Monday, August 31, 2009

Brain On Speed

Dear Danielle,

I am an over-thinker. Thoughts run through my head constantly, while at the gym, on the subway, when I am cooking dinner -- I am constantly analyzing my relationship with my boyfriend. He wants to get engaged but I am not sure if he is "the one." I am so drained, my mind needs a break! How do I stop over-thinking and find some clarity when it comes to love?

"Brain on Speed"

Dear "Brain on Speed,"

You control your mind, your mind does not control you. The moment a conversation starts getting re-played over and over in your head, or your mind begins to analyze your boyfriend's traits, tell yourself - "Stop over-thinking. This process of continual analyzing does not get me anywhere or bring me extra clarity. Brain, stop." It might take many tries, but eventually you will literally train your thoughts to stop dominating your every move. Over-thinking is a bad habit just like any other. Don't get me wrong, being a thoughtful and self-aware person is a plus. You just need to channel your thoughts to constructive insights.

In regards to your wondering if your boyfriend is "the one" - I can only offer you the following advice:
No one is perfect. If you keep looking and waiting for perfection you will never find true contentment in a relationship. Having said that, the man you commit to spending your life with must have many of the top qualities on your "dream guy" list. Get a pen and paper and write a list of the 20 things you are looking for in a soul mate. If your boyfriend encompasses the majority of these characteristics AND you feel in love with him, then he is a keeper and move forward with your relationship. Stop analyzing and start living life because every moment that ticks away is precious.

Friday, August 28, 2009

How Old Is Too Old?

Dear Danielle,

I get set up on a lot of blind dates. I am 29 years old and sometimes the men I get set up with are upwards of 10 years older than me. Last week, I went on a date with a divorcee with 3 kids. He is 43 years old. He is fit and financially secure, and we did not stop laughing when we were together - but I can't help wondering, how old is too old? Should I keep on dating him or find a guy closer to my age?

"Dating My Dad"

Dear "Dating My Dad",

The question is less "how old is too old?" and more "do we want the same things out of life considering our age difference?" Even though you have just met, it may be important before you continue dating, to find out the following things:

-are you on the same page when it comes to having kids of your own in the future?

-does he want to get re-married one day? do you want to get married?

-has he gotten over the divorce and the despair often involved with the crumbling of a marriage? If not, are you prepared to deal with this?

These issues might seem way too serious and personal to bring up so early on; however, when dating a man at such a different life stage than you it is important to find out if you want the same things out of life. It doesn't matter how much he makes you laugh, if he brings along relationship baggage which is too much for you to handle. I suggest you let him know how much you enjoyed your first date, but considering your obvious lifestyle and age differences you'd like to discuss a few things with him. If he isn't open to addressing your concerns he wasn't right for you in the first place.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Allergic to Love

Dear Danielle,
I am 27 and my boyfriend is 35. We have been dating for seven months, and recently I told him I loved him. He acted very uncomfortable when I expressed my feelings for him, and he has not said "I love you" back. Otherwise, our relationship seems really affectionate and we spend most  of our free time together. I am interested in a long term relationship but I am concerned that my boyfriend is afraid of commitment. Although he says he really likes me he wont discuss a future for us.

"Craving I love you"

Dear "Craving I love you,"
If your boyfriend wasn't ready to express his feelings in terms of love, I wouldn't be worried. However, I am concerned because he wont even discuss the future of your relationship. Based on your ages and the amount of time you have been together - it seems like your boyfriend has a serious fear of emotional vulnerability and commitment. He may "like you," but he hasn't shown he considers your relationship anything more than fleeting.  Trying to convince him otherwise is futile. I suggest you give him an ultimatum. Either he can start opening up and let you know what path he sees your relationship taking, or you need to find a new guy who will adore you.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009


Tuesday, August 25, 2009


Dear Danielle,

My husband and I have been married for 3 years. We are both in our late 20's/early 30's and I am ready to have a baby. All of my friends are now sporting "baby bumps"and I feel left out. I know I would be a great mom and I don't want to risk having fertility problems if I wait until I am in my mid-30's. My husband is very consumed with his career and says we are young and have time to have kids later after we've saved up more money. How do I convince him that we shouldn't wait to conceive?

