Who are you with?

 

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It takes a lot to get me to quit procrastinating… That explains why I haven’t blogged in over a year. So what was it that finally kicked my butt back into gear? Any guesses?

If you said the disgusting, misogynistic, xenophobic racist Donald Trump, give yourself a star! I’ve been thinking about what future, 70 year old Lauren will tell her grandkids about the year 2016, and I don’t want it to be that I stayed quiet while people I cared about voted for a man who will surely have a place in our history books in the chapter on narcissistic sociopaths with a penchant for sexual violence.

There are so many reasons not to vote for Donald Trump, that I can’t begin to list them all. But, I’ll make an attempt. If you weren’t swayed by his xenophobic attitude towards Muslims and Mexicans, or his racist history of denying apartments to black applicants and railroading the innocent Central Park Five, I’m disappointed. If you didn’t budge after you heard the way he talks to and about women, I’m disappointed. If you weren’t convinced by his confession that he has sexually assaulted women, and the many reports that he, in fact, has, I’m disgusted. And even if you ignored everything he said up until the point he advocated grabbing women by the genitals because you realized that you have women in your life that you love, or that you’re a woman yourself, and finally disavowed him, I’m still pretty upset with you. And, as an important aside – has the man articulated any practical policy plans? A country is not a business, despite what that shady businessman would like you to think.

Here’s the thing… so many people are framing this election as a “lesser of two evils” situation. Both candidates are terrible, they say. So they’ll either choose the less terrible one, or throw a vote away on a third party candidate. I’m not sure if this attitude is ignorance, sexism, or an unwillingness to change party affiliation, but it’s simply untrue. Hillary Clinton is an imperfect person, but she is well-qualified to be our president. She’s spent the majority of her life as public servant, which I’m inclined to believe she did in the interest of the public good. There are many other lucrative paths a woman with her education and intelligence could have chosen, let’s not pretend she’s selfish for spending a lifetime in the public sector. Because she has spent her life in the public eye, we are aware of the mistakes she has made. We are also well aware of the good she has done, as a lifelong advocate for women, children, and families. Hillary knows how our political system works, and she has the connections and know-how to enact real political change. Let’s not pretend that a candidate with no political experience could get anything done in the House or Senate.

Although Hillary’s campaign has purposely avoided focusing on this point, I can’t neglect to mention that having a female president will improve the lives of women and girls for generations to come, until men and women truly are equal. Even if you refuse to recognize sexism in your own country, you know that women are not treated equally around the world. If the most powerful nation in the world elects a woman as our leader, what kind of message will that send to countries who treat women as second-class citizens, or worse?

I spent some time at the start of of the school year teaching my students about empathy. We communicate through screens so often, now, that I worry empathy is going out of style. People who are still willing to vote for Trump after everything he has said and done may need a refresher course: empathy is the ability to put yourself in someone else’s position and recognize their experience as their truth, even if you don’t agree with it. Instead of saying, “Racism doesn’t exist in America,” or “Men and women are already equal,” or “Undocumented immigrants are cheating the system,” how about trying an empathetic response? Do you experience racism directed at you? I’m a white woman in America, so I don’t, but I understand that some people in our country do. We need a president who recognizes that racism is alive and well in America, and that we need to work together to end it. That’s enough to secure my vote for Hillary. Do you experience sexism in any aspect of your life? I’m a woman in America, so I do. And I recognize that some women have had experiences much worse than mine. We need a president who understands the danger that sexist rhetoric creates for women. That’s enough to secure my vote for Hillary. Am I an undocumented immigrant? No, but my grandfather came to America from Ireland through Ellis Island. He moved here for the opportunity this country provides, and I’d like to think that those who come to this country illegally, risking their life and freedom and leaving their families behind, do so for the same reason as my grandfather. We need a president who recognizes the humanity in all humans. That’s enough to secure my vote for Hillary.

Your responsibility as an American citizen is to vote. Vote for the candidate who will do the most good for the most people – Hillary Clinton. If you don’t like her, I don’t care. Put on your big kid pants, scrounge up whatever empathy you can muster, and drag your butt to the polls on November 8th. Or, if you’re still voting for Trump, November 28th.

(Image of Hillary Clinton via Flickr.)

What are your plans for the weekend?

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Happy Friday!  My week’s been a quick one.  I came back from a fun weekend trip to Houston with my sister on Monday evening, and since then I’ve been catching up on sleep and a long to-do list.

Houston’s a massive city with more to do than we ever could’ve accomplished in four days, but my sister and I managed to get a lot done.

We hit up the Museum of Fine Arts which had the coolest shape-shifting shadow exhibit:

Shadow puppets and more, today on laurenmcdonough.com 🐺

A video posted by Life of La (@lifeoflablog) on

 

We found the best Mexican food ever (we knew we were in the right place when handmade tortillas were flying through the air right by the front door):

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And we stumbled upon a fabulous local brewery (where $12 gets you three craft beers… unheard of, right?)

 

It was such a nice break from routine, and a great chance to spend some time with one of my best friends.

Tonight I’m headed to the Sox game with family and friends – I wouldn’t even call myself a fair-weather fan, I’m really in it for the social aspect (people-watching and overpriced beers).  And tomorrow I’m excited to catch up with some friends from high school.

What’s on your schedule?

P.S. Here are a few of my favorite things from around the web this week:

The trailer for Caitlyn Jenner’s new docu-series, “I Am Cait.”

Ed Sheehan’s take on “Trap Queen” (a must-watch).

Cooking tips from your favorite celebrity chefs.

