Farewell Violet Eyes: In Remembrance of Elizabeth Taylor

Wow. She’s gone. Like, today.

I was visiting some friends this morning and popped open the laptop to check on an event we were discussing and BAM, right there on the Yahoo homepage,

Elizabeth Taylor: 1932-2011.

GASP! My jaw dropped and I announced the shocking news to my friends.
Then…a cold chill ran through my body and I had to suddenly hold back a rush of tears to my eyes.

Of course, at her age, it was bound to happen, but it’s still heartbreaking.

Elizabeth Taylor. An American Icon. What a loss.

Farewell violet eyes,


Are You a REAL Woman? – Audio Blog

What makes you a REAL woman? How many times have you been coached on how to be a real woman by other women? What wild and silly things have you been told while growing up and even now as a grown woman that make you question your abilities, intelligence and ultiimately, your worth?

I was inspired to ponder these questions while peeling potatoes. The proof isn’t in the pudding, but the potatoes that inspiration can come from anywhere.

In the following audio blog, I share a few stories and thoughts on how the majority of messages we, as women, get that make us feel inadequate and not enough are, most times, perpetuated by other women.

When it comes to men, I’ve only been made to feel bad when showing my strength and will- as in taking initiative and being assertive, self-directed and passionate (their words: Bossy, Demanding, Controlling, Emotional).

I still need to work on those words pushing my buttons, because it’s just that- someone pushing my buttons because they are uncomfortable with me exercising my power. This is just my experience, but I can’t remember a time when a man literally told me I wasn’t a real women. I don’t mean for this to sound condescending or sarcastic, but what do they know about being a woman, hence the reason the messengers are usually women.

Let’s get to this audio already!

Peeling Potatoes

If you have any similar stories to share, I’d love to hear them so send a comment any time!


Convivial Confessional: Admiration for Every Emotion

Last week in Dallas, I attended SacredSexyU: The Retreat – Enchanted, an all day intensive workshop with my friend and business coach, Lisa Carmen of the site

She did a fantastic job of leading a group of 15 women through several activities that stirred the soul and aroused the mind. In reviewing my notes from the event, I recalled one exercise involving a mask that served as a metaphor for the faces we choose to share with the world around us and I decided to share my thoughts and takeaways in the following video blog.

(*Hope my boys playing in the background aren’t too distracting! A convivial mama’s gotta do…)


A Vision of Sexuality

Here’s a video of one of my favorite Spanish artists, Bebe singing the song La Bicha . As I watch Bebe sing, the melody and movements strip and caress the flesh that I call my own.

I see myself in Bebe as she expresses in her body, her smile, hands, hips and lyrics such strength, confidence, freedom and lack of inhibitions. Yes, I believe this is what my own sexuality looks and sounds like.

Do you know what your sexuality looks like? Feels like?

Have a look at this video and see how you feel. You may not understand this woman’s words, but I don’t doubt you’ll get her message.


Sex is sacred,
and I embrace its every form.

Religion taught me to believe it was bad to express the desires of my flesh, to experience all that is natural in me and I still hear those messages in society today. As a mother, I should be keen not to appear too aware of my sex, because goodness, what kind of woman would I seem? (Madonna/Whore complex) How about a confident one? I’m sorry to say, but my name is not Mary. Sex was my ticket to motherhood.

At a young age, I remember having an awareness about my sexuality-I felt it and wanted to express it. When I finally did


My New York Minute: Day 2

In no particular order, this is how my second day went…

Do you know about the country of Ossetia? I didn’t before tonight’s bicycle taxi ride from Times Square!

I’ve never had such pleasant conversation with someone while they pedaled and maneuvered their way around traffic on a bicycle. Alan the rider was from the small Eastern European country called Ossetia. 

He expressed his gratitude for the Southern kindness I showed him by not accepting my tip. I wish him well in life and love. 

Coming to a new country, learning a new language, and creating a new life from scratch is one helluva risk to take on yourself. Where would America be without all the immigrants, all the risk-takers? 

