Courtesy of sxc.hu

Want to know what you shouldn’t do when you’re asked to speak at a conference? I will tell you.

I recently attended the BlogWorld & New Media Expo a few weeks ago (newly named, New Media Expo). And while there were plenty of astute and savvy new media experts, there were perhaps just as many who seemed to have been yanked from their desks and thrown on stage, with little idea of how to command a crowd or deliver compelling, useful information. It was not unlike a bad internet date–you get all psyched up for it, based on what you read, and when you show up, eh, a little bit of a letdown. Seems someone was big on the hype and forgot to mention he’d gained 30 pounds.

In their defense…This industry is so new that even the people who ARE successful aren’t always quite sure how they got that way–let alone how to transfer or teach that information. And while there’s no doubt that an event like this, and others like it, serve a purpose (and no doubt, at several hundred bucks per ticket, make money doing it), I think they’ve got a ways to go to make this unmissable event they want it to be. I’m sure the New Media Expo folks are also trying to make a buck, but it’s worth shelling out more for top-notch speakers. After all, you get what you pay for–and if we as attendees don’t, we won’t be back.

As a result, I encountered (and walked out of) several lackluster performances by people who have big twitter followings, which in our infancy still seems to equate “worth listening to”–and it may very well not. At least, it didn’t at 3 o’clock in a windowless room. Overall, I found the expo largely predictable and inexpertly led–punctuated with a few moments of fleeting genius, which were well worth the price of admission.

That said, you pay for your ticket, and you still want a good show. The unfortunate thing is that what made a lot of these sessions memorable is how much they reinforced what you SHOULD NEVER DO when delivering a talk to a group of people. Oy. I share these with you now.

The Worst Public Speaking Lessons Ever That Cost Me $379

Don’t bother introducing the speaker. It’s 9:00a, opening keynote, first session of the expo. A man walks to the podium and says, “This man needs no introduction.” And then he doesn’t give us one. Now, the speaker was Scott Stratten of Unmarketing, a rock star in the world of social media with a fresh, authentic approach to marketing. I’m a big fan now. But I didn’t have a foggy clue as to who he was at the start. And the guy who was supposed to intro him didn’t help. You can say, “This man needs no introduction” — but you still have to give one. Not only is it rude not to fluff up your speaker (and who doesn’t like to hear their own accolades and achievements), but it also assumed we all knew who he was. And for an expo that’s growing so fast it’s already changed its name to keep up, you have to assume that there are some new folks and that the community is expanding, and that means we don’t all know the rock stars yet. Way to be inclusive, guys.

Put yourself down. Repeatedly. If you’re not sure why you’re up there, by all means, shout it from the rooftops. I saw several speakers take this “aw shucks” approach a bit too far and all but screamed “I don’t know why I’m here!” from the dais. This may work at a cocktail party or when you’re picking up chicks, but it does not work when I shelled out a few hundred bucks because I thought you knew something I didn’t. (Again, seasoned speakers do not do this. NMX may want to consider hiring some.)

Make a sexist comment. When all else fails, sure, go ahead and offend half the audience. One gentleman, who for his own sake I will keep anonymous, was telling us how we should find mentors, like the guy he met who invented the onion goggles. “Ladies, you know what I’m talking about, when you’re cutting up onions and your eyes water–“. Wooooow.

Give the same old advice. No question–following your passion and finding mentors is key to goals, careers, a fulfilling life. But big, bland advice doesn’t go over well at a new media expo where we want specific takeaway–and to be fair, there were plenty of speakers at the event who did offer great stuff (in particular, the guys who did the podcast panel who were terrific). But for the inexperienced speakers (of which there were also plenty), it’s got to go beyond the broad strokes. If it sounds like you’ve heard it before, you probably have, and so has everyone else. Find a fresh take, offer a different angle on it, or some specific strategy that worked. But pontificating about things that I could also hear at a Divine Feminine Energy workshop somewhere in Boulder doesn’t fly at a new media expo.

 

…I’m begging the New Media Expo folks: Consider raising the bar to entry for speakers–and maybe vet their talks in advance (make them actually pitch the strategies they’ll teach, so they don’t just rattle on about themselves and leave us emptyhanded). Consider bringing in folks from traditional media, or at least seasoned media pros, and not just the “guy who handles social media at X company”–I get the sense that the new media folks are reinventing the wheel, and heard often incorrect or ill-advised info on how to pitch traditional media and thought, hmm. That won’t work.

If you do want to attend the  New Media Expo  (and if you’re new to new media, it is a good place to start), I believe they’re in Vegas next? Their website still has the ad up for the expo that ended weeks ago. Boo.

 

"But he's so niiiice!" Please. (Courtesy of twoday magazine)

One of my coaching clients said to me recently, “I just want to find a nice guy.” I had to call bullshit on her. Especially since she had just finished telling me that the most significant relationship of her adult life was this sexy but slippery beast of a man whom she couldn’t say no to. And he knew it. This was a man whom she had dated, then not dated, then sorta dated. Just when she was thinking it had subsided, she’d get the text that would make her heart jump.

