It’s Been Nearly A Year

May 1st, 2010

It’s been nearly a year since I’ve blogged here. My projects with the unemployed have taken a great deal of time. No complaints. If my math is correct, I’ve been able to help 27 people get back to work. It’s an awesome feeling. Some had been out of work for nearly 2 years. There are so many talented people out there ready to work. Thank goodness things seem to be loosening a bit.

I do miss blogging here. So many possible subjects these days. I think I’m going to have to fire things up here again just to stay sane. Writing is how I process things. Having that outlet gives me a way to purge and move forward.

If anyone is in the mood to do some reading again, I’m grateful. I may have to shut off commenting options for a bit. We’ll see. The spammers have loaded me to the gills with junk.

Why Lisa, Where Have You Been?

July 13th, 2009

I’ve been blogging away on issues relevant to job seekers. Professionally, I am a former headhunter with over a decade of experience in the recruiting and staffing industry. Since many people are struggling to find work in the present economy, I decided to start doing my part to help people navigate their job search more efficiently and effectively. I’ve been blogging away at I’m not giving up this blog, so please don’t give up on me. I’ve just been busy with writing, conducting presentations and doing some one on one coaching to job seekers. My heart and mind are satisfied with the effort so far. It’s great to have an outlet in my life again that connects me to the outside world!

I Felt So Purdy

June 15th, 2009

The Beautiful Like Me Project has another question to ponder today. WickedStepMom wants to know when I felt most beautiful so far on my journey in life. The true answer plays right to the point of this project. I wish I felt the most beautiful when I was the natural me. Not so though. I know for a fact the time I felt the most beautiful was when I was heavily costumed as a young adult. It could have been a costume for a show I was in or a costume for work. Layers of fancy clothes, makeup and fake tan decorating my too thin body made me feel perfect. Add to the mix permed curls and gold streaks to transform my normal bone straight and unremarkable brown hair and I was smoking! I clearly remember several moments in my life when I received some oohs and ahhhhs that gave me a great sense of satisfaction and self-worth. I felt powerful. Why wouldn’t I? Beauty and power often go hand in hand. At least, this seems to be true when speaking of material beauty.

Looking back at old pictures of myself I have a hard time relating to the girl who was me. The 37 year old sees so many layers that didn’t have to be there. The face looks proud and confident. I imagine the confidence was genuine, but can you really call it that when it was only present after countless hours of primping and prepping?

I spent years keeping up the rituals of makeup, elaborate hairstyles, tans and fashionable clothing. The rituals came to an abrupt end with my first pregnancy. I was one of those women you hear about who spends the entire nine months puking her brains out. I was too sick to care about rituals. Getting through the day took all my effort. The same thing happened with my second pregnancy. Those were a combined 18 months of Lisa in her most natural form. By the time I was done with pregnancies and had more energy to invest in my appearance, and some investment was definitely needed because I know for a fact I looked like hell, I couldn’t bring myself to don all the makeup and fancy clothes. I found myself satisfied, even if not impressed, by the less glam Lisa. Eyeliner and mascara made me feel ridiculous. The thought of adding a tan was insane. Why get people used to seeing me all bronzed up again? Now I could be my chalky white self without people asking me if I was feeling okay. Life was just easier without all of the chaos of beauty. Clean skin, a touch of lipstick, a decent hair cut, clothes that weren’t too mommyish and a healthy dose of color to hide my gray was all I needed to feel good about myself.

You’d think that what I just shared would bring me to a point where I could say I felt beautiful now. I don’t. Not really. Not in terms of how we’ve been groomed to assign beauty. It’s true I feel satisfied, however. There are times when I wonder if feeling satisfied might be more valuable than feeling beautiful. It’s all encompassing acceptance, after all. Satisfaction seems more durable and better able to stand the test of time until society gets its act together and stops using the idea of beauty as a means to marginalize, harm, profit and promote.

Who Done It? The Beautiful Like Me Project

June 1st, 2009

It’s Monday and another Beautiful Like Me question is waiting to be answered. WickedStepMom wants to know, “What person or people are the most influential about how you feel about yourself? Who influences you the most to feel beautiful?”

In simple terms, I have no earthly idea. I think that’s what makes it hard to get my head in the right place when it comes to my own self-image. I’m not all that clear who it is I am trying to appeal to or what message is resonating at the moment. Was it something I heard/read recently or events and words from long ago? That’s the big mystery. So much of how we feel about ourselves in the present has been shaped through the course of time and it is difficult to know what is inspiring my take on myself.

