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Namaste and Brunch – Silent Disco Yoga

OK, so have any of you ever been to a music festival and walked past a group of people with headphones on, dancing around, all out of sync, having a great time grooving to something you can’t hear? Yeah, that’s a silent disco. And, I’m one of those people who wouldn’t be caught dead looking that foolish – regardless of whether it’s a lot of fun or an awesome experience (no offense to those readers who enjoy silent discos). So, when my friend sent me a text asking if I would like to participate in a 75 minute silent disco yoga class I was like, huh?

But, I was also very intrigued. This friend of mine is a yogi – she practices it frequently so I feel like this invite was coming from a knowledgeable place, so I said sure! It was $25, held at True Food Kitchen in Walnut Creek, CA, and you got 15% off your brunch order for participating in the yoga class that morning – yoga AND food – thumbs up!

Check-in and set-up began at 7:45 and class started at 8:15. Some of you may not know this about me, but I like my sleep. I’m a 8 or 9 hour  sleep minimum kinda gal, so getting up early and driving 30 minutes outside of  town on a Sunday is important to be noted. Upon checking in we were given noise cancelling headphones. The intention here is that I won’t be able to hear anything around me other than the instructors voice and the music. Therefore, that meant everyone who was preparing the restaurant to open at 10am would be able to observe us moving through the instructors flow, ohhmming and breathing but wouldn’t hear anything the instructor was saying or the music that was playing – hence the silent disco part.

I know I said earlier I wouldn’t be caught dead looking foolish, and some might argue that I probably looked foolish doing this, however since we were all literally doing the same flow at the same time, I don’t think it looked as foolish as a group of people on a dance floor swaying to music you can’t hear. But, if you worked in the restaurant that day and witnessed us it probably looked a little weird.

Anyway, the class was intended for all levels, and the instructor was fantastic at instructing at the beginner level and then offering variations depending on experience so that you could really get out of the class what you were looking for. For me, I hadn’t gone to a yoga class in a while, so you weren’t going to catch me doing the crow pose, or doing a head stand. I have to say though, that having those headphones on wasn’t as distracting as I initially thought it would be. They weren’t too heavy, and really cancelled out some of the usual noise you might hear while in a yoga class, like someone’s breathing noises, coughing etc. You were really able to focus on the music and the instruction.

Also, I’d like to mention that I was ravishingly hungry for brunch, which was 15% off since I had participated in the class…AND I think I had burned so many calories that I was hungry almost all day long – even after brunch! Great work out!

With all of this said, it was a lot of fun and I highly recommend checking it out. I’m still not sold on an actual Silent Disco, but silent disco yoga is a win. Check out Eventbrite and see if there are any scheduled in your area!

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A Favorite Recipe: Crispy Cheddar Chicken

So, I have this recipe that I found on Pinterest. I’ve made it probably close to a dozen times for my family (i.e. my parents, siblings and nieces) – and it has become the meal we eat on Christmas Eve – my nieces are very much into tradition and expect it now. I will caution you now in saying that it isn’t exactly the healthiest, though it might be a good alternative to fried chicken and it sure is mighty tasty! While I got this recipe off of Pinterest, I did get the details from keyingredient.com – and the photo associated to this post came from there as well – unfortunately I don’t have any photos from the numerous times I’ve made this.

Ingredients

  • 4 large chicken breasts
  • 2 sleeves of Ritz crackers
  • 1/4 teaspoon of salt – though I find that the salt from the crackers is sometimes enough
  • 1/8 teaspoon of pepper
  • 1/2 cup of whole milk
  • 3 cups of cheddar cheese, grated – little note here, don’t be lazy and buy the pre-shredded cheese. When you use cheese you grated yourself it sticks to the chicken better
  • 1 teaspoon dried parsley – this is really just a recommendation, as I don’t normally use the parsley

Sauce Ingredients

  • 1 (10-ounce) can of cream of chicken soup
  • 2 tablespoons of sour cream
  • 2 tablespoons of butter

Directions

  • Crush the Ritz crackers – I generally open the 2 sleeves of crackers and place them in a Ziploc bag and run a rolling pin over the crackers.
  • Cut each chicken breast into 2 or 3 large pieces – depending on the size of the chicken breasts
  • Pour the milk, cheese, and cracker crumbs into 3 bowls
  • Toss the salt and pepper into the cracker crumbs and stir the mixture around to combine
  • Dip each piece of chicken into the milk and then the cheese
  • Press the cheese into the chicken with your fingers – this is where having freshly grated cheese is a plus!
  • Then press the cheesy coated chicken into the cracker crumbs and press it in firmly
  • Spray a 9×13 inch pan with cooking spray – especially important because the cheese will run onto the pan causing major stickage
  • Lay the chicken inside the pan
  • If using parsley – sprinkle over the chicken
  • Cover the pan with aluminum foil
  • Bake at 400 degrees for 35 minutes
  • Remove the aluminum foil, and bake for an additional 10-15 minutes, or until the edges of the chicken are golden brown and crispy

The Sauce

  • In a medium sized sauce pan, combine the cream of chicken soup, sour cream and butter with a whisk.
  • Stir it over medium high heat until the sauce is nice and hot – this won’t take long, so definitely do this part during the last 10-15 minutes the chicken is cooking
  • Pour the sauce over the chicken and dinner is served! (I put the sauce on the side for nieces so they dip their chicken in it).

chicken

Hope you enjoy!

