Love your body, just as it is!

Dear Readers,

I started seeing posts about bikinis and swimsuits and it reminded me it’s swimsuit season again and the inevitable barrage of ads are about to start flooding your inbox telling you how to “get that bikini body you want” and “shed the weight just in time for swimsuit season” (This is also for the men, because they also struggle with this)  and I want to state here and now. STOP IT! We don’t need more advertisements to tell us we “NEED” to lose weight or even that we “WANT” to lose weight.

If you want to lose weight for you, I say awesome! Personally, I am working toward a loss of 23 pounds so I can be a bone marrow donor (they require you to be 270 pounds before they will allow you to donate) and and so I can be a good example for my daughter which is that healthy is a habit and if you make it part of your routine, you feel good, it releases endorphins and I don’t know about you, but I get some of my best ideas when I am swimming or jogging.

But if you are seeing these advertisements and feel like, “Yeah I could stand to lose a few or tighten or tone or do what I can to look better in this swimsuit…”

Ask yourself why you are doing it and if it’s for you and you alone, go for it!

But please please please don’t feel like you have to do it for your partner, or if you are single, to get a partner. Be you, exactly that, and nothing more and be happy with yourself.

So my question to you is, can you love your body as it is? That doesn’t preclude you from working out or doing things that YOU want to do to change it, and in the meantime, EMBRACE yourself and where you are, because if you say to yourself, I will be happy when I get my flabby arms more toned or when I lose that last 10 pounds that I still have from being pregnant, well you are wasting time being unhappy because this is your life, and your body and there is no time like NOW to get to loving yourself AS YOU ARE.peacockbeauty

I will say this is not an easy thing and it’s taken me the better part of the last 5 years to really hone in on this and to constantly remind myself to love myself as I am.

So can you join in and love your body (the only one you have) EXACTLY as YOU ARE?

Think About It.


Are You Capturing Pictures or Missing Moments?

Dear Readers,


I do my best to really “be in the moment”. It was something I learned around the same time I learned about really good acting and how to best achieve it. It is also a very necessary life skill.

So I do a lot of thinking about how this relates to me being a good mother and good wife and good friend. I strive to really be present with people and give them my full attention, but something stops me.

My phone.  It calls to me like a siren “Jennifer, look at what you what you are missing…. Pick me up!” “Jennifer, you know you want to read the latest likes and comments on your last post, Pick me up” – Never mind that your daughter, who you haven’t seen all day because you were at work smiling and laughing and wants to play,  PICK ME UP! says my phone.  Sometimes I listen and the phone wins. Sometimes I ignore the siren song and my life wins. 

To be clear, My phone definitely doesn’t talk to me, this is a metaphorical level of nagging. But then again, I have a “siri” and I named him “Nigel”. He has a British accent and I really enjoy when he says, “Jennifer” but I digress.

I have talked to a few people recently about how they “use” their phone  (Anyone else getting the feeling that your phone might be a drug?) and how they see others using their phones (in a word, CONSTANTLY) and given some of those conversations, I think my friends and family have some pretty healthy boundaries. We are definitely working to establish some good boundaries around the “use” of phones and devices in the Haston House.

  1. No Phones at the Table when eating. Thank you Dollar Store! Cellphonejail2. No Phones when we are spending “family time” – a rare commodity!


This came up because last weekend all anyone could talk about was “The Royal Wedding”. I am no different. I was caught up in all the pomp and circumstance and enjoyed watching the pictures that were posted by the media and other people’s comments on the pictures that were taken of the historic event.

Among the rest, I see someone took a picture that captured an elderly woman smiling serenely and watching all the hoopla while dozens of people clamored with their phones to get a good picture through their “screen” rather than actually “experience” the event.

Now, one can argue, they are multi-tasking! Getting a great shot while simultaneously enjoying the event. Maybe, but I think it’s far more likely that they were clamoring for that good shot and they just kept taking pictures over and over. I say this because I have seen it, when I go to see concerts, and live events, I see people everywhere with faces bathed in that telltale white light and MISSING out on Life.



