Choosing Love: How to Do it When You Feel Like Strangling Someone

How to choose love when you really feel like strangling someone | The Champagne Supernova

I read somewhere that love is a choice.

I think Ozzy Osbourne was the person who said it. Or Paul Newman. Or maybe it was Cher. Doesn’t matter.

Love is the best choice.

Until recently, there was one person on earth who made my skin crawl. So much so that even hearing this person’s name had a negative biological effect: my skin would sweat, the back of my neck would burn, my chest would get tight, and my arms became blotchy, almost like an outbreak of hives.

Man, I needed to get a grip.

We’ll call this person Todd. He and I were childhood friends who attended undergrad and law school together. We had a long history and spoke on the phone almost every day. Todd was one of my best friends. After law school, he moved to a different city and began practicing plaintiff’s work, ultimately opening his own firm as a sole practitioner. I switched firms several years into my career and eventually found myself directly against him, representing a major retail chain in a personal injury case.

Garden variety slip and fall. No big deal.

Well, it wasn’t a big deal until several months into the lawsuit when I discovered his client, the plaintiff, made material misrepresentations to the court and to his doctors about his past physical condition and medical treatment.

Liar, liar, pants on fire.

As soon as I realized the magnitude of the plaintiff’s deception, I called Todd to give him a heads-up that I was going to ask the court to dismiss the case for fraud. I didn’t want Todd to be blind sighted. As Todd worked on contingency and would only get paid if there was a settlement, the court granting my motion meant Todd would receive a big, fat goose egg. This was after he already fronted thousands of dollars on expert witnesses and travel expenses. While I felt horrible about the situation, Todd should have done his homework about his client and, at the end of the day, I was ethically obligated to do what was in the best interest of my client. Otherwise, I would have been slapped with a malpractice issue.

Instead of understanding my position, firing his client, and thanking me for sparing him trouble down the road, Todd was hysterical. He asked me to ignore his client’s deception, not tell my client, and that we settle for a nominal value. He wanted enough money to repay the expert fees and take a small amount for himself to account for the long hours he spent on the case. “Jen… I’ll come to Tampa and I’ll take you and Jason to dinner at a fancy restaurant…”

I didn’t accept his offer, I won my motion, the case got dismissed, and Todd hasn’t spoken to me in five years.

Five flipping years.

Losing Todd as a friend was painful. He wasn’t there for the birth of my children and I wasn’t there for his. I found out through Facebook that his mother passed away and I swallowed my pride and mailed a sympathy card. No clue whether he ever received it. It was a sad situation but, because Todd lived far away and we didn’t have mutual friends, he was off the radar.

Six months ago, I unexpectedly ran into Todd in the elevators of my building at work. Seeing him was shocking and I was stupefied. Probably too surprised to play it cool.

Hey… what are you doing here?

We moved to Tampa and I’m renting space on the twenty-third floor.

It was awkward. My skin was burning. I was flustered, dumbstruck, and feelings of anger that were long off the grid reemerged.

Do you also work in this building, he asked?

Yes. On eighteen.

Great, I thought. Now I’m going to have to agonize about running into him whenever I get on an elevator, when I’m in the lobby, or when I head to the parking garage. That’s a lot of times in a day.


We were cordial to each other but it was forced and inauthentic. I hoped that I wasn’t rolling my eyes or sending rude body language, even though that’s what I genuinely felt like doing.

Truth be told, I wanted to push Todd right off the elevator.

There’s more than 7 billion people in the world and the likelihood of having that “warm and fuzzy” feeling around each of them is low. Everyone has that someone (or two) they’d rather avoid. But for me, Todd was the Hatfield to my McCoy. The Ursula to my Ariel. The Al Capone to my Bugs Moran. The Biggie to my Tupac.

I couldn’t stand him.

As the weeks passed (ok, maybe months), my husband probably grew tired of listening to me bellyache about running into Todd at work. My friends likely wanted to put a muzzle over my mouth. My parents and sister were probably over it.

You know what happened? As time went on, I got sick and tired over feeling sick and tired every time there was a scintilla of a possibility I’d run into Todd. I started avoiding going to the snack stand on the first floor because I was paralyzed with fear that Todd would be in the lobby getting his shoes shined at the same time. It was ridiculous and pathetic. Straight out of  a scene from SNL’s Weekend Update where Seth Meyers and Amy Poehler incredulously ask “Really?!”

I needed to get over it and move on. Todd had likely long moved on. He wasn’t freaking out about me. He probably was clueless I even cared.

But how would I get over it? As a serial grudge holder, this was no easy feat.

So I started doing something really weird. Something that would have creeped out my husband, family, and friends.

Every time I started feeling angry and anxious when I thought about Todd, I would say to myself, “I love you Todd, and I hope you are successful and happy.” I started praying for Todd. Not condescendingly, as some people sarcastically declare “I’ll pray for you!” when they’re mad at someone, but I prayed for Todd meaningfully and regularly.

When I began the mental “I love you, Todd!” chants, they were through gritted teeth. But after a while, it became a habit when I felt the nausea or hive-y feeling of anger creeping back in. This didn’t happen overnight. But it happened.

Eventually, I didn’t care when I’d run into Todd. I wasn’t worried about going to lunch downtown and seeing him at a restaurant. Wasn’t freaked out about the possibility of waiting in line next to him at the dry cleaner or post office.