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All the Single Ladies and My Thoughts on What This All Means: Part Two

I left the last entry in a place of questioning whether treating online dating with the mantra of “dick is abundant and low value,” a term created by Madeleine Holden and further used by Alana Massey, was indeed the best way to treat online dating. I still don’t have the answer to that, and could probably be debated until we are blue in the face. But I do want to continue talking about Rebecca Traister’s “All the Single Ladies, Unmarried Women and the Rise of an Independent Nation.”

Let’s get into the notion of marriage. I would say about ten years ago that was all I wanted. I was even in a five year relationship that, had he asked me, I would have said yes (thank god he never did, as I would surely be in one of two circumstances now: divorced, or in a miserable marriage). Something shifted for me. It’s probably a confluence of things…the five year relationship was gut wrenchingly hard to recover from, I then spent a year or so dating the same type of person – clearly taking the slow route to observing the poor choices in men I was making – then I spent a significant amount of time not dating at all because I was just so over it and couldn’t be bothered with any of it, to then embarking on the online dating world. The online dating world is like seeing a piece of cake and knowing that it won’t be good for you, but it will be satisfying at the time, then choosing to go for it and indulge, only to feel sick after the fact. SO, I started to think that if that path isn’t meant for me then that’s OK. I had to tell myself that I can still have everything else if I don’t get married. I could even still be in a healthy and committed relationship – better than most marriages – without a wedding ring and piece of paper.

So, when reading Traister’s book, it made me realize that I’m not alone in these thoughts and feelings. According to Traister, “Cohabitating couples in Sweden are less likely than Americans to break up, and as sociologist Andrew Cherlin has pointed out, a child living with an unmarried pair of parents in Sweden, ‘has a lower chance that his family will disrupt than does an American kid living with married parents.'” That’s it, I’m moving to Sweden (kidding, kind of).

According to Traister, “In part, when we delay marriage, it’s not just women who become independent. It’s also men who, like women, learn to clothe and feed themselves, to clean their homes and iron their shirts and pack their own suitcases.” I once had a guy tell me to pick out his clothes for a night out with some friends. We didn’t last much longer after that (and don’t get me wrong, that wasn’t the only reason – BUT I knew he wasn’t asking me to pick out his clothes because of my good sense of style, it was because he didn’t want to be torn away from his video game – this was when I was still making the same bad decisions in men and hadn’t learned my lesson yet). But, here’s the thing, and something that Traister points out so poignantly, “Our old partners don’t cease to matter or to exist in our memories or in our makeup just because we don’t marry them.” Journalist Jen Doll summed it up in her Village Voice piece on single women in New York: “The man who introduced you to really good bourbon; the guy with kids who helped you remember why you do, or don’t want them for yourself; the bisexual coworker; the “poonhound;” the one that got away; and the one you let get away on purpose – they all have a place in your dating life. Don’t regret them.” And, that’s just it. I don’t regret any of them, the good, the bad, or the ugly (believe there were a couple of those…). What I take away from this part of the book is that you learn something from everyone you date, and you don’t have to settle and marry a single one of them if you don’t want to.

One of the my favorite parts of Traister’s book is when she discusses Gloria Steinem. “Steinem was sixty-six, the feminist leader who said that she didn’t want to marry because she couldn’t mate in captivity, who said, ‘we are becoming the men we wanted to marry,’ who once called marriage a union of one-and-a-half people and ran away from her collegiate fiance, got married. As Steinem tells the story of her long single life before David Bale, ‘I had realized at about the time that feminism entered my life that a. I didn’t have to be married,’ and ‘people (even women) could choose different lives and b. I couldn’t marry anyway because I would be giving up my civil rights (credit rating, legal residence, name etc. etc.'” Here is the thing, even Steinem eventually got married – despite the criticism she faced upon doing so. So, if it feels right then do it! But if there is any hesitation or uncertainty, don’t marry someone just because “it’s time,” or “we’ve been together for two years,” or “I’m almost thirty-five, it’s either now or never.” STOP! These are the worst reasons to get married. My brother and sister-in-law have been together for over a decade, they have two children together, and just got married this past September. They definitely didn’t jump into anything, and didn’t let any outside pressure make them marry sooner than they felt necessary.

So, let’s think about this, and try not to go down too morbid of a road, but women out-live men. So, when we finally do make the decision to marry, we will inevitably probably find ourselves alone again toward the later part of our lives. According to Traister, “The average age of widowhood for women in the United States is around fifty-nine, and 2009 figures showed that over 50 percent of women over seventy were widowed, more than double the percentage of men who are widowers. For the happiest wives, that means both suffering through the passing of our beloved and then, once again, facing the world – and our own ends – on our own.” By the way, that’s exactly what happened to Steinem. She was single for sixty-six years, finally married, only to see her husband through cancer and find herself single, yet again. So, is it really worth it then?

Of course it is! That’s the tiny percentage of hopeless romantic that lives within me. It’s worth it if you really truly love each other and if it’s the right person. See, I have a heart? *wink, wink* But in all seriousness there was a Newsweek article published that highlighted researchers who asserted that, “an unmarried thirty-year-old, college-educated woman had a 20 percent chance of marriage and, by forty, no more than 2.6 percent shot.” According to Traister, this was “part of a panicky news cycle catalogued scrupulously by journalist Susan Faludi in her 1991 best-seller, Backlash, in which the message sent to independent women was that they faced a purported shortage of men to marry.” I read Backlash when I was in college taking a women’s studies class, and I have to say I don’t remember much from the book and should probably revisit it. With that said, I looked it up to remind myself about the context of the book.