The point is, this dude is not a nice guy. He’s not a great communicator, he’s not even honest. She’s moving on and it’s probably for the best. But when she tells me she just wants someone nice, as we all have said at one time or another that we do, well, I don’t believe her.

The Problem with Nice

Here’s how I know: She has met several nice guys. And has zero interest in any of them. If I had a penny for all the women who say, “But he’s so niiiiice, why can’t I like him?” (Complete with the long, whiny emphasis on the word “nice,” and paired with the crinkling of the brows, and caricatured heart wrenching that girls tend to do when they have complete and total access to someone they don’t want, but feel they should.)

That’s like saying, “But broccoli has so many vitamins and minerals and powerful phytochemicals that will make me healthy and strong. Why can’t I like it?” Because you don’t. Period amen.

We think we have control, or should have, over the kinds of people we desire. We don’t even have control over the things that make us hot and bothered. We don’t! And it comes much to our chagrin, and sometimes our shame. But one thing won’t change it: Wanting and trying to like someone.

I realize I’m dealing with two different issues here. Some people really do want nice guys. But I’m not alone when I say that most of us are bored by them.

I will add here that the opposite of “nice” isn’t “mean.” Not in my book. It’s exciting, thrilling, a little scary. It’s decisive and masculine. Though it’s not unkind. Kind is important.

In her book Mating in Captivity (a must read), Esther Perel talks about the importance of distance and uncertainty, and that you can only have as much passion in your relationship as you can tolerate uncertainty (an idea she borrows from Tony Robbins).

Nice is a chair by the pool. The opposite of nice is a long path that curls out of view, somewhere cast in sunlight and shadow–and entices you to follow it. Even though you’re a little scared. No relationship just stays put–and if it does, it’s dead in the water. So you have to move–and my idea of thrilling is someone who invites you to find your edge, and then push past it.

The Nice Guy The Guy You Want
Says: Where would you like to go? Says: Show up at this address at 8pm. Wear heels.
Calls before you have a chance to wonder if he will. Calls only after I’m dying him to and hoping he does.
Wears his heart on his sleeve. Makes you want to explore him.
When you’re with him, you’re content. When you’re with him, you’re ravenous.
Is always available May be available
Makes you smile Makes you hot
Sex is comfy and cozy Sex is thrilling and a little scary
He sees you as his strength He sees you as his weakness

 

(Not sure who you are? Here’s a tip: If you bitch and moan that girls don’t like you when you try so hard to be…nice–well, there’s your answer.)

My point is this: Women want a man who is direct and not afraid to be assertive. Too “nice” can often mean overly accommodating, can’t make a decision without your input, and, well, a little bit feminine. He also likely does things wanting points for “being nice”–and that’s just annoying. Don’t be nice; be yourself.

By the way, I don’t want guys to think I’m “nice,” either (and I’m fairly certain they don’t). And that’s fine by me. I aspire to far more, and so should you.

So unless you want to commit sexual suicide, you’ll drop the nice act–because nice doesn’t make you noteworthy; it makes you, well, nice. Average. Fine. And I don’t know anyone who’s happy with being that. In fact, I think people who say they want that believe that’s all they need or can handle. And to that I say you’re dead wrong.

 

You think she's dying for bling?

You think she’s dying for bling?

There is a great myth out there being sold wholesale to single people: You’re incomplete if you do not have a partner. There’s also the time sensitive version: You’re incomplete–and a failure–if you do not have a partner by age X.

I’ve got news for you, people. This is complete and utter bullshit.

Where does it come from? Everywhere. Your parents, neighbors, bosses, billboards. The idea also works well in novels, screenplays, and love songs. And unfortunately it tends to put women in the trapped position of being both passive and culpable: “What’s wrong with you? Why does a nice girl like you not have someone? Why hasn’t the right person come along for you?”

The biggest problem, however, comes when we buy it. And keep buying it. Far too many of us do. So my advice? STOP SPENDING MONEY IN THE MYTH SHOP. Every time you talk about it, believe it, prove it to yourself, and try to convince other people that you are a washed up, useless thing because you’re unmarried, or about as lovable as a lone sock, you are ponying up cash to the myth shop and keeping it in business. Put your wallet away, please.

Time to Evolve Your Thinking

The idea that a lifelong pair-bond is the ultimate and only worthwhile expression of a life well lived is predicated on the notion that the single life is flawed, empty, and worthless. That you couldn’t possibly be happy without a steady partner, bound by law, at your side. I vehemently disagree. (And you already know what I think about people who marry themselves.)

I’m not the only one who thinks that this is nuts, narrow-minded, not to mention rapidly becoming an outdated idea in the modern world. (Check out Bella DePaulo’s Singled Out, and while you’re at, this screamingly popular piece in the Atlantic by Kate Bolick, or Single By Choice in Boston magazine, where I was featured.)

