Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year!

(originally posted in September 2009)

Women often naively assume that the guy who sends flowers every Friday afternoon, without fail, is the stable, loyal and romantic man of her dreams. However, in my experience, I had boyfriends who would shower me with cliche romantic gestures such as my favorite white flowers - while deep inside I knew, the routine of sending flowers was an attempt by these boyfriends to over compensate for lackings in our relationship. Maybe they couldn't intellectually challenge me or the chemistry was less than ideal, but they thought flowers somehow would make it all better. 

I knew my husband was "the one" for many reasons, one of which was he has never routinely given me flowers. Sure he has surprised me with beautiful bouquets once and awhile, but he feels predictable flower giving lacks spontaneity and sincerity. That doesn't mean that he is not romantic - yet he realizes that providing me with everything I could possibly need in our relationship emotionally and physically says more than 1-800-Flowers ever could. A novel I am currently reading features a leading female character who hates yellow roses. She hates yellow roses because she knows every time she receives them from her husband, it means he has had an extra-marital affair.

I am not suggesting to accuse the man in your life of infidelities when tulips appear at your doorstep. However, I think an important lesson can be learned - Seek out a man who (metaphorically) toils, plants and fertilizes in your "relationship garden", and be suspicious of men who think that relationship voids can be filled by ordering flowers online.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

#2 of the best posts of 2009

(originally posted in November 2009)

Dear Danielle,

I am 23 years old and have never had a serious long term relationship, although I go on many dates and have dated guys for a few months at a time. What I am wondering is - what exactly is intimacy? Not physical, but more emotional/romantic intimacy. Although I have been with men I have never felt what it is like to be in an intimate relationship. I am starting to feel like I don't know what intimacy is and I definitely feel like I don't know how to find it.

"Seeking Intimacy"

Dear "Seeking Intimacy,"

Imagine being in a crowded cocktail party at a friend's home. The room is full and there is a fun buzz in the air as friends mingle and laugh. As you are discussing politics with an old high school friend you haven't seen in awhile you catch eyes with a man across the room. Your heart skips a beat. You don't speak, and don't even really smile at each other, but you feel each other's presence and continue on socializing with others at the party. Throughout the night you don't interact much with the man you caught eyes with, yet you feel so connected and one with him. This isn't a stranger, but rather the man that you came to the party with. This man is your boyfriend or possibly your husband. And although you spent the whole night doing your own thing, you couldn't have felt closer to each other...Intimacy to me is sharing a bond and feeling a sense of shared experience even in moments when each person is living their own life.
Intimacy can mean different things to different people. "Knowing it when you feel it," pretty well sums up the search for intimacy, yet, that doesn't mean you should sit back and wait for an intimate relationship to come find you. I have always known what intimacy means to me, and thankfully married a man who I know I can share such intimacy with. It takes work to maintain a constant sense of connection with someone, and small intimate acts can encourage that all around sense of closeness in a relationship.
Intimacy cannot be had with any Joe you find in a nightclub, therefore you are correct about questioning how intimacy can be found. When you meet a man that you really think you have potential with, meaning there is chemistry and mutual respect and affection - the process of intimacy cultivation can begin. I know what you're wondering, what do I mean by "intimacy cultivation"?
Intimacy cultivation refers to the process in which an individual and a couple set the foundation for an intimate relationship. Closeness between a couple must exist not just in sexual or specifically romantic situations but during normal life. Not every grocery store trip with your spouse will feel like fireworks and/or extreme intimacy, but that's just the point. Intimacy doesn't mean anything out of the ordinary. Intimate relationships are one's that uplift day to day life and find special moments during unlikely times.
So, when you begin dating a guy that you like, I suggest that you focus on truly getting to know this person. Intimacy can only occur in a deep way when a sense of familiarity exists. Listen closely to your partner and try to understand him/her on a level that the rest of the world might not. After awhile, this sense of knowing will result in private jokes or you just knowing the right thing to say at the right time to make the other person feel acknowledged.
Intimacy also is achieved by striking the right balance between private couple time and socializing with work colleagues, friends, and each other's families. It is one thing to make eyes at each other in private, but it is another thing to mediate a new relationship within the larger world. Even during "public" moments the challenge is to stay connected to each other. Whether it be by a sexy gaze, holding hands, etc. Not every couple is comfortable with the same levels of PDA. What's important is that each couple finds a way to relate regardless of the setting.
If you get to know the depths of someone and are comfortable exhibiting closeness with them in private and public then you are on your way to an intimate relationship.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

#3 of the best posts of 2009

(originally posted in October 2009)

Dear Danielle,

I am 29 years old and my parents have been divorced for 12 years. My father remarried awhile ago, but only over the last year has my mother really made an effort to meet men. Recently, she has been dating a man who is a decade younger than her. My mom works out a lot, has a great figure and dresses very young looking - so I am not surprised a younger guy would be attracted to her. But, the guy she is dating is not very intellectual. He shows her a good time, but I don't think he has what she needs for a lasting long term relationship. I want to tell her not to waste her time with him and find a man more her age who she could actually spend the rest of her life with. Should I butt in or leave her alone to figure it out?


"Daughter of a Cougar"

Dear "Daughter of a Cougar,"

As long as your mother is happy, it is not your place to "tell her not to waste her time." She might never want to re-marry, and if she does, it is her decision who or when it is with. It might make you slightly uncomfortable to see your mother dating a younger man who doesn't fit the mold of a father type figure - but get over it. This isn't about you, this is about her finding her way and reinventing her life. Let her explore. This fling with the younger guy probably wont last, as you suggest, but that doesn't mean there is anything wrong with having fun along the way. Stop worrying about her and invest in your own love life - I have a hunch you it might need some attention :-)

Monday, December 28, 2009

#4 of the best posts of 2009

(originally posted in October 2009)

Making friends as an adult is sure different then making childhood or college friends. Childhood friendships which began as circumstantial relationships, often bloom over the years into life-long friendships. For most people, adolescence and university means endless hours of partying and philosophizing with many like-minded young people.
Although childhood friendship making is laden with plenty of cliques, bossiness, peer-pressure and sometimes bullying - establishing new adult friendships can often be more complicated. As people get older, the hours of the day get filled with work responsibilities, dating and married life, household duties and childcare. Little time of often left for building new friendships, and even new friendships are often as a result of circumstantial commonalities such as kids being in the same school or meeting through a work environment.

The way I look at it, maintaining friendships as an adult is a form of an investment. If adults invest in solid close friends, then they likely will have a support system when life gets tough - or friends to enjoy the successes of life with. But considering the fact that adults today have so little time and energy to devote to friendships - how best to "invest" friendship time?