I was walking through the East Village, (more…)


Self-Definition: Choose Your Mirrors Wisely

An excerpt taken from Walking In This World by Julia Cameron:

“All of us are creative. Some of us get the mirroring to know we are creative, but few of us get the mirroring to know how creative. What most of us get is the worried advice that if we are thinking about a life in the arts, we’d better plan to have “something to fall back on.” Would they tell us that if we expressed an interest in banking?

It could be argued that as people and as artists, we are what we are- however, we also become ourselves, all of ourselves, by having our largeness mirrored back to us.

I think of a scene from the Disney version of Cinderella, when the heroine sees herself in the dress for the first time and realizes she is a beauty…There is a magical “click” of recognition when the looking glass says back,

Yes, we are what we dream.

Too often we lack such mirrors and such transforming moments. No magic wand taps our life to make us into what we dream. Like Rumpelstiltskin, the artist most frequently has to name himself.

“I am an artist”- a filmmaker, a composer, a painter, a sculptor, an actor, or something {a convivial woman}- something the outer world has yet to acknowledge.”


Permission to be a Woman

Over the weekend, I went to a family gathering and met a couple and their daughter for the first time. While sitting at the table conversing, their 8-year-old little girl came from upstairs to tell her parents the other girls she was playing with were not being nice to her, saying things like they didn’t want to be her friend anymore and then she began crying when she said one of the girls had slapped her. Errr! Put the needle back on the record!

I was sitting next to the mother hearing bits and pieces of the discussion and what really threw me overboard was when the girl’s father, who seemed uncomfortable with her crying, asked her, “Well, did it hurt?” I thought, “What?!” Was he insinuating, “If it didn’t hurt enough or leave a mark on you, then hush up and take it like a man.” Was this his idea of tough love? I didn’t hear if the mother said anything about the slap, but that comment didn’t sound good to me. I don’t believe they didn’t care about their daughter, but it didn’t appear that they took her negative experience seriously.

I’m reminded of a friend who shared with me and a few others how she cries too easily and feels weak when it happens in front of her kids and husband, but she says she can’t help it, it’s just how she is. Another friend sitting next to her said, “Oh, that makes me feel so much better, because I am the SAME way! I cry so easily too and hate it.” That same friend brought up crying on another occasion and asked me, “When was the last time you cried?” I went blank. You see, I have trouble crying. I feel the emotions building up within me and wanting to burst out like a volcano, but throughout my life, I had experiences like the 8-year-old little girl and learned to tame my emotions to a flaw. It’s even affected me when it comes to showing excitement at times. I feel this blockage. I base my reaction on logic versus emotion in most instances.

When I heard Eve Ensler of The Vagina Monologues once say, “We are emotional creatures,” I was relieved beyond belief. It was the first time someone had validated my nature. Somewhere along the way, I became a victim to the myriad messages I heard in times of extreme vulnerability telling me to be strong, tough it out, to save it for later, hold it in, don’t start, not now, I don’t want to hear it, suck it up, and the times my tears were questioned. I was being questioned for just being…a girl.

Here’s what Eve Ensler thinks about being a girl:

I think the whole world essentially has been brought up NOT to be a girl. To be a boy really means NOT to be a girl. To be a man means NOT to be a girl. To be a woman means NOT to be a girl. To be strong means NOT to be a girl. To be a leader means NOT to be a girl. I actually think that being a girl is so powerful that we’ve had to train everyone NOT to be that.

We come into this world crying; it’s how the doctor stimulates us to confirm that we are alive. But once we leave, we are encouraged for the rest of our lives to repress our tears, our emotions, hence our very nature. Being an emotional creature is the very essence of being a woman. I would be a man otherwise! I’ll admit that I have been much more in touch with my masculine side than my feminine side for a long time. It’s a form of self-preservation and protection and has served me well, but I am trying to find balance and embrace the more vulnerable aspects of myself.

