[sticky post]About The Blogger
I just finished writing my very first book.  My new blog begins now that I'm starting a new chapter in my life, the one where I become an author.  I am crossing my fingers and hoping that someone will be interested in what I have to say.

My goal with this blog is to share some insights into what I've learned in my relationship with my husband and with my mind and body.  Most importantly, I want to be honest about my life and what I have learned in my 34 years on earth.

A Writer's Meltdown: It's All Part of the Process
Artsy Fartsy 012 - CopyI had one of those meltdowns today –– the ones babies have when nothing seems to go their way. I received two rejection emails from two book agents, and lost four followers on Twitter. And then, after reading a short story to my husband that I was planning to submit into a nice large publication, his response was, "I'm bored."

That was it. I kicked him out of my office and proceeded to break down. At first, the tears came slowly. Then I exploded into heavy bursts of wailing sobs. I gasped for breath, wishing I could escape my body for just a moment and blast through the air into the clouds. My writing career has never felt further from my grasp.

The problem is, I want this so badly –– too badly –– and I wonder if I have been fooling myself this entire year. Maybe my book sucks. Maybe I am not meant to be a writer. Perhaps I'm like one of those mediocre artists who can't get into art galleries because their art sucks but everyone tells them it's great just because they're too afraid to hurt the artist's feelings. I wish someone would just tell me, "You're book sucks. Go back to sales."

What I want is brutal honesty. Okay. Okay. Obviously, what I want more is for my book to (truly) resonate with people. And I thought it had, but maybe it hasn't. My impatience for success is causing me to lose perspective on what "normal" is in the publishing world. And yet, I don't want to hear that rejections are all part of the process. I want to be that unicorn that everyone chases after! My expectations were for my book to surpass that average statistical response rate. So far, it is falling right in line with what all the advice books tell me: Rejections are all part of it. According to articles and books, I should be framing the letters so I can look back and remember how far I've come.

Now that time has passed and I am entering calmer waters, I can feel myself gear up to start all over with my short story. I suppose the ups and downs are to be expected, and I suspect that every writer experiences these emotional outbursts more times than they'd care to admit. Being too shy to expose my writing to the public has resulted in me being soft-skinned. Now that I am putting myself out there, I suppose the wounds will eventually turn into callouses. My skin will thicken. I guess that building up a writing career comes with these challenges, and I'd better toughen up.

Perhaps this is what separates the writers from the Writers.

When Comparing Your Life to Others Can Be Good
Hike 286Once when I was swimming in the swamps of self-pity, hating that everyone on my social media networks were doing so much with their lives while I … didn’t, I slammed my computer shut and shunned it for the rest of the evening. Screw social media and all of my friend’s glistening lives! I stared up at my ceiling wondering how I could stop this comparing.

Coming up short, I ran straight to my husband and began to wallow. He listened to me patiently, nodding his head without understanding my insecurities at all. He is of another species –– unable to give a shit what anyone else thinks of him. I try my hardest to emulate his way of life, but I just can’t. I care.

So after about twenty minutes of me spewing off a monologue, trying to find out how I can overcome my addiction to compare my life to everyone else’s, he said the most amazing thing: “Why are you comparing your life to mediocrity?”

I looked at him cockeyed. “My friends aren’t mediocre,” I said.

He returned my stare with raised eyebrows. “Do you think that those photos you flick through are real? They’re snapshots. Those are fake.”

“Okay, so what do you suggest?” I asked him.

He drummed his fingers on the table. “I suggest you strive to follow the example of those who have truly made something of themselves,” he said. “Who do you admire?”

“Deepak Chopra,” I said. “Sting! J.K. Rowling!”

“Good,” he said, holding his hand up. “Now, instead of comparing your life to your friends, why not be ambitious? Strive to lead a grander life.”