While reading the Huffington Post this week I saw an article by Therese Borchard about the book"Bounce: Living the Resilient Life," written by psychology professor Robert Wicks. This book recommends what seems like - strategic friendship making. Wicks looks at friendships in terms of calculated efforts to surround oneself with the right kind of people, rather than a result of life's chance. Rather than be-friend a neighbor because they live next door, Wicks encourages people to seek out friends with certain qualities.
Specifically, the book advocates that we invite into our circle of friends four types of people: the prophet, the cheerleader, the harasser, and the guides. The prophet is not afraid to "tell it like it is" even if it something you don't want to hear while the cheerleader offers constant encouragement. The harasser bring humor and a sense of perspective into our lives while the guide is an attentive listener and analytic soul.

Everyone's friendship needs are different. However, my advice for today is:
Invest in a handful of quality friendships. One or two can live far away...but also make sure you have a few close by. Less is definitely more when it comes to friends. Nothing wrong with being a social butterfly, but don't fly around so much that you have no true friendships to land on when you really need it.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

#5 of the best posts of 2009

(originally posted in October 2009)

Dear Danielle,

I consider myself a pretty good person. I am honest, and I try to be a giving, loyal and considerate friend. The thing is, lately I have been noticing that I feel a twinge of jealousy in me when something really great happens to a friend of mine. For instance, one of my best friends just got engaged, and another friend just got offered a lucrative job opportunity. Of course on a rational level I feel happy for them, but my gut reaction when I hear this type of news has been envy. I hate to admit it, but I also think I secretly hope that these amazing things wont happen to my friends so that I feel better about my own life. Am I a terrible person for feeling jealous of my close friends? How do I stop these negative feelings and just purely feel joy for them?

"Envy getting the better of me"

Dear "Envy getting the better of me,"

There is a reason why God commanded people to not covet. You aren't a terrible person. It is human nature to want to feel "better off" in comparison to friends/neighbors. That's why most people would choose to make $100,000 a year while everyone else they know earns "$50,000," rather than making $200,000 while everyone else makes $500,000. Affluence and success are relative terms, and you often assume that if a friend seems on the surface to be doing better than you financially, professionally or socially that it means somehow your own life is lacking. Ask yourself - why does a friend's job promotion make me feel bad about my own life? Use these feelings of envy to address areas of your life you would like to impove and then spend your energy working on those improvements, rather than thinking "the grass is always greener." You will be able to feel pure joy for your friends when you find joy and satisfaction in your own life, regardless of how you "measure up" to others.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

#6 of the best posts of 2009

(originally posted in October 2009)

Did you know that there is an online dating service to help married people find lovers for extra-marital affairs? It is called Ashley Madison and it's slogan is: "Beat bedroom is short. have an affair." I was not shocked when I heard of the popularity of this site, but I was sad. As a strong believer in the 10 commandments, I often am perplexed at how paramount social justice/moral values such as "thou shall not steal" and "thou shall not commit adultery" are so easily discarded in our society. A person need not be religious to see how avoiding envy and not murdering (along with the other laws espoused by the 10 commandments) can make our communities safer and ultimately happier. So why have we so easily given up on striving for these ideals?

Yes, the bedroom of a married couple can sometimes feel boring. But is that an excuse for adultery? And what disturbs me most is the correlation that Ashley Madison makes between the concept that "life is short" and adultery. If life is short shouldn't we live the best life we can? If life is short shouldn't we try our hardest to make our marriage the happiest and strongest it can be, rather than creating mistrust and dishonesty?

Judaism acknowledges that sex can become boring, and creates many provisions in terms of when sex is permissible with the goal of creating desire for married couples. Whether you can relate to religious law that deals with sex, or not, it raises the question:

Maybe our society is so over-sexed that we erroneously think we need multiple partners to be satisfied when really we need to encourage more "wanting" amongst spouses?
What do you think of Ashley Madison, and the prevalence of extra-marital affairs in our society...

Friday, December 25, 2009

#7 of best posts of 2009

(originally posted in September 2009)

Dear Danielle,

I've been dating a really great guy for the last 6 weeks. We enjoy each other's company, are comfortable around each other, etc. One issue that I'm having is that he has never once complimented me ... and when I ask him why, he merely says that it's not something he was raised doing and it's going to take time for him. I recognize that while it's still new, it has been 6 weeks. I even noticed one evening as we were heading out on a date that he was 'checking me out' and when I asked him what he was thinking, he said he wouldn't tell me. I compliment him and try to make him feel good; how do I get him to come out of his shell and do the same for me?

"Tell me you like me"

Dear "Tell me you like me,"

I am not concerned with his lack of compliments, as long as he is affectionate and warm with you. Unfortunately, a guy who can't compliment a girl he is dating might also be the kind of guy that cannot open up emotionally or be loving. If you have been dating for 6 weeks and he hasn't told you how he feels about you, for example, "I am so happy we met and that I am getting to know you" or, "I have been really enjoying our time together and find you funny, or interesting, (or whatever)" then it would seem as if he is a very closed person who has some issues with emotional intimacy.

Possibly he didn't get much affection or positive reinforcement when he was growing up. Have you asked him why he isn't comfortable complimenting you? If he'll talk openly about his hesitations or his upbringing, and you don't find anything else in the relationship problematic - then I would give him more of a chance to open up. Maybe he doesn't have the tools to compliment you, so offer him an idea of what you are looking for in terms of positive reinforcement. However, if he isn't even open to letting you in a bit to understand his rationale then I wouldn't waste your time trying to change this guy.

I have a friend whose dad has never said I love you to his wife (her mother). This man grew up in a communist country and was raised very closed. Despite that, he is a loyal and devoted husband. His wife could obviously overlook the fact he was not affectionate or loving. However, you seem like a woman who needs some doting - so make sure the guy you are dating can give you what you need, even if it takes some time.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

#8 of the best posts of 2009

(originally posted in August 2009)

I love the Oprah Winfrey Show and watch it daily. I am fascinated by "seeing how other people live," and her show features perspectives on diverse lifestyles.

I was watching a re-run which featured Brooke, a prostitute at the Bunny Ranch in Nevada. Brooke mentioned that she is often hired by men to pretend she is their girlfriend or wife. One un-married client pays Brooke, not for sex, but to act like his nagging wife and express jealousy and
possessiveness over him. You heard me right - there is a man out there who wishes he had a nagging wife.

I started to wonder, which of the relationship patterns that we fall into, despite complaining that we wished they would change, do we actually find pleasurable? For instance, as much as many women out there would love their husbands to take more of a leadership role in household duties, maybe they also secretly love the mothering and domestic ritual of being the woman responsible for the house?

