You need to get over this. Seriously. Photo courtesy of Catherine Toyooka

Tampons have served us well over the years, the decades, haven’t they ladies? There’s no questioning the convenience, the ease of use. I had a major breakthrough at 14 when I finally got up the guts to use one–I had to, since the next day I’d be performing a liturgical dance at my high school wearing nothing but a purple leotard. I was so elated I wrote in my journal that day in huge caps across an entire page, “I did it!”

Yes, I was a huge fucking nerd. Moving on. Point is, I felt I’d become a woman on some level. And in a very basic way, I had, since until then let’s say it was an as-yet unused corridor. (Don’t laugh–plenty of girls thought if they used one they wouldn’t be considered a virgin anymore. I didn’t agree that counted–nor did many other things, which allowed me to make flexible use of the term virgin for years to come.)

To be free of maxi pads, no longer having to ride the cotton pony for days, no longer fearing that the head or tail was making itself known while I trotted along through the late 80s in my stirrup leggings. Those pads. Jesus. I thought wings were a breakthrough, which they were, but my God–doing a changeover was like mailing a Fed Ex package.

Why Did We Stop There?

So we evolved from diapers to cotton plugs, but then we just stopped there. Why? Why are so many women, the majority perhaps, so complacent with this cotton-plug solution (which has obvious drawbacks) and unwilling to try any other options? And not just to go green–I get it. That’s not usually enough reason to change such an intimate routine. But there are plenty of other reasons, including expense.

Oh no, I can hear you saying, not the Diva cup! It’s an option–and one I have used. For the uninitiated, the Diva cup is a reusable silicone cup that fits into your vagina and can be worn for to 12 hours. I used it for a long time–but found it was a bit tricky to position–sometimes I got it right and other times I didn’t, not securing the suction correctly. Still I loved the idea: No more worries about bleeding through or forgetting to change your tampon, and so on.

However, when I started to talking to people about it (as I’ll pretty much talk about anything, clearly), I was surprised at the visceral reactions of my coworkers and friends. “Eeew! That’s so gross!” Wait–what’s gross. Is your body gross? Is your blood gross? Why did perfectly mature women turn into squirming 12 year-olds at the prospect of handling their own bodily functions in a more efficient way? I can see how you don’t want to wash out a filled-to-the-brim rubber cup in a public bathroom–but since you can wear it all day, you never have to do this.

As far as the touching-yourself part, I used to feel that way. There was one girl I went to high school with who used o.b.’s exclusively and I just thought, eh, why bother with the no-applicator thing. And I still don’t get o.b.’s–if I’m going to put my hand up there, I only want to do it once a day. So it took up less room in your purse–so what? Not enough to convince me. Especially now that I don’t have to carry anything with me.

What I Recommend–Hands Down

Let me tell you what I’m a big fan of now, and let me preface this by saying I have no personal interest in this brand, no relationship with them, etc. It’s the SoftCup by Instead. Rather than a rubber cup, it’s got a flexible rubber rim, with a thin plastic film that connects to it. It slides up over the ridge behind your public bone, and there is stays.

It’s a winner for me hands down. Here’s why:

  • I change it once a day.
  • I don’t feel it.
  • There’s no little tail protruding as with the Diva Cup.
  • No leaking or spilling, and no odors, so you feel clean.
  • You don’t have to wash it out–you just toss it (though they do have a reusable one which I’m going to try next, and that you do wash out. No biggie)
  • You can have sex with it in.

I’m sorry–did you miss that last one? You can have sex with it in.

I have and do. Before you start squirming about having sex on your period, let me tell you this: NO ONE KNOWS YOU HAVE YOUR PERIOD. I even forget. Now that’s a solution I can get behind. Don’t believe me? Maybe use this link or another containing adult content, find yourself a sex toy and try it yourself the next time.

I wasn’t always a fan of SoftCup. When I tried it the first time, I wasn’t as used to heading in there myself and for whatever reason, couldn’t grab the edge of the cup that first time. So there I was, squatting over the toilet, and started to see stars and hear a faint ringing. Not good. That nas never happened since. Now it’s zero problem. Trust me. You figure it out.

