Monday, June 29, 2009

Hay There!

Last weekend, I attended the International New Age Trade Show (INATS) in Denver. As predicted, it was equal parts exhausting and exhilarating.

My goal of the trip was to promote the bejeezus out of Opening the Kimono through book signings, event schmoozing and hard-core floor show networking. In a few days, I dispensed over 120 signed copies of my little book of stories to bookstore and retail owners, wholesalers, fellow authors, publishers, musicians, and a few cheeseballs who sneaked into the event to snag loads of free shit to resell on Amazon.

My time spent in Denver was fantastic! The people were warm, and the reception they gave Opening the Kimono was phenomenal. I had people seek me out to tell me how much the book touched them. One woman squealed when she saw me, hugged me, and said that Opening the Kimono was her favorite book...EVER. Even a hard-as-nails, gruff retailer who has been around the labyrinth more than a few times said that Opening the Kimono was the first book she ever personally recommended to her staff and customers. Tons of New Age bookstore owners told me that they are either already carrying it or will be as soon as they get home. I made several huge connections, one of which was with a major publisher who is considering picking up the book for its second edition. However, the ultimate moment of the weekend was when I got to meet Louise Hay in person! Louise is the Grandmother of the Self-help movement, founder of Hay House Publishing and author of the wildly popular book, You Can Heal Your Life. I waited in line like a giddy schoolgirl to get a signed copy of her seminal book. When it came my turn, I told this incredible 82-year old dynamo how much her work inspired me, and she warmly responded by giving me a big hug. Thankfully, her cutie-pie assistant Aaron was there to take a snapshot of the magical moment with my iPhone. I will treasure this picture forever.

However, the moment was a tinge bittersweet in that I was thisclose to the Grand Dame of Inspirational Publishing and did not give her a copy of my book! A signed copy of Opening the Kimono was burning a hole in my purple trade show bag with Louise's name on it, but I never got up the nerve to reach for it. I thought to myself, "Just give her the gift as a token of your appreciation! You'll never know what may happen. Louise will undoubtedly fall in love with it, make one phone call to the acquisitions director, and you'll be getting an email by the end of the week from Hay House with an offer!!!!" Believe me, I was sorely tempted.

But, then I saw the fragility of this 82-year old woman and remembered how friggin' draining book signings are. You have to interact with huge crowds of people all telling you their stories, and you want to make each and every one of them feel special, even if it is for just thirty seconds. My book signing kicked my ass up one side and down the other, and I'm over forty years younger than Louise! So, I imagined myself in Louise's place. If some overzealous chick with a big lion mane slipped me her recently self-published book during my signing, I would be a skosh put off to say the least. To be honest, I would probably "accidentally" leave the book at the signing table and mutter under my breath about how I didn't have time to read someone else's self-described literary masterpiece when I'm busy doing my own gig. Even though I was pressed against the glass looking at the future I so achingly desired, I didn't feel it was right to add another burden to this woman who has done so much for so many for so long.

It was then that I decided the best approach was to simply enjoy the juicy hug I got from one of my biggest she-roes. Love you, Louise!

Someday soon you'll get to read Opening the Kimono, I promise!


Visit to take a peek inside the award-winning Opening the Kimono!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

The Two Mournings for Michael

Like every other human, I was shocked to hear about Michael Jackson's sudden death. Since I live in a TV-free house, I learned of the news through my information provider of choice: the running statuses from my Facebook Friends.

Within the last twenty-four hours, the world has been swept up in Michael Mania. At last check, there were over 20,000 articles posted about the death of the King of Pop on Google News, more than ever was reported about the presidential election, the war, or any other relevant news item. When I was sitting in the Atlanta airport, every television was broadcasting about it, and every conversation I overheard mentioned it. There are tributes, public gatherings of grief, celebrity interviews, and video montages of his groundbreaking work. People are obviously affected by this event, and I am not about to minimize the collective grief.


It also strikes me as a bit disingenuous for the media to inundate the airwaves with All Hail Michael. Let's not forget that this is the same man that was accused of child molestation. While he was never convicted of a crime, in one instance he paid off the accuser's family an unspecified sum to drop the case. His lifestyle was peculiar at best and highly disturbing at worst. He put masks and hoods on his children. He dangled his infant child from a hotel balcony. He married but never lived with his womb provider. By his own admission, he slept in the same bed with children not his own. He went from ebony to ivory in the span of fifteen years. He mangled his once-beautiful face. The guy was the butt of jokes on late night television, talk radio and over water coolers across the country. Wanna make reference to the most twisted, maladjusted celebrity? Michael Jackson was always the first one that came to mind.