Wednesday, December 23, 2009


#9 of the best posts of 2009

(originally posted in August 2009)

Dear Danielle,

If I were to die tomorrow what would be the most important thing
I've left for my children?

Sincerely, "Dad Down Under"

Dear "Dad Down Under,"

The fact that you wrote in this question indicates that you are concerned with leaving a positive legacy for your children. The following concepts cannot be fulfilled by sitting down and having one heart to heart conversation with your child. They can only be achieved by incorporating these principles into everyday dialogue and interaction, which may be challenging for those who were not raised themselves with these values. However, it is never too late to start teaching children how to be the best human beings possible.

1. Every child should feel like the most loved and most beautiful person out there. Of course this must be met with lessons of humility. Life will provide every individual with plenty of situations that inforce concepts of humility and even ego degeneration. However, a parent uniquely can offer their child the ladder to climb upwards and view the world from a position of strength and confidance. To believe that one can "be anything" and "do anything" ensures that during adolescence and adulthood an individual does not accept abusive or even demeaning treatment. By instilling in your child the sense of not only their worth but also their potential, they will less likely find themselves in an abusive relationship or a job they are miserable in. If a child thinks they deserve the best (not in a spoiled materialistic way - but in a standard of a happy lifestyle) than they will protect themselves more likely from dangerous or harmful situations for the soul and spirit.

2. It is just as important for children to understand their role as part of a family legacy and a community/society than it is for a child's individual ego to be developed in a healthy way (as highlighted above). Children need to learn that we are individuals responsible for our own well being, as well as members of a society responsible for broader worldly or communal progress. We must teach children that it is not enough to be selfish or even view life as a day to day personal pursuit. Rather, having long term goals and thinking of the welfare of others and the world is critical in a successful life. Simply, children need to understand they are an important link in a chain of humanity and the actions they take can either further or disrupt this chain. This principle could be applied to many facets of existence:
-Ensuring religious practice/ritual is passed down to your children
-Avoiding a sense of political apathetic-ness amongst your children
-Communicating the value for passing on specific family traditions and values

3. Children need to learn from their mistakes while they are young and realize that self-improvement and emotional/spritual awareness is key in a lifelong pursuit of self improvement. Teach your children that every new day presents an opportunity to be a better person. "If you wont be better tomorrow than you are today, then what need do you have for tomorrow?" - R. Nachman of Breslov

4. We live in a consumer culture so teach your child how to acquire. The type of acquisition I am referring to relates not to material possessions but how to overall acquire the quality of life they desire. This includes, how to make loyal, emotionally intelligent and successful friends and how to find a life partner that is worthy of them and challenges/uplifts them. A child can learn how to "acquire" the right lifestyle for themselves by understanding that quality friendships and relationships are sought out, cultivated and hard work is taken to maintain them. Just because your child has been friends with the same child since pre-school doesn't mean they should learn to stay in a friendship that is possibly a bad influence, or stay with a boyfriend that doesn't show them affection. Essentially, an ideal lifestyle can be achieved if one seeks out the type of people they want to associate with and build the type of social framework and/or community that fits their values. (I will be writing a future blog just on this subject matter.)

Tuesday, December 22, 2009


As the countdown begins to 2010 I will be featuring the best DEAR DANIELLE posts from 2009. Here is #10...

(originally posted in July 2009)

I am reading a book right now called The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich by Timothy Ferriss. The premise of the book is that "being rich" has more to do with flexibility of time, independence and the ability to travel and pursue personal interests beyond one's career than it has to do with money. "Being rich" to Ferris doesn't mean being a billionaire but it does mean not waiting until one is 65 to retire and only then to start living a dream life.

The point that really got me was that Ferriss questions why our society has bought into the notion of working "9-5." Who is to say that work needs 8 hours to be accomplished? How can that standard be accurate for every company? One could argue that more than 8 hours is required to be truly successful, however Ferriss argues that when inefficiencies are removed from the workplace the notion of "9-5" can be thrown out as well. What matters is the bottom line. And the bottom line to Ferriss is making money and also enjoying life.

As a woman who always thought she could have it all, a loving marriage, children, a dynamic career...I am realizing that "9-5" might not work for me in the future or me or my friends. Maybe we need to reinvent what it means to accomplish a lot in a day and do our own math.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Dear Danielle,

I have a friend who is tall, thin and pretty. However, she needs a wardrobe and hair make-over. We're very good friends but each time I've tried to suggest that she gets her hair cut by a different person (she has curly hair, which is always frizzy - I've never actually seen the real curls -- and messy) or that she buys clothing a bit more tailored (her clothes are always too big!), she doesn't really take to it. I've offered to go shopping with her and to send her to my stylist (I also have curly hair). It's not about the money for her; I think she just feels fine the way she is.
Suggestions for how I can be successful with my suggestions, without being rude or too blunt?

"You're Perfect - Now Change"

Dear "You're Perfect - Now Change,"

For her birthday, or as a holiday gift, give her a gift certificate to your salon (doesn't have to be for a huge amount of $) and suggest to her that you book your appointments at the same time. Make a fun girly day of it, by having lunch followed by shopping. Before she'll know what hit her, she'll have a new do, and a few cute new outfits that you have encouraged her to buy. Sometimes people are reluctant to change, but when they see how wonderful a change in look can be, they never look back...

Friday, December 18, 2009

A great article on marriage was published in the NYTimes this week.
As a newly married woman, I love hearing from couples who have been married for decades about their experiences and advice. David Sarasohn writes honestly about his marriage in a realistic yet uplifting way. Here are a few great quotes from the article:

"Being single is all about the future, about the person you’re going to meet at Starbucks or after answering the next scientific compatibility questionnaire. Being married, after a certain point, is about the past, about a steadily growing history of moments that provide a confidence of comfort, an asset that compounds over time."

"Being married to someone you respect for being somehow better than you keeps affection alive. That this impressive person chooses you year after year makes you more pleased with yourself, fueling the kind of mutual self-esteem that can get you through decades."

What are your thoughts after reading this?

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Dear Danielle,

I really like a guy and I don't know how he feels about me, so I haven't said anything. Another guy really likes me, and hasn't said anything either but it is very obvious and I can tell he thinks I feel the same way. I don't want to lead the second guy on, and I wish I could tell the guy I actually like how I feel, but I'm scared of being rejected or ruining our friendship.
I'm so confused and in the end speechless towards both of them... what should I do?


