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Tuesday, June 28, 2011

To blog or not to blog...

THAT is the question. When a person makes the decision to begin a blog, they usually have an idea of what that blog is going to be about; and it is usually something that they have personal experience with or an interest in. There are blogs on practically every topic and something for every reader. The internet contains a wealth of really excellent writers who blog on myriads of topics, interests, activities and opinions.

I love honest, sincere, thoughtful postings that have interesting information, or are just entertaining. I have been moved to tears by the honesty and open quality of some blogs. They have dignity and convey the situation with a sense of style or wit.

When an author can tell their story in a way that makes you understand, with feeling, emotion and wonder, they are reaching out to unknown people who may be able to relate to the topic and benefit from it. That is a powerful and wonderful thing to experience!

I enjoy reading all kinds of blogs, especially those related to writing, but nothing interests me more than "real life" blogs, those which are written to share a personal journey with readers. I can't resist a writer's ability to share their own personal experiences or adventures in a mature, compelling and honest way.

Okay, now that I have gotten that out of the way,  here's the real point- How much information is too much? While I understand the concept of "keeping it real", there is a point of "TMI" or too much information. Unfortunately, there are some blog writers who simply lost their filter or have no boundaries whatsoever. I find this type of blog distracting and unfortunate.

As an avid blog reader, I have come across blogs that contain, in my humble opinion,  personal information that borders on the inappropriate. While there may be a market for voyeuristic and overly intimate content, by and large, blogs that hope to be taken seriously and a respectable following usually steer clear of glaringly inappropriate details that add little to the blog besides giving it a freakishly overt slant.

I  have literally been embarrassed for a few blog authors because their content, which was exclusively personal and about themselves, was so over-the-top with painfully personal details. Very few readers need to know every detail of a private relationship, unless of course, you are Carrie Bradshaw of "Sex in the City" fame. That's already been done, so it probably shouldn't be imitated.

In my opinion, the world needs less of that level of relationship sharing for the world to see and know about. Yes, readers can benefit from understanding the author's personal background, marital status and situations which have happened in their life. But, at a certain point the blog becomes the author's therapy or unburdening that is best saved for a private journal or a real-life therapist office. Making the readers "confidants" is sad, and can be an invasion of privacy for the individuals who are part of "the story".

It is uncomfortable to imagine the horror a person would feel upon realizing that their personal life was used as content fodder for another's blog. It show a lack of sound judgement. In a good blog, there truly needs to be healthy boundaries between a reader and the author.

My hope is that authors who believe this type of blogging will bring them more readers, and it may, will understand that just because you can do something, doesn't mean you should do something. Putting one's intimate and private details on the internet to grasp attention, or for self-esteem issues, is not advisable or something to feel proud of. Less, truly is, more when it comes to posting extremely personal details in a blog.  I hope my insights will give some authors pause before they make this mistake.

                           "The secret of being a bore is to tell everything." - Voltaire

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Honoring my father on Father's Day

Today is Father's Day and I have been reflecting on the relationship I have with my own father, Pablo A. Rodriguez. I have been truly blessed to have a father who has always been someone I can admire and adore. My father is a man who has overcome incredible obstacles in his life. He came to the United States, from Cuba, as a very young man, and through the years he has created a life that is all one could ever hope for. He had a solid, 40 year career at the Organization of American States, retired at a fairly young age, and has become an accomplished actor/model/voice over professional. He has the love, respect, and admiration of more people than many people even know. His friends have been his friends for life.

My father is one of the most positive, upbeat and kind people you will ever meet. Is he sounding too much like a saint? FAR FROM IT! He is an extremely flawed person, which he will readily and happily admit. He is more comfortable in his own skin than any person I have ever met. I can count on one hand the days he has been in a really "bad" mood. He is blessed with more personality and pizazz than most people in the professional entertainment business; and yet he invented and should have a patent for road rage. Inside a moving vehicle is the only place on Earth where he becomes an extremely unpleasant person. Go figure. I guess everyone has to have their place or activity to vent  anger and frustrations.

We who know this side of him do our best to avoid being passengers for too long of a ride. But, he is always ready, able, and willing to drive any of us anywhere, anytime and never complains about the trouble we put him through. I feel sure that in his day, he has driven his children and grandchildren the distance twice around the circumference of the planet. At least it seems like it. My father RARELY complains. If he is unhappy about something, he deals with it. He doesn't easily hold a grudge, and if he does, it is for a VERY good reason.

