Archive for the ‘Role Models’ Category
I’m as bad as anyone.
I dislike the oddly proportioned faces of some of my older women friends who have had plastic surgery. To me, their tight cheeks and poofy smiles that curve at the ends look more than a little like The Joker from Batman. It is jarring to look at.
But then again… I saw Sheryl Crow on TV not long ago, and I found myself fixated on a patch of skin on her face, above her lip. It looked… a little loose. The whole episode, that’s all I could look at: poor Sheryl Crow’s loose upper lip skin. Sheryl Crow, who has the rockin teenage body of a precocious 12 year old. Sheryl Crow, who courageously fought and won her battle with breast cancer. Sheryl Crow, whose rock & roll goddess status puts my 2 year attempt at being a singer/songwriter to shame.
I’m growing older. Soon, my upper lip will loosen a bit from its original place. Or my neck will – isn’t that what I hear most older women groaning about, the dead give-away of their bodies, their necks?
I reaaaalllly don’t want surgery. I don’t like the way it looks on other women and I am terrified of the process, the pain, the recovery. I don’t want Botox either. I gave birth naturally just so I wouldn’t have to deal with drugs. How can I justify injecting myself for cosmetic purposes with some crazy Bovine hormone?
It’s a good thing my husband loves my boobs just the way they are. A less supportive husband might have helped me turn an insecure moment into a date with Doctor Boob Job. It seems cool to have bigger, sexier boobs. But I’m not convinced fake is sexier, when it comes right down to it. And I can’t fathom the process – surgery, pain, recovery… In my last job as editor-in-chief of an online magazine (yes, I quit recently, & no I don’t feel like writing about it, and YES I am looking for a new gig so put the word out there, readers!) – I edited a lot of first-person blogs written by models, young and old. Two of older, ex-models wrote personal stories about how they were traumatized by botched boob jobs.
Conclusion? Without judging other people’s choices (I 100% don’t judge the choice, but I usually don’t see the beauty in the post-surgical faces/bodies either), & if I am real with myself, I know that – deep down – I want 3 things.
- 1. To believe I’m beautiful.
- 2. For others to think I’m beautiful.
- 3. To feel this way no matter what my age.
Sheryl Crow, you are beautiful! I blame it on the lighting guy.
Sheva (BatSheva Vaknin)
Where’s the Baby, where did he go…
…to the movies?
Safehouse: (n) The R-Rated moving starring Denzel Washington and Ryan Reynolds that I spent 2+ hours gripping my husbands arm, wringing it out like a wet towel and slapping his shoulder just so he could UNDERSTAND how exciting and scary and adrenaline-fueled this movie was.
Safehouse: (n) The movie where I saw a mother take her THREE YEAR OLD SON.
Pardon my French, folks, but that is some fucked up shit.
Maybe I should be grateful that it wasn’t Halloween 3? Then again, I don’t ever go to horror movies, so for all I know, there are whole Kindergartens taking field trips to those types of movies.
My husband tried to give the mother the benefit of the doubt – he told me maybe the kid was four. I said, yeah – or, maybe he was two, since our two year old is about his height. (Granted, our 2 year old is an Amazon.)
Either way – WTF??????
It took ME a good 5-10 minutes after the movie just to calm down and remind myself that the movie was a movie and reality is reality. Our subconscious minds don’t know the difference. The subconscious mind of a 3 or 4 year old is about 1000 times more malleable.
And I promise you, I’m really not the kind of mother who rides around on her high horse all day, judging other parents. Granted, I USED to be that person… BEFORE I actually had my own kids.
I’d be at the grocery store or whatever, and when I’d see a mom wailing on her kid – screaming at them or even landing a solid whack on their behinds… And I would be SO self righteous and judgmental of that mom (in my head). Like, “I would NEVER lay a finger on my child!”
Cause then I had a child.
And then I had another child.
And, parents – you know that feeling, how you want to physically hurt any child who dares to lay a finger on your precious child? Yeah… now, imagine seeing your older child wail on your younger child. Suddenly, you want to go crazy on the child who hurt your child… but that is ALSO your child.
Uh-oh…. Exactly. My internal wires get all messed up and yes, I have wound up on more than one occasion (even in public) screaming at my kids or even giving one of them a pretty solid whack.