I’m almost done with this beach read, reminds me a lot of Gone Girl (which is the only instance I can remember when I liked a movie better than the book!)

Love this advice: “forget about likability.”

 

 

Make your post-grad space your own.

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For many twenty-somethings, graduating college means more than saying goodbye to summer vacation and Tuesday night trips to the bar. Lots of us start looking for our own places — whether that be an apartment in a hip part of the city, a house rented with lots of friends, or (if you’re lucky enough to be in grad school) affordable student housing.

Even if you’re not moving out of your childhood home for a while, now’s still the time to start thinking about decorating your future home. Empty wine bottles won’t cut it anymore, but there are lots of ways to upgrade your space on a budget while still leaving room for your favorite things.   (more…)

Are you superstitious?

In general, I’m a very rational person.  I believe in things that make logical and emotional sense to me, and I don’t usually fall for trendy beliefs or ways of thinking.  Yet, when Mercury is retrograde, I throw common sense to the wind and jump on the bandwagon.

I honestly couldn’t explain the astrological significance to Mercury Retrograde (although astrologer to the stars Susan Miller has lots to say on the topic), so suffice it to say that for the few weeks a year that Mercury moves so slowly that it seems to be going backwards, I notice weird changes in my personal life.

I started paying attention to the pattern in college, by browsing astrology websites while avoiding doing homework in the library.  I began reading about it during a period of Retrograde, and it explained so many quirky things that had been happening to me right around that time.  Could it be total bullshit?  Absolutely.  But does it give me a sense of relief and order when life gets a little crazy?  Yup.  For that reason and more, I think I’ll keep selectively believing in astrology.

On a related note, I’ve started listening to The Secret on tape.  It was a huge hit as a movie and a book in the mid-aughts, but Mercury Retrograde must’ve driven me to dig it up online. (Kidding.  Or am I?)

The premise of The Secret is that you can have anything you want in life once you understand and master the Law of Attraction.  Essentially: you must change your thoughts and feelings to match what you desire, and eventually you’ll have it.  Is it new-age-y and weird?  Absolutely.  But in an attempt to listen to the book earnestly instead of through my typical cynical filter, I’ve found that it can actually change the way I look at everyday situations.  If I’m upset, I mimic Australian author and narrator Rhonda Byrne in my mind and say “Life is easy and I am happy.”  Am I immediately happy?  Nope.  But once I start thinking about the reasons I have to be happy and claim an easy life, I feel calmer and more connected with my feelings and intentions.

There has to be some truth behind The Secret and Mercury Retrograde – why else would they keep popping back into the public consciousness?  For me, the truth that the two provide is this: life can and will go off course at any time, but you are the only one responsible for and capable of putting yourself back on track to happiness.

Are you familiar with either of my favorite superstitions?  What are your own?

My weirdest quirk…

Have you ever read an article about a weird personality trait or quirky way of thinking that you thought only you experienced?  You have a woah moment of relief that you’ve found at least one other kindred soul, then another feeling sets in: normality.  It’s so healthy to recognize that everyone has weird problems.

My weirdest problem (at the moment) is this.  (Don’t skip the link or you’ll think I’m even crazier than I actually am.)  Misophonia is when certain sounds drive you nuts.  Common irritants (aka the ones that annoy me the most) are chewing, slurping, loud typing, gum snapping, and loud breathing.  Odd, right?  It definitely doesn’t make me sound like the most fun person at the party.

It’s one of those things that I never knew bothered anyone else until I stumbled upon a magazine or blog article years ago and breathed a huge sigh of relief.  I found a soul-sister in Kelly Ripa when I spotted this cover on a tabloid stand a couple of years ago:

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Whenever I get a little too worked up about a noise that’s bothersome to me (which usually only happens when I’m already stressing about something else) I take a moment to remind myself that I’m not the only one with problems.  Sometimes stepping out of myself is the best thing I can do in a stressful situation.  I have to recognize that I am the one with the quirky problem, not the innocent person chomping an apple or typing heavy-handedly on their laptop that I’m glaring at.  Another solution has been noise-cancelling headphones… the only problem being that I’m kind of nosy and don’t like to miss out on any conversations that I might be able to insert myself into.

Although it can be fun to play the “world-revolves-around-me” game when you encounter a problem, sometimes the best thing you can do is search for others who have had similar experiences.

What’s your weirdest quirk?  Can you top mine?

 

Grammy Favorites

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Now playing at Life of La?  Beyoncé, obviously.  If you haven’t been listening to her “Crazy in Love” remix from the 50 Shades of Grey soundtrack, now’s the time to start.

If you were watching the Grammys last night, you probably caught Bey’s soulful performance of the gospel standard “Take My Hand, Precious Lord.”  Check out this behind the scenes look at the performance.  Beyoncé and her back-up singers are sending a powerful message:

Speaking of talent, I was thrilled to see Sam Smith’s success at the Grammy’s last night!  I’m loving “Make it to Me” right now.  Listen to that and a few more of my favorites below!

Have a Super weekend!

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I’m a huge sports fan. 

Are you watching the Super Bowl on Sunday? If I’m being honest, I’ll probably catch the halfime show and fourth quarter. I don’t think I even qualify as a fairweather fan.. I’m really just using the game as an excuse to eat Superbowl snacks.

Here are some interesting links to browse while you (pretend to) watch the game…

Dove knows how to do advertising right.

This pizza looks yummo.

Why families should be transparent about money. 

How countries differ in the ways they communicate.

Why moist is the worst word.

A trick for choosing vino.

Shia LaBeouf. 

Have a fabulous weekend!