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Hey LiveJournal readers- this is it. I'm saying goodbye to this format and this Blog. Although I will keep it up so anyone can go back and read my posts, I won't be using this as my main website. It has been a long time coming and I have finally caved to all of my lovely friends who begged me to get a damned site going! I built this new one myself on Squarespace. It was easy and a very enjoyable experience.
Making it my own was what really inspired me.
I have a gallery with professional photos BUT I also have a page made entirely of phone pictures! What the hell. That's how we do.
As always, thanks for reading and always supporting my work and passion.
But will you now just go to my new website? And then hire me to do your new Spring campaign? hehe.

http://www.gothamgoddessnyc.com


Bridesmaid make up tutorial

I LOVE a great big gig.
And I especially love doing weddings.
I'm gearing up for a big wedding this weekend.  I've been prepping and slowly packing for the big day.  The last thing I had to decide on was what will I do for the bridesmaids?  The bride decided on her look long ago and went for a dark eye and a pretty, fresh face with a beautiful lip color (Lipstick Queen Saint Rose and Make Up For Ever's N28 blended together).


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I am seeing a trend here.

I did another trial last week where the bride to be wanted a more colorful lip as well!  I picked out a red stain (unfortunately, it was a Make Up For Ever discontinued gloss color.  Grrrr.).  Luckily I found a comparable replacement.
Here is what she wanted:



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Pale pinks, nudes, iridescent glosses have usually been a bride's lip of choice.  And I can see why.  But this year I am seeing women making a different choice and I really like it.  There are wonderful formulas out there that will give you great color concentration and staying power without it feathering into your skin and showing up on the groom.

I edited together this 10 minute video showing you how I'm (most likely) going to do the bridesmaid's make up.
I hope you like it.




Be Well,
Shannon


Make up for tweens and teens

This past weekend I was so excited to host my first ever "MAKE UP BIRTHDAY PARTY" !
A mom contacted me about coming to her house and teach her daughter some make up artist tricks of the trade.  Her daughter wants to be a make up artist when she grows up and feels so passionate about it she wanted this to be her way of celebrating 12.  She invited a friend who is also really into make up too.  They both have their futures mapped out that includes beauty school and make up gigs.  This was reminiscent of how I was when I was their age.  How awesome would it have been for me to have a mentor?


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The girl's mother understood the make up was "play" and allowed for the over-the-top look. She also gave permission to use their image.

The girls and I had an amazing time talking about make up, techniques and trying out different looks.
Here's is what I covered in the 2 hour make up party:


  • How and what to pack in a professional make up kit for a gig. things you wouldn't even think you need! (i.e. double sided tape, safety pins, hair spray- things like that)

  • How to set up your make up table for a gig (this is helpful for lay women too. An organized vanity table is a good thing).

  • Show and tell.  I showed the girls my stuff and they showed me theirs. They had a lot of make up and brushes. Quite impressive.

  • How to clean your brushes, lash curler and make up tubes and palettes.

  • Next were rapid fire questions: how do you choose a foundation? What's this brush for?  (they had a lot of questions)

  • I then did one eye on one of the girls, giving her step by step instructions and had her do the same thing to the other eye herself.  I did this for both girls and they copied it exactly! These girls were good and their technique is developing.

This gig got me thinking that it's time I seriously offer this type of thing.  I have a 14 year old now and she benefits from my advice and help. How fun to teach other teen/tween girls!  I had a gig a couple of weeks ago with a 14 year old girl who was filming a video she was singing in.  Her mother asked if I taught basic make up as well as basic theatre make up.  I told her I absolutely could.  And I will. Her daughter is a performer but her mother does not wear make up at all and has no idea what to buy and how to put it on.  That's where I come in.

So I am putting together a Make Up 101 class.  I'm flexible with the content and focus.  Depending on the age group I can also offer how to tweeze your brows in the class.  Let me know if you'd like your daughter to participate!
My email is
GothamGoddessNYC@gmail.com
As always, thanks for reading.

Be well,
Shannon


I love that 70s vibe

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The make up and hair in American Hustle was so fabulous, so authentic, so sexy that I felt like I was 11 years old again, staring at my aunts while they got ready to go out to dance.

