Here’s to 50: Hitting a Milestone & What’s On the Other Side

Here’s to 50: Hitting a Milestone & What’s On the Other Side

We are now the same age that our parents were when we attended college. What?  It’s true. How did that happen?

Time passed rapidly, my friends, like a bat out of hell.

When I relocated a couple of years ago, I didn’t share my age with the younger people I knew.  Why not?  Was I afraid they would see me differently? Was I embarrassed?  Would they not want to hang out with me and my oldness?  Maybe all of these.

But, as I contemplated my inner-idiocy, I decided that I should be proud of my five decades. After all, this lady has done a lot of stuff—good stuff, challenging stuff—and, well, maybe I should pat myself on the back. Ups, downs, work, achievements, struggles, growth, relationships, marriage, friendships, children, hormones, and lots of other things are all packed into that half of a century.

So, I decided to let the old cat out of the bag and this is what I got:

“It’s just a number.”

“I would never have thought that.”

“I’d keep a lid on it because you’d never know.”

These responses entertained my brain a bit because although they were meant to be nice and make me feel better, they also made me feel like turning fifty is a bad thing. I mean, it’s not like anyone said, “Wow, that’s awesome.”

But it should be awesome.  Look at how far we’ve come, look at what we’ve learned, look at what we’ve achieved, look at what we’ve created, what we’ve nurtured. Do we really want to do any of it again, or are we proud of that fifty-year-old human we see in the proverbial mirror (or selfie) today?

As far as age just being a number, I would usually agree, but fifty is a little more significant than that.  This milestone challenges you to take a hard look forward at the time you have left on this planet and what you want to do with it. It may be a wakeup call for some, or possibly a crisis, but, hopefully, it’s more like a turning-point; a new way of thinking and being.

Keep a lid on it.  Well, I think most of us do, but why?  We should stop and celebrate because, quite honestly, I look at my peers and think, I am really glad to know exactly you, and you amaze me.  I see variations of resilience, adventure, wisdom, dedication, caring, respect, and love.

But for many, this birthday can conjure up negative emotions, self-doubt, and feelings of inadequacy.  I say, work through it.  I needed to.  It took a while, and I am now embracing it (with some effort).  I’m trying to balance my family’s wants and needs while doing the things I’ve always wanted to do, not what other people think I should do. I do my best to be genuine and kind, but without being so much of a people-pleaser.  I think about optimal ways to keep myself healthy and fit, but not because it’s trendy. And I do haul some serious ass when I detect drama or a sales pitch coming, there just isn’t enough time.

Most of us have some hefty obligations—bills to pay, mouths to feed—but now is also the time to be true to ourselves, more than ever. Some of us may have a long time left, maybe we’re only halfway there?  Most of us have somewhat less than that, so time is of the essence, and what you do with it is your business. Hopefully, you’ll be kind to yourself; surround yourself with those who matter to you most; follow your heart and your gut; say goodbye to judgy folks, naysayers, and poo-pooers; and do your best to enjoy the years to come to their absolute fullest extent.

Maybe plan the Alaskan cruise, learn to play the violin, take the acting class, write the great American novel, go zip-lining, sail in the Caribbean, or simply laugh and love as much as you can.  Whatever brings you joy and lifts you up, it’s time to celebrate.  Let’s do it!

“Here’s to fifty years of awesomeness!” they said.


– Becky XOXO

Including Food-Allergic Families at the Holidays

Including Food-Allergic Families at the Holidays

Kids & the Holidays…

Most of us look forward to spending time with family and friends during the holiday season. Along with all the holiday cheer, there are often a lot of beautiful and delicious appetizers and entrees at the center of these gatherings.  These food-centered events, however, can pose some challenges for people with life-threatening food allergies, particularly children.

While kids, tweens, and teens with life-threatening food allergies are learning to self-advocate, they are also trying to fit in with the rest of us. They want to have fun, go with the flow, and not draw attention to what makes them different from others.

We all want to be included, especially at the holidays.

Just like anyone else, food-allergic kids and their families want to be included – they want to come to holiday celebrations and parties and all things fun!  Sadly, they’re often left out for various reasons:

  • Maybe it’s too scary to have someone in your house knowing that they could have a life-threatening reaction?
  • Maybe there is too much planning involved?  After all, planning a regular party or gathering is a serious amount of work even when you don’t have to worry about potentially harming a guest.
  • Maybe food-allergic friends will feel left out if they can’t eat anything you plan to serve?

These concerns are valid, and the food-allergy community gets it. But here’s the thing:  Families with food-allergic kids will do anything, and I mean ANYTHING, to make your life as a host as easy as possible.  They just want to come and spend time with you.  It’s not about the food for them – it can’t be.