I let this thought sink in for a few seconds. As I sat there and let my mind wander, I realized how much I loved the idea of breaking apart from the pack, growing beyond the boundaries of snapshots. After all, when I really thought of it, the only reason I felt bothered by my friends’ seemingly perfect lives was because I was not living my own perfect life. For me, my ideal life consisted of the following:

  1. Writing a book

  2. Publishing the book

  3. Speaking globally  about my book

  4. Helping change the lives of millions of people who read my book and hear me speak.

And so, I have set new goals for myself that have nothing to do with anyone else’s. Mine are all my own, and they have nothing to do with what my 300+ “friends” are doing on the Internet. It doesn’t matter.

My three idols –– Deepak, Sting and Rowling –– will remain forever out of reach for me. They are the ideals, the gradiose philosopher and artists that I will strive to become. As long as I have dreams to chase, I will run as fast as I can until another race begins.

Where Does Jealousy Come From?
IMG_5449When I was 26 years old, I was a raving lunatic for 10 months, and I thought I could pinpoint exactly who and what made me so jealous: Marcel (my then boyfriend and now husband) and Laura (his ex-girlfriend). Simple. I became fabulous at pointing fingers.

The mere mention of Laura would send me spiraling into an abyss of emotional distress. She was the unicorn that I could never compete with –– Marcel’s first love for 15 years of his life. Whenever she called him at home, she would leave messages on his machine in German (they are both German), and I could only imagine what sweet nothings she sang to him.

Yes, I became jealous because Marcel and Laura transformed me into a crazed psycho. To me, it was obvious that they both still loved each other, and this justified my bitchy behavior.

And yet, one evening, in the midst of a particularly nasty fight over some furniture from Marcel’s life with Laura (“I hate your loveseats,” I hissed), I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror, holding a decorative pillow in my arms –– a pillow that Laura had bought for the couch. The mere sight of my reflection instantly brought me to the realization that this person –– this irrational, moody, negative person that I had become –– must have been hidden away for 26 years, lurking just around the corner, waiting for the right moment to jump out and pounce. My jealousy was nothing new. It was just something that hadn’t surfaced yet.

I began to wonder why Laura, a woman I had never met –– who Marcel claimed he no longer loved –– was so capable of destroying me. I sought friends for advice, but the most common response was, “Can’t you just believe that Marcel loves only you?”

The answer was, No, I could not, but I did not know why.

I have always felt secretly competitive with other women. To admit this is difficult because my sane and very rational side loves all women and believes we should live a kumbaya life together. I have a twin sister, though, and having a twin means being pitted against another female for your entire life. It’s only natural to comment on who’s the prettier one, the smarter one, the more datable one. Sadly, I do not think I won most of these competitions.

The other factor was that I was floating through life when I met Marcel, unable to define myself as anything. I had just quit my job as a teacher. Now, though, what was I? I was a 26 year old who had no real idea what she wanted to be in life. Laura, it turned out, was the VP of a major law firm in California. She was something.

The fatal flaw in my jealousy monster was that I could not forgive or accept myself for everything that I was, even the jealous side. I had secretly (and perhaps rightfully so) condemned myself for behaving like such a bitch. I was as hard on myself as I was with Marcel, wilting under the shadow of my jealousy as though it defined me. The more fights I picked, the more awful I felt. I could not see beyond my own imagination. I clung to my own justifications, trying my hardest to prove that Marcel was, in fact, in love with Laura. The jealousy became a black hole; my entire identity orbited around it, biding its time before it got squashed in the gravitational pull.

It was a dark time.

I had forgotten that I was smart. Beautiful. Sophisticated. Funny. Loveable. Perfect. What I have noticed in my 34 years in life is that the things that try to mangle us, like cancers or immune disorders, are also already apart of us. I worked at understanding my jealousy –– its roots –– realizing that somewhere, deep down, it may still exist. I simply know the triggers and focus on loving every cell within me again, even if I don’t feel so lovable in the moment. Negativity does not live long within the overpowering spirit of love and acceptance.

So, where did my jealousy come from? It came from me.

