Archive for the ‘Life’ Category

How To Become A Football Fanatic

Football is one of my favorite things to watch on TV, and I bet I can make it yours too.  It began as a passion born out of the social rituals around the event of it- but, eventually I became fascinated with the game. Well, more specifically, the role that human interest stories play – I’m talking coach rivalries, idrama between players, heart-wrenching stories of triumph, emotional baggage, shocking stats and so on- what I like to refer to as “The Softer Side.”

“The Softer Side” is about creating a compelling narrative through which to watch a football game and making it just as riveting, if not more so, than an episode of “The Real Housewives”. Sometimes before a game I find out one player slept with an opponent’s girlfriend in college, or that two players grew up on the same block and played football together since they were kids but now find themselves on rival teams. 

In my mission to make my friends (and women everywhere) love the sport as much as I do, allow me to share “The Softer Side” of Super Bowl 50. Before any game, I find a main story to fuel overall intrigue throughout, and then throw in a few bonus interesting tidbits for added interest.  (And if you guys like this, I will happily do it more often next Fall- so let me know what you think, okay?)

THE MAIN STORY: The established, experienced and very respected old guard (Peyton Manning/ Denver Broncos) versus the controversial up-and-comer with a flair for the dramatic (Cam Newton/Carolina Panthers)- who happen to have the largest age difference (13 years and 48 days) in Super Bowl history.

As per this recent article in USA Today, I imagine this is what the movie trailer voiceover for Super Bowl 50 would lead with: “Manning trying to win one more title in what would be the storybook ending to what has been one of the finest careers in NFL history. Newton looking for the ring that would solidify his status as the new face of the league.” Cue the dramatic instrumental music…

Peyton is at the end of a very long and very accomplished NFL career, on the cusp on turning 40. He is the oldest quarterback to ever play in the Super Bowl, and most believe that this will be his final NFL game ever, although he won’t confirm it. Add to that the fact that Manning sat out much of the season with a bad foot injury- that is, until he unexpectedly had to step in, and subsequently saved the game, that made the Bronco’s the #1 seed in the AFC Playoffs.

 At 26 years old, Cam Newton’s pro football prowess is just beginning. Newton may just be the most polarizing player in the league, and he doesn’t seem to care one bit.  Manning, on the other hand, has continually actively made an effort to avoid drama. Its like the girl in your high school with the hot body who wears provocative clothes (and looks amazing in them) and flaunts her wild social escapades (which all look super fun) on Instagram going up against that intimidatingly quiet, confident chick who doesn’t even know how to use Snapchat for Homecoming Queen. But much different. But you get the comparison, right? 

 Fashion Face Off: The two men have very different playing styles- but I won’t bore with you those details at this stage in our football relationship (but stick with me and a year from now you will be totally into knowing this stuff because it really is fascinating). Instead, let’s look at their sartorial situations- as captured by this side by side photo comparison of each QB arriving in California the other day. Investment banker conservative on the left, and, um, zebra and gold print Versace pants on the right.  

There are similarities between the QBs though that make the story within the game even more fun to watch…

It’s Cool To Be Kind: Both are rumored to be incredibly nice guys. And especially given how many incredibly NOT nice guys there are in the NFL, seeing two men who play fair, give back to their communities, treat their fans with respect and gratitude and generally conduct themselves in ways that would make me feel okay about either of my daughter’s developing major crushes on them, makes me very happy. So, regardless of the next paragraph because we all know haters gonna hate, I am cool with either one walking out of the stadium wearing a Super Bowl 50 ring. 

Scandal Scorecard: Manning is caught in an-oddly timed and perhaps totally unsubstantiated (I don’t know the entire story, it came from an Al Jazeera report and you can read more heresteroid scandal for allegedly getting HGH (human growth hormone) to help him recover from a neck injury in 2011. The performance-enhancing drug, banned by the NFL, was sent under his wife’s name but allegedly intended for his use. Newton is under fire for his signature “Superman” moves that he breaks out on the field (keep an eye out  for them on Sunday).  Critics say it is bombastic showboating, evidence of an oversized ego. Newtown has said that the reactions to his behavior may be fueled by his race. This is an interesting article that will fill you in on the nitty gritty. It should be noted that he is only the 6th African American quarterback to start in a Super Bowl (and this is Super Bowl 50), so while based on what you see when you turn on the TV, it may seem that the NFL is predominantly African American, when it comes to the QB position, that is very much not the case. 

OTHER INTERESTING TIDBITS:

Remember “The Blind Side”?: That movie was amazing, right? And guess what? The subject of the movie-, Michael Oher, plays tackle for the Panthers. So don’t tell me you don’t care about the game because you don’t know any of the players, okay?

A Coach Has (Incurable) Cancer: The Special Teams Coach for the Panthers (also considered one of the best special teams coaches in the NFL), Bruce DeHaven, is battling prostate cancer, and in August 2015 was told he had anywhere from 5 months to 5 years to live. There is no way that this can’t profoundly affect the way his players feel about winning a Super Bowl ring. 

