Blurring the lines between fiction and drama

Dear Readers,

Yesterday I watched “The Greatest Showman” and loved it just as much the second time as the first time. As I understand it, the glamorizing of the life of PT Barnum does not sit well with some, and so doing my best to understand the objections, while retaining my own opinions I thought I would talk a bit about this topic today.

Alfred Hitchcock said, “Drama is life with the dull bits left out” and I really enjoy watching the drama that Hollywood puts forth so I tend to be a little more forgiving if the facts aren’t 100% followed when watching a movie.

I did some reading and rather than ruin the movie for you, I will just say, Hollywood did what it does best, it heightened the story line by exaggerating some details and changing some others. I was inspired by it, and loved the music and the message about imagall the ways imagination can help us be more, do more and have more. and to quote it here. For the moment, we will pretend it says “A Woman’s” but that is for another time.


To bring things a little closer to home with this, I will talk a little bit about this picture. I took this picture in 2014, it has some airbrushing and some edits and I love this picture because it’s how I see myself when I think of myself as my most awesome and fully realized bathing beauty from the 1940’s that I was born too late to be a part of.. except through the magic of photography.. now I can.

The truth? I was really scared and intimidated at the thought of wearing a bathing suit and had a very different image in mind when I started out with this idea, but when I did my dry run and checked out the costume closet, that’s all that would fit me, so that is what I had to work with and that is what I did.

It turned out great and I look just like a pinup (HOLLYWOOD version)

So the truth is always a little more complicated and nuanced, which also means it’s more interesting so in truth, I really go back and forth on this. When viewing cinema, does it matter more to you that it be accurate or entertaining?


This may be a black and white line for some, but for me it remains a murky gray.

What do you think?

Think About It…


Poor Baby…

PoorBabyDear Readers

My mom introduced me to a writer whom I adore. She writes romance novels, and her name is Jennifer Crusie. She is a great writer. One of my favourite devices she uses is the “Poor Baby”.  Check out “Bet Me” and “Faking It” if you are curious about her books and want a good writer who writes strong resilient female characters.

A poor baby is when someone is unhappy about a bad day or something and you say, “Poor Baby” and though you may be TEEMING with advice, you just focus on comforting the other person.

I don’t know about you but when someone tells me about a problem or they let me know something is going wrong, I have to hold back all my instincts to start solving the problem.

This is very useful as a device in my life, so I am telling you about it in the hope that you can use it the next time someone tells you, I am hurting and just want comfort or maybe you can ask them, “Is this a “poor baby”? Or do you want my advice. You will have to explain it, unless they read the books or read this blog.

I have used it, and have started using it as a code with other friends. It’s a great way to stop the other person from giving you advice that you really don’t want. Most of my friends (and you know who you are) are incredibly smart people and don’t need my advice, they know the answer and they know what they need to do, AND when you are in “poor baby” mode you just ask for comfort. Solving the problem comes later.

Think About It….

Using technology to get more “now”

Dear Readers,

This week I was visiting a dear friend as she made a very creative and lovely snack for her son who had requested, “I want a plate full of fruit that looks like a flower but make it pretty and a flower of green beans in the middle”.  Simple, right?

As a great mom and friend, she did this as we talked about the things of our lives since it had been a month since we saw each other last.  As I watched her put this together and as I watched, she noticed that one thing led to another. Getting a dish for said display, involved figuring out that there was NO dish and she had to improvise with pyrex which turned out to be dirty so then she had to wash it, and on and on.

It occurred to me that this happens to most of us when we set out to accomplish a task.

Case in point, I need to go to the store to get yogurt, I go to the refrigerator to see how much I have left, what is the expiration date etc and when I was in there, I noticed we were low on milk, so I made a mental note to ask my husband (who so wonderfully does all the grocery shopping) to get more milk, I then notice the expired items that we need to throw out but trash day was yesterday, check to see that the bags were emptied and no remnants remain and as I am in the pantry my eye is drawn to Vivienne’s bottle collection and I make a mental note, we really need to start weaning her off those, we should ask the pediatrician, and then I see that there are some dishes in the sink and start working on them, completely forgetting that I went in the kitchen to check on our yogurt supply!

So there I am working on dishes and making a grocery list (thank you Jeremy) and thinking about all the things that need to get done and getting frustrated with my lack of focus, since this problem is really isolated to home items.

At work I don’t have this issue because I time-box and set priorities each day and use Agile to the fullest.  In case you have no idea what I am talking about, ask me, I am happy to rhapsodize about it, at length.. You have been warned….

But back to my at home dilemma. I definitely don’t think you can schedule everything but there is a way to bring some “method to the madness”  For me, I use technology (Alexa) to help me remember things. I resisted at first, mainly out of vanity. I wanted to think I would remember ALL the things I have to remember. Yeah, not so much.

