Standing Naked at My Party

#truelove #allowing #dating

GPS for the Soul – The Huffington Post
Standing Naked at My Party
I recently read a survey that indicates our favorite place is our home and what makes us most happy in our home, is the smell of food cooking. No big surprises, there. Yet why is it so hard to blend the love of home, and home-cooked meals with what scientists say is our greatest need — feeling connected to others? From these studies, home entertaining should yield us our most wonderful memories. Yet for most, the idea of a party or a gathering feels like putting on an exhibition of one’s life. And at the center of the exhibit, we stand, naked, exposing every unseemly aspect of us. Every blemish and every flaw.

We have a love-hate relationship with entertaining. We love the idea of it, but once we begin the process of it, all our stuff tends to come up. Feelings about our financial situation, relationship struggles, decor weaknesses, cooking vulnerabilities, disenchantment in our circle of friends, and the fear of — will anyone show up? What we feel is wrong in our life, suddenly feels amplified and suffocating. Thank you, party! All I wanted was a little fun, and now you’re making me see all that’s wrong with my life!   

Before I threw my first ever party, I chose to explore the party as the paradigm through which I would live life differently from my parents. My parents were and are — unbelievably wonderful parents. I cannot fault them. But when it came to even the smallest of parties, oh my lord, it was as though Mum was setting up an emergency triage unit in the middle of a natural disaster. It was as though lives were on the line and there was only so many hours in which those lives could be saved. The weight of the world was on Mum and every little thing that Dad did to try and “help”, made the weight that much heavier on Mum’s petite shoulders. Mum’s dinners and parties were the best in town, but the suffering to get there, I vowed I would never endure that pain.

I realized that how I threw a party, was also a way that I could choose to live my life. Starting with the guest list. Did I feel obliged to invite anyone or the need to impress any on the list? If I did, I would only include those I truly wanted to give to and in terms of impressing, I would remind myself that the most impressive thing to me is authenticity. Being my authentic self simply required me to get creative and use every aspect of the party as a canvas to express myself.

If we shift our approach to the party and simply do what we truly want to do, the focus is no longer about what is trending in home entertaining or decor, it becomes about enjoying how we choose to express ourselves via the party and enjoying our company. That might very well mean not having the party we originally envisaged but redefining what a party means to us. Oprah recently celebrated her 60th birthday by enjoying a picnic on the floor with her companion, versus a party with over 400 guests. If 2014 is the year of mindful living, we should be gathering in our homes more often, to connect with folks we can share our authentic self with.

At The Delish Life, I look at any kind of gathering as an opportunity to celebrate who we are at any given moment. Who do we want to deepen our connections with, laugh, dance and make memories with? Its a snapshot of how we express ourselves, what inspires us and what is important to us. What do you want your party to say about you?

Where Do You Follow Your Nose?
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It’s been five years since I had a Krispy Kreme.

It isn’t a coincidence. It’s on purpose. I’m powerless over the kind of love I feel for Krispy Kremes. Realizing that — and steering clear of them altogether — has changed my life.

So naturally, when my husband and daughter partake I can’t wait to grab the box of doughy goodness and inhale it so deeply I worry I’ll ingest a donut through my nose.

“Why put yourself through the misery?” you may wonder.

Oh, but it isn’t misery. It’s heaven. Until I gave up this kind of decadence I didn’t realize smell was a sense unto itself. Before it was always a means to an end, the thing that led me into temptation.

Now the aroma’s just that. An aroma. And it’s heavenly. I enjoy it without needing it to lead to anything else — like a donut binge and the ensuing guilt.

That surprised me. I hadn’t realized how powerful scent was until I separated it from my other senses.

There were clues, though.

There’s a armoire in the basement of the house my parents still live in where they keep the World Book Encyclopedias. Nothing, and I mean nothing, calls up my childhood faster than opening those doors and taking a breath.

I wore Ciara cologne in high school. One whiff of that at Target and I’m right back in the drafting room, plotting what I thought was my future as a civil engineer.

The aroma of creosote (yep, aroma) when I pass a railroad yard whisks me back to the construction crew I worked on one summer when I was in college.

That’s why I suggested Katie splurge on some expensive cologne for our vacation last year — so every time she spritzed some on she’d remember being in Europe for the first time with us. She thought that was a good idea. Once home, once it started working its magic, she thought it had been a great idea.

Katie’s nothing if not slathered in something heavenly. Getting into a car with her is like climbing into a piña colada. On a morning not long before we moved her to college last August I rounded the corner downstairs on my way to her dressing room. It’s the only part of the house that’s finished, and it’s movie-star dreamy. I inhaled whatever she’d bathed herself in that morning as it hit me: “I will miss her scents.”

