Monday, August 21, 2017

Manners Monday - Solar Eclipse Etiquette – How to Savor the Spectacle & Not Spoil it for Others

Today marks the first time in almost a century that the Total Solar Eclipse will be visible across North American spanning a path of fourteen states from Oregon to South Carolina. This once in a generation phenomenon has everyone from students and space buffs to weather enthusiasts and wonderstruck visitors clamoring for ISO-compliant safe eclipse glasses to capture the spectacle in all its glory.  On this fateful day, the moon will surreptitiously slide in front of the sun and, for a moment, ever so brief depending on your viewpoint, the Moon’s shadow will block the Sun’s light turning day to night and back again.  The entire event is supposed to last about two and a half hours beginning in our neck-of-the-woods at approximately 9:05 am, peaking at around 10:22 am, and ending around 11:45 am.  As you prepare for your eclipse viewing, here are five tips to savor the spectacle and ensure you don’t spoil it for those around you.
1. Keep Eyes Properly Covered. Proper eye coverage is crucial to stay safe and protect your eyes.  Only purchase glasses that are compliant with the ISO 12312-2 safety standard clearly marked.  I waited until the very last minute to find glasses, but everything was sold out. Luckily, our Mayor of Beverly Hills Lili Bosse will be handing out protective eyewear during her Walk with the Mayor this morning at City Hall
2. Clear Away the Distractions. Stay still when observing the eclipse with other people around you.  Viewing areas will be packed with throngs of people gazing at the sky alongside scientists conducting experiments. Show respect to all by taking in this experience with peace and quiet.
3. Keep Small Children & Pets in Check.  Animals have heightened senses and could have an alarming reaction to the sudden switch from light to darkness. Children may experience behavioral changes as well. If young children are running around, unmonitored, and unruly, it may cause additional mayhem.
4. Silence Truly is Golden.  Viewing the eclipse is a sacred experience for many and will be different for everyone.  With a duration of fewer than three minutes in total, show respect to all by holding off from making conversation and turning off your cell phone during this time.  Even the slightest vibration can create a background noise that can ruin research for those measuring sound. Be mindful of those around you.
5. A Little Patience & Courtesy Will Go a Long Way.  If you’re traveling to a viewing destination, follow the rules of the road along with parking instructions.  Small annoyances including bumper-to-bumper traffic, road closures, and check points will certainly slow things down.  Drive the speed limit and be on the lookout for pedestrians crossing your path.  Put on some relaxing music, soak up the scenery and take a deep breath.  This most memorable event won’t come around again anytime soon.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Wednesday Wisdom - Back 2 School Manners for the Teenage Set

My two teenage girls started new public schools in the scenic Pacific Palisades area of Los Angeles.  They are both making this transition during a phase in their academic careers when my youngest is entering her final year of middle school and her sister is starting her sophomore year of high school.  The timing isn’t exactly ideal to make a significant change and be forced to make new friends and figure out a new school campus, but life is about staying flexible and finding a path that feels right. They have changed schools many times previously from public to private and back again. Some experiences were good, and some were downright ugly, but all were enriching nonetheless and each made them the strong, independent young ladies they are today.

As they blossom into full-fledged teenagers, my attention has turned to preparing them for the challenging road to college.  For the past couple of weeks, I’ve been combing the August issue of Town & Country - the one containing the College Anxiety Guide – and it has made me even more clear on the message I want to impart on my girls going forward. Given the current climate of our country and the vitriol we are witnessing across the globe, it is crucial that our teens are equipped with solid character-building skills and self-respect so that they can interact with their peers at school and the world in a way that is both meaningful and constructive.  While I'll never stop preaching the tenets of The Golden Rule or reminding them to keep their social media clean, there are deeper themes I want them to hold dear at the start of this new school year.

Acceptance. These first days and weeks of school set the tone for the next nine months. One single student can make a significant impact for the better and have a rippling effect on a class at large.  Whether attending a big school or small, there will be kids in attendance from different economic, religious, ethnic, cultural, and sociological backgrounds and each is equally entitled to be there.  Be kind, be tolerant, and be friendly with everyone.  A smile and simple acknowledgment place all on a level playing field.