Now, I am not saying you can’t use your phone. That would be impossible or maybe not impossible but really improbable. It’s your life, do what you like.

I am simply asking you to take a beat, and THINK before you pick up that phone. I needed some help with this, so I started using an app called “Moment” which tracks how often you use your phone. It goes deeper, it tells you how many times you picked it up and how long you used it. As someone who is VERY passionate about this subject, I had very few minutes, right? WRONG.  My first report said 4 hours a day.

Ouch. But hey, I am aware of it, so NOW I have to do something about it.

It’s getting a little better, today it was 1 hour and 41 minutes.

Should you strive for that? Maybe. Only you can make that decision.

The next time your phone “whooshes or dings” or silently sings to you, please think before you respond.

Think About It.

Depending on the kindness of strangers..


Dear Readers,

I am from New Orleans, a fact that never ceases to surprise others when they learn it.

I guess it’s because I don’t have a New Orleans accent and I am not known for my cooking, but rather my baking.

In any case, I traveled home to visit my mother with my little girl and some rest and relaxation.

Well, as much relaxation as one can hope for when traveling with a toddler.

I know from running around in the car with her to do anything, it ALWAYS takes more time than you think, and missing my flight makes me nervous as a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs, so we were two hours early. This also helped me to relax, relax, relax and take things as they came.  I had trepidation and excitement as I headed to the airport with the little one.

However, taking a page from my good friend Rachel’s book, I decided to let go of my expectations and welcome what came my way, good or bad.  I was VERY lucky on this trip and I had some difficulties too, so it was definitely a mixed bag.

First, way back in February when we booked the flight, I found out that if your child is less than two years old,  you are allowed to travel for FREE with them, and they can sit on your lap while you fly. Not super comfortable, but definitely more affordable than two tickets.

Something I found out is that you need a birth certificate or medical records to prove their age. I didn’t know that, so I had a very scary moment as I waited for the skycap to determine if he was going to require it or let it go. Luck was with me, and he let it go.

So inside the Austin airport, I went through security with my one stuffed to the gills diaper bag, my daughter, and her stroller. I had to put her stroller, my diaper bag and shoes through conveyor and then my diaper bag needed “further checks” so I had to wait while they did those as well. Sounds simple enough, but try it with a squirmy toddler and get back to me about the level of difficulty involved.

I picked the very back of the plane hoping that people would be less likely to want to sit with us and we could hopefully have a row all to ourselves, that did not happen but as luck would have it, a mother with grown children sat next to us and as she was taking her seat she said, “Feel free to use this seat so she can spread out” Bless you, Stacey! We wound up having a really lovely conversation and Vivienne was an absolute angel and while restless, she was well-behaved for the most part and passed out about 10 minutes before we landed. It’s worth noting that it’s an hour long flight so a good introduction to flying. It remains to be seen how she would do on a longer flight.

On our way back, we got to the airport three hours early. As a New Orleans native, I can tell you, traffic is unpredictable and you really don’t want to leave it to the last minute. We checked in, no problems! I had not managed to have a po-boy during the trip so I headed to the airport bar thinking surely they would have a po-boy on the menu in one of the restaurants. Not so much. They had an oyster dish that I thought that would be good, and as I ordered it, I mentioned I was a local and they could “dress it” (using the lingo, I thought surely I would be in the clear. Again, not so much.

I realized this would be my only chance to get a po-boy for a while so I was polite and firm and said, I am a local and please remake this for me and serve it on French bread, so I made my own po-boy happen. It was delicious and I felt very satisfied.

