Men!

I was recently accused of being a man-hater. The ill-informed accuser had confused my independence and comfort in being alone with a more sinister point of view.

The truth, however, is so far from the allegation that in my defense I thought a written piece regarding the absurdity was warranted.

I love men. I’m not saying I understand them completely. They are as complicated as complicated gets.

But women are complicated, too, and so putting aside (for a moment) the complicated things that often leave us feeling as far apart as Venus and Mars, let’s focus on the reasons that men are wonderful.

As a little girl I fell in love with a beautiful neighborhood boy. What did I know of love? Not much. But the way he tossed his bike to the ground after effortlessly jumping away from its spinning wheels, hop-skipping himself toward me with a testosterone laced smile? What else did I need to know? The fact that he liked me was icing on the proverbial cupcake. It tasted as sweet.

Swoon worthy looks are nice, but without substance, a pretty face can only take a girl so far!

I have met many a man, who though lacking the chiseled chest of, say, “A David Beckham,” or the rugged handsomeness of, say, “A Jake Gyllenhall,” did have that je ne sais quoi that made this girl swoon as if a Beckham-Gyllenhall combination had just entered the room.

What is that?

That thing?

That spark of magic, which creates butterflies in the belly.

How could you not love that?

I used to joke that I would only date a man who was smarter than me. A pre-requisite, so to speak.

Men with brains, or with knowledge on subjects I haven’t a clue, are fascinating. Before you try to hang me for what sounds like a pre-feminist viewpoint, let me just say, “No one loves a brilliant woman more than I.” But introduce me to a cardiac doctor or an international human rights lawyer or an up and coming film maker (any of whom are) of the male persuasion, and listening and learning about things I don’t quite understand creates a different dynamic of intrigue. Intrigue in unfamiliar packaging.

Mens’ brains are great, but brawn is not bad, either. Science has proven that men have lots of qualities that separate them from women; one of the most obvious being their muscular build which provides them considerably more upper body strength. I do appreciate a strong upper body (as my own is the least strong part of me). Having a man appear to assist, as I try to lift that heavy thing from that high place up there … I love that!

At pre-school pick-up today I was reminded of two more reasons to love men; fathers and grandfathers. I watched as a grey-haired man held the hand of his granddaughter, and sweetly challenged her to see if she could recognize his car. I watched a much younger man trailing behind his little boy who was busily pushing a truck along the sidewalk. I listened as patient dad and curious son has a conversation about the truck, and I kept on, feeling grateful for the additional blog-worthy material.

There are men in the world who love women, and as an extension, love their kids and the idea of the family. I know a man personally who actually said to me, “Not have my wife and kids? What would be the meaning of my life?”

Men who really love women do not just sexualize them. Real appreciation for women as mothers and sisters allow some men into the inner circle. These men, with such respect for the richness that women being to a life, are rewarded by the women they love.

Man-hater? Not me. Not even close.

M.

Are you one of those girls that has found the man who makes you swoon, whose brain you love, who has that thing?

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The Run Happy Formula

With my yogic river guide out of town (no Saturday yoga for me), I took the opportunity to hit the open road after a month of being sidelined by too much stress and a nagging quadracept injury. Luckily for me, the formula for a happy run was in place.

Here are the components, for which (even hours later) I find myself grateful:

1. Running in the cold (this morning’s thermometer hovered around 37 degrees) allows the lungs to fill with crisp fresh air. To say I felt more alive than I have since March isn’t dramatics. It’s the truth.

2. The right gear is essential for cold-weather running, because freezing is never any fun. I left the house wearing my thick, lined running pants, a long-sleeve shirt and jacket, and a headband to cover and protect my ears from the wind.

3. Going slowly, though not walking, there is no hurry and no pressure. As I amp up the winter running, I’m sure I’ll hop back over to the Galloway method, but my favorite way to run is at an easy pace, for as long as I like. Today’s four miles felt right; authentic, focused, strong.

3. Wearing ear pods is controversial. Galloway doesn’t allow it. People say it is dangerous. But the beauty of having music in your ears is that you not only hear, but feel. Choosing the iPod shuffle-option is like an extra step toward total surrender. The last song as I rounded home was James Blunt’s, Best Laid Plans. The man is a poet, and his words made my heart grow wider.