"Begging For A Baby"

Dear "Begging For A Baby,"

The rate of pregnancies usually goes up during a recession, because making love is a cheap form of entertainment. Sorry to hear you and your husband aren't on the same baby clock. Often a woman's internal clock ticks away while men do not feel that innate time sensitive drive to procreate. I suggest that you speak to your husband about his specific concerns regarding having a child now. Perhaps he is having anxiety about being a father in addition to his financial concerns. Depending on a person's own upbringing and parents, the prospect of having children of their own can be associated with feelings of fear. If your husband insists that there aren't additional reasons why he isn't ready, then I suggest you set a time frame. When does he think he will be ready? If he says six months to a year, then I would be patient. If he says longer then I would suggest a compromise. Remind him that there is no "right time" for having kids, and it will always mean a change in lifestyle.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Lessons from the Bunny Ranch

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?

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Ask me your burning questions

Write to me for advice on any subject matter

Super Size My Wedding

Dear Danielle,

I am engaged and my fiancee and I will be paying for the wedding, with a little help from our parents. I have been waiting for this day my whole life. Since we have saved up for it, I think we should have a big and lavish wedding. My fiancee wants to elope or have a small destination wedding and invest the money we save in a new home. I feel I will regret not having the big wedding if we opt for his plan. What should we do?

Thanks for your advice,
"Dreaming Of My Big Day"

Dear "Dreaming of My Big Day",

Weddings go by in an instant while a home you will enjoy for years. I agree with your fiancee. Plan a smaller, elegant yet not over the top wedding. You can still have a dress you love, and great food and dancing without wasting your hard earned money on a few hours of your life. Weddings can be personalized with certain details that don't cost a lot and you will not regret it in the long term if your bouquet features 10 roses not 20. Besides, if you ever want to throw an over the top party again, renew your vows in ten years. Surviving 10 years of marriage will definitely be a deserved reason to celebrate.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Please don't send me flowers

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.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Dear Danielle,

I love going out to trendy bars and restaurants and going to hip concerts. I work as a stylist, so I get a lot of designer clothes for free, but my biggest splurge is on entertainment and food as I usually eat out 5 days a week. I have been trying to cut back on spending in order to start saving more but I worry that being on a budget will mean an end to my social life. How can I be financially savvy while still enjoying the indulgences that I love?

"Dining Out Obsessed"

Dear "Dining Out Obsessed,"

It may actually be a blessing in disguise that you are cutting back from your lavish dining out lifestyle. It will force you to explore other activities and modes of socializing that cost less, and actually may be more fulfilling. Here are my suggestions for how to fill the void as you go out to restaurants and bars less:

-We all have hobbies that we have always wanted to pursue, and maybe started at some point but then stopped. I am not referring to the expensive ones, like golf or sky diving. Pull out the tennis racket you have had buried in your closet for ages and go with a friend to a public court in your neighborhood. Or, pick up knitting or sketching. The options are endless. Take some of the free time you'll have in the evenings when you are no longer going out to eat to devote yourself to creating something for your home, or strengthening your physique.

-Suggest to a group of your friends that you want to re-instate the practice of dinner parties, that have been largely abandoned by our generation. This doesn't have to mean 8 courses including fillet Mignon. Every weekend another friend will host a dinner party. This gives everyone a reason to "go out" without spending money. When you're the host, no need to spend a lot. Cranberry spritzers and Lasagna would be fine...and if you're not a big cook order in some pizza. Dinner parties don't need to be formal, they just need some good food, good conversation and good company.

-It is summer time and no better way to spend it then a picnic or a BBQ on the beach. Get a bunch of friends together and do it pot-luck style. Choose a local park or beach, bring a Frisbee and spend a fraction of what you would for a night on that town without sacrificing on the fun.

-This suggestion may sound nerdy, but: join your local library. I believe no one reads as much as we could and libraries are the best venue for free entertainment. Pick up a few good books, and spend an evening curled up with some tea and a steamy novel.

Monday, August 17, 2009

What Can You Not Live Without?