5 Easy Ways to Include Families with Food Allergies:

1. Understand that many food-allergic families will want to bring their own food.
As a host, you may want to reach out and accommodate a guest with life-threatening food allergies, and that is so nice, but realistically, it’s often just not safe.  This type of food preparation requires extensive knowledge of food allergens, cross-contamination, understanding food labels, and researching production facilities.  Let them bring their own food!  They want to!  They need to!

2.  Consider excluding life-threatening foods with oils and residues.
Kids with life-threatening food allergies can be terrified when close to their food allergen.  This is understandable considering the food could kill them.  Certain foods, like peanuts and tree nuts, have oils and residues that can be transferred from fingers to surrounding objects and surfaces.  For highly-sensitive children, just touching this oil or residue can set them up for a life-threatening reaction.  Consider putting the bowl of nuts away for the afternoon or evening.

3.  Designate dishwasher-safe utensils and dinnerware for your food-allergic guests.
This may seem silly, but a lot of us like to bring out our best dinnerware over the holidays, and, oftentimes, we prefer to not take any chances with Great Grandmother’s finest.  But for people with life-threatening food allergies, the only safe way to remove allergens from plates, glasses, and silverware is to run everything through a dishwasher cycle.

4.  Place allergen-free dishes off to the side to prevent cross-contamination.
Sometimes buffets or even just passing platters around can cross-contaminate a dish that was perfectly safe for your food-allergic guest.  Putting the dish off to the side (perhaps on a separate counter) with a designated serving spoon can help prevent this from happening. To keep everyone safe, it’s important not to mix up serving spoons and make sure nothing falls into the allergen-free dish.

5.  For a children’s party, the parent of a food-allergic child may need to attend.
At a certain age, kids’ parties become a drop-off situation, but kids with life-threatening food allergies may need to be accompanied by a parent.  Parents will likely just hang out in the background, wipe down potentially hazardous surfaces, and have an epinephrine auto-injector on hand in case a life-threatening reaction occurs.

Be inclusive by giving families the option to attend.

Food-allergic families just want to be invited, and the last thing they want to do is inconvenience others.  And as much as they want to be a part of the celebration, most food-allergic families won’t come if they think there is any risk involved.

Have a Happy & Safe Holiday Season!

5 Easy Ways to Spot the Female Narcissist in Your Life (Before It’s Too Late!)

5 Easy Ways to Spot the Female Narcissist in Your Life (Before It’s Too Late!)

If you’ve never interacted with a true narcissist, consider yourself lucky.  The narcissist is a completely self-absorbed individual, with no empathy for others, who manipulates individuals for her own gratification. Once you allow her into your life, she will wreak havoc — so beware.

Research psychologist Jean Twenge of San Diego State University reports that Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) affects about 6% of the population and is on the rise, especially in young women.  Since few people with NPD seek treatment, it is important to arm yourself with the skill-set to identify the disorder.  This will save you a lot of time, energy and pain.

A narcissist can be hard to spot at first because when she targets you, she will shower you with love for period of time, sometimes even years, in order to lure you in.   She can be highly charismatic and treat you exceptionally well, but don’t let these things fool you – it’s all a big trap.  This is not her true self.

Below are 5 tangible, easy-to-spot traits of Female NPD. Keep in mind that a narcissist may not display all of these behaviors, and any single one is a red flag.

1. She Has Delusions of Grandeur and Unrealistic Fantasies.

Not only does she think she’s superior, the narcissist thinks she is magnificent, and believes others cannot live without her. Her talents and accomplishments are often highly embellished.  She seeks power and fame, and believes she, or her children, should and will achieve it.

Watch for:

  • Highly exaggerated comments about her accomplishments, contributions, and talents; stories that sound unrealistic or don’t quite add up
  • Statements regarding her superior beauty or intellect
  • Name-dropping
  • Comments that group you with her as superior – “We are so much smarter than the others.”
  • Bragging and embellishing her own or her child’s achievements or superiority regarding attractiveness level, popularity, or skills
  • Believing she or her child will achieve celebrity status, such as becoming a professional athlete

2. She Has an Overwhelming Sense of Entitlement.

The narcissist is the center of her own world and believes she deserves special treatment. She thinks others should serve her without giving them any respect or consideration. In her mind, it’s okay for her to break the rules because they don’t apply to her.  She takes no responsibility for her mistakes.

