Are You Capturing Pictures or Missing Moments?

Dear Readers,


I do my best to really “be in the moment”. It was something I learned around the same time I learned about really good acting and how to best achieve it. It is also a very necessary life skill.

So I do a lot of thinking about how this relates to me being a good mother and good wife and good friend. I strive to really be present with people and give them my full attention, but something stops me.

My phone.  It calls to me like a siren “Jennifer, look at what you what you are missing…. Pick me up!” “Jennifer, you know you want to read the latest likes and comments on your last post, Pick me up” – Never mind that your daughter, who you haven’t seen all day because you were at work smiling and laughing and wants to play,  PICK ME UP! says my phone.  Sometimes I listen and the phone wins. Sometimes I ignore the siren song and my life wins. 

To be clear, My phone definitely doesn’t talk to me, this is a metaphorical level of nagging. But then again, I have a “siri” and I named him “Nigel”. He has a British accent and I really enjoy when he says, “Jennifer” but I digress.

I have talked to a few people recently about how they “use” their phone  (Anyone else getting the feeling that your phone might be a drug?) and how they see others using their phones (in a word, CONSTANTLY) and given some of those conversations, I think my friends and family have some pretty healthy boundaries. We are definitely working to establish some good boundaries around the “use” of phones and devices in the Haston House.

  1. No Phones at the Table when eating. Thank you Dollar Store! Cellphonejail2. No Phones when we are spending “family time” – a rare commodity!


This came up because last weekend all anyone could talk about was “The Royal Wedding”. I am no different. I was caught up in all the pomp and circumstance and enjoyed watching the pictures that were posted by the media and other people’s comments on the pictures that were taken of the historic event.

Among the rest, I see someone took a picture that captured an elderly woman smiling serenely and watching all the hoopla while dozens of people clamored with their phones to get a good picture through their “screen” rather than actually “experience” the event.

Now, one can argue, they are multi-tasking! Getting a great shot while simultaneously enjoying the event. Maybe, but I think it’s far more likely that they were clamoring for that good shot and they just kept taking pictures over and over. I say this because I have seen it, when I go to see concerts, and live events, I see people everywhere with faces bathed in that telltale white light and MISSING out on Life.



Now, I am not saying you can’t use your phone. That would be impossible or maybe not impossible but really improbable. It’s your life, do what you like.

I am simply asking you to take a beat, and THINK before you pick up that phone. I needed some help with this, so I started using an app called “Moment” which tracks how often you use your phone. It goes deeper, it tells you how many times you picked it up and how long you used it. As someone who is VERY passionate about this subject, I had very few minutes, right? WRONG.  My first report said 4 hours a day.

Ouch. But hey, I am aware of it, so NOW I have to do something about it.

It’s getting a little better, today it was 1 hour and 41 minutes.

Should you strive for that? Maybe. Only you can make that decision.

The next time your phone “whooshes or dings” or silently sings to you, please think before you respond.

Think About It.

Depending on the kindness of strangers..


Dear Readers,

I am from New Orleans, a fact that never ceases to surprise others when they learn it.

I guess it’s because I don’t have a New Orleans accent and I am not known for my cooking, but rather my baking.

In any case, I traveled home to visit my mother with my little girl and some rest and relaxation.

Well, as much relaxation as one can hope for when traveling with a toddler.

I know from running around in the car with her to do anything, it ALWAYS takes more time than you think, and missing my flight makes me nervous as a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs, so we were two hours early. This also helped me to relax, relax, relax and take things as they came.  I had trepidation and excitement as I headed to the airport with the little one.

However, taking a page from my good friend Rachel’s book, I decided to let go of my expectations and welcome what came my way, good or bad.  I was VERY lucky on this trip and I had some difficulties too, so it was definitely a mixed bag.

First, way back in February when we booked the flight, I found out that if your child is less than two years old,  you are allowed to travel for FREE with them, and they can sit on your lap while you fly. Not super comfortable, but definitely more affordable than two tickets.

Something I found out is that you need a birth certificate or medical records to prove their age. I didn’t know that, so I had a very scary moment as I waited for the skycap to determine if he was going to require it or let it go. Luck was with me, and he let it go.

So inside the Austin airport, I went through security with my one stuffed to the gills diaper bag, my daughter, and her stroller. I had to put her stroller, my diaper bag and shoes through conveyor and then my diaper bag needed “further checks” so I had to wait while they did those as well. Sounds simple enough, but try it with a squirmy toddler and get back to me about the level of difficulty involved.

I picked the very back of the plane hoping that people would be less likely to want to sit with us and we could hopefully have a row all to ourselves, that did not happen but as luck would have it, a mother with grown children sat next to us and as she was taking her seat she said, “Feel free to use this seat so she can spread out” Bless you, Stacey! We wound up having a really lovely conversation and Vivienne was an absolute angel and while restless, she was well-behaved for the most part and passed out about 10 minutes before we landed. It’s worth noting that it’s an hour long flight so a good introduction to flying. It remains to be seen how she would do on a longer flight.

On our way back, we got to the airport three hours early. As a New Orleans native, I can tell you, traffic is unpredictable and you really don’t want to leave it to the last minute. We checked in, no problems! I had not managed to have a po-boy during the trip so I headed to the airport bar thinking surely they would have a po-boy on the menu in one of the restaurants. Not so much. They had an oyster dish that I thought that would be good, and as I ordered it, I mentioned I was a local and they could “dress it” (using the lingo, I thought surely I would be in the clear. Again, not so much.

I realized this would be my only chance to get a po-boy for a while so I was polite and firm and said, I am a local and please remake this for me and serve it on French bread, so I made my own po-boy happen. It was delicious and I felt very satisfied.