With the “Beautiful Like Me” project I’ve been forcing myself to take a closer look at who and what have shaped me so I can be a better parent to my kids. It bothers me that I don’t have a solid answer for this question. I know as an adult the primary person most responsible for how beautiful I feel is me. It’s my mental strength and open-mindedness that reigns supreme. Who gave that to me though? I’m not sure that it came from my family. My husband contributed, although he also put his foot in his mouth enough to negate the positive. My friends have also given me a mix of good and bad, so it’s just hard to know. WickedStepMom, I might have to think on this some more.

I’m not sure if it’s directly relevant to today’s question, but I was thinking about something this morning I’d like to share real quick. With a little bit of luck I can make it relevant. We shall see.

Those of us participating in this project haven’t been too kind towards the fashion and entertainment industry. We’ve been quick to point out how the messages coming from magazines, television and such have made it hard for us to feel good about our natural selves. Something hit me this morning though. I realized something that shocked me, quite frankly. The fashion industry as a whole has put a lot of effort into making the unique beautiful. It celebrates the odd. In the past I’ve suggested the industry makes us feel if we are different than what is being sold as the ideal we are lacking. That may have been off the mark and rash. Ever seen pictures from a runway show? Women proudly walk the catwalks with clothes, hair and makeup that most of us would be laughed at and ridiculed for if we attempted it in our normal lives. It’s easy to focus on the Gisele’s of the industry, but we shouldn’t forget the others whose confidence with nonconformity is truly amazing. If beauty can be found in and felt by women who are altered to the point of being freakish, what is the obstacle for the rest of us? If a woman with chocolate brown triangles painted above her eyes, a gold snake slithering down her cheek and what looks to be a green bed sheet dress draped around her can pull off beautiful, why the heck can’t I? Maybe if we followed the fashion industry’s lead as a whole, and not just the parts about body fat and wrinkles, we’d be able to see and feel the beauty in ourselves and others more easily. Beauty really is whatever we want it to be. It’s a state of mind.

Today’s topic leaves me feeling I have some work to do. For one, I need to take a closer look at what is motivating my mindset and who is contributing to my positive self-image. Those people are the ones I want to surround myself with the most. Secondly, I need a bit of an attitude adjustment. I didn’t expect the tangent about the fashion industry. It came to me as I was thinking through today’s question. I’m realizing that I am guilty of proclaiming the uniqueness being sold as ugly. I’ve made no effort to appreciate. I’ve judged and I’ve criticized. How is that any different than what we’ve been challenging others and ourselves to avoid doing?


May 27th, 2009

I was reading through the May 2009 edition of Time Magazine when a comment by Meg Ryan jumped off the pages and pointed out something spectacularly important. That’s right, Meg Ryan the actress. She wrote a short blurb on Tom Hanks for the magazine’s “The Time 100: The World’s Most Influential People.” Tom is one of the esteemed 100. In any event, Meg was rambling, almost aimlessly, about how great Tom is and how much fun he can be. The article didn’t offer much support to what made Tom so influential until she hit the home run with one quick observation. “He’s interesting because he is interested.” She went on to say he has a “wondrous capacity to wonder.”

Until reading those words I honestly hadn’t considered before how many of the people I would call influential in my life had the quality of being interested. Interested not just in me, but in everything around them. They reached beyond themselves and took in any and all information their surroundings had to offer. Questions were asked for answers, not for conversation’s sake. Observations were made for knowledge and not for ego. I suppose when you think of what it takes to be influential, being able to understand or relate to those we share our environment would play a heavy role.

Now my mind is flipping through the people I’ve encountered in my life who clearly wanted the power of influence, but who just couldn’t quite get there. Many did seem to be missing the inclination to take a genuine interest in anyone or anything other than themselves. Now isn’t that something to think about? And all because of Meg Ryan.

The Present Game – Beautiful Like Me Project

May 18th, 2009

Today’s question for the Beautiful Like Me project is “what is the best way to build self-esteem.”

