Living the Dream

This is how you get what you want…

How to make a long distance relationship work March 8, 2009

Filed under: How to...,Relationships — mammyflop @ 9:06 pm
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In today’s world of dating, we often find ourselves living away from our partners. Whether it’s 2 hours or 2,000 miles, being apart can really take itstoll on yourrelationsihp. As if being in a relationship isn’t difficult enough! Here are some tips to keep the love alive in your long-distance relationship!

The main dish is communication: you aren’t around each other so there are no nonverbal signals to pick up on, no cuddling, no hugging, no passionate kisses to communicate how much you care. You have to use your words and other creative gestures. Talk every day. This is a MUST.

Skype!! It’s free and there’s something qualitatively different about seeing your honey in addition to just hearing their voice. At least just give it a shot.

Send pacakges. Let your partner know you’re thinking of them and thoughtful enough to put some effort into it. Some ideas…send a “candlelight dinner”…a couple of tea lights or votives, a box of mac ‘n cheese, chocolates, rose petals or a beautiful dried flower, include a movie if you like. Make sure you have the same items, and you can have a candlelight dinner date with your love! Another idea…get a bag of hershey’s kisses and/or hugs. Remove the paper strips, and make your own. Write down reasons you love your partner or things you love about her/him, and slip them inside the foil wrapper to replace the original strip.

Make a photo calendar on shutterlfy.com or a on similar photo website. If you have a good memory, search through your photos and assign pics  to the calendar months based on the month in which it was taken (for example, if you have a picture of you and your partner from his birthday in june last year, assign that picture to the june month in the calendar you’re creating). It will be fun for both of you to remember the events!

Keep reminders of your partner. I’m talking about pictures, gifts, and other tokens of that person. Placing them strategically allows you to incorporate your partner into your life when s/he’s not physically present. Wear jewelry, the watch, the clothes that s/he gave you. Remember this when you put the item on, and be grateful for it. Place tokens around your world. For example, place a pic of you and your partner in different rooms of your home, in your car, in your planner. If it sounds obsessive, then don’t go overboard- do what you’re comfortable with. Just remember, when you can’t be together, you have to find ways to make the person a presence in your life.

Have “dates”. Yes! It’s possible! Go get an ice cream cone at the same time and talk on the phone while enjoying your cones. Find a recipe you both love and cook at the same time. Find a movie you both want to see, and find theatres in your respective towns that are playing the movie at roughly the same time. Or rent a movie, and begin it at the same time. Stay on the phone or on skype during the activities to feel your partner closer!

Start a project together. Read the same book, join a yoga class, train for a half marathon together, begin a home improvement project. It’s a way to stay connected on an engaging task that you’re both into.

Visit each other as much as possible. In today’s economy you may not have the funds to make as many trips as you’d like to, but you have to prioritize your relationship and yes,  that means sometimes sacrificing the new pair of heels for a plane ticket.

Make an end in sight. Relationships that carry on without a definitive endopint can seem confusing and hopeless. Partners can easily get discouraged. Make a plan with your partner, and make sure it’s a good compromise that you both can commit to.

Bottom line: Be creative, be committed, and communicate.

 

Top 10 things to do on girls’ nights (mostly in) October 9, 2007

Filed under: Archives,Friendship,Top Ten — mammyflop @ 12:19 am
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girlsnight 

Planning a girls’ night in? These are some ideas to do with your girlfriends. Mix and match a few ideas into one carefree evening with your ladies!

For larger groups: 

1. Themed pot lucks

For example, everyone brings: something red, a dessert, an appetizer, some kind of food that starts with a <you pick the letter>, etc.

2. Game night

Board games, Madlibs (check out naughty variations), or nonboard interpersonal games like “psychiatrist”, “mafia”, and “murder”. Or even this: Everyone pick a *choice* word or phrase, and each get a sheet of paper. The best words are inside jokes or other words meaningful to your group in some other way. Each person writes a sentence (for best results, write about mutual friends/romantic partners) with their respective word, and passes their sheet of paper around so that everyone writes sentences with their word on each paper. Read each sheet aloud when you’re finished. Hilarious!