How Many Tampons You’ll Use in a Lifetime

Want to do the math? Me neither. That’s why I was glad I found this on Catherine Toyooka’s blog (Catherine Coaches). She writes:

Since I’m supposed to change my tampon every 4-6 hours, I’ll probably use about 6 per day. If my cycle is 5 days, that’s 30 tampons. If I menstruate from the age of 11 to the age of 51 every 28 days; that means that I will have 521 cycles over the course of my menstruating life. Oer the course of my lifetime, I will need 15,360 tampons.

And this from the Diva Cup folks (granted, they have reason to point out the waste and it is a commercial, not a research, site, but just to give you an idea):

Women, on average, experience a lifetime menstruation span of 41 years (11-52). From use of disposable feminine hygiene, an estimated 12 billion sanitary pads and 7 billion tampons are dumped into the North American environment each year (1998). More than 170,000 tampon applicators were collected along U.S. coastal areas between 1998 and 1999.

I’m all about making greener choices, but you bet your ass I’m not about to start washing out reusable pads in my sink or soaking them in jars around my apartment. But cutting down on tampon use or cutting them out completely is where my lifestyle needs and the needs of the environment nicely align.

How Is a Tampon Better for Your Lifestyle? Wha?

What I don’t get is when people say that using a reusable cup-style solution doesn’t fit their lifestyle.

Because if everyone by default used a cup, and someone tried to sell you on this cotton on a stick with a string idea, wouldn’t you be like, “Um, wait–but then I have to run and change it every few hours? And if I don’t, I just bleed all over the place? And it can make you feel dry inside and could risk infection if not removed often enough? And it costs a lot of money month while creating all this waste? And there’s this little string that pokes out and you have to worry when you’re wearing a bathing suit? And you can’t have sex with it in? Sorry. Doesn’t suit my lifestyle.”

Exactly.

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.

 

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.)

 

 

The Law Firm performs @ UCB

If you’re looking for a fun and unpredictable night of live performance, one in which there are no spoiler alerts or reviews because the show doesn’t exist yet, go see a professional improv group perform.

That’s what I did this past weekend, on a chilly, rainy night, pushing along with the crowd into the Upright Citizens Brigade (of course known by its way cooler insider name, UCB), a 152-seat theater on 26th street in Manhattan, and founded of course by Amy Poehler and three of her comedy cohorts. I went with a new friend to see a group called The Law Firm.

They start by asking a member of the audience to come up onto the stage and basically tell the cast about his or her week. This time, it happened to be a video editor from Slate magazine. You knew it was going to be a winner when he said that he had often ended up working from home because he tended to oversleep, and he had no time to get to work. The comedian who was interviewing him dug into his day, his week, and mined for all manner of quirky, memorable details (which of course escape me now) which the group gobbled up like an improv beast and then regurgitated in the form of a series of very funny skits.

So yes, I laughed a lot for the next hour or so–and it struck me that the reason these shows are so much more, I guess exciting is the word, is that in an entertainment world of prefab ideas, overly produced songs and movies and canned shit that we call programming, it’s rare to be part of the creation of an organically funny thing. Some of the jokes and situations the actors find themselves in are of course funny in their own right–but what they lack in polish and market-proven laughs, they make up for in the sheer fact that it’s happening right there, right now.

By design, every show has its own small and spontaneous universe of references, jokes, etc, and because we’re all there when it starts, everyone is in on the joke. Which always makes it funnier. And unlike when you’re at the movies, where there are also lots of people enjoying a mutually shared experience, the most you hope is that they shut up and don’t whip their phones out and start texting during it. But at an improv show, the audience is as important to the show as the actors are.

I left there feeling lighter, as any good comedic experience will ideally leave you–not unlike what it feels like to have gone to a party with some funny and entertaining characters, and then left it on a high note.

