I want J. Lo’s Trainer, Michelle Obama’s Arms, and…

…a stand-up paddle board, plus some lessons in the sport.

Ordinarily, I’m not one of those folks who relies on putting things out “to the universe” and seeing what I get in return. I’ve always been a fan of picking a goal and working at it. I’m not judging people who swear by the law of attraction. In fact, I happen to envy their ability to write a random seven or nine figure number on a piece of paper, tuck it under their pillow, and believe that they will come into that amount of money.

(And now, I’ll admit that I was insomnia-busting with my DVR last night, and found a long-ago recorded episode of The Lottery Changed My Life, on TLC. This episode profiled  a woman who had adopted her late brother’s children, quit her job to care for them and then did the whole Law of Attraction thing, right down to the big-money note under the pillow…And. She. Won. That. Exact. Amount.)

I think in terms of process and product. It may be because I’ve worked in women’s magazines for so many years, interviewed a ton of celebrities about their healthy lifestyles, and arrived at the conclusion that one gets a hard-body like J. Lo’s through a combination of hard work, determination, discipline, deep pockets for the trainer fees, delivered meals, and the ability to schedule hour after hour of physical training.

I look at photos of Michelle Obama and think: I need to find the discipline to rise each morning for a predawn workout. I once read that when her first daughter was born, Michelle noticed that her husband didn’t miss a workout—so she figured out the 4am workout as a way to take care of herself before she started meeting the needs of others. Still, I wondered…how does she look so, well, sculpted? As it turns out, the answer to that question (and any others a person could possibly dream up about what makes the First Lady of the United States appear so polished, confident and engaging) arrived in the form of a review copy of What Would Michelle Do? by Allison Samuels.

Maybe there’s something to this attraction thing after all?

Let’s put aside that I’ve been reading Allison’s writing for years in Newsweek, and I’ve always admired her style—it’s bright, informed, engaging and sharp. She has interviewed the First Lady several times for Newsweek, and that credibility is clear in the book. And, yes, the book delivers the exact routine that can get me those “guns.” Slam dunk.

Reassuringly, What Would Michele Do? is chockablock with the kind of advice that’s best described as “common-sense-plus.” Informed by her interviews with the First Lady for Newsweek, as well as other research and interviews with various members of the First Lady’s team, the book attempts to bridge the gap between aspiration and activation. We get a peek at how Michelle learned to create her signature style, cultivate meaningful friendships, balance (and blend) her professional and family lives according to the rules that work for her. The book is respectful, not dishy. For me, the best message of the book is this: The guidelines don’t give you a recipe for a perfect life. Instead, they acknowledge the fact that the one hard and fast rule is to know yourself and your own needs—and that doing things “like everybody else” is a recipe for failure. Taking in information through your personal filter, and using it to your best advantage—that’s likely the best example of WWMD.

Because Allison has interviewed the First Lady several times, the book is filled with insights that are informed by those meetings as well as information gleaned from key “insiders” (her mom, her hairstylist)—but delivered in a way that makes it clear that these tips are actionable by women of any means. Take the workout—headline: No Gym, No Problem. Very un-Hollywood.

I’m not ashamed to tell you that I’m going to snap a photo of that page with my phone so I can reference it for my own workouts.

Overall, the book delivers on the promise of the title—a 3-D view of how Michelle navigates the worlds she inhabits.

And in the spirit of the WWBND reference on my own site, I’ll tell you how I’m changing my tune about attraction.

I have announced to my family that I want that paddle board, that the ultimate Mother’s Day gift is a package of paddle boarding lessons. And I will keep announcing it. Some way, somehow, those lessons will happen.

What will you do?

If you’re sexy and you know it…

This is not the post you might think it will be. It may, however, be the funniest “multicultural moment” I have experienced in a long time.

First, I will tell you that ever since the Temple Har Shalom Community Seder on the second night of Passover, Seth has been obsessed—obsessed, I tell you—with the song Dayenu. (I think it has something to do with the overall “party-on” tone of the event—truly one of the most fun seders I have ever attended. Each child received a goody bag upon arrival, complete with props for the ten plagues–think finger puppets, toy frogs, and Plague Masks. Check out my guys, below—if there is such thing as a fitting plague costume, it’s Seth in the Wild Animals mask. That’s for sure.)

Anyway, back to Dayenu…If you are not familiar with this #1 Passover hit, it details all the miracles G-d granted the Jews, but argues that just one would have been enough for us.

The refrain of the song is the Hebrew word that means “it would have been enough for us,” and you will have to trust me that the repeated singing of the word Dayenu  is nothing short of catchy.

It goes something like this: Di, di-eynu, di-diyenu, di diyenu, dayenu dayenu.

Click on the link, above, to get the drift.

So, at the seder, we were introduced to a tradition that Rabbi Aaronson told us began with Afghani Jews: As you sing the chorus, you hold a scallion by the bulb and hit your neighbor with the greens. Naturally, the kids in the room (and, yes, the adults) were thrilled with the idea of Rabbinically-endorsed vegetable weaponry. My kids, especially.