Honestly, I think self-esteem isn’t something to be built, but something to be preserved. We come ready made with a strong sense of self. I’m sure of it. My kids are young, 3 and 1 1/2. Both of them love every inch of themselves. Coincidentally, they love every inch of others too. They are able to do what most adults can’t, love and appreciate who they are without needing to diminish what others have. My daughter can tell another girl her hair is pretty without even thinking about her own hair. She can go to another kid’s house or play with another kid’s toys without any thought to how what that kid has compares to what she has. Her eyes and mind digest the world around her with no need to pick it apart and stomp on it or on herself.

It won’t last, I know. Society will make daily attempts to tell my kids how flawed they are, mostly in the hopes they will see the wisdom in opening their wallets and buying their way to a new improved human form. Adults will model for them the tried and true method of making oneself feel better by judging what others have as lacking or less than ideal. The best I can do, in the immediate sense, is make darn sure I’m not one of those adults.

Back to the question for the day, it is important to ask how to build self-esteem since so many of us have had our original infrastructure dismantled. So where do we find the tools and equipment for the rebuild? We could scout out building materials and spend a fortune on supplies and contractors. The handy thing is, in many cases, the boards, bricks and nails we were equipped with originally are still there. They just have to be rediscovered. Time needs to be taken to notice what is great about us again, to celebrate what is fabulous.

Just as my daughter has a good handle on self-esteem, she has also mastered the rediscovery process. She isn’t doing it with her own qualities yet, but with what she has around her. Perhaps we could follow her lead.

She loves to play the ‘present game’. I saved a dark blue velvet box from a gift a few years back. Olivia adores the thing. She frequently stuffs various toys and objects in the box and asks me to open my present. I ooh and ah over the contents. Then it is my turn to find something to hide inside so she has a chance to open a present. She’s always delighted. No matter how many times she’s seen or played with whatever she finds, opening the box and seeing it there is exciting.

Not long ago Olivia had a birthday and was able to open real presents. Interestingly enough, her reaction wasn’t all that different from when she’d been opening a velvet box jammed full of things she already had. Maybe at her tender age Olivia has managed to figure out the best gifts we have are already in our possession. What a blessing if she can find pleasure with what she has versus always wanting more. How thoughtful to take the time to reopen the same old stuff and allow the opportunity to take another look at what makes them so great. It’s so easy to become indifferent over time to the old and crave the new and improved. Perhaps we wouldn’t need so much new in our life if we followed Olivia’s lead and wrapped up the gifts we already have so we can rip them open and rediscover them again. Maybe we could do this with more than material objects. Maybe we could do this with all of the special qualities that make up us and our kids. Maybe we could dedicate time every day to unwrapping the forgotten and cheering with delight. Maybe we could help everyone to realize all that we have and are truly is a gift and that the best part of gifts isn’t the bows or paper that decorates the box, but what lies underneath waiting to be discovered. I know when my daughter is opening presents, the joy and celebration is an impermeable barrier to anything negative. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could be so focused on the excitement of our own gifts the messages fall on deaf ears.

Thanks for reading, if you are interested in reading more blogs covering the Beautiful Like Me project, follow the links built into this post to Wicked Step Mom’s site. She is also on my blog roll. The list of participants grows each time. If you’d like to join in the cause, we’d love to have your voice.

Well Now That’s Different

May 11th, 2009

I’m looking forward to the day when people can set aside their political differences and start acting mature again. The Conservatives are a buzz over Wanda Sykes joking at the White House Correspondents Dinner about how Rush Limbaugh was likely the 20th terrorist on 9/11 and he missed his plane because he was strung out on Oxycontin. I agree it was tacky. It isn’t something I found humor in, nor would I have gone there. That said, I find it odd those who have been calling Obama “Osama” and posting pictures of him in a turban find Sykes’ remarks inappropriate. I mean, comparing our President to the mastermind of 9/11 seems more extreme to me than painting Limbaugh as one of the hijackers. Just saying.

Swiper the Fox

May 6th, 2009

My kids are ‘Dora the Explorer’ fans. Though she annoys me at times, I do appreciate how much they learn from her. My daughter frequently laces her conversation with Spanish and she’s using it correctly. I find that amazingly cool.

In any event, there is a character on the show who I worry about. It’s Swiper the Fox. Swiper is constantly stealing things and celebrating how Dora will never find what he’s taken. Of course, she always does. His efforts are never successful. He keeps doing it though. He was born to steal, it appears. Or was he?