Balance. Every teen needs an outlet and athletics or some type of physical activity is just the antidote for both the book worm and the social butterfly.  The natural endorphins achieved through moving the body create equilibrium and help to diminish feelings of anxiety and anger.  Participating as a member of a team or taking a group exercise class provides much needed interpersonal connection and expands social circles.

Intuition. The teen years are wrought with bad decisions and the constant test of will to do what is right or fall prey to peer pressure.  Teens need to learn to go with their gut feeling.  It will never steer them wrong. And, this is where the self-respect component plays a significant part.  If teens have a strong sense of self and it is nurtured by their parents, they will tap into it to make better choices. They will become imaginative and find ways to fool their silly friends when it comes to drugs and alcohol and they will think twice before jumping into a car with an unsafe driver.  

Passion. “Passion cannot be faked.”  I wholeheartedly agree with Charles Isherwood in his article Liberal Bias for Town & Country magazine.  Educational institutions are growing smarter to the fact that many kids may be fulfilling their parent’s prophecy rather than pursuing their own personal interests.  Now’s the time for teens to explore activities that they are particularly passionate about whether that be student government or sailing the high seas.  If they haven’t figured it out yet, then parents can present options and make suggestions, but they should really be in the driver's seat.

Trust. Teens throw this word around loosely without the faintest clue of its true gravity and power.  They demand that parents ‘trust’ them as if they are old enough to make adult decisions. What they really need to start mastering is trusting themselves and earning our trust. They must also practice the art of trusting their friends and trusting the universe at large. Real trust can turn seemingly large problems into smaller manageable ones. It allows teens to take a beat and give another person the benefit of the doubt rather than going immediately for the jugular. By trusting the universe they are staying nimble, they are giving up control, and they are committing to the notion that everything will work itself out in the end.  Not such a bad thing in my book.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Manners Monday - Six Manners Specifically for the Dog Days of Summer

Summer has officially graced us with her presence and just in time for the Fourth of July holiday. Temperatures have reached a sweltering peak putting our brains and bodies into permanent vacation mode. The LA traffic seems a bit less intense and schedules have simmered down allowing for some much needed rest and relaxation from the everyday stress of life in the fast lane. While we're all too eager to take our foot off the speed pedal, the dog days of summer still demand a sense of decency and decorum. Here are six etiquette tips specifically targeted for the next few months. 

1. House Guesting 101.  If you’re lucky enough to be invited to a friend’s summer home for a stay, make it your mission to be a gracious house guest.  Follow your host’s schedule and abide by their house rules.  If they want everybody in the kitchen for breakfast at 7am, be there with bells on offering to scramble eggs or set the table.

2. Pool Rules.  Long wild strands of hair wreak havoc on a pool. Before diving into the water to cool off from the extreme heat, neatly tie up flowing locks prior to taking a dip. Ladies, feel free to make your ponytail holder your new best friend and, gents, keep sporting that man bun at poolside. 

3. Ear Bud Etiquette.  Summer internships are all the rage and often provide a jump start towards future full-time employment down the road.  While you may be tempted to listen to summer hits while slaving away at your desk, fight the impulse to pop earbuds in your ears. Employers view this as a great distraction, especially when trying to solicit your attention for a task or inspiring you to collaborate with co-workers on a project.

4. Sweaty Palms Police.  Heading to an outdoor networking event where you’ll want to make a positive impression?  Don't let your palms put a damper on good greetings. Grab that antiperspirant and rub it on your hands to reduce sweating and provide that extra confidence when engaging in endless meetings with others.

5. Condiment Clarity.  Barbecue fare is chalk full of hamburgers, hot dogs, and other summer favorites just begging for a dollop of ketchup or mustard to make the meal complete.  Set a precedent when dining by passing all condiments in pairs and passing all pairs to the right.  Your table mates will thank you.

6. Petiquette If you have to skip out of town on a last minute business trip, don’t pressure your family or friends into babysitting your pooch for the summer. Rather than risk putting your relationship in jeopardy, find a comfy place to board your pup instead. He will probably find it more fun and even make a few new pet pals.

Monday, June 5, 2017

Manners Monday - National Business Etiquette Week - June 4-10, 2017

Sunday marked the beginning of a week-long period devoted to national business etiquette.  At a time in history where an inordinate amount of chaos and turmoil continues to reign, demand for business etiquette training has held a steady climb. This is no surprise to us.

