Category Archives: Lifestyle

Ava Aston’s Tribute Song to the Military Supports America’s Mighty Warriors

My guest on The Liberty Belle Hour this week, the lovely, talented Ava Aston, has just released a new video for her heart-tugging single, I Carry You With Me. This beautiful ballad is also featured on Lloyd Marcus’ upcoming CD, Tea Are The World, benefiting America’s Mighty Warriors, a wonderful organization that supports our men and women in uniform and their families.

Please take a moment to visit their website and get involved. On a related note, if you live in South Florida, please consider attending the Dancing In The Sky Fundraiser this Saturday evening at the Radisson Bridge Hotel in Boca Raton. All proceeds from this event will assist the efforts of another excellent military charity, Shopping For Soldiers Needs.

Have a fabulous Tuesday!

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Tuesday Thought: Free

From today’s Daily Word:

I am free to choose how I create my day.

As I awaken each morning, I have a choice to make. How will I approach this God-given day? Will I begin by appreciating the freshness of a new day or by agonizing over my to-do list? When I remember that I am free to choose how I think, I consciously decide to not spend my precious energy in self-defeating ways.

God has blessed me with freedom. I choose today to make conscious choices about my health, my habits and my attitude. As I do, I feel energized. I have a sense of purpose. I feel renewed, creative and ready to do what is mine to do. Whatever situations or circumstances I face today, I know I am never alone. God is with me, “and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom!”

Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.–2 Corinthians 3:17

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Monday Meditation: A Spirit of Power, of Love and of Self-Discipline

“For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline”. — 2 Timothy 1:7

Words to remember as we begin another week. One of the best things on my agenda is my upcoming interview with singer/songwriter/actress, Ava Aston on The Liberty Belle Hour this Thursday at 6 p.m. on Blog Talk Radio. In addition to being multi-talented and beautiful, Ava is also a passionate patriot whose wonderful song, We The People, is a tribute to the American Spirit, freedom and the United States Military. We’ll chat about Ava’s latest exciting career developments, her thoughts on the latest political happenings and her take on the current news of the day, including the midterm elections.

Be sure to check out her website and read my recent review of her fabulous CD, Gone.

Have a wonderful, productive Monday!

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Scenes from a South Florida Deli

Kelly Ripa: Beautiful and talented, but not quite endowed enough for the "pigs" in the deli.

I’ve overheard and observed so many interesting conversations and interactions at a local deli where I often go for the excellent food and the free WIFI that I’ve decided to start a new feature on my blog: Scenes from a South Florida Deli. Because writing is such a solitary activity, there are times when I take my laptop to this local hangout and continue my work, surrounded by the sights and sounds of humanity. One of my friends recently asked how I could possibly concentrate amidst all the noise and mayhem; doesn’t it interfere with my ability to churn out good content?

As strange as it may sound, when I am in the “zone” of type, type, post, there could be an earthquake going on around me and I’d barely notice. Ok, so maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but I do have the ability to tune out most things when engrossed in creative activity. As paradoxical as it is, that’s just me.

Anyway, the deli also provides some great fodder for blog posts, much in the same way the cafe does for my good writer friend, Brooke Musterman, who penned the excellent book, Reptiles on Caffeine, based on her experiences as a barista.

In my first installment of this series, I would like to address the oft-repeated conventional wisdom, “Men are pigs” (the truth of which is upheld by even the decent guys I know, including a very good Facebook friend). An incident that occurred in the deli the other day would seem to support this hypothesis.

The owners of the establishment have two plasma TV screens located at the front and back of the dining areas. Without fail, one of the shows they broadcast every day (in addition to their unfortunate inclusion of CNN in the daily line-up) is Live with Regis and Kelly.  Now, let me state forthrightly that I have never  been a big fan of Kelly Ripa, Regis or this show, which I’d never willingly watch in the privacy of my own home. However, I am going to defend Kelly here because whether you like her or not, the fact remains that she is a beautiful, accomplished woman.

But try telling that to the “pigs” that frequent the deli, all of whom I truly like when they’re not channeling their inner hormonally charged, perpetually immature high school adolescent. None of these men are particularly attractive and it’s safe to say most of them could afford to shed a few pounds. Unfortunately, that didn’t stop them from commenting on Kelly Ripa’s lack of  cleavage, as they ridiculed her “flat-chest” and stated that her male co-host probably has bigger boobs than she.

And as I looked at the trim, effervescent and radiant Ripa, I marveled at the fact that she hasn’t succumbed to the pressure of our superficial culture by undergoing surgery to transform herself from an “A” to a “D” — just to make the day of some slobbering men with beer bellies and receding hairlines. Kelly Ripa obviously cares about her looks, wears make-up, gets her hair and nails done, and stays in shape — all very admirable. I do believe in looking one’s very best and I am certainly not demeaning any woman who chooses to increase her bust size via implants. If it’s her choice and hers alone (not one made under pressure by a spouse or boyfriend), more power to her.

What I am stating however, is that there is something terribly wrong with our culture when a woman as physically beautiful as Kelly Ripa is mocked for being an A-cup.