Over time, Todd was just “somebody that I used to know”. There was no more anger, spite, or animosity. Instead, there was nothing except underlying feelings of love.  

Yup, nada.

When dealing with people who have intentionally or unintentionally hurt you, love is a freaking hard choice. With Todd, there really was no choice because my only options were either wholeheartedly loving him or internalizing the anger I felt toward him. The second option was a waste of time.

Todd, if you’re reading this… I love you, friend. Let’s get coffee. I’ll even treat! If you’re not up for it, then that’s okay too.

Cheers to choosing love.

    The “No Gifts, Please” Party Dilemma

    Read about whether you should still bring a gift when the party invitation says "No Gifts, Please."

    Me and my cousins- rocking the birthday scene 1985 style.

    I was overwhelmed with panic as I stared at the Evite.

    At the bottom of the electronic invitation riddled with giraffes, elephants, and tigers was a not-so-unusual mandate:

    “No Gifts, Please.”

    I started sweating.

    What do I do? Bring nothing, or run to Target and grab something? 

    This happens often with requests of this nature.

    I get it. The party hostess likely didn’t want more junque to trip over that she would ultimately donate to the Salvation Army. She probably couldn’t stand to look at one more Elsa figurine, Melissa & Doug puzzle, or Lincoln Log (impalement risk: hello!). At two, the guest of honor wasn’t old enough to know she was “missing out” on what some kids consider the best part of a birthday party: presents!

    I’ve been there, lived it, and understand.

    Between Grandpa, Grandma, Pap, “Gammy”, aunts, uncles, and our friends, my kids have more toys than they will ever be able to play with. Some toys were accidentally destroyed before they came out of the packaging. (See: the time I accidentally cut the electrical cord of a flying fairy when I was opening the container). Some toys melted in my car. Some toys were inadvertently left at our local pool, only to be considered another child’s treasure when discovered in the “Lost and Found” box. Our children have so many toys that we have a schedule of “rotating toys” where some are stored away in a closet for a couple months before we reintroduce them. We like to call it “Christmas in July”.

    However, asking that guests of children’s birthday parties not bring gifts puts parents in a quandary because there are always some (and in most cases, many) parents who don’t honor the request. It would be different if every single person complied. But it never happens that way. There is always someone who makes everyone else look like jerks.

    The noncompliant guests bring gifts because:

    1. Their mothers (rightfully) taught them to never show up to a party empty-handed;
    2. The attendee wants to give a gift; and/ or
    3. Nobody wants to be perceived as a cheapskate by being “that person” who didn’t bring a gift, despite clear instructions to the contrary.

    I surveyed women between the ages of 26 and 40 regarding whether they bring presents to “No Gifts, Please” events. Eight percent said they comply with the request, and a whopping 92% said they bring something, but usually a scaled-down version of what they would regularly give, such as a book or candy.

    One of my girlfriends recently attended a “No Gifts, Please” party and had a run-in with the birthday girl’s mother. As my friend was placing her present on the dining room table (which was littered with gifts from other attendees), the hostess passive-aggressively said, “I guess nobody read the invitation…”

    On one hand, you don’t want to dishonor the requests for “No Gifts, Please.”

    On the other, you don’t want to show up empty handed because you’re darn sure other parents are still going to bring gifts.

    You don’t want to feel ashamed and judged as you pass the present table without making a contribution.

    I threw my husband a party for his thirtieth birthday and requested that our guests not bring gifts. This was because I wanted them to attend the party and enjoy the food, drinks, and company without feeling like they needed to buy him- a grown man- a present. Besides, what do you get for the guy who has everything? Sure, he enjoys wine and craft beer, but what he really would have wanted was a Yeti cooler, new boat, or a trip to Alaska, and those would have been too extravagant coming from friends, acquaintances, and work colleagues (and maybe even his wife). With the exception of wine, which surely would have been consumed, everything else would have ended up stashed in a “to be re-gifted” bin in our hall closet.

    The birthday mantra for my husband was “our guests’ presence was the present.”

    Maybe the “No Gifts, Please” phenomena is a fad. Maybe it’s a permanent “thing.” Regardless, I’ll continue to bring a small gift, and will discretely place it on top of the dining room table when the birthday child’s mama isn’t looking.

    Cheers to good-intentioned noncompliance!

      It Takes a Village: 6 Ways to Help a New Mom

      On The Champagne Supernova blog: how to help a new mom after she has a baby!

      Me and my mom a few weeks after I was born. 1982 was a good year.

      I’m at a point in my life where it feels like half the people I know are either trying to get pregnant, are pregnant, or just had a baby. That’s a lot of bambinos right there. Unless the mother is a close friend, I’m sometimes at a loss for how (or whether) to respond immediately after she has the baby.

      Do I call right away? Will she be annoyed by text messages and e-mails? How soon is too soon to visit the baby? Will my attempts to give her space be translated into a misconception I’m uninterested?

      The struggle is real.

      I was a new mom twice. Unless baby Jesus makes a second appearance here on Earth, there won’t be a third time.

      The chances of lightning striking my house or me winning the lottery are greater.

      That said, I remember being grateful for all the people who reached out after my girls were born to lend a helping hand. As my parents and in-laws don’t live in the same city as me and my husband, the help we received was valuable and didn’t go unnoticed.