And now the media is only giving us the good times: ABC, Rock with You, Thriller, Beat It, Billy Jean, the moonwalk, the white glove - in other words, the sanitized, pre-meltdown version of Michael. What about the rest of the story? Should we ignore the entire picture? Yes, he was a music video revolutionary twenty years ago. But, what about the last two decades? Shouldn't we hear about that too?

Don't get me wrong, I loved the early Michael just as much as the next person. I played my Thriller album literally thousands of times, memorizing every word and squeal. I danced along with the video hour after hour. I had a poster of him in my room. I cried when he won his Grammys. I simply ADORED him.

Yet, if I am to be honest, my love of him was decimated when he morphed into something unrecognizable. I understand that he was a product of an abusive father and childhood fame; I'm sure he lived with horror along with ardor. But that didn't excuse some of the other questionable choices he made over and over again. Even though he was never convicted, I couldn't help but think what he did with those boys just wasn't right. It felt really...icky. The Michael I knew and loved from my childhood had already died for me.

When I learned of his physical death on Thursday, I found myself stunned and saddened. But my emotions didn't stem from an adoration of Michael Jackson. Instead, I was reacting to the fact that a physically fit, fifty-year old man dropped dead. (My husband will be celebrating his 50th in a matter of months, and that brought me right into my own fears of losing the love of my life too soon.) Similar to my reaction when Princess Diana and Heath Ledger died, I was responding to the fact that someone who I felt I grew up with was gone. Events like those bring into sharp relief our own mortality and that, yes, someday we will all die. We may not die from a crashed limo or too many pills, but we'll all leave this rock nonetheless. The recent events reminded me of that sobering truth.

But have I really been grieving the loss of Michael? Truthfully, not really. I'm afraid I did that a long time ago.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

It's the Little Things

My hubby recently discovered this little gem from last Christmas, hidden in the abyss of our digital photo albums. Based on Emma's enthusiastic response, you'd think she had just won a private sleepover with Miley. Wanna know what precious package earned this coveted hug from The Bean? A pair of black, sparkly high heels. The young lass has already learned the value of a perfect pair of shoes.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Loosening the Apron Ties

I just finished putting my seven-year old daughter on a bus to Bemidji, Minnesota for a week-long stay at Spanish Immersion camp. I can't stop crying.

When I woke up this morning at 3:00am, I knew the departure was going to be rough. I kept mindf#@king the supply list, mentally going over it one last time (ha!) to make sure that Em has everything she needs. I thought it ironic that the parent handbook stressed the importance of the children packing lightly, yet they put 75 things on the friggin' list, including sleeping bag, pillow, a set of sheets, three towels, backpack, laundry bag, clothes appropriate for any weather, rain gear, four kinds of shoes, water bottle, sunscreen, industrial-strength mosquito spray, stationery, Spanish books, toiletries, and other assorted camp fare. When all was said and done, my kid looked like a mini-version of a Tibetan sherpa.

Beaner and I had breakfast at Caribou Coffee, and we discussed some of the new experiences she would be having over mochas and scones. We talked about cabins, bunk beds, group showers (Eeeeek!), counselors, campfires and deer ticks. Whereas Emma was totally calm, I was rapidly becoming a screaming mimi. I was reassuring her left and right, telling her how much fun she was going to have in North Country. I stressed the added benny of having a whole week without parental supervision. Needless to say, she was thrilled.

After breakfast, we headed to the Brookdale Mall, the location of the bus pickup. Given my anal-retentive personality, we naturally arrived forty-five minutes early. There were already dozens of older kids loitering with their luggage, waiting to get on their assigned bus. I didn't see any parents accompanying the kids, so I figured they've all done the dealio before. In a moment of parenting inspiration, I opted to refrain from dragging my child over to the congregation, thus sparing her the nauseating humility of having her mother doting after her, fixing her hair, quadruple checking her backpack, and giving her a spit bath. Instead, we spent the next thirty minutes talking, laughing, and cuddling in the front seat. As I looked into her beautiful green eyes, I started to get choked up at the thought of my little girl leaving. The only words she kept repeating were "Just don't cry. Just don't cry. Just don't cry." The more she said it, the closer the tears came.