Susan Faludi’s 1991 book Backlash: The Undeclared War Against American Women argued that the 1980s saw a backlash against feminism, especially due to the spread of negative stereotypes against career-minded women. The book has become a classic feminist text, warning women of every generation that the gains of feminism should not be taken for granted. Faludi argues for the existence of a media driven “backlash” against the feminist advances in the 1970s, and argues that many of these problems are illusory, constructed by the media without reliable evidence – hence the Newsweek article that Traister mentions in her book, “The message that high-achieving women will be punished by spinsterhood has not abated in the past three decades, despite the evidence that high-achieving women are increasingly most likely to marry.”

Here’s the bottom line, contemporary women are redefining when women get married which also naturally bleeds into how contemporary women are also redefining whether, when, and how they become mothers. According to to Traister, “easy alternatives to the cold equations of child-bearing are not plentiful. Here is the math: there are a limited number of years during which most women’s bodies can easily bear children.” Back in the day, most women got married and started families in their late teens and early twenties so the window of reproductive opportunity matched the window of marital expectation. However, those windows no longer overlap as neatly as they once did.

One would think that this would just be a natural progression that we all accept and understand. There are lots of factors that create this delay in marriage and having children (women attending college and wanting to establish their career first, waiting to find the right person as opposed to settling, saving to buy a house – which in some states is almost impossible eh em…California). However, society still thinks that if you aren’t having kids by thirty, you’re now on a time clock that is ticking very LOUDLY. But here are some statistics for you, taken from Traister’s book: The average age of first motherhood in the United States shot from 21.4 in 1970 to 26 in 2013. More than four in ten births in 2010 were to women over the age of thirty, and one in seven was to women over thirty-five. More than that: of first births, eight percent in 2009 were to women over thirty-five, compared to just on percent in 1970. This is the one that makes me feel better, the number of women giving birth after age thirty-five rose by 64 percent between just 1990 and 2008. So, here is my question – why the heck is there so much pressure from society to hurry up and have kids sooner rather than later?

“The postponement of parenthood has brought its own set of challenges and peculiarities, among them the likelihood that if you are an unmarried woman over the age of twenty-four, you’ve read, heard, or been told something that has made you quite certain that your ovaries are withering, and your eggs are going bad. Right now. This second. As you’re reading this and still not doing anything about getting pregnant.” Yup! I’ve heard almost that exact thing, “your eggs are dying.” But, according to Traister, “It is a testament to how committed professional women were to the new kinds of lives they were living, that the terrifying threats of egg decline did not set off a wave of early marriage and dramatically lower the age of first birth.” Maybe single women didn’t want to listen to the warnings, and more than likely even if these warnings provoke anxiety within women, there really isn’t much they can do about it. It’s not like being single is, according the Traiser, “some outfit you could simply change out of when someone pointed out that it wasn’t keeping you warm enough; the husband-free existences women were living couldn’t change course with a snap of the fingers. These were lives. What were they going to do?”

In a part of the book that has become my favorite, and prompted me to look up the clip, is when Traister shares a Saturday Night Live sketch from 2002 where Sylvia Hewlett, who is an economist, consultant, lecturer, and expert on gender and workplace issues, and the media tell career women to have babies sooner in life. In the weekend update. It goes something like this:

Tina Fey: “According  to Sylvia Hewlett, career women shouldn’t wait to have babies, because our fertility takes a steep drop-off after age twenty-seven. And Sylvia’s right. I definitely should have had a baby when I was twenty-seven, living in Chicago over a biker bar, pulling down a cool $12,000 a year. That would have worked out great.”

Rachel Dratch: “Yeah, Sylvia. Thanks for reminding me that I have to hurry up and have a baby. Uh, me and my four cats will get right on that.”

Maya Rudolph: “Yeah, Sylvia, maybe your next book should tell men our age to stop playing Grand Theft Auto III and holding out for the chick from Alias.”

Amy Poehler: “My neighbor has this adorable, cute little Chinese baby that speaks Italian…so, you know, I’ll just buy one of those.”

According to Traister, “At the time of this sketch, none of these four comedians had children. Today…they have nine between them, all but one born after they were thirty-five.” This clip is from 2002 – fifteen years ago! And here we are, still dealing with the same criticisms and pressure.

So, what do you do if you want to have children but probably won’t get to it until you’re in your mid-to late-thirties? Well, there’s always freezing your eggs. According to Traister, “Sarah Richards reported in the Wall Street Journal in 2013 that the age of egg-freezing candidates ‘is slowly coming down,’ one study of the 240 women showed that the average age of women who got fertility consultations at a reproductive organization in New York between 2005 and 2011 dropped from thirty-nine to thirty-seven, and, Richard writes, ‘Several doctors say they are seeing a trickle of women under thirty-five – the turning point when a woman’s fertility goes downhill and she is labeled ‘advanced maternal age’ on medical charts.'” It’s an option, though not a cheap one. I did some quick research for this blog entry, and the cost of medication associated with retrieving eggs for one cycle is roughly $10,000-12,000 and storing eggs will cost about $800 per year. But, freezing eggs may save thousands of dollars in fertility treatment down the road and offers immediate peace of mind. So, there’s that…

I can’t help but wonder though, when society’s unrealistic outlook on the appropriate age of motherhood will shift. It’s happening, albeit slowly. According to Traister, “During the election cycles in the early part of the twenty-first century, much attention was paid, by both Democrats and Republicans, to single female voters, largely because of the dawning realization that they wield enormous electoral power. In 2012, Barack Obama’s campaign released a bit of campaign propaganda that featured a cartoon character woman named Julia. It illustrated how Julia was born, got a college degree, had a career and a child thanks, in part, to the aid of government sponsored programs. According to Julia’s bare-bones timeline, her life did not include marriage.” OK, so I’m not going to get political on this, nor am I going to embark on “government sponsored programs,” what is important to outline here is that Julia wasn’t shown getting married. Interesting right?