The casual way employees engage, the loss of articulate writing, the inability to read subtle social cues has caused concern among many business owners. Couple this with the mass appeal of social media and a Pandora’s box of ways in which executives and employees can go awry, it's no wonder the corporate tide is leaning towards a return to a more conventional style of conducting business. This couldn't have come at a better time, especially when we're experiencing a zero margin for mistakes.

National Business Etiquette Week 2017 may be just seven days, but its purpose is to raise our awareness in the workplace and uphold the standards of civility and courtesy all year long. Restoring these simple acts of kindness and respect to their primary position is the only way to earn trust and gain credibility both nationally and within the global arena.

Whether silencing a co-worker for badmouthing the boss or learning how to give a world-class handshake, business manners do matter and this particular skill-set has become an increasingly valuable commodity for new hires as well as job retention. To test your etiquette quotient, we have compiled a list of 25 questions and answers that should give you a jump start on good business this summer. Good luck!

1. Preparing for a night out of networking? Be equal parts interesting and interested. Listen more than you talk. Think before you speak. End the conversation as graciously as you initiated it.
2. Attending the weekly marketing meeting and expecting an urgent call?  Notify your colleagues beforehand. Put your phone on vibration mode, place it on your lap or in your pocket and give your co-workers your undivided attention. When the call comes, excuse yourself and handle it quickly.
3. Courting a prospective client with an invitation to lunch?  Arrive early to set the stage and hand your credit card to the host so that they may process payment and avoid presenting the check at the end of the meal.
4. Should you accept your boss’ invitation to ‘Friend’ you on Facebook?  Yes, however, do so with care and create a separate group for work and tag it with the name of your company then filter only professionally related content.
5. Wondering whom should shake first in the workplace? In a professional setting, the host or the higher ranking person should initiate the handshake regardless of gender. The first to thrust their hand out is always perceived to be the most confident.
6. Where should you seat your honored guest when hosting a business meal? The honored guest is always seated to your immediate right.
7. Want to avoid miscommunication when sending a text or email?  Since you are unable to see the person face-to-face, avoid firing off a flippant answer. Read your messages and responses for tone and send complete, clear communications.
8. Important interview for your dream job? Scour your social media for any red flags. Anything that defames your image should be wiped clean.  
9. Want to look polished and present when speaking to the boss? Give it to them straight by minding your posture when sitting or standing. You’ll appear engaged and alert, two highly appreciated qualities.
10. Having trouble remembering names? Remembering names is an excellent skill to cultivate. Commit a name to memory by repeating it at least three times. Once during the introduction, a second time when making conversation, and finally, when saying goodbye.  
11. Want to outclass your competition? Become best friends with your stationery and write thank you notes. Whether you are following up on an introduction, interview or meeting, nothing conveys your appreciation better.
12. Should a male work colleague offer to seat a female co-worker at a business lunch? It is a thoughtful gesture, but not necessary as men and women are considered equals in the workplace.
13. Can I make casual Friday’s an everyday occurrence? Whatever your work, you want to be taken seriously. It’s always best to dress for the job you aspire to possess. Take pride in what you wear, especially in formal professional situations.
14. Where should you wear your nametag? Your nametag is always placed on the right side of your chest to make shaking hands and reading someone’s nametag one smooth action.
15. Working from home?  Get out of your PJ’s! Don’t let comfort get the best of you. Dress to create an atmosphere of professionalism, it will upgrade your phone voice and you’ll be ready to head out the door for a breakfast meeting in a moment’s notice.
16. Care to improve your phone conversations? Smile. Notice how the tone of your voice instantly changes making you seem pleasant and accommodating all at once.
17. Working in an open floor office environment?  Before popping those earbuds in your ears, be mindful of the office culture and limit useWhen away from your cubicle or desk, remove them altogether.
18. Want to present your business card to a work colleague?  Before handing your card, ask for his or hers first, then present the card with your right hand and with the type facing toward the recipient.
19. Wondering how to approach your co-worker in their cubicle? Knock verbally when walking into their open office, especially if they are focused on their work. Step into their line of vision so they don’t have to scan the entire room to find you.
20. Tempted to respond to your boss’ weekend email? Don't be available 24/7. It’s perfectly okay to establish boundaries and respond the next day. It will set a precedent and your boss will respect you for it.
21. Making an important business introduction? Show respect by standing for all introductions. Adhere to the rules of the established hierarchy from top to bottom. Remember, the client always comes first.
22. Want to convey confidence and authority in all business transactions? Don’t withhold when it comes to handshaking – the ultimate greeting. For a world class handshake, extend the right hand with the thumb facing up and fingers extended out. Shake with two pumps and then release.
23. What cannot be compromised in a highly competitive marketplace?  Unethical behavior of any kind. There is no margin for dishonesty, lack of integrity, disloyalty, harassment or breaking the law.
24. What is the best way to deal with a challenging customer?  Remain calm, listen from their vantage point, express empathy, and begin active problem-solving.
25. Conducting business with individuals from other countries? Err on the side of formality. Address them by their titles and full names. Familiarize yourself with a few key facts about their culture and customs, and educate yourself on their cuisine and dietary restrictions.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Memorial Day Travel Manners - Seven Simple Steps to Smooth Out Your Experience in the Sky