      If you want to reach out to a new mom, here are some original (and unoriginal) ways to offer your support.

      Take them a Meal. If you’re a working parent who doesn’t have time to prepare a homemade meal, or you simply detest cooking, don’t be ashamed to order take-out. My go-to meal for new parents is pizza, salad, bread sticks, and a bottle of wine from a local Italian restaurant. Who doesn’t like pizza?

      Nobody I want to be friends with.

      Arrange a Meal Train. As most of the new parents’ friends will offer to take meals, this is a great way to  ensure the food delivery is organized. This is easy and can be arranged through a web site. Popular, free options include Take them a Meal and Mealbaby.

      Caveat to moms: don’t be unreasonably picky about the type of food you want people to deliver and just be grateful. I once was invited to participate in a meal train that had so many unreasonable parameters regarding the time to deliver (15 minute window), days to deliver, specific food choices (read: filet mignon preference- literally!), and a request to coordinate the delivery with someone other than the new parents.

      I was completely put off.

      Take Their Older Kids to the Park. The only thing more stressful than having a new baby is dealing with older children on top of the new baby. Especially when the older children need to stay active and don’t enjoy being cooped up in the house.

      One of the greatest ways to help new parents is keeping their older kids busy. Offer to take them to the park, library, or local swimming pool. This is mutually beneficial for people who also have older kids, as the children can play together. If you’re already driving to the park, what’s the harm in bringing one or two more people?

      Pamper the Mama. Visitors typically take presents for the baby, but what about the new mom? Doesn’t she deserve to be pampered?

      Yes, yes, yes!

      Take her nice smelling soaps, a bottle of wine, bath salts, scented candles, fun magazines, or even a gift card for a manicure or pedicure. If you’re crafty, you can put together your own “care package” of high-end beauty products that are often substantially discounted at retail stores like TJMaxx, Homegoods, and Marshall’s. Depending on where you live, a gift card for a mani/pedi combo usually costs $35 with the tip included. All of these items can be obtained with a subscription to the Pampered Mommy Box, which I love. (This is an affiliate link, which means I get a financial kickback with purchases. Hey, the blog ain’t gonna pay for itself!)


      Clean their House. There’s something peaceful about walking into a clean home.

      Fabuloso brand floor cleaner. Mmmmmmm.

      If you don’t enjoy cleaning (who does?), you can get together with other women to chip in for a cleaning lady to clean the home when the new mama is running errands. Depending on the number of contributors and the size of the mama’s house, this can be accomplished for around $20 per person.

      Do their Laundry. This favor is reserved for only the closest of friends.

      I get it, the idea of an acquaintance cleaning your husband’s sweaty gym clothes is awkward. However, as laundry seems to pile up and there are few things in life worse than having to fold and put away a mountain of laundry, this is a perfect way to help out.

      Your help will be appreciated and will help lighten the load during the new mom’s period of uncertainty, nervousness, and insomnia.

      Cheers to good friends!

        From the Mouths of Baby Mamas: 9 Things Soon-To-Be Parents Say that Make me Smirk

        I can’t help but do a little internal chuckle when I hear a pregnant woman who doesn’t already have children tell everyone about her grandiose plans for child rearing. I’ve heard all sorts of ridiculous things, but here are some of my favorites:

        “I’ll Never Give My Kids McDonald’s.” Lady, there will come a point when you don’t have time to cook a four course organic meal and a Chicken McNugget will never look so good. If our grandparents’ generation smoked a pack of cigarettes a day in their third trimesters, then an occasional french fry won’t kill anyone.

        Lighten up. 

        “My House Will Always Be Clean.” Obviously, nobody ever told this woman that “toddler” is synonymous with “tornado.” Turn your back for one minute while tidying up the living room, only to find your child has toilet-papered the bathroom.

        You have a cleaning lady? Oh, that’s nice.

        Means the only time your house will be legitimately immaculate is the period between when the cleaner leaves and your child gets home from daycare.

        “I’ll Never Raise My Voice at My Youngster.” Until they run into a busy street. Or knock over the fish tank while cartwheeling inside the house. Or purposely put gum in their sibling’s hair.

        Nope, you’ll never lose it. Ever.

        “I Won’t Let My Kids Watch TV or Use a Smart Phone.” Just wait until this parent-to-be is waiting with their child inside the lobby of a doctor’s office and would do anything to make them be quiet and keep them entertained. 

        Sure, use Mummy’s iPhone to watch all the YouTube videos your heart desires. Just don’t make a peep. 

        “I’m Still Going To Work Out Seven Days a Week and Look Good for my Husband.” This comment warrants the world’s biggest eye roll because it tends to come from women whose husbands have man boobs and spare tires

        Honey, if you want to look good, it needs to be for yourself and not for anyone else. 

        Getting up and going to the gym at 5 a.m. is one thing when you don’t have children. It’s something entirely different when your baby woke up ten times in the middle of the night, you repeatedly hunted for a pacifier in the dark, and you still have to go to work the next day.

        “I’d Never Let My Child Publicly Misbehave.” I routinely said this before I had kids of my own. I judged other parents and I judged their kids. After raising a strong-willed child and knowing that sometimes even the “death-glare” will not deter certain behavior in public, I judge no one.

        The one perk about parenting is the immunity it provides from whining, screaming, and general bellyaching. I’ve groomed myself to tune it out.