3. Book club

If you can organize this with a group, it’ll be good times. Foster intellectual growth in yourself and in your friend group, and have a group of people who, literally, are on the same page as you with regard to at least one area of your life!

4. Ice cream sundae party

Everyone bring their favorite topping! 

For any size group:

5. Slide show of old pictures

Warn the neighbors about possible outbursts of screeching, hooting, and laughter.

6. Jacuzzi

Nobody to judge, no insecurities. Just sit back and relaaaax.

7. Dinner and a movie

Go out, cook a meal together, order in, rent or visit a theatre – mix it up to suit your mood! 

8. Go for a brisk walk

Meander through a park if the weather permits (I’m envisioning fall leaves and a the dry, cool air of a crisp fall evening at dusk), or to a vista where you can watch the sunset.

9. Wine & cheese

Enough said.

10. Pampering spa night

Everyone brings spa treatment items such as facial masks, cooling cucumber eye patches, parrafin treatment, manicure supplies, etc.

11. Baking extravaganza

Bake a fabulous cake, or some other creation! If you’re a spaz in the kitchen, consider inviting your culinarily inclined girlfriends…and pick a recipe that seems too complicated to make by yourself! Teamwork!

Girls just wanna have fun!

 

Quiz: How healthy is your relationship? October 7, 2007

Concerned about your romantic relationship, or do think it’s in great shape? Find out where you stand with this quiz, constructed by Mammy.


1. How often do you and your partner participate in community service, charity events, etc.?

a) Weekly

b) Monthly

c) A few times a year

d) Once per year or less


2. Have others been hurt by your relationship with your current partner (e.g., cheating, fights or arguments with friends or family members about your partner)?
a) Nope, nobody I can think of. Everyone in my life loves my partner as much as I do.

b) I’ve been hurt by my friends failing to understand my relationship- I’ve had to cut down on my contact with a few friends who kept telling me things like “I could do better”.

c) A few friends have expressed concerns, and I’ve discussed these with them.

d) One or more third parties have been hurt by events or decisions in our relationship. 
 

3. When I want time alone, my partner:

a) Is happy to leave me to my own devices. S/he gives me a kiss and tells me to enjoy myself.

b) Not an issue- I don’t really want time alone.

c) Expresses concern that I’m upset and repeatedly asks if I there’s anything I want to talk about.

d) Asks me if everything is ok and if there’s anything I want to talk about, then lets me to do my thing.
4. How much does your partner support your career goals?
a) S/he doesn’t care much about my work

b) S/he is sure to ask me how work is every day, and I give her/him a breakdown of what transpired and the office gossip.

c) S/he asks me detailed questions about my work frequently, and I get the sense that s/he really knows what my job is all about and where I’d like to go with it.


5. How do you support your partner’s career goals?

a) I ask him/her how work was at the end of each day.

b) I’m just not really interested in his/her job- we have more exciting things to talk about and do together.

c) I ask him/her how satisfied s/he is at the job, and where s/he sees her/himself in a few years.


6. Since the two of you have gotten together,

a) We’ve both gained significant weight and/or gotten out of shape

b) We’ve put on a few pounds, which isn’t such a surprise since we’ve gotten older

c) We’ve pretty much maintained our physiques since when we met

d) We’ve become healthier than when we first met


7. When your partner wants to spend time with his/her friends, you:

a) Get upset, anxious, and/or worried, and can’t focus until s/he comes home

b) Wonder if you did something to upset him/her, and hope s/he’s not mad at you

c) Tell him to enjoy himself, and are glad to have some time to yourself as well.

d) Pretty much always go along, and your partner usually accompanies you when you make plans with your friends


8. Which best describes this past week with your partner?

a) We did a few different activities together, some that s/he chose but I wasn’t crazy about, and some that I picked out that my partner wasn’t crazy about. We make compromises for each other.

b) We partook in a variety of activities that we both enjoy.

c) We were both so busy that we had little time to spend together. We ate dinner together at least a few nights.

d) We’re long distance so we didn’t see each other. However, we spoke on the phone every day.

e) We’re long distance. We spoke on the phone daily and had at least one long-distance “date”.