Social Media is a Swampland of Confusion
I have a confession to make: I am utterly confused by social networking. I have just completed my first book ever and now must navigate through the quagmires of social media. It's like trying to stay afloat in quicksand. Somehow, I have to gain a following among the zillions of other authors attempting to do the same. The competition is ... intimidating. I mourn the simpler times when my motivation was just to learn how to feel comfortable writing to the general public. I used to be a scaredy-cat with my writing, unable to step around the wall anonymity of my first blog (lver30, for those interested). It took me up until right now –– three whole years –– to put my face to my words. So now here I am, exposed and crossing my fingers that what I have to say strikes a chord with someone.


I have another confession to make. I take it personally when I watch the few followers I have on Twitter decrease by one or more. I will harp on my latest blog post. Wonder if I offended/ bored/ irritated someone accidentally. A friend told me that some people may follow me just so I will follow them. Either way, I will never know why someone un-followed me, but it hurts just the same.

There is someone that feels gross in trying to accumulate followers on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr just so I am more marketable to book publishers. I understand the importance of being a significant voice in the marketplace, and I would look for the same credentials in an author if I was a publisher, but it still feels icky to me.

So I am making a vow here and now: I will only write what inspires me. It is not because I don't want followers (I do!), but it's because I need to stay true to myself and my voice. I think people can see through ulterior motives, and my writing will suffer in the process. This blog will act as a confessional of sorts as I navigate the publishing world. As an author now, having gained the courage to (finally!!) put my name to my words, I imagine that there will be a whole slew of stories that fellow entrepreneurs can relate to.

Here's to brutal honesty and throwing caution to the wind! And perhaps, some new connections along the way.

The Lazy Vegan: 16 Food Options For Simple Vegan Living
If you are lazy when it comes to cooking but are interested in trying out what it feels like to eat as a vegan, here are some staples to keep in your fridge, freezer and cabinets!

Yay vegans!

Whole Foods is my favorite store to shop, but considerably more expensive than others.
1)  Guacamole
Hint:  To keep guacamole fresh just cover it with saran wrap so that no oxygen gets in!
2)  Hummus (any kind that does not include dairy)
3)  Salsa
4) Tortilla chips for dipping!
5)  Vegan frozen pizza's (Amy's is the best brand in my humble opinion)
6)  Quinoi/ Rice/ Whole Wheat Pastas (all others are not vegan)
Tomato based sauces are great!  Spice it up with garlic and herbs;  Pasta lasts forever in the fridge when you make it in bulk
7)  Split pea soup (ham not included)
There is a package of this at Whole Foods which is DELICIOUS!  You just let it simmer for two and a half hours and voila!  You have soup to last you the WEEK!  I spoon it out from the original pot and microwave a bowl of it everyday.  Great with tortilla chips crumbled in. John McDougall also makes delicious soups that are mostly ALL vegan.  You just add boiling water and BAM, you've got soup in under five minutes.
8)  Baked potatoes!
For butter buy Earth Balance brand!  Tastes just like butter!
Put broccoli; garlic; "butter"; onion; or whatever on it!  Delicious and easy to make!
9)  Assorted nuts and raisins!
Great for snacking!!!!  They fill you up!!!
10)  Dark chocolate
More than 70% cocao!!!  Extremely healthy!
11)  Any soups made by John McDougall (see #7)
These are small soups in paper cups (one serving) that are ALL VEGAN!  You can find them at Whole Foods and now at conventional grocery stores.  Just add hot water to them and let them sit for a few minutes;  Great selection and very easy to make;  Yum!
12)  ALL fruits and veggies (obviously)
Hint:  Avocados are key because of how nutritious and filling they are!  For an easy avocado snack just cut it in half––taking out the pit of course;  Leave it in the skin and cut it in squares with a knife––nothing fancy;  Then put white vinegar over each half and spoon out;  Delicious and filling!
13)  Rice, beans and veggies
Always a good staple to have at any meal  It's filling and it's packed with protein and carbs (you will NOT GAIN WEIGHT!)
Indian food is great for vegans!  The brand I buy is again Amy's;  It will clearly say "Dairy Free" on the label;  Make sure there's no meat as well!
15)  Indian Cuisine (Tasty Bite brand in the yellow packaging)
Buy these in bulk and put them in your cabinets!  You just microwave or heat in pot and bam!  You have a meal!  Many of these are lentils and chickpeas with spices and veggies.  Simple and yummy!  For extra nutrients sprinkle a little more turmeric on top.
This is what I love on my salad:
Olives, avocado, tomatoes, beans (assortment), broccoli, carrots, cucumbers, sprouts, and vegan cheese.  Balsamic vinaigrette dressing
My last thing to note for both is to avoid sugar as much as possible!  I would eliminate it completely just because sugar is extremely unhealthy and, once eliminated from your diet, you will stop craving it.  I swear, I am a sugar-holic, and after a few months of aviding it, I never crave it anymore.