        I’m sorry, what? Your kid’s been wailing for ten minutes straight? Didn’t hear it at all.

        “My Child Won’t Leave the House Unless Dressed to the Nines.” Sometimes I’m just glad to have gotten everyone out of the house with lunches in tow. I don’t have time and I don’t care to worry about what everyone looks like. My three-year-old’s hair is combed? Great. Does it matter she picked out her own bow and it clashes with the rest of her outfit? No. Does it matter her socks are inside out? Nope, because she’ll take them off two minutes after we get into the car. Does it matter her outfit isn’t monogrammed? Well, considering she’s going to daycare where she will paint, eat leftover spaghetti, and play in the dirt, no.  

        Aside from school picture day or a special event, I generally don’t put too much emphasis on ensuring my children look perfect.

        “I Don’t Think I’ll Want to Work After the Baby is Born.” There’s a misconception the only thing stay-at-home-moms do all day is drink mimosas, get pedicures, watch reality television, and occasionally change a diaper. I know this because it’s what I used to think before I had kids. What a jerk.

        I caution every person whose ever made this statement to wait and see how hard staying at home with a young child and having to create your own routine can really be. For me, having a career is like getting paid to relax, compared to staying at home with a toddler and infant.

        “I’m Not Having An Epidural.” This comment is hilarious.  Nobody fully comprehends the agonizing out-of-body experience of labor contractions until they are living it. I know roughly ten women who attempted to have a drug-free deliveries and only one actually did it- and that was because she was so far dilated she couldn’t have an epidural, never mind she was literally begging her OB for one. I don’t understand why anyone would voluntarily endure that type of pain. It’s either for bragging rights or because they think an epidural could potentially harm the child.

        You know what? Screaming bloody murder from pain in my child’s ear will harm the child. So there’s that. 

        I hear mothers-to-be say these things and all I do is nod my head, smile, and say, “well isn’t that nice, I’m excited to hear about your adventure!”

        Cheers to knowing better!

          The Spider in the Toilet: How to Explain Death to Children

          How to Explain Death to Children.

          A couple weeks ago, our neighbor, Mr. Smith, passed away. He was in his nineties and lived a rich life. After my husband and I visited Mr. Smith’s wife to offer our condolences, our three year old daughter, Arden, asked what happened to him.

          He passed away, I said.

          What does that mean?

          It means he’s in heaven.

          Is he there alone?

          No, he’s with Jesus.

          These questions continued and, because I was unprepared to think of a clever, age-appropriate answer Arden could understand, my responses were circular.

          He died. He passed away. He went to heaven. He’s with Jesus.

          Over and over again.

          Fast forward two days.

          Arden discovered a spider in the downstairs bathroom and asked me to get rid of it. I smashed it with a rolled-up magazine, picked up the remains with toilet paper, and flushed Daddy Long Legs down the commode.

          Despite watching me get rid of the spider, Arden asked where he (she?) went.

          The spider passed away.

          Where is he?

          He’s in heaven.

          Long, painful pause.

          Is Mr. Smith also in the toilet?

          I was stupefied and speechless. I looked at my husband for help. Say something. Something. What do I say?

          Please, God, don’t let Arden ask Mr. Smith’s widow if her husband is in the toilet next time we run into her at the mailbox.  

          Explaining death is difficult. I’m not sure the majority of adults like to think about it. I sure don’t.

          Death makes me feel uncomfortable because it forces me to think about my own mortality.

          When will it happen? Will I have enough time to reach my goals? Will I be able to say goodbye to the people I love? Will it be on an airplane?

          Lord, please don’t let it be on a plane. (I hate flying. My parents let me watch La Bamba when I was little and it ruined me.)

          How will my family feel? Will they get over it quickly or remain in a dark emotional slumber that lasts years? Will my husband remarry?

          I hope he remarries. And it’s to a woman who gets as annoyed as I did (do?) every time he puts wet bath towels on the floor. So he can see I wasn’t being irrational.

          Will my girls call her “mom” or call her by her first name?

          Will she know what to do or say when my girls lose a tooth, get their periods, or ask their dad for money to go on Spring Break in Cancun when they’re in college? (I will haunt them if I see them taking shots at a foam party at Señor Frog’s.)

          And here I am getting ahead of myself just like I always do. Overthinking.

          But how does someone explain death to a three year old? Kids don’t understand things they can’t see.

          I remember my mother trying to explain death to me when I was a young child. My first brush with death that legitimately affected my family happened when my mom unexpectedly lost her sister, Mary, to diabetes. This was different than the roadrunner running off the cliff. This was real. We would never see Aunt Mary again. She was gone. My mother said people who die never come back or see anyone ever again. It was a forever type of thing.

          And I understood all I needed to understand. Not coming back. Permanent.

          Mr. Smith’s death introduced the first in what will be a line of many difficult conversations that will happen while my kids are little. I just didn’t expect it would happen this soon and I wanted to be prepared, Goshdarnit.

          I’m not sure if they way I explained death to Arden was the best way to explain it. But it was my real and honest answer. Sure, I could hop on Amazon and buy one of the zillion “Talking to Your Kids About Death” books, read up on the issue, and give Arden a perfect, airbrushed answer. But it wouldn’t be my answer. It would be someone else’s answer. And I don’t want that.

