Not Living In Reality-Who Wants To?

I’ve heard the saying often that you have to live in reality. I’ve heard  this from my parents when I announced after my high school graduation that I wanted to live in Europe for a year, backpacking it with my best friend before going to college.  I’ve heard it from my brother when I confided in him that I had an overwhelming desire to join the circus at the age of ten.  I’ve heard it from my friends when I said I wanted to get married to the perfect man, have the perfect family and lead the perfect life. Their reaction to me was to ‘get real.’

Now that I’m older and I think wiser (at least, I’d like to believe all the hype that Oprah, Dr. Oz and Betty White are feeding me about aging gracefully), I wonder what’s wrong with NOT living in reality?  What’s wrong with dreaming?  What’s wrong with chasing after impossible goals?  If you look back at the biggest success stories of all times, each and everyone one of them had someone behind the scenes balking that it will never work, it will never happen, stop living with your head up in the clouds, start living in reality.

If the Wright Brothers had listened to the naysayers, I would be taking a two week trip on a steamer across the Atlantic, likely getting sea sick, instead of listening to music on my headsets in my comfy coach seat for six hours (OK, well not comfy as in first class but still better than a sea level cabin on the Titanic) on Air France going to Paris.

If Alexander Graham Bell had subscribed to the “half empty” rather than “half full” mentality, I wouldn’t be texting my husband that I need him to pick me up some milk from the store on his way home from work or calling my best girlfriend on my cell phone to let her know I’m running late for our happy hour ritual on a Friday afternoon.  I’d be sending out my messages using smoke signals, a pigeon or some guy on a horse.

And if Jane Austen had believed, like so many in her day, that only men had a place in writing great literature, I would not be typing this blog today.

So, I have resolved to stop living in reality and start reaching for the stars, stop walking with my two feet on the ground and start floating in the clouds.  The view is much better from there anyway.

Love and Shopping

Love and shopping? Do the two words go together? Should they? I say they do. Why? Well, if you’re like me, you love shopping and can’t wait to do it over and over and over again-sometimes a few times a day, if you’re lucky.

And just like any relationship you’re in, there are different reasons for why you love the whole shopping experience. For some of us, it’s a matter of economics. We obsess about how to get more bang for our buck, how to stretch out our dollars so that we have everything we need (food, clothing, shelter). For others, it’s all about the fun-the fun of finding the perfect outfit to wear to go out to dinner, the right handbag to go with the outfit, the right shoes to go with the handbag (well, you get the point). Shopping can also be social-the bonding and small talk that happens when you are with your best girlfriends, scouring the racks at a department store, trying on jeans in a fitting room or window-shopping as you walk down a street filled with boutique stores. For me, it’s all of the above and so much more.

Whatever the reason, all I can say for sure is that shopping is a high. I can feel it-the excitement surrounding it-just like the high you get when you fall in love (or read Fifty Shades of Grey-it’s a toss up).

If I’ve had a bad day or feel just lousy because my hectic life is getting way out of control, more than I can handle, I go shopping and suddenly and almost instantaneously, I feel better, notice the corners of my mouth turning up into a smile and feel my back straighten out as I walk with a spring in my step.

I’ve read all about the medical reasons behind my physical reaction to shopping-that shopping releases the same endorphins from your brain as when you fall in love. And I so believe it because I get the same reaction from ‘love at first sight’ with a man as I do with ‘love at first sight’ over a pair of designer shoes-the tingling sensation, the flutter of the stomach, the anticipation of taking your shopping bags home with you and going through all of your purchases, showing it off to your sister, calling up a friend and gossiping about the bargains you got, sharing the heady moments together.

It is heady. It’s just like the beginning of any romantic relationship. The beginning of a commitment. Let’s face it, I’ve have shoes that have been with me much longer than some of my boyfriends. I’ve had clothes that have come into and have gone out of style-been considered new, then old and then vintage chic, all within a few years-but nevertheless have stayed with me through thick and thin (sometimes more thick than thin). I have clothes that go with my many changing moods-clothes that I slip into when I want to feel sexy, youthful, athletic, professional or playful. Then there are my comfort clothes that see me through ‘that time of the month’ or when I just want to crawl under my covers and never see the light of day again. Regardless, all of it would not be possible if I didn’t love shopping.

So do love and shopping go together? Absolutely! And just like love, I either go in all the way or not at all and 9 out of 10 times with both, I take the jump and enjoy the journey (and bargains) along the way!

P.S. I Love You

Just like the friends you had and the kind of sports or school activities you were involved in while growing up, books define you.  I have always been a book lover since the very first day that I learned to read.  To me, it was the secret passage that opened up a world of magic, possibilities and imaginary wonders.  All you needed were the pages in front of you and time…time to enjoy the adventure, time to savor the journey.  Things have certainly changed from when I was a kid and I may not be flipping through actual pages but rather swiping my finger on an electronic screen, but the end result is still the same: Reading is pure magic.

Recently, I was reminded of this when I came across the series of books written by Barbara Conklin on www.goodreads.com.  If you were a young girl growing up in the 80s, like I was, you probably remember Barbara Conklin.   She was a young adult author and she wrote about teenage girls in the throes of first love. What young girl doesn’t want to read about that!!??

I know that I sure did. I read every single one of her series, simply devouring them because I could identify with the main character.  You see, they were just like me: dealing with parents, growing pains, boy craziness and everything else that comes with being a young girl who’s just trying to muddle her ways through the world.  Her main characters were strong young women, smart and ambitious, beautiful inside and out.

And I wanted to be just like them.

It was also  the first time that I realized what I wanted to do for a living.  Now Barbara Conklin certainly wasn’t a Hemingway or a Steinbeck but she did what every author hopes to do when someone reads her work: she captured my interest.  From that, I caught the “reading bug” and I have never recovered. Since then I tend to read everything from the classics to the campy, from the sentimental to the “laugh out loud,” from the mystical to the “real life.”  And now that my teenage years have come and gone quite some time ago, I have yet to slow down…and I don’t intend to either.

So, thank you, Barbara Conklin, for giving me a gift-my love of reading.   It’s something I hope to pass down to my daughter.  In fact, I just ordered your entire series! I can’t wait to share them with her.  I’m sure she’ll find the covers outdated and a bit cheesy but, I know that,  once she turns to the first page and starts reading, she’ll find that secret passage and discover the magic that is reading.