Authentic period make up is so important to me that if a TV show or movie fails to deliver the goods, it loses a bit of credibility with me.
My favorite show, Mad Men, gets everything right about the period except the make up.  It truly bothers me that the make up isn't all over everyone!
Red lipstick should be staining everything, pancake make up should be melting off of the ladies and how on earth does a character like Peggy Olsen know how to put on false lashes? She wouldn't.  And what about those false lashes?  Lashes back then were a strip of dense, plasticky black caterpillars, however Peggy's are wispy and light, like modern day strips.  This really makes me crazy.  But the biggest offense is the mascara.  There wasn't waterproof mascara back in the 60s.
It was in a cake form.  You would wet your brush, which resembled an eyebrow brush, and wet the black, dry pancake mascara.  I remember my mother's (and that's saying something!) and I know that a water soluble product is not waterproof.  Just like there were no Brazilian bikini waxes during Game of Thrones era, there wasn't waterproof make up in the 60s.
So American Hustle was refreshing.  The ladies were a hot mess with their shiny skin and deliberate, unblended eye liner.  The Nail Slicks talons and Aqua Net hair added to the nostalgia for me.

Hurray for the lead make up and hair people.
I'm reblogging the make up and hair story that ran in the NYTimes a couple of weeks ago.  I love seeing a modern twist on retro hair and make up and this was good.  The lip especially was great.
Sorry that NY Times won't let me embed.  Just click on the link...

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/12/26/fashion/New-Years-Eve-American-Hustle-70s-makeup-70s-hair.html?smid=pl-share


Bridal make up: book early!

Last Memorial Day Weekend, I did the make up for Christina and Rashid's Southampton wedding. Though overcast is never any bride's ideal weather, clouds diffuse light which makes photography shadowless and make up glowey. You can imagine my excitement when I found their elegant wedding featured on Brides.com. Follow the link to see her beautiful face for yourself.


If you are planning a wedding in 2014, now is the time to book your make up trials. There are a limited number of weekends in the year and make up artists book weddings early and fast. I live and work in New York City and travel to gigs all over the tri-state area.  To book a makeup or eye brow gig please email me at GothamgoddessNYC@gmail.com to discuss rates, options and availability.

Check out my work on this blog or see the lovely photos on Brides.com:

http://www.brides.com/blogs/aisle-say/2013/12/new-york-wedding-duckwalk-vineyard-petruzzo-photography.html

Be well and Happy New Year!
Shannon


Oil- your new best friend in beauty

Oil has been vilified for as long as I can remember.  Cosmetic and hair companies have warned us of the perils of oily hair and skin and to avoid the greasy residue left behind by inferior products!  To some extent this is true.  To be specific it's the types of oil that are damaging and down right dangerous for people (vaseline is petroleum based. Ew.).  But there are good oils too!  Long before it was trendy, I remember my friend who worked at the Clarins counter at Barneys got me to buy their face oil before I took a week long trip to France.  She assured me it would protect my skin and keep it from getting dehydrated on the plane. She was right.
Fast forward to today and oils for all kinds of things are trendy and for good reason!  Essential oils have amazing benefits for the skin and hair and they're better than ever.  Here's what I'm using and recommend.


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Shu Uemura's cleansing oils have been around for decades and are considered the best of the best.  I bought this enormous bottle a couple of months ago and barely a 1/4 is used.  Put 3-5 pumps in your hand and apply to DRY skin.  It loosens up dirt, oil, make up (even my waterproof mascara).  Next wet your hands with water and massage your face to emulsify the oil.  It becomes milky and rinses right off.  I'm telling you, my face never feels tight and this does not cause break outs. It is simply wonderful.

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Kiehl's Midnight Recovery Concentrate is an oil I use every night.  After I cleanse my skin, I put a dropperful of this oil on my face and neck.
It is made up of essential oils and smells amazing.  My skin is glowing every morning.
If dry, parched skin is your issue, this face oil will turn that around immediately.