So it is from down here… very low to the ground, not anywhere NEAR a high horse, where I kneel down and plead to the mamas and papas taking their babies to R-Rated films…
Leave the baby home.
Normally, I’m a big fan of not altering language in order to be politically correct. I don’t like hurting peoples’ feelings, and I wouldn’t purposefully use demeaning language, but I wholeheartedly support freedom of speech and obviously I’m a proponent storytelling and using language to entertain. I love comedic writing in particular, and I think it would be sad indeed if everyone conformed to a standard of speech just to be sure not to offend a certain group of people.
At the same time, I’ve always considered myself a feminist. Possibly, it’s because I was raised in an unequivocally feminist environment – my mother and sister were proud self-labeling feminists, my school, Georgetown Day, practically gave you college credit for being a card-carrying feminist (I was president of the Women’s Issues group one year – AKA, padding the extra currics for college acceptance!) and in college I continued to follow in my big sister’s footsteps by volunteering at the Yale Women’s Center.
The English language makes it difficult to be gender-inclusive when talking about people in general… “he” is usually the easiest default when talking about a person. It gets too messy to start saying “he or she may decide to take his or her blah blah blah…” This used to bother me more when I was younger, but not so much any more – so either I’ve just gotten used to it or I’m less “radically feminist” than I used to be… or both.
But something happened the other day that really did bug me. My 5 year old daughter started karate class a couple of months ago, and already she is amazing at it & totally dedicated, taking class three days a week and practicing at home. Her teacher is a woman, and I was particularly happy that she had such a cool ‘girl’ role model for her chosen sport – a sport which, like most, is usually male-dominated.
Anyway, the thing that bugged me? Racheli proudly showed off her latest punch (twist at the wrist – JAB! RETRACT! Sucker never saw it coming.) then boasted that she doesn’t “punch like a girl.”
I asked her to elaborate, and she did: apparently, her teacher told them all that they’d “better not punch like a girl” and Racheli, ever the good sensei-in-training, took it to heart. She told me proudly she punched like a boy.
In other words, her (girl) teacher was drilling it into my 5 year old (girl)’s brain that a GIRL PUNCH IS LAME.
My 5 year old punches like a pro, and… SHE’S A GIRL. Duh.
Time to get a new lexicon, people!
I’ve written about my beef with the word “woman” (which is why I named this blog The GrownupGirl) and now I have another war to wage: let’s all stop telling girls and boys ‘not to fight like a girl,’ okay? Because if my daughter is any indication, girls can be pretty rad fighters.
The other evening I had a meeting with my husband and a computer whiz who we were interviewing to see if he could help boost my husband’s business via his online web traffic. (My husband is a general contractor but 100% of his work comes through word of mouth… even though I helped him build a beautiful website with a testimonial video and gorgeous photos of his work.)
It was one of those weird days when everyone was running behind. The babysitter was late and my husband was late, so I wound up welcoming Mr. Whiz Kid into my home as I simultaneously looked after my three rambunctious kids. Mr. Whiz Kid brought his girlfriend, too – we’ll just call her WKGF (Whiz Kid’s Girlfriend).
Oh, and by the way, WKGF? Stoned out of her mind.
It was strange. Opening the door, expecting to greet a young professional (Whiz Kid) who claims with good authority (and good references) that he can drive our web traffic and social media standing up 1000% in less than a month, and instead, greeting a female version of Harold and Kumar meets Jeff Spicoli. [In Mr. Whiz Kid’s defense, he was probably stoned too, but I would never have known – his eyes were clear and his manner courteous and direct.]
WKGF? Not so much. Her eyes were flaming red. It was palpable – the effort she put into keeping them open – so much so, that I kept wanting to reach over and put a motherly hand on her arm, and offer her our couch to go lie down on and perhaps some Pirates Booty to quell those munchies, while her boyfriend did business.
But another part of the motherly part of me wanted to… um, how can I put this delicately? Strangle her. Yes, that’s the word I was looking for. How dare she come to a business meeting stoned out of her mind? How dare she smile and train her glazed, 80′s digital clock eyes on my innocent kids? And how dare he – Whiz Kid – think it was okay to bring her along?
The meeting was odd and strange and practically incomprehensible. My husband finally showed up and we negotiated a small starting fee for Whiz Kid to see if he can do for us what he apparently does for his other clients.