My father has been a "dad" to more kids of single parents than I can even begin to name. They know who they are. He is godfather to half a dozen children. I can remember him coming home from work in the evening, and all the children in the neighborhood would flock to him like he was the Pied Piper. To this day, he is loved by children and animals. He has a gentle, loving, kind expression and shows affection and tenderness easily. He is "Papi" to a multitude of people, young, and now, old.

I know everyone thinks their father is great. I KNOW mine is! He isn't a hero, a statesman, a millionaire or a perfect husband, but he has ALWAYS been a loving, accepting, patient and generous father. More so than I can ever in a million years give him thanks for. He inspired in me a love of learning, reading, the outdoors and culture. My father has inspired and support me through thick and thin. Sure he has been mad as hell at me, and we have had our share of hot blooded arguments. We are both Taurus and Cuban, so you can imagine that we have butted heads in our day. But he is a tender and gentle man with the soul of an artist and has more grace, dignity and thoughtfulness in him than an army of men.

It has taken me half a century to really understand how lucky I am to have Pablo Rodriguez as my father, my friend and my loving supporter. I thank him and praise him for all he has been and continues to be to all of us who love him so dearly. Happy Father's Day, Papi. Te amo mucho.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The pitfalls of living vicariously through children of any age

I orignially wrote this article a few years ago for the site- DC Adult Child Examiner- but it is more relevant than ever. This is a touchy subject, but one which needs to be explored and faced by many parents.

As children grow towards adulthood, it can be a challenge for parents to bridge the gap between childhood to the next stages in their child’s development. Separating their own identity from their child can be a great obstacle for parents.

As children mature, their talents and individual personalities manifest. Often they participate in activities which highlight these gifts and it is a great source of pride for their parents. This is a normal phenomenon which helps the child to be encouraged and increase self esteem. But, in some circumstances, the parent or parents can begin to fixate on their child’s successes in a wholly unhealthy manner. This situation occurs when the parent(s) begin living vicariously through their child. It can begin in early childhood and continue through an adult child’s entire life.

Webster defines: Vicarious 1: serving instead of someone or something else
2: performed or suffered by one person as a substitute for another or to the benefit or advantage of another 3: experienced or realized through imaginative or sympathetic participation in the experience of another

Being genuinely happy or proud of a child is not the same as being obsessed with their accomplishments. A parent basking in the child’s light takes away from the child’s accomplishments and achievements. Unhealthy expressions of pride arise when the parent(s) begin to live vicariously through the achievements of the child in ways which can cause embarrassment, discomfort, stress, anxiety and feelings of hopelessness. It becomes more toxic in nature and can put a great deal of pressure and pain on the child. The worst example of this behavior is when parents become violent at sporting events or other types of competition.

In many instances, the unhealthy behavior begins when the amount of time spent on the child’s achievements outweighs the time parents spend on their own lives and pursuits. There needs to be a healthy balance which takes the pressure off of the child and does not make them feel as if their success is always reflected onto the parents. It is critical for the child to feel that their successes are their own and to feel the love and support of parents without the unhealthy obsessive interest.

Parents may use their children as a distraction from their own problems or disappointments, whether they are marital, financial, or an unfulfilled need to feel special. Loneliness, divorce, or other family problems can exacerbate this behavior.

Dysfunctional parents rely on the pursuits and accomplishments of their children when they have none of their own. This is often seen in the case of “Stage Mothers” or fathers who are coaches. It is often the case in families with high profile persons, such as politicians or high-ranking military families when children’s accomplishments are included as an adjunct to their own list of achievements.

It is the height of narcissism to take credit for the achievements of children of any age. Their lives, personalities, strengths, weaknesses, and individuality must be separate from their parents. The older a child is, the more important it is for them to be seen as their own person with their own identity.

Showing interest and appreciation is one of the greatest joys of parenting. As the child matures to an adult, the parent must begin to divest themselves from the activities and lives of the child. It is intrusive to hover over them and insist on being included in all areas of their life.

A healthy distance and space is required in order for the child to develop into the person they are, separate and apart from their parents and family. It is not productive or loving to insist on being part of every aspect of their lives. In fact, parents should feel a sense of relief at the prospect of having more time for their own pursuits and activities and for the focus to shift on to other parts of their lives.

Being a loving, concerned, involved parent is not the same as living vicariously through a child. The toxic part occurs when it is overdone, excessive, obsessive, and intrusive.

