Monday, January 30, 2017


For Immediate Release: VANITY NOW A VIRTUE NOT A VICE!

To: All Members Of The Christian Faith, The United States Of America

From: The Office of Public Relations
10th Circle of Hell
666 Lake of Fire Dr.

Dear Church,

On behalf of the other nine circles of hell, let me begin by telling you what a great pleasure it is to announce, that after a centuries long review, it’s finally official: VANITY IS NO LONGER A VICE!

We must admit, we were originally disappointed, when vanity was not catapulted to the pinnacle of prominence as one of the original seven deadly. It just flew under the radar, simply slapped on as a sub sin in the category of Pride. But in the long run this has been an unanticipated benefit for those of us who never saw social media coming.

So, after centuries of struggle, we now submit to you that this vice has been promoted to virtue. And please trust us when we tell you that this declaration needs no higher scrutiny, for as we have observed over the past year, you have personally proclaimed yourselves as the highest possible authorities in existence, and for this we cannot thank you enough.

It’s beyond our wildest dreams to see you finally fully embracing the false notion of your own infallibility. Publicly proclaiming, in post after post, how absolutely right you are. And should someone find fault with something you’ve said or shared or done or chosen, you simply point out someone else’s wrongdoing, magically transfiguring the current culpability and all future failings. Cleansing at least your conscience, if not your soul.

And let me further applaud your efforts at crafting a Christ trademarked in your own image. A very American Messiah tested and tried against the gospel according to your gut. Who coincidentally only supports your worldviews and wants. Which you are happy to prove by dipping into doctrine, dragging out dollops and shaking loose any context or culture that could make it mean anything other than what you want. After all, the Bible sounds so much better in sound bites, don’t you think?

Guilt free gods yourselves able to worship what you please, be it political party or patriotism or self-preservation or appearances. After all, America first! And believe me when I say you have our full support in this because who needs all that hooey about “no other gods before me.” I mean how vain is that?

Thus proving our point that vanity is a virtue! See how convenient scripture snipping can be?

But we especially want to thank all of those who have remained relatively silent. Who have spoken little out of fear of rocking the boat with your fellow American Christians. Who’ve exchanged pleasantries in the pews to help keep up appearances. Your vanity in this area has been the greatest gift of all. And we owe you more than we can ever express. Your quiet compliance has helped make all of this possible.

So keep up the “good” work with all of your statuses and selfies and self-centered worldviews. Or by saying nothing at all. Because when you look good you feel…well at least everyone will think you’re good. Because after all, you’re an American Christian. And vanity is now a virtue.

Thursday, January 26, 2017


Today is a day for day drinking. Coffee.

I typically don’t drink coffee after 3PM. Especially alone. And most certainly not during the week.

But, this week has been extremely sobering. And I just need to take a quick break to feel comforted and warm all over. If only for a moment.

To hide. Alone in the darkness…in liquid form. Knowing full well that once it is downed, I will rise again, wide awake, unable to go to sleep. Both literally and figuratively.

I just want to embrace something certain and fair, or at the very least, fair trade.

To numb my tongue to all of the ugly utterances, unhelpful once unleashed, with a scalding cup of caffeinated clarity.

To drink up every last drop as I percolate with purpose. Just a short stop to simply regroup and refresh and recharge.

Americano first! And then a return to the reality at hand.

Our nation’s stunted growth. Not from too much coffee, but too little compassion. A long brewed bitterness covered with artificial sweetness that provides no nourishment.

A slow drip of self-centered sludge. Rendered through trickle down assurances that I matter. And only I matter. Not that “other.” The one without quite as much cream to their complexion.

And it’s ready made and available to be slurped up with the satisfaction that whatever I think or feel or perceive is truth. Because the facts apparently come decaffeinated. They’ve lost their zing. We have alternatives now and I can order my truth completely fact free!

All whipped up with a lot of hot air. Unscrupulously stirred to a state of delirium in a constant crusade for justification…rather than justice. Rightness over righteousness.

And should anyone find themselves burned by their recent order. So readily served up and swallowed down…just get on with the gulping! Searing your insides right through to your soul.

Because you can’t send it back. And you can’t stop. Because someone might see that you’ve stopped. And at this point it’s all about saving face. Saving self. Selfishness.

The slow drip of self-centered sludge. Rendered through trickle down assurances that I matter. And only I matter.

For the love of God, wake up and smell the coffee!

It’s a constant cycle. Of emptiness. Filled with more emptiness. Demanding to be filled with…more emptiness! A bottomless cup that promises to save, but will cost us all in the long run. Even those of us who didn’t order it!

All for the sake of ego.

A very sobering thought.

So I made myself a cup of coffee. At 3 o’clock in the afternoon. All alone. On a weekday.

Because I just need a quick break. From all of it. If only for a moment.

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Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Let It Fly!

Every Saturday evening as I headed off to bed, Mary Richards headed off to work. But not before reminding me, "You're gonna make it after all."