I don’t regret giving him my business. After all, business is business. I just wish he had thought to leave Little Bo Peep back in the meadow…
Sheva (BatSheva Vaknin)
ARGHHHH! IF ONE MORE STUPID “XXX” “SEX SEX SEX” SPAMMER SPAMS MY BLOG YET AGAIN I SWEAR I’LL…..
SOOOO annoying. I’m sure their little cyber fingers get all spammy & excited as they crawl across my blog when they discover the many porn-related words I use in my various blogs… including – uh – the WORD “porn” in one of the titles, and – oh yeah, the fact that my URL (“TheGrownupGirl.com”) is just one little “the” away from BEING a porn site. (Did you try typing it in without the ‘the’? Don’t say I didn’t warn you…)
On the other hand, spammers I can handle with the click of a mouse. But the real deal? The people who actually live, breathe & work in that over-sexed environment?
Totally out of my element.
The other night, I uncharacteristically flipped around live television channels (normally I would ONLY watch a show I’d already DVR’d, or else just catch a show on Hulu.com, but this was a post-Christmas-pre-New Year’s programming draught and the pickins were mighty slim.)
After surfing the TV guide menu, what was the TV program I randomly chose?
The AVN Awards.
I’d never heard of them. Turns out, these are awards for PORN MOVIES. Good God. I don’t watch porn. I don’t like to even remember that it exists. The whole subculture of porn – the makers, the doers and the aficionados – makes me sad because it is a medium that is 100% based on instant (sexual) gratification which in my book translates into instant negativity for the doers, the watchers & the world.
Sorry folks. You didn’t realize you’d tuned into “Sheva (BatSheva Vaknin) Fallwell,” did you? But honestly, it’s not a “moral” issue I have with it – who really cares if something is “moral” or not; what does that mean anyway? It’s different to us all.
I DO, however, take psychological/emotional issue with porn, because I’ve spent enough years in therapy to know that no one just “loves sucking cock” for the camera (not to mention many, many more graphic actions that I was both shocked and mesmerized to see lauded and feted on the AVN’s) without having had one f***-ed up childhood in one way or another.
Oh, great, I just basically sent a Valentine’s Day card to all the cyber porno-spammers with the phrase I used in that last paragraph. Sighhhhhh…
Anyway, even more than the psycho/emotional problems I see with porn is the spiritual ‘problem’ I have it with it. Meaning, in a nutshell, that porn creates additional layers of negativity and chaos in our already-chaotic world. Let’s leave it at that before I get lynched by Ron Jeremy’s fan club.
But before I sign off, I have to add… does anyone out there know how to set parental controls on the TV? Is it even POSSIBLE set controls on my son’s iPod/internet? I mean, it’s one thing to have a store on a street with a pornographic name, but it’s quite another to make it easy for children to see live video of things I hope they won’t come across EVER.
O, Tipper Gore, where art thou?
Sheva (BatSheva Vaknin)
You know that thing, when your boss wants you to work until 11pm every night, and your husband thinks you’re not helping him enough with his business, and your kids hang on your legs as you attempt to move around the house and burst into tears every time you prepare to leave the house without them, and your spiritual teachers talk about how we must study more, more, MORE, if we are ever going to make any progress in our path, and how that extra 10 lbs just kind of clings to your middle because you don’t quite exercise enough or restrict your diet enough or sleep through the night enough to make it finally go AWAY?
You know that thing??
Turns out, I know that thing quite well.
Nothing like being an overachiever to make you feel like you can’t quite get anything right!
It shouldn’t come as a surprise… growing up, my role model was my mother. My mom – sometimes divorced & sometimes re-married throughout my childhood – managed to raise an average of 5 kids (step ones too) who collectively had around forty thousand after-school activities they were beholden to, while successfully navigating a career path that rocketed her from full-time motherdom to President & CEO of her own lobbyist firm.
Not too shabby.
These days, my role models include women I know through the Kabbalah Centre – spiritual versions of the “Do it all Mom.” Karen Berg, Monica Berg Michal Berg & Ruthie Rosenberg… to me, these women are giants. While their ages range from ‘younger than me’ to ‘old enough to be my grandmother,’ they all accomplish the miraculous on a daily basis – raising grounded, caring, motivated and bright children, caring for busy, accomplished husbands, taking time to care for themselves, spending time with friends and tending to their endless students around the globe, who seek their companionship and advice… oh yeah, and also working full time – and by “full time” I mean in jobs that never clock in or out. They are always accountable, always producing, and always stretching to do more, more, more…
Are you as tired as I am after reading that paragraph?
