Judging a book by its cover

Today, the book of questions asks “Does your sexual attraction to someone increase or decrease as you get to know them? Why do you feel this occurs?”

Honestly, yes and no. It depends on the person. We all know the famous adage that we shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, right? Well, I think it’s human nature to do just that. Both literally and figuratively.

On the literal side, how many times have you picked up something at a store only because it looked cool (new or sparkly packaging)? I know I have, and my mother was famous for it. Now think about the food that you eat. Are you likely to eat something that looks like slop? No, of course not. Just like the purchases we make in the store, we eat with our eyes first.

Unfortunately, we don’t always make the right choice by living this way. I can’t count the number of times I bought something because it was “new and improved;” only to be disappointed by the fact that the only thing improved was the packaging. I’ve also been amazed by the fact that something that doesn’t look visually stunning can taste fantastic (i.e., rice pudding-to me it looks like curdled yogurt).

We can apply these same principles to physical attraction. Even when we don’t want to admit it, we’re (naturally) attracted to someone (at least at first) physically. That’s what drives us to talk to them, to begin with. But, just like the book we shouldn’t be judging by its cover, people are the same. I’ll use another cliche and say, beauty is only skin deep. It’s the conversation, and intimate understanding, that follows that makes a person attractive.

Trust me; I’ve found plenty of strikingly handsome men who turned out to be the biggest jerks in the entire universe. Maybe I’m cursed; they always seem to find me…

#somedaymyprincewillcome

Con todos me amor

-Stephanie

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Perspective on failure

Today I want to talk a bit about failure and what it means to fail.
Honestly, that word isn’t in my vocabulary. I don’t see not doing well at something as a failure; I see it as an opportunity to grow and/or learn.

If I try something and it doesn’t come out like I think it should have, I try it again. The only way this becomes an issue is if you don’t try it a different way. You know what they say about insanity, right? The definition of insanity is trying the same thing, again and again, the same way, and expecting different results.

The only time the word “failure” comes into play (for me) is if I’m taking a test in which I get a score. Even with that, I try my very best (which is all we can ask of ourselves). You’ll rarely see me doing something that I’m not putting my best effort into; I’m too much of a perfectionist for that. I’ve even been known to go a bit crazy to find a way to do something that someone told me that I could not. Case in point: I was told that, with my foot problems, I would never be able to handle Karate. My doc flat out said that it just wasn’t a possibility for me. Well, I’m doing it two days a week and feeling fantastic. Did it hurt at first, well yeah; but the more I do it, the stronger my feet are getting. I just got back from a vacation at Universal in Orlando where I walked nearly 5-6 miles a day. In January, when I went to Disney, I got a wheelchair because 5 or 6 miles would have been excruciating.

In short, in my opinion, there is no such thing as a failure; it’s all about perspective. Take each mistake as a lesson learned and never let anyone tell you that you can’t do something. If they say it, find at least two ways that you can. Everything is possible if we try hard enough.

Con todo mi amor

-Stephanie

TMI?

Today, the book of questions asks “In general, how long does it take you to start discussing topics from your personal life with someone you just met? Do you see any danger in readily revealing a lot about yourself?”

This is a loaded question because there are a ton of ways that I can answer it.  In all honesty, it depends on the situation.

As evidenced in my blog posts, I am not at all opposed to revealing myself to anyone (even people I’ve never met).  So long as there is value in what I’m saying, I don’t see the problem in it.  I like to see my blog as inspirational (and humorous); picturing a young girl reading it and seeing that she is not alone in her insecurities or that there is nothing wrong with being different makes it all worthwhile to me.

If I meet a stranger on the street, though, I’m a bit on the shy side.  Rarely do I walk up to strangers and start talking.  If one talks to me, of course, I respond; but, it takes a lot to get me talking about myself.  I have to feel comfortable in the situation to do that.

Once I am comfortable, I have no problem talking about anything.  The way I see it is that we need to surround ourselves with folks we trust.  If you can’t tell them things, then you don’t trust them, and they don’t know you.  So why waste the effort?  I’m very choosy in whom I choose to allow into my inner-circle; if you’re in it, there is nothing that I wouldn’t tell you and nothing that I wouldn’t do for you.

