinny black jeans. Of course she frequently switches to vintage super glam looks for special occasions such as celebrity parties, receptions, official premieres and other paparazzi worthy events that the average woman most likely will never attend so she (you, me) should rather invest her money in things she will actually wear on a daily basis. So yeah, that party dress might look fantastic on you but better resist the urge to decorate your closet with yet another cute outfit.

KM wears what flatters her body shape. She of course is super skinny and all that, but she does not have the typical model body. In fact she is a bit shorter. She still looks better than you and me but also sticks to things that show off her slender frame and make her look taller. So if you have already found what looks good on your body shape don’t feel pressure to experiment or switch to something different because you “have to” wear a certain dress or skirt. Why wear it if it is not flattering? Stick to what flatters you. Use that as a basis to work your variations on that.

Invest in your basics. Better pay three times the price on a piece of denim that will last 5 years than one third on the one that lasts less than 5 months. This way you will spend less time worrying about what to wear.

Combine old and new from your favourites and be creative if you feel like it. You don’t need to look like the exact copy of the Topshop mannequin. It may earn you the respect of the 15 year olds but to all the rest you will look like you are trying too hard.

Finally, (like Kate), don’t bother too much. Life is too short and maybe you were not born to be a fashion genius. (like Kate) Maybe you will never pull off a sophisticated vintage look. It doesn’t matter. Change your hair or change your make up. Do something that makes you feel good about yourself and show some attitude. At the end of the day the most attractive thing about your clothes is your personality. (and not lack thereof)

Thinking about relocating abroad as a “trailing spouse”? Some things you should know.

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I may use it in the title but I dislike the term “trailing spouse”. To me it describes someone who lets her or himself be carried abroad like a another piece of luggage and from there lives trapped in a semi-stigmatised existence, confined in the role of the housekeeper and the emotional supporter. It might be true that once (you know in the olden days) when couples relocated, the wife was not expected to do much other than support the husband’s career, volunteer in the local community with women in similar situation, and attend weekly get togethers with expat women so she can vent about her expat life.

Nowadays, however, with globalisation having transformed completely the international work dynamics, a spouse should be able to do better than that. First of all, finding work abroad is much easier and much more common. People can work remotely with a laptop and a good internet connection. There is much more mobility, diversity and flexibility. So theoretically the life of the “trailing spouse” has become much easier and uncomplicated.. Right?

In my experience I have met some pretty amazing people living abroad, trying to support their partner’s career while they work hard to find their own decent place in the new society. It usually takes a lot of courage, strength, and dedication to make things happens. Often it is a huge blow to the pride. But you have to work with your self and the personal issues that every one has and find your way.

I know because I am one. Having lived abroad several times for my own sake and ambitions this was the first time I let my partner’s career goals decide where I will be.

Here is the list of things that in my opinion you should consider before deciding to take the leap:

Your motto: good research.

The Country: The country where you relocate can make or break your success story. Being “abroad” in one part of the globe will not be the same as being “abroad” in another. In short, don’t just jump with excitement in the prospect before researching the place. If you move for example in Paris, France you will have a completely different life from if you move in Oslo, Norway. Which means that if Paris is what you have fantasies for and you move in Oslo to have a similar “european” experience you will be disappointed. (the opposite is true as well, desiring to live in the woods and find yourself in the middle of a big chaotic city). Of course in this example i use extremes, Parisean lifestyle is lightyears away from Scandinavian. I know that it does not depend on the “trailing spouse” where the relocation will be but I am only highlighting patterns you should avoid. At the end of the day the connection you personally have with the country and its people will determine your willingness to work hard to integrate.

The Country: Romantic Ideas vs Real facts. You may have already visited the place and find it charming, romanic, refreshing… Only because you have seen it as a tourist. You have done all the cool stuff and somehow that makes you feel that your life there will be like that, a constant amazement. Almost every place in the world can look charming when you are a tourist. But think that once you move there you might not live in the cool city centre because the rents will be just out of reach. You might find yourself in a suburb away from amenities and attractions. When the initial newcomer’s excitement fades, would you like to live in THAT place permanently? Will the transport be convenient to use on a daily basis? What do the people do for entertainment and does that match your expectations? Are you attracted to the culture, people and society?Remember you will be a newcomer there, you need all the conveniences you can get. Is this place what you think it is or a beautiful holiday memory?