We then went through security which had a very lovely “strollers section” so I think security took all of 5 minutes!!!! WOOHOO!!! We made our way through the airport, about two hours before boarding time and I took a seat in our boarding area and was playing happily with Vivienne with her blocks and books and after a while, I checked in with the gate attendant and she let me know the flight was running an hour late. Okay, minor wrinkle, we can handle that. I then realized my phone was a little low on battery so I went to charge it, and while standing at the charging station, I met two very lovely people who were also charging their phones and a wonderful thing happened. We talked about how people don’t TALK any more, they are constantly on devices or working or rushing to their next flight.  We had a lovely time talking and I got an update that the flight was in fact on time, and we parted ways but not before connecting on social media. I find the irony of that very satisfying. We were social as we were unable to be on social media.

As I boarded the plane, I heard the angel taking tickets say, ““Ma’am, the flight is not full, so feel free to seat her next to you” Music to MY EARS!!!!! Thank you Southwest Airlines!

I think that the kindness of strangers played a strong role in making our trip great, fairly appropriate when you consider I was in New Orleans at the time.

What kindness could you offer a stranger in your own hometown, in your own office, or maybe in your circle.

Is there someone you can make smile? Offer them a sincere compliment, or do something to make their day?

Think About It.

Coming to My Side Of The Table

Dear Readers,tableconvo

Have you ever felt yourself getting angry with someone because they REFUSE to see things how you see them? For the purposes of this discussion, let’s say it’s Girl Scout cookies. No controversy there, right? WRONG.

I HATE THIN MINTS for LOTS of reasons, the most important being, they don’t make you thin, “False Advertising”, but seriously, I just don’t like the way they taste.

On the flipside, I LOVE Caramel Delights and have for years and years. It’s been a hotly contested debate among many of my nearest and dearest friends

(You know who you are)

It’s all in good fun, of course, much like the Aggies / Longhorns conflict that I volley back and forth about with colleagues and friends.

I am a highly competitive person, so I definitely try my best to sway the opinions of others who disagree with me and it can be frustrating to realize they just won’t come to your side of the table and you hammer and hammer away at them, challenging them to change their mind. You come at it from the east, south, north, and west and you feel like you are making headway and then they say

“I see what you mean and I understand, but I don’t agree”  ARGGGGGGGGGGH!

It’s so frustrating! However, upon deeper reflection, is it really?

You are talking to someone you care about, they feel passionately about a topic, and you feel passionately about a topic, you have both put forth your points of view and they put forth theirs, you understand their point but don’t agree. Why is that such a bad thing?

Why isn’t enough for us to be at the table talking and taking each other in and really listening to what they have to say. Maybe they will change your mind, maybe you will change theirs, but then again, maybe neither of you will change your opinion but you will learn something and gain a deeper understanding of the other person.

My good friend and I have differing opinions about the attainment of goals, we both agree it’s important and we both have very different ways of tackling them, both methods are completely valid and they are completely different. I came to this realization recently, it’s not my job to get you my side of the table, but it IS my job to get you sit at the table with me and for us to both show up and really listen.

The next time you find yourself wondering, “why don’t they come to my side of the table?” Stop and take the time to appreciate that they are at the table at all.

Think About It.

Do you listen, or wait to talk?

Dear Readers,

It was recently brought to my attention that I don’t always listen or more accurately, I listen but I don’t always hear.

Does this happen to you?

I discovered that I thought I heard something that someone said to me, but in fact, I heard the total opposite of what they said. Ouch.

For someone who has earned the badge of “Competent Communicator” from Toastmasters, that is upsetting to hear, AND I have the chance to do something about it.

I started doing some research and it turns out there are many resources to consult in order to become better at it, so I am dong my homework now and will report back.

Starting here with a quote by Simon Sinek-


Perhaps a good jumping off point would be to ask-

Do you listen or wait for your turn to talk?  I know the answer for me, and I am working on it. With my daughter, I am learning all about listening. She says so much with her eyes and her face, and you have to really, really, really pay attention.

How about you? Are you waiting for your turn to talk, or are you really taking in what the other person is saying, and perhaps more importantly, what they are not saying?

Think About It.