(Also, just because we’re on the topic, there were a whole bunch of books that came out a few years ago about improv and real life, and how to apply the lessons of one to the other. Loved this idea and did a story on it at Body+Soul a while ago, if you wanted to check it out.)

Nutritionist Kimberly Snyder got me hooked on the green smoothie! (courtesy kimberlysnyder.net)

Want to do a little detoxing without doing a full-on cleanse? Try this smoothie from Kimberly Snyder, nutritionist to the stars, author of The Beauty Detox Solution, and all-around detox queen.

In essence, all you do is combine:
  • Greens of your choice: kale, spinach, a little watercress, anything you have around. Blend that up with a little water til smooth.
  • Apple cut up into chunks (I recommend organic since apples are one of the most heavily pesticide ridden produce out there-and if you want to detox, silly to take in more pesticides, right?) My favorite is green apple.
  • Fresh squeezed lemon juice (this makes the whole thing zingy and delish–just squeeze half a lemon, more if you want)
  • Blend til smooth!
And that, my friend, is it. You can experiment with whatever you like: carrots, ginger, cucumber, romaine, etc. You can also add a squeeze of honey or agave nectar if you like. A pinch of cayenne pepper can give it some kick. You could also add a few drops of liposomal glutathione to make it even more detoxifying and to aid your metabolism.
Again, this is just a suggestion. You can’t go wrong–especially if you make it part of your daily regimen. Adding a detox into your life can help you when you feel like your body is becoming sluggish and tired and is need of a good boost. Some people who feel this way, may combine a fruit cleanse with a ion cleanse detoxification in the form of a foot bath, this can leech out the toxins that have built up in your body and need to be released.
Why is this detoxifying?
What I learned from about.com’s alternative health expert and nutrition expert Cathy Wong, N.D., is that while we think of detox as what we take out of our diet (namely excess junk, sugar, additives, and so on), it’s also about what we put in. And when you feed your body fresh, healthy produce, you’re helping your body do its job in eliminating the things it doesn’t need. For more, check out her book, The Inside Out Diet.
(I promise to show you more step-by-step instructions when my much-anticipated Vitamix blender comes in! I ordered it a few weeks ago and am currently waiting by the door for it.)

Rapt attention as Deepak, Agapi, and Arianna speak

The other night I had the good fortune of scoring a pass to a very special event: A book launch event for Agapi Stassinopoulos’s  Unbinding the Heart: A Dose of Greek Wisdom, Generosity, And Unconditional Love. Agapi, of course, is Arianna Huffington’s baby sister, and the two of them joined none other than Deepak Chopra on stage for what an intimate and lovely evening at ABC Carpet & Home in Manhattan.

Why Deepak? Turns out he not only has known the two sisters for 20+ years, but was close to their mother Elli, a powerful influence for not just her two daughters but the many who knew her (Elli apparently stood down Nazi soldiers at one point. Tough broad). (Read more about Arianna’s relationship with her mother in this story in Success magazine)

(It was even stranger to see Arianna days after she was spoofed on SNL: Check out Arianna’s “appearance” on Weekend Update with Seth Myers.)

 

 

 

Agapi Stassinopoulos, author, "Unbinding the Heart"

Agapi, however, was clearly the star of this show–and she really owned it when, at the spontaneous invitation of Deepak, she stood up and delivered Jocasta’s monologue from Oedipus–COLD, mind you. Not a single stumble. She was absolutely gripping. You wouldn’t forget her after that for sure.

Two Sisters

Agapi and Arianna shared stories of their mother Elli, and got quite personal, sharing their mother’s heartbreak at their father’s endless philandering (and her powerful forgiveness of him in the end), and of their mother’s last day. Arianna became weepy several times, allowing Agapi to finish the stories, which she did with flourish.

And while you, like me, may have scratched your head at some of Deepak’s written works (it does get heady at times), the man himself truly couldn’t be more warm and playful and personable. And, dare I say, adorable? With his patent black clogs and thick black frames with bling on the sides? I wanted to hug him (but I didn’t get the chance). The three of them created a lovely dynamic, and there was as much laughing as there was were truly moving moments.