I realized I wanted to work smarter, not harder, so I gave in (after some trepidation about having a machine in our home) and we got an Alexa in December, it was our Christmas present to ourselves, and I am very happy with it.

It’s very nice not to have to stop what you are doing to grab your phone and put a reminder into it. For instance, in the example above, I asked “alexa” to remind me to buy yogurt, when in reality, that was me adding it the list that Jeremy will use to go shopping.  It’s also a fun way to send little messages to each other through the day when I am not there, to remind them that I am there.. (sort of)

Bottom line, I use technology to help me stay connected to my family. Put another way, if I can use Alexa to remind me to do something later, I can focus my “now” on my daughter or my husband or myself and my goals.  See below— 🙂 takeapicturemom

For those wondering, I still prefer face to face over a phone call, and a phone call over a text message, AND I realize sometimes it’s just a more expedient way to communicate for both parties due to kids, work, pets and other life things, well like life.

I think that it’s a heck of an evolution when you consider I used to resist text messages.

Think About It.

Learning without Limits- Toddler Edition

Dear Readers,

Tonight I watched my 18 month old deliberate and negotiate getting off the bed and onto the floor, I watched her think about it, start to do it, and then stop and then start to do it again, and then stop and then like a flash, she fell/shimmied off the bed.

I watched her do this about 5 or 6 times before I took a picture of it. Some of the best parenting advice I have ever gotten is, “Don’t miss what is happening NOW for the first time because you are trying to capture it on camera.”

When she started this, I REALLY wanted to help her and I even started to reach my hand out, but then as I was in the act of doing it, I realize, she has to do these things (so it begins!!!!) and so many others by herself so I withdrew my hand and watched….. Ready to help but not offering it unless she looked at me or seemed to want help. I watched her really think and contemplate and she made a few squeals (her newest habit is squealing randomly) as she thought about it. She seemed to be saying “okay so I am going to get off the bed.” “Okay, wait, this is pretty high, so maybe I will come cuddle next to Mom.” so she sat next to me for a few seconds and then shimmied back to the edge again.

I watched the wheels turn as she figured it out, and again, I waited to see if she needed my help.

Guess what? She didn’t. She constantly amazes me with how fearless she is. She will run into a wall or fall down and I am sure she is going to scream like a banshee but before I can “pause for reaction” she is already up and moving again.  It reminds me that she is teaching me things all the time.

It’s this and many more but here are the top 3.

  1. She teaches me to appreciate every bug, leaf and flower on our walks.
  2. She teaches me to wait, wait, wait and relax, relax, relax.
  3. She is teaching me to dance like no one is watching, and sing to ALL the songs.

If my 18 month old can teach me something, who is to say there is not something for all of us to learn from each other. That person you can’t stand and say hi to every morning?

What if you asked them – “how are you?” and really wanted know. I am constantly in awe of the lessons waiting for us in the people around us. I heard something today that I really like. “You should learn three new things from every person you meet”

What a great way to add to your education.

Think About It….

If it doesn’t give you joy, let it go!

Dear Readers,

I have not read the “The Life-Changing Magic of of Tidying Up” by Marie Kondo, and I am aware of the basic concept of the book.

“If it doesn’t give you joy, don’t keep it” – this could be clothes, dishes, books etc.

A few weeks ago, my husband and I went through our closets and started this process. My focus was mainly on getting the stuff out of my closet that I start to put on and then when it doesn’t fit (yep, I had a baby folks, those size 14 jeans will NEVER fit again, time I face that fact) you throw it on the floor and say, “No, you sit there on the floor and think about what you did. NO HANGER FOR YOU!

I have to say the thing I was NOT prepared for was how liberating it was to put in a bag and then put it in my trunk.

Never mind that the bag is still in my trunk.. that’s for later… !

(baby steps, people, it made it out of the closet!)

But to get it out of my closet, is a good step, which makes way for more joyous choices!cropped-swirlygirljenniferhaston

Now I can see the clothes that truly give me joy (LIKE THIS BLUE DRESS ^^^^^^) and wear them till they no longer give me joy and just think, that dress I bought in 2008 with a credit card (spent almost 2000.00 on an entire wardrobe change some of which still gives me joy, but this dress no longer does so OUT it goes!) can be found by someone my size and they can say to themselves, “I can’t wait to wear this!” and mean it.

The yes/no piece of it really got me thinking.

Why not apply this to other tasks that give me no joy? It’s a little hard to say “no” to dishes without saying “yes” to insects but hey, I have a partner and we can renegotiate the terms of our kitchen contract – He does the cooking, I do the dishes. Maybe I can flip that.  You never know, it could happen.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that if your job doesn’t give you joy, you should quit tomorrow, but maybe if it doesn’t give you joy, you should investigate what it would take to eventually do something that does.

Sometimes it takes a while to find something that gives you joy, you are worth it, take your time to find it. It’s out there, trust me.