4. A familiar loop doesn’t hurt when you’re busy following your nose. There’s no chance in getting lost and you’re close enough to home if you need to call it quits (earlier than anticipated).

5. A good run always prompts thoughts of the next race. Maybe it’s the endorphins at work, but I’m thinking that the timing is right to train for March’s Tobacco Road Marathon (or at least the half).

A happy run is the foundation for my happy life.

What’s your formula for a happy run?

M.

P.S. I questioned whether to publish this ‘happy post” as it’s a disappointing time for many running friends unable to race New York; monumentally more difficult for the people trying to recover from Sandy’s destruction. New York and it’s people have lived in my heart since I left almost twelve years ago. I wish I was closer to physically help …

Judging Youth

When you judge a person for the mistakes of their youth,
You are not highlighting their ill-fated decisions.

What you are doing,
Which is far worse,
Is highlighting your own inhumanity.

Ever felt like this – whether you are the one judging or like you are busily fighting off the inhumanity; wielding off judgement with your mightiest sword? How do find your own humanity in either case? How do you find peace amidst the fray?

M.

CC Skye Pearl Peace Ring $230.00. I’ve been looking for a “divorce” ring. My left hand misses adornment.

Well Hello There, Tumblr!

I have recently discovered Tumblr.

Yes, I am late to the party, but finally, I’ve arrived!

If you haven’t yet ventured over to Tumblrland, here is what you’re missing:

1. Imagery, images, imagination.

2. Youngins with clever thoughts and the inclination to express.

3. Pretty templates; much prettier than Pinterest. Less categorization than Pinterest too.

4. Another avenue to expand your reach. We’re not calling it a brand anymore, are we?

Grow with Stacy posted a great piece about how refusing to add photos to your blog can kill your traffic. In it, she covered a lot of information in regard to imagery that I didn’t know (i.e. how to use Flickr to your advantage), and she’s right; humans are visual and images are important.

Since Mommyland (writings, musings, opinions) leads my parade of social media, I will continue to use imagery to create added interest, much in the way that Stacy describes.

Adding Tumblr to my list of social media stopping points (after Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Reader) gives me one more destination on the daily Interwebz calendar of events. The benefit, it appears, is in its ability to open up the window to my soul from a purely visual perspective (there are poems, etc., but the words are far more image rich than the typical blog post).

If you like the idea of a younger audience (be warned, you will come across many a pouting teenage girl – “I vant to be a star”), and love the idea of a visual stream of consciousness approach, log on to Tumblr and follow me.

Hope to see you there …

M.

All Hail the Retinoids

Retinoids (or retinol), initially used to treat my teenage acne, are now a part of my weekly skin care regimen to halt wrinkles and lessen the appearance of sun damage. Made from retinoic acid, which is derived from vitamin A, it’s sold under many brand names from Retin-A to Tazorac, and for the more sensitive types, Differin (aka Adapalene).

Unfortunately, the side effects to human skin as a result of retinol use are peeling and flakiness, added sensitivity causing redness, and (if not careful) skin prone to sunburn. Having used retinol for as long as I, one would assume I’d figured out the appropriate routine for attaining perfect skin without said side effects.

But, this is not so and I continue to battle the peeliness; unsure if it can really be avoided.

Here is what I’ve been advised by my doctor; advise, which I have taken:

1. Choose a gentle face wash like Cetaphil for removing makeup at night.

2. Wait until face is completely dry (about fifteen minutes) before applying a thin layer, careful to avoid the skin around the eyes. In my experience I have (once or twice) applied my gel too closely to the sensitive eye area, resulting in a stinging sensation (to the eye balls!) the following day.

3. Apply at night, every third day at the start, every second night after a few weeks. Some people, not as sensitive, are able to apply it nightly. I’ve yet to meet a person who is able to do this, though.

4. Do not spot treat. It’s better to smooth a thin layer over the entire face and neck than spot treat, which leads to uneven flakiness.