The Language: This one is a HUGE HUGE factor. Do you speak the language of the country you are going? If not ,are you willing to learn it? I mean really learn it, beyond ordering “a big cappuccino please”. Your partner will probably be fine speaking in English at work but the same unfortunately will not be true for you. In certain parts of the world many people will look at you in shock,bewilderment and even contempt if you don’t address them in their language. Think that learning the language is not optional when you relocate and especially when you have not already secured a job.

The job: Getting a job in the new country might be easy or difficult. it depends on the place you are, the language, your own field and skills, and in many cases nationality, ethnicity, race etc. (Sad but true. ) If you plan to work asap try to find out what people in your shoes generally say about their experience. Don’t take things for granted. You might be hot stuff in one country and in another get constant rejections. Be prepared, disappointment might come. While volunteering at a swedish shelter I met a girl , a rather fierce go getter from Spain who had moved to Stockholm because of her Swedish boyfriend. She wanted to get a job the next day. You could see she was like a lion in a cage, she was not ready to take the blow to her pride and surrender to the new hard reality where her CV did not get her any interviews. Even the simple task of handing food to the homeless had become for her a competitive task where she had to prove herself. Only a few months later she moved to Germany to work in her field. Having said that there are many well educated professionals who endure much longer than that in order to be with their partners. The reason why I think this example is important is because many people today, especially if they have invested a lot in education and personal growth, lose their sense of identity and self worth once they are removed from their jobs and careers and thus feel lost and disorientated.

Money. This is something you will probably need to sort out with your partner. His or her salary might sound alluring in dollars or yuan but once you calculate your expenses according to the cost of life in the new place you realise that your lifestyle might actually worsen. Plus his salary, if you have no job will be used to support the whole family. Will you be happy to live in a smaller apartment, have no car and depend on your partner for pocket money?

I don’t mean to sound too discouraging. At the end of the day each of us is different and will take the decision considering what they have to give up and what is important to them on a personal level. But you have to be well informed-know what you are in for.

Living abroad can be a very rewarding and unique experience. Plan your “escape” wisely.

And if you try and fail don’t beat your self up. Always kudos to you for having tried.

Thoughts on Motherhood

Lately I have spotted on the news various opinion articles written by women who confess having no regrets about deciding to stay childless. They are usually accompanied by numerous congratulatory comments from other women who have felt the pressure to become mothers for years.

I feel like this leap in human evolution has been the elephant in the room for the last decades but finally women are free to speak out the truth behind desires of motherhood. For one thing, motherhood has been regarded as a natural purpose that is manifested for every woman at some point in her life. If it doesn’t, she is seen as a person “with issues”, someone who is lacking an intrinsic part of femininity and womanliness. Women who declare they do not want children are patronizingly being told that they will change their minds when they get older and then it is going to be too late. I too know women who have regretted their decision to stay childfree. Except that they faced this dilemma a good sixty years ago.

One cannot help noticing that in today’s highly competitive world with unstable economies and relationships as well as a plethora of choices and stimulants, staying childless is something that comes naturally to both men and women and not something they have to fight off. Today’s society after all, celebrates the individual and through the social media encourages self centered lifestyles. The things you do about yourself, in short, and your career achievements are the only things you will be really congratulated for, admired or respected. Sadly nobody will ever appreciate you for the years you spend in dirty sweatpants washing bottles and cleaning like a maniac while humming the tune of Peppa Pig.

There are those of course who use children as a way to enhance their own image. These are usually women who have enough money to pay nannies to raise their children while they pursuit their careers and continue their lives as usual. In that case, the “maternity halo” make them look better in society: they make them look less self-centered and less self-absorbed, more giving and more sacrificing. But these women who experience motherhood mainly through the impression they create on others are not the women I would like to talk about.