Once the other kids started to board the buses, I felt it was safe to exit the vehicle. A Minnesota Nice camp counselor approached the car ("Hey there! How ya doin' today? Where'ya headed to, young lady?") and checked her in. He pointed us to Bus #2 and instructed her on how to stow her luggage. We walked to the bus together and another Nice welcomed her and took her bag ("Spanish Bemidji, eh? Sounds good!"). Before we knew it, it was time for THE MOMENT: the final hug goodbye. Emma was self-conscious about the other kids witnessing her mother have a potential emotional meltdown, so she made the hug and kiss brief but meaningful. Right before she stepped onto the bus, she turned around, gave me one of her priceless toothless grins, and gave me the "I love you" sign. Lower lip quivering, I returned the gesture and watched my only child disappear into the darkness of the luxury coach.

For the next ten minutes, I sat in my car and cried. It just didn't seem possible that EmmaBean was already old enough to be parent-free! Even though she has been away from us several times before, there wasn't the comfort of Mim, Nana Jean, Auntie Suz, Jackie or Shellie to soothe my nervous tendencies. I am now being forced to trust strangers with my precious angel. As any parent can attest, it's harder than it sounds.

After realizing that I actually needed to drive my car, I wiped my face and tried to exit the mall to go to my next destination. It literally took me another fifteen minutes to decipher Google maps, my iPhone GPS system, the labyrinthine side streets, the parking medians, and the Sears Tire Shop. I finally finally finally got out of the damn mall parking lot with tears still streaming down my face.

My rational side knows that Emma will be fine. Actually, she'll be more than fine. She'll be fantastic. She is a naturally adventurous, open person who welcomes new people and activities in her world. I know she'll be talking non-stop on Saturday about how totally cool camp was and how excited she is to return. But my rational side isn't in charge right now. The crazy, nervous-nellie, emotional, sentimental, basket-case mommy side is in control and she doesn't like it one little bit that her little girl is on a bus to Bemidji right now.

Wow. I can't even fathom what I'm gonna be like when she goes on her first date.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Flying Into the Fear

In two days, I am getting on an airplane with my seven-year old daughter, and I'm scared shitless.

Every time I step onto one of those marvels of modern technology, I have frightening visions of dropped oxygen masks, emergency lighting, twisted metal, burning flesh, and phone calls to loved ones dancing in my head. For years I wouldn't wear stockings on an airplane because I heard they can melt to your skin in the event of a crash. I admit it; I am a certifiable ninny when it comes to air travel. It certainly doesn't help that nearly every time I take a flight, there is a recent plane crash somewhere that grabs the headlines. (I don't know what kind of karmic nightmare I am destined to relive, but I feel I've paid it many times over.) Today while news surfing, I found not one, not two, not three, but FOUR stories of unfortunate flying "incidents": The tragic Air France 447 crash, an emergency landing of a Spanish jet, a missing helicopter in New Mexico, and the congressional hearings on the Miracle on the Hudson crash landing. OK, God. Enough already. I'm officially pissing in my drawers.

My plane paranoia started back in Chicago when I was a little older than Emma. Back in 1979, there was an American Airlines crash just outside of O'Hare that was captured by several amateur photographers. Unfortunately, the seedling of morbid media was planted; the pics were shown on the front page of the Chicago Tribune and replayed on our local TV news broadcasts ad infinitum. As an impressionable ten-year old, the recurring image of that plane going down in my hometown seared into my permanent memory bank. Over the next thirty years, my aviation fears intensified with each new disaster. The disturbing videos from one fateful day in September of 2001 were the final blow.

While I am fortunate enough not to have actually been in a crash, I have experienced a handful of white-knuckle flights where I was totally convinced that the plane was going to plunge into the ground like a well-thrown bar dart. I recall one particularly harrowing flight to Colorado Springs about fifteen years ago where we circled the airport for over an hour while bouncing around like a friggin' cork on the ocean, wishing, waiting, hoping for the wind shears to die down so we could land. Finally, the exasperated pilot announced, "We're gonna go for it. Tighten your seat belts and say a prayer." Oh joy. That was comforting. Passengers were embracing each other, crying, praying, clutching crosses and rosaries, throwing up, strangling armrests, and generally having total, full-on emotional meltdowns. I was basically an amalgamation of my flying compadres, vacillating from crying, praying, puking, and pleading. I shit you negative, the descent was more intense than any hardcore thrill ride at a Six Flags amusement park. After finally finally FINALLY landing safely on the runway of the Colorado Springs Municipal Airport, I didn't know which activity I wanted to do first: have a cocktail, go to church, or sleep with the businessman who sat next to me on the plane. All three sounded very inviting after enduring that God-awful Plane Ride From Hell. (I ended up doing only one.)

