What my 20’s meant to me: Friendships

This weekend I was having a conversation with one of my best friends, Annamaria Loven. We were discussing friendships and how sometimes it's necessary to "break-up" with a friend. The dynamics of this are interesting because in many ways it's the same as breaking up with a boyfriend. In my 20's I had a friend that I worked with. She was fun to hang out with, but after a few months the friendship got a little strange, I didn't trust her and just plain wanted out of the friendship. I was too chicken to tell her so, in fear of hurting her feelings (I mean what do you say, "This just isn't working out, I think we should see other friends. Let's still be...oh, wait a minute, no I don't want to be friends, so just go away, please.") so I just ignored her calls and made excuses not to see her. I know, not the most mature way to handle it, but that's what I did. Years later I ran into her and I thought maybe she changed, that things could be different between us and I gave her my number. She never called. I guess I had it coming.

But with that situation I came to realize that some friendships in our life are just not worth having. Why do we keep them around? Because we think it will get better? Because we don't want to hurt our friends feelings? Who knows, but truth be told, if it's toxic, it's toxic and you may as well throw it out. I don't have the answer on how to end toxic friendships, but if the friendship isn't supportive and empowering to you, then walk away. And the great thing about friendships is that you can reengage them later if it's right. I have had 2 really good friends where this has happened. At one point one of my friends let me go because I had so much drama in my life and she had her own personal challenges as well. She could not for her own sanity be supportive of me so she took a break from me for a few months. Yes, I was hurt, but I respected her for it and in retrospect, she couldn't be the kind of friend that I needed at that time, so why should she have to fake it? It's not like she was my only friend to lean on. Which brings me to...

I believe in your 20's is when you begin to discover which kind of friends you have and for what reasons. Any time you go through a major life change (marriage, divorce, death of a loved one, major career change, etc) you really do find out not only who your good friends are, but what role they play in your life. For instance, one of my friends will tell it like it is, no matter what. She is direct and honest. Sometimes, if I'm not ready to hear that kind of support, I don't call her. And that's okay. Another friend I have will never give advice, just listen and tell me she loves me and supports me even if I did something crazy. This is also the friend I could call from prison to come bail me out in the middle of the night and I wouldn't even need to tell her what I did. I have a friend that I couldn't call to pick me up because sometimes she's a flake, (I love her anyway), but she knows it and I love her because I can tell her anything and she would never judge me.

So, I guess the most important lesson is if you have a friendship that isn't serving you, it's time to get rid if it. It's like that rule of an item of clothing: If you haven't worn it in a year, get rid of it.

What my 20’s meant to me: Relationships

Since I have been asked to be a speaker at the Crest of your Life Workshops, it's got me thinking a lot about what I learned in my 20's. Twenty something. What an immense time of growth. What sticks out in my mind the most is that I was in a relationship with the same person for my entire 20’s. That story didn’t end well, but it had a lot of chapters. Some great, some bad, with lots of suspense and drama lurking around every corner.

What did I learn? A LOT! I learned that I can’t look to someone else to esteem me. (What a big job that is for someone else to take on, isn't it?). And I shouldn’t want to give it away. It is precious and all mine. Forever!

I learned to respect myself because many times others won’t. And, just as important, them not respecting me really didn't have anything to do with me. It's their stuff, not mine.

I learned that relationships shouldn’t always be exciting. Drama all the time is not a good thing! Don’t get used to it, because when you do, when things get good, you may end up sabotaging functional relationships to feed on drama. I remember thinking, "I can't stand that girl who just thrives on drama." and sadly, I WAS that girl! I'm not sure where along the way I got comfortable being uncomfortable, but it happened without me noticing.

I learned that you will get back what you put out. After the breakup of my 13 year relationship, I was so hurt and bitter. I would never admit it, but I was. Much too early to be in a new relationship, I entered one quickly, and fell flat on my face "in love". That 8 month relationship turned out to be the most toxic, co-dependant relationship I have ever had. And even while I was in it and knew it was bad, I would have rather been in a bad relationship than no relationship. So, my point is, that I got back EXACTLY what I had put out into the universe. I was sad, bitter, angry, mistrusting and hurt. And I got back a relationship that was sad, bitter, angry, mistrusting and hurt. Imagine that!

It took me until I was 32 to realize what I truly deserved. I always knew that I deserved a great man and a mutually respectful relationship, but I was always in love with what the man or relationship "could be if". "Could be if" never loved me back. I waited, and waited, but it never happened. So when I realized what I truly deserved, and truly believed, not just told myself, but truly believed that I was worthy of it, it happened. And I married him, and he is truly wonderful. And the relationship has mutual respect, is functional, stable and carries the values that we both honor. It was all worth the wait and the journey.

Gasp! I'm really going to do it!

Drumroll please…..

Cutting my hair!!!