Is there a danger in revealing things about oneself?  Maybe.  Regarding identity theft and such, well that’s just common sense.  Don’t ever tell anyone that sort of information until you trust them completely.  Concerning “being hurt,” well, it’s a risk we have to take as humans.  Every single relationship we have and choose to get ourselves into is a risk; but, if it works out, it’s well worth the reward.  Besides, if we never trusted folk enough to let them in, we’d be alone; and that is no bueno.

Con todos mi amor

-Stephanie

Philanthropy

I’d like to take a minute to discuss philanthropy.  The “book of questions” asked me today if there was a cause that I would take on even if it didn’t directly effect me.  Um, yes, absolutely.  Am I wrong or isn’t that the whole point of taking on a cause?

I recently joined the United Way’s Emerging Leaders and I did it to help a community (Waterbury)  that I have no stake in.  I do not live there, nor do I have family or friends living there.  While it may, indirectly, impact me (in that the emerging leaders that I will be mentoring will be the future of my state), I wouldn’t say that is the reason to do it.  I do it because I feel like it’s important for all kids to have a good role model.

Growing up, I had two awesome parents and not all kids get to be that lucky.  I’m hoping to be the missing link in some young ladies future.  Who knows, maybe with my guidance she’ll be the CEO of a major corporation, or write the next all American novel.

No matter what she does, I will be happy to have been a part of it.  And I do it, because I want to, not at all for selfish reasons.

Con todos mi amor

-Stephanie

It’s not always work

Quite often, someone says something that gets me thinking; and, because I’m a very cerebral person, once I start thinking, I can’t stop.

I recently found myself in the middle of a conversation about working.  In this conversation, it was said that “everyone hates their job.”  Honestly, I have to disagree.  I didn’t say so at the time because I was so deeply stunned by the comment.  Obviously, you’re not always going to get along with everyone you work with, that’s completely normal.  We’ll never get along with everyone we meet period; and, that’s OK. In my humble opinion, a job is much more than those we work with.

I love my job.  I’ve loved most of my past jobs.  I’m pretty sure that if I hated the job itself, I wouldn’t do it.  For me, it’s never been about the money (I mean c’mon, I’m a teacher), it’s about what I do.  Even if I only reach one student in my class, at least I did that.  I’m happy knowing that I changed that one person’s life for the better; there’s really no better feeling.  It’s how I maintain my sanity through the frustration.

Con todo mi amor,

-Stephanie

 

 

#Faith

I often get comments on my blog that tell me how I seem to be so happy and carefree; or, how I always have my (uh stuff) together. Honestly, that’s because it’s what I choose to put out there into the world; and, because I have faith in the decisions that I make. Believe me; I haven’t always been this way. It took me a long time to get here (and a lot of work).

It all goes back to the Buddhist and stoic philosophies that I’ve been studying. To sum it up, you have to have faith that the path you’re on is the path you should be on; and, what you put out into the world is what you will get back (like Karma).

I don’t believe much in fate/destiny, per se. It’s more that we forge our paths with the things we choose to do; and, we choose to do those things because it’s what we were meant to choose. In other words, I don’t believe that we should sit back idly and wait for things to happen because that is our fate; we make our own choices and need to have faith that those choices are the correct ones. Even if the choice turns out to be a “bad” choice, there was a reason for it; likely because there was something that needed to be learned from it.

I’m pretty sure everyone knows what Karma is; but, how it relates to philosophy is interesting. Remember that you (as a living being) are a mass of cells. Think of those cells as though they were a radiator. Everything we are is radiated out into the world; and, in this case, opposites do not attract. If what you’re radiating is negative, it’s likely that you will receive negativity. If what you’re radiating is positive, you’ll likely receive positivity.

In the long run, it all boils down to one thing, faith. If you have faith that you’re doing the right kinds of things (for you), you’ll put out positive vibes and get positive vibes in return.

In the Still of the Night…

I was asked today if I was going to write a review of the John Lloyd Young show that I went to see last Wednesday in NYC. If there is one thing that I’ve learned from being involved in the entertainment industry at all, it’s that you’ve got to give the people what they want. So, Norhayati, this is for you…

The first time I saw that John Lloyd Young was coming to the city (that’s what folks here in CT call NYC), I knew that is what I would be gifting myself as an early 40th birthday present. No matter the cost. I also knew that I would wear a dress, wear make-up, and wear my contacts (hey, maybe he’s single?). Those of you who know me well know that both of those things (spending money on myself and getting all dressed up) aren’t things I do on a regular basis.

