Has Magazine Prettiness Replaced Real Life?

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“Magazine prettiness has replaced real life.” I noted that in a book I once read. I can’t remember that book, but the line stuck with me. And isn’t that the truth? Everywhere we turn everyone is so intent on perfection. The message being broadcast is if it doesn’t look perfect, then it must not be worth it.  We focus on making our homes look like you stepped into the latest Pottery Barn catalog and ourselves look like we stepped off the fashion runway. Cosmetic surgery patients are becoming younger and younger and I’m referring to them pre-surgery not post. We are so focused on being picture perfect that we often lose sight of our true origins, who we truly were before we started building that facade.

Yet, our origins actually have a lot to do with this perfect picture we present. Many of us were raised the old-fashioned way under the “everything’s fine” mentality. When asked, “how are you?” one’s standard response should always be “fine” because no one really wants to hear otherwise. And it’s true, we ask and answer that question multiple times a day never expecting the exchange to go differently because we all know we shouldn’t air our dirty laundry.

Just take a scroll down anyone’s Facebook news feed to find innumerable status posts regaling “friends” with how their lives are sheer perfection, their children sweet angels, their spouse Prince Charming and their bosses a joy to work with every day. The latest Pinterest craze is an oversized bulletin board of the perfect woman, wearing the perfect outfit, preparing the perfect recipe, for her perfect children, to serve in their perfectly decorated home. It’s no wonder our Christmas card photos don’t show our true selves, instead often depicting a family straight out of Pleasantville. Instead of opening our homes to friends, we hide behind closed doors for fear of giving them a glimpse into our not so orderly living rooms and ultimately chaotic lives. Are we afraid they’ll read the crayon on the wall and realize we’re just human, trying to keep our head above water?

All this effort to present ourselves in our best light, show our best side, wear our Sunday best is interesting. Do we do it because it’s what’s expected of us? Like toddlers singing, “if you’re happy and you know it clap your hands” are we clapping simply because everyone expects us to? Or are we afraid to take a close look at our imperfections? Afraid to express who we really are for fear of being judged? Are we that afraid to embrace our flaws and accept our quirks? Or is it easier to go with the flow, go through the motions, pretend otherwise, and not take a chance at the unknown? In a world of imitations, special effects, and cosmetic surgery it is hard to see what’s real and what’s not. Even a fake smile can start to feel like the real deal after a while. Is that a good thing or a bad thing? I guess that depends on whether you’re on the giving end or the receiving end. Or does it?

How Much Stuff Do We Really Need?

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Every year we kick off the holiday season with Thanksgiving, a day when we stuff the turkey, stuff ourselves and give thanks for all the people and stuff in our lives. We’ve barely had time to digest the Turkey before we’re out the door to be the first ones in line to get more stuff to place under the Christmas tree for our family and friends, more stuff to ensure we are the most decorated house on the block, more stuff to find a place for, more stuff to dust, and more stuff to ultimately ignore. When is it enough? When is it too much?

In this video, Father Scott J. Brown references a family in Ethiopia who seems content with twenty-eight possessions in a 360 square foot hut, a very different picture from the average 2500 square foot American household. At what point do we have enough stuff in our lives?

Sarah Book Publishing

Sarah Book Publishing

Scott J. Brown is also a children’s author. His latest book, a must read, tells the story of three kings who face the dilemma of (gasp) having to come up with a personal gift fit for a king when the shops were already closed for the day. Purchase The Gift of You here and share the story with your children this season.

Real or Disney? Round One (DP Challenge)

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Ever have a thought that lingers in your head for days, not losing it’s grip no matter what else is going on around you? Artists create a beautiful painting or sculpture. Writers turn it into a bestseller or just settle for a blog post. Kids…well kids just voice it in the form of a whine or a tantrum or sometimes even a song they walk around the house singing, “my sister is a little nerd. mom doesn’t like it when I say turd.” What can I say? I have a six year old boy who finds all things poop hilarious.

I’m not sure what specifically sparked this one for me. Was it my upcoming Disney trip? The Presidential debate? The latest issue of People magazine? For days, I have been wondering when our society become overpopulated with Disney Creations? The online Merriam-Webster Dictionary does not currently have a definition for this term, but does define the term Disneyfication.

