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.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Keep your friends close and your lovers closer

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.

Monday, October 26, 2009

My father-in-law came for the weekend to surprise my husband. Unfortunately, my husband had to work most of the time but the up-side was that I got to spend a lot of quality time with my father-in-law.

Advice of the day:

Pick an older wiser person in your life, whether it be a parent, grandparent, aunt or teacher and ask them to share with you either a story or piece of advice. We all know we are supposed to respect/honor our elders, but for along time I thought it was because our elders are due our respect. This weekend I realized we have to respect those older and wiser, not for what it does for them, but what it can do for us. Not only can we learn important lessons and look at the world in a unique way - but listening to the advice of someone with experience can help us avoid making some of the mistakes they have and encourage us to follow in the lead of their successes.

Friday, October 23, 2009

I would live in my pajamas if I could. Growing up, I was always the little girl who wanted to play dress up in my older cousins prom dress handy-me-downs. With no black tie events to go to on a regular basis, I have morphed from a party dress girl to a lululemon and running shoes girl. I have been asking myself - is there something wrong with opting for a more casual and care-free me? Or should I be primping myself even if I have no where special to go?

I don't wear make-up on a day to day basis. Thank God I have always had great skin, although I could use some concealer for the dark circles under my eyes that I inherited from my father. I try when I go out for dinner with my husband to put mascara and eye liner on. Although he loves me natural looking I have noticed that he does make comments when I wear eye make up. Maybe I should be wearing make up everyday? Am I starting down a downward spiral if I don't "put myself together" everyday?

I have realized there is a difference between being shlumpy and low maintenance. Shlumpy is going to the movies in a stained sweatshirt and sweatpants. Low maintenance is applying lip gloss in the morning and sliding on a favorite pair of jeans and white button down. Aiming for glamour seems unrealistic for me, at least on a typical day, but low maintenance with a slight hint of flare seems doable.

My advice for today:
Spend the extra ten seconds painting your toe nails, applying eye shadow or putting on that necklace you always seem to forget to don't need to be high maintenance to look "maintained." The little things really count. And the men in your life will notice.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Dear Danielle,

I come from a very wealthy family. We have our own private plane and vacation homes in Maui and St. Barts. We don't need to work a day in our life if we don't want to, although we both do have our own careers. I am concerned for my sister because she has been dating a guy for about a year. He is a lawyer, but is just starting out and does not nearly have as much money as my sister. I have noticed that whenever I am out with them my sister always pays. Her boyfriend sometimes offers, but never insists to pay. I know she like to live the good life, and so maybe she feels responsible for paying for their lifestyle - but I think because he is the man he should still be the one to pay more times than not. In addition, they have been fighting a lot lately and I am worried he is just staying with her for the money. Should I say something to her about it? Or should I talk to him and tell him to start acting like a man when it comes to his relationship with my sister?


"Protective Older Brother"

Dear "Protective Older Brother,"

Either your sister and her boyfriend should start doing less expensive activities, or he should fork over some cash to cover their lifestyle. If things keep going the way they have been, either her boyfriend will feel emasculated by the fact that she always pays, or he will start taking advantage of her and stay with her because of the money. It would be one thing if their relationship otherwise was going well, but it sounds like things are rocky and therefore the money issue definitely will come into play somehow. Speak to your sister and tell her you are concerned about her and want her to be with someone who carries his own weight, emotionally and monetarily in the relationship. Tell her that although it isn't necessary for her to be with someone as rich as you, whoever she is with must be generous with what he has. If she doesn't receive your advice well, back off quickly. Ultimately it is up to her to sort this out.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Gives new meaning to "Potty Mouth"

Dear Danielle,

I work for a local newspaper as a VP of advertising. I was in the bathroom at work last week, and while I was in the stall I heard two co-workers (I am their superior) talking about me because they didn't know I was in there. Nothing they said was totally terrible, but they did say at one point that I am a "control freak." I stayed in the stall until they left, so they don't know I overheard them. Should I confront them with the hopes we can have a frank discussion and improve our work relationship? I don't think I am controlling and wonder what I have been doing to make them think so.