Hourglass oil
Next I recommend Hourglass No. 28 Lip Treatment Oil.  Oh my god. Moist, sexy lips that smell and taste good. Not greasy.  Not gross.  Just creamy, delicious, luxurious oil for the lips.  (honestly, GREAT christmas gift that's unique and will be appreciated.)  Try it at Sephora or anywhere they sell Hourglass.

Weleda
Weleda's Rosemary Hair Oil is an excellent conditioner and treats itchy, flaky and red scalp.  A couple of drops massaged into the hair before you shampoo does the trick for a healthier scalp.  I bought my bottle at Dichter's Pharmacy in Inwood, New York City (they carry a lot of the line).

And what about after you're done blow drying your hair and your hair looks dry and fried?  A put a couple of drops of Argan oil in the palms of my hand and smooth over my hair.  It is so much better for your hair than silicone (like in Frizz-ease) and leaves the hair truly moisturized and shiny.  I buy mine from a local woman, Mariko Hashimoto, who sells it through her skincare business
Maliliko.  Her stuff is amazing.

Lastly, a shout out to my sister Megan for teaching me about pulling coconut oil.  Imagine coconut oil to treat cavities and bad gums?  It is true- coconut oil is natures detoxifier.  Just like oil in your car cleans the engine and keeps impurities out of the motor, coconut oil draws toxins and bacteria out of the gum tissue creating a fresh and clean mouth and an overall healthier body.  You can google this practice and see what's been written about it.  I can tell you it's origins is in
Ayurvedic medicine and been around for thousands of years and can be done with sesame or olive oils, but coconut oil taste good and seems less icky.  Take a teaspoon into your mouth and relax with it.  Take a show, watch the news- take your time.  Let it pass through your teeth gently.  And then spit it out.  Brush.

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Have any beauty secrets that incorporates oil?  Let's hear them.
-SJP



Shu Uemura Eyelash Curler- a love story

Every make up artist remembers when they bought their first Shu Uemura eyelash curler.
Sit around the fire, children, to hear a tale about the old days: when terrible things used to happen to innocent eyelashes and women everywhere recoiled from hideous pinching and crimping of the La Cross brand curler!  Sisters of the 80s and 90s, we all remember how Maybelline and La Cross were the only show in town (especially for this small town girl) and their eye lash curlers were torture devices to say the least.
The way those curlers worked was it had a piece of foam rubber (basically) on the bottom and a curved metal dull blade would come down and crimp the lashes.  Your eye lashes would come out at a 90 degree angle looking like this:

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Does that ring a bell?
Is that why you haven't purchased, let alone used an eye lash curler since 1985?  I don't blame you.
A matter of fact, I had stopped using them until 1996- the year I started working in the cosmetics department at Barneys New York.

I was a brand new make up artist, working for photographer Julie Brimberg at the time.  I loved our work together but I could tell that I didn't know enough about make up techniques and the different, professional brands artists used so I decided to get a part time "day" job at the place that had the best reputation for make up artists: Barneys at 17th Street in Chelsea, NYC. This was the flagship store and had a team of experienced make up artists who took the time to train me.  Barneys was excellent with trainings and I have to say we were an educated bunch.  I am grateful for all the mentors who taught me exactly what I needed to know to be a great artist.
I had access to all the new and unheard of make up and beauty brands at that time.
For instance, Barneys was the first to carry Make Up For Ever, NARS, Kiehl's, Philosophy, ZIHR, FACE Stockholm, Stila, Poppy, Fresh, Vincent Longo, and Shu Uemura.
Shu was a Japanese make up artist whose products were a cult hit and a favorite of make artists everywhere, namely Kevin Aucoin.
At the time, anytime Kevin was interviewed in Vogue, Bazaar or Allure (remember kiddos, there was no internet back then and make up artists depended on word of mouth, magazines and newspapers to discover the latest and greatest beauty trends) he would gush about the Shu Uemura eyelash curler for it's ability to curl the lash without crimping it.  What made it different?  A silicone pad, which gave a gentler curve.  It absorbed some of the pressure from pressing against it, resulting in a swoop instead of a crunch.  It was revolutionary (to make up artists and beauty junkies) and was a huge seller.