Recently, I have been strategizing how to decorate our apartment elegantly on a budget. After years of dorm rooms, shared college apartments and cramped NYC living - I am eager to feel settled and grownup, at least when it comes to interior design. Considering the uncertainty and chaos of our world, I am driven to create a stylish, serene and personalized environment since not much else of our current life seems controllable. Searching for the perfect yet affordable decor has got me thinking - isn't the make-up of a person's home the perfect example of how material possessions can actually uplift and enhance existence? Meaning, sports cars may be sexy and designer clothes may be beautiful, but at the end of the day I don't believe those superficial acquisitions can make a person feel calmer or more secure. However, the comfort level (in terms of design and furniture) of one's home can definitely impact one's feelings of warmth and joy. At least, that's how I feel. If I spent money on anything it would probably be travel (which isn't exactly a material possession), and my home (including art.)

What material possession in your life can you not live without, not because it represents status or style - but because it truly makes you happy and enhances your existence?

I look forward to hearing from you...

Not The World I Thought I Would Inherit

As someone married to a very driven man with a demanding career, I am often consumed with thoughts of how I too can pursue my passions. With his long hours at the hospital, and nights on call, I am forced to remember that I have my own life to still define and a career path to sow. I always wanted to be with an ambitious man, because I knew only a goal oriented person could fully challenge me, and encourage me to strive for success in my own career.

My career was put on hold over the last few months in order for my husband to find the right residency program. Now that I am happily settled in LA, it is my turn to get my career on track. With the current economic downturn, it can be hard for a girl who always thought she could be anything or do anything to realize that regardless of how talented or educated one might be - some career factors are beyond our control. How can I seek out the same sense of career fulfillment as my husband when people today are just grateful to be in any job, regardless of how inspiring it may be?

The following article in the Huffington Post so eloquently addresses the stress put on "power couple" relationships:
Irwin Kula suggests in his article that when both spouses seek to achieve greatness, it is necessary for each partner to learn how to be powerful while at the same time empowering the other. One spouse cannot tower over the other, but must make room for the success of the other in their life. I am blessed to be with a man who encourages me on my journey and recognizes that although I am his wife, I am also a young woman, with my own goals and aspirations.

It is very easy, considering the negativity of the economy, to assume that one needs to give up their dreams to survive in our time. While realism and frugality might be requirements of a young adult's life today, an abandonment of ideals is not. I dreamed as a child of leading a meaningful and enriching life and devoting my career to a field that I love. I wont let that go, and neither should you. Because when we look back at this fiscally challenging time, it will be those who were able to hold on to their visions - not the ones who gave up- who will ultimately shine.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Single in Paradise

Dear Danielle,

I am in a dating rut. I can't seem to meet any new guys or get rid of the old ones that I have no interest in! I just came back from a destination wedding in Mexico and the best man, who I went on two dates with four years ago, just asked me out again. Do guys think that there is an expiry date on rejection, and once the allotted time passes they can try again with the same girl? I am looking for a Jewish guy and find it so hard to meet good ones I don't know already. Any ideas? 

"Still Single" 

Dear "Still Single,"
For Jewish people looking to meet other Jews, I am a huge supporter of Jdate and other online dating sites. I know a couple who met each other on a Jdate trip to Mexico. You had the right idea by going to this destination wedding, but maybe next time take a trip somewhere with a group of people you don't know. Tropical destinations, fruity alcholic drinks, and single strangers tend to be excellent breeding grounds for matchmaking. Bring another single friend along with you, if going alone seems scary. Here is another idea that will work closer to home - host a dinner party and invite 3 female friends and 3 male friends. Ask each of your friends to bring with them someone of their same sex who you have never met before.  Encourage your friends to host similar dinner parties. The truth is though, as much as you plan, you will meet the right person when you least expect just always be open to it.

Breasts As Band-Aids

Dear Danielle,

I have been married for almost 3 years and have been with my husband for 5. My husband works hard as an investment banker, and we don't have a lot of time for each other. Our sex life has become boring, and in order to spice things up my husband wants to buy me a boob job. I know I am a little flat but I am fairly happy with my body. I want to please my husband but am unsure about surgery. Do you think I should have my boobs done for him, or are there other ways in which I could spice up our marriage?

Yours truly,
"Confused and Spice-less"

Dear "Confused and Spice-less,"

You say that you are fairly happy with your body, and if it wasn't for your husband's pressures, you would not want breast implants. Undergoing plastic surgery falls into the same category as drinking, smoking, drugs and sex when it comes to peer pressure. Don't do it because someone (even your husband) tells you too. If this was something you have always wanted to do for yourself - I would be supportive. But surgery is not the band-aid to a bland sex life.