Dear "Speechless",

Arrange some one-on-one time with the guy you like. Cook him dinner or go for a long walk, or do something else that is private and could be romantic yet not over the top. Observe how he reacts, does he treat you like a friend or more like a girlfriend? I believe if a guy likes you he will go after you, so once you give him the opportunity to treat you like more than a friend, see how he deals with it. If he still doesn't make a move or express any interest in being more than just friends, I wouldn't push it with him. You want a guy who will come after you. In terms of the guy who likes you, but you don't like back, no need to mention anything to him until he directly asks you out. If/when he does, tell him that you really appreciate your friendship with him but don't see your relationship extending beyond that. If you don't make a big deal of it he wont either.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Dear Danielle,

I have a thin mother, a thin father and a model-like brother, yet I have always struggled with my weight. I am not obese, but I am definitely overweight. I try to exercise a few times a week and I stay away from junk food, but I have never been good at strict diets. I just started dating a guy who likes my figure. I want to be able to just accept who I am and not try to be thin like the rest of my family - but how?

"Done with Dieting"

Dear "Done with Dieting"

As long as your doctor thinks your weight is at a healthy point, and you are exercising regularly - then you are doing a good job. Accepting who you are involves ceasing to compare yourself to others, and only comparing yourself to yourself! If from one year to the next you gain a lot of weight or start eating unhealthily then you have something to worry about, but as long as you are living true to yourself then you have every reason to be proud. Just because the rest of your family is thin doesn't mean you are doing something wrong by not being like them. Don't waste a minute of life stressing over something that likely will never change. Embrace the man who loves you for who you are and do the same for him -that's a recipe for joy.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Dear Danielle,

I graduated from college last year and have been living in New York City with a room mate. We live in a one bedroom apartment and although we were pretty good friends when we moved in, we have been disagreeing a lot over our living arrangement. I am very neat and she is very messy. I am very quiet and she likes to have friends over at all hours. I am sad this has interfered with our friendship. Last night I came in the living room and saw her smoking pot even though we agreed no drugs would be in our apartment. What should I do?

"Paradise Lost"

Dear "Paradise Lost,"

I recently saw an article about two nearly 100 year old women who shared a room and one murdered the other...
I suggest that after your lease is up you find another living situation. In the meantime, draft a contract dealing with apartment rules to do with cleaning, drugs, noise etc., and ask her to sign the contract. If she refuses to sign, or signs but doesn't follow the rules - move out early. Find someone to sublet your room from you. Happiness and a comfortable living situtation are important components to well being. Don't settle for a bad situation. Good luck!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Dear Danielle,

I have a friend who has been married for almost ten years (she was barely 20 when she got married). We are very close but one aspect of her life that she will not confide in me about is her marriage. She acts like it is perfect and that she is very happy, but I notice that her husband seems controlling. Although he is loving and affectionate, he insists she stays at home to raise their kids even though she really wants a career. How do I tell my very private friend that I am concerned about her marriage?

"Concerned Friend"

Dear "Concerned Friend,"

I hear you. It frustrates me more then anything when people feel the need to project perfection, when we all know that no one's life is always ideal. Wouldn't life be easier if we all gave up on trying to live a picket fence life and accepted that challenge in marriage is as inevitable as snow in Alaska? Having said that, your friend must come to you to share about her relationship, you should not pressure her. Take her out for coffee and subtly ask how married life is treating her, and maybe share something personal about your own love life to even the playing field. If she wont open up at all, remind her you are her friend and always there for her. That's the best you can do.

Thursday, December 10, 2009


Dear Danielle,

I have always had a list of what I am looking for in the man I will marry. I know that no one I meet will possess every quality on my list, but I believe each person should strive for the best that life has to offer - and why should seeking a mate be any different? My friends and family often say I am too picky, but I am in my early 30's, beautiful and a successful dermatologist so I feel like I shouldn't settle. How do I convince my loved ones that my soul mate is out there and I should expect the best?

"Searching for Mr. Right"

Dear "Searching for Mr. Right,"

A wise person once told me, that amazing women who look for the 100% perfect guy always remain single - while the amazing women who are smart enough to go for the 90% perfect guy are the ones who are happily married and not dining alone on a friday night. In short, you might be awesome but you have your own faults. Scrap your list and look for someone who will be a loyal friend and lover for life, faults and all. Maybe it is easier for you to say you haven't met "the one" yet, then risk being in a real relationship, faults and all. You might be a perfectionist in the hospital, but you have to learn to be flexible and realistic when it comes to your personal life.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009



Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Hot Air

My husband and I went on a hot date last night. We went to a gas station, no joke. He had been working a really long shift (36 hours) and when he got home I mentioned that there was a light flashing on my car's dashboard. He looked up what that meant in the car manual, and apparently my tire pressure was low. As the protective husband that he is, he was concerned of my safety driving a car with low tire pressure, and we went together to the gas station to fill them up. It was a chilly night in LA and I waited in the car as he worked on my tires. As I watched him, all I could think was "this is what true love is."

Monday, December 7, 2009

What Tiger Taught Me

Tiger Woods has a young, gorgeous wife. That didn't stop him from cheating on her with 4 and likely more women. What keeps a husband faithful is not the toneness of his wife's abs or her parenting skills. Men (and women) stay faithful because the sanctity of marriage is much more important to them then pursuing any fleeting desire to experiment with another partner. Sure, Tiger has money and power and maybe thought he could cover up his affairs and get away with them without hurting Elin or his kids or the public finding out. Maybe Tiger didn't have a chance to "explore" enough before he got married and needs to fulfill his male yearning to sow his seed. These are all comments I have heard recently from friends when discussing the TW scandal. These points may be true - but the strongest factor that allowed a man with literally everything in the world going for him to risk it all was that he took his life for granted and assumed it could only get better. Even the greatest and most successful people fall, and their fall often takes place when they start to assume that their blessings are a given. The day we stop appreciating what we have and assuming it will automatically be there tomorrow, is the day we are susceptible to making dangerous choices that can screw up (no pun intended) our life.

My advice for today: All the goodness we have we must embrace and work hard for everyday. If we don't, we could lose it fast.

Friday, December 4, 2009

What is Contemporary Art all about?

"The greatest work in my mind is the Talmud, it's one argument superseding another - an ongoing, open ended dialogue that allows multiple points of view. For me that is what art is about."

