Archive for Uncategorized

06 Jan 2011

Skeletons in Our Closets

No Comments Humor, Self Development and Transformation, Uncategorized

When I was a little boy we periodically visited our cousins in Long Island.

I had no older brothers or sisters so I was on my own to determine what was “in” and how to be cool from the media or by observing other kids in school. I would like to say I was better at this vetting process than I was but unfortunately I was rather confused by it.  My two older cousins were the best reference point I had as to what was lacking in my public persona. What is more, they lived in Long Island where everyone was cool.

My oldest cousin was a sultry, smart, aloof young lady who stayed mostly in her room with the door shut or would be “out with friends” during our visits. The first time I was granted access to her room was momentous on many levels. Her walls were coated with posters and images, yellow paint poking out here and there.

What struck me most was the enormous skull on her closet door. I forgot my manners and stood staring at its dark eyes until my jaws hurt.

“You like the Dead?” she asked.

“I don’t know.” How do I remain cool and not blurt out a million questions about satanic worship and whether she was part of a satanic cult.

“I’m really into the Dead. You should check them out.” The nail was in the coffin, so to speak. She must be into some dark things that a little boy would do well to avoid.

I was soberly aware that my cousin knew things and thought about things that were entirely out of my field of understanding.

Her younger brother was several years older than me and seemed much more tapped in to what was in and out. For starters there was the enormous color rug of Farrah Fawcett at the foot of his bed. I was certain this would not fly in my own room, but was even less sure if I would have even wanted it there. I would sit on his bed and watch him crunch barbells in front of his mirror, always shirtless.

His brazen masculinity awed me.

My cousins were both living in a world that felt very different from my own and they only lived in Long Island. It was one of the first aha! experiences I had in my young life when I realized that there were circles of thoughts and experiences that were outside of my own. While there were moments of overwhelm that tempted me with the urge to decide that they were too different for me, I learned a great deal from my cousins. I learned a great deal about differences. I learned a lot about myself because they were different from me. Or was I the one who was different?

I believe we become conscious in early childhood about the way we feel when we encounter difference. Does it frighten, intimidate, or aggravate me? Do I feel insecure? Curious? Ah, curiosity, yes…

How we make our personal judgments on things based on the limited experiences and knowledge we have at a given moment in time and space in many ways determines the world we share. As a small child with no positive connotations for skeletons (yet) I was convinced that the skull on my cousin’s closet was a bad thing; a scary, dark thing. I mean, it was a skeleton!

And yet, down the road, with more life experience and insight, things change. At least they can change if we allow ourselves to be open to new information and insights about the world.

04 Jan 2011

Veggie Friendly

4 Comments Humor, Self Development and Transformation, Uncategorized

I was turned on to vegetarianism in college at my co-ed, co-operative living situation. There were 30 of us living at the “Peace House” and we took turns cooking communal meals each night, all veg. I liked the idea of communal living and with tensions brewing in Iraq (it was 1990) the thought of a group of students aligned around creating more love in the world was very appealing.

I grew up eating meat (chicken, beef, bacon, fish)  just about every day of the week and was super attached to it! The idea of a vegetarian diet was more romanticized than an easy switch. I found myself eating big, whole foods dinners at the co-op and while I no longer felt hungry, I still craved roasted flesh. I was programmed (like so many of us) to believe that a meal was not complete, couldn’t be satisfying, without some type of animal protein.  It was more than a little embarrassing but I sometimes found myself drive to Burger King after house meals to grab a cheeseburger. Yet, the “seed” was planted and I was already more open to non-carnivorous alternatives.

However, I still resisted the “full monty” until I went to the Middle East for a year after college. I was walking down a cobblestone street in the Old City of Jerusalem when a religious man in white stopped me and gently touched my arm. He peered deep into my eyes with his bright, blue Paul Newman’s and slowly shook his head with great concern.

“Brother, you’ve got to stop the dairy. You’re killing yourself!” And here I had figured my big problem was simply cutting out meat. Thus was my introduction into self-directed Macrobiotics. I started to run with the dangerous crowd of macrobiotic, Orthodox Jews. Who knew there was an even tinier sub-group of the sub-group?!? I found there were hundreds of  observant folks in Jerusalem who took their religious adherence to include a healthy, sustainable diet that is in sync with the rhythms of nature.

That year I learned a great deal about how my relationship to food is deeply connected to my emotional life, my socio-political world and even the metaphysical. When I returned to the States, I brought with me a new sense of my connection to food and an affinity for Tamari roasted pumpkin seeds.

Lots of friends and family did not (and many still don’t) understand the point of removing animal products from my diet. There were times when I argued and fought about it, provided supporting materials and links, and yet in the end, I find the most peaceful approach is simply smiling.