It’s exhausting sometimes, trying to do it all. I miss getting 8 hours of sleep a night. Heck, once upon a million years ago, I used to get TEN hours of sleep! (During college, it’s called “scheduling all your classes to take place in the afternoon.” After college, it’s called “unemployment.” It’s also called “not yet a parent.”)
On the other hand… it’s exhilarating. I LOVE being a mom to three amazing kids, I love my husband, I love to work at a job that is high-pressured and creative, I love to study Kabbalah and live Kabbalah, I love exercising and trying to improve my body, I love to go out, I love to be with friends, I love to try new things, and I love to write and perform.
I know, I know, I’ve exhausted you again, right!?!
So what’s new under the sun…
Sheva (BatSheva Vaknin)
Every Friday, I will post an oldie but a goodie blog for your enjoyment. To those of you who just started reading The Grownup Girl recently, enjoy the “new” blog! To those of you who have been with me from the start, but have memories like mine, enjoy the “new” blog!
And to those who were with me from the start and who already read this blog and burned it into your memories, word for word, photogenically, I say:
What are you doing wasting your time dilly-dallying on my website? Get out there and find me a book deal!
If you hate to read, just click on the audio link, below. And there’s even an original GrownUpGirl Song to listen too, so scroll all the way down & keep clicking!
Had coffee with a friend recently I hadn’t seen in about nine years. This guy was the heaviest drinker & smoker I knew growing up, played guitar and got into fights over stupid philosophical things, and never left home without his leather jacket. He honestly believed that anarchy was the best social and political solution.
(Yes, I hung out with people like that as a kid, and NO that is not what this blog is about. Note to self- write about childhood in another blog.)
Nowadays – my friend? He quit smoking while his wife was pregnant. He doesn’t go out to bars anymore; in fact, he is a part-time stay at home dad. He is planning to move to some green pasture in Utah over the next year to raise his child in a healthy, more affordable place. He votes Democrat and is kind of conservative, by his own definition. He’s in therapy.
I’ve still got one up on him: I changed my name. Both of them.
I used to be Shana Susman. From about age 17 until around 24, I partied like crazy about 4 or 5 nights a week. (I’d go into more details, but I really cringe to think someday my kids could get a hold of these blogs.) I was insecure, needy. I didn’t believe in God. I suffered from headaches, stomach aches, insomnia, and I grinded my teeth.
I wound up in therapy when I moved to LA, age 22, and that 7 year process pretty much saved my life, thanks to my angel of a therapist and my sincere desire to get better and be happy. She encouraged me to write, act & sing, which also helped dig me out of my self-destructive hole… and then I discovered a spiritual system – Kabbalah – that pretty much rocked my world.
I asked for the Rav Berg, head of the Kabbalah Centre, to channel me a Hebrew name, one that was connected to my soul, and he gave me BatSheva (BatSheva Vaknin). (BatSheva (BatSheva Vaknin) was the soulmate of Kind David.) Not Sarah. Not Miriam. Not Leah. BatSheva (BatSheva Vaknin).
BatSheva (BatSheva Vaknin) – a crazy Hebrew name that has all sorts of cool kabbalistic secret codes hidden within (technically the name means “daughter of seven,” if you’re familiar with numerology or Kabbalah you start to get the idea) – a name that no self respecting American can pronounce. A name that makes every Israeli assume I am also Israeli, which leads to incomprehensible messages on my voicemail every once in a while. (Luckily Israeli Husband can translate.) Also, a name I happen to love.
So I changed it, right around the time that I married… and at that time, I changed my last name too, to Vaknin, which is also unpronounceable and un-spellable by any American worth his or her salt.
Shana Susman became BatSheva (BatSheva Vaknin) Vaknin.
Over the course of the past 20 years, I’ve gone from hard-partying, ironic & secretly depressed girl, to stable, mostly happy and confident mother, wife, and woman.
Excuse me. Grown up girl.
Sheva (BatSheva Vaknin)
PS I’ve included a song, below – CRADLE YOU – that was the very first song I ever wrote, back when I was digging myself out of a black hole with the help of therapy and creativity. Enjoy!