          With raising kids, the parents struggling to explain a difficult concept is as important as the child trying to understand it. Sometimes it’s important for the parents to admit when they don’t really understand why or how something happened. Everyone gets to have their “a-ha! moment”.

          A time will come when my husband and I will have to explain controversial events, ideas, and ideologies to our children that make The Spider in the Toilet seem like Disneyworld. And when we do, I don’t want to be too prepared. I want the response to be authentic and unrehearsed, just the way I want my kids to be in their daily lives.


            Wedding Gifts: Nope, Not an Option.

            people who attend a wedding without giving a gift

            My husband and me on our wedding day, June 20, 2009. Photo by Karlin Perez.

            I’m going to admit something that could make me look like a petty jerk.

            Ok, I’ll say it.

            I remember the two guests at my wedding who never sent a gift.

            I got married six years ago and I enjoyed my wedding, (especially my dress which came from somewhere similar to . I’m not a grudge holder. Nope. No grudges here.

            It’s out and I feel slightly ashamed. On one hand, I’m grateful people spent their time and money coming to my wedding and celebrating our special day. On the other hand, these people attended a nice event, ate a free meal, enjoyed an open bar, and had a good time on the dance floor. There wasn’t much arm-twisting involved. Once it was over, the least they could have done was send a $3.99 card from Hallmark wishing us well.

            I am not alone in my animosity.

            I recently attended a girls’ dinner with around 20 other married women. Every single one of them had at least one wedding guest who never sent a gift and these women still remembered exactly who the offenders were Planning a wedding, buying the dress and looking on a website like this to get rings can be very stressful so the least we deserve is a gift for all our hard work! That’s what me and my friends think anyway..

            Some of these women have been married for as long as fifteen years and still have not forgotten.

            Wedding Paper Divas - Sitewide Sale

            I’m going to be a tad sexist and assume the primary group of non-gifting offenders are men, who are often ignorant about etiquette and likely forget to send a gift after the wedding comes and goes. Before my husband and I met, he was invited to the wedding of one of his engineering school classmates. He told me about how he RSVP’d that he was attending the wedding, but something unexpectedly came up and not only did he not attend, but he also never sent a gift. He was probably 23 years old at the time. When he told me this story, I was mortified at his inconsideration and rudeness, even though being inconsiderate and rude was not his intention. He chalked it up to pure ignorance.

            The bottom line: if you RSVP that you are attending a wedding and you don’t show up, you better be in the morgue. And if you’re not in the morgue, you’re going to be mentally dead to the bride. I promise. Further, not only should you still send a gift, but it needs to cover the cost of the meals you RSVP’d for, because that money was flushed down the toilet by your failure to attend.


            Dancing and other tomfoolery at my wedding reception. Photo by Karlin Perez.

            There also appears to be a positive correlation between people who get married young and people with a high number of non-gifting attendees. This is probably because the guest list includes many unmarried “youngsters” who are fresh out of college, struggling to make ends meet, and going online to check out a wedding registry genuinely slipped their minds.

            Of the non-gifting attendees, the ones I find the most incredulous are the women who were once brides themselves. These women should know better.

            One of my work colleagues recently told a story around the water cooler about a couple in her circle of friends who notoriously attend weddings without sending gifts. Apparently, everyone talks about it behind their backs and my colleague was a “victim” herself. A few weeks ago, she received an invitation for a coed baby shower where the non-gifting couple were the guests of honor. For the couples’ fifth daughter. My colleague was appalled the couple was soliciting gifts when they already had tons of “girl” gear and, more importantly, they were expecting gifts when they never give any gifts themselves. Life isn’t fair, but that didn’t seem just.

            Giving a wedding gift is not optional. It is required. It’s not about the money; rather, it’s about the thought and consideration behind the gift. There are many inexpensive choices for guests who are low on cash to give a gift without going bankrupt. A picture collage. An original poem. A paperback book about love or advice about marriage. Movie tickets. Heck, a mixed CD.


            Playwright William Conegreve got it right. Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.

            I can tell you the groom won’t remember the guest who didn’t send a wedding gift. But the bride will remember. She might never utter a word about it to her husband, her friends, or even her own mother, but she will remember. Don’t be the target of a bride’s scorn.


              7 Magic Words: The Foolproof Way to Halt a Dead-End Conversation


              I was at the airport this week and overheard two people bickering over Josh Duggar, the Ashley Madison website scandal, and the Duggar family in general. The female was crucifying the Duggar family for its hypocrisy in projecting themselves as Christians in the media, while raising “a pond scum, perverted, cheater.” The male defended the Duggars, arguing that no family is perfect and that one “loser” out of 19 still makes them good parents. The discussion escalated into a yelling match at Gate D7.

              There’s been a lot of recent media stories that make for interesting discussions around the dinner table. Caitlyn Jenner. Donald Trump. Sandra Bland. Tim Tebow.

              Everybody has an opinion. Some people have strong opinions. Some people are apathetic. Some people won’t have an opinion without first independently researching the issue. Some people adopt a “popular” or “politically correct” opinion without questioning how the media is crafting an issue, or because they are too scared to publicly say their real opinions.

              You know what? Absent someone asking you what your opinion is, nobody really cares. And 99.9% of the time, you will not influence anybody by being assertive about yours. So stop it already.