Flash forward fifteen years and a hubby and child later. In forty-eight hours, I am going to get on another silver bullet, but this time I'll be toting an impressionable third-grader with me. A good mommy would realize that the chances of dying in a plane crash are infinitesimal, regardless of what the newspapers portray. A good mommy would gracefully accept that if it is our time to go, then it is our time to go. A good mommy would rise to the occasion, making sure her daughter feels safe, comfy, and happy. A good mommy wouldn't drink three screwdrivers at the airport bar before stepping on the jetway.

Hmmm...I wonder if Good Mommy will show up on Friday.


For your consideration and/or comment:

How do you feeling about flying?


Visit to take a peek inside the award-winning Opening the Kimono!


Thursday, June 4, 2009

Like Mother, Like Daughter

My wee urchin has decided to follow in her mother's footsteps by writing her own blog. It's called EmmaBean's Blog, and it will contain random musings and photos from The Bean. Check it out!

I'm so friggin' proud of her and look forward to seeing what other little inspirational nuggets she will provide the world! (Hopefully, she won't tell too many embarrassing stories about Mom and Dad. That's my department.) :)

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Decisions, Decisions

Last weekend, my husband and I took our seven-year old to her first musical concert. Based on her behavior, it's likely she will become a professional groupie someday.

Instead of breaking Emma's concert cherry on the Jonas Brothers or Miley Cyrus, hubby and I opted for something a little more palatable to the adult ear. We chose Snatam Kaur (pronounced 'sah-nah-tum car'), a singer of the Sikh tradition who sings about God, peace, love, beauty, and everything else that is righteous in the world. Emma has grown up with Snatam's music, often choosing to listen to her angelic voice before she nods off at the end of the night. When we told Emma that we were taking her to see Snatam live in concert, she practically peed her Curious George undies.

Like all dedicated concertgoers, we went early so as to get good seats. Emma used her significant persuasive abilities to get us into the hall early, and we were able to grab seats in the first seated row. Since I had attended a Snatam Kaur concert previously, I knew that there would be several people that would sit on the floor in front of us. Regardless, I thought that snagging front-row seats was not too shabby.

Apparently, Emma disagreed.

Right before Snatam and her band took the stage, Emma noticed that a handful of kids had sat down at the bottom of the steps in front of the stage. The little peanut worked through her social fear of interacting with strange kids and plopped herself next to an older girl at the end of the stairs. I could easily recognize the discomfort in my daughter's face as she so desperately wanted to talk to the girl but was afraid of possible rejection. (Oops...I wonder where she learned that little trick?)

No matter; when Snatam appeared onstage, Emma instantly lost interest in all others. She was captivated by the sight and sound of this beautiful creature performing in front of her. Like a moth to the flame, Emma ever-so-subtly inched her way around all of the kids and got closer, closer, closer to Snatam over the next several songs. Before I knew it, my daughter was thisclose to jumping right on top of Snatam's harmonium and giving her a big, fat hug.

This is where my parental dilemma kicked in. It was obvious -- at least to me -- that my daughter was committing a major social faux-pas with her stage squirming. My ego was fearing that the entire audience was tsk-tsk-tsking the unruly little urchin in white (and her rotten parents) for so blatantly breaking through the fourth wall. I kept thinking that I "should" go get Emma and bring her back to the fold where all of the other semi-well-behaved children sat. Yet, there was another voice inside me yelling, "You rock on, girl! Get your booty as close as possible! You've only got one chance!" (I was reminded of myself at the ripe young age of 21 performing superhuman efforts to get thisclose to Bono at a U2 concert. To have no other human being between my musical god and me was one of the most intoxicating, delicious moments of my youth. Those leather pants...his glistening body...the serpentine way he moves...what was I talking about again? Oh yeah. My daughter.)

In the end, I opted to support my daughter's groupie tendency. I let her sit within feet of her musical heroine, reigning her in only once with a stern look and my pointer finger when she threatened to literally lay on the stage. Who knows? Maybe there were a few tsk-tsk-tskers in the audience that night. I can't say for sure. But what I can say for sure is that there is an ecstatic little seven-year old who has an amazing memory of her first concert ever.

Yep. I made the right decision.


For your consideration and/or comment:

What was your first concert experience? What was your most memorable one?


Visit to take a peek inside Opening the Kimono!


Monday, June 1, 2009

An Upload of Shame

Fucking Facebook Mobile Uploads!

Yesterday I logged into Facebook and noticed a picture of myself on someone else's photo album. Normally, I wouldn't have a problem with this, depending on the current condition of my hair and complexion. However, this particular picture captured me on the beach. Hooping. In a swimsuit. Surrounded by gorgeous, nubile hoopgirls half my age and more than half my size.