Tell your husband that you will consider plastic surgery, but that in the meantime you don't think you should wait to start improving your intimacy. Talk to each other about your sexual and romantic fantasies. Write the different ideas on small pieces of paper and put them in a jar. For instance, "sexy secretary role playing" could be a fantasy of his that he writes down and yours could be something like "massage with oils and candles." Obviously you can get as graphic as you want, but for the purposes of this blog it is not appropriate for me to elaborate. Each morning either you or your husband will pull one fantasy note from the jar. If you do it on Monday he will do it on Tuesday, etc, and keep this exercise going each day until all the notes are gone. Don't tell your spouse which note you picked. All day your spouse will be wondering and anticipating the surprises to come, while you will brainstorm during the day how to initiate the fantasy that evening. This will breed creativity, freshness and excitement in your sexual relationship. I bet, before long, your husband will be so enthralled by this "fantasy game" that he will forget about you getting a boob job...or at least he will realize there are many means to re-connecting with each other. Let me know how it goes!

Thursday, August 13, 2009


Dear Danielle,

I am a very sensitive girl and am dating a guy who is rough around the edges and rarely shows his feelings. He is an investment banker and works all the time in a very macho environment. That wouldn't be so bad, except, I don't think he appreciates my emotional side because whenever I want to talk about my feelings he changes the subject. Our relationship has been getting serious but I am wondering - can a relationship last if the couple is not emotionally compatible?

"Passionate Redhead"

Dear "Passionate Redhead",

A recent study states that redheads have a lower pain tolerance than brunettes and blonds. The study cites genetic reasons for this inequality, however I didn't need proof to know what I have been aware of forever. Redheads feel things stronger - and I don't just mean physically. 

As a redhead, I have always been dramatic and felt emotions very intensely. A good rant or cry is cathartic. My acute emotions have enabled me to learn to deal with problems head on and not bear a grudge. I married someone who functions the same way.

Either your boyfriend is willing to go to a therapist with you to work on opening up the emotional lines of communication, or not. If he is not willing, then he is not prepared to fight for your relationship. Better you found this out now rather than later. Be a proud red head and find a guy who can take the heat.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Stressed by Her Stress

Dear Danielle,

My fiance has a stressful job as an attorney and she usually brings that stress back home at the end of the workday. Inevitably, some of her stress gets taken out on me (unintentionally). What can I do to alleviate some of the tension? My "everything will be fine honey" response is beginning to wear thin.

"Stressed By Her Stress"

Dear "Stressed By Her Stress",

Engagements are stressful even in the best of times, so I can imagine work related stress has just made everything feel unbearable for you and your fiance. One of the benefits of being in a committed relationship is having someone at the end of the day to confide in and unleash some angst. Of course, if the stress is just breeding more stress then something has to change. Instead of telling your finance that her complaining about work stress is taking a toll on you, I suggest you do the following. This weekend, when you are both in a relaxed mood say the following to her - "Honey, I know how difficult work has been for you lately and I know its even harder that when you come home you can't stop thinking about the hard day you've had. I think it would be better if we established a set amount of time a day (for example, 15 minutes) to discuss work issues. Once we have addressed what's on your mind let's try to focus on conversation that uplifts us and relaxes us. Nothing will really be accomplished by going over and over your work stress, and I want you to enjoy our evenings together." Then, when she gets home from work on Monday, after you have discussed work stress for the decided amount of time, sweetly say "Honey you deserve a break. Let's leave this conversation until tomorrow and let's focus on doing something fun." Go out for a drink, or go to the gym - or whatever you two enjoy doing together. If you make "work talk" a limited part of your evening schedule, it will force your fiance to focus on other things and let go a bit. Hope this works!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Life on Fast Forward

Sometimes, the allure of the next moment in time seems so attractive it is hard to stay in the present. I cherish the moments that I just stop and absorb a laugh with a friend, a cuddle with my husband, or a thought of inspiration. Tonight, while watching Julia & Julie, I had one of those stop in my tracks and exhale moments. Sitting next to us was a couple in their late 70's. They held hands and whispered throughout the movie. So did my husband and I, but hey we're young and in love. The older couple next to us made time stop for a moment. They reminded me that by the time we look their age life will have gone by in an instant. If my husband and I could be in love like them and have each other when we are that age we will be the richest people on earth.