No One Completes You

As a relationship and dating coach, a big part of my work is to help women (and men, by the way) see themselves as whole and complete, as independent single people who may have any number of fulfilling, intimate relationships (and yes, more than one at at time, in fact). To stop seeing their lives as stalled vehicles on the road to some Perfect Adult Life–and to start putting themselves in the driver’s seat and taking full advantage of the open road.

If this sounds like you, know that to lock onto this idea that there’s This One Perfect Person out there waiting and you’re on some crazy-making goose chase to find him is making your life worse, not better. You may think this is mature behavior, but that’s like saying a horse has a really wise and focused perspective because someone has slapped blinders on him.

Ask yourself these questions:

  • What would it look like to take full advantage of your single life? Are you reading, traveling, doing the things you always said you wanted to do? Why not?
  • What kinds of relationships would you want to be in? (Because single in my book means unmarried, not celibate.)
  • What is holding you back from living a fuller life?

(Want to know if you’ve got what it takes to be single? Check out the quiz I wrote for Anderson Cooper.)

Until you can really visualize what life could be for you now, rather than what it would be if it was written by a Hollywood screenwriter, it’s hard to move things forward. And it’s time to get moving.

(Find out more about what I do, and set up your initial consult! It’s on me.)


Courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net

Courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net

There once was a woman from Fargo who married herself. It’s true. She’s not the only one, either. But let’s stick with Nadine, who was featured on the Anderson Cooper show a while back. She did what she thinks was a cute, quirky thing that I’m sure she knew would get a lot of attention, and that would seem to “mean” something, but to my mind it’s no different than when chicks get the yoga symbol for peace stamped on their low back, and think it makes them “deep.”

Fact is, Nadine actually undermined the single movement in this little ceremony (which is what I told Anderson myself). When you get married, you’re not single anymore. Nadine has effectively removed herself from the dating pool, since she’s married to herself. She’s opting out of being single. She doesn’t get the benefits of either being married or single. Plus, she’s buying into the idea that you need to be married to be complete. And you don’t.

(And, if you are married to yourself AND dating whomever you like, as Nadine seems to imply, is your marriage one of convenience, until someone better than, well, you comes along?)

Look: I like the sentiment here: She decided to stop waiting around for some ideal mate and embrace her life and herself, and stand on her own. OK, fine. But: Please don’t tell me we now all need to have a ceremony to do this. Please. I thought one of the great hidden benefits of being single was NOT having to spend thousands of dollars on a single day’s event. To be fair, if you decide to marry yourself just like Sue did in the TV show Glee, or you’re waiting for that special someone to come along, it may be in your best interest to do some research into finding the best dress. The decision may not be easy. If you are looking for inspiration, to visit site click here. No matter who you end up marrying, if you’re happy, that’s all that matters.

Full Disclosure

Fact is, I actually had a dream myself years ago that I was getting married: I was in white dress, carrying red roses (reminiscent of my private all-girls’ catholic high school graduation where grads take to the aisle in a white dress, something that always raised some flags for me). And in the dream, there was no man, nor was I waiting for one–and that was just fine with me. I call this metaphor. I call this A DREAM. I didn’t run out and start printing invites.

What About the Real Single Issues?

Now, let’s get one thing straight: Nadine isn’t marching on Washington to make her marriage legal–it was a ceremony, not a civil rights statement. I’m guessing, anyway, from the footage we see in the segment in which she kisses herself in the mirror, takes herself out for Indian food, and then home for a candlelit bath (all great things, though I don’t call that a date. I call it living).

I wish the segment showed less of Nadine talking to herself in her rearview mirror, and more expert insight, from someone like Bella DePaulo, PhD, about the reality that singles face in our culture–and not having a wedding day is the LEAST of it (a cogent argument she makes in her must-read book Singled Out).

All in all, I think Nadine took an empowering and timely sentiment, and put clown makeup on it. My fear is that what could be seen as a brave, symbolic step in theory ends up sheer spectacle in practice.

And you now, it’s too bad–because more and more people are realizing that there are many ways to live a life well outside the confines of traditional institutions (like, ahem, marriage). So, then, why take a fresh, inspiring message and cloak it in exactly that?

My 3 Strategies for Single Peeps

If you happen to be single and needing some support, here’s some advice I offered on the show. (Also featured on the Anderson site complete with pics of sad looking ladies)

Stop singing the same tired song. You know the song: “There’s no good men out there,” “I’ll never find anyone,” “I’m a failure because I don’t have a partner.” What story do you keep telling people and why? I guarantee it’s getting you nowhere fast. Focus on what you want now, not what happened in the past.

Tell family and friends to back down. Make it clear to them that you love them and appreciate their support, but your life is not a problem to be fixed. You have to lay down the law. And realize that if you’re making choices for other people, you’re not living your life. You’re living theirs.

Redefine single: Broaden your perspective. As a single person, you have the ultimate and enviable freedom of connecting with whomever you want! It doesn’t mean being a hermit. Figure out what it is you really want—and stop using fear as an excuse to not pursue meaningful connections with other people.

 

Want to put yourself out there but loathe the thought? Check out my online webinar, Stop Hating Start Dating. I’ll change the way you think about dating.