Now I treat her to a big bottle of something yummy she uses when she’s home. I finish it up after she’s gone, and it keeps her a little closer.

Aromatic memories will break your heart with their sweetness, if you let them. Don’t take my word for it. Open the box of your daughter’s baby clothes you’ve tucked away in a closet, smell your sweetheart’s pillow after he gets up early, pop your head into any elementary school classroom and get knocked over by the scent of Elmer’s Glue.

See — I mean smell — what I mean?

How do you store your memories?

New York Is a Difficult Place to Live, But New Yorkers Make It Easier
New York City has a well-deserved reputation for being a difficult place to live. Especially for parents of small children. We pay a ridiculous amount of money for a glorified closet without a basement or a backyard for kids to play in. We fight for spots in schools — even preschools! — because there are too many other kids applying for not enough slots. And many of us, myself included, go about our days of child-schlepping, errand running and grocery shopping without a car.

Car-less, we rely on our strollers an immense amount. My stroller is a car replacement. I use it not only to transport my infant, but also to hold my older son’s lunch on the way to school, to help stash necessities and my diaper bag, and to load up with groceries on big trips to the store.

Last week, I made one of those big grocery excursions. When I make the 20-minute walk to Trader Joe’s, I literally buy as much as I can stuff into my stroller. That day was no exception: I left the store with a full shopping bag hanging off the Mommy-hook and had filled the entire undercarriage of my Citi Mini Baby Jogger stroller with cans, frozen foods, spaghetti sauce, vegetables and various sundry heavy items.

Walking out of the store, I realized I had 15 minutes to make the 10-minute walk to my 4-year-old’s preschool. Score! I am rarely on time for pick-up, let alone early. Just as I congratulated myself on my time management, the stroller stopped moving forward. It just stopped. The stroller was still upright — the baby safe, facing me, nonplussed. Confused, I looked around. The man standing next to me pointed out the source of the problem: a wheel rolling away. I lunged for it. One of the two front wheels had completely popped off the stroller. Fortunately, the two sets of back two wheels were fine.

The man stopped and tried to help me put it back on. “Be careful,” he warned me, “it’ll probably just come right back off.” It did. I couldn’t even move a couple of inches forward without the wheel falling off again. I put it back on. It fell right off. I put it back on, tried to hold it on with my foot, made it a few inches and it fell right off. Over and over I fruitlessly tried to move down the block, but was thwarted at every attempt.

What was I going to do? With my lead time draining away, how would I pick up my older son at school? What would I do with my baby? The stroller? All the groceries? I stood there with no idea of what to do next. I felt completely helpless and trapped.

And then, something amazing happened. The man who had helped me with the wheel was headed to his car, but turned around and said, “I can take you home if you want.”

“Oh, that’s incredibly nice of you,” I replied, “but I’m not even going home — I have to get my older son from school.”

“Well, if you live close and his school is close, I have time to take you before I have to pick my kids up at school.”

I hesitated. Did I really want to get into a strange man’s car? A) at all or B) with my baby? I watch Law & Order and Criminal Minds. I know what kindness from strangers can lead to. But I took a risk based on his nice smile (and the child car seats in his backseat).

When we went to load the trunk, I said, “I’m Jen, what’s your name?”

“Eddie,” he replied.

“Are you married?”

He laughed and said, “Yes, why?”

“Because I want you to tell your wife that you win all the karma awards for the day. This is huge. This is amazing. I have no idea how I would have done this without your help.”

I loaded all the groceries from under the stroller into the extra Trader Joe’s bag he happened to have in his truck, and we threw in the other bag of groceries, my diaper bag, the folded stroller and the wheel. Then we drove the six blocks to my son’s school. Leaving all my stuff except the baby (I wasn’t quite THAT trusting), I ran in and grabbed my son from the pickup line.

I told him we were doing something extra special and silly and going home in a car with Eddie. “Are we taking a taxi?” he asked. Nodding, I introduced him to Eddie who got him buckled in. After I got myself and the baby buckled in, we were off on the short drive to our apartment.

We chatted about my boys and his kids, and when he pulled up in front of my apartment, he apologized for not having the time to come in and help me bring everything upstairs. “Are you kidding,” I said, “You have no idea how your help made our day so much better. You are wonderful, and I can’t thank you enough.”

With an act of kindness that took less than 15 minutes, this total stranger/fellow parent/guardian angel/New Yorker radically changed the course of the rest of our day and transformed what potentially could have been a disastrously stressful experience into a celebration of one neighbor helping another neighbor.

So, again, I want to say “thank you” to Eddie. Yes, New York is often a very difficult place to live, but New Yorkers make it easier.

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