You see, even though The Mary Tyler Moore Show was for grownups, about grownups, doing and saying grownup things…those few moments right before the first commercial break, were a glimpse into the wide world that awaited me…a young girl growing up in the 1970’s. I would bask in the glow of the color console in the corner as she strutted through those opening credits with confidence.

And I would watch with worry and wonder as they drew to a close and she tossed that blue knit hat high into the air. Flinging it from her fingertips just before it froze near the top of the frame. And there it would stay as the rest of the credits splashed across the screen right before the fade.

But what happened after?

When she threw that hat, did she get it back? Did it land in the snowy slop? Come back to her like a boomerang? 

How could she just do that? It was a nice hat. I would have liked to have had that hat. And she just chucked it up in the air with no idea where it would go. No guarantees. 

What if someone stepped on it? Or tried to steal it? Or it got stuck in a tree?

I mean it’s not like she just gave it a little toss. She really let it rip.

And she was so happy about it. Doing something so risky. Something you’re just not supposed to do.

And what did those people around her think? This lady ripping off her hat in the middle of Minnesota winter and letting it fly! Did she hit anybody with it? Did they hit her with it after?

These were huge concerns! And week after week I would watch and wonder. Because, somewhere deep inside…I wanted to do it myself!

Why did she throw that hat, I wondered? 

Because she was okay with the consequences, whatever they might be.

And so today, that’s what I’m reminded to do myself!

To take something beautiful and precious to me, and launch it out into the world. With no idea where it will land or how it will be received. Not because I don’t care. But because I’m okay with the consequences.

That blue hat, frozen in mid-air is a good reminder... 

“You’re gonna make it after all.”

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Monday, January 23, 2017

I'll Remember The Women's March Forever...Because The Sharpie Is Still On My Arm!

I may truly remember The Women’s March forever because my Sharpie markered emergency contact info…is still on my forearm!

I’m a prepared and practical person. So I put it there in permanent marker, in case I needed it. In case I lost my identification. In case I lost my phone. In case I got separated from the woman I went to the march with.

In case, for some unforeseeable reason I was unable to give it myself.

And of course, as with most things in life, I prepared for the worst so I wouldn’t need it. And I didn’t. But I knew that if I had. No matter the obstacle, my emergency contact would come running. Because I needed help.

And after I finally made it home at the end of a worthwhile day shared with women around the world, I washed with soap and water. But it wouldn’t come off.

So, I scrubbed a little harder. But the Sharpie stayed.

Then I loofahed a little. And came out silky smooth and exfoliated, but my felt-tipped forearm still screamed for assistance.

So, I surrendered, slipped on my pajamas and went about the rest of my bedtime ritual. But every time I moved my arm to brush my teeth or pull back the bedding or turn a page, the big black lettering would slide from my sleeve just enough to remind me that if I needed help, someone would answer the call.

So I folded back the felt and stared down at the broad-tipped, bold helping-hand that refused to relinquish its grip on my forearm.

I considered using rubbing alcohol, but I was already in bed. Plus I wasn’t in the mood to lie there, all night long, stewing in the smell of sterile hospital stays gone by. This was not a day for that.

And I contemplated lemon oil. That would smell a lot better. Besides, when life gives you lemons…
You drive to LA.
Exercise your right to assemble.
And your right to free speech.
Then come home.
Crush the crap out of those lemons.
And rub their oil on your forearm!
I liked it! I like it a lot! But, I didn’t have any lemon oil or literal lemons, so I decided to just sleep on it.

And when I woke, my contact conundrum was slightly faded but still there. Still legible. Still promising to come when I called.

And as I pulled the cotton balls from the cupboard, I stopped myself. And stared. Stared hard at the options that I had. Right there. Just an arm’s length away.

A promise, there in permanent marker. In case I was in danger of losing my identity. Or losing my voice. Or becoming separated from society and shoved to the fringes.

In case, for some unforeseeable reason I was unable to do it myself. Help was on the way.

A boldfaced reminder that I too have a responsibility. Not just to walk or march. But to come running. Because I am that emergency contact who during that march, was just an arm’s length away. And I cannot fade. I must remain that helping-hand that refuses to let go.

I put the cotton balls back. I closed the cupboard. I rolled up my sleeves.

I may truly remember The Women’s March forever because my Sharpie markered emergency contact info…is still on my forearm!

Follow me on Instagram and twitter @TheLauraBecker

Monday, January 16, 2017

Technical Difficulties

It ultimately ends in a complete crash. A meltdown of monumental proportions from which there can be no recovery. One that will require a replete reset…of my sanity.

I would like it noted that I do not have “difficulties” with technology. I am relatively tech savvy. Okay, maybe not savvy, but tech functional. I get by enough to do pretty much everything electronically.

Until…I follow all of the directives for a particular piece of scientific know-how only to have the computer or app or ATM or phone or alternate device designed to make life easier…bring my complete existence to a screeching halt.

The “difficulties” I have are with the emotions that result from that moment.