 

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Breakfast is served.

Smoothies are huge. Easy to see why. How else can you get down several servings of fruits and veggies first thing in the am?

I record these tips for Martha radio on Sirius XM, and what’s the one that elicited emails across the country? The Drink Your Greens tip–about how to make a green smoothie. Everyone wants to know how to do it.

The Art of Improvisation

Here’s the best thing about doing the smoothie thing: You really don’t need a recipe. Period.

I have books of recipes and I love the Whole Living smoothie app, but have I followed one of the recipes to a T yet? Nope. That’s because smoothies are the best when they’re improvised.

Also, they’re incredibly forgiving. So it’s hard to mess up. Doesn’t taste right? Too tart? Muddy? Bland? Back in it goes, add a few more ingredients, and blend it again. Easy peasy.

There are no real measurements here. You go by feel. But if you are panicking without a measurement, then assume around half a cup of each fruit, and then I just jam in as much spinach or kale or whatever as I can.

TOOLS

Ok, so you need a blender. Duh. This year, I invested in a Vitamix (and am obsessed with it), and it was worth every penny. This machine is so powerful that if you slapped wheels on it, you could take it on the highway. I have no relationship with the Vitamix, mind you. But if you have the opportunity to get one, and you’re interested in healthy eating, smoothies, and all that, GET IT. Other blenders really can’t touch it.

Here are some recipes I’ve been playing with:

Kitchen Sink Smoothie

(I just jam whatever deliciousness I have around the house, like:) 

frozen mangos

frozen grapes

frozen blueberries

three chunks of ginger*

a few chunks of green apple

Scoop of green powder stuff (I happen to have Amazing Greens, but there are so many out there and I like that it gives the smoothie a little added nutritional oomph)

1 tsp chia seeds (again, not vital, but chia is all the rage, and has a ton of great stuff in it)

Juice of half a lemon

Some water (again, maybe half a cup? i go by feel–you can always add more to change consistency)

Spinach – jam in what fits.

 

Berry Green Ginger Smoothie (I made this up)

1/2 c. frozen blueberries

1/2 c. frozen raspberries

4 little chunks of ginger (which I chunk up and freeze so it’s always ready)

handful of spinach

1 tsp chia seeds

1 tsp (or so) of ground flaxseed (if you have digestive issues, trust me, you need this)

1/2 c. (or so) of brewed green tea (which helps soften up the frozen stuff so it blends easy, plus adds more powerful antioxidants)

1 organic green apple, chunked up

 

That’s it! Take that baby for a spin. DELISH. I would have added lemon juice, but didn’t have any. So I doubled up on ginger. You need that tartness/brightness to make the smoothie really sing. Otherwise, it can taste sort of…muddy.

Happy blending, folks.

 

 

No, I’m not kidding. Why not? Reading some juicy bits may be the best decision you make all day. In fact, I’m sure of it. Not only is the sexy series by British mum E.L. James on fire, it’s just plain fun. It’ll get all pistons firing in the biggest sexual organ of all: Your brain.

Don’t be fooled all the hubbub about it setting the feminist movement back 50 years (we have the Republican party for that!). It’s quite the opposite.

If you immediately jump to the conclusion that any situation in which a woman gets tied up and spanked is a “bad” one, then you haven’t done any real thinking about this, and you certainly haven’t read it (is my guess). I invite you to do both now.

As soon as I saw the stir happening back in March, I knew I wanted to dive in (um, who wouldn’t?), and was more excited about reading it than the novel I was currently reading (sorry, Wind-Up Bird Chronicles–I’ll be back). I just had to toss that quiet novel aside the minute this sexy bitch rolled in.

Why are we so uptight?

What really threw me was how up in arms everyone got over this thing (witness the ridiculousness on this clip on the Today Show–especially when there’s untold volumes of erotica collecting dust on shelves and no one’s talking about it really. But of course–this was just soft enough to gain widespread appeal, and yet risque enough that it would titillate and disturb polite company.

Our culture is so incredibly screwy about sex from websites similar to https://www.hdpornvideo.xxx/ that even talking about a fictional fantasy makes us fear that something’s wrong with us. Anyone who thinks a bodice-ripper is going to singlehandedly create a cultural crisis is high.

Why does Dr. Drew suck so bad?

Dr. Drew, whom I like less and less, was featured in that Today Show clip. And he hadn’t even read the book. Enough said. He works himself into a tizzy about what a symptom this is of a troubled culture…and then, in an attempt to find some explanation of how this is acceptable (um, aside from it being a free country and the book being entertainment?) is its use as “female Viagra.” He essentially says, “yeah well, if you’re perimenopausal and need something to kickstart your libido, then sure.”

Gee, thanks Drew. THAT is one of the most insulting things I’ve heard. It makes it “her” problem. Like she has glaucoma and the book is an excusable instance of marijuana (not a good idea for everyone, but oh sure, let them use it). In fact, while we can argue about the quality of the writing in Fifty Shades (eh) and whether it deserves to make history as a work of literature–I won’t. I don’t care. That’s not why I read it, and probably not why you will, either.