I was beyond excited as I waited in the stairwell of Feinstein’s 54 Below in New York. I thought idly about why it was called 54 below. It was apparent that it was below the famous Studio 54, so why not Feinstein’s Below 54? At any rate, I was there, and I was going to see John Lloyd Young at one of New York’s premier supper clubs! So excited might be an understatement.

The four women standing in front of me chatted animatedly about John. They discussed where they would “go with him” next and whether or not he looked better with or without his five o’clock shadow. Their enthusiasm only made me more excited!
I’d gotten myself so worked up that when we were finally allowed in, I ordered a glass of wine to relax so that I could eat. That’s another thing I rarely do- I practice Korean Buddhist Philosophy, Tang Soo Do (a Korean martial art), and Yoga- all 3 of which frown upon the use of alcohol.

I sipped my wine and sparkling water and chatted with my best friend, Craig, who had graciously accepted my invitation to accompany me on this adventure. When it came time for food (a Caesar salad which was delicious), I ate as slowly as I could, hoping to keep it all down. I, then, drooled over the dessert menu knowing that there was no way that I could eat anything else.

When John came out and announced that he was going to be singing his album from start to finish, a (small) pang of sadness hit me as I was hoping for a bit of Jersey Boys music and some stuff in Spanish that I’ve heard he does well. I’m almost fluent in Spanish, so it would have been cool to hear.

He sang “In the Still of the Night” out in the audience, walking around and shaking hands. Shockingly, he shook my hand, which made my night. Then, when he sang “Unchained Melody,” the waterworks that I’d been holding in all day began about half-way through. That song is my absolute favorite song and hearing him sing it live ignited the torrent of emotions that were bubbling inside of me. I noticed that he was looking right at me; more accurately, looking into me. I felt like he was able to see my soul. I held his gaze for a moment and then looked away nervously.

Honestly, the show took my breath away (on many occasions). His voice is nothing short of spectacular. His range is somewhere around baritone with a flawless jump into a falsetto that makes even the most subdued song sound effervescent. He sings every song with such passion and fervor that it’s difficult not to be enraptured. In the end, he did sing “Sherry,” so one of my wishes was granted.

I went out into the lobby after the show ended and bought a hard copy of John’s CD (autographed) and asked the woman if John might be coming back out to take pictures. She said no; so, dejectedly, I walked back to my car and drove home singing at the top of my lungs to every John Lloyd Young song on my phone. Overall, I had one of the most magical nights that I’ve ever had. I will definitely do it again!

Con todo mi amor!
Stephanie

 

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The Butterfly Effect

It’s so weird how sometimes certain things you do make such an impact on your life and ultimately change the course of events that follow.  Kind of like the Butterfly Effect; you know the theory that a butterfly flapping its wings changes something (or at least the potential to change something) miles away?  Something happens, or you make a decision, that causes a snowball effect, or chain reaction.  It certainly isn’t something that we think about consciously when making decisions;  as humans, everything we tend to do errs on the side of selfish (if even only a little bit).  Rarely, do we make decisions with others in mind; though, we should, because (even if we don’t know it) everything little thing we do makes a difference in someone’s life.  Let me show you what I mean.

One of my best friends in the whole world is Craig. He’s the one person in this entire world who knows everything about me:  the good, the bad, and the ugly.  He knows what I want, what I need, and often, what I will do/say even before I do.  Because of all of this, he usually picks out the best birthday presents; which, brings me to the point.

I was eating lunch in the school cafeteria (somewhere around the beginning of February) when my cell phone buzzed.  I figured it was an email, but I looked anyway.  It was a text message from Craig asking me what I had going on March 17th.  As I mentioned, Craig knows me well, which means he also knows that I almost never plan that far in advance.  So his question could only mean one thing- something big is coming.  It turns out, he wanted to give me an “early birthday” present and asked that I keep my schedule clear for that day.