-Andrew Renton (Contemporary Art Curator and Writer)

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Educated Women Keep Men Alive Longer

I was very intrigued by a recent article in the UK's Sunday Times. The article entitled, "Men married to smart women live longer," discusses how, "Swedish scientists have discovered that long life and good health have nothing to do with a man’s education and everything to do with his wife’s." Re-buffing the notion that men are just as happy or happier with a dumb but gorgeous trophy wife, this study shows that smart and educated women encourage their husbands to eat healthier, exercise more and overall extend their lifetime. Stupid wives may look hot, but apparently they don't have the sense to noodge their husbands to trade in their beer and sports watching for biking and healthy picnics in the park.

The author of the article questions what is in it for a modern woman to monitor her husband's salt intake. Generations ago, women often measured their potential mate solely on the basis of how well he could take care of her financially because she would never have a means to support herself. In exchange, females would take care of the household and the health and well being of their husbands. The author feels short changed because nowadays women usually work outside the home as well as men and do not rely on their husbands for total financial support, although the women in relationships often still seem to be the ones looking out for the health and well being of the family. 

However, it seems pretty clear to me that when I choose to cook a crisp spinach salad and grilled chicken for dinner rather than fried chicken and mashed potatoes, or when I remind my husband to schedule a dentists appointment - I am not only taking care of him, but of both of us. You see, the longer he lives, the longer a life (God willing) I will have with my soul mate...Seems like a pretty good trade off to me!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Dear Danielle,
 I have been a blond my whole life. I am fed up. I feel like guys and girls treat me like a flake just because of my hair color. I am considering going dark chestnut brown and leaving my platinum days behind - but my boyfriend loves my blond hair. What should I do?

"Blonds don't have more fun"

Dear "Blonds don't have more fun,"

I say, go for it! A friend of mine just went from blond to brunette and notices a huge difference in how she is treated. If you need a change in your life, hair color is a great way to feel refreshed. My husband loves my hair color and my long hair, and would be very upset if I changed it, so I understand your boyfriend's concerns. However, this seems to be something that you are very interested in doing for your own sense of self and you have to do what is best for you. Send me a before and after picture!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

My husband and I saw the Lee Daniels film "Precious." It was raw and real but not as viscerally unbearable to watch as I thought it might be. Many important issues are addressed in the film, but what I took away from it most significantly was that when a child is not shown love, it not only affects one generation but many generations to come. Abuse is cyclical, and although the viewer is meant to believe by the end of the movie that Precious has removed herself from the cycle of abuse/abuser, it is clear from the depictions of her mother and grandmother that it is not an easy cycle to break.

I highly recommend that you go see this film!

Monday, November 30, 2009

Dear Danielle,

I am dating a man who is fabulous in every way but one, he eats meat, and I am a vegetarian. He loves the outdoors and is concerned about the environment just like I am, but being a vegetarian is like a religion to me and I can't imagine marrying a man who loves to eat animals! I have discussed this issue with my boyfriend and he is sympathetic to how I feel, and respectful of my beliefs, but adamant that he will always have meat in his diet. He feels like if he respects my way of eating I should be understanding of his. Am I crazy for letting this get to me so much? Can I relationship work if each person has such a different diet then the other?

"Wanting a Meatless Man"

Dear "Wanting a Meatless Man,"

No one you meet will be exactly like you, agree with you on every issue, or consistently make the same lifestyle choices as you. From your description, it seems like you have met a great guy for you. Don't ruin a good thing. Or else, you might be eating beans and tofu alone for the rest of your life. Now what is more appealing, the image I just mentioned, or being with an amazing guy who happens to have a steak once in awhile? I think the latter.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Coffee Talk

This past weekend there was an article in the Wall Street Journal, which discusses the decline of coffee house culture. Cafes no longer are sites of intellectual and political debate, but rather are quiet spaces in which people type away on their own laptops rather then engage in salon-like dialogue.

The article got me thinking back to the four-week honeymoon that my husband and I took to France and Italy. Definitely one of the best months of our life, however for different reasons then we thought it would be. I am an art buff and could spend years wandering museums so naturally I thought that the cultural experiences of our trip would be some of the my most favorite. I also love cooking, eating and trying new foods - especially French and Italian delicacies. However, food was not the most significant highlight of our journey.

The hours we spent sitting, reading, talking and playing Scrabble in French and Italian cafes proved to be the best experiences for both of us. Not only was the coffee the best we had ever tasted, but the ambiance was nothing like an American Starbucks. Many people lingered over a cappuccino for hours, and rather than sitting with laptops, they read and more importantly, they discussed with their coffee dates. Seeming to have no where more important to be, it was clear to us from our time in coffeehouses, that Europeans enjoy leisure time and we as Americans/Canadians could learn from that.

Take some time this Thanksgiving to discuss an important issue with a friend or family member over a cup of tea or coffee. Differences of opinion are long as both parties are talking!

I will be taking a few day hiatus over the holiday weekend to contemplate all that I am grateful for and I will be back with a new post on Monday:-)

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Kick a Ginger Day

As a redhead, I was troubled by the following article that I saw on CNN:
Middle school kids in California beat a fellow classmate for the color of his hair, because someone had posted on facebook the phrase "Kick a Ginger Day." I have heard of discrimination based on race, religion, sex, sexual orientation, etc., but never before have I heard of biases towards certain hair colors!


Monday, November 23, 2009

Dog Today...Baby Tomorrow

Dear Danielle,

My husband and I have been married for seven years and we have been trying to conceive for awhile - unsuccessfully. We have been seeing a fertility doctor, and will be pursuing various options, but in the meantime, my husband wants to get a dog. I don't love animals, and I feel like my husband just wants a dog in replacement of the baby we have been wanting. How can I convince my husband that the solution to our infertility problems isn't a pet?

"Allergic to Dogs"

Dear "Allergic to Dogs,"

If your husband is prepared to do the majority of the looking after of the dog, and it means so much to him to get one - then I don't think you should stand in his way. You both must be going through a lot of stress with trying to conceive, so it makes sense that your husband would want a dog around to walk with, take to the park, etc. It will make him feel good and excited about life. My usual phrase is "happy wife, happy life" - but in this case it is clearly "happy husband, happy wife."

Friday, November 20, 2009

Linda Stojak - Figure 42 (2007) Oil on canvas, 60 x 60 inches

This isn't one of my most favorite paintings by Linda Stojak, but it is a good example of the romantic yet slightly sad and mysterious tone of her work. I first saw a painting by Stojak at a friend's home in New York. An extremely evocative figure which connotes solitude and possibly loneliness.


Thursday, November 19, 2009

Dear Danielle,

I just broke up with my fiancee two weeks ago and have already met a great girl that I am really attracted to. Is it too soon to ask her out?

"Moving On Too Soon?"

Dear "Moving On Too Soon?"