Memorial Day weekend is one of the top four travel dates of the year with many traveling by plane to reach their destinations. However, 2017 has seen an unprecedented number of air travel nightmares turn our once friendly skies into an experience fraught with turbulence and turmoil. Years ago, air travel was highly civilized. Passengers dressed in formal attire would sip champagne while playing a game of chess in a spacious setting. Nowadays, travelers are forced into tiny compartments bombarded with bare feet and rude behavior. 

Before embarking on your flight this holiday, here are seven simple etiquette tips to smooth out your experience in the sky. 

1. Dress for yourself and fellow passengers. Forget the flip flops and short shorts, be daring and put on something decent for the plane! It is entirely possible to appear quite chic while still being comfortable, plus a nice presentation helps to set the tone for your flight. When it comes to shoes, select closed toe and easy to slip off at the security gate. Don't forget to wear socks. Nothing is worse than stepping barefoot on the airport flooring. Wear deodorant, but go easy on the cologne and perfume. It's a good idea to pack some lip ointment and hand cream to combat dry skin. Ladies put a little lipstick on for goodness' sake! You never know who will be seated next to you.

2. Take a chill pill.  If you have a severe aversion to standing or waiting in line, do not fly! Unless you hire a special airport greeter or are flying business or first, you must be patient and grin and bear the cattle calls. Getting agitated only makes matters worse. Bring a magazine or book so you can read passively while waiting to check your bags or go through security. Keep your identification card handy, as well as your boarding ticket. You will be asked to show proof of both repeatedly.

3. Be prepared for small annoyances. This Memorial Day, account for extra delays and new TSA rulesThere is no way to avoid the safety ritual of walking through security. Everyone must remove their shoes and jackets and risk a pat down by a security officer. To make things easier, wear shoes and outer garments that are easily removed and quickly organize your belongings and place them in the open containers for the x-ray machine. Make sure to separate your laptop in its own container for easy viewing. Remove all jewelry and accessories that may set off the alarm.

4. Avoid confrontation. Make it easier on yourself as well as the flight attendant by not attempting to stuff your entire closet into your carry-on luggage. If you cannot lift your bag and place it in the overhead bin on your own, the flight attendant will be forced to help you and may question its size or weight, especially if they see you struggling to jam it into a small compartment. Either pack lighter, check your bag or call a delivery service like FedEx to ship your belongings door to door in advance. It's not worth getting into an argument on this one, the airlines will always win.

5. Respect personal space. In this tube 30,000 ft. in the air, everything is exaggerated. Some people do not wish to engage and prefer keeping quietly to themselves. Be respectful towards those around you and read their signals. (a) If you are bringing your own food, keep it simple. Do not stink up the plane with smelly cheeses or a pungent dish. (b) If someone is reading a magazine or book, a pleasant smile and hello will do. Allow them their privacy and do not force them into a conversation as they may not wish to be disturbed. (c) If you are tired, rest your weary head on your own chair with your blanket and use only one armrest for your arms. (d) Make sure to use the restroom before being seated to avoid musical chairs throughout the flight. (e) Before reclining your seat abruptly, check behind you to give your fellow passenger a heads up. They will appreciate it.