Now, when I say early birthday, I mean EARLY; my birthday isn’t until November 23rd, which, at that point, was nine months away.  I hate surprises, and he knew this; but, I dropped the conversation after agreeing to keep my schedule clear.  By the time I got home that afternoon, it was grating on my nerves.  I had to know.  Well instead of asking him, like I should have done, I decided to research it myself.

I figured that since he was so specific about the date (and asking so far in advance), it had to be something happening only on that day.  It turns out, that wasn’t the case, but more on that later.  I spent almost 2 hours on Google trying to figure it out.  The only thing I found happening around that time frame was Jersey Boys at the Palace, but it was the following weekend, not the 17th.  Because it was driving me crazy at this point, I sent him a text pleading with him to tell me, which he did with no argument- Curling lessons; he was taking me for curling lesson.  As I said, I should have just asked him right away, because I ended up dropping almost $400 on Jersey Boys tickets for my father and myself.

Remember how I said that the date wasn’t as important as he made it out to be?  Well, that’s because that day was the last Curling lesson of the season.  The season, which would start again in September, in plenty of time for my birthday; but, Craig doesn’t pay attention to the details.  He saw something that would be cool for us to do together and didn’t notice that he could have waited until closer to my birthday.

The curling lesson taught me one thing that will come into play later; I am out of shape!

The week after the Curling lesson, I went to see Jersey Boys with my Dad and fell in love with the show.  The next day, I discovered that it was also a movie; so, I rented it and, once again, fell in love.  Though this time, it wasn’t just the show that I fell in love with.  Something about the guy who played Frankie Valli spoke to me.

The next day, I got an anonymous message on my blog with a link to someone singing my all time favorite song (Unchained Melody). I watched it, and it clicked, that’s the guy!
It was a bizarre feeling; but, I couldn’t get enough.  I had to know who this guy was.

I’ll admit it; I became obsessed.  I watched YouTube video after YouTube video learning everything I could about this guy.  I found one video from Broadway.com that I haven’t been able to stop watching since.  This guy is the male version of me; it’s a bit creepy.  He’s intelligent (an Ivy leaguer), he speaks Spanish, loves Andy Warhol, loves the 50s and 60s crooner pop/rock, has a wry sense of humor, and studies martial arts.  While I’m not an ivy leaguer, I like to consider myself reasonably intelligent; I also speak Spanish (though not fluently as he does- but I’m close). I love Andy Warhol, 50s and 60s crooner pop/rock, have a wry sense of humor, and once studied martial arts.

He talked about all of these things in the interview, along with the catalysts that that drove each.  He was talking about how his manager suggested that he take Kung Fu to “get out of his own head” when it hit me.  That’s what I need to do!  I need to get back into Tang Soo Do.  Not only will it help me get back into shape physically, but it’ll also give me the confidence and soul medicine that I need to take turning forty with a grain of salt.  So, the next day, I marched down the street to the local Dojang and signed up.  I’ve been doing it for several weeks now, and I already feel great.  I’ve lost almost 20 pounds and gained some self-confidence.  In doing that, I decided to push myself even further and recently started doing Yoga so that I could be more flexible in karate class.

The interview also mentioned that he had released a CD of various 50s/60s songs that any fan of Jersey Boys would love.  I bought the CD and haven’t stopped listening to it since.

In watching this interview over and over again (I fell in love with his sense of humor and utterly infectious laugh), I came across an ad that mentioned him returning to NYC for a few shows at Feinstein’s/54 Below.  Yes, I’m spontaneous, so yes, I bought the tickets.

Relaxation Station

“Do you feel more relaxed when you are alone or with a group of people?”

For me, I think this depends a lot on the time of the year it is. I know that sounds weird, but I can explain.

At the beginning of the semester, I am rested and ready to go. Remember the “first day of school” hopefulness that you felt as a kid? It’s something like that; or, like the new beginning, we all look forward to on new years day.

Given that, I love the comfort of family and friends. I relax by cooking dinner for my loved ones and then curling up on the couch to watch TV together.

Towards the end of the semester, when I’m completely burned out, I tend to err on the side of being alone. After 16 grueling weeks of reading and grading students papers, I’m wiped out; and, the only way to relax me is to leave me alone for a bit to decompress.

Overall, though, I love being with my family and friends, it’s how I recharge my batteries.