Couples all over the country, especially those with sex drives that are pretty much in park, are waking up from their 100-year naps and getting down and dirty again and WHAT IS NOT TO LOVE ABOUT THAT? With all the fears around the ‘crisis of marriage,’ divorce rates, and low libido, etc, you’d think that ANYTHING that inspires and feeds a passionate connection between two people, especially two married people (though of course that’s not a prerequisite) would be applauded.

No–because Americans freak out about sex.

A Voice of Reason

Also featured in the Today show segment was sexologist Dr. Logan Levkoff, who injects some sanity (thank God) to the inane discussion being fueled by Dr. Drew and Savannah Guthrie (who seems so seriously troubled by the book, and yet why can I imagine it tucked into her nightstand?). She tries, but fails, to push back against the other two who are trying to make this about what sick f*cks we are.

In Levkoff’s blog on HuffPo on Fifty Shades of Grey, she makes this key point:

“…We don’t control how and if we turn on to something or someone. We may not desire to have fantasies about losing control, but many of us do. It doesn’t make us bad women or bad people. It doesn’t even say anything about our psyche or whether or not we want to “lose control” in our own lives…And in the case of “Fifty Shades,” if it got you hot and bothered, it got you hot and bothered. That’s about it; there’s no underlying psychological issue here. This is not about feminism or the demise of the women’s movement.” (Read more of her blog)

Why BDSM is not about violence against women

The desire to give up control during sex, to be dominated (which is one of the most common fantasies for women) is NOT to give into a life of domestic violence (I’m looking at you, Dr. Oz audience member who said this dopey thing on the show).

You don’t have to dig too far into the BDSM literature to understand that it’s not just about “I hurt you and you’ll love it.” It’s about negotiating boundaries. A submissive, in fact, has all the power–that’s how she (or he) is able to GIVE IT UP. Are we missing that? We surely aren’t missing any BDSM equipment which you can find available at Cumswingwithme.com.

The disturbed but undeniably hot Christian Grey isn’t trying to force Anastasia, the book’s protagonist, into doing what he wants; he’s begging her! He gives her the paperwork so they can discuss it and amend it how she wishes. He basically follows her around on his hands and knees begging for her submission. And even if and when she chooses to surrender her power, he knows it’s hers to begin with.

Does that sound like an abusive relationship to you?

What Dr. Oz has to say about it

Dr. Oz devoted not one segment, not two, but AN ENTIRE SHOW to Fifty Shades, interviewing couples and experts about why they love it, and why it works. It’s all about the human brain: As we read about Anastasia Steele and her naughty adventures with the stunning billionaire, our mirror neurons fire, he says, sending electrical signals, sending them thru the spinal column down to the pelvis. Blood flow increases and engorgement occurs, and the glands kick into gear. Physical signs of arousal reinforce our desire to have sex. And sex begets more sex. This can be seen in films from websites similar to shemalehd.

Is Fifty Shades Really JUST Fantasy?

Levkoff and others keep coming back to the point that it’s not the bondage–it’s the imagination. OK fine. But even that seems to be sidestepping the fact that this doesn’t just stay a fantasy. I would hazard a guess that stores like The Pleasure Chest are seeing a pretty big spike in sales. I met a woman recently who teaches workshops to women on EXACTLY how to do what’s in the book. And her attendance rates are way up. I’m pretty sure people don’t just want to read about it. They want to try it.

I’m just waiting for someone to accidentally asphyxiate themselves so that the media can fly into a frenzy about how Fifty Shades is killing people. (Please be careful when trying at home, people!)

Why you haven’t seen the end of BDSM

With more and more women earning their degrees, making more money, building careers of influence and power, and realizing that they have quite a bit of say in their lives, it makes total sense to me why giving up control is a dreamy and desirable fantasy: because what would be more amazing than finding a man who is in fact man ENOUGH to take over for a while? Especially in the bedroom.

In fact, I imagine that the more power women have in our culture, the more this fantasy will grow. I also find some humor in the idea that the book fetishizes a man being in control. (Does anyone else find that funny?)

I for one am thrilled that ANY book would get such attention. Millions of Americans are doing two things that previously, they might not have done for months, or years, at a stretch:

Reading books and having sex. Maybe even simultaneously. Multitasking just got a lot more interesting.

Click to watch the Today Show clip

So, not too long ago (a few weeks?), I was featured on the Today show for a piece on the joys of living alone.  I’ve been living that way for about a decade, and loving it–and I’m certainly not alone in that respect. One of the experts showcased for this segment was sociologist Eric Klinenberg, who has a new book out, Going Solo: The Extraordinary Rise and Surprising Appeal of Living Alone, in which he explores what’s been called the biggest demographic shift since the Baby Boom–the huge increase in the number of people who live alone–31 million to be exact, making it more common than any other household unit, including the nuclear family.