Now, I consider myself a relatively rational human being. For example, I know full well and completely understand that there isn’t actually a tiny little someone inside of my smartphone.  But when the screen goes completely black and it refuses to function, then it is no longer a smart phone. It is a dumb phone! A dumb, stupid, fartphone! And I want to punch it right in its stupid little phone face!

And I revert to an earlier version of myself. Processing at around Laura 8.0 from early 1981.

Stupid! Stupid! Dumb phone!

And then there’s some sort of session time out inside of me before all sorts of uninvited wingdings and symbols start streaming from my mouth!

You stupid piece of $#!€! Why won’t you ¶*%ing work?!?!

And then the overheating starts. A warm shade of crimson creeping up my neck as I squeeze the black brick between my thumb and fingers pounding down on the only buttons available to me until every fingertip is white with rage.

And even Siri won’t answer me. You know why? Because she thinks I dropped her on purpose and now she’s giving me the cold shoulder. But I didn’t. I already told her I didn’t.

Sometimes I think she just likes to fight! Like the time she told everyone I said something I didn’t. She knows that’s not what I said! The word “personnel” sounds nothing like “vagina.” But she’s willing to shout it out to everybody! (Yes! She actually did this to me this week!)

And she’s not the only one. Because now there are the new girls. Alexa and Cortana. All triangulated off in their own little click. Siri, Alexa and Cortana, the mean girls of microtechnology! Mocking and making fun of me! Parroting back with systematic sarcasm. Oh, yes, there’s sarcasm there. Just listen. No one can possibly be that sincere.

And all she has to do is just do what I asked! Why won’t she just do what I asked?!?

I’ll tell you why. Because she’s mean. She’s just mean and she’s stupid! And she hates me! She just hates me for no reason. Well guess what? I hate her too!

I hate you! I hate you! I hate you!

Oh…it just needed to be recharged.

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Monday, January 9, 2017

In Praise Of The Low Maintenance Friendship! And 10 Things That Assure That You're In One

There are in my life, those friendships that run deep and rich and pure and true. And I have done absolutely nothing to make them happen.

These are my “low maintenance friendships.”

They are made up of people who are by no means the most important individuals in my life, nor do they expect or demand to be. But they are very often, among those, I have shared my most honest moments with. And know that I can and will in the future. But how did this happen? How did they come to be? And what are the common, core elements at the heart of these enduring, intimate relationships?

1.) Shared values, but not necessarily shared beliefs. But how can this be? Well, beliefs are ideas that we embrace as true. Values are ideals we strive to attain. Beliefs are the boundaries. Values are the propeller. Beliefs keep us in our personal bounds, but without shared values, we’re just a bunch of people fenced in together going nowhere. And believe me, I have known people who have shared my beliefs but have been some of the most labor-intensive relationships of my life.

2.) They developed organically. Not through scheduled activities. We may have met at a scheduled activity, but the friendship itself was developed outside of those limits. Personally. After hours. Over shared confidences.

3.) They are in my life, but not the center of it. I know, understand, accept and expect that my low maintenance friends have those in their lives far more important to them than me. And vice versa. And we’re okay with that. In fact, low maintenance relationships do not measure or worry about self much at all. Which makes them all that much more endearing.

4.) They give. They do not reciprocate. A low maintenance friend just gives in the way that they give and accepts the gifts without demanding that what is given matches what was received. Low maintenance relationships don’t keep score.

5.) They yield to “No thank you. When one person in a low maintenance relationship says, “No thank you,” to a gift or invitation, the other accepts it and leaves it at that. They do not insist on a reason or continue badgering and bullying. Or fret over why.

6.) They hinge on trust. A trust that you can present yourself just as you are, the good and the bad, fully knowing that the other person may not love the bad, but despite this, they will continue loving you.

7.) They are not propped up by rules and expectations. They reach up hoping for the best, but are grounded in reality. Low maintenance relationships leave room for disappointment, but are not devastated by it.

8.) They exist in the absence of jealousy. Those in low maintenance friendships are truly happy for one another. And on the rare occasion they struggle to be…they keep their distance until they can get it together and not rain on the other person’s radiance. They are also not threatened by or slighted by that friend’s time or relationship with another. Some are closer than others and they all have their seasons. And they don’t fret when they see the “leaves start to fall” from time or distance. They trust spring will come again.

9.) They keep in contact because they choose to. Not out of obligation. They also don’t go into a tailspin when there isn’t an immediate response. They know that life is being lived, even when they are not there.

And most importantly and possibly most simply…

10.) Low maintenance relationships know that it is what it is. For as long as it is. And that’s okay. Amazing how it takes the pressure off and just lets us be ourselves so much more easily.

And no, not every relationship in our lives should be low maintenance. But, I highly recommend having at least a few that are. This world is demanding enough without our supposed “friends” piling on!

So to my low maintenance friends, I sing your praises!

For the times we celebrate by going off on an adventure to do something fabulous. Or just sit at the kitchen table drinking a glass of wine while your Kindergartener drags out everything they own to show their “guest,” while tap dancing and begging for stories about “when they were little” while you roll your eyes and know that I get you. Because I do. And you me. And we’re good with it, just as it is.

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