Fucking Facebook Mobile Uploads.

As the picture reveals, I was the antithesis of the sexy hoopgirl. Instead, I looked like a defensive lineman from my local high school football team. I was a huge, uncoordinated linebacker in a sea of beautiful tight ends. And thanks to one of the party's attendees, her 7000 kazillion friends -- and all of their friends and their friends' friends -- get to see me that way too.

Knowing that this picture exists in our social public domain was upsetting to me at first. Somehow it felt like a violation. It's one thing to upload pics of someone gussied up, warmly smiling, blowing smooches, or holding up a wine glass for the camera; it's quite another to be surreptitiously captured whilst sweating and shimmying nearly naked. Having my candid beach pic taken was only slightly better than getting photographed immediately after having an early-morning throw-up session from a night of spirited frivolity.

Why does my hoop photo bother me so much? Because it irks me that my body isn't moving or looking like it used to. I admit it; I fell off the wagon. With all of the book activities that are going on in my world, I allowed my Mind and Spirit to move into center stage with my Body lagging far behind. I hadn't picked up the hoop in over a month, and my expanding waistline can attest to it. Once one falls off the exercise wagon, it is very difficult to get back on it. We keep telling ourselves that tomorrow we'll start up again, but tomorrow never comes. Days turn into weeks, and pretty soon we are wearing our fat pants again.

I have known that I wanted to start hooping again, but the prospect of it was so daunting. The negative self-talk was incessant. "It will hurt! I will look ridiculous! I'm too fat! I wish I were better at it! I will be so sore afterward! I don't have the time!" Excuse after excuse was readily available to keep me from my beautiful circle of freedom and joy.

Until this weekend.

My good friend and sister hooper was having a going away party. This young woman is literally one with her hoop, and she chose to have her Bon Voyage party on the sands of Lido Beach just so hooping could be a part of the festivities. I told her how afraid I was to bring my own hoop for fear of unleashing all of my fears. She wisely reiterated advice I had given to her dozens of times before -- If it scares the shit out of you, then you should absolutely do it. If hooping on the beach with women smaller and better than me scared the shit out of me, then I had better jump into the fire and see what juicy gifts are meant to be discovered.

At the party itself, I found the allure of playing with the hoop on wind-swept sands far more powerful than my nagging, self-doubt. Hooping is simply too much fun to do, and I wouldn't be able to sit and watch others do it without having some of it myself. I forgot I wasn't as good, as pretty, or as tight as everyone else was. The hoop and I had rediscovered each other! I tapped into the flow of energy encircling me, practiced tricks I hadn't ever managed, and otherwise basked in the bliss of the hoop. All was well once again!

Until I saw those fucking Facebook mobile uploads.

Those pictures were completely devoid of the joyful energy I felt on the sands of Lido. Instead, it only reminded me of the reasons why I didn't want to do it in the first place -- backfat rolls, ginormous arms, and tree-trunk thighs, to name a few. It showed my insecurities in awful, wretched technicolor for everyone to see. Instead of looking at the pictures and gleefully shouting, "Hell yeah! I'm an almost forty-year old hooping on the beach with chicks in their 20s! Fuckin' A!", I morosely muttered, "Oh my God! Look at how horrible and huge I look! How could I have done that?! Dear Lord, I hope no one recognizes me! At least that @#$%^ who took the picture didn't tag me!"

How utterly, utterly sad.

As predicted, I wallowed in self-judgment for hours afterward. I looked at my body with hatred, grabbing a handful of extra poundage and wishing it could magically disappear with the iron grasp of my own shame. I cursed myself for spending all of that time in front of MacDaddy instead of on the elliptical. Buttugly was the word that danced around my head over and over.

Blessedly, through meditation and reflection, I stepped out of my self-flagellating funk and eventually let my juju reemerge. I realized that my experience on the beach was the first step toward getting back in the groove! The hard part was over; I had picked up the hoop again. It was time to ignore my whiny, "I'm-not-good-enough" voice of smallness and realize that I am powerful and amazing and courageous and beautiful and ballsy and a helluva good hooper. In celebration, my daughter Emma and I spent the next several hours hooping in the backyard while I practiced those arm lifts I started on Lido Beach.

Today, I'm gonna do it again.

Thanks, Facebook, for your fucking mobile uploads. It's just the kick I needed to get me back into my body.


For your consideration and/or comment:

Has a picture ever prompted you to make a change in your life?


Visit to take a peek inside the award-winning Opening the Kimono!