Instead I speak of the modern woman that has too many things on her plate. Pretending career and family is an easily manageable choice, like for example my parents’ generation did with the full time voluntary help of their hard working housewives mothers and mother-in -laws is no longer an option. The new grandmas are often either still working or newly retired with little patience and little desire to babysit.

I am a mom and I would not change my daughter for the world. She filled my life with hard meaningful work, sleepless nights and despair, strength, courage and truth. She has been my comrade in this physically and emotionally difficult journey and she has rewarded and punished me with hard all consuming absolute love.

I have however only respect for the modern woman who has also made a courageous choice and has proudly declared she wants to stay child free. As a woman and a mom I understand every single why she might want to challenge the hypocritical over-romanticized idea of motherhood as a life purpose or validation of self worth.

After all that’s the kind of pressure I would never want my daughter to face.

Highlights of parenthood: Confessions of a Gerber mom.

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Since I became a mom I began noticing a million things I never cared to notice before. For instance, all these women walking around pushing baby strollers, wearing sweatpants and make up free faces, carrying heavy bags with milk bottles, baby wipes and who knows what else… none of it was flashy and glitzy enough to make me look twice. For both sexes, the image of these women evokes only one word in mind. Mom. And the interest in them as persons and individuals ends there.

Now that I walk the streets pushing a stroller 99% of the times I realize I too look like a mom. I too didn’t have the time to put make up on (or did not care), and my sweatpants have milk stains on. (which I notice after I leave the house and decide not to go back). And that’s ok. I know nobody will really care, simply because everyone will simply think I am a mom. There is nothing enigmatic or mysterious about me, my milk stains or the bags under my eyes. Everybody can guess how they came into being.

So life has changed dramatically. Sometimes friends ask me if I now feel complete if I have found the meaning of life. I find the question a bit annoying but always refrain from saying out loud how naïve it is to think having kids will sort you out. They are likely however to change the nature or focal point of your problems and worries (your original neurosis staying the same).

I could not quote all the ways life has changed. The question should not be “what has changed?” but rather “what has remained the same?” The answer would probably be only my personal thoughts and things going on in my head.

Among random things I discovered while being a mom and highlights of parenthood are:

The bathroom can become a refuge. We no longer wonder why we feel bliss when we want to use the loo. Very often we take a tablet or a book along to have a few minutes of peace.

I am ready to scream “no more” and cry in frustration and then she does something and I cry from laughter. She is capable of manipulating my mood within seconds and I find myself in awe over my own feelings.

I appreciate going out more. There were times before the baby when we were feeling bored or tired to leave the house and preferred to stay in a watch a movie. If we get a baby free night nowadays we head to a nightclub.

I have embraced an energy saving lifestyle. Control freaks like me find themselves in a situation where they have lost control of things. Life has not gone exactly as planned or imagined and that’s ok. Fretting over it takes up a lot of energy, which is needed for other things.

Healthy stuff for the baby If only I had a penny for every time a parent proudly tells me their child eats “only organic”, “loves broccoli” and “has never used a milk bottle cause he/she is always breastfeeding”. I seriously believe that it is not that all parents have turned into health freaks but that for some reason only health freaks have children nowadays. (The rest of them -you know, the Gerber type- are too busy doing other things. ) Now I never cook broccoli because it stinks and the bedroom is next to the kitchen. I also use formula since day one. But I try to make food as healthy as possible and mix foods and tastes.

Finally, secretly fantasizing about owning a Japanese robot nanny that will do all the hard work: change the diapers, prepare baby meals, entertain the baby with songs and activities, etc. Tired parents can give orders from the sofa with a remote control in hand. What an amazing invention would that be.

Commenting on the Comment War: The superficial age of outsmarting (dedicated to the Matt Walsh post)

Lately I have seen a number of interesting yet provocative and controversial online posts about different aspects of motherhood. I say controversial because they attract a plethora of online reactions, apparently from people who, judging by the context of their comment, shouldn’t be interested in reading in the first place.