 Being a loving family and sustaining healthy relationships comes down to viewing each family member as an individual who is loved whether they triumph or fail. Respecting children’s choices and differences, as they grow to adulthood, is key to building and nurturing the healthiest relationships possible.

Adult involvement in extracurricular activities detrimental By Peter Lee
Ask Dan: Letting go of dreams for your adult children By Dan Gottlieb
Harming Your Child by Making Him Your Parent By SAMUEL LÓPEZ DE VICTORIA, PH.D.
Great Expectations: May Be Too Great for Only Children By Susan Newman, Ph.D
Parents Turn Violent During Youth Sports By Caitlin A. Johnson
Healthy Encouragement for Your Child's Interests by Kim Rogers
Are You Living Vicariously Through Your Children? By Corinne Casazza

Continue reading on The Pitfalls of living vicariously through children of any age - Washington DC adult children |

The Trophy Kids from the article, "How to land your kid in therapy" - The Atlantic

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Live and learn

I got married a few weeks ago. I had been married before, but I refuse to call it RE-marriage. Re-marriage implies that I, again, married the person I married 31 years ago. This is not the case. There is no "re" anything. This is a fresh start, a new life, and a bright beginning. Although my "new" husband and I have been a couple for the last 6 years, I consider it a beginning. It is a beginning for us and a beginning of a new chapter in both of our lives- as a married couple.

I have surprised myself with how new it feels, in spite of the feelings of familiarity and comfort. This new chapter has been a great lesson for me in the miracle of renewal, and a testament to the power of love, forgiveness, and understanding.

This time of year is very sentimental. Graduations, weddings, retirements, vacations, and family reunions happen more often. All of these milestone events remind of us of the power of the bonds of love, our connections to family, friends and loved ones. As time passes, we reflect on these bonding occasions and how meaningful and strong the memories can be, even years after the event. These are truly precious opportunities to reflect and connect.

These occasions bind us to our family and friends and as we get older, these bonds and relationships take on even more meaning and value because we realize that life truly is short. There is no guarantee of tomorrow for any of us. Watching our loved ones marry or graduate or retire is our way of sharing those emotionally charge moments-together- and forging memories in our shared history. They are much more than  familial obligations. They are part and parcel of what makes up "FAMILY" and the loving friendships in our lives.

Over the past few years, my core beliefs on many things have been shaken to the core. I have gained valuable insights about myself, my views, and previously flawed ideas. It has been humbling and, at times, a bit depressing to think of the time I have wasted on erroneous notions and false beliefs. Well, live and learn, as they say. And I have done both. I am eternally thankful for the lessons and the insights I have gained. It has been a painful and difficult journey- a journey which continues. I am a work in progress, but I am no longer ashamed of that fact. A very wise woman told me, as I despaired at not having "figured it all out yet", that in her experience, once you do finally figure it all out, you die.

I am grateful to all the people who have been teachers and mentors in my life- both personally and professionally. There have been difficult and dark moments filled with pain, sorrow, loss and doubt. I suspect they know who they are and since I am not accepting an Academy Award, I won't name them. I will say that the places I have been and the people I have known have shaped my views and outlook, but the people I have loved, and who have loved me, are the greatest teachers I have ever known.

I have been blessed beyond measure with love and support in my life. I doubt I have always been deserving of it. But that's the funny thing about love- you don't always get what you deserve. Love isn't a reward for good behavior or intelligence. That's what makes it so miraculous and mysterious. That is what makes it so precious.

If I have learned one thing that is worth sharing, it is this- Don't waste time or assume that you will always have the ones you love with you. Every opportunity to share special moments, special occasions or just a regular day with the ones you love is a precious gift. Don't squander it or assume that you can do it "another time". The people who mean the most to us are the ones we often take for granted. Cherish every day and make the time you have together count. Savor and soak up every glorious day, and make those memories with the ones you love.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Time is on my side

The Rolling Stones seemed to think so, but in reality is time really on our side? I suppose that depends on the person. Time seems to be on the side of some people more than others. And there are those people who tend to have a running battle with time. Time Management is a HUGE industry and topic.

The quest to manage time effectively and get the most out of the meager 24 hours we get each day. Subtracting the time we spend on sleep cuts us back to about 16 hours a day. Subtract again for the time we spend earning a living and then more time it takes to get to and from our workplace, we are down to a mere 6 hours. That doesn't seem like something that is "on my side" anymore.