9. How would you rate the ability of you and your partner to conjointly solve relationship problems?

a) 1-3

b) 4-6

c) 7-9

d) 10


10. To what extent do you and your partner keep to yourselves vs. integrating into the larger community?

a) We’ve attended a few block parties/local art fairs/book fairs/parades

b) My partner doesn’t care for these types of events so we find other ways to have fun.

c) We mostly do our own thing

d) We’re all about checking out the community events section of the newspaper and getting to know others in our neighborhood.

Scoring Key

For your response, give yourself the corresponding number of points:

1. a (2), b (2), c (1), d (0)

2. a (1)*, b (0)*, c (2), d (0)

3. a (2), b (0), c (1), d (2)

4. a (0), b (1), c (2)

5. a (1), b (0)*, d (2)

6. a (0), b (1)*, c (2), d (2)

7. a (0), b (1), c (2), d (0)

8. a (1), b(2), c (0), d (1), e (2)

9. a (0), b (1), c (2), d (1)*

10.  a (1), b (0), c (0), d (2)

What your score means:

15-20: Healthy

Congrats! You’ve mastered the art of a healthy relationship- not an easy task! A healthy couple relationship is one in which both partners contribute to the well being of the relationship. This means that both partners have formed an effective partnership- reaching decisions and resolving problems effectively, communicating constructively, and engaging as a couple in a variety of mutually rewarding and engaging activities. In addition, a healthy relationship is one that contributes to the growth, well-being, and development of each partner, both on day-to-day and long-term bases. The relationship is responsive to each individual’s needs, such as the need to function autonomously, to spend time alone or with friends without the partner. In addition, healthy relationships facilitate occupational growth and development, and physical health. During times of personal distress, partners provide support to one another either instrumentally, through helping out with responsibilities, or emotionally, through listening empathically to concerns. Finally, in healthy relationships, the partners relate to their physical and social environments in an adaptive manner. The couple gives back to the community through involvement in social or environmental causes.

9-14: Got the Sniffles

Your relationship has strengths and weaknesses. You’re probably satisfied with the status quo but have some things that you’d like to change. Maybe the two of you are busy with work and don’t spend much time together. Or, maybe you spend a great deal of time together and don’t engage in activities that foster your growth as individuals. Read the description of what contributes to couple health above, and try to incorporate some of the ideas into your relationship.

0-8: Serious Illness

If you’re here, Mammies are concerned about you. Based on your responses, you and your partner interact in a way that is detrimental to both of you as individuals, and to the relationship as a unit. Maladaptive relationships involve poor communication, ineffective problem solving, high levels of negative behavior, and low levels of positive behavior. Also, an unhealthy relationship does not contribute to the growth or development of the partners as individuals, and can actually be destructive to one or both partners. Research shows that psychological and physical problems can actually be worsened in destructive relationships. As well, in unhealthy relationships, partners interact in a way that is destructive to other individuals or to the broader society- by ignoring friends who are concerned that the couple spends too much or too little quality time together, or by getting so focused on the relationship that they fail to interact with and contribute to their community. Please try to break these maladaptive patterns by reading the above description of what is involved in a healthy relationship, and try to bring some of those concepts to your relationship. Or, if you feel that your partner simply is not right for you, talk to some supportive friends and muster up the courage to break it off. Whatever route you decide to go, if you’re feeling really distressed, you should consider finding a therapist for additional support.