One of the things I have learned in my life is that whenever I feel the need to convince someone else about something, I am already on shaky ground within my own being. Whether it is politics, social justice, faith or even food, if I need to convince you that I’m right, I’m wrong. If someone is interested in what I feel or what I believe, they can ask for more information.

So, I smile at the comments, breathe deeply and continue to enjoy my seitan. As the savvy vegetarian suggests, I’m counting on the hundredth monkey effect in the hope that more and more people will just consider removing meat from their diet one day a week!

Macrobiotic actually means “big life” and it seemed consistent with my intention for the type of existence I wanted. Since my time in Jerusalem, now more than two decades, I have delved deeply both into Macrobiotic living as well as the  McDonald’s Life. I have been lean and fit for some time, as well as soft and obese. Periodically,  I am able to maintain a macrobiotic diet for one or two years, amassing an array of jars filled with seeds, seaweed, dried shitakes, and grains. In fact, I have never felt more alive, more energetic and more healthy than those periods on a primarily macrobiotic diet and lifestyle. I love the rigidty of it! I love knowing that there is a very limited array of foods I can eat. Like Temple Grandin and her cattle chute, I feel contained by it

The problem has been that it can be so restrictive and extreme that I find myself eventually resenting it and craving chocolate cake, pizza ( I mean, a whole pizza) or even barbecued chicken. Yet, as it is once again a new year, I broke out the brown rice and seaweed in the hope that this is my year. Back to basics. Right?

A great resource for the macrobiotic  lifestyle is anything by Michio Kushi and Jessica Porter’s Hip Chick’s Guide to Macrobiotics.

Being a vegetarian isn’t considered as far “out there” as it used to be: according to a 2008 study from Vegetarian Times, 3.2 percent of Americans are vegetarian, .5 percent are vegan, and 10 percent say they follow a largely vegetarian-inclined diet. Whether you are interested in eating less meat and animal products (or cutting them out altogether) for ethical, health or environmental reasons, here are the basics of vegetarianism:
1. Vegetarian: This term basically describes a person who does not eat poultry, meat, seafood or fish.
2. Pescatarian/ Semi-Vegetarian: A person who eats dairy products, poultry (including eggs) and fish, but does not eat any other animal flesh or products.
3. Ovo-Lacto-Vegetarian: Someone who eats eggs and milk, but doesn’t eat any other animal products.
4. Ovo-Vegetarian: A person who eats eggs but no other animal products or flesh.
5. Lacto-Vegetarian: Someone who eats milk but no other animal products or flesh.
6. Vegan: Vegans do not knowingly eat or wear any animal flesh, products or by-products. Some vegans also don’t consume yeast or honey, and often opt not to wear clothing and accessories made from animals, although a recent piece I stumbled on suggests (rightfully) that it isn’t really feasible to be a vegan anymore in this day and age…I have been vegan for several years of my life and it is in many ways more challenging for me than being macrobiotic. Vegans don’t have an easy time eating out and I LOVE eating out.

If you are considering a change in your diet that excludes or limits animal products, be sure to take appropriate supplements that can supply essential vitamins, minerals and fats that are typically provided by animal-based sources.

Want to Eat Less Meat? I’m sure you’ve all seen the photos that Manhattan artist Sally Davies captured of the same McDonald’s Happy Meal photographed each day for 6 months without any visible change.

Whether you want to minimize your consumption of animal products or eliminate it altogether, there are hundreds of alternatives to fast food and even over-produced, genetically modified slow food. In their place? Completely satisfying alternatives, from beans and legumes to whole foods.

I’d be a big (fat) liar if I said that I eat a perfectly healthy diet every day and that I haven’t enjoyed any meat from time to time. In fact, it has been a tremendous challenge for me in the past two decades as I have learned so much about the food I eat and still make unhealthy decisions sometimes. I have to be one of the most well-informed overweight people in the world. However, the dialogue is in place and I tend not to stray for too long if I find myself on a bender.

For now, even choosing healthier alternatives a couple days a week not only makes me feel better, it is better for the planet.

31 Dec 2010

The Path is Yours.

1 Comment Self Development and Transformation, Uncategorized

What an amazing year was 2010! So many beautiful, profound, creative events occurred for me this year. It was also a year of rattling challenges, assaults and compromises.

I was so honored to be recognized for my insights and abilities, professionally and creatively. I have been so excited to learn new things, from social networking and platform building to blogging and how to run a corporation. I have also been painfully aware at times of my own shortcomings and areas where I need even more focus, attention and hard work.

I am so incredibly grateful for the opportunity to follow my path! What a wild ride it is, this third dimensional path. Money, Music and Taxes. Relationship, Integrity, Love and Sex. Fascinating stuff. I am honored to have the opportunity to share my musings and experiences with all of you and I hope you’ll join me in 2011 for more fun and silliness, politics and profundity. It is fun to write and it is also really fun to be read.