The Disappointments of Traditions
DSC00640I'm getting mighty weary of hearing, "But we have to go there, buy that, do this!  It's tradition!" Every time a holiday approaches, I can practically feel my friends' eyes roll when I decline to decorate my apartment with ghosts for Halloween or turkeys for Thanksgiving. I admit, I do not participate in turning my living quarters into whatever themed frenzy exists at the moment. It's not that I hate the holidays; it's that I am beginning to hate traditions.

Holidays aside, now that I am of the age when couples all around me are getting pregnant and growing their families, I hear how excited the new parents are to create new traditions with their children. Getting their child's face painted at a festival will turn into an annual event from now on.  Traveling to the same city year after year because of how much fun the first time was becomes the "family vacation."  Anything that is fun for the child and parents then becomes The Tradition.

While there is certainly nothing wrong in creating traditions and looking forward to replaying the same activity year after year, what I have noticed is that people are losing what it feels like to just enjoy the day for what it is: a fantastic day. Traditions can sometimes result in perpetual disappointments. I experienced this recently when my friends and I participated in our annual tradition of going apple picking.  We selected a new orchard this year –– one closer to Chicago –– and it fell short from the traditional Edwards Orchards we typically visit. The entire day was a let down. The apple cider donuts did not come fresh out of the fryers into our hands, we didn't get a barrel for the apples we picked, there weren't enough activities, the place didn't "feel" like autumn. Basically, we spent the whole day comparing our day to the previous ones at the better orchard, and this poor new orchard did not have a chance of winning the competition.

It did not matter how blue the sky was, how delicious the apples tasted, how yummy the donuts were.  It was not as good, and therefore, a complete bust.  Someone observing us might have assumed that we were being dragged through the mud with how many complaints we had.

The more caught-up we were in recreating the magic that was felt the first time at the superior orchard, the more we lost out on the new memories that slipped through our fingers while we were busy picking apart the day. Traditions can be wonderful, but when we hold on to the past, unable to open our eyes to the potentiality of something new, we just make ourselves cheerless in the process. That is one tradition I would like to break.

10 Ways to Live Healthier in Body and Mind
My diet has changed a lot over the last three years. I used to eat meat for breakfast, lunch and dinner: Bacon and eggs, burgers, steaks, chicken, beef jerky, you name it. At work, my go-to dessert was a Snickers bar from the vending machine or an ice cream sandwich from the downstairs convenient store in the office building. I frequented McDonalds so often that I would alternate locations just so the employees wouldn't judge me for eating there three or four times a week.

Basically, I never thought much about what I ate. What was the point when I was thin and healthy? No worries in the world.

Actually, I never thought there was much consequence for anything in life. After all, "life" was "out there" while me and my body were "right here." The two felt completely separate.

greece - santorini (48)And then in 2006, I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, and suddenly I thought consciously about the decisions I made in my life. It was a slow and grueling process. I had to peel back layer after layer to try and figure out why I had this debilitating disease, and it took awhile before it dawned on me that it might have been prevented, if only I had known....

Hindsight, as we all know, is 20/20, and so there was no use in regretting my decisions. In my heart, even though arthritis does run in my family, I believe that I never had to develop arthritis. It could have remained a dormant part of my genetic code forever. Part of the reason I developed it––I believe––has to do with my relationship with my husband: I was a jealous little thing, harping on his ex girlfriend and blaming him for my misery when in fact, he had done nothing wrong. I wrote a book about my emotional breakdowns. The other part has to do with my diet choices. I never thought much about my body, and now here I was, arthritic and thinking ONLY of my body.