Thankfully, becoming a mother to two boys has helped me release my tears easier. It happens at unexpected moments, like when my oldest took a ride on his first bike and called out to everyone standing watch to see what he was doing. I was filled with such joy that the tears just flowed and felt good. My husband is a wonderful example of an emotional creature who happens to be a man.:) Tears flowed from his eyes before he could get the words out of his mouth the day he said he was in love with me. I remember wiping all the tears from his cheeks. I can’t help to think life paired us together for a good reason. I wouldn’t doubt it. There are so many opportunities to learn a new way to be, to reverse the blocked pathways in my memory so pure emotions can flow once again. And I’m open…open to them all. I admire tears and vulnerability and humility. I want to experience it all with abandon myself. I want to make it a life long practice.

Quote taken from Eve Ensler’s Embrace Your Inner Girl talk on


Say Anything

In need of a feel-good moment, something that really warms the heart? How about the experience of my all-time favorite movie?! I saw it for the first time at thirteen and haven’t stopped loving or watching it. I could have it on just as background noise; that’s how much I love it. It was the early 90’s and I was a thirteen-year-old girl on summer vacation looking for a dare to be great situation. I walked to VideoTek, the local video store in Chicago’s Bucktown neighborhood, neon lights on the front window and everything, and hand-picked the movie right off the shelf. Here’s the trailer to Say Anything. If it calls you, watch the movie. To know Lloyd Dobler is to love him. Everyone needs to know Lloyd Dobler. Drop a comment and let me know what you think!


The Convivial Asshole

Over the weekend, I took my son to get his hair cut and got to talking with a man who was waiting to do the same with his two kids. He was a fit man with salt and pepper hair, stylishly dressed in khaki shorts and sandals, possibly in his late thirties.

Our young ones began coloring together, so Fit Dad and I chatted about raising boys and girls. He mentioned how he’d noticed an immediate difference when his daughter was born, how she set the tone for that gender distinction. Referring to their nature, he put it simply,

“Boys have physical needs and girls emotional ones.”

DING! I heard a light bulb go off in my head. Ain’t that the truth? Boys have the need for rough play, sports, action movies, sound effects and (shhh) S-E-X while girls need to talk, relate, connect, be made to feel special, protected, and especially need to be heard. Hello! Raising my hand here. It’s a must.

At one point in the conversation, one of the hairdressers was finishing up with a client, so Fit Dad stopped in mid-sentence and called out to her, saying, “Do you think we’ll be outta here in the next ten minutes?” She looked confused and slightly offended that he appeared to be rushing her. “You told me it’d be 20 minutes and it’s now been 35 minutes. We have somewhere to be,” he continued. The stylists glanced at each other, then returned to their scissors, customers hid behind their magazines, and I kicked back to enjoy the show.

We continued talking and it turned out Fit Dad was from Austin, Texas and it’s no surprise to me that his face lit up when I asked him, “So, how was it growing up there?” He had nothing but great things to say and I was intrigued to continue the conversation, but we were interrupted when the stylist called his number. He shuffled his son over and began telling her how he wanted his son’s hair cut, pointing to particular areas around his head to communicate his request.

When I heard and saw this man taking charge of the situation, you better believe he had my attention. My eyes remained fixed on him as I thought, Those ladies probably think he’s being an asshole. The others waiting probably think so too, but he doesn’t give a shit. As a straight shooter myself, I appreciated him for his ways. I was convinced that this man was “The Man” at home and at work, because he didn’t mince words.

He spoke with authority, was straight to the point and non-apologetic about it. I liked that, liked it a lot; in fact, it made me all tingly inside. Now now, before you get ahead of yourself, here’s why. I’m a gal who respects people who give it to me straight, who are real, to the point.

Such conversations call me, lure me, tickle my fanny.

Being frank is my best form of communication and many times, I’ve been made to feel bad about this strength (YES, it’s a strength because its me at my strongest) and I’ll admit to playing small at times and holding back my true kaboom for the sake of someone else’s weakness.