6. Curb cell phone usage. There is nothing that equally worries and annoys fellow passengers and flight attendants alike then someone who chooses to completely ignore the FAA's rule to turn off all cell phones and other electronic equipment during take-off and landing. The jury is still out as to whether the radio signals from these devices can interfere with flying equipment so for the safety of everyone, cut it out and follow the rules!!!

7. Check yourself, not just your bags. If you are in a bad mood, meditate, do some calming exercises and settle down. Limit alcohol intake as the altitude accelerates the inebriation process and lowers resistance. The airport and flying experience is hard enough without the reckless behavior. Present a cheerful face, always be courteous to flight staff using the magic words "please" and "thank you," and be helpful and accommodating. This will smooth over any extenuating circumstance or accidental wrongdoing.

Let's face it, flying in today's world is no picnic in the park. It tests our every patience and invites triggers that get us at our very core. Do yourself and your fellow passengers a favor and take a breath before stepping foot onto the plane. We'll all feel a lot better.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Mom's The Word - A Few Words to My Daughters on Mother's Day

Let me begin by saying how beyond grateful I am to have two healthy, intelligent, sensitive, and beautiful daughters.  There is not a day that goes by where I don't feel blessed to have brought you both into this world.  In your own unique way, you each provide me with superhuman strength and you inspire me to be the best mother possible.  You girls are my best friends, my confidants, my spirit-lifters and my co-conspirators.

I get excited at the thought of sharing new things with you whether it's how to make my famous oatmeal chocolate chip cookies, taking you to a museum to soak up some culture or introducing you to a classic song I grew up on from the seventies. I love spending time with you, hearing about your day at school or working through a particular problem you are having with friends.

I want you to know that I am your biggest cheerleader. I will always be standing on the sidelines jumping up with pom poms in my hands proudly clapping and hopefully motivating you to give it your all.  I may also have a few choice words of critique to offer, but that is only to make you stronger and more resilient.

As you both have officially embarked on your teenage years, I am filled with delight watching you grow into young ladies.  I will always encourage you to follow your passion, embrace the joy in hard work, and do everything in my power to set you on a path to achieve your goals.

I haven't the faintest idea of what you have in store for me this Mother's Day, but I would love to take the day off and enjoy the company of my family without having to nag and nudge. As much as I wish you were able to read my mind, I thought it might be easier to put my wish list in writing while you lay sleeping.  Here's what would make this Mother's Day awesome!

  • Wake up with a smile.
  • Offer me coffee in bed.
  • Take a walk with me at the beach.
  • Go to the Farmers Market together.
  • Take care of your dad.
  • Plan a nice day.
  • Create a special meal.
  • Tell me how much you love me.
  • Flatter me with kind words.
  • Share stories that make us all laugh wildly.
  • Shower me with hugs and kisses. 

I'm in bed waiting...

Monday, February 20, 2017

Manners Monday - Dissecting the Trump Pump & How to Properly Shake Hands

Some experts say it’s the hands - not the eyes - that are the window into one's soul.  They believe that the hands provide the greatest insight into a person’s true character.  Trump’s hands have been in the spotlight since last spring when Governor Rubio questioned their size and claimed they appeared rather small for a man of his stature. Over the course of the election, President-elect Trump’s hands were analyzed, scrutinized and mocked by commentators as well as comedians.  From the entertaining way he used his hands to emphasize a point to his noticeable apprehension with handshakes in general, it is evident that the art of handshaking was not one of his strong suits.  In his book, The Art of the Comeback, he declared shaking hands as ‘barbaric’ and ‘one of the curses of American society’ further stating that, ‘the more successful and famous one becomes the worse this terrible custom seems to get.”  While certain parts of the world suffering from the spread of disease would find handshaking unwise and unhealthy, here in America, shaking hands is simply a sign of respect.  Here’s a breakdown of President Trump’s pump - the good, the bad, and the ugly – along with a primer on how to properly shake hands with anyone, anywhere, anytime.

The President’s Pump (& Pull)

We’ve noticed two types of handshakes that fall into the category of bad and ugly. When President Trump hosted Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzō Abe at the White House recently, the media had a field day with the awkward looking nineteen-second long seated greeting. The grip looked more like a grab and gave the appearance that the President was pulling the Prime Minister’s hand into submission. A similar grip was used with Vice-President Pence as well as several other of the President’s appointees. Once again, these handshakes resembled more of an aggressive pump and pull rather than two seamless, smooth pumps.