This gives me hope that the status quo is changing. Not just for myself – although it’s a little too late for me – but hopefully for my two nieces. I want my nieces to know that being smart, fostering the want and need to educate themselves and learn about life and relationships before settling down, is an important and normal part of growing up.

Recently, my oldest niece (who is nine), told me that she wanted to be just like me when she grows up. I asked her why and thought for sure she was going to say “because she was going to go to college and get a good job.” Instead, she said she was going to be just like me and not get married or have any kids. This stunned me. I still want those things – whether in that order or not – so I told her just that. I told her that at some point I want to get married and have babies. After talking to her a bit more about it I realized that she was really referencing the want to be like me because I travel and go and do really cool things – and I think she associates having children with impeding on that ability. I told her that’s why you do all the super cool and fun traveling BEFORE you settle down and get married and have kids.

The perception is changing folks, one little girl at a time. This book clearly struck a nerve in me and prompted me to share my perspective and personal stories on the topics Traister wrote about. Putting unnecessary pressure on women about their fertility is completely asinine. As a thirty-something woman, I am completely aware of what putting marriage and pregnancy off means, and it doesn’t scare me. If anything, I will come out on the other side of this with a really awesome, well-traveled and fun life before I decided to settle down, and that folks is what is important.

Check out the book – it’s worth the read!

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All the Single Ladies and My Thoughts on What This All Means: Part One

Recently, I finished reading “All the Single Ladies, Unmarried Women and the Rise of an Independent Nation,” by Rebecca Traister. In quite a cliche way, the book was recommended to me at a work event with Girls Inc, by none other than the co-President of my company’s Women’s Network – an employee resource group. Herself, a single thirty-something said that the book made her feel better about being her age, unmarried, without children, and yet VERY successful. Maybe I was caught up in the feminist feeling I had that evening (I don’t say this in a derogatory way – I just don’t often find myself  having super feminist opinions), but I went home and downloaded it immediately. I have since been enthralled by it, even bookmarking pages which clearly indicated that I was actively reading the book – something I feel like I haven’t done since I was in grad school.

I decided to gather the pages that I flagged and reflect on some of them here in the blog.  This book has ignited in me a defense I think I’ve been seeking in the ability to say, “It’s OK that I’m thirty-four, not married and don’t have any children.” It’s also given me the opportunity to say, “And, I’m also not the only one.” There is a ridiculous amount of pressure, almost unseen, but definitely existent, to check the boxes to “life’s achievements.”

Got to college – Check

Get a good job – Check

Get married – Check

Buy a house – Check

Have a baby – Check

Life is over – Check (just kidding!)

In All the Single Ladies Traister begins by sharing, “Throughout America’s history, the start of adult life for women – whatever else it might have been destined to include – had been typically marked by marriage. Since the late 19th century, the median age of first marriage for women had fluctuated between 20 and 22. This had been the shape, pattern and definition of female life.” This was an accepted and normal reality in the 19TH CENTURY. We are now in the 21st century where things are very different. Women can vote, they can go to college, they can be CEOs, they can buy their own home, they can be independent. So, my question then is this: Why are so many people’s perception of what a woman should be still stuck in the 19th century? Where did society miss the the train on this?

I come from a household where my mom stayed at home and raised us until I was a freshman or sophomore in high school. My dad worked and my mom made our lunches, did our laundry, cleaned the house, dropped us off and picked us up from school, and made dinner every night. I frequently played house and had the full play kitchen and every baby doll accessory you could imagine. But, I also had a mom who found ways to make her own money (provided day care, sold her arts and crafts), and eventually went back to work when I was in high school. I think that taught me something. Also, The Mary Tyler Moore show was basically my go-to every night before bed when I was a pre-teen so there’s that strong womanly influence as well – I thought she was the coolest thing ever, and still do!

Going to college was never a second thought for me – and I came from a household where neither of my parents went to college (dad went to a trade school). But yet, I knew that college would be my path, and subsequently I knew that a master’s degree would also be part of my path. Because of this, I found the portion of Traister’s book that she dedicated to women who put education and career first the most relatable. Traister shares the story of Yllka who is twenty, living in New York City and attends a public university, “Yllka’s priority is her school work, she said, precisely because ‘I don’t want to be reliant or dependent on others.’ If she someday meets the right person, she can imagine getting married. But, she emphasized, ‘If I do decide to go on that path, I want to provide for myself so we can be equal in the relationship.’ Women now graduate from high school more often than men; they receive about half of all medical and law degrees and more than half of master’s degrees. The percentage of not just bachelor’s degrees, but also master’s, law, medical, and doctoral degrees being awarded to women is the highest it has ever been in the history of the nation.” This is important people. It is indeed changing the history of the nation, but no one is really talking about it.