Because Dora is always able to undo his damage, I think it’s reasonable to assume Swiper means no real harm. It’s more of a game to him than anything else. In a way, he is baiting Dora to play with him. As smart as Dora is and with all of the problems she is capable of solving she hasn’t bothered to dissect why Swiper behaves the way he does. She makes no effort to put an end to the problem long term. Her best plan is to tell him not to steal. “Swiper no Swiping!” That’s all well and good, but what if she took the time to give Swiper attention aside from when she is trying to keep something from him? Maybe she could invite him on one of her adventures and show him some positive attention? It’s not uncommon for people to act out in a negative way in an effort to be noticed.

I know it would break from the format of having the show be so repetitive parents want to bang their heads against the table, but maybe Swiper could eventually be reformed and kids could learn from Dora how to process the behavior of others and figure out ways to change it versus simply enduring.

The Questions Get Harder

May 4th, 2009

If you’ve been following my blog recently you know I’ve been participating in “Beautiful Like Me.” It’s a project started by a fellow blogger, Wicked Stepmom, that challenges those participating to dissect different factors that contribute to poor self-esteem in kids. You can read more about the project here. My first two contributions to this project were


Both topics were tough and took a while to work through. Today’s topic is no exception. In fact, I think the questions seem to get harder as we go along. Not because I have no ideas of what to write. To the contrary, my mind seems to swim with thoughts and potential responses. The challenge is in making it count. The more I contribute to this project, the more it matters to me to get it right. Its importance and the revelations participants have the potential to collectively make are on the forefront of my mind.

Today’s topic: What features/qualities would we like today’s children to see as beautiful?

My knee jerk response to this question is to say I would be happy if kids saw humanity as beautiful. Sounds simple, but we may have a problem. That would require kids being consistently aware of the humanity in us all. It’s not that they are incapable, but I suspect popular culture is grooming them to notice the material instead the person. Kids are saturated with gadgets, accessories, cosmetics and celebrity culture. How others measure up in the above seems to determine how they are viewed on the surface. The result is a generation destined to follow, compelled to copy and motivated to spend their way to self-appreciation.

Now, does this mean kids view their Razor phones and Paris Hilton sunglasses as beautiful? I’d like to think not. Perhaps it’s more beauty not being a focus. They talk about what is cool, hot, awesome and pretty. Beauty doesn’t seem to come up all that often. Our kids are moving a mile a minute. Judgments are made in haste with eyes trained to notice decorations.

The failure to see the humanity in each other, and arguably in ourselves, could very well be the catalyst for the growing discontent many seem to feel. The heart knows there is more to existence than all of this superficial garbage. It nags at the brain by churning an inner desire to be ourselves in all of our unique glory. The brain wants to believe, but it has to overcome the growing fear what is unique and real won’t be acceptable. It has reason to doubt as it has been bombarded by messages of what is falsely important and ideal.

If it were up to me, I’d like kids to find diversity, courage, strength, compassion, love and nature beautiful. I’d like them to fall hopelessly in love with the rare individuals amongst us who are able to show their raw emotions in times when others may expect them to present a stiff upper lip. There is beauty in what is genuine. There is beauty in what is real. When I think of a beautiful person, I’m more inclined to think of those who have touched me in some deep and compelling way. Their actions gave me pause and helped me to see a greater meaning in life. Trinkets, decorations, pomp and bravado just don’t take me there. Usually what touched me was just part of that person being them. It’s not like they were doing something for my benefit. By some blessing from above, I was allowed to witness a moment, long or short, of humanity at its best.

Because I Don’t Wanna

April 30th, 2009

“Because I don’t wanna” is my daughter’s favorite response when I ask her why she hasn’t done something. As much as it makes me want to throttle her three year old self at times, I can’t help but appreciate her blunt honesty. So often that is the reason most people don’t do things. They simply don’t feel like it. The motivation or desire isn’t there. Admitting that doesn’t exactly paint a person in a positive light so adults have learned through the course of time to blame one’s inaction on other people or on circumstances/obstacles in one’s environment. The effort to mask the truth is so successful at times, people actually end up believing the excuses they’ve come up with and completely lose sight of the role not wanting to do things may be playing in their lives.

I put a great deal of value in being honest to the people around me. That said, I still find myself on the excuse train from time to time when I know full well I am the one to blame. Though bending the truth may have spared my ego, it certainly didn’t do me any favors in the long run. We’ve all been taught honesty is the best policy. It is indeed important to be honest with others. More so, it is important to be honest with ourselves.