Handshaking 101

The most universal gesture for greeting another person anywhere in the world is the handshake. It is often the first contact we have with someone new. To shake hands properly, extend the right hand and place your palm sideways. Extend the fingers away from you with the thumb facing up.  Locate the web area (the space between the index finger and the thumb) and meet the recipients hand web-to-web.  Shake with two smooth pumps and then release. The whole arm does not need to move, only the forearm from the elbow down. Your grip should be firm, not too strong, and not dangling like a limp fish.

Bad Shake Syndrome
  • The Wet Fish – This handshake grips only the tips of the fingers and feels distant and aloof as if the person isn’t truly interested in making your acquaintance.
  • The Bone Cruncher - This handshake hurts as if the person is intentionally trying to create pain. It leaves a negative impression that the person has something to prove or that they are trying to wield their power over you.
  • The Thumb Pincher - This handshake digs into a sensitive pressure point by pressing down too firmly with their thumb. The person offering this type of handshake is perceived as nervous or slightly uncomfortable.
  • The Never Ending Shake - This handshake lasts forever creating a guessing game as to when someone will let go. The person who offers this handshake appears overly enthusiastic and a way too eager.

Just the Facts
  • Ladies First - In social settings, a lady should always initiate the handshake because a man should never presume a lady wishes to make physical contact of any kind.
  • Stop Signals - If you happen to encounter an endless handshake, simply release the tension of your grip. This will send a non-verbal signal that the handshake has officially ended.
  • The Upper Hand - The person who extends their hand first is perceived to be the most confident and have control of the situation.
  • Stand & Deliver - Unless physically unable, a person always stands for a handshake. It is a sign of deference.
  • Sweaty Palms Alert - Suffering from sweaty palms may ruin a perfectly good handshake. An easy remedy is to carry a cloth that can absorb sweat in your pocket or purse. Gently touch the cloth before shaking somebody’s hands. At events where one is expected to shake a lot of hands, try rubbing some unscented antiperspirant on your palms prior to the engagement.

The Business Arena. A strong emphasis is placed on a firm handshake because it speaks loudly about credibility, confidence, and professionalism. Make sure every meeting begins and ends with a handshake. In a professional setting, it doesn’t matter who offers a hand first, however, the person who extends a hand first typically has an advantage because it shows initiative and is perceived as being in control.

A Personal Affront. Neglecting another person's hand is regarded as one of the most impolite offenses. Unless you have the Swine flu, Whooping Cough or some other contagious infection or disease, always accept an offer to shake hands. If you are particularly worried about germs, run to the restroom to disinfect or douce yourself with Purell.

For Your Eyes Only. A handshake means nothing without making good eye contact. It is second sign of respect. When shaking hands, give the person your undivided attention by looking them straight in the eyes as if they are the only person in the room.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Galentine's Day Etiquette - Six Ways to Celebrate Your Gal Pals Properly

I’ve clearly been living under a rock. I was a big fan of Parks & Recreation from the beginning, but somehow missed the landmark episode in which Leslie Knope - aka Amy Poehler - officially christened the day before Valentine’s Day, February 13th as Galentine's Day. 

A day dedicated solely to our BFF's. What a genius concept!  Our girlfriends are our greatest treasure and they deserve to be honored and cherished. These are the peeps who support us through thick and thin, inspire us to be our best no matter what, and hold us up when the chips are down.  They'll judiciously tell us our thighs look a bit large in our skinny jeans or hold our hair back when we're praying to the porcelain G-d and even give the stink eye to our exes if we ask them.  

Whether you have a hot date lined up for the 14th or are celebrating your singlehood, girl code dictates chicks come before (you know what) any day of the week. Ladies always come first! So here’s how to celebrate your gal pals properly on Galentine’s Day, Valentine’s Day or, dammit, any other day of the year!

1. Take a Hike. Rather than the usual, ‘let’s have lunch’. Organize a feel good hike in the great outdoors.  Nothing says nurture, like good old mother nature. You don’t have to kill yourself climbing rocks and walking through steep terrain, just stretching your limbs with a good walk or moderate incline will put everyone in better spirits.