This may seem like a normal 21st century female response, but critics are still out there. Traister references Elanor Mills, a married mother, who wrote in The Times of London in 2010 (yes people, in 2010) of her professionally driven, unmarried friends, “‘As they stare into a barren future…many singletons wish they’d put some of the focus and drive that has furnished them with sparkling lives into the more mundane business of having a family.’ Mills reported that many of her cohort realized ‘too late…that no job will ever love you back,’ and added menacingly, ‘the graveyards are full of important executives.'” Traister rebuts by saying, “A job may very well love you back. It may sustain and support you, buoy your spirits, and engage your mind, as the best romantic partner would, and far more effectively than a sub-par spouse might. In work, it is possible to find commitment, attachment, chemistry and connection.” Here’s the thing, I have a good job, I also have a bachelor’s and a master’s degree, but work doesn’t always love me back, but isn’t that the case with any relationship? The life I have built, the friends I have made, and all that affords me to “furnish my sparkling life” is thanks to my career. So, I like to think I’m blowing Elanor Mills’ presumptuous quote right out of the water (she’s just jelly). I think that where we choose to find our satisfaction and love shouldn’t matter, and the choice shouldn’t be criticized. I also think that I will end up with the best of both worlds, my “sparkling life” as well as a family at some point. One doesn’t have to come before or over the other.

Traister shares yet another story of a single thirty-nine-year-old woman named Stephanie who is an importer of Guatemalan art who described her work as “like a love affair.” “She travels the world, partners with NGOs in artists communities, and aids in the aftermath of natural disasters, all of which she sees as ‘vehicles designed to make a global impact.’ Stephanie’s mother has suggested, ‘Honey, maybe you shouldn’t tell men all of the things you’re involved in, because I think it scares them.'” It scares them? This struck a chord in me.

Not too long ago I asked someone I had been in a back and forth, tug of war, relationship with, if I scared him. I was laying on the couch and had this moment of clarity where I realized that he wasn’t giving me what I needed or wanted and I was getting so upset that he wouldn’t just man-up so-to-speak, so I just asked him, “Are you scared of me or something?” His response, “Yeah, kind of.” I knew then that it would never work. My success, my confidence scared him. I’m better off alone then with someone who is scared of me. The amount of  money someone makes doesn’t matter to me, whether they went to college or not doesn’t bother me. Are you a kind person? Are you honest, committed and faithful? If the answer is yes to all of that then I’m happy. The monetary stuff and accomplishments don’t have to be equal (those are personal goals), but how committed you are to the relationship does. It was an eye opener for me. As Susan B. Anthony said, in her interview with Nellie Bly, and shared in Traister’s book, “once men were afraid of women with ideas and a desire to vote. Today, our best suffragists are sought in marriage by the best class of men.” As it should be, Susan B., as it should be.

“Female professional success has often come at the cost of the attention of men, or at least the kind of men threatened by high-achieving women.” BUT, here’s the kicker, according to Traister, “Remaining unmarried through some portion of early adulthood, especially for college-educated women, has been revealed to be intimately linked with making money.” The “Knot Yet Report,” published in 2013, reported that a college educated woman who delays marriage until her thirties will earn $18K more per year than an equivalently educated woman who marries in her twenties. Women who remain single until their thirties, but are not college educated also  gain a wage premium – though only an average of 4K a year.” Regardless, single women will make more money if they stay single into their 30’s. If that’s not incentive enough then I don’t know what is!

Here is the double edged sword of all of this, according to Traister, “For men, marriage, and presumably the domestic support derived from wives, boosted professional focus. For women, the lack of marriage and its attendant responsibilities is what allowed them to move ahead at a faster clip. Maddeningly, having children enhances men’s professional standing and has opposite impact on women’s.” This can go down the slippery slope of the gendered wage gap, which I don’t want to get into – I told you all I wasn’t going to take this super uber-feminist stance. We all know the gendered wage gap is there, and it sucks. It’s gotten better, but it’s not there yet. I think that topic is for a different blog. But I digress…

While reading further, I discover that singledom has become a worldwide phenomenon. According to Traister, “In 2013, on November 11, a day that the Chinese have turned into an unofficial holiday acknowledging unmarried people, celebration quickly translated to purchasing power. Online sales at China’s biggest online retail site, Alibaba, surpassed the United States’ 2012 Cyber-Monday tally, hitting $5.75 billion by the end of the day.” If the United States had a day that acknowledged unmarried people I think it would probably be the best day of the year. Cheers to China for finding a way to acknowledge and at the same time capitalize on people’s choice to be single (yes, there is a touch of sarcasm there).

As journalist Ta-Nehisi Coates has sensibly observed, and Traister pointed out, “Human beings are pretty logical and generally savvy about identifying their interests. Despite what we’ve heard, women tend to be human beings and if they are less likely to marry today, it is probably that they have decided that marriage doesn’t advance their interests as much as it once did.” I’m going to stop right here, because I don’t want it to sound like I would never get married. I want that, someday, with the right person. Likewise, if the right person doesn’t come along, then I’m perfectly happy walking this life without a life partner. And, I’ll be damned if that will stop me from having a family (I’ll address that a little later).

Reading further into the book, and specifically around women in the workplace, Traister brought up the lack of women CEOs at fortune 500 companies. This prompted me to think about something I experienced recently. Late last year, I had what I like to think was the rare opportunity to sit in the auditorium at work and witness the announcement of my company’s first female and Latina CEO. Let’s think about this…my company was founded in 1905, and in 2016 they announced our first female AND Latina CEO. I was proud to be sitting there, I have also, in my 7 1/2 years working for this company, never heard the auditorium erupt in such excitement. It was history making, a little late if you ask me, but history nonetheless. According to Traister’s research, “Women made up only 4.8 percent of Fortune’s top CEOs in 2014.” I decided to see what 2017 looks like, and here’s how it stacks up, “As of 21017, there are 32 female CEOs on the list, meaning that 6.4%  of U.S.’s biggest companies (by revenue) are run by women. This is the highest proportion of female CEOs in the 63-year history of the Fortune 500.” It’s rising, not that quickly, but nonetheless trending up. By the way, I might add, when I took a look at the list I was impressed to see how many female CEOs work for energy companies.