In a non-convivial world, it’s being bitchy, bossy, unappealing, worth ignoring. It’s where women aren’t encouraged to be loose with their tongue and therefore inadvertently try to avoid it to appease and please. Fuck that. We’ve got a lot to say.

In my world, speaking out means freedom.

There’s a great sense of confidence that accompanies one’s ability to be assertive. It takes time and guts to come as you are and not care what people think.

When all is said and done, that’s exactly how you get what you want in life. That’s how you get the life you want. It takes practice, faith in yourself, and permission. Who’s doing the permitting? You are! So go ahead and permit it, want it, speak it, live it.

Cheers to a great day of telling it like it is,


What’s the Occasion?

Last night, I made a Ricotta Orange Pound Cake with Strawberries courtesy of the recipe by Food Network star, Giada De Laurentiis. Eager to share this experience, I decided to invite my parents over to enjoy cake and ice cream with my family. Sounds like a party! Indeed, it was. So, what was the occasion? Life. Plain and simple, I had a craving for something sweet, had all the tools and ingredients to create it, along with the best of intentions and love, so I didn’t hesitate to get my hands a little dirty. I took my time, followed instructions, and had faith that my efforts would pay off. And they did! Something as basic as my desire to bake turned into a deeper desire to “break bread” with the people I love. Now, that is an occasion to live for and the very essence of convivial living. It’s merry-making, having a fondness of feasting, drinking, and good company. That was my intention, and therefore my experience last night with the two people who gave me life, as well as the man and two sons who I love and with whom I share every bit of my world. Life is meant to be a convivial occasion, so the next time you think you need a specific reason to have a good time, think again. The occasion is your life and everyone in it. That’s reason enough to put on your convivial party dress (or apron) and get convivial with it!


A Force to be Reckoned With

I find myself reading a brief, well-written biography on the notorious tattoo artist of the popular TLC show L.A. Ink, Miss Kat Von D. It seems more like the foreword on a book. As I read the piece, written by a close friend, what stood out to me most was when the writer mentioned how Kat was “incredibly loyal to her family.” Instantly, I could relate and found something in common with the beauty. She’s not your everyday girl, choosing the body she was born with as her art canvas-something many people wouldn’t comprehend or agree with- and being of somewhat Latino descent, as well as beautiful, I couldn’t help but wonder what her family thought of her work- if they saw it as art or if they simply saw a tattooed body. Did they agree with her chosen way of life? I know how my Mexican mother would view her lifestyle, and the assumptions that would be made about her as a person, but I can’t do that. I respect her work, admire her person. The fact that she is spoken of by friends as a dedicated and loyal member of her family, to her family, tells me perhaps that her family may have supported her aspirations all along. What a huge feat for a woman. To go for what she wanted and be fully backed by the members of her tribe. It’s no wonder she has turned out so successfully and my hope is that she is completely happy. It’s funny how people can be hypocritical. They can smile in your face and then when the time comes to offer up an opinion about you, they chicken out and go with the negative flow of thoughts they may have been harboring about you or your lifestyle or even simply the poor choices you’ve made in your life. People don’t deserve to be judged. Women play a huge role in judging others, one another, themselves, and this is because they are constantly under a watchful eye that doesn’t really exist. It’s all in our mind. And the strength of our heart has the power to combat it. If we could break free from concerning ourselves with what others think of us, stop defending who we are and how we want to live our lives, then we can break the cycle of prejudice and put to rest that hurtful voyeur who dwells within. She is not of your true being. Love your fellow woman and support her art. We all have a desire to create. Women, if given the freedom to be who they want to be, can show the world their wonders. Our place as the bearers of life to this dependent, ever evolving mother earth proves we are the epitome of creativity and a force of nature to be reckoned with.


Money, A Memoir: Women, Emotions and Cash

This is a great book for all the convivial ladies to check out. Money and women make the world go round, but the disconnect between the two is definitely apparent. How’s your relationship with, thoughts about, management of, money?

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