"Boss in the Bathroom"

Dear "Boss in the Bathroom,"

Nothing good will be achieved by telling your co-workers you heard them gossiping. It will just create awkwardness at the office. In fact, it doesn't really matter if they think you are a "control freak." What matters is, how successful you are at what you do and how good of a leader you are. Convene a meeting with the co-workers
that you supervise with an agenda of asking them for suggestions on how you can help them do their job better and making your company more efficient. Be open to their suggestions and they will appreciate that you value their opinions. But remember, people will often think their boss is bossy. You can't make everyone like you, but you can be a strong and inspiring leader.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

A Serious Man

We saw the Coen brothers movie "A Serious Man" over the weekend. I laughed hysterically, mostly because the characters were absurd yet oddly accurate. It is about a Jewish family living in the 1960's in a small mid-western town. The family seems to be cursed, and nothing goes right for the lead actor who is a stereotypical Jewish man - wimpy and a push-over. I highly recommend it.

My advice for today: Learn to laugh at yourself. Watching "A Serious Man" reminded me to laugh at my own culture, community and religion - considering we often take ourselves way too seriously.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Mom is a Cougar

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 :-)

Friday, October 16, 2009

There's Something About Michael...

I have one celebrity crush. Of course I think Brad Pitt and George Clooney are handsome, but they are not who I have a crush on. For the last 5 years I have gotten butterflies in my tummy every time I hear the music of Michael Buble.

For those of you who aren't familiar with Michael, he is originally from Vancouver (my home town) and has made it big due to his sultry voice and Sinatra-esque persona. I have seen him in concert twice, and thanks so the coordination of my amazing husband and father-in-law, I met Michael Buble back stage at one of his concerts a few summers back. Of course, I would never trade my husband for any other man - so my crush on Michael means something very specific to me.

Michael Buble represents romance to me. He stands for the good old days when men would open doors for women and tip their hats. Michael performs in a tuxedo and oozes an old school charm rarely found in gentleman today.

Once engaged to actress Emily Blunt, Michael currently is dating an Argentinian actress who apparently did not speak English when they first met. This perplexes me. So much a part of dating is communicating verbally. Late night talks about lifelong dreams, private jokes whispered during movies...whatever it is, language is an essential component to romance. I know what you're thinking, love trumps language and that love can be expressed in many ways other than language.

That may be true, but at the end of the day can one truly understand another without speaking their language (literally)? What are your thoughts?

My advice for today is: For those of us who share the same language as our spouse's - spend some time thinking about how being a good listener and understanding another person extends beyond purely translating the meaning of certain words. Verbal communication can either be an overflow of random words or it can be a key into some one's heart and soul. Let's pay close attention to what our loved ones are telling us. We might know what certain words mean according to Webster, but pay attention to what those mean to the person you love. Listening isn't just hearing, it is understanding where someone is coming from, and acting accordingly.

Have a fabulous weekend!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Social Butterfly

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.

Everyones 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.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Babies and Bugaboos

You probably know by now, just as does most of the free world, that Jon Gosselin was kicked off of the TLC show baring his name and that shortly afterwords he announced he was trying to get his kids off the air for the sake of their well being. I don't have children yet, but it does sadden me that kids can be used as pawns in a game of money, fame and exploitation.

I have been noticing lately, models of parenting from one extreme to the next. What I mean by that is, the Gosselin's might have sacrificed their children's well being for their own gains, but many parents of young children that I know sacrifice their own happiness for their children's...and I don't mean in a good way.

For instance, I know a mom who just bought a thousand dollar Bugaboo stroller for her daughter and 12 pairs of baby shoes, while my acquaintance complains that she can't afford a good haircut for herself or a date night with her husband. All too many moms I know seem to ignore their own needs, not just for the sake of feeding and caring for the basic needs of their kids, but also in order to provide material possessions that aren't necessary. This sense of self-sacrifice might make them feel like perfect giving parents, but actually will probably result in spoiled perpetually un-satisfied children. When parents sacrifice there own romantic time or clothing budget so their kids can have one more stuffed animal, not only are parents teaching kids that nothing is ever "enough" in life, but also that its OK to let one's marriage go.

Jon and Kate Gosselin might have put their own financially success before creating a healthy childhood for their kids, but is that worse then parents who sacrifice their own sanity for the sake of a Burberry back pack for their two year old? Balance when it comes to parenting seems to be a challenge. I know it is harder then it looks.

Any suggestions from parents out there on how to balance the needs of mom and dad while still providing for the kids?

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Ask me anything

Singing in the...drought

Dear Danielle,

I am 27 and an aspiring actress/singer/dancer. I live in New York City and audition all the time for parts in plays, Broadway and off-Broadway musicals and commercials. Since the down turn of the economy, I have yet to land a part. My parents keep telling me to choose another career path, and either find a job or go back to school. I have been surviving financially until now, but my savings are running out. Should I give up my dream of starring in a big time musical or find some way to make ends meet while still pursuing my true goal of becoming a star?