Thankfully, I live very close to my job. I feel very sorry and am baffled by how those whose commute is more than 1 hour a day can bear it. I simply don't have the patience, stamina or will to spend my precious time sitting in traffic that could take an enormous bite out of my precious "free" time. But that's another topic for another day. I could rant on that for hours.

One thing that is absolutely guaranteed to set me off is lateness or lack of attention to time. Punctuality and time consciousness is a trait I admire as much as any virtue. Very few situations rankle me more than being made to wait,  or even worse, being in a meeting that goes longer than originally scheduled.

The assumption is that my time, and that of the other people in the meeting, is not important enough to be considered. Yeah, let's start the meeting 15 minutes late or let's go 30 minutes long. What's the big deal? No big whoop, right? WRONG! Sadly, in the workplace, you have to endure it because it is usually a supervisor who is the master of your time. BUT when a co-worker or peer does this, it isn't just rude, it's very unprofessional. It is enough to make me seethe. Especially when the person feigns sorrow or gives shabby apologies and then goes on to imply that they had some valid reason for their lack of attention to time management. Grrrrr!

Tempus Fugit is the Latin saying they put on the face of Grandfather clocks. As a child, I always loved seeing the little saying and wondered what it meant. TIME FLIES. And how powerful and true those two little words are. It really does most of the time, although not when you are in training or a painfully boring meeting. OR in traffic. But when you are doing something you love or sleeping, it surely does fly by.

I remember years ago seeing the book, "Time flies when you're alive" by Paul Linke, and how clever and deep that title was. And now, as I am approaching my 50th year of life, I am stunned to realize how fast it does fly by. All those clichés about time are still in use because they ring very true.

All in due time
Better late than never
In the nick of time
Marking time
A stitch in time saves nine
There’s no time like the present
Time after time
Time flies when you are having fun
Time heals all wounds
Time is running out
Time on your hands
The times, they are a changing
So, if time is an unrenewable resource and such a valuable thing in life, why is it so hard to keep track of it? Hey, remember, we only have an allotted amount of it and wasting it is really a bad thing! I am all for wasting time having fun, relaxing by a pool or beach or even just watching some cheesy episodes of the "Millionaire Matchmaker", but I don't want to waste my time waiting for someone else to get the get their time squared away. 

I get philosophical about it. Why is it so hard to consciously attempt to be mindful and not waste the most precious resource there is in life? I can only sumise that it doesn't come as naturally to some as it does for others. It must be harder to manage or keep a handle on for some people. Perhaps they don't see the value.

To me, it seems that one of the greatest luxuries is to be able to afford to waste time. You can't buy more of it! Once those 24 hours are gone in a day, they are gone. That's it. And think how many people could really use a spare five or six hours a day. Those who have to work two jobs or go to school or balance work and kids?

Balancing work and home life is one of the hottest topics in magazines, newspapers and books. I think more people need to really think about what they spend their time on and how maybe, just maybe, if they put it into perspective and made an effort to treat their own time, and that of others, with more value they would probably find better ways to manage it.

It is so ironic to me that really frugal people, who can't bear to waste a cent more than they have to, are often completely frivolous when it comes to wasting time. Hey, get a clue- time is money. Anyone worth their salt who manages a budget knows that. But putting it into practice seems to be an impossible feat for so many people. They are always running behind, late for meetings, late for doctor's appointments, even late for work.

Being overly optimistic is a fatal flaw where time is concerned. I think we should start teaching kids, from a very young age, that timeliness is as important as any of the other values they are taught. Good manners, clean hands and proper grammar are fundamentals for any young child, but what about the value of time management? Why isn't it valued more? Is it because it requires a kind of discipline and forethought that is becoming less important in our hustle bustle age? I just don't get it.
My Myers-Briggs personality type is ENFJ. The "J" is what keeps me conscious of time. I am speechless when people walk into a meeting 20 minutes late like it is nothing. I mean it still really gets to me. I don't get used to it. I try really hard not to be a judgmental person but I confess that I DO judge people who can't manage their time. It makes me think they are careless or thoughtless or unreliable. It makes me anxious. If they can't manage their own time, how am I supposed to let them manage mine?

Maybe it is an obsessive-compulsive trait, I don't know, but I take it very seriously. We all have our little "buttons" and that is one of my big ones. I have learned not to take it personally, but I am not to the point where it doesn't push those buttons. I am a work in progress and that is one of the things I still have to "live and let live" about.
Good, bad or indifferent- those are my thoughts and views on the topic of time. I am sure in the course of this blog, it will arise again. Time is a favorite subject of mine and I have lots to say about it. I would love to hear what others have to say about it too.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Where to begin?