Yes. Way too soon. Just over two weeks ago you were still seriously considering marrying someone, so being attracted to a new woman so soon after is just a recipe for disaster. Being engaged is a real commitment, and although it does not carry legal weight, it is much more significant then just breaking up with a girlfriend. Instead of looking to date a new woman, I suggest you spend the next 8 weeks re-adjusting to the new single you. For whatever reason you got engaged to someone and it didn't lead to marriage. Ask yourself the following questions:

-What can I learn from how my relationship with my ex transpired?
-How has my notion of the kind of a woman I am looking for changed?
-Am I ready to be in a committed relationship again soon or am I looking to date casually?
-Am I prepared to "feel" what it is like to be single (no one to talk to before bed, no automatic dates on a Saturday night...) or am I immediately craving a partner again?

Take this opportunity to discover more about yourself and what you want out of life. Or else, you might end up in another wrong relationship before you know it.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Child Support

Dear Danielle,

My parents separated two years ago, after 35 years of marriage. My dad left my mom, and while I used to be very close to my dad, I can't seem to let go of the anger and pain that I feel. I'm pretty distant from my dad now (although we still speak about once a week). I can't help but blame him and I'm hot/cold towards him, depending on my mood. He now wants to come and visit me (he'll stay with his cousins who live here). I don't seem to have much of a choice since when I go home, I stay with and spend time with my mom. He gets upset (rightly so). Do you have suggestions for how I can 'manage' the few days with him? I thought about getting tickets to shows and other things in advance, so we have things scheduled, but it's going to be lots of 'together' time. Do you have other ideas?


"Only Child"

Dear "Only Child,"

You don't need to put pressure on yourself that the visit with your dad will be "perfect." It is OK for you to feel uncomfortable, considering all that has happened. Instead of scheduling back to back activities when he comes, why not give him a realistic expectation before he arrives of how much time you will be able to spend with him. You should also mention to him, eventhough he is probably already aware, that you are appreciative that he is making the effort to see you but that this will not be the easiest visit for you because you are still dealing with emotions surrounding the divorce. But remember, your dad did not divorce you. He obviously still cares about having a relationship with you and is making the effort, and I applaud you that you are open to it.

Here are a few activities that you can do together that focus the discussion as to make the experience a little easier...

-Visit an art museum and see an exhibit that you normally wouldn't be drawn to.
-Go to a Jazz bar or another form of a supper club.
-See a movie. It will allow you both to just relax instead of putting pressure on conversation.
-Take a cooking class (or another type of similar activity) together.

Good luck!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

When is it too much partying?

Dear Danielle,

I have an amazing boyfriend: he is kind, funny, smart, sexy and handsome, has a great job, comes from a great family. Everything about him is great, except he likes to party VERY hard. He constantly wants to go out on weekends and get really drunk, sometimes to the point of vomiting. We're in our late 20s now and starting to think about our future lives together. While I like to go out sometimes, I don't feel the need to party like I'm in college any more. When I express this to my boyfriend, he usually stays home with me, but I feel guilty and lame. How can we reconcile his desire to party with my wish for a more low-key social life?

"Am I a Party Pooper?"

Dear "Am I a Party Pooper?"

Don't feel guilty. Partying to the point of puking might be acceptable for a few years in college, or at one's bachelor party - but as a regular weekend occurrence it is not healthy. If you have any doubt regarding his possible dependency on alcohol, seek out a professional.

However, if your boyfriend's ways are less about alcoholism and more about trying to stay/feel young at heart, there are many simple ways to slowly alter your social life. First off, I have a hunch your boyfriend has a group of friends who enjoy the same type of intense drinking/clubbing that he does. Social groups really do influence a person's behavior. So if I were you I would initiate plans on weekends with some of your friends who enjoy a more mature notion of fun. Cutting back on his die-hard partying ways need not mean that you two stay home on a Saturday night. Here are a few of my suggestions of fun activities to do that are more "adult-like".

1. Go to a wine bar. They are open late, serve interesting wines and usually tapas...and even if one gets drunk, it is a more controlled, civilised manner.

2. Surprise your boyfriend with tickets to a concert.

3. Host a dinner party at your apartment - whether you cook or serve take out, it is personal and much more sophisticated then a college bar.

4. Do something cultural. Go see a film playing at an indie film festival, and many museums have late nights...

If you intiate some changes to your "nights out" I am sure he wont mind cutting back on his old ways. If he goes out once in awhile with his guy friends to party, don't let it get to you...but if he insists on making it a regular occurence I would wonder what is going on deeper.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Men are from Mars..and Gay Men are from NYC?

Dear Danielle,

I have what in this economy is an enviable dilemma. I was recently offered a job with the choice of working in one of two offices, either New York or Washington, D.C. The job is political in nature, and since DC is the political capitol, it seems the natural choice for my career. However, as a mid-20s gay man looking for love, New York has by far the superior dating scene. Where should I go, to the town that offers professional opportunities or the city that promises more romantic ones?

"Job or Romance?"

Dear "Job or Romance?"

Take the job. Only when one is fulfilled and completely satisfied with their own path in life can one meet and connect to a potential partner. You don't need a million guys -- just the right one. I know it sounds cliche, but people meet their mates when they least expect it. For all you know, you could choose to stay in New York and never find "the one." So, pursue your dreams and the right guy will come along.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Should I Quit My Job To Travel?

Dear Danielle,

I am considering quitting my job as an executive assistant at an advertising firm to travel the world for a year. I am 32 years old, single and living in New York. Many of my friends have gotten married the last few years, and I feel like my life is just staying still. My job is OK, and I make a fairly good salary, but I always dreamt of being a journalist, not an assistant. I feel like I just need a break from my life for awhile. Plus, I have never travelled extensively except for a few trips to Mexico, Canada and France. I want to explore on an African Safari and visit South America. I would blow most of my savings on this trip - but with no kids and no commitments, I am feeling like - what do I have to lose? Am I crazy for considering quitting my job or should I embrace my travel impulse while I am still young and free?