Okay, I know you’re rolling your eyes thinking, “I’m reading this post about her cutting her freaking hair?” Well, I do have a point. As a woman, our hair is like our breasts. It’s what makes us a woman. I’ve had long hair all my life. In high school it was so long it got caught in the waistband of my pants (granted, back in the early 90’s our pants were up around our boobs), but it’s always been long and quite honestly, it’s become my security blanket. I see cute shoulder length do’s and say, “Ohh…that’s so cute on her, I wish I could have that style” and I always chicken out. Or one of my friends says “Don’t do it! You’ll regret it!” But lately, well, more like the past few years, I wash it, let it air dry (not pretty) and put it in a pony tail which is exactly how it is right now as I type. It’s so long and heavy sometimes I get a headache from it pulling on my brain.

As women, having a new hairstyle is like changing your life. I mean, look at what Britney Spears did when she was having a life crisis! She shaved her head!

I'm not the same girl I was when I was 20, but I have the same hairstyle. Actually, I've pretty much had the same hairstyle since I was 6, only varying it by bangs, or no bangs, see above picture. So why now? Why am I suddenly brave enough to take the plunge? Well, if you know me, you know I've been through some major life changes in the past 3 years. A divorce, a bad relationship, a new, wonderful marriage and a beautiful child. Finishing up a college degree and a new career. So, I think it's time for a new hairstyle. When I read that last sentence, a new hairstyle is really not that big of a deal!

Who would you rather be around: A woman who is funny or a woman who is gorgeous?

With all the super-skinny-emaciated celebrities out there for decades now, I often find myself cheering for the more "normal" looking woman. Tonight my husband and I were watching Chelsea Lately and I said, "I love Chelsea because she's so pretty and not so 'celebrity' skinny". He replied, "Have you noticed that a lot of famous female comedians aren't super skinny?" I thought about some of my all time favorites, Margaret Cho , Janeane Garofalo and Ellen DeGeneres and thought he was right. As some of us know, many of some great female comedians have struggled with weight issues publicly including Margaret Cho and Kathy Griffin, but I guess what I am really trying to say, is most of the funniest women on TV, aren't "model-drop-dead gorgeous". So, that leads me to the question: Would you rather be around a woman who is funny or drop-dead gorgeous?

One thing I try to achieve day in and day out is to not take life too seriously. All in all, if we sit back and watch it, it's funny. Take sex, for example. C'mon, it's funny. The faces, the noises, the carrying on and on. IT'S FUNNY!!! Yes, it's intimate and beautiful....but it's funny. And I'm a potty humor junkie. True story: My 12 year old nephew called me to tell me that he was watching a weather report on the news and the weather man tried to say "Showers started..." and instead he said "sharted" (which we all know means when you think you have to fart and you shit instead). I love that my 12 year old nephew thought to call his 33 year old aunt Andrea because she would appreciate that and think it was funny.

How much happier would women be if they spent as much time trying to have fun as they do trying to be beautiful? And not care what people thought about them? Hey, I am guilty of feeling judged positively or negatively about the way I look or how much I laugh loudly, but at the end of the day, I would rather make someone laugh than have them think I am pretty.

P.S. Here is a great Vanity Fair article.

Personal Style Part 2

About a week ago I was in the library at Cal State University San Marcos. I couldn't help but overhear a conversation between 4 girls that were sitting behind me. They were talking about someones cute baby and one of the girls said, "I was such a cute baby, but I grew up to be so ugly" Her friends giggled and their conversation went on.


It took everything I had not to turn around and give them my speech. But, it really got me thinking about young girls and our perception of ourselves. Being a teenager and into our early 20's is such a rough time on our self esteem and ego. We've been mostly let free from our parents, but aren't "grown up" enough to know who we really are (I'm 33 and I'm still trying to figure it all out). We are bombarded daily by ads about what is perfect, that we "need" to be thin, that we "need" to have a boyfriend. If you asked 100 girls how many of them think they are pretty, I would bet that maybe 5 or 10 would say yes. And if it was in front of others, I'm not sure if any would admit to it. Who made the rule that admitting that we are beautiful= being conceited? Doesn't conceited mean having an exaggerated sense of self-importance? People that have no sense of what being beautiful really is? People that really think they are better than others?

How I am relating this to personal style is that your style is so much more than the way you dress. It is an expression of your character. Like it or not, we live in a world where we are judged and first impressions are so important. If we walk around sloppy, uncomfortable and just a mess all the time, what message are we putting out of our character? AND, if we live our life in constant physical chaos, won't it come back and make our lives and the way we view ourselves chaotic? (I know, that's a mouthful.) Pretty soon, we are such a mess in every way, that we are getting back what we put out there, and we think, "This isn't good, and neither am I". BAM!

I guess this post was all over the place, but then again so was my mind when I was writing it. I suppose if someone is having problmes getting their life in order, if they get themselves in order on the outside, hopefully the rest will follow suit.