In the beginning... there was THE BLOG-  What does it mean?  We hear it all the time, but what exactly is a blog?

"A blog (a blend of the term web log)[1] is a type of website or part of a website. Blogs are usually maintained by an individual with regular entries of commentary, descriptions of events, or other material such as graphics or video. Entries are commonly displayed in reverse-chronological order. Blog can also be used as a verb, meaning to maintain or add content to a blog." - (thanks, Wikipedia)

Hmmm, that's not exactly what I had in mind, so, let's read further-

"Many blogs provide commentary or news on a particular subject; others function as more personal online diaries. A typical blog combines text, images, and links to other blogs, Web pages, and other media related to its topic. The ability of readers to leave comments in an interactive format is an important part of many blogs. Most blogs are primarily textual, although some focus on art (art blog), photographs (photoblog), videos (video blogging), music (MP3 blog), and audio (podcasting). Microblogging is another type of blogging, featuring very short posts."

Yes, that's more like it. I love the idea of sharing videos, articles, and having a place to unleash my thoughts, feelings and general observations on life, love, relationships, the world, existence, you name it!

I also like the interactive part. But I could be doing this all on a social media site. And I certainly DO! But, a blog is a lot more personal and indepth. Less quick and dirty and more thoughtful and exploratory. Facebook just doesn't cut it if you actually love writing. Anyone can use Facebook, right? There's no true skill or talent or actually any real thought. It's like instant pudding. It tastes ok, but there is nothing to really savor. Hopefully, I will be able to convey some thoughts and ideas to savor. It's taken me a long time to feel ready for this, and so, I am taking the plunge into a blog.

I am so tardy to this party. I know, that's no way to start one's blogging career. But it is really true. I have been planning this day for a few years. I have purchased a few domain names and have not gotten around to getting them set up. I am hopelessly lost as far as the technical side of this business is concerned. I will require a great deal of assistance with the other blogs I am scheming on. BUT, I simply got tired of procrastinating and waiting around for that magical day to arrive. This adventure is a "dream come true" for me. I put it off for too long because I was waiting for the "perfect time". There is no such thing. Sometimes you simply have to jump right in!

So, here I am, doing this the low-tech way. No super high-tech bells and whistles. My maiden voyage through the blogosphere. I have a great deal to say, and each day I have less time to say it. My postings and musing are only for my facebook friends and those who follow some of my other pursuits. I will probably use this site to enlighten, opine, share, occasionally rant, and I will say what I mean and try so very hard not to say it meanly. Although, considering that there is always someone in the room who will be offended, my good intentions may have to suffice.

So, for this, my first posting, I will keep it straight and to the point. I love writing. I always have and I imagine I always will. I have neglected my poor inner muse and have put off challenging myself for far too long. I write for other people and other organizations and most of my hard work and labors will never be attributed to me or see the light of day. That just isn't good enough anymore.

One caveat, my words and this blog are my own thoughts, feelings, opinions and ideas. I don't speak for any group or organization or engage in discussions that would or could risk my current career. So, if you are looking for any political banter or partisan cheerleading- sorry, there won't be any. This is going to be a thoughtful and possibly insightful blog. I am hoping to stay clear of potentially conflicting interests. Worlds colliding is not my cup of tea. I am not fanatical or fundamental enough to throw myself into the chasm of unemployment over some politician or provocative cause. This is going to be a very low-key and, hopefully, enjoyable little piece of my mind.

Now that the disclaimer is out of the way, I can start thinking of all kinds of topics and musings to share. Comments and feedback are welcome if they are sincere, direct and to the point. And I want everyone to play nice. I know being sarcastic, snarky and ironically nasty is in fashion, but I prefer clever, cheeky and naughty. It's more my style. AND this is my blog. If you want snarky and nasty, hey- write your own blog. There's an audience for everyone!!!

So, here we go. As they say, "You have to start somewhere." Here is where I am starting and it's a new beginning. I hope you will join me on my adventure.

Alea iacta est 

- go ahead  GOOGLE IT, you know you want to!-

And if you are wondering about the name associated with this blog- DCgal62, that is my social media name. It isn't very interesting or in the least bit insightful. I created it a long time ago when I was in my social media infancy and in retrospect, I should have picked something cooler. Alas, we learn. But, it is now something I have associated myself with professionally and so... that's my story and I am sticking with it.

But, I am, and always shall be, Diana. Thanks for reading. I hope you will be back for more.