2. Lavish with a Galentine’s Day Gift. Select something your pals wouldn’t normally buy for themselves. No one reads anymore! Use this as an excuse to purchase an inspirational book or naughty read.  Anything that enlightens, moves us out of our ‘stuckness’ or evokes a good laugh will do.  Don’t forget to inscribe the book with a personalized note for each friend.

3. Host a House Party.  Ladies love to dance. Go to any party and notice how many girls are dancing without abandon while the guys stand dumbfounded ogling and wishing they could be so free. In the immortal words of country star Sam Hunt, “Turn your TV off and break that boom-box out.”  Dim the lights, take out the tequila, put on your favorite tunes and let loose for as long as you so choose.

4. Retreat to a Spa. You’d be hard-pressed to find a gal who doesn’t enjoy a little pampering.  Organize a mobile unit to come to the privacy of your own home, book an early evening gathering at your favorite day spa or, if you’re feeling really extravagant, hop a plane to the most luxurious offering on this continent or other. If you don’t want to break the bank, grab a few avocados for a facial mask, some cucumbers for puffy eyes, and a jar of coconut oil to add life to lackluster hair. Exfoliate, rejuvenate and come back feeling stronger than ever.

5. Make an Awesome Meal. As the saying goes, the gals who cook together, stay together. Well, perhaps that wasn’t exactly it, but you know what I mean. Research the perfect 3-course menu and invite the gals over to help you cook. Let them supply their favorite alcoholic beverages and start slicing, dicing, chopping and baking until you have a healthy, completely satisfying, gourmet-tasting meal that will leave you all feeling satiated, but not super full. 

6. Let Your Voice Ring Out.  Every lady wants to be heard. Make like you’re Queen B (Beyoncé), Adele or Lady Gaga at the Grammys and head out to the nearest karaoke bar. Let down your hair along with your inhibitions, grab that mike like you own it, and sing it loud and proud.  Get your girlfriends to video your superstar performance and play it back to remind yourself of the bad-ass gal you are or aspire to be.

Dedicated to my dearest girlfriends who are all unbelievably amazing, independent, strong, creative, warm, loving, and beautiful both inside and out. Here's to you!!

Sunday, February 5, 2017

At Super Bowl Fifty-One: Forget the Game, All Eyes are On Gaga

Preparing for Super Bowl takes the competition to a whole other level.  Over 110 million people are parked in front of their big screens to watch the spectacle worldwide. Commercials cost as much as $5M for as little as 30 seconds of air time. It is the second-largest day for food consumption only to Thanksgiving.  Americans slug over 325 million gallons of beer and don’t even get me started on the amount of guacamole and chicken wings that are downed for the big day. 

This year Bill Belichick has brought his New England Patriots back to Super Bowl LI for the 9th time a potential 5th win to play the Atlanta Falcons who haven't been invited back since they lost to the Denver Broncos in 1999.  An estimated $4.7 billion will be bet on today’s game.

While throngs of fans are lined up to watch football, I am gearing up for Gaga.  I'll be on the edge of my seat come Half-Time waiting with anticipation over what color hair she'll don, how many revealing outfits she'll wear, will she appear as her alter ego Joanne complete with a cowboy hat or as Gaga circa 2009 when her career first took off?  And, most importantly, whether she'll use the stage to chastise our 45th President creating, even more, divisiveness or will she take the high road and use this incredible platform as an opportunity to bring Americans together.  The jury is out, but we are the judge.  So today as you get ready to cheer on your favorite team while consuming massive amounts of food and guzzling unimaginable quantities of beverages, remember to stay mindful of those around you.  The NFL players aren’t the only ones being held under a microscope, don’t be mistaken, your nearest and dearest are holding a close lens on you too.  Before stepping foot out the door, here's how to best mind your manners this Super Bowl Sunday.

Arrive on Time and Bearing Gifts.  Official start time isn’t until 3:30pm Pacific, but many parties will begin well beforehand.  Whatever you do, plan your arrival before kickoff so hosts will not feel compelled to welcome you and interrupt their viewing. Do not show up empty-handed. BYOB (the good stuff please!) or break out your stellar 7-layer dip recipe and you’ll be the life of the party.