However. I will say, I was disappointed with how the live-alone trend was and has been depicted. Why? Let’s take the Today show clip for example. Look–I know my place. I was an anecdote for the piece–a single illustrative example of the trend, and raw material for the producers to draw on to add color and concreteness to the story. I was psyched about that–yes! I get to share real insight into the real reasons why people love this and why it’s so important.

What Was Cut (and Unfortunately Wasn’t)

But as you can see, out of my hour-long conversation with the producer (a very lovely guy in fact), what remains is footage of me feeding my cat and sitting on my couch looking idle while Ann Curry narrates that I’m open to meeting someone with whom to share my living situation–making it seem that my choice is provisional at best. The exact OPPOSITE of what I wanted to connote. This is how it goes–it just is what it is. It’s like the Today show already KNEW what it wanted (single woman feeding her cat) and went about answering its own questions. I don’t fault them–they have to deliver what the viewing audience half expects. And that’s what they did.

What really pushed it over the edge for me was where the segment also pulled some tweets from people on living alone, and if they pulled the very best they could find, it saddened me that “eating ice cream in the tub” and “having the tv to myself” were the stand-out responses. Really? Really?

Of course, I’m not all that shocked–I know the process and not in my wildest dreams did I think I’d get more than a breath in, just was hoping it was more than denouncing “crazy cat lady” as a raging insult. (Duh.) But like anyone who’s had their best efforts left on the cutting room floor, I was a bit disappointed that none of the more insightful or even fresh responses to questions like “What is the benefit of living alone” and “why do you prefer it to any other arrangement” made the air.

My concern here, by the way, isn’t “Why didn’t I get to showcase how brilliant I am” but more like “I wanted to elevate the discussion and talk about something other than my cat!” There was an opportunity here to help speak for the many thousands of people who live alone and are tired of being put in the quirky box. Because that’s what this segment basically did: Made people who live alone out to be people who are really selfish about their TV remotes and really weird about ice cream.

Can we not do better than this? I think we can.

Being Social Isn’t Compensatory Behavior for Living Alone–It’s Called Having a Life

I don’t think most people who live alone are quirky–and I hate that this is the portrait painted of them. That they are so “weird” they can’t have anyone else around. As if being married, coupled, or otherwise, with other people around, is a normalizing factor? I doubt that. (Has anyone seen most people’s dads? Sorry dads.)

One of the producers at Today did a blog post on living alone, and while it’s fun and lighthearted, she mentions that to fend off loneliness, she “carefully plans social interactions” — which makes it sound as if engaging in social activity is a band-aid to the mortal wound of being alone. I kind of see it as, well, having a life.

It’s the reverse if you ask me: The world is so overly and deeply connected, there’s almost no escape, even when are your home’s only occupant (have you ever tried to get any focused work done with your email open or texts buzzing?). I don’t connect in order to avoid loneliness–I see my home as a trap door away from a world of hyperconnectivity. It’s my stay against insanity.

The Introvert / Extrovert Thing

The differences in how we perceive our connections and our aloneness has, I think, a lot to do with our introvert/extrovert tendencies. And by that I don’t mean socially inept v. overly friendly (those are wrongheaded ideas about what those terms mean), but more along the lines with what Laurie Helgoe, author of Introvert Power, told me: Extroverts are like solar panels, getting their energy from exposure; introverts are more like rechargeable batteries–they need to plug in and power down to store up our reserves.

That said, introverts may not only perhaps be more likely to seek out a living-alone situation, but may fare better than someone who’s both extroverted AND perhaps finds herself alone when it wasn’t her choice (as seems to be the case with that producer).

Regardless, I will say that while an extrovert may see her socializing as a way to relieve the burden of being alone, and she may experience it that way, I just am not crazy about what that says or assumes about living alone–that we have to make efforts to “plan our social interactions” otherwise we’d drown in a pool of sorrow. Not so! I connect online and go out and connect with people in person–not because “I live alone and I have to do this” but because that’s what living IS.

Why Live Alone? I’ll Tell You

Here are some of the benefits of living alone–and none of them involve eating food at odd hours:

Peace and quiet. If you want it, when you want it. You can always open up your social channels and your front door and let the world in, but you can also shut them out.

A better appreciation for the people in your life.  One of the experts in that segment, a journalist I think, was quoted as saying that living alone magnifies your personality. I’m thinking this was taken out of context and I’m not sure I get it. In fact, I think it does the opposite–it makes you very aware of who you have in your life, who you want in your life, and why. Because when your default is a room to yourself, you are in the wonderful position of choosing who you will keep in and who you will leave out–and why. (Those who don’t make this choice are, I think, fearful of something else, perhaps of cutting ties even with jerkoffs for fear of being left alone.)

Room to develop, cultivate, and create. I fully believe that I’m a better friend, lover, colleague, etc, when I am able to live on my own terms. I can cultivate and address my needs and feel restored and ready to connect with someone else–and I feel that I do so more richly because I have something to bring to that relationship: my best self.