Coaching Milestones In the Making: Ron Rivera, the Panthers’ head coach, will be the second Hispanic coach to win a Super Bowl if the Carolina wins. And for the coach of the Broncos, who is only in his first season at the helm of this team, is one of three coaches to get his team to the Super Bowl in his inaugural year. 

People Seem To Think The Panthers Will Win: I always like to know the general consensus on who will win a game because then, if the other team is pulling ahead, it makes it that much more exciting to observe. So keep this in mind, and root accordingly. 

As silly as this fluff-driven strategy may sound to many, in reality, it is just the beginning- the hook with which to peak an interest in the game. Soon enough, it just may evolve into a true appreciation for the sport itself- from the body control that the players must have to keep their feet in bounds while jumping to catch a pass to the pressure on a kicker in a key moment to the almost ballet-like choreography that goes into every single play. That is what happened for me. 

Football Sundays are my most favorite days of the year, and they can be yours too- I promise.

 

 

Jenn Falik Life Now

Growing up is a very goal-oriented experience.  At least, it was for me. In high school, I wanted to go to a good college, so I worked hard and I did. In college, I wanted to graduate with one of those fancy marketing jobs, so I figured out how to get one. Once I was disinterested in making powerpoint decks and speaking in jargon, I wanted to work in PR. And after a few years in PR, I wanted to be on TV- and for over ten years of my life, I progressed that on-air career into more than I ever could have imagined when I initially thought “Hey, if I book TV segments every Friday I can expense my blow-outs and have good hair all weekend.” 

The drive to keep pushing on was a combination of a few things- now that I look back on it.

Genuine Passion for Style & Beauty + Financial Independence + Role Model for My Daughter(s) + My Inherently Competitive Nature  

In an almost robotic way, I kept hustling to book more segments, produce more videos, pursuing a goal I created for myself when I was 26 years old- to get a regular gig on a major show, or have my own show/video series, or something like that.  Basically, to “win” whatever game I had convinced myself I was in. But I have come to realize that it isn’t the game I care about winning anymore. It is a game I am honored to participate in at a recreational level because- shocker of all shocker for anyone who knows me- I am TOTALLY cool with doing it for the fun of it as opposed to the trophy. 

My identity has always been very tied to a laser focus on achieving some form of a big career. 

Currently, I am 5 years into this motherhood thing, 3.5 years into the suburban migration, and, if I were to be honest with myself, probably 1.5 years into complete and utter confusion about what the hell I want to be when I grow up.  

Does this sound familiar to anyone else? 

It feels really freaking weird to allow yourself to acknowledge that the thing you thought you wanted more than anything is no longer so interesting.

The things that are interesting to me are many: Sharing my life and the best style, beauty and kids finds that make it better/easier/healthier/more fun on my own terms via this blog, Instagram and Facebook, enjoying  afternoons in the playroom with my daughters, figuring out cool DIYs and organizing hacks in an attempt give order to the madness of our busy life and making our home a calm place for Brian to come home to each night, cultivating my own aesthetic by seeking out  interior design inspo and emerging contemporary artists, learning new skills to make everything from creating blog images to filing our taxes easier, testing (sometimes unsuccessfully) recipes and actually being that wife who has (gasp!) dinner on the table when her husband gets home from work, spending quality time with friends that are easily among the most amazing and inspiring women I have ever met, and the list goes on. And on.  

Mostly things I never in a million years thought I would care about, but alas, I do. 

For me to not feel a pang of envy when I see someone doing a morning show segment that I could be doing is still something I am getting used to.  I expected it to feel empowering- and it definitely  does- but the lack of competitive spirit also forces me to into this mental spiral of “OMG am I giving up/am I going to regret this/is this a phase/why did I work so hard for all those years/yada yada yada.” Then, minutes later, I drop Alexa off at school, leave Goldie at home with our nanny, hop into my SUV  with 2 car seats in the back and Goldfish crumbs all over the floor, drive to a SoulCycle class, and pretty much say to myself on repeat the entire time “Am I a total cliché? And if I am, do I really give a sh*t? I don’t think so. But should I?”

So, that is where I am right now. Somewhere between figuring out what I want to be when I grow up, and reconciling that with the person I always thought I wanted to grow up to be. 

Outer Space Princess Tea Party

For Alexa’s 5th birthday party, she had two requests. First, she wanted to have it at home. Second, she wanted it to be an “outer space princess tea party”. Um, what? 

As if having two back to back birthdays (Goldie’s is 5 days later) right on the heels of the holiday wasn’t hectic enough, now I had to scramble (in the age of Pinterest, no less) to pull together a memorable celebration. Well, let’s just say the final outcome (and the process to get there) is for sure something I will never forget, and something I plan to remind Alexa of any time she is mean to me or pulls a “you don’t like me/you like Goldie better than me/you never do anything for me” card for the rest of her life. And I have to admit- even though I want to be much cooler than the mom who rests her laurels on accolades from planning a kid’s birthday party- I am pretty f*ing proud of this shin dig. So much so that I really can’t NOT share it with you guys…

PART 1:  Color A Rocket Ship Group Activity
We purchased three decorate-your-own rocket ship craft sets  and had the oversized cardboard rockets ready and waiting to be colored, stickered and climbed all over so as soon as guests arrived, there was something to keep them busy (read: distract them from pulling every toy in the playroom off the shelf). 