It is no surprise that remaining single longer makes it harder to find a mate when you’re actually ready to settle down. According to Traister, “One of the challenges as people remain single later is that the contexts in which they are likely to encounter other singles, narrows. There’s not the romantic marketplace of college or fresh-out-of-college social life for people who don’t like to date colleagues, or who work remotely, or who work all the time, there are few places to seek mates. Apps address this need.” Oh, the sweet (or not-so-sweet) world of dating apps.

I haven’t been on a date that wasn’t initiated through a dating app in well over a year and a half. It’s the new norm, but it’s also the most frustrating thing in the world. According to Traister, “On Tinder, and other apps like it, including Hinge and Happn and OKCupid, men and women present versions of themselves that are photographed for maximum impact, describe themselves in just a few words and catchphrases, bringing the mid-twentieth century art of the singles ad or, for that matter, the centuries’ old business of matchmaking, to a new technological age, making the process of pursuit and rejection swifter, the plume of potential choices higher. And because women remain more sexually objectified and less sexually empowered than men, troubled by more double standards, and harsher aesthetic evaluations, the dehumanizing impact of dating apps, of sex apps, can be very real.” I feel like this might be opening Pandora’s box but really, dating in the 21st century is not for the faint of heart.

In the online dating world, there is more rejection than acceptance. There are so many options out there that you have to have a leg up on others, therefore you have to figure out how to be a little bit smarter, a little bit better looking, a little bit more fit, a little bit more successful than the other women. Because, inevitably, some dude is going out with another chick later that week who is thinking and doing the same things and because, quite frankly, he is going to make the comparison. It’s exhausting and at times a complete blow to your self esteem. In the book, Traister mentions a widely circulated 2015 piece, that I embarrassingly didn’t know about called, “The Dickonomics of Tinder,” written by Alana Massey which chronicled her use of Tinder after a heart-wrenching breakup, describing her approach to Tinder as hinging on one resonant mantra: “Dick is abundant and low value.”

I cannot tell you how much I wish this article would have been around before I ever embarked on online dating. “Dick is abundant and low value” is a phrase that Massey cribbed from another woman whose words she read on Twitter, a lawyer and writer named Madeleine Holden. According to Traister, Holden had written that, “there’s this cacophony of cultural messages telling us that male affection is precious and there’s a trick to cultivating it. They’re all lies. To any women reading ‘how to get a man’ franchises or sticking around in stale dissatisfying relationships: dick is abundant and low value.” According to Traister, it was an idea that enabled Massey to use Tinder to treat men as disposable, to give her the power of rejection, of being picky, knowing that the technology was presenting her with ample choice, and that ‘the centuries’ long period of dick overvaluation is over.'” I realize this probably sounds awful to some of you, but I understand it. Do you know how many online dates I have been on where I could tell the dude just wanted to get into my pants? And, the assumption was that I should have been flattered that he even wanted to? Or, how many guys I have met online who thought it was appropriate to send a dick pic within the first couple of days of “talking.” And I put “talking” in quotes because it’s actually texting…most guys won’t pick up the phone nowadays (most, not all). I was supposed to be accepting of that behavior? I was supposed to think that makes me valued? Hell no. So, I find it refreshing that Massey and Holden acknowledge this…many men are treating dating apps in this way, so why couldn’t they?

I cannot say that I turned a leaf and started treating dating apps in that way. In all honesty, I’m really not the type of person to do that. Nor, am I actively on any apps at the moment anyway, but I feel like there is a sense of comfort in knowing that the way online dating made me feel wasn’t singular. A lot of women feel this way. But, the bigger question is not lost on me…if we all start treating online dating the way that Holden and Massey have suggested, doesn’t that break it for the small percentage who are actually on those apps looking for love?

And on that tantalizing note I’m going to wrap this blog entry up. I have so much I want to share about this book that I decided to break the blog entries up into a series. Next up, I will talk about the topic of having a family and how even that has changed…that a family isn’t necessarily a husband, wife and children, but that it can be just a mom and baby, that you can be happily committed to someone and have a family without being married – all of which are a direct result of many women waiting later in life to get married and have children.

Hopefully this entry prompts you to pick up the book and check it out for yourself – whether you’re a single lady or not!    🙂

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The Closet Clutter Challenge: Weekend Roundup – Week 16

Happy end of October and beginning of November! I feel like this is the time that I take inventory every year and think, “where the heck did the year go?” We are riding fast and furiously into the end of the year and the beginning of 2018. As most of you know, I’ve been trying to be more conscious of things like, spending money on clothes – which I’m not exactly succeeding at, but nonetheless I’m conscious of what I’m doing and that I probably shouldn’t or at least, think about it before I click “confirm purchase.” I have also continually tried to make smarter decisions when going out to eat. Am I choosing to go through the drive-thru? Then, having a salad instead of a burger is the right choice to make. But, am I on a road trip – either for work or personal? Then, more than likely I’m stopping at Chic-filet or In-n-Out – that’s just the reality. But, I’m also realizing that’s OK! I am also working hard to get myself to the gym more than the two days a week I commit to because I have a trainer. In addition to that, meal prepping my lunches on Sunday. Not only does it save money, BUT it’s healthier. These all seem like little changes, but isn’t that the point? The little changes often lead to big results.