              It took me twenty years to realize that in some most scenarios, it’s best to keep my mouth closed, no matter how difficult. While it’s important for us to speak our truths, some conversations merit zipping it. Most importantly, I’ve learned that just because someone starts a dead-end conversation doesn’t mean I have to participate.

              There’s a lot of special people in my life. I have friends who are white, black, asian, Republican, Democrat, Libertarian, Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Jehovah’s Witness, agnostic, American, Russian, Cuban, gay, straight, transgender, poor, wealthy, parents, childless, breastfeeder, non-breastfeeder, working moms, stay at home moms, work at home moms, married, divorced, illiterate, educated, depressed, and mentally stable (if there is such a thing).

              Having a diverse social circle creates the potential probability of disagreements regarding religion, politics, and controversial social issues.

              Life would be boring if everyone held the same beliefs. Our opinions are shaped by our personal experiences and observations. There’s very few instances where a philosophy is concretely wrong or right.

              And let’s be face it, I don’t want all my friends and acquaintances to be exactly like me.

              In the past, I’ve foolishly engaged in “dead-end” conversations with friends and colleagues about touchy subjects.

              Dumb, dumb, dumb.

              As a wise man (Kenny Rogers) once said:

              You gotta know when to hold ’em.
              Know when to fold ’em.
              Know when to walk away.
              And know when to run.

              When a conversation is going somewhere that could result in hurt feelings, animosity, or resentment, it’s time to fold it. If you can’t fold it, then change the subject and gracefully walk away.

              A conversation is usually making a turn for the worst when of the participants becomes visibly angry. People can become so fixated on being “right” that they aren’t considering the importance of being kind. If a person is “right,” but they project themselves in a way that makes them look like a jerk to everyone else, then how is being “right” going for them?

              Shut that bad boy down.

              The best way to shut it down is with the Seven Magic Words:

              You don’t have to agree with me. 

              The key is that if you use this phrase while projecting sincere kindness, there is no logical way for the other person to respond to keep the conversation moving in a bad direction. How do you argue with someone who acknowledges you don’t need to agree with them?

              You can’t.

              Cheers to agreeing to disagree, having an opinion, and accepting and loving those who don’t think the same way you do.



                The Preggo in the Fitting Room: 10 Universal Truths about Life and Parenting

                Me, two months postpartum, in all my acne-ridden glory. 10 Universal Truths about Life and Parenting;

                Me, two months postpartum, in all my acne-ridden glory. Where on earth were my Rodan + Fields friends when I needed them the most?

                The situation is one of my Top 5 Most Embarrassing Moments. It is burned into my memory like major life events: my parents dropping me off at college, the exact moment I discovered I passed the bar exam, my wedding day, the first time I laid eyes on my children.

                It was freezing cold in March of 2012 and I was three days past my due date with my first daughter. By this point, I could barely walk, acne had taken my face hostage, my hair looked like a “before” picture in a Frizz-Ease infomercial, my back was sore, and I was angry at the world. I got out of bed and drove to the other side of Tampa to buy dog food, as the only place that sold our preferred “high-end” brand was across town at a Petco located in a strip mall. (After we had kids, the dogs got whatever cheap-o brand was available at the grocery store. You know how that goes.)

                From the strip mall parking lot, I could see a new boutique had opened and there were mannequins wearing beautiful, “hip” clothing in the windows. (Not the type of clothes a thirty-year old pregnant lady would be caught dead wearing, if I was even lucky enough to get the pant leg over my thigh.) The entrance of the boutique was decorated with balloons and streamers.

                I decided to check it out.

                Maybe I can buy some cute clothes I can look forward to wearing a couple months after the baby is born.

                I walked inside the boutique and was excitedly met with three adorable, skinnyyoung female employees who screamed “CONGRATULATIONS, YOU’RE OUR VERY FIRST CUSTOMER” as flashes from a camera struck me in the face.

                I almost started to cry.

                Oh my goodness, I am SO SORRY I’m your first customer.

                They were probably hoping for a college student with blown-out hair, perfect eyebrows, and a tiny body who would look perfect trying on their high-waisted jean shorts, which were in style at the time.

                Instead, they got me. With black labrador retriever hairs stuck like velcro all over my (fifteen year old) fleece jacket, pajama pants that I’ve had since college, and oatmeal from breakfast still stick in my hair. They probably assumed I crawled out from the Starbucks dumpster.

                Look, if you want, I would be HAPPY to step outside until someone else can come along and be your “official” first customer.

                They wouldn’t hear of it. So I bought some rompers (that had elastic waists) and an A-line dress.

                I was the Preggo in the fitting room.

                This whole event got me thinking about truths of life. Of course this couldn’t have happened on a good day, when I showered, my hair was done, make-up on, and I was feeling presentable. Instead, it happened on a day I was feeling my worst.

                Murphy’s Law.

                Then I started thinking about other Universal Truths that are consistent as the rooster crowing, sun shining, and moon rising.

                1. It is impossible to get out of Target or Home Depot without spending more than $100.

                2. With kids, you will not be able to get out of the house on time for the most critical time-sensitive appointments. Something will happen.

                3. You will find your lost safety pin when you are walking around barefoot.

                4. One-size-fits-all is either way too big or way too small.

                5. You will accidentally send a rough draft that includes handwritten, stick-figure doodles to the client instead of the final version.

