The Beautician

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My better half LOVES beauty. Things not pretty make his face contort. And as fairly new parents of twins - things in our home are not always looking cute. Crayon markings can appear on non-traditional canvases, shelf decor can be thrown to the floor and toys can overtake every nook and cranny in our home. Fortunately, my husband's love of all things beautiful keeps our home in a state of constant evolution. It even, to my surprise, pushes our relationship to new heights as well.

Let's talk examples. Scuff mark on our white wall? He Speedy Gonzalez' his paint supplies to eliminate it. Uneven frame hung in one of our rooms? Not on his watch. My man is so good, he can walk into our apartment and SENSE when one of his houseplants has a leaf turning brown. He's that good.  Imperfections drive him nuts. I, of course, am the opposite.  Prior to meeting him, these things did not matter to me. A scuff mark? Showed character. The off center frame? Showed my quirky side. And what plants?  I wouldn't even attempt to keep a cactus alive in my past apartments. Meanwhile, my husband can spot these, let’s call them “uglies”, a mile away. Then, like a true beautician, he sets out on an intensely focused beauty treatment mission...every single time. 

At our wedding, I declared in my vows that there were a bazillion reasons we were together and why we work as a couple. I learn something almost everyday from my man. A huge lesson I get from him is to a) pay attention enough to spot the uglies, b) take the time to make them pretty and c) enjoy the beauty that is around me. As superficial as it may seem, these are lessons I need reminding of and to practice on a regular basis. You see, I go big picture. I like to jump in and do things, cross things off my lists, attack my goals, carpe diem and all that go-go-go energy - so much so that I often forget to enjoy the beauty of each moment. One of the bazillion gifts I get from my husband (and my not even two year old twins) is to make me savor the simplest of moments. To look at the thriving plant in our living room and admire it’s beauty - the shape of its leaves, the twisting of its branches, the way the sunlight frames it in our window - is a gift. I now have moments when I notice and appreciate these everyday types of beauty. And it is inspiring. 

It’s infectious too. It goes beyond our home.  The other day I was at one of our Crunch gyms and I was hustling off to my next instructor meeting and there it was - about 25 pilates mats absurdly stacked in misshapen ways. First off, normally I don’t notice because I’m on a mission to get to my next task. Secondly, I often think it’s not a big deal. Or I'll think "Oh! Someone else will do it! It will fix itself." But my hubby’s Beautician Voice popped in my head - “Yuck! That’s ugly!” And I had to fix them. When I was done, I took a moment to admire the symmetry of the mats. And it felt good to see them perfectly stacked up and ready to present themselves to the next person who wanted to enjoy a mat. 

Taking the extra step has carried over to my acting too. Last month, I was filming a scene from “Superstore” when I noticed a clock that I could artfully add to the backdrop.  It would take time, make me have to reset the camera, force me to fix the lighting, yadda-yadda . . . But I did it.  Instinctively I knew it would subtly add a sense of realism to the "employee break room" that the scene was set in.  So I stopped the in my head debate and made it happen. And as tiny as that was, my acting group and Coach totally noticed that detail because it provided a moment of truth, and in acting, well - truth is total beauty.         

Life gets busy. Our day-to-day's can get messy. But what I've learned from my husband is that there is beauty all around us - we just have to take a moment to notice. And if what we notice is something not cute, not pretty, or straight up ugly - we have the power to make things beautiful. Fight the uglies... Be the Beautician... And enjoy what's around you. LiveLifeLarge - Marc

The Grabber

Since my daughter Makena was born, she's been a Grabber. I’m not kidding. As a newborn weighing in less than 5lbs. - when she wanted the bottle, she'd literally thrust her arms out and take it. On the flip side, when she didn't want it - look out - it was NOT happening. She’d curl her lips and turn away. Today, 22 months later - she’s got that exact same “I know exactly what I want so don’t bother trying to convince me otherwise” energy.

Her twin sister, Hope is the opposite of course. She'll take things in stride and is very steady with her actions (hence my last article calling her "The Repeater). At the moment, their dual/duel approaches to life are working out because when Makena sees something in Hope's hand and takes it, 9 out of 10 times, Hope will lightly acknowledge it and move on to something else. On occasion, Hope and I will look at each other and shrug, “The Grabber strikes again!” and we’ll go play with something else.