I have a fun little blog entry I’m working on right now about being single and in your 30’s. I’m reading a great book that is inspiring this for me and it’s bringing about a lot perspective. It’s called, “All the Single Ladies, Unmarried Women and the Rise of an Independent Nation,”  by Rebecca Traister. The book is really for anyone to read – not just single ladies – in that it gives you a better understanding of the history behind the pivotal movement that has happened and continues to happen within women choosing to stay unmarried and single. So, keep an eye out for my thoughts on this topic – as you can imagine I have a lot to say about it!

Anyway, now – for the Weekend roundup:

Finally – the weather has changed so I’m slowly working the light sweaters into the wardrobe, and soon enough boots and thicker sweaters! Warms my heart just thinking about it.

Don’t forget to follow me on IG and Pinterest: Wishbonedreams

Happy closet de-cluttering!

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The Closet Challenge: Weekend Roundup – Week 13, 14 & 15?!

So, my weeks are starting to run together. As I’m sure most of the folks who read this already know, there have been devastating wildfires in Northern California – specifically our beloved wine country. It has been a tragedy with great impact for me in a couple of different ways. To start, we experienced a lot of smoke and poor air quality for most of the duration of the fires burning – wearing a mask while out and about in San Francisco and the surrounding East Bay cities was not uncommon. Also, I volunteered with work to head up to our Santa Rosa base camp to help my department deploy records management resources to other lines of business. I have never seen anything quite like it before, and though at times I feel like my morale is in the gutter, and I’m just swimming around in circles, those 4 days I spent at base camp last week made me proud to work for the company I work for, and invigorated me to be a better version of myself both at work and at home.

With all of that going on, I kind of fell off of my blog/closet challenge escapade. It did help that while at base camp I basically wore boots, a zip up fleece and a safety vest the whole time 🙂 Regardless, below is snapshot of the last few weeks. Also, important to note – as I did laundry this weekend I was able to set aside enough clothes to fill up a donation bag.

 

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The Closet Challenge: Weekend Roundup-Weeks 11 & 12

Hi all! Again – a little behind here. Things have been crazy busy – both in work and in my personal life. I  had a lot of traveling both for work and pleasure last month which is shared on my Instagram – so if you aren’t already following Wishbonedreams definitely check it out. There you can see my daily outfits posts, as well as any travel I’ve been up to.

My brother got married on Saturday, September 30. I was in the wedding so as you can imagine that was quite a busy time as well. Below are the outfits from the last couple of weeks as well as some of my travels 🙂

Top photos are from my brother and sister-in-law’s wedding at Cerruti Cellars in Oakland, CA, Sqauw Valley Oktoberfest, the Madonna Inn and a selfie during a work roadshow in San Luis Obispo. Busy Busy!

Don’t mind the complete chaos of a mess in the background. On my major to-do list this week, now that I have a free weekend for the first time in 5 or 6 weeks! For the closet clutter part of this, I came across a couple of tops recently that I wore once, maybe twice at the most, probably a handful of years ago. Tried them on and immediately remembered why I never wear them. So, I caught myself hanging it back on the hanger and in the closet and thought to myself, what the heck am I doing? So, I took it off of the hanger, grabbed a bag and tossed it in the bag. I now have what I like to think of as an “active” donation bag. So, as I come across things that I don’t like to wear, don’t fit, or simply isn’t my style anymore, I can just toss it in the bag. So far, there are two blouses and two pairs of pants in the bag!

Anyway, I’m looking forward to a quieter October full of pumpkins spiced everything and hopefully cooler weather!

Happy decluttering!

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The Closet Challenge: Weekend Roundup – Weeks 9 & 10

So, I’m pretty behind here. And the reason for that is because I was extremely sick after the Labor Day Holiday weekend. Let me tell you, strep throat as an adult is no way to spend an entire week out of the office and laid up on the couch! And, I guess one of the beauties of getting older is that your body decides it is suddenly allergic to things you weren’t allergic to before, like Amoxicillin.

Anyway, here are weeks 9 & 10 – though I must warn, they are scarce.

To add to this blog post, I decided to look up some tips and tricks to cleaning out your closet. Let’s be honest here, I have one small closet in my bedroom that houses my dresses and coats, and an external one that houses my blouses and my pants – and it’s easier access for work days so that is a plus as well. The external closet is more or less under control. All brand new velvet hangers, pants all fit and I wear on a regular and semi-regular basis, and my blouses/tops the same. But, the honest truth is that the closet I need to attack is the one hidden in the corner of my room covered by a curtain.

BuzzFeed had this awesome article titled 17 Invaluable Tips for Anybody With Too Many Clothes. This was published in 2014, but I think there is still some really valuable information here.