"Girl with the Travel Bug"

Dear "Girl with the Travel Bug,"

As someone who loves and craves travel, I can empathize with your desire to see the world. However, considering the economy I think it would be the wrong move to quit your job and deplete your savings. Sometimes many smaller trips (weekends or a few weeks at a time) can do the trick as well as extended ones. Save up your vacation days (if you haven't done so already) and start planning your dream trips. Even if only one major trip a year can happen in terms of your work schedule, it will give you something to look forward to. I suggest you take language lessons or dance lessons - or whatever you choose - that tie into the next trip you are planning on taking. For example, if you are planning a trip to Brazil start taking Portuguese lessons. Who knows, you might meet a guy with similar hobbies/taste as you in one of these classes. Most significantly, if you always dreamt of being a reporter - leaving for a year isn't going to necessarily make that dream happen. Focus on actions you can take in your day to day life to make you feel more excited and passionate about life. Start writing for a local paper or attend networking events for journalism professionals. Start developing a writing portfolio. Whatever you do remember travel is often a state of mind, so staying in New York for now and keeping your job doesn't have to mean complacency.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

I have always bought fewer clothes, but tried to invest in pieces that I adore and will wear over and over again. Lately, because I am trying to be budget conscious, I haven't bought many clothes because the items I seem to love are in such a high price point. Except for some occasional great finds at Zara, I have never been the girl to walk out of H&M with an $70 complete outfit that looks like it costs $700. I love shopping and clothes, but favor a comfortable pair of quality jeans and a cashmere sweater over the latest trend.

I was speaking to my brother's girlfriend today, who is super stylish - and she was telling me how amazing it is that more then ever there are so many cheap clothing buys that so closely resemble more expensive pieces. She reminded me that sometimes being on a total shopping diet isn't a good idea. A new clothing item can make anyone feel fresher and more put together.

My advice for today is: Splurge a little, on something fun and feminine - and at these prices, not only will you be smiling but so will your bank account.

The following images are of great deals, and their comparable high end designs:

Studded Booties $26.80 Forever 21 (left)
vs. Booties $598.00 (right)

Sequin Jacket $27.80 Forever 21 (left)

vs. LaRok Jacket $378.00 (right)

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Just Dance!

This past Sunday I went to my first "bar method" class. No, it was not a course in mixology (the study of cocktails) and it had nothing to do with the legal system. The "bar method" is an exercise approach that combines yoga, Pilate's, weight lifting and dance. A portion of the class was on the bar, similar to the type of bar used in ballet. I haven't seriously worked out in months. I got out of my work out routine when we moved to California and aside from walks on the beach, I haven't resumed exercising. I crave it everyday. I feel my muscles asking me to stretch and strengthen them. Psychologically I haven't felt the motivation to join a gym and jog on a treadmill without actually going anywhere. But yesterday I realized that exercise isn't about how many miles one runs or how many laps one swims - it is about using the time to de-stress and look inward. As our heart beats faster and our muscles work harder, the real work should be going on in the inside. Letting go of bad thoughts and grounding oneself are some of the most powerful benefits of working out.

My advice for today -
Get active! Go for a walk with a friend, take a class, swim in a local pool, go dancing - whatever. It makes me feel better and it will make you feel better too.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Dear Danielle,

My ex and I have been on and off for a long time. I finally broke it off with him, but i'm not ready to meet up with him face to face because we were together for six years. My dilemma is: I belong to this networking group Japanese American Professionals but I have skipped the last six events because he goes as well. He is really posessive and controlling and I am afraid he will make a scene if I am there at the same time as him. Should I keep ditching these events or am I a coward for not going?

"Avoiding My Ex"

Dear "Avoiding My Ex,"

You can't let him intimidate you, because if you keep on avoiding activities that you enjoy because he will be there, then he wins. He is trying to punish you by acting erratic and you cannot let him stop you from living your life. Go to the next event and bring a close girlfriend along with you if you need the support. If he tries to talk to you in any way that is not totally respectful and appropriate then simply say to him, "until you are ready to be mature and allow us both to move on with our lives, we cannot speak or have contact with each other," and walk away. Do not engage with him. Do not let him get to you. Be the bigger person, and have fun and enjoy the night.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Dear Danielle,

I'm a senior in high school and dealing with my newest guy dilemma. I was dating seriously for a year and broke it off recently. I have been feeling lonely and am not used to being a single girl. I am receiving attention from guys like I never have before, and the worst part is that the one guy I do like now doesn't seem to be interested. I think he's perfect for me and in some ways everything my last boyfriend was plus more, i.e. we are going in the same direction and have similar goals and values. We talk every few days online and hang out on weekends. We've had great private conversations and I know he thinks of me as a good friend now, but can't tell if he likes me as anything more. It kills me not know if he's interested, and bothers me even more that I care so much. Am I just obsessed with his attention because I'm suddenly single? What should I do?

"Confused and Lonely"

Dear "Confused and Lonely,"

It is totally normal for a teenage girl to seek out romantic relationships with boys to fulfill the need for intimacy, friendship and closeness - not to mention getting attention from a member of the opposite sex always makes us feel good. However, often boys of the same age are not thinking about or interested in the same type of emotional connection. It sounds cliche but it is true, girls at your age are typically much more mature then boys.

You say that you have felt lonely since your break-up with your ex, and it is no wonder considering most teenage couples spend long hours talking on the phone and hanging out after school. It can feel strange not to have a "partner" to do that with anymore. However, keep in mind there is a difference between feeling "lonely" and "alone." Meaning, one can feel alone but still feel independent, strong, confidant and close to friends and family. Being lonely connotes an element of sadness and withdrawal from those around you. Even though you aren't dating someone now focus on getting yourself out of this lonely slump you're in by hanging out with good girlfriends, being involved in extra-curricular activities and playing sports. Surround yourself with positive energy. I guarantee then the boys will come crawling to you and then you can decide if you even need them or not! You can't force this boy who you like now to be into you as more than friends, you just got to be the best version of yourself and if it is meant to be it will happen...

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Can Ex Boyfriends/Girlfriends Still Be Friends?

Dear Danielle,

While in high school and college I had the same boyfriend and although the relationship got very serious, I was not ready for marriage and he was, so we broke up and I moved to Chicago where I got a job in investment banking. We are both now married (to separate people) and his wife gave birth to twins this summer. We have not been in touch since the break-up, except for seeing each other at a friend's wedding a few years back, and he has always been very clear with me that he doesn't think a friendship with me is appropriate. I still respect him and am very fond of him and I feel that because we are both happily married, there is no reason why we can't be friendly. I am planning to visit my hometown with my husband for Thanksgiving and would love to see me ex and meet his twins. My husband is OK with seeing him. Can I contact him and make an effort to be-friend him again since so many years have passed? How do I show him that we can have a platonic adult relationship?