                6. The dropped piece of toast lands with the buttered side down.

                7. As soon as you sit down with a hot cup of coffee, your boss (or kids) will ask you to do something that lasts until the coffee is cold.

                8. As soon as you (finally!) find a cosmetic you like, the company discontinues it.

                9. The person with the window seat on an airplane has to get up to use the restroom a million times when you’re sitting by the aisle.

                10. You blow-dry your hair on a day it rains.

                I recently contacted the very sweet owner of the boutique to see if they could send me a copy of the pictures from the Grand Opening. Fortunately (for me), they couldn’t find them.

                I realize there are “worse things” in life that have happened to people than showing up heinous at a store’s Grand Opening. This morning, I almost got into a car accident after running a red light and stopping just in time before T-Boning a Dodge pickup truck. All because I was more focused on trying to search for Bruce Springsteen on Spotify than paying attention to the road. Lesson learned and crisis averted. That would have been worse.

                Cheers to embracing Murphy’s Law and being able to laugh about it.

                Special thanks to the awesome ladies at A Haley Boutique for being such gracious sports! You earned a longtime customer.

                  9 Best Hostess Gifts: Yes, You Have to Bring Them

                  Worried about what to bring to the party host? Here are 9 of the best hostess gift ideas. Cheers!

                  Housewarming parties. Dinner parties. Anniversary parties. Birthday parties. Baby showers and bridal showers (when you’re the honoree). Overnight visits. Themed parties. Holiday parties.

                  It can get exhausting to find unique gifts to serve as mementos to thank your hostess (or host) for his or her hospitality.

                  Likewise, it’s sometimes confusing to determine whether giving a hostess a gift is appropriate.

                  I asked Myka Meier, the founder and director of Beaumont Etiquette, to weigh in:

                  When are you required to bring a hostess gift? “You should bring a hostess gift when you are invited to someone’s home for any reason. It can be something small and thoughtful, and it constitutes a thank-you for an invitation to host you. Never show up empty handed. This obviously doesn’t mean you should turn up with a Tag Heuer automatic watch but you should arrive with something that shows that you’ve put time into your gift.”

                  When is a hostess gift not required? “When you are invited to someone’s home for an event or dinner, you should always ask the host what he or she would like you to bring. Sometimes the person may assign you to a dish. In that case, the dish would be your contribution. It would be extra generous (and unnecessary) to also bring a hostess gift.”

                  How much should I spend on a hostess gift? “There is no specific amount; rather, it’s the thought behind the gift. For instance, bringing homemade cookies would be as suitable as monogrammed cocktail coasters or an expensive candle from the host’s favorite store.”

                  What is the not-so-obvious thing to bring as a hostess gift? “Flowers that are not already in a vase or container. It is the hostess’s sole responsibility to ensure her guests feel comfortable and welcome when they enter her home. The moment you will arrive with flowers, the hostess will need to cut their stems and find a vase to fill with water. While she is trying to accommodate the flowers you got for her, she has not been able to do her job as a hostess and may have missed greeting guests as they arrive.”

                  Here are nine of my favorites.

                  Scented candles. I love scented candles and usually wouldn’t splurge on one for myself. My favorites are from the Seventh Avenue Apothecary in Tampa, Florida, which is family owned and operated by a group of great women.


                  Rifle Paper Company recipe box. How perfect is it to gift a recipe box for a dinner party hostess? This Citrus Floral Recipe Box is made by the Rifle Paper Company (a Florida enterprise flagshipped in the charming town of Winter Park) and is available for $34. They also offer a diverse online section of other gift ideas to suit your hostess’s taste or hobbies.

                  9 Best Hostess Gifts on The Champagne Supernova;

                  Michael Aram pomegranate catch all.  I love the pomegranate catch all from the Michael Aram collection. At $49, this natural bronze beauty is perfect for the hostess to place in her kitchen for her “whatevers.”


                  Corkcicle. This little device is $17.95 of goodness and is ideal for the wine aficionado hostess. You freeze it, then stick it into a wine bottle so it stays cold. If you purchase them through the Corkcicle website, you get 15% off your first purchase. Good reason to buy them in bulk. Cheers!

                  9 Best Hostess Gifts on The Champagne Supernova;

                  Hen House Linens kitchen towels. Bright and colorful, these towels from Hen House Linens will spruce up any kitchen.

                  9 Best Hostess Gifts: Yes, You Have to Bring Them.

                  Gourmet Cheeses. It’s fun to give the hostess something she can look forward to enjoying when the party’s over. You can get gourmet cheeses almost anywhere (and who doesn’t like cheese?) but I prefer to shop local and purchase mine at Cheese Please in Tampa. It’s run by two hilarious and personable guys who have a knack for fine cheeses and chocolates.

                  9 Best Hostess Gifts: Yes, You Have to Bring Them.

                  Menagerie wine pourer/ aerator. I discovered these gems at a tasting at the Gundlach Bundschu winery in Sonoma. There are 64 styles made from original hand-sculpted designs and forged from high-grade stainless steel. At roughly $29 a piece, they combine quality, functionality, durability, and style. My husband is an avid hunter, so I got him the elk pourer, but as a University of Florida alumnus and fisherman, he would have been equally thrilled with the alligator or fish pourers.