  1. To begin cleaning out a messy closet, take every single thing out of it. EVERYTHING.
  2. When choosing clothes to keep, ask yourself a few vital questions to immediate weed out the weak items. (WARNING. This may seem like everything you own. Probably).
    1. Does it still fit?
    2. Have I worn it in the last 12 months? – A good way to determine this is to flip your hangers in the opposite direction once you’ve worn an item so you know it’s an item you wear.
    3. Would I wear it again?
    4. If I saw it in a store now, would I buy it?
    5. Do I love the way it looks on me? Just recently, I put on a blouse that I thought would look so cute with my outfit. I’ve had the blouse for some time, and I am certain the one and only time I wore it (about 3 years ago), I fought with it the whole time (it kept falling off my shoulders). But for some reason I kept it. So, I gave it a second shot, and not 30 seconds in to having this thing on it was annoying me. I immediately started a new donation bag.
    6. Is it damaged?
  3. Hang as many items in your closet as you can. (NEATLY). If you can see it, you’re more likely to wear it.
  4. Use the backwards hanger strategy when putting clothes back into your closet to get a better idea of the items you actually wear often. How-to: face all of your hangers away from you and replace each one the “right way” after wearing the item hanging on it. Check back in six months and then a year to see which hangers are still facing the wrong way. Maybe it’s time to get rid of those articles and clean out your closet again?
  5. To keep everything looking fresh and neat, get new hangers so that everything in your closet looks uniform. This is also a very good way to have to touch every single clothing item and determine if you’re going to keep it or not.
  6. Use garment organizers to separate your clothes into categories that work for you – seasons, occasion, type of item, etc.
  7. Fold heavy clothes, especially sweaters and loose knits that may lose their shape on hangers. A little tip here, is I have plastic drawers on the floor of my enclosed closet that house all of my sweaters.
  8. Organize your folded clothes in a way that makes sense to you.
  9. Assess your reject pile and decide which items can be sold.
  10. If there isn’t anything wrong with the items that you do not want to keep, consider giving them away or donating them.
  11. When you look at an item of clothing and just think “nope,” then maybe it is destined for the trash. Toss an old item of clothing if:
    1. It’s torn or broken
    2. It’s underwear
  12. If you’re really on the struggle bus, refer to the decision tree in this article to help you decide whether you still need that neon blue sweater from 1996.

  13. For extra organization, you can use dividers to end drawer chaos. Drawer dividers, can help you manage the things in your drawers that often get too messy to deal with (unmentionables, socks, ties, belts; the drawer is your oyster!). If you prefer to DIY, try PVC pipes lined up as dividers!
  14.  Don’t let your floor space go to waste. Many people use their closet floor space for shoes, as I mentioned before I use mine for more storage for my sweaters.
  15. Decorate your closet/room with wearable items. Have a super sexy, cute pair of shoes that are just sitting in a box? Put them on a shelf and show them off! Turn dead wall space into shoe shelving and feature your favorites for a display that is both practical and decorative. This would work with bags and accessories, too!
  16. Maximize shelf space and be super organized by using shelf dividers. Dividers are great for creating a smaller space to stack items like bags or other loose accessories that would normally create a mess without using boxes as storage. If you can see your items directly on the shelf instead of in a box, you are more likely to remember it exists and actually use it.
  17. Don’t just use closet doors for opening and closing, use them for extra storage. Over-the-door shoe bags can be used to store not only shoes, but belts, socks, accessories, and more. If you don’t have enough room for a full shoe bag, try hooks, or a towel rod to hang items.

To see the full list and related images, click here.

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The Closet Challenge: Weekend Roundup – Week 8!

So, it has been 8 weeks since I started the closet challenge. I have to say that I am not doing as well as I would have liked. I am definitely pulling things from my existing closet, and I’m having an easier time putting outfits together, but I’m definitely still having trouble keeping my online shopping in check. Here are a couple of my favorite online shops that always seem to kill my bank account (and not because they are expensive, but because I LOVE them).

ROOLEE: http://www.roolee.com has the cutest peplum tops! They have great prices ranging anywhere from $25 onward, and the material the shirts are made of is heaven.

Evy’s Tree: http://www.evystree.com – looking for unique hoodies? Like, the kind you can wear to the office? This is the place! I’ve been an Evy’s Tree customer since it was a little store on Etsy. They are always coming out with something new and exciting, they have fantastic sales and overall I’ve always just been over the moon happy with their product.

Madewell: http://www.madewell.com – Well, what can I say? I discovered Madewell jeans and now that’s all I want to wear. Like I have two pairs and I might throw out every other blue denim skinny jean I own because I don’t love them like I love my Madewell jeans. Well worth the price tag my friends.

Anthropologie: http://www.anthropologie.com – I’m sure you all know what Anthro is, but it’s my weakness. However, I do my best to only purchase items when they are not only on sale, but have an additional 30 or 40% percent off. I have been able to get some really nice things from there for what I think they are actually worth. Also, my bridesmaid dress is from there and I’m in love with it – can’t wait to share and post photos from that day (coming soon – September 30).

Anyway – I digress again, but I highly recommend checking out my online shopping weakness sites 🙂 Below is the weekend roundup for week 8 – only 5 outfits as I spent Saturday in lounge clothes with a migraine – and Sunday was much of the same.

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The Closet Challenge: Weekend Roundup – Week 7

The Closet Challenge Week 7-

Hi all! So, another week has come and gone, and I’ve been working really hard to get my Insta followers up. I’m taking classes toward a social media marketing certificate (gotta keep myself relevant in the ever changing world of communications and social media presence), so with that said I’ve been trying to post more, and be more consistent. And, just like with this blog and finding a niche, I’m having a hard time finding my “theme” so-to-speak on Insta. AND, do you know how hard it is to keep your followers engaged and not lose them?! Wow! I had no idea!

Also, who saw the solar eclipse?! I was here in SF extremely worried that I wasn’t going to be able to see it, but I actually think the clouds and overcast sky helped us see the eclipse pretty easily. I know this is a closet challenge post, but I have so much to talk about this week (I posted a couple of my eclipse photos below too).

Anyway, I digress. Last week was pretty easy to put my outfits together. I did splurge and bought myself a pair of Madewell jeans, that I have to say hold true to their name. I absolutely love them! They are just stretchy enough to be comfortable, but not too stretchy that I need a belt by the end of the day. While I hate paying more than 80 bucks for jeans, I feel like these might have been worth it. Below is the week’s roundup. I’m missing an outfit from Saturday night – but it was a repeat offender anyway 😉 and Sunday was a gym and yoga pants kinda day – not usually photo-worthy hah.

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