"Exes can be friends"

Dear "Exes can be friends,"

You are correct in saying that exes can theoretically be friends, if years have passed and they both have moved on happily in their own lives. However, your ex has told you that a friendship with you is not something he can handle, for whatever reason, and you should leave him be. I can understand that you want to meet his children and get to know the life he lives now, because at one time you were very close. However, some relationships are meant to be kept in the past tense. Since you ended things, seeing you might bring up difficult emotions for him and it is not fair for you to initiate a friendship. However, if you casually run into him while at home, no harm in being friendly and even suggesting a casual get together. If he says no, don't push it. And if you don't happen to run into him take it as a sign it wasn't meant to be.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Dear Danielle,

I have been friends with the same woman for 10 years. I got married last year and she has been dating the same guy for two years. We have started going on regular double dates with them, and lately we have been seeing them every week or two. Up until recently, we would have had so much fun with them and my husband really gets along with her boyfriend. The problem is - lately they have been fighting a lot and nearly every time we have gotten together over the last few months they have fought throughout our double date. If they aren't fighting there is tension between them and the night always turns out to be stressful. My husband is refusing to go out with them again, but my friend called me last night to make plans for this week and I feel guilty bailing. Am I a bad friend to stop making plans with them because of their fighting? Should I tell her it is driving us crazy?


"Double Date Disaster"

Dear "Double Date Disaster,"

Your husband is justified in wanting to avoid a night out with a tumultuous couple. Call your friend and tell her that you have noticed some tension between her and her boyfriend and ask if she wants to talk about it. Being a good friend means being a good listener and providing support, but it doesn't mean that you have to withstand their bickering. Until you get an indication from her that things are smoother in her relationship, possibly girls only nights out are the way to go. No need to directly tell her your husband can't stand their fighting, but suggest to her that you two need some alone time away from the "boys".

Monday, November 2, 2009

What happens in Vegas...shouldn't happen?

Dear Danielle,

A partner in my husband's law firm is engaged and he is having a bachelor party in Las Vegas. He invited my husband, even though they aren't very social outside of the office. My husband says he has to go because it will impact his chance to make partner if he doesn't act like "one of the guys", but I don't think his decision should impact his career. I don't want him to go because I know a lot of illicit behavior will be going on, and I don't want my husband involved in it. I trust him but I don't trust the other guys. How can I convince my husband that not going wont mean an end to his dream of partner?

"Anti- Vegas"

Dear "Anti- Vegas,"

If your husband wants to go to this bachelor party, or thinks it will be good for his career, it is not your business to try to convince him not to. Look deep inside yourself, even though you say you trust your husband, why are you so against his one weekend away? Encourage him to go. Don't make him feel like you are his mother, act like a loving wife. In return, invite some girlfriends of yours to go away to a spa for a weekend. Re-connect with your friends and don't obsess over what your husband is doing in Vegas. Boys will be boys, but at the end of the day, the good ones will remain faithful and the less you try to control them the happier your marriage will be.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Role Models

Growing up I loved the Cosby Show. Before I could tell time I would bother my mom over and over again "When is it 6:30pm? (the time Cosby re-runs were on) When is Cosby on?" She would tell me that the show would be on when both hands of the clock were on the number 6. So I would stand and wait in front of our stove in the kitchen, sometimes for hours - until the hands of the clock turned to the number 6.

I laughed so hard, and still do, at the tongue and cheek tone of Theo and the innocence and humor of Rudy. I fell in love with the whole family. Especially the love between Clair and Cliff. When the series ended I cried. To me, at the age of 8 - I felt like I was losing close friends.

Although I do not agree with many of Barack
Obama's policy decisions - I have found myself fascinated with his relationship with Michelle, just as I was fascinated by the Cosby's. And not because they are both African American families, but because they are both examples of ups and downs met with unconditional love. Of course the Obamas are real while the Huxtibles fictional. And therefore, the United States (and the world) is fortunate right now to have a real life example of a successful marriage.

This week the
NYTimes published an article about the Obama's marriage. The last line of the article really rang true for me, especially since considering my husbands demanding career I often have to remind myself that the stage we are at is not forever:

The equality of any partnership “is measured over the scope of the marriage. It’s not just four years or eight years or two,” the first lady said. “We’re going to be married for a very long time.”

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Anyone Could Draw That

I am introducing a new arts component to this blog. Every once in awhile I will introduce you to an exciting artist, an upcoming/current exhibition or feature one specific artwork and encourage you to determine your own thoughts on it.

Unfortunately, when economies suffer often the first institutions to experience cut backs are museums. What a shame considering that museums are often free (at least on some days of the month) and offer such worthwhile family experiences - not to mention a great place to take a date! I encourage you all to check out a local arts institution and show them your support. Either through a financial contribution, however small, or just by showing up and reinforcing the message that even in tough times the public needs the arts.

Often I hear from people who are unfamiliar with the intellectual relevance of contemporary art that some contemporary art looks simplistic, or "easy" to produce. The notion that "anyone could draw/paint/sculpt that" is a clear sign that many people do not understand the historical context in which contemporary art has developed or the political and social messages that much of contemporary art contains.

Therefore, I will be introducing at points a contemporary artist/artwork to you. Sometimes I will offer questions for you to ponder, other times I will just post the work and ask for your to comment regarding your thoughts.

Today's piece is by artist Jeff Colson (born in LA in 1957):
Figure Square, 2005 Wood Fiberglass, Acrylic Paint6' 6"(H) x 6' 6"(W) x 4"(D)
It might be hard to tell from this image, but, the piece is made up of layers of square notes, almost like post-its stuck one on top of the other. The notes are blank and therefore let the viewer fill in their own meanings...

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Dear Danielle,

I have a new(ish) job - I'm coming up to my 1 year anniversary. I've been working with the same group of about 30 people (mostly female) and still after all this time I find them so cliquey! It seems like no matter what I try and do: offer them Starbucks on a daily basis, chat them up, ask for help with my work when needed so they know I appreciate their opinions, always do as asked...they just don't include me in their group. I am starting to dread going to work because I know that I am not included. I kept thinking of if I just acted nice and friendly they would open up, but they haven't! Should I give up trying to make friends at work or is there a good strategy I am not trying?

"Colleagues but not Confidants"

Dear "Colleagues but not Confidants,"

Don't take your eye off the ball. Work is not for play. Focus on exceeding in your career, impressing your boss, keeping your job and hopefully even getting promoted. I applaud you that you have made such an effort to be-friend your colleagues. However, it doesn't seem like they are that interested in a friendship with you - for whatever reason (possibly they are intimidated by you.) Spend your time and energy breathing life into new projects at work and doing the best job you can. Possibly you need to get to know one or two of your colleagues on a one-to-one basis, away from the cliques of the office. So if you still aren't ready to give up pursuing work place friendships, invite the two colleagues who you like/relate to the most out for lunch one day - even under the guise it is work related. Maybe away from peer pressure you will develop some camaraderie. But if not, don't let this get to you. Remember friendships can and should be made in many contexts but work is not necessarily one of them.