I had never, for instance, thought of Arianna Huffington as a person before (as opposed to a “force”)–and definitely not as a young Greek girl who, seeing a picture of Cambridge in England, said, “I want to go there.” And when other people told her it was not going to happen, her mother borrowed money to take her daughter there to check it out. It’s so sweet to think of a young Arianna walking around Cambridge with her mother, wondering if she could make a life for herself there. Which, of course, she did.

Arianna speaks with a fan after the event

When, later, an audience member asked how they all had learned to trust themselves, Arianna shared some personal insight into her long affair with one of the loves of her life and greatest mentors, Bernard Levin, and how, when she knew he would never have children with her, and she wanted to raise a family, didn’t  trust herself to stay away–so she left London altogether. And if she hadn’t done that, of course, she wouldn’t be where she is today.

“In life, the things that go wrong open doors for the things that go right,” she said.

Showing up to this was without question the best decision of my day.

Agapi's new book, Unbinding the Heart

(Special thanks to Beth Grossman!!)

Courtesy of aiwaz.net

If you’re not in hot, sweaty love at the moment, in the relationship of your dreams, or in a relationship at ALL, it’s easy use today’s date as another reason to do a self-loathing pile on and beat your esteem to a bloody pulp.

Let’s not do that.

The temptation is there, I grant you. The only thing Americans love even more than BEING in love, is torturing themselves over it in all its iterations (love that was, love that wasn’t, love that could be, may be, but isn’t).

But just because St. Valentine’s Day is named for not one but several Christian martyrs doesn’t mean you have to be one of them.

Let’s gain some perspective, shall we? Do we rail against the Fates because we don’t have the perfect Rockwellian family on Christmas? Do vegans weep because the most widely celebrated holiday in this country has a turkey at its center? (Well, some might.) It seems to me that faulting yourself or feeling bad that you don’t happen to have the ideal romantic situation on this specific date in the calendar year is, well, like being upset that you’re not Irish on St. Patty’s Day. (OK, not quite, but you see my point.)

I have seen all kinds of mixed-up, contradictory advice being handed out like pennies on Halloween–cheap, disappointing, WTF kind of advice. One blogger on yahoo shine recently said in one breath that she didn’t see single as being a problem (agreed), and then in the next breath warns singles not to hang out with other single girlfriends on Valentine’s Day because it will remind you that you’re single. ??!! What? What does she suggest—being a third wheel on someone’s romantic date, or staying at home and sobbing to “Someone Like You?”

Here are three things NOT to do today:

Don’t be a martyr. And by that I mean, don’t act tortured, fall on your sword, or walk around dripping your bleeding heart onto everyone. Just because you’re not partnered doesn’t mean your life is half-baked or somehow an utter failure. As I said previously, there are more single people than ever–more than half of the households in the U.S. are headed up by unmarried people. Playing the victim gets you nowhere fast–not with your fellow lady friends, and certainly not with the opposite sex. You’ll either make dudes feel bad for you, or, let’s face it, attract the wrong kind of dude altogether.

Don’t be a hater. I also don’t really quite get the need to be part of the whole anti-V-Day movement. What does that do but put yourself in the misery club (and in truth I think this is what that other advice blogger was getting at–that you don’t want to stand around in a hateful coven, stirring a bitter brew). It’s a day to celebrate love and romance in all its manifestations. There’s no reason you can’t enjoy it, just because you don’t happen to have some dude standing on your doorstep with dimestore flowers

Don’t confuse alone with lonely. There are many unsung benefits to being single—and last I checked, the status of being unmarried was not synonymous with being lonely. Hardly! Eric Klinenberg writes about the rise–and the appeal–of living alone in his new book Going Solo (which is excellent). (Check out the interview with Eric in the NYT).Cherish and embrace your solo-hood today. You are in complete possession of that delicious blend of total freedom and complete and utter privacy, and that, my friends, is what romance is made of.