“Motherhood simplified your life? OH PLEASE!!! All my friends became selfish self centered and boring after having kids!!!” on Lauren Laverne’s Having a Baby will simplify your Life or on one of my all time favorite posts by Matt Walsh You are a stay at home Mom what do you do all day? “OH PLEASE!!! I work full time and STILL have to take care of my kids when I go home!! In fact I work all day!!!” or “B***hit My parents are both successful psychologists working full time throughout my childhood and I am SOOO normal!!”.

Of course open comments are meant to do just that, allow people to express their personal views and opinions and thus create and ongoing debate. But very often I do wonder how people read and comprehend an opinion article. For one thing both pieces mentioned describe life lessons learnt, and life discrepancies observed and they are all drawn from sincere personal experiences. And there is something more. In Matt Walsh’s piece for example I love how obvious and yet intangible is his love for his wife. How noble is his desire in his writing to protect her from obnoxious people and defend her against social madness that sees her role as a mother as an obstacle to being someone. And by doing the above declare how invaluable is her contribution to his life and the family. His intention behind his post was sincere and true.

And yet there were numerous comments accurately reflecting the kind of negativity the author observes in his post: Women berating other women and bragging about how busy they are, exactly by doing what he described as confusing being busy with being important. It is their right to do so but it just sad. How can you really reject a piece written with honesty and love that reflects the soul of the writer?

Ernest Hemingway had said about writing “All you have to do is write one true sentence, write the truest sentence that you know.” What can be truer than a reflection of one’s soul? Because today we are continuously being drawn to the idea that one version of truth does not exist. All our thoughts and beliefs can be refuted. Even though that applies to many essential philosophical questions, it sadly also applies to moral responsibility. We have seen it in politics, society, tv shows. Being the bad guy is socially acceptable, even desirable. There are after all always two sides of the same coin.

But there is something true. It is what comes from your soul. I don’t believe all people have a soul, even though in theory they are supposed to. But to write a “true sentence” you have to have a reader that will read it with “truth”. A reader with soul. One that will not seek to destroy it with popular punch lines that reflect what is socially acceptable.

I do enjoy writing and reading comments as well as online debates. But I do wish fellow readers and writers to always read, think and write with truth.

Deep thoughts on the Ultimate Shopper

Eating croissants outside Tiffany's does not make you Audrey

Eating croissants outside Tiffany’s does not make you Audrey

The other day I watched  a British show on TV called “The Ultimate Shopper”.  Four “shopaholic” women were taking  part in a fashion contest and the winner would “have free run of the best fashion store in the country” and take home their entire collection. To compete, the four super-consumers were asked to put together three different styles choosing outfits from the store.  The fashion experts judges would then decide which contestant got it right and which did not.

What struck me as interesting is that the two contestants who made it to the final (pulling off the Miami Beach party look correctly) were far from elegant. The one was so overweight that looked uncomfortable in almost anything she wore and the other one was what the British would call a chav, orange face, hair extensions, fake eyelashes, you name it. The two girls that actually looked good were eliminated because they failed to put the right outfits together.

“This is not Miami Beach Party, it is more Summer Gig ” a slim elegant girl was told before she was eliminated. As a viewer I lost any interest in the show after that. Nobody really cares to see how an 180 pound woman or a chav would dress for the Oscars after all.

I was suddenly annoyed by the hypocrisy behind the whole thing. Two thoughts crossed my mind:

First , the whole idea that fashion is this set of rules that the average Jane can follow and look just as good as the fashion models is ridiculous. Every day we are bombarded with images of super tall, super slim, and photoshopped to perfection girls who try to sell us dresses, boots and make up. The message is clear: “Buy this and you will look like me, it only takes a few clicks on your keyboard and a credit card”.

And now the Fashion Industry is taking this offensive message even further: There is a way to get it right and that depends only on following fashion rules. It does not matter if you are fat and waist-less, orange faced, and do not possess a drop of elegance. As long as you wear the right kaftan combined with the right ridiculous pair of Summer wedges (because the beach is the right place for wedges after all), you are fashionably correct and look better than the rest. What an obvious way to target a woman’s wallet.