It took some trial and error work that will likely continue for the rest of my life, but here are a list of things I do that I notice help me feel healthy again that anyone (sick or healthy) might try:

1) I am vegan, eating mostly plant-based food.

2) I stretch in the mornings and at night for 15 minutes at a time.

3) I take 30 MSM capsules everyday (30,000mg). This is sulfur that can be found in rainwater from the fruits and veggies that we consumed. Because we transfer most of our fruits and veggies, the rainwater by the time it gets into our grocery stores has all but disappeared. So we're a nation of sulfur-deficient people. After I started taking MSM, I noticed that I could straighten my knees for the first time in two years. For healthy people, 4 tablets a day is plenty.

4) I eat tons and tons of nuts (walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts, etc). Great source of Omega-3s. I also take a B-12 vitamin since, as a vegan, I am in need of more of it.

5) I put a tablespoon of coconut oil in my coffee everyday and rub the stuff on my skin and hair. I even cook with it. Make sure it's virgin and non-refined!

6) I drink only water––no sodas! When I do have a cup of coffee (my weakness), it's black––no sugar! My tea is also unsweetened. If I were to crave milk in my coffee, I would use rice/ almond milk instead.

7) I meditate. I admit, meditating is something I am trying to make a habit, but my mind works overtime. Trying to quiet it feels like a lot of effort, but I always feel more at peace afterwards. I know that there is a strong emotional component to the arthritis. When I am at peace, so is my body.

8) I get plenty of sleep. If I am sleep deprived, my body aches. For me, I need 8 hours, 6 minimum.

9) I appreciate my husband, friends and family everyday. Even if I do not always tell them how much I love having them in my life, I feel it.

10) I am learning to say no when I do not want to do something. This might sound trite, but I have difficulty putting myself first sometimes. I have noticed that, women especially, have a difficult time voicing their wants and needs for fear of not being liked/ loved.

I no longer think of my body or mind as separate from everyone else's. We are all connected whether we like it or not. My bad mood affects other people's. My diet affects the earth and the people (and animals) on earth. My health affects the health of others. Once I "felt" the connection I have to everything on this planet, the decision to change my ways came naturally. And now, even though I have arthritis, I have never felt healthier than I do now, in both body and mind.

Saying Yes to a Marriage Proposal When You're Actually Not Sure
IMG_3086When my (now) husband proposed to me, I spewed out the word "yes," without having the slightest clue what the hell I was doing. Truth be told, I was caught up in the moment. It was my first proposal, and I wouldn't have wanted to ruin it by scratching my head and asking him to give me a moment to consider his offer. That wasn't the fairytale story I would want to relay to my friends. For me and my husband, our relationship was riddled with ups and downs that, frankly, would have left any woman scratching her head, wondering what she was getting herself into. I admit that when I said yes, I inwardly thought to myself, I can always change my mind. Nothing in life is permanent.

I began to wonder how many women out there (and men) actually believe, with 100% of their heart of hearts, that the person they are gazing at is The One. My husband and I admitted to each other years after our marriage ceremony that we both questioned the longevity of our tumultuous relationship. We are two very different people with very different ways of handling our differences. I'm the talker. He's the listener. I'm the feeler. He's the thinker. When I don't feel heard, I raise my voice. When I raise my voice, he falls asleep. When he falls asleep, I explode. When I explode, no one is happy.

And so, we have our differences in the way we communicate.

I truly believed that the reason –– and perhaps the ONLY reason –– we worked out so beautifully, is that we both wanted the relationship to work. Some part of us felt that what we had was worth fighting for. We went to couples therapy. We learned each other's languages. We read books like "The Seven Principles to Making Marriage Work," by John Gottman, to help us understand what the heck was going on with us.

I have been married to my very different husband for 6 years, and we have been with each other for 8 years. Each year we fall more and more in love with each other. That is not to say that we never fight anymore, but now we fight differently. Our arguments are more grounded, less spun out of control. We made a decision to be with each other, and that one decision has led to romance. Perhaps it's not the love-at-first-sight romance you read about in books or see in movies, but it's our romance and it's wonderful.