Integrity, Wisdom and Patience are my three keystone words for 2011; my guides on the path. I look forward to my interactions with you and I want to remind you that even when we slip off or consciously leap from our paths, we’re still on it! so, might as well enjoy the ride and breathe yourself right back into alignment with what you wish to create and how you desire to feel.

May it be a profound, loving year for all of us.



27 Dec 2010

Sarah Palin…Celebrity, Candidate or Girlfriend?

4 Comments Uncategorized

I have a confession to make:

I can’t stop crushing out on Sarah Palin. I find all sorts of things to dislike about her, her politics, ignorant comments about Muslims, the Constitution, Death Panels. Yet I still find myself longing for her like the woman at a party who is with that guy but still flirts with me. Why does she still flirt with me? Why does she make me think about her? Is it me? I know I’m not that cool, yet she smiles and winks and well, she’s just so, um, seductive…

The lilting verbiage of the GMILSNW (Grizzly Mom I’d Like to Spend a Night With) should logically repel me, launching me back towards the comforting whispers of Maureen Dowd, Arianna Huffington or of course, my wife. Yet, there I am, denouncing, lambasting, embarrassing her to the point of ridicule only to slip her my room number after the obvious rant.

What is wrong with me? I feel like Don Draper around Jimmy Barrett’s wife. Stop me, please, before I regret something. Did you see her fire that gun on the Discovery Channel? She’s just so feisty! What if she is the JFK candidate of my time?

Surely it wasn’t the cover shot in her running suit or the rifle-protruding-from-her-groin shot. It wasn’t the silly guest appearance on SNL or her saucy grins on Fox News. It couldn’t have been the proud, concerned mother shots on Dancing With the Stars…What is it that bewitches me, you alluring governess, you? How will I ever be free from those eyes and live a good, honest liberal life?

And yet, it was really your year, wasn’t it, Sarah? Well, yes, you’re right. It was our year. You couldn’t be where you are without me, the entranced onlooker. I’m the one who can’t shut your show off because you are just so interesting. Just so, Sarah…

24 Dec 2010

Bat-Sh*t Crazy or Blessed with a Calling?

1 Comment Uncategorized

We in the modern world of sound bytes and star crazed shallowness have a tendency to read or hear a 140 character, tweet sized encapsulation of another person’s perception of a thought, policy or persona and make our own determination of thumbs up or thumbs down in that instant.

First impressions are tough to change and in this day and age of digital dissemination, without some old fashioned “face-time” or the slow drip of getting to know someone so they “grow on us” it is even more challenging to survive the PR landslide of a bad review or commentary.

There are more than a few examples of people who are quickly condemned today by the media as nut-jobs. Take John Yettaw, the man who tried to single handedly free the Burmese leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, under house arrest by swimming to her rescue across a locked down lake. He reached her, spent the night on her couch, and led to five more years of imprisonment for her hospitality. It took a Clinton to win his release from prison.

Or Gary Faulkner, the Colorado gentleman who says he is called by God to single-handedly track down Osama bin-Laden in the mountains of Pakistan, handcuff him and bring him to the authorities as his prisoner. He has made eleven attempts thus far and has almost killed himself numerous times trying.

We have a tendency to encounter these folks on Letterman or the View and after their five minute spot, we decide whether we approve or disapprove, agree or disagree, like or dislike. Likewise, it’s hard not to watch Dateline or Paula Zahn and not have an instant “gut” determination of an accused person’s innocence or guilt.

Then again, we like to believe that the information we are being presented isn’t biased but objective, un-altered, free of spin, award-winning journalism… If Sarah Palin’s Alaska is hosted by the Learning Channel, then we’d like to think subconsciously that there is no make-up crew or massive editing, colorization and manipulation happening.

Remember the Reuters photograph a few years ago in Beirut during the Israeli attack on the city that was proven to have been digitally manipulated with enhanced color, smoke and fire? All the news that’s fit to print, but if it isn’t quite fit, we can give it a nip and tuck and we’re good to go…

Mohandas Gandhi was a British educated attorney who one day shed his three piece tailored suit for a loin cloth and a sheet. He decided it was his destiny to lead the underclass of his society against one of the mightiest superpowers of the time. Martin Luther King, Jr. was a little known black preacher who felt it was his destiny to lead the underclass of his society against the racist policies of local and national government. Lech Walesa was an un-educated Polish factory worker who felt it was his mission to lead fellow workers against the oppressive, hypocritical government in the Solidarity movement.

So, what’s the difference between “one who is called” and one who is “bat-shit crazy?”

Some people believe that Santa Claus is real. Some people believe that Jesus could walk on water and raise the dead. Some people believe that it is their mission in life to stop gay people from getting married. Some people believe that one person’s beliefs are right while another’s is wrong.

Sometimes the line between a loss of reality and a creation of reality becomes so blurred that there really is no difference.