"Singing in the financial drought"

Dear "Singing in the financial drought",

A gutsy, ambitious visionary named Theodor Herzl once said, "If you will it, it is no dream." Yet, we all know what it is like to have ambitions which realistically may never come to fruition. Your dilemma of when/if to give up pursuing a dream is all too common. Unfortunately, statistics are not on your side when it comes to making it big in theater or in Hollywood. Do not give up on your passion. However, you should find a way to translate your passion into a more marketable and financially viable skill-set. Perhaps you can teach theater/dance part time while you audition? Going after a dream doesn't have to be all or nothing. I believe if it is meant to be, one day you will get your big break so stay focused and positive. But in the meantime, find a way to not be a starving artist. Your parents will be less stressed and you might be surprised that when we least expect it in life, often that's when things start going our way.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Extreme Makeover: Shoe Edition

There are some women who wear high-heels all day, every day - to work, out for dinner...even grocery shopping. They make heel wearing look easy and these women grin and bear the pain in the name of looking sexy and womanly. I have never been one of those women.

I love a great pair of heels and enjoy feeling tall and slim wearing them on a special night out. But they kill my feet, hurt my back, and the discomfort has once or twice ruined an otherwise enjoyable evening for me.

I own many pairs of Cole Haan "Nike-Air" shoes and boots, with the hope that this will solve my high heel dilemma. Although they are more comfortable than a typical 4-inch stiletto, I am still in pain after wearing the "Nike-Air" shoes for a whole day/night.

So why do I keep going back to wearing high heels if they make me feel crummy and my husband could care less if I wear them?

My relationship with shoes is a perfect example of how women live, dress, talk, socialize and act to largely impress other women. I never thought I cared what other women think of me. However, when I am brave and wear a daunting pair of heels, and get complimented by another woman, I feel like it was worth it. When I see a woman so effortlessly walking with stilettos I'm impressed. I pay attention. I'll often comment to women I know, "that's a gorgeous shoe, but isn't it dreadfully uncomfortable?!"

What do you do to impress members of your same sex?

Thursday, October 8, 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.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Haute Times

Last night I watched "The September Issue" and "Gossip Girl" back-to-back. The former is a documentary about Vogue Magazine and editor Anna Wintour, while the latter is a popular TV show about rich adolescents living elaborate and sexually charged lives in NYC. Watching them in a row provided a perfect juxtaposition of the industry which produces/packages fashion and luxury with the young status obsessed consumers.

I lived in New York City in the fall of 2007, the season in which "The September Issue" takes place. My introduction to the Big Apple was before the markets crashed and before buying haute couture became something to be ashamed of. When I started my Master's degree and began working in the arts in NYC, the city was riding high - off hedge fund cash and thriving creative arts. I met young people, barely out of high school and college, interning and working at the leading fashion houses, banks and magazines. Possibilities seemed endless. The future seemed to be not only encouraging but seductive. The "next" always seemed to be "better." For the young and naive - no end seemed in sight to the potentials of prosperity.

The world has changed a lot in just two years, but there is one thing that watching "The September Issue" and "Gossip Girl" reminded me hasn't changed much:

Perfection in life, love or work has never and will never be attainable - yet too many people spend too much time keeping up appearances of a perfect life, even while in reality things may be crumbling.

Advice for today:
There is nothing wrong with striving for perfection. However, when it seems safer to plant a fake smile on your face and present to the world an image of perfection that does not exist, remember - we got into these current economic problems to begin with because too many people were creating false images of reality. Leave the pretty pictures to the magazine editors. It's ok to NOT HIDE the faults in your marriage, a drought in your dating life, lack of satisfaction in your job, or family stress. Spend less energy covering things up and more energy making things better.

"Everybody isn't perfect in this world, it is enough that the models are perfect"
Coddington, Creative Director, Vogue

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Dear Danielle,

My sister is pregnant and she confided in me the name she is considering for her baby girl. Her top choice now is Jazmyn Autumn Rae (their last name is Klipner). I understand that original names are very trendy now, but I think the name she likes is very unsophisticated and it will label her daughter flaky and unprofessional as she grows up. My sister has been so emotional due to her hormones, so I am hesitating telling her I hate the name she has chosen. Should I say something to my sister to protect my niece to-be? Or should I let her choose a name that might sound cool now but will just sound dated and ditsy in a few years?