Ironically, later that day I ran into a woman who’d obviously been under the plastic surgeon’s knife a multitude of times. She was unnaturally thin, yet sporting breasts that looked like two inflated hot-air balloons, and occupied pretty much every inch of her chest — to the point where you couldn’t differentiate between her waist and her upper body. Botox-enhanced lips completed the entire Boca Babe vibe. And if her attitude was any indication, this woman was thoroughly convinced she was a femme fatale — a sentiment with which the Kelly Ripa critics in the deli would no doubt concur. I didn’t actually speak to her, but I am pretty sure there wasn’t much going on between her ears, as if that even mattered to most men. Superficially speaking, if I were asked to deem the more attractive woman of the two, Kelly would get my vote in a heartbeat; while the guys in the deli, I am quite certain, would choose big and fake over small and real.

Beauty after all, is in the eye of the beholder. Some of us believe it comes in all forms and sizes — unlike the “pigs” in the deli — who would be wise to invest in a full-length mirror before critiquing a woman they could never hope to date (even if she was available)  on a good day.

Update: My good friend Suzi — who concurs that Ripa is adorable – just informed me that lips do not get botoxed, but instead are filled with a substance such as Juvederm or Restylane. Thank you, Suzi, for the clarification! 🙂

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Just in Time for the Midterm Elections

Comes a film whose time has definitely come. Rock on, Tea Party Patriots!

H/T to Facebook friend Dallas Packer.

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The Revelations of Social Media

Back in April, prompted by some things I’d read on the internet and social media sites, I posted an article entitled Is Professionalism Passe? While it was inspired by many different people (most of whom I don’t know), a few of the twitterers and bloggers are indeed characters from real life — whom I’d immortalized in my book.

I don’t know when it became acceptable to reduce every little family dispute or personal problem into a 140-character status, or deliberately misspell (as opposed to abbreviate) words, but it seems that even the most professional and successful among us lose all sight of propriety when communicating in cyberspace. As I wrote:

…The topic is something that has been bothering me for quite some time, after having viewed some pretty idiotic twitter updates and blog posts from allegedly professional, busy and successful members of the business community. It doesn’t seem to matter how educated, knowledgeable or hard-working some people are; in their minds technology, unlike real life, simply does not demand a certain set of standards.

For example, why is it that we’d never purposely spell a word incorrectly in a business correspondence, personal letter or even an email, yet some of us think it’s cute (or worse, cool, as if middle-aged men should still be concerned with such things) to do so in a 140-word character status? I am not quibbling with the necessary use of abbreviations when limited to such a low word-count — I am talking about deliberately misspelling common words.

I get that for many, typing up a cutesy status update just for fun helps to blow off steam and adds a little levity to life — something we all desperately need in the age of Obama. And as I mentioned in the post, perhaps the English Major in me is being a bit too judgmental of those who are simply using social media as a way to connect with friends and family. Still, reading posts like “Getting ready to strangle mom-in-law” is a little off-putting.

Yes, I understand it probably wasn’t meant literally and that mother-in-law was most likely spared an untimely death; however,  is it really a wise idea to broadcast your in-law issues into cyberspace, a forum where nothing ever really goes away? And if your wife has already demonstrated she has no qualms about logging into your personal account on a social media site and pretending to be you, chances are she’s also checking out your twitter updates. Unless she either shares the same opinion of her mother, and/or has no problem with her husband disrespecting one of her parents, this seems like a great way to initiate an argument.

But we’re also talking about a woman who brushes off the plight of the unemployed in a terrible economy:

And in an especially egregious status update given the state of the economy, a small business owner with pressing deadlines laments about being summoned for jury duty when so many others are unemployed, implying that those “lucky” souls should be the ones inconvenienced by civic responsibility, not important people like her. Pardon me, but if you’re a busy entrepreneur during a difficult recession in which nearly 10% of Americans are out of work, I’d say a little gratitude — not to mention tact — is in order. Yes, jury duty can be a detriment to the bottom line, but creating a status update bemoaning a minor obstacle and simultaneously taking a potshot at others in retaliation is just plain rude and insensitive.

And after what I’d learned from my photographer friend’s friend, I wouldn’t be surprised if the mother-in-law status update was perfectly acceptable to her.

Growing up, my mom (like so many others) often told me to choose my friends wisely because we are judged by the company we keep; moreover, she did her best to carefully steer me away from any kids she thought might be a bad influence, since it’s so easy to succumb to peer pressure when you’re young and impressionable. However, this logic still applies in adulthood.

For example, I finally had to break away from a friend whose constant negativity and habitual doom-and-gloom attitude eventually became too much to bear. I gave it nine very long years until the sheer fatigue and depressing aftereffects of being in her company made it impossible to continue the friendship. I wish her well, yet at the same time, have zero desire to rekindle the relationship.

Is it possible this standard applies to marriages, too? Can one spouse’s personality rub off on the other’s until that person no longer seems recognizable?

Because the guy who wrote about strangling his mother-in-law — among other inane things — is not the one I recall; he’s certainly not the one I modeled a character after. And he’s definitely not the one I shared some honest, emotional phone conversations with just prior to releasing my book. But he’s for sure the “Ken” I choose to remember.