My Nana Goldie always told me as a little girl "the past is history, the future is a mystery, and the present is a gift."

Tonight I will fall asleep very happy.

Just because I am your wife doesn't mean I can't be your girlfriend

Dear Danielle,

When I was dating my husband he would constantly surprise me with sweet love notes or flowers and always plan original and romantic dates. Now that we are married, he is still more affectionate than ever, however all the date planning has been left to me. Does marriage mean an end to being courted?


Dear "Court-me",

Even the best men often forget that asking a woman on a date doesn't have to end with marriage. We all sometimes get too comfortable in our routines and it takes someone waking us up a bit to remember that in order to keep things fresh, both partners must contribute to spicing things up. Courting should not end at marriage. Many people advocate a scheduled "date night" however I feel that lacks the spontaneity that is essential to genuine romance. Rather, I suggest that you write your husband a love note. Include as part of your message the following line - "Just because I am your wife, doesn't mean I can't be your girlfriend too." Challenge him to find one day during the following thirty days to surprise you in a way that will make you feel like his girlfriend, not his wife. No need to spell it out that you want a romantic date. Let him take control, and I am sure you wont be disappointed.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Collateral Stalking

The NYTimes this weekend published a story on the way that blogs, twitter and facebook have made it virtually impossible to just have a "night out" without being documented:
The article quotes a woman who happened to be at the same wedding as Bachelorette star Reid Rosenthal. A photo that was taken of them together at the wedding was uploaded to facebook by another wedding guest, and although Reid and this woman don't know each other, everyone she knows is messaging her and trying to get her to set them up with Reid.

We have all heard of those who stalk celebrities but stalking a reality TV star might actually be an ultimate low. Don't get me wrong - Reid is phenomenally handsome and genuine, and he happens to be one of our close friends. My husband and I had dinner with him the night the finale of the Bachelorette aired. We could not eat dinner in peace without Reid's blackberry buzzing off the hook from emails of strange women all claiming, "I am not a stalker...but I think we might be soul mates." Like the NYTimes article depicts, I have also gotten endless emails and phone calls from long lost friends hoping to re-connect just so I will set them up with Reid.

All this stalking has got me thinking, has the fact that we can see so closely into others lives, through mediums such as facebook and reality TV, changed what our perceptions are of human interactions? Have we developed a false notion of what it is to truly know people, by confusing frequent facebook status updates and unscripted programming, with really connecting with someone?

Friday, August 7, 2009

I'll have a large popcorn...hold the drama

I am really looking forward to seeing the movie Julie & Julia which is based upon Julia Child. I read her memoir this summer in France, and although I often skim even my favorite books - I read this one word for word very slowly. I am fascinated by the details of developing recipes and even more interested in Julia's path to finding her true purpose, cooking.

The NYTimes noted recently that the relationship Julia had with her husband Paul was very peaceful and passionate. Accordingly, in Julie & Julia their marriage is depicted as healthy and loving, void of drama. This vision of a stable marriage is rarely seen in TV and Movies. How refreshing it will be to watch the love story of the Child's marriage without going through Hollywood's typical runthrough of meeting, falling in love, some disruption/tension, possible break-up, and reconciliation. Don't get me wrong - I am all for happy endings, however, why does it always have to be shown as so challenging to get to the utopian finish line? Maybe we are so used to thinking the road to love must inherently be rocky that we have lost sight of the peace that quality relationships should create.

The lesson I have learned from Julia and Paul is: Life is filled with unexpected chaos, so seek out a partner that brings you serenity and laughter. Sometimes it may seem boring, but unlike Hollywood, typical folks don't make a penny on dramatic romance.


Send me your questions to DEARDANIELLE@GMAIL.COM

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Some like it COLD

Yesterday, an article in the NYTimes reaffirmed what my husband always tell me. People sleep better when the temperature of their bedroom is cold. Ideally between 60 - 68 degrees F. I am always cold and he is always warm. I guess I should get used to sleeping with lots of blankets now that I have been proven scientifically wrong.