I am not saying that we should all look the same and that all women should be thin. I am not even interested in this idea right now. What I am saying is that there is a way to get it right and it has nothing to do with the right combination of shoes and bags or color blocking.  It has more to do with looking and being proportionate, effortless and graceful.  To wear what looks good on you and not blindly spend your money on garments that do not flatter you. There is nothing more unflattering than a woman or a man who tries too hard by wearing clothes that do not match her personality.

The second thought in my mind was how our whole society uses the same questionable system to evaluate everything and everyone around us. We are taught to not trust our gut instinct, our primordial gaze. We are taught to see something that looks and feels right and reject its harmony as irrelevant. Instead we seek to judge or evaluate others using only one criterion, and that criterion in our minds is independent from everything else.

Therefore we seek beauty without grace.

We seek performance without talent.

Responsibility without kindness.

Love without sacrifice.

Novelty without change.

We evaluate success by adding up numbers.

And the list goes on and on. There is a harmony, a grace that connects everything in the world but we are taught to look for small blind pieces, disconnected ideas, and weak perceptions.  We simply do not allow ourselves to tune in with the spirit that expands, relates and connects. And then we wonder what is wrong with the world.

By the way, the lady with the orange face won the contest and went home with the prize.

 In the end the judges decided that she was the least bad of the final two.

The Bitter Truth about my Pregnancy Weight Gain

I feel for you Kim

I feel for you Kim

When I put my foot on the scales for the first time after giving birth it was 8 weeks post partum and I was consciously holding the baby in my arms. I thought, if I saw something I did not like I would blame it on the baby. When the actual number hit me, two thoughts crossed my mind: a) the baby cannot possibly weigh that much before she turns ten years old b) an old classic: this scales is old and broken.

Just to be completely sure, I tried to balance the baby alone on the scales before I tried again without her. Coward me. I had never seen that number in my pre-pregnancy life.

During my whole pregnancy I was in denial about my weight gain. Apart from the fact that I refused to get on the scales after the fourth month when I realized I was already 10+ kilos heavier, I somehow tried to convince myself that “it is all swelling and fluid retention”. (Guess what, it was not.) But I could not control it unless I went on a diet, and that was not what I wanted to do while pregnant.  Having been slim most of my adult life, I never had to struggle to lose anything more than 4-5 kilos max.  So when I had to confront my post partum weight reality, I panicked. I kinda expected that out of these 28 kilos half would be gone after delivery with the baby, the placenta and well… the swelling. At least that is what so many moms on numerous pregnancy blogs claim, that by the time they left the hospital 10 kilos had miraculously evaporated. But it does not always work that way.

When it comes to pregnancy weight, It turns out that your body, in combination with the amount and quality of food you consume will do what your genes and hormones dictate. You may have the noblest intentions to stay “all belly” and be like one of those celebrity moms that go into their skinny jeans a few days or even hours after giving birth. If it is not genetically meant to happen, it will not and the worst thing you can do is to hopelessly cling to this idea in a desperate effort to maintain a sense of control in your life.

Becoming a parent suddenly changes your life so drastically and means that your weight gain will be the least scary of the scary things that will happen to you. I am not suggesting you should eat for two or stuff your face at meals. On the contrary, staying healthy should be a priority. But bear in mind that weight gain is inevitable during pregnancy and how much weight you put on will not solely depend on your eating.

Frankly I am tired of being bombarded with images of pregnant media personas and celebrities-pretentiously- competing who has the best genes.  Yes, we all know there are women out there that are naturally very thin and manage to stay slim during pregnancy.  We also know there are people who can afford expert diet consultation, personal trainers, chefs, weight maintenance programs and plastic surgery.  But the majority of us cannot and the worst thing that can happen to a woman is not the kilos she stocks up during pregnancy but her obsession and frustration over it.

Fellow moms, it’s ok.

Summing up, I had a discussion lately with a male friend. He was telling me how much weight both he and his ex partner had put on during an unhappy relationship. He literally felt heavy with frustration and toxic emotions and it was as if the weight came not from the excessive food but from the feeling that they were both dragging their feet living under the same roof.

So I say away with the weight gain remorse! It is as harmful as the weight gain itself and the surest way to find the old you again is to do everything in your power to be stress free and happy.