*Idealizing subscale.Questions 2, 5, 6, 9, 10. If you selected more than one response with a star in the scoring key, you might want to re-evaluate things…Endorsing several of these questions indicates that you tend to idealize your partner and your relationship, and may fail to address your own true needs. It’s great to prioritize your relationship, and in fact this is a cornerstone of a healthy relationship. However, there’s a thin line between a healthy relationship and one in which one or both partners have gotten caught up in the romance and forgotten who they are as individuals. You must remember, you are one half of the relationship, and for it to be healthy, you need to be healthy. Redefine your personal needs by thinking about what you would want for yourself if you were not in a relationship, and what you wish your partner did more of/less of. Also, it would probably benefit you personally, and your relationship in the long run, if you took up a hobby independent of your partner.  Share your thoughts with your partner. See our posts on communication skills for help with having such a conversation.

Questions and descriptions based on: 

Baucom, D. H., Epstein, N., & LaTaillade, J. J. (2002). Cognitive-Behavioral Couple Therapy. In Gurman & Jacobson (eds.). Clinical Handbook of Couple Therapy. The Guilford Press: New York.

 

How to improve your communication skills: Problem solving October 6, 2007

So you’re ticked off at your intimate partner for something….maybe it’s a familiar problem rearing its ugly head once again, or perhaps it’s a new issue that just surfaced. Regardless of what it is or how often it happens, trying to find a solution can be difficult and stressful, and sometimes can even lead to additional problems. Sometimes just the thought of broaching the issue is tough. The Dream Team is here to help. Below are some guidelines for solving problems with your romantic partner. These may extend to other types of relationships as well.

1. Define and specify

Phrase the issue in terms of behaviors that are currently occurring or not occurring, or in terms of what needs to be decided.

Break down large, complex problems into several smaller & more manageable problems. Deal with each of these one at a time.

Make certain that both you and your parter agree on the statement of the problem, and are willing to discuss it.

2. Importance

Explain why the issue is important to you, and what you perceive the issues involved to be.

Explain what your needs are and that you would like to see them taken into account in the solution. DO NOT offer speicific solutions at this time.

3. Brainstorm possible solutions

Time to get creative! Brainstorm every possible solution, no matter how extreme, that you can think of. *Write them down on a piece of paper.* Each solution should be concrete and specificy the behaviors involved.

4. Decide on a solution

You and your partner should independently rate each solution from 1-3 in terms of how much you favor it (1=favor very much, 2=neutral/willing to try but skeptical, 3=dislike). Cross off solutions that both of you gave a 3, since these won’t work for either of you. If there are solutions that both of you rated a “1”, focus on these. Otherwise focus on solutions that one of you rated a “1” and the other rated a “2”. The best solutions will take both partners’ needs and preferences into account, and will be focused on the present and the futue. Do not focus on solutions that meet only your needs, even if your partner is willing to accept them. This could lead to resentment and/or withdrawal by your partner down the line. Do not dwell on the past – the solution should move your relationship forward. Do not accept solutions that you do not intend to follow through with, or one that will make you angry or resentful.

Once you have selected a solution, write it in clear, specific behavioral terms (if this has not already been done). Both you and your partner should verbally restate the solution in your own words to ensure that you each understand it in the same way.

5. Trial

Select a time frame during which to implement the solution on a trial basis. Both you and your partner should mark you calendars for the date when this trial period ends. Allow for several attempts at the new solution. Review the solution at the end of the trial period. If needed, revise the solution, taking into account what you learned during the trial.

All content from:

Baucom, D. H., Epstein, N., & LaTaillade, J. J. (2002). Cognitive-Behavioral Couple Therapy. In Gurman & Jacobson (eds.). Clinical Handbook of Couple Therapy. The Guilford Press: New York.

 

How to improve your communication skills: Speaking October 5, 2007

birds

Interested in improving your communication skills? Most people can stand to improve in this department. The great thing about improving these skills is that they’re applicable to any relationship- friends, romantic partners, parents, kids, coworkers. Have you ever gotten caught up in the heat of the moment, and lashed out at your friend, partner, parent, or child? Maybe things even escalated into a full-blown fight. Afterwards, everyone probably felt bad… You can avoid this trap by following the guidelines for effective communication below.