I have realized that no matter what a relationship looks like from the outside, whether it's wrapped in a perfectly tied bow with love oozing out of it or it's a busted up mess of a box in the beginning, there may still be problems down the road when the wrapping paper is off and the bow is a tangled mess. Love is a gamble no matter what. I happened to find someone who I can be my most awful and my most wonderful self with. That, for me anyway, is worth the risk.

3 Tricks to Overcoming Jealousy
I never thought of myself as a jealous person before.  In fact, I was the opposite of jealous.  One would describe myself as a free spirit, at one with the earth, connected to all living things.  What was there to be jealous about?

The emotion hit me like a bat swinging right at my head.  One minute I was sane, the next minute I was insane.  This all happened in 2006 after I met my husband and found out that he had dated someone before me for 15 years.  At first, this bit of information was titillating.  Interesting.  I had never known someone to date anyone longer than two years maximum before calling it quits.  I was only 26 at the time, and so a 15 year long relationship felt like a lifetime (or at least half a lifetime!).

However, my brain began to spin with all sorts of internal dialogue, and soon I was gripped by a debilitating emotion that felt so personal to me that no one could understand.  I was competing with a girl who my boyfriend (now husband) loved for over a decade!  For me, there was no competition.  The other girl won.

And so here are some pointers I wish I was told when I felt lost and destitute for ten months of my life:

1) Admit that you are not in your right mind and that you are temporarily insane with jealousy.  When I was jealous, I was a master justifier.  Every time I picked a fight with my boyfriend for reasons that I found perfectly valid, there was some part of me that realized how crazy I was behaving.  Of course, the crazy part of me usually overpowered the sane portion, and so the craziness took over... for ten months of my life.  It took awhile for me to WANT to get over the jealousy.  Our egos always fight to be right, and if we can justify why we are pointing fingers and being nasty to loved ones, there is a certain sense of satisfaction in that.  Jealousy can feel like it's protecting us from getting hurt.  We don't realize that we are just mentally hurting ourselves.

2) Jealousy––true jealousy––is an irrational emotion that tricks you into thinking that you are competing with someone or something.  In fact, this is FALSE!  There is only a competition if YOU make it a competition.  If everything you do and say revolves around winning this imaginary competition that only exists in your head, you will lose every time.  No question about it.  How on earth can anyone win against your own imagination?

3) Detach from everyone.  I know that this may seem counter-intuitive when you are seeking answers and ways to overcome your jealousy, but the only answers you need are within yourself.  Yes, yes, you are acting and feeling a bit crazy with all of these jealous thoughts swimming around in that brain of yours, but if you find a quiet place (church, bedroom, empty hallway, wherever) and remember all of the great things about yourself, you will soon remember that you have plenty to be proud of.  We all have gift to give to this world, and the trick is remembering your own.  Remember who you were before this crazy emotion bit you in the butt.  Remember that you are a unique individual and that no one is like you and that this is a good thing!  People are like fingerprints––no two are alike––and if you try and pit yourself against someone else, you're bound to only focus on the negatives instead of all of the positives.

An image I evoked when I had my own awakening was my body in a bathtub.  I visualized myself with the word "love" written in permanent ink all over my body, and I drenched myself in the feeling of love.  The water became love.  (Some might find the feeling of love difficult, and so I will compare it to the feeling of being accepted.)  If my boyfriend could not find a way to make me feel loved (he never had a chance with all of my complaining), then I realized that it was up to me the whole time!  I reveled in the fact that I had the ability to lift myself out of the abyss of jealousy and remember who I was and why I mattered.  I separated my crazy self from my normal self and vowed to stop letting the crazy self win.

It was nothing short of simple and amazing.

Even if my boyfriend had broken up with me because he chose to be with his ex girlfriend, I was not concerned with that anymore.  All that I was concerned with was myself and making sure that at least I loved myself.  After all, if you can't accept yourself, why would anyone else?  


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