Dis·ney·fi·ca·tion

noun \ˌdiz-nē-fə-ˈkā-shən\

Definition of DISNEYFICATION
: the transformation (as of something real or unsettling) into carefully controlled and safe entertainment or an environment with similar qualities <the Disneyfication of a downtown>
Origin of DISNEYFICATION
Walt Disney + -fication
First Known Use: 1982
I define Disney Creations as people in the entertainment industry or of celebrity status, who have been created by Disney to appeal to the masses and draw them in like lemmings. Notice Merriam-Webster provided the “first known use” of disneyfication as occurring in 1982. Maybe 2012 will be listed along Disney Creation in the future and you can all think of me when you look it up for your kid’s 3rd grade school project. In all seriousness…or as serious as we can be about this, I’m sure it must be a scientific process that Disney has down pat given it’s success history. So, today let’s play Round One of REAL OR DISNEY shall we?
REAL OR DISNEY?
ANSWER: REAL  While he might exhibit much of the same qualities as a Disney created star, Bieber was discovered in 2008 by American talent manager, Scooter Braun, who came across Bieber’s videos on YouTube and later became his manager.
REAL OR DISNEY?
ANSWER: DISNEY Britney Spears – Arguably the biggest Disney star since Mickey Mouse, the pop princess made her mark as a Mousketeer on Disney’s ‘Mickey Mouse Club,’and soon became one of the biggest celebrities in the world, according to Access Hollywood.
REAL OR DISNEY?
ANSWER: REAL (Although, Disney owns ESPN which airs Monday Night Football, so it could be argued they own a piece of him I guess.)
REAL OR DISNEY?
ANSWER: DISNEY According to Time magazine, Bridgit Mendler is a willowy, blond teen with a sweet singing voice and decent comic timing. She’s also the show-biz equivalent of the next iPhone — a young Disney star-in-waiting. Mendler, 16, is getting the full Disney Channel rollout. Introduced with recurring guest spots on two of its hit shows, Jonas and Wizards of Waverly Place, she will star in her own series, Good Luck Charlie, in 2010. “I’ve been told to brace myself,” says Mendler. “If we have the success I hope we have with the show, everything will change.”

Mendler is following a path to fame the channel has mapped over the past three years.

Read more: http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1931732,00.html#ixzz291uAWg2q

REAL OR DISNEY?

ANSWER: REAL (though some may beg to differ) The White House Blog President Barack Obama delivered remarks on a strategy that will significantly help boost tourism and travel during a statement at the Magic Kingdom Theme Park at the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida, Jan. 19, 2012.

REAL OR DISNEY?

ANSWER: This one may surprise you…DISNEY  Angelina Jolie’s daughter, Vivienne Jolie-Pitt, will play a young Sleeping Beauty in Disney’s upcoming film,Maleficent. Of course, the source for this one was MySpace so the jury is out on reliability.
Little Miss Wordy

Reported Death at the Walmart

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Breaking news…or maybe not. I am reporting a death at the Wal-Mart. Which Wal-Mart? Any actually, or Target or any local grocery store for that matter. You see this death can unfortunately be witnessed anywhere in our society today, Wal-Mart just happened to be the scene of the crime for me. It’s not the death of fashion sense as many of you are thinking, though that is evident as well. It is the death of common courtesy. It saddens me and infuriates me all at once that common courtesy is something I now consider a special treat just out of my reach that makes me oh so happy to be on the receiving end on occasions that are few and far between. From the aggressive jockeying for a parking space in the parking lot to the blocking of the entrance while wrapping up a cellphone call, so many people seem to be oblivious to those around them. Where does this sense of entitlement come from? What makes someone believe it is more important for them to get that item off the shelf than it is for the person standing in front of that shelf, and to do it without the two simple words, “excuse me” preceding their action?

In my opinion, customer service goes hand in hand with common courtesy as well, yet it has become increasingly more difficult to find anymore. This is even more surprising given business owners actually pay their employees to make us feel welcome. How you treat your customer is how you should treat a guest in your home isn’t it? Make them feel so welcome they walk away with a pleasant feeling and want to come back for another visit. Common courtesy. If someone came to visit your home and asked you where the bathroom is located, you would likely walk them down the hall to the left and show them where it is located. If someone came to your place of business and asked you where the shower curtains were you should probably walk them to that aisle and show them where they are located. You might even want to do it with a smile on your face.

A few years back, Wal-mart came out with the genius idea of specifically hiring employees to be “greeters” at the entrance to their stores. Forgive me if I sound ignorant, but shouldn’t all employees be “greeters” and if you are actually going to pay people to say “hello” and “welcome” to your customers shouldn’t they follow through and say “thank you for coming” or something along those lines as your customers exit the store? Instead, they ask for your receipt supposedly with the purpose of ensuring you didn’t sneak anything in your cart after you paid which would be an impressive feat in and of itself. This receipt perusal doesn’t give the customer a warm fuzzy feeling…just saying. Maybe it wouldn’t bug me so much if there was any possible way this employee could actually determine all the items in my cart actually match the items on the receipt in the 0.23 seconds they take to review the receipt, glance at the cart, and mark the receipt with the all important yellow highlighter or scribble of their choice before you may exit the store.

Of course, upon exiting said store the death of common courtesy is all over the parking lot too. Nothing like arriving at your car to load your purchases only to find someone thought it perfectly acceptable to leave their shopping cart directly behind your car, instead of walking a couple of steps to return it to the shopping cart area. And if it’s your lucky day, you may find a dirty diaper on the ground as you open your car door!

RIP Common Courtesy. You are gone but not forgotten.