I sometimes joke around that Makena is like those little old Asian ladies in Chinatown. You know, the ones who when they see one last ripe mango at the stall or one last empty seat on the subway, they will push, stomp, and shove anyone in their way to get what they want. They will snatch up that mango! And once in hand, I swear each time I've witnessed it, there's always this sly smirk of indifference that pops up on their face and screams “Ha, Ha Sucker!”  This unfortunately is not behavior limited to this world. I see it in the gym arena too, especially when I teach a packed class. The "claiming" of the spot, the marking of the territory, the seizing of a last 5 lb. dumbbell - there's a sense of "MINE" that comes out and it's aggressive, almost mean, and it is most definitely ungracious. 

So this is of course, wrong - right? Well, yeah it is but let me add this caveat: we should always be gracious and inclusive but we should honor what we truly want and desire. Let me go back to our twins.

Sharing is actually a concept we're drilling home with the girls. But I started thinking - Makena is, by nature, a Grabber. She's a go-getter and she's naturally aggressive when she sees something she wants. And as a Father to a girl, I want my daughters to maintain some of that go-get-em chutzpah, or cajones that is fostered in us dudes. So while we'll talk about being "gentle", "sweet", "kind" and all the sharing stuff that does make sense - I will also be making sure she maintains some of the Grabber energy in her life. At the same time, we will also be making sure she does so with a sincere smile and with empathic thoughts to folks she takes that last mango or dumbbell from. 

I think, act and share a lot about Living Life Large. My daughters are a constant reminder to me that this is about taking a hold of our lives - grabbing if you will, and going for what we want with all our might. At 22 months, Makena grabs with a sense of clarity that is frankly, inspiring. The trick now is to live The Grabber Life with as much love and joy as possible. And maybe share a mango or two along the way. Cheers - Marc

The Repeater

The more we do anything, the better we are going to get at it.

"Is she retarded?" That was the comment that playfully popped out of my husband’s mouth as we watched our at the time one year old walk up and down a set of 3 carpeted steps over and over and over again. Picture this: our vacation in Maui. Our cool new condo rental.  Beaches, sunshine, pools. There was so much to explore! But what one of our twins was fixated on was those three little steps!  Up. And Down. Up. And Down. She explored them with ease -  her tiny but meaty legs completing one full cycle of the up and down movement in seconds. She completed the task and did it well. Thus, it was our instincts to think, “Well, now what? What’s next?”

But for her it wasn’t about completing the task. It was about repeating the task. And she did it with such gusto and focus, as if her life depended on it. This seemingly mundane task also entertained her. I watched her for about 10 minutes and then couldn’t take it. I had to pick her up and show her something new, something different to distract her because I suddenly had this idea that it was not a good idea that I let her keep doing it. Over and over. Up and down. I now see in that moment, I was the retarded one.

Cut to today - months later - at a near 21 months, I watch her repeat this puzzle game. Same system. She’s the Repeater. She'd complete the puzzle and unlike her get ‘er done Papa (my husband is "Daddy”) - who likes to do something, check it off and move on - she would do the puzzle again. Back to One. Go again. And yet again.

But it suddenly hit me: this girl knows what's up. It's her way of processing and man! It's a good way! Because while she honestly is just acting on her natural instincts - with no agenda - she is getting better and reinforcing the smart logic that the more you do anything - the better you get at it. So simple a concept: The more we do anything, the better we are going to get at it. 

I’m in the fitness industry. I teach Group Fitness classes and I see a lot of folks hesitate to try a new class. When I invite them to try the latest fitness discovery we’ve got going on - I’ll hear this: “Uh, I dunno if I’ll be any good at it.”  And well, yeah - since it’s your first time - you just might not be. But so what?  If you’re open to the possibilities - you might like it enough that you’ll do it enough and if that happens - you will get good at it. Be a Repeater in all activities that matter to you. Try new things without giving any energy to the idea that you might suck at it. It doesn’t matter. What does matter is we stay open to the possibilities of life and have faith that the more we do it, the better we get.  Live Love Large - Marc