5. Wear sunscreen, preferably with a higher SPF.

6. Moisturize with a non-comedogenic formulation for sensitive skin.

7. Take a break during the summer.

This is one rule that has been in dispute. Some doctors believe that using retinoids in the summer months is a better time to begin, and as long as proper sunscreen usage is adhered to, the “humidity is less likely to dry out the skin.

I am not a doctor, but as I user, I disagree. I am a regimented sunscreen user, and even still find that I am exposed to much more sun in the summer months, regardless of my best efforts to faithfully reapply my SPF.

No matter if you are a teenager with acne or a forty something mom looking for help with your skin, retinoids are a good place to start.

Just be advised, from a woman who yesterday prayed that no moms would talk to her at pre-school pickup due to my peeling mess of a face, there is a price to pay for the long-term benefits of clear, beautiful skin.

Do you use retinoids? Why or why not?

M.

I’ve heard that people worry about the expense of retinoid creams and gels. This small tube, however, has been in use for over a year (probably past the expiration date). The stuff lasts forever.

Popcorn, Kids and Magic

Yesterday I spent the morning in a small room with eight four-year olds where I’d signed up to be their substitute teacher. Many of the children I already knew by name as they’d been in other classes with my girls or had frequented our playground with their moms.

Before I was a mom, I was a teacher, so my comfort level there was familiar and easy.

We painted and read and worked on letters and as we got to know each other as teacher and students I was on the receiving end of the love that children give in spurts to thank you and let you know that you are trusted. If teaching was only about the children, going back full-time would be without question.

Toward the end of the day, Mrs. L (the assistant) pushed play on the old tape recorder set high on a shelf.

“The popcorn song,” she said, “Give yourself space.”

While the kids ran to find their place, a good distance between themselves and their friends, I sandwiched myself between the painting easel and the cubbies.

The music began; a shaking, beating, wiggling sound propelling bodies to move.

Each little person bounced and shook and wiggled, practically choreographed,each transition perfectly timed. The corners of my mouth pointed upward at the sight of each child’s deeply rooted personal and electric rhythm.

Like the moment when the space shuttle is about to take off or the pulsing of a bass drum, the swirling liquid inside a bottle of Mountain Dew just before the cap twists off or the sound of OM in a room full of yogis, the children created a force.

They were small, their imprint took up little space, but their force was huge.

Huge and magical.

Happy magic emanating from small energetic packages.

I forget sometimes that kids have such power. I forget a a lot, actually, especially with mine who whine a lot and boss me around a lot and hit each other a lot and need something from me all the live long day.

At the end of class I asked the children to tell me their favorite part of the morning.

“You want to know mine?” I asked.

“The popcorn song.”

“Yep,” said the lot, “Mine too!”

Ever have a moment that leaves you spell-bound and happy?

M.

Pop pop pop pop music.

Why Blog?

If you are not a blogger you might not be aware of some of the fun things that your “publishing platform” can monitor for you.

In my case (on WordPress) I am able to see how many hits my site has had for the day, the month and the year. I also have access to cool information like the top posts for the day, which can be surprising if and old post gets a ton of hits from out of the blue.

One of my favorite sections is the search engine list which lets me in on the searches that have led readers to my site.

Today I have been located through searches for, “Sgetti honey boo boo,” “Emmy tits,” and “Miami 2013.” Yesterday  I gained a reader through the search phrase “make millet chips,” which I’ve never actually made, but all my talk about kale chips and millet and such makes it easy to understand Google’s minor confusion.

There have been endless interesting search phrases that have led readers to Mommyland and for each I am grateful.

Even the person who yesterday typed, “gorgeously dressed ladies with bare breasts,” is my reader….

Many people have asked why I still blog. My marathon has long ended; the main reason I started it to begin with.

There are a bunch of reasons that I continue.

But today, when the sun never shone and my kids spent way too much time in Crazyland (not to mention my own brain freeze caused by the paperwork pile of divorce affidavits), the smile that crossed my face upon the discovery of a curious reader’s search has proven to be reason enough.

Gorgeously dressed ladies with bare breasts.

I wonder if that searcher found what they were looking for? I wonder if they’ll be back?

Why do you blog? If you don’t have a blog have you ever thought about starting one? What would it be about?

XOM

Search number 4 on Google!