And it’s probably why, nearly two weeks after the seder, my son was singing Dayenu all morning, today.

At breakfast, in the shower, and, yep, during carpool. Seth and his carpool buddy get into very animated debates about things like whether Legos are for boys or girls–or both. Come to think of it, they have a pretty decent feel for current events.

But here’s how this morning differed from all other mornings:

On this morning, Seth announced to our little blond, braided friend: I am going to teach you a song…in HEBREW.

He launches into the chorus, and then says, “You get to hit your mom with a scallion when you sing this!” To my ear, it was reported with  just a bit more enthusiasm than made me comfortable. But whatevs.

After they exhausted Dayenu, the little girl said, “Now I’m going to teach you a song!”

A beat.

“If you’re sexy and you know it, clap your hands!”

That’s right, sexy.

In these moments, I try to play it cool—I don’t want to create a ruckus of shame and self-doubt in a four year-old’s psyche. I don’t want to have some crazy over the top reaction about how four year-olds should not know the word “sexy.” Four year olds hear stuff. They repeat it. Especially if they have older brothers.

I’m sure that people smarter and more PC than I am would have just ignored it.

But I laughed. Hard.

And I couldn’t leave it there. I had to ask how she arrived at this lyric!

Still, I kept my tone light—”Hee hee, sweetie, where did you learn that song?”–Because I knew she was just repeating something innocently, and since I know her mom to be one of the good ones, who keep childhood child-like, I knew that the explanation would be totally innocent. Or would have something to do with her older brothers, ages 6 and 8, who are precocious and hilarious and just as innocent. But not free of mischief.

I was, it turned out, half-right:

And I won’t lie: her matter-of-fact response has had me chuckling aloud all day:

“Oh, I learned ‘sexy’ from my brothers…” which she pronounces, ‘brudders” –“and I learned the clap your hands part in Church school!”

I just want to know if she’s going to turn up to Sunday school with a scallion to accompany her mashup.

Of course, now, when I see her mom, the only acceptable greeting is, “Clap Your Hands!”

Here, by the way, is my new favorite Passover song—punk style!–  with some rocking Dayenus at the end. Oh, and this hilarious Fountainheads song which tells the Passover story—mashup style.

And, now, I will direct you to the top of this post, in order to inspect the mashup of tags I never dreamed I’d create.

Too cool for school? Not me!

In case you were wondering, I went to high school twice.

The first time, I began the experience at my local public high school, then transferred to spend 10th-12th grades at Emma Willard School, in Troy, NY.

At both schools, I’m not afraid to tell you, I was decidedly uncool—however at Emma it was kind of cool to be uncool. Which is why I loved Emma then. (Now, I love it because I have dear, dear friends with whom I share a wonderful bond. In time, girls who were mere acquaintances in the school years have become women I can call friends.) Still, all of that counts as once.

The second time I went to high school, I was 24. It was 1997 in New York City. Incidentally, I had the same boyfriend the second time around, only this time, he was my husband (still is). It’s a little strange being married in high school. And I’m not sure he has ever recovered from the unholy numbers of Backstreet Boys concerts I dragged him to in a matter of a few short years. He even played along when I insisted that he watch  Dawson’s Creek with me.

No, I was not in some real-life 21 Jump Street (retro-cool or the hilarious, bawdy romp that is the Jonah Hill movie. What, you haven’t seen it yet? Go see it. It’s one of the best cool/not cool conundrum depictions ever.). It was a legit setup: I was the Entertainment Editor at YM, a then-widely-red and now-defunct teen magazine.

Want proof? Click here to read an article in the New York Times, which quoted me…ME!…about what the kids, cool or not, were doing, watching and talking about in 1997.

And, yes, I will shove this post in the face of my children when they accuse me of being uncool—if only to prove that cool doesn’t last forever. It’s fleeting. And fickle. Or, if nothing else, defined within peer groups. But I think we can all agree that being interviewed by the New York Times at age 24 for one’s professional expertise is pretty darn cool. I’ll hang my uncool-mom hat on that, thankyouverymuch.

Your turn: when in your life did you feel the least and most cool? What do your kids think is cool that you don’t—and vice versa. I’ll go first:

My kids think it’s completely uncool when I sing. And my best friend Nancy thinks exactly the opposite.

This is a Utah spiked shoe.


Eat your hearts out, fashionistas…the springtime look in Utah is…DH Scarpa di Pesce!

Ok, maybe the fishing boot is pushing it, but I couldn’t help but giggle when my stylish pal, who usually rocks a ballet flat, turned up at our children’s karate lessons in ski pants and…her husband’s fishing boots.

And while she coukd have engaged in a Utah spring sports ritual of skiing in the morning and fishing in the afternoon, the explanation was more, er, pedestrian—but still classically Utah.

“I took my kids skiing with their cousins today and when my husband picked me up, the only shoes in the car were his fishing boots,” she explained. “it’s the Utah spiked heel!” take that, Jimmy Choo.