We then went through security which had a very lovely “strollers section” so I think security took all of 5 minutes!!!! WOOHOO!!! We made our way through the airport, about two hours before boarding time and I took a seat in our boarding area and was playing happily with Vivienne with her blocks and books and after a while, I checked in with the gate attendant and she let me know the flight was running an hour late. Okay, minor wrinkle, we can handle that. I then realized my phone was a little low on battery so I went to charge it, and while standing at the charging station, I met two very lovely people who were also charging their phones and a wonderful thing happened. We talked about how people don’t TALK any more, they are constantly on devices or working or rushing to their next flight.  We had a lovely time talking and I got an update that the flight was in fact on time, and we parted ways but not before connecting on social media. I find the irony of that very satisfying. We were social as we were unable to be on social media.

As I boarded the plane, I heard the angel taking tickets say, ““Ma’am, the flight is not full, so feel free to seat her next to you” Music to MY EARS!!!!! Thank you Southwest Airlines!

I think that the kindness of strangers played a strong role in making our trip great, fairly appropriate when you consider I was in New Orleans at the time.

What kindness could you offer a stranger in your own hometown, in your own office, or maybe in your circle.

Is there someone you can make smile? Offer them a sincere compliment, or do something to make their day?

Think About It.

Coming to My Side Of The Table

Dear Readers,tableconvo

Have you ever felt yourself getting angry with someone because they REFUSE to see things how you see them? For the purposes of this discussion, let’s say it’s Girl Scout cookies. No controversy there, right? WRONG.

I HATE THIN MINTS for LOTS of reasons, the most important being, they don’t make you thin, “False Advertising”, but seriously, I just don’t like the way they taste.

On the flipside, I LOVE Caramel Delights and have for years and years. It’s been a hotly contested debate among many of my nearest and dearest friends

(You know who you are)

It’s all in good fun, of course, much like the Aggies / Longhorns conflict that I volley back and forth about with colleagues and friends.

I am a highly competitive person, so I definitely try my best to sway the opinions of others who disagree with me and it can be frustrating to realize they just won’t come to your side of the table and you hammer and hammer away at them, challenging them to change their mind. You come at it from the east, south, north, and west and you feel like you are making headway and then they say

“I see what you mean and I understand, but I don’t agree”  ARGGGGGGGGGGH!

It’s so frustrating! However, upon deeper reflection, is it really?

You are talking to someone you care about, they feel passionately about a topic, and you feel passionately about a topic, you have both put forth your points of view and they put forth theirs, you understand their point but don’t agree. Why is that such a bad thing?

Why isn’t enough for us to be at the table talking and taking each other in and really listening to what they have to say. Maybe they will change your mind, maybe you will change theirs, but then again, maybe neither of you will change your opinion but you will learn something and gain a deeper understanding of the other person.

My good friend and I have differing opinions about the attainment of goals, we both agree it’s important and we both have very different ways of tackling them, both methods are completely valid and they are completely different. I came to this realization recently, it’s not my job to get you my side of the table, but it IS my job to get you sit at the table with me and for us to both show up and really listen.

The next time you find yourself wondering, “why don’t they come to my side of the table?” Stop and take the time to appreciate that they are at the table at all.

Think About It.

Do you listen, or wait to talk?

Dear Readers,

It was recently brought to my attention that I don’t always listen or more accurately, I listen but I don’t always hear.

Does this happen to you?

I discovered that I thought I heard something that someone said to me, but in fact, I heard the total opposite of what they said. Ouch.

For someone who has earned the badge of “Competent Communicator” from Toastmasters, that is upsetting to hear, AND I have the chance to do something about it.

I started doing some research and it turns out there are many resources to consult in order to become better at it, so I am dong my homework now and will report back.

Starting here with a quote by Simon Sinek-


Perhaps a good jumping off point would be to ask-

Do you listen or wait for your turn to talk?  I know the answer for me, and I am working on it. With my daughter, I am learning all about listening. She says so much with her eyes and her face, and you have to really, really, really pay attention.

How about you? Are you waiting for your turn to talk, or are you really taking in what the other person is saying, and perhaps more importantly, what they are not saying?

Think About It.

Shiny Report and Whiny Report

Dear Readers!

I do my very best to focus on the positive (read past blogs for context) and there are times when even the best spin doctor has to say, you know what, I just need to whine right now.

I have dubbed this- The Shiny Report and the Whiny Report.

I think that boundaries are crucial when talking to a friend to gain context on their situation or problem or what the goal is in the interaction.

As I said to friend a few weeks ago, “I am just venting and venting” and she said, “I know, but I don’t want to leave you here” and then we started to figure out solutions.

A good point because while whining, moaning, and venting absolutely have their place, it’s not a real productive place to be. Or as my Mom puts it, “You can absolutely have a pity party, just don’t stay there.”

These are some questions I ask-

“Is this a poor baby?” (You want sympathy and to be told what a jerk that person is and how right you are and how wrong they are or something similar)

Is this a vent session? (You want to just yell and moan and whine and curse the fates that have led you here?)

Do you want my advice? (Self-explanatory, but usually this is where people start and the other person doesn’t feel heard and is worse off than they were before.

The truth is, most of the time, all three are desired, it’s just knowing the answers.

I have heard “I want your advice but let me vent a little first?”

This is not to say that if someone is crying and upset that you interrupt them with this barrage of questions. First, be there, then try to build the boundary of how you can best serve the situation.

This is my approach, it doesn’t have to be yours. I offer this advice because first, it’s our job to take excellent care of ourselves so we can truly BE THERE for other people.

Don’t mix up that order or disaster will result.

Think About It.



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….