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Six Degrees of Separation: Elyse Meets Erin

My friend “Elyse Lombard” has been living in Boca Raton, along with her entire family, for almost 30 years. For at least the past 10 years, she’s been working in the family moving business as VP of Sales and Marketing, which affords her plenty of opportunities to meet all kinds of people and customers throughout South Florida. She’s also been actively involved in  both the Boca Raton and Delray Beach Chambers of Commerce for as long as I can remember, having met her in early 2001 through a mutual friend.

A mover and shaker, “Elyse” is beautiful, smart, gregarious, charming and hard-working, and her family’s business is well-known and respected in the area. For this reason, it’s often very difficult for her to attend any sort of midday networking events, as she’s typically booked with at least five moving estimates per day. It’s all she can do to keep up with her early-morning leads group meetings at the chambers of commerce — and oftentimes, she exceeds the allowable absences, although she’s never asked to leave because she’s such a great networker.

But one day in January of this year, she was able to attend a luncheon event she’d previously declined when a customer canceled their scheduled appointment. Feeling very strongly that she would bump into “Erin” at this event (a woman she’d never met before), “Elyse” contacted me on the way to the venue to obtain “Erin’s” real name, which I then shared with her.

Did I mention “Elyse” is very intuitive and quite often correct in her hunches?

Later that afternoon, she called to breathlessly inform me that her psychic premonition had been right on target. Even stranger was the way in which it all went down: they didn’t simply “bump” into each other, “Erin” actually strode right up to my friend (who’d been chatting with a few other women) specifically to introduce herself — which is normally the kind of thing good networkers do at such gatherings.

And “Elyse” — in spite of her intuitive awareness — was still quite taken aback when it took place for real. She also thought it rather odd that for someone who’d gone out of her way to initiate an introduction, “Erin” exhibited a strange unfriendliness, a noticeable  aloofness. To the best of my knowledge, she’d had no prior inkling of “Elyse’s” relationship to me, but this description coincided with the one put forth by my photographer friend’s friend — the woman who’d been unhappy with “Erin’s” professional services.

Speaking of which, soon after I hung up the phone with “Elyse”, my photographer friend called me on behalf of her friend — “Erin’s” former, dissatisfied client — to obtain “Elyse’s” phone number. Normally, I’d think nothing of it, but coming on the heels of what had just transpired at the business luncheon, I found it all very curious.

But the story doesn’t end there.

A few weeks later, “Elyse” had the good fortune of being able to attend yet another midday event (again, highly unusual for her), where she just happened to be seated diagonally across from “Erin”. She’d discovered this after greeting another mutual friend (who’d been assigned to the table directly behind her) and exclaiming in her boisterous, effervescent manner “Isn’t it great we’re both gonna be on Daria’s show!”, referring to The Liberty Belle Hour.

When “Elyse” took her seat, “Erin” (whom “Elyse” is fairly certain heard the exchange) kind of gave her a strange look. And apparently, throughout the course of the event, she kept trying to make eye contact with my friend, who kept averting her gaze. If memory serves correctly, I believe they did briefly say hello at some point.

Being the protective “older sister” she is, “Elyse” related her discomfort about the whole interaction and the thought of developing a professional association with “Erin”, but I assured her that business is business; there was no reason to feel awkward about talking to “Erin” at all. I am secure in our enduring friendship and have never been the kind of person who makes unreasonable demands like, “If you’re my friend you won’t talk to so-and-so”, or “If you’re really my friend, you’ll do this or that”. That’s not how I roll. Besides, I’ve done nothing wrong.

If anything, “Erin” should be ashamed of posing as her husband on a social media site and attempting to “trap” an innocent woman whose only “crime” was fictionalizing some real life events into a novel. I might further add that I also put myself through some pretty intense and nearly debilitating heartbreak by pretending to be thrilled when “Ken” asked me point-blank how I felt about his engagement back in 1995 — because I didn’t think it was fair to hurt a woman I didn’t even know.

Would the outcome have been different if I’d been honest with him? Well, as Maddy muses to herself in Chapter 19:

At least the reason for the change in the tone of his calls had been revealed, though Maddy couldn’t quite decipher the timeline of events. Not that it even mattered at this point. She wouldn’t dare hurt a woman she’d never met by coming clean with Ken about her real feelings, about how she still loved him deeply in spite of everything. Even if she did go out on that limb, there was no guarantee he’d return the sentiment, or assuming he did, break off his engagement to Erin to pursue a renewed relationship with her.

One other curious thing that also took place concurrently with the “Erin/Elyse” events I’ve described: another one of my friends happened to come over to my house one night, unexpectedly bearing a particular product that had been on sale at the store, thinking perhaps I could use it. This product just happens to bear the name of the person upon whom “Erin” is loosely based. Very interesting, indeed.

So 2010 certainly started out on an interesting note; funny that this all happened exactly one year after the LinkedIn incident and the Boca Raton Entrepreneur Meetup. In this town, six degrees of separation is simply a way of life.

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