Not only that, but there has been documented research showing that groupthink really doesn’t hold a candle to focused individual work. I have the benefit of living and working in my own little bubble, and I realize not everyone does. But even if you do work in a shared and open work environment, having the space at the end of the day not only to decompress but do some focused creative thinking can be the most productive work you do all day. (Check out this piece in the New Yorker by Jonah Lehrer on individual work vs. group think from earlier this year.)

Do I ALSO like having the option of housecleaning naked so I don’t soil my clothes? Sure. But the tree of solitude bears far more fruit than what two-minute morning show clips will ever show you. That I promise you.

(P.S. I will add that I never–ever–said or implied to the producers that my living situation was a kind of provisional state, a holding pattern until I “someday meet someone”–and yet that is also what they say in the segment. Could it be that I do decide to one day share my living quarters? Possibly. But that’s different than acting as if my home now is some kind of perch I’m clinging to until some winged beast comes and frees me from my loneliness. I’m pretty sure living alone is, in itself, a way to really spread your wings.)

 

 

This conference is a beast.

Want to know what’s new and noteworthy in the exploding universe of consumer products and services all geared toward the health-minded shopper? Me too. And not just because I’m one of them.

I spent last weekend at the famously gargantuan Natural Products Expo West out here in Anaheim, CA–I’ve been coming here more years than not for the past eight. Which means I should have known better than to wear heels the first day. Anyway. Moving on.

This place is like five airplane hangars long. It’s hall after hall of food, beauty, supplements, ingredients, gadgets, remedies, hype and of course all the different companies trying to find your attention with loud colors and a big trade show banner. It’s geared to industry folks: retailers, buyers, marketers, sales reps, journalists, editors, etc. Big decision makers, big characters, even some big celebs, have walked its endless carpeted floors.

It’s essentially an organic products Disneyland (which is about right given it’s in Anaheim),

Dr. Andrew Weil caught unawares outside the show floor.

where the products you know and love from the shelves of Whole Foods come to life: You might spy Annie Chun of the just-add-water boxed noodle soups, in the flesh, or Burt of Burt’s Bees in a sales meeting. I spotted Dr. Andrew Weil in a low profile moment, just standing amongst the crowd with his totebag of stuff. I even got my pic taken with Bob of Bob’s Red Mill in his standard red jacket. There are models and fitness pros and people dressed up like pandas. Don’t even ask.

Rather than overwhelm YOU now with too much info, I wanted to distill down some of the interesting products and trends that caught my eye.

I have also rated some of the newer products according to my totally made-up rating system of 1-10, 10 being great.

Here’s a quick visual tour of some of the stuff I saw:

[doptg id=”1″]

Gluten Free Everything

Gluten free was THE buzzword in food (even in some beauty products) this year. I mean, I’ve seen the g-free train coming, but man, did it roll through in flying colors.

Two brands worth noting:

Purely Elizabeth, a brand I like and a woman I like! I’ve had Elizabeth on my show and am a big fan of what she’s doing. Her products, quite simply, rock the g-free house.

1-2-3 Gluten Free Family owned–a g-free family that is. I was impressed with taste and texture of their baked goodies.

Water, Water Everywhere

Coconut water? Please–that’s so two years ago. Though the heavies and the newer coco brands were there in force, they made their biggest splash in previous shows and we are all saturated in it. Moving on from that.

A few other new brands are really working the water angle, though–big time. I mean, not just any old water, but water infused with everything from antioxidants to other vitamins and minerals like potassium as well as electrolytes. A few were crazy enough to get a second look–either in their approach, or in their branding. Including:

Blk water (pronounced, as you see it B-L-K), touted as “The Dark Side of Water.” Oooh. Sexy. And the packaging IS sexy and intriguing. And while it looks like it’s going to do crazy things to your tongue, well, don’t get too excited. What makes this water the color of Coke, essentially, is its infusion of electrolytes, antioxidants, and 77 trace minerals, which, I’m told, change the color of the water naturally. Even the guy working the booth admitted that it was a buzz kill. You raise the liquid to your lips and you can’t help, from years of soda-instilled training, to think it’s going to be sweet and zippy. It’s water. You just have to take them at their word that there’s something special there.

Cool factor: 8

Reality factor (would I really buy/use this): 4

Victoria’s Kitchen Almond Water I appreciate a no-gimmicks, straight-up approach to product. (Though I also appreciate a good gimmick.) This does play up the “trust me my grandma made it” feel, but I liked it–and think the taste was quite refreshing. The company says it’s just almonds, pure can sugar, and “100% pure Grandma love.” If you’re not a fan of coconut, or want something different, I’d recommend checking it out…also think it’d be FAB in cocktails.

Cool factor: 6

Reality factor: 8

Mayesa All Natural Premium Cacao (drinkable chocolate). You may think this is some kind of chocolate milk, but it’s not chocolate flavored anything. It IS chocolate–in drinkable form. Lactose, dairy, and gluten free, and loaded with antioxidants, magnesium, theobromine, even fiber. AND the tetra paks they use are constructed of cardboard from a managed forest, making it more sustainable than most. This is about as guilt-free as it gets.

