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.