However, it got me thinking - when someone in a relationship is proven wrong is it easy to let go and accept the others way - or do human beings love to be right at all costs? Before I got married, someone told me the biggest secret to a long and happy marriage is a short memory span. I agree. Although my husband and I are very opinionated, we are starting to learn that forgetting there ever was a difference of opinion, and letting each other feel right is sometimes more important than being right. Also, we have gotten good as having a difference of opinion one moment and the next be cuddling watching a movie. Although for two independent people like us, this can be challenging.

What are your thoughts on when it is important to stress one's opinion or fight for "your way" and when is it better to just give up for the sake of the relationship? Is there a happy medium?

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

I am Definitely a Coaster

I know you're wondering, what is a Coaster? It is a term I have coined to describe myself, as well as others like me, who have lived in big cities on both the West Coast and East Coast. For myself it has been Vancouver, Montreal, New York City, Philadelphia (briefly) and Los Angeles. Somehow I don't seem drawn to the middle of North America. I have always been committed to the coasts. I love the laid back attitude and gorgeous nature of the West Coast, and thrive off of the fast pace and dynamic cultural lifestyle of the East Coast. So how's a girl to choose where her heart lies?

I left Vancouver in search of adventure and after eight years on the East Coast I moved back to the West Coast this summer. I expected the stereotypical LA materialism and even laziness. I had heard that no one really works in LA (at least normal hours) and that I would miss the professional ambition and buzz of New York City. I thought my life would become smoothies and superficialism in comparison to the intellectual snobbery of NYC.

I was right and I was wrong. I was correct in assuming that people in LA do not work as long hours and do not value the chase up the corporate ladder as much as New Yorkers do. I was wrong in assuming that LA is merely filled with superficial people pursuing unfocused goals. Unlike New Yorkers, who love to one up each other on subjects such as the size/location of their apartments, their job titles and their designer clothes - the people I have met in Los Angeles, especially the succesful ones - seem very low key and mostly modest. I have been impressed.

However, I do think that those with East Coast upbringings and/or educations have an advantage on the West Coast. We can appreciate the "good life" here of biking on the beach and farmer's markets - however we understand that discipline and a work ethic is also essential in leading a fully balanced life. We've seen the chaos of NYC and are happy to exchange that for a fulfilling career, meaningful pursuits and a plain old good time. Ex-East Coasters in LA still work hard, they just don't take themselves quite as seriously as thy used to. So, I guess I am back to being a West Coaster for now.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Best Friends Forever?

Dear Danielle,

I am a 25 year female and I have had the same best friend for twenty years. We know everything about each other and up until recently could spend endless amounts of time together. We have always lived in the same cities, gone to the same schools and known the same people. I thought she was going to be my best friend forever. Recently however, we have moved to different countries for jobs and a love interest has threatened our trust of each other and impacted our closeness. My other friends/family tell me this relationship has expired, and that there is no such thing as a best friend forever. I know we both want to make it work, but is it silly investing so much effort in maintaining a best friendship through these challenges - isn't that type of relationship work only meant for love interests?

"Fearing Friendship Breakup"

Dear "Fearing Friendship Breakup",

A best friendship dynamic is unique and is not comparable to other friendships. A best friend is precious, especially one that has known you since childhood. Don't listen to your friends/family who tell you best friendships aren't meant to be worked on. Every valuable relationship in life takes work to maintain. If our society put more emphasis on maintaining close friendships (which differ from social friendships that revolve around a particular location or situation which usually don't last decades), more people would have better support systems and feel more loved. Best friendships do not last out of coincidence. They last because friends choose to fight for each other despite distance and occasional conflict. Call your best friend. Tell her you love her. Tell her that you have faith your friendship will be able to overcome these difficulties. If you do this you will only be closer in the long term.

Sunday, August 2, 2009


I have already received many thought provoking questions, from the philosophical to the extremely light-hearted, however the following question really touched me. I might not have children yet, but this is subject I have been thinking about since I was a child. For those who don't have children of their own, you can always think of this in terms of any child you are close to. Possibly a student, niece/nephew, child of a friend, etc.

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 priciples into everyday dialogue and interaction, which may be challenging for those who were not raised themselves with these values. However, it is never to 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.)