Watch for:

  • Last minute requests for others to drop everything and indulge her whimsy
  • A group of peers that follow her from place-to-place and are at her beck-and-call
  • Breaking social norms, such as cheating, rude behavior, cutting lines, not following traffic laws, breaking promises, and standing up appointments without remorse
  • Persuading authority figures to make exceptions for her
  • Quickly assigning blame to others even when she is wrong
  • Never apologizing
  • Patterns of destroyed relationships in her past

3.  She Dominates and Steamrolls Conversations.

The narcissist constantly talks about herself and hogs the conversation.  It’s hard to get a word in.  In her world, she is always, ALWAYS right.

 Watch for:

  • Interrupting when others are speaking
  • Use of the word “but” quickly and frequently to bring a conversation back to herself
  • Criticizing, negating, ridiculing or disregarding comments of others; arrogant attitude
  • Becoming angry with others who disagree with her or press her for more details
  • Lack of attentiveness when others are talking; poor listening skills
  • Condescending remarks
  • Belief that she is the expert on all subjects, regardless of who she is talking to, i.e. she may attempt to educate a doctor on a medical issue
  • Talking at length to convince you she is right, no matter how absurd the point
  • Lying to get something she wants

4.  She Constantly Craves Attention.

The narcissist is always on stage and portrays herself differently depending on the audience and situation.  She believes she deserves constant admiration from those around her, and if she doesn’t get it, she can be quick to anger and show her true self.

  Watch for:

  • A change in personality depending who she is with; chameleon-like behavior determined by her environment
  • Charismatic behavior to ensure she is the center of attention in any setting
  • Extreme materialism
  • Excessive flirting, even with someone’s spouse or significant other; dressing provocatively
  • Comments that others are obsessed with her, regardless of gender – she may say a man in the room is hitting on her or a woman she knows is stalking her
  • Statements that others are jealous of her
  • Always wanting to win
  • Never sitting on the sidelines and taking it all in
  • Placing her children in activities that make them the center of attention, like modeling or acting, in hopes that she herself will someday achieve fame vicariously 

5.  Her Appearance is of Utmost importance.

The narcissist places extreme significance on her physical appearance for any situation. Her appearance is about status, and she buys nice things, whether she can afford them or not. She is overly confident about her attractiveness level.  She may not be viewed as beautiful, but she believes she is more appealing than other women.

 Watch for:

  • Catching her own reflection at inappropriate times
  • Hair, makeup and nails that are impeccably maintained, even for everyday tasks
  • Wearing brand name items that represent high status
  • Flaunting the status of her clothes, cars or other possessions
  • Clear leader of her social group; she decides what they do, when they do it, and who they associate with; she dictates when the party is and decides who the host will be
  • Frequently in her own photos on social media, even when celebrating someone or something else; Queen of the Selfie
  • Uploading images of herself surrounded by attractive friends at parties any chance she gets — sending two messages: “Look how popular I am,” and “You weren’t invited.”  (Over time you will notice subtle shifts in those photographs – the newly recruited friends and those that chose to leave the group on their own, or were discarded)
  • Posting images of herself that are under the guise not looking great, such as in a very pregnant photo or wearing a Halloween costume; regardless of the situation, photos will always be flattering, her message being, “I am always the most beautiful.” 

Why Does She Target You?

The self-serving narcissist wants to associate herself with you for your status, whether it’s social, economic, cultural, professional, or what have you.  You represent something she wants, and if you are lured into her circle, she believes she will acquire your status.  She collects individuals as status symbols in order to convey a false persona.   She uses you as a tool to build her identity, and when she thinks she has achieved that, or you don’t meet her needs, you will be discarded.

How Does She Make You Suffer?

Just when you start to trust the narcissist and feel comfortable, the trouble starts.  She has successfully manipulated you into a toxic social circle that you depend upon — and now she has you.  This is when the narcissist starts to show her true self, and it’s a scary thing.  In this phase of the relationship, you will be constantly tested with demands to serve her, you will be made to feel inferior and clingy, and will be subject to an environment of ongoing negativity.  If you don’t perform as requested, you will be humiliated, perhaps even publicly, or given the silent treatment.  Even if you perform well, she will only use you as long as she needs you.  As soon as your contribution to her status has run its course, she will drop you.

How to Get Out?

The only solution is to leave the group and cut off all contact.  Don’t answer phone calls or texts, and delete group members from all social media.  The narcissist will likely lead a smear campaign to portray you as an unstable person – she doesn’t want your exit to make her look bad.  Her campaign also keeps the remaining group members on their toes – they don’t want this to happen to them.  Any targeted negativity can be difficult to ignore, but it will pass.  Know that you are leaving a toxic relationship and a dysfunctional group on your own terms.  Others may stick around for a long time before the narcissist inevitably cuts their cords.   You, on the other hand, are now free to lead your own life and focus on what is important to you.  Be thankful you have the courage and self-esteem to do that.