Alex Toys Create a Rocket Kit

PART 2: Make Your Own Princess Space Helmet 
How does one combine a space theme and a princess theme? By bulk ordering these kid-sized space helmets, firing up a hot glue gun to adorn each one with a glittering tiara, personalizing them with gold glitter alphabet stickers (FYI- I now use these to make everything I buy for the girls look custom and personalized) and letting the girls go to town on a table covered in thousands of self-adhesive jewels, easy-to-use glitter glue pens and the like. 

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PART 3: Color Your Own Blacklight Reactive Rocket
So, this was a last minute add because I realized that 4 year old girls have the attention span of fruit flies and there was no way I was going to fill the 90 minute party with my original game plan. I found printable rocket ships online, glued them onto poster board and cut each one out affixed them to popsicle sticks and let the guests decorate them to their hearts’ content with blacklight reactive neon Sharpees and an array of stickers. 

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PART 4: Glow-in-the-Dark Outer Space Tea Party
Pulling inspiration from Pinterest and perhaps even Spring Break in Cancun circa 1997, I turned our windowless basement man-cave into a neon planetary paradise.  Luckily we have an insanely party savvy friend, Adam, who lent us an assortment of backlights, and helped us to place them perfectly to illuminate the focal points of the room. My husband and I painstakingly affixed stars and mobiles to the ceiling with removable adhesive- and we attached blacklight reactive planets to the mobile by hand to add to the space feel. Oh, and did you know that blacklight reactive plates, cups and utensils are a thing? Yup, they are. To ensure ample light for the girls to feel comfortable and see what they were eating (I made an assortment of simple tea sandwiches and chopped up fruit cups- nothing too crazy there), we added blacklight reactive balloons which emitted a major glow and used glow sticks to assemble centerpieces and form light halos around each plate. 

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Granted, it took many more hours than I ever would have imagined allowing myself spend on a kid’s party, but…dare I write this?…it was worth it. 

 Helpful Hints
-Have a “Run of Show” where you outline the party. I had 2 babysitters come to help me with the kids, and having this “master document” to refer to helped keep us all on the same page as far as stretching things out if they were going too fast or hustling kids along if the clock was ticking so we ended right on time. (I know, I know- you may be rolling your eyes. But, once a publicist, always a publicist…)
-Start with a free-flowing group activity to break the ice, especially helpful if you have guests who go to different schools and don’t know each other. Having something where they can do their own thing alongside others without any grown ups forcing them to be fast friends is a low-pressure to way to make everyone meet one another.

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Jenn Falik at TwitchCon

This photo was taken just before I spoke to an audience of online video gamers who live-stream via Twitch
at TwitchCon (yes, that is a thing) in San Francisco. 

See, I THOUGHT that taking a break from writing would help me to figure out what I wanted to do with my life. But, as happens quite often (at least according to my increasingly sassy 5 year old daughter), I was wrong.

Since I last posted, tons of things have happened- I help to launch this very cool new company in the eSports space (and subsequently became well-versed on the gigantic world of online video gaming and this crazy huge live stream platform called Twitch), took about 100 SoulCycle classes (probably more, if I am being honest here), spent quality time with my family (my husband was on something called “garden leave” which basically means between leaving one job to start another, he has to take 3 months off), traveled a ton (highlights include Barcelona, Marrakesh, Paris, Turks & Caicos and a bizarrely cool visit to this place called Primland in the Meadows of Dan, Virginia), cooked a couple meals, started re-decorating the girls’ playroom and so on….Pretty much the only thing I didn’t do is write.

Now, six months later, I have allowed myself to recognize that writing my blog was not the thing that was hanging over my head and holding me back from figuring out my next move. Quite the opposite, it is the thing that keeps me creatively engaged and energized. It is a constant within which I can log my life, share things that I find and fall in love with, and connect with people about topics that mutually matter. Writing is the thing that comes most naturally to me, and the thing that I enjoy most- and while yeah, the logistics of blogging can bum me out (I mean, how many hours should one realistically have to spend figuring out how to center an image or fix weird spacing quirks that appear for no apparent reason?), the cathartic sensation I feel every time I hit the “Publish” button is just something I need back in my life, regardless of the tech strings that are attached.

So- hi. I am gonna be hanging out here again- venting about parenting, musing about what I want to be tomorrow or ten years from now, and sharing the stuff  I discover that actually makes a difference in my life- be it the best fitting high-waisted jeans (these, by the way) or the lunchbox that takes the stress out of having to make my daughter’s lunch every day (this is it, guys- get it.)

Hope you will all let me back in your lives and continue the amazing support- because seriously, it wasn’t you. It was me. And, while last time I used that line it was probably delivered insincerely as an easy means to weasel my way out of a relationship, this time I really mean it. 

xx.

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