"Concerned Auntie"

Dear "Concerned Auntie,"

I happen to agree that the name your sister is considering will be fleeting in popularity and might pigeon whole your niece later in life. However, it probably will just back fire if you say something directly to your sister. Rather, maybe buy her a book of baby names to get her thinking about other possibilities, or even find a few names that are creative, yet more conservative, and suggest them to her. At the end of the day though, this is her decision, and as much as a name does matter in a child's life - having a loving family, unconditional love, health and a good education means a lot more. I think its fabulous you care so much about your niece. Spend your energy, once the baby is already born, being a positive role model and an attentive aunt. That way you will really make a difference.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Dear Danielle,

I am getting married in 6 weeks. I have decided that I don't want to take my husband's last name legally. I am happy to be referred to by his last name in social and informal contexts, but in terms of my career - I always want to have my maiden name. I don't believe that one's last name has anything to do with the love one feels for their mate, but my husband is really pressuring me to change my name. Am I being selfish because I love my name so much? How can I make him understand that I want to build a life with him in every way aside from becoming his Mrs?

"Name is non-negotiable"

Dear "Name is non-negotiable,"

If this is the main point of contention between your future husband and yourself 6 weeks before your wedding - then you are actually in a better place then you think relationship wise as engagements can often get even more stressful then this. It seems like you are both really committed to your marriage and truly want to merge your lives with each other, and in retrospect you will both realize one's last name isn't a big issue in the scheme of life. Why not consider hyphenating your name if it means so much to him? If that doesn't work for you (or him) then I suggest you put off this debate until once you get married. In every marriage there are issues which couples have to "agree to disagree" about.

Friday, October 2, 2009


What's next...Kombucha?

PinkBerry. Toppings. YogurtLand. Red Mango. Blushberry. Yogenfruz. I could go on and on.

The frozen yogurt craze has been around now for awhile, but the number of businesses trying to ride the success of the yogurt train seems to keep growing. I really like frozen yogurt, especially because as huge fan of ice cream, I am able to rationalize that frozen yogurt is ok to eat multiple times a week because it isn't as fattening as ice cream.

I am wondering, what will be the next big thing when it comes to food fads? Cupcakes have been done. Asian-Fusion is so 2000. Acai berries don't seem to be sticking around quite the way that pomegranate juice took off. Sushi will always be popular but it is not longer a novelty. A friend mentioned to me recently that it seems everything lately has avocado in it, although that doesn't hint much to what is coming next in regards to "it" foods.

A friend just told me about Kombucha, a fermented drink that can be found at Whole Foods which is made up of live cultures that literally float around in the drink. It is supposed to be helpful in preventing illness, digestion and increasing energy. So, for research purposes I picked up a few bottles during my Whole Foods run last night. I was advised that it tastes very vinegary and so a novice like me should try the mango flavor which is supposedly the sweetest one.

Synergy, the brand name of the Kombucha drink, definitely tasted vinegary and I could taste the slightest hint of alcohol. I couldn't finish the whole bottle in one sitting, and so I put it back in the fridge. I didn't feel much healthier after drinking it, and although I intend on drinking the few bottles I bought - Kombucha seems to be all hype to me.

My prediction is that the next "it" food will be something cheap, something healthy yet comforting and tasty...

Do you have any ideas about what the next big food trend will be?

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Perfect on Paper

Dear Danielle,

I have been dating a guy for 2 months who is perfect on paper. He runs a successful restaurant business, is attractive, chivalrous and extremely giving and affectionate. To top it all off he comes from an insanely wealthy family and I would be set for life if I married him. He just told me he wants to take me away on a weekend vacation to Colorado. My hesitation is, there is no "va-va-voom." I don't feel insanely attracted to him and there isn't much sexual chemistry. I am trying to be patient and give it a shot, and he is doing everything right, but something is still not sitting right with me. What should I do?


"Dating and Confused"

Dear "Dating and Confused,"

He sounds like a fabulous guy. Stop over thinking things and let the romantic chemistry and sexual spark naturally develop. If 6 months go by and there is still no spark, re-evaluate things. But, maybe you are putting up an internal block to fully falling for him? No guy you meet will be perfect, and although chemistry is crucial to a lasting relationship, relationship dynamics can evolve over time. Be patient and not as judgemental. When your mind starts over analysing every interaction with him, remember - only through living life will the correct path for us be brought into clarity.