Cool factor: 8

Reality factor: 8

Crazy Woman Water The only that stopped me cold was the name–of course. Who wouldn’t. There’s absolutely nothing I can say that made this water any better than any other, except that it’s good tasting water, named for the mountain in Wyoming’s Big Horn National Forest where the water comes from. And that the charming piece of folklore behind the name is one in which a woman watched her family murdered by Sioux warriors, murdered four of them with an ax, and then put their heads on stakes to keep the others away. Isn’t that sweet? I also found it interesting that their booth at the show was manned solely by men.

HOT GREEN HOME PRODUCT

Common Good and Co. This simple, beautiful line of housecleaning products was started by former prop stylists (one of whom turns out had worked with at Martha Stewart) with a passion for eco-friendly goods. Their goal: to help people pare back on plastic and toxic chemical use. So the mission of this brand is quite apparent: Clean, simple, waste-free, biodegradable packaging and house cleaners that are free of toxic junk. What makes this whole system special is that it can be dispensed in bulk from the place where you buy it. Meaning: Once you use up your soap, you bring the bottle back where you bought it to fill it up again. LOVE THIS.

Cool factor: 10

Reality factor: 8

COOL NEW BEAUTY LINE

Broo Shampoo A line of smart-looking, all-natural personal care products created by a sweet Asheville, N.C. couple, Brad and Sarah, who wanted a better all-natural shampoo. At first, they poo-pooed the idea of brew for their do’s, but have created what I thought was one of the most interesting beauty products at the show–not just in their approach but in their striking brand look and appeal. It’s not girlie, and it’s not gross–it doesn’t smell like a barroom (and neither will you). But it has all the good-for-your-hair ingredients without the pthalates, sulfites, and preservatives of conventional shampoos.

Cool factor: 8

Reality factor: 7

HOTTEST PRODUCT. PERIOD.

ON: Natural arousal oil for her This stuff is bound to set people abuzz in more ways than one. A proprietary blend of natural ingredients gives On its unique sensation. It’s not one of those warming lubes–and in fact, is not a lube at all. It’s meant to increase a woman’s sensitivity in her sweet spot and stimulate natural lubrication–and you only need a tiny drop, which I put on my tongue, as instructed (since for obvious reasons you can’t try it out the way it was designed to be use, right there at the booth). And holy banana. My entire mouth began to tingle and, as they say, buzz. Don’t ask how they do it. I am kicking myself for not buying a bottle at the show. But you can buy it on their site. I believe it’ll be available at GNC soon. (In fact, my only concern is that their website could use some work–the content, the voice isn’t quite there yet, and doesn’t capture or resonate with what an amazing product this is.)

Cool factor: 10

Reality factor: 11

NATURALLY NEUROTIC

Travel Bed Bug Spray from Nature-Cide. Paranoid travelers, set your hearts and minds at ease. An all-natural, nontoxic solution for killing AND warding off bed bugs, wherever you may be. The question is, if you find yourself in a hotel with bed bugs, are YOU going to feel fine just spraying them and laying back down or would you rather have a steam cleaner at hand to deal with those bugs? And if you spray as a preventive measure, well, will it matter if you’re only there a night or two and the only one who could bring them in is you? That’s a practical issue that I haven’t had answered. Suffice it to say, I imagine that you just feel good knowing you go in armed. (If you want to really gross yourself out, watch this demo video of bed bugs killed on contact. )

Cool factor: 8

Reality factor: 6


STRESS SOLUTION

C3 For Stress C3, which stands for Calm, Cool, and Connected, is a supplement powder that you add to water and it effervesces into a very drinkable tonic to help you soothe and support your stress-addled body and mind (note: it does create a slight numbing sensation on the tongue, but this is perfectly natural and subsides). The effect it has can be compared to CBD (I saw an intriguing new CBD vape cartridee for sale too, which is the product I’ve been waiting for since finally switching from smoke cigarettes to vaping), which is also classed as a non-invasive yet still effective herbal remedy. This herbal cocktail contains a range of vitamins and minerals, as well as kava root, jujube seed, white peony, and milk thistle to name a few. We’re just starting to get the idea that we need to actively support our systems to become more resilient against stress–and while I don’t think the answer to coping comes in a pill, bottle, or packet, I do think that tools like this can help enforce other positive lifestyle choices.

Cool factor: 7

Reality factor: 7

TV NETWORK LAUNCHES BEAUTY LINE

Veria ID Innerdosha Natural Hair, Skin & Body Care I checked out the new line of personal care products from–and this is interesting–the lifestyle channel and site Veria Living (and Veria TV). I liked the clean, friendly look and feel of the line–they smell and feel great too. The idea behind Ayurveda, which hails from India and is the oldest system of health care on the planet, is that we all have a dominant dosha or type, (vata, pitta, kapha). When we know it, we can then take measures to help balance our constitution–through food, exercise, and yes, personal care. I thought the kapha line in particular smelled divine. Take the quiz to find out your dosha.

Cool factor: 7

Reality factor: 6

Natural Products Expo East will be held in Baltimore in September and Expo West, in Anaheim usually in March.