Keep it Friendly.  Sunday is a family day so children are typically in tow.  Keep the atmosphere friendly and comfortable for everyone.  Reserve the foul language for the street when you’re walking to your car at the end of the game and monitor your alcohol intake so you don’t embarrass yourself and regret your behavior the next day.  

Acknowledge the National Anthem.  The moment you hear the music play and hear Luke Bryan hit his first note, it’s time to stand up straight, remove all head coverings, and place your hand firmly on your heart.  We stop and do this simply as a sign of respect.  All conversation should cease, but singing is encouraged right along with Ms. Gaga until the very last word is sung. 

Pay Deference to the Screen. Super Bowl fans want sufficient screen time, but there are always those who are more interested in making conversation than watching the game.  If there are multiple screens, station yourself in the room where you'll cause the least disruption. If you can’t find a seat or feel compelled to stand and shout for your team, just make sure that those behind can still see the game. And for goodness' sake, no giant hats or wild accessories that will prohibit the view.

Stay on Topic. On Super Bowl Sunday, the dialogue should be on the game. Know your facts beforehand so you are well-versed in the teams that are playing and the host city.  Learn the vernacular, know the difference between a touchdown and a field goal.  You want to be able to bond and converse with everyone.  This is not the time to bring up a serious conversation, mention a grave illness or ask for a job.  Super Bowl Sunday is supposed to be fun. Keep the tone light and breezy and pay attention to the ball.  Here’s a complete glossary to everything you could possibly want to know for game day terminology.

Avoid Being the Know-It-All.  You may be the type of person who thrives on knowing every minute detail about the two football teams, the players and the Tom Brady controversy. And you may enjoy spending hours researching the commercials that will be shown during the game, but that information is best kept to yourself. Today is not the day to sit on your soapbox espousing your knowledge. A know-it-all is a big turn off. 

Display Good Sportsmanship.  Wearing your team's jersey’s and caps, painting your body to show your support, showing the love by cheering them on is all perfectly fine.  What will not fly on Super Bowl Sunday is shouting expletives at the television screen when your team misses the field goal or picking a fight with your neighbor because he did a victory dance for a touchdown for your opposing team. Remember you are not playing in the game, you are just a fan.  Don’t make it personal.

Don’t Bet the Farm.  There are more Super Bowl pools than I care to imagine.  Know your limits.  If you’re an out of control gambler, designate the set amount for your bet before you leave the house so that you cannot be coerced into contributing more than you can afford.  There are plenty of pools to choose from and not all require a $500 ante.  You certainly don’t want to dip into your child’s college fund for a silly square on the football grid.

Absolutely No Double-Dipping.  As George made infinitely famous on Seinfeld, if you take a chip, you get only one dip and then end it! Rather than risk a lecture from the double-dip police, place a handful of chips on a napkin or small plate then use one large chip to scoop extra dip that you can then enjoy with the remaining chips.

Avoid Cutsies at Buffet Line.  Inevitably, there will be one coveted line with the short rib pizza or the crispy rice sushi that everyone is going to flock to. Whatever you do, please wait patiently for your turn. If you see friends further up, resist the urge to move even if they are waving you in with permission. It’s not their call and the others behind you will be most appreciative.

Leave No Trace Behind.  Be a good guest and clean up after your mess.  All those beef rib bones, leftover cold nachos, and ketchup-soaked napkins aren’t going to deposit themselves. Before making your way to partake in more witty repartee, do a complete 360 and leave no trace of trash behind. 

Compliment the Chef.  Super Bowl Sunday is the second most popular eating day after Thanksgiving and food plays a major part in the enjoyment.  Hosts spend weeks preparing the special menu of finger foods typically based around the two playing teams hometown favorites. A compliment to the chef lets them know they satisfied your every need.

You Gotta Give Thanks. Of course, it goes without mentioning to make sure you thank the host before you leave and follow up with a nice handwritten thank you note the following day.  Your graciousness will not go unnoticed.

On a final note today, please watch out for taboo topics.  We are still fresh off the swearing in which took place a mere two weeks ago and many are stick licking their wounds on both sides of the aisle.  While everyone has a right to their opinion, it doesn't give us license to shove that opinion down another person's throat. If you don't have something nice to say, keep it to yourself. Stay away from conversations that condemn Trump, hail Bernie Sanders, or defend DeflategateNow go and enjoy the game!!