What about that volunteer task that you keep doing and swear to yourself, “this is the last time!” but you said yes again before you could stop yourself. Ask yourself, does it give me joy?

Here’s a tough one. What about relationships? You know the ones I mean.

The one that you get the text message, voicemail or see their name pop up on the screen with a picture (likely of the two of you in joyful times long gone) and you breathe a heavy sigh before picking up the phone or more likely, hit “Ignore” to avoid the call.

Why are you investing in a relationship that doesn’t give you joy? Back to the yes/no question. It’s a handy trick for figuring out what you should prioritize and what should take a backseat or maybe not even be in the car with you.

Think About It.

While you think about it, really commit to yourself to have more joy in your life.

Goodness knows life is short and full of a lot of joyless things, figure out what gives you joy and throw out the rest. Trust me, you will be much happier for the trade.



Embracing the Unexpected!

Dear Readers,

Last night my husband made us steaks to celebrate a milestone we achieved with our financial goals. It’s not as sexy as saying we are debt free, (11/16/2015 baby) and it’s an important one.

I was really excited to eat the steak and have lots of conversation about the day, but before that I took my little girl to the mall so we could get some exercise and I could shop for shoes for her and for me.

As I was doing that, my husband was cooking with his cast iron skillet for the first time and as often happens when we do something for the first time, it doesn’t always go well, so it got a little smoky in the Haston Love Nest. When we came home (sans any new shoes) the smoke detector was going off and the smell of smoke permeated through the house and kitchen.

Due to the condition of the house, we decided to eat on the patio and it was great! Cool breeze, lovely atmosphere and the food was wonderful!DinnerAlFresco

None of that would have happened if we had done things according to “plan”

We also decided to do it more often, again, it would not have occurred to us to do that if we hadn’t had to deviate.

I have posted about this before, and it’s still an important lesson that I continue to learn especially with a toddler running around the house!

Embrace the unexpected, it often turns out well.

Think About It.

Be Bold, Make Mistakes, Repeat.

Dear Readers,

Today is International Women’s Day- YAY WOMEN! There is so much that we can do and there is no limit to what we can try so I say, tell them to try it all.

Reshma Saujani is the founder of  “Girls Who Code” and gave a powerful Ted talk a few years ago about teaching our girls bravery, not perfection. She tells a few stories about how she attempted running for office and failed at it in a very public way.

I have to say I think this is easier said than done, and I absolutely know it’s possible.

In the early days of my academic career, I spent a lot of time telling myself I was not good at math and even made the joke “Numbers and I have a fractious relationship” but all joking aside, this was something that definitely held me back in more ways than one.

Thankfully, I had a college professor who finally opened my eyes to the fun and excitement of mathematics but I often wonder what would have happened if I had told myself a different story. Certainly I plan to encourage my daughter to try things that are hard to and to keep trying especially when it’s hard and as hard as it is to watch, encourage her to dare greatly.

My issue is that I always want to be wonderful at the start of anything that I do, and that simply isn’t possible, since you have no idea how to do something you have never done, so you should be prepared to not be great at the start.

When I did my first 5 K in 2014, I definitely wasn’t wonderful- I had good friends to support me when I did that first walk/run and it was not great, but it was a starting line and definitely not a finish, but it did lead to a recent running success.

But it got me thinking, even as a runner, which I definitely am a runner.

Even after multiple races and workouts, I still feel a little like an impostor when I put on the shoes and the headband and get running on the track or treadmill, like any second someone is going to come along and say, oh, you don’t know about mileage and sprints and other running things (maybe I just haven’t learned them yet?) so you aren’t really a runner. It’s pretty easy to surmise that one might feel this way about other roles in life. Perhaps Motherhood?

As I type this, my child is asleep and peaceful, any second she could wake back up (Please Vivienne, stay asleep) and I will be faced with the choice, do I go get her? Do I let her cry it out?  Despite the fact that I have already fought this battle a few months back and opted to let her “cry it out” the choice is always there when the situation presents itself. The back of my brain maliciously whispers,, “A real mother would know what to do”,

I am stopped by this and the guilt starts up and then I remember, I have a tool to help defuse that bomb. I simply have to refute that fear-based statement with truth.

I am a real mother. I don’t always know what to do. I know what feels right to me, and her reaction helps me know if it was the right move or the wrong one. It’s a lot of troubleshooting and instinct, as my mother of choice told me during those first days in the hospital.

My pediatrician says she apologizes to her kids when she makes mistakes and then went on to say that she does make mistakes and it’s important for our kids to know that. So if a medical professional who went to school for years and years and has been practicing on other kids for years and still screws up with her kids, what makes me think I am so different? I found that to be a bit of a relief and thought it might be for you as well.

I am sure I am not alone, which is one of the main reasons I decided to write about this today.



Think About It….