                  Funny cocktail napkins. For the hostess with a sense of humor, funny cocktail napkins make the perfect gift. I love these “Real Housewives” themed cocktail napkins from Caspari, which also sells boxed note sets, candles, matchboxes, and picture frames online.

                  9 Best Hostess Gifts: Yes, You Have to Bring Them.

                  Bathroom guest book. For the regular entertainer, make every trip to the powder room an event to remember with the Bathroom Guest Book available at Z-Gallerie. This witty little book is a great conversation piece, and at $14.95, each guest’s deep thoughts on the loo will live in infamy.

                  9 Best Hostess Gifts: Yes, You Have to Bring Them.

                  Cheers to being a gracious guest!


                    The 10 Commandments of Workplace Etiquette

                    The Champagne Supernova- 10 Commandments of Workplace Etiquette

                    I’ve worn many hats over the years.

                    I’ve been a grocery store cashier, a restaurant server, a receptionist at a home sales center, a mortgage loan officer at a bank, a summer clerk at a small law firm, and an associate attorney at a large law firm.

                    While I am not an etiquette expert, and often prefer the company of people who do things their way, there are a few observations I’ve had in the work environment over the past decade that are worth mentioning. These are the 10 things guaranteed to annoy your colleagues:

                    Thou Shalt Control the Sound of Your Bodily Functions. There’s no reason someone sitting on the opposite side of the office should be able to hear you sneezing, coughing, chewing food, or clearing your throat. One of my daughters would jump in utero at the sound of a colleague’s sneezes.

                    It is entirely possible to control the decibel of your bodily functions. If you wouldn’t make the loud and distracting noise in a church, at a funeral, or in a library, then you should have equal consideration in the workplace.

                    Thou Shalt Help Keep the Restroom Tidy. When you work in a large office building where everyone on the floor shares a bathroom, it’s embarrassing to direct multimillion dollar client representatives into a restroom where there might be toilet paper stuck to the floor, water splashed all over the sink, or, worst of all, a toilet that wasn’t completely flushed.

                    Clean up after yourself.

                    Thou Shalt Not Reheat Smelly Food. I once attended a crowded deposition in a small room where the air conditioner wasn’t working. Despite being packed in the room like sardines (pun intended), one of my colleagues took a container of stinky cheese out of her mini cooler, and proceeded to spread it all over crackers before eating it. The sound of her smacking jaw and the repugnant odor of the cheese in the hot, tiny room was nauseating.




                    Burned popcorn.

                    Keep these smelly culprits out of the office.

                    Thou Shalt Not Take Food That’s Not Yours. People shouldn’t have to label or initial food items that are placed in the community refrigerator. If you didn’t bring it to work, then don’t eat it without permission.

                    Easy peasy.

                    Thou Shalt Replenish the Coffee. This is one of the simplest ways to make your co-workers despise you. It takes ten seconds to brew a fresh pot of coffee. If you don’t know how to use the coffee maker, then someone will be happy to show you.

                    Ignorance doesn’t justify inconsideration.

                    Thou Shalt Not Be a Mooch. Don’t be “that person” who routinely attends potluck work events without contributing. If you didn’t have time to bring something from home, then call Domino’s and have something delivered to the office.

                    Everybody loves pizza.

                    Thou Shalt Keep Personal Internet Use at a Minimum. Nowadays, Big Brother is constantly monitoring how you spend time on the internet at work. This also true if you’re logged into your employer’s wi-fi on your smart phone. I’ve heard of several instances where employers audit their employees’ computer use to ensure they’re not burning work time on the internet.

                    If you are completing your assigned tasks or are on your lunch break, there’s nothing wrong with an occasional internet diversion. However, if you are getting paid to perform a job but, instead, are spending your time shopping online or catching up with your Facebook friends, you are arguably stealing from your employer.

                    Thou Shalt Turn off the Music. I’ve never been the person who can perform thoughtful activities while listening to music. It’s hard to concentrate with it in the background, and I find myself focusing on the words and rhythm of the song, as opposed to the task at hand.

                    If you work in an open office environment, turn your music off completely. If you listen to music on headphones, make sure it isn’t so loud that other people can hear it. If you listen to music in a private office, keep the door closed.

                    Thou Shalt Dress Appropriately. I once worked at a law firm where one of the older assistants routinely wore a letterman-style Skittles jacket to work.

                    Skittles. As in, taste the rainbow.

                    Nobody over the age of 12 should wear a Skittles jacket in public, let alone to a professional environment.

                    Wear clothing that is suitable for your age, body type, and the nature of your career. If you are 25 years old and employed at the Victoria’s Secret headquarters, then it is likely appropriate (and encouraged) to wear short skirts to work.

                    In 99% of other situations, nobody wants to see your bra strap or the outline of your underwear through your tight pants. (See also: nobody wants to see the tattoo of the Disney character on your breast- cover up the cleavage.) Further, don’t wear items that are ripped, stained, or make you look like you are one of the People of Wal-Mart. Depending on the work environment, open-toed dress shoes are acceptable, as long as the person has their corns, callouses, and cracked heels under control.

                    Thou Shalt Show Gratitude. Your employer doesn’t owe you a holiday party, paid maternity leave (in the United States), and, in many cases, a year-end bonus or raise. While you likely worked hard to achieve these things, showing a bit of gratitude by acknowledging the benefit and thanking your supervisors will go a long way. It takes two seconds to say “thank you.”


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