The example situation that will be referenced throughout the post: You and a close friend had made plans to have dinner together last Friday. She called you an hour before you had planned to meet and cancelled because she wanted to go to a concert with a new guy she’s seeing.

  1. State your views subjectively – as your own feelings and thoughts, not as absolute truths. Use “I” statements to avoid your listener feeling as if they’re being verbally attacked (“I’m angry with you because we didn’t get to hang out last Friday like we had planned to do” vs. “It pisses me off that you flaked on me”).
  2. Speak for yourself. State what you think and feel, NOT what you think your listener thinks and feels (“I’m feeling hurt that we didn’t get to spend time together, and angry that you called me an hour before we were supposed to meet” instead of “Clearly, I’m not a priority to you”).
  3. Express your emotions and feelings, not just your ideas (“I’m feeling hurt that we didn’t get to hang out” instead of “We didn’t get to hang out”).
  4. When talking about your listener, state your feelings about her/him, not just about a certain event or situation (“I’m angry with you” instead of “I’m angry that we didn’t get to hang out”).
  5. When expressing negative emotions or concerns, also include positive feelings you have about the person or situation. (“I was really excited to see you because you’re one of my closest friends, and I got very disappointed when you called to cancel” instead of “I’m feeling angry, hurt, and disappointed”)
  6. Make your statements as specific as possible. Identify a single situation or topic that’s bothering you and prompting you to share (Your friend flaked on you last Friday when you had dinner plans , instead of Your friend flakes on you all the time). Avoid making global attributions about your listener (“You called me an hour before we were supposed to meet last Friday” instead of “You always flake on me”). Also be specific in terms of your emotions and thoughts. (“I’m feeling angry and hurt” instead of “I’m feeling bad”).
  7. Speak in “paragraphs”. Express a main idea with some elaboration and allow your listener to respond. Speaking for a long time without a break makes it difficult for your listener to listen.
  8. Use appropriate tact and timing, so that your listener can hear what you’re saying without becoming defensive. Monitor the tone of your voice so that you can have a constructive problem-solving conversation instead of one in which you and your listener tear each other down. Select a time to bring up the topic in advance, when both you and your listener have a block of time and will be able to attend fully to the conversation. Right before work, bed, or other plans is not a good time.

All content from:

Baucom, D. H., Epstein, N., LaTaillade, J. J. (2002). Cognitive-Behavioral Couple Therapy. In Gurman & Jacobson (eds.). Clinical Handbook of Couple Therapy. The Guilford Press: New York.

 

Have you tried it? Pureology Hair Care (Product Review) October 3, 2007

pureology      gwenpaltrow

With all the hair care products on the market, it can be overwhelming to choose the right product for you. Well, Mammy must admit that she’s a bit of a hair-ist (one who evaluates others based on their hair), so she’s gone to town sampling products from an array of different hair care lines. Redken, Abba, Bed Head by TIGI, Biolage, Alterna, Nexxus, Sexy Hair….Mammy’s tried a lot. Now of course different hair types require different care regimines. For hair that is naturally straight, of moderate thickness, and tends to be dry and perhaps stripped of nutrients because you color it– you won’t find better products than those by Pureology. Those of you with other hair types- you can probably find a Pureology for you, I just don’t know what to recommend for, say, dry or curly hair.
Hands down, the very best hair products I’ve tried are from Pureology (check them out at http://www.pureology.com/  or in a salon near you). They make my hair feel soft, silky, and run-my-hands-through-able. The first time I shampooed and conditioned with Pureology, I could tell right afterwards that my hair felt gloriously different than it did when I’d used other products. I knew there would be no turning back! Pureology purportedly utilizes “nanotechnology”, meaning the products are comprised of smaller atoms and molecules that more easily penetrate the hair shaft and seal off the hair cuticle, smoothing each strand. I don’t know if this claim is true, but what I do know is that the products fight static and frizz, and since I’ve been shampooing and conditioning with Pureology for the past year or so, my hair has been healthier and stronger than ever. I usually use products from the the moisturizing system (purple) or the volumizing system (pink).  The conditioners lightly tingle your scalp if you let them sink in for a while. Feels good! Oooh and I forgot to mention, the fragrance is lovely! Almost like a minty yet fresh air fresh kind of smell..take a whiff!
I’ve also tried a few of the styling products – the Nanoglaze (yellow) and ColourMax leave-in conditioner (mint green), and I highly recommend both.
  • Nanoglaze- it’s a light serum that you run through your hair prior to blow-dry. Need to use very little per application. I find that when I use it my hair does dry a bit faster, as advertised. This one also acts as a thermal and color protectant. This stuff is also great for holding style. 
  • nanoglaze                leavein
  • Colour-Max leave-in conditioner. A great detangler and shine enhancer. It’s also advertised as a thermal protectant and UVA/UVB protectant (sunscreen for your hair–who knew?).
As if the products weren’t amazing enough, all of Pureology products are carcinogen-free, vegan, and cruelty-free. I love this company!
The one drawback…it’s kinda pricy, but not substantially more than you’d pay for a decent salon-quality product. Each shampoo and conditioner bottle is about $20.
  
  
PS, I also like Alterna’s hemp-based styling products. I’ve only tried their straightening balm and the shine spray, and boy are both of these miracle-workers. Ohhh and the smell..mango-y yet floral-y. Light and sweet!

shinspray      straightbalm

Price: around $18 each
You hair is worth it!!
 

Have you tried it ? VICTORIA’S SECRET VERY VOLUPTUOUS LIP PLUMPER October 1, 2007

Filed under: Have you tried it? — mammyflop @ 1:26 am
Tags: , , , ,

LIPS

With so many Lip Plumpers on the market, Mammie decided to test one out.

VICTORIA’S SECRET VERY VOLUPTUOUS LIP PLUMPER RETAIL PRICE: $18

I’ve sampled a few lip plumpers and I haven’t liked any of them for one reason : Excessive Tingling. Other lip plumpers have been very uncomfortable, and at times unbearable.

To my surprise, I really like Victoria’s Secret Very Voluptuous Lip Plumper.

The lip gloss comes in a click pen style, so you can control how much you are applying. Also, the lip gloss isn’t too thick, and easy to apply. Keeps your lips feeling moisturized too!

The tingling is definitely noticeable, but only upon initial application. The tingling also decreases the more you use the product. You don’t have to worry about the ‘hot sauce’ feeling, nor do you have to worry about your lips ‘itching’ because of the tingling.

Within seconds of applying the lip gloss you can notice a difference. I was told that my lower lip looked fuller. Granted, the actual effect may not be dramatic, but I did notice slight enhancement. *This product is perfect if you want a little more fullness*

The product claims to smooth lines as well, but I can’t really tell. However, the gloss did make my lips feel smoother. What I can say is that the smell is pleasant (like sugar, candy), and there is barely any taste to the gloss.

The product comes in 3 different shades: bare, baby pink and hot pink. I am using the baby pink- which is a light pink/ peachy hue…. and I really like it! (The gloss is supposed to be a ‘self adjusting pigment’ so you get your own personalized hue.)

If you have naturally full lips (or average size lips) and want a little enhancement to achieve sexy, full lips without injections … TRY THIS PRODUCT.

If you have naturally thin lips you may want to try Very Voluptous EXTREME Lip Plumper.

Overall, paying $18 for a lip plumper is worth it. This product gives you a pleasant, ”it’s working” tingle, along with a nice smell, and well moisturized lips. If you want a little oomph – use this product alone, or with your lipstick. I use mine all day long!!

 

MUAH*