Shu
Another Japanese brand, Shiseido, also made the same eyelash curler, using the same factory Shu did, thereby giving competition.  However, it didn't matter, Shu Uemura had locked itself into make up artist history with inventing it and perhaps being a make up artist himself, gave it a certain credibility.
At $20.00 a pop (the price still has not gone up since then), it was a lot to swallow at the time (a La Cross eye lash curler was under $5.00!), but because Barneys was the only place to get it, make up artists and tourists flocked to 17th St. (and Madison Ave.) to pick theirs up. (The Soho Shu Uemura store opened later and has subsequently closed.  Shu is only available in the U.S. by internet).

I have the same Shu Uemura curler I bought in 1996.  It is indestructible and incredibly well-made.  It changed everything because the white foam curlers of 20 years ago have faded and now even La Cross couldn't ignore the progress and updated their curler too.  I'm sure the old design still exists somewhere out there, but slowly they will be a thing of the past like maxi pads with belts.

Today I ordered my second Shu Uemura eye lash curler.  This is their latest design.  It's shorter in length for eyes that are smaller and a little sunken in.  A regular sized curler can't fit if the socket of the eye is in the way- which happens.  I've wanted a curler a bit smaller and now Shu made one.  I had read about it months ago in a magazine (I still read magazines) and now Shu finally launched it on their site.  And here it is:

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Sweet.
No sides, no limits.  The same silicone pad with a new and improved design.  I will let you know what I think about it when it arrives.

I look back on those early Barneys years as an important rite of passage.  I think every make up artist should cut their teeth in retail and learn from the old dogs, who have been doing make up for decades.

I consider myself one of those old dogs now.  And I love teaching and mentoring those who want to learn.

Here I am during that time in my life.  This was taken at my apartment on W. 106th St. in 1996.


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-Shannon

My favorite items RIGHT NOW.

For the past two months, I have been particularly thrilled with several products that have come into my life and I'd love to tell you about them.  I have my normal, pop culture obsessions like Breaking Bad, Candy Crush and my brand new kick-ass Nikes.  But the list below is of all the new beauty products I have recently discovered and love or have been using for a while now and at this moment in time, want to pay homage to.

#1: Laura Mercier Tinted Moisturizer SPF 20 Illuminating
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I'm a big fan of her tinted moisturizers, but this one is new with an added boost for your sallow and dull-looking skin.  I use it alone for my moisture, sun protection and light coverage.  But it is also great for adding depth under a heavier foundation.  Great for Fall and Winter.  Wear it under your full coverage foundation for all the benefits stated above with the added bonus of a glow!

#2: Living Proof Prime Style Extender

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They named this company right.  So far, everything I've tried from this haircare company has proven itself to be marvelous (and I don't EVER say that word).  This is a light weight cream that you put in your hair while damp.  It doesn't weigh down the hair or cause break outs.  I'll then blow my hair dry, that's it, and this stuff works as, how should I say it? It's like what starch does for dress shirts, this stuff does for your hair.  It keeps your style longer.  My blown out hair looks incredible, longer.  It's awesome.  It de-frizzes  and repels dust and dirt too.  The hair conditioner is great as well.

#3 Kevin Aucoin The Creamy Glow Blush in Tansoleil
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The name implies summer, but this warm coral is pretty and perky all year round.  I love cream blushes- especially without ANY frost or reflection.  This makes you look like you're glowing.  Apply after foundation, before powder (if you use any).  His stuff is tricky to find so simply google his name and do yourself a favor and order this!  Looks good on all skin colors.

#4 Gillette Venus & Olay razors

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Once you get over the fact that the two little soap bars looks like a labia majora, you will love what they do for your skin and your shaving experience.  I have NOT cut myself once since using these razors and it is awesome for travel because shaving cream is not necessary. I do use a cream at home for added glide, but it isn't like you have to.  These razors come with FIVE blades for precision, and two creamy bars of soap and both ends for viscosity.  Love these.

#5 Make Up For Ever NEW Smoky Extravagant Mascara
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I LOVE my Diorshow Black waterproof mascara and nothing will ever change my mind.  But...this mascara is scary wonderful.  There is a moment of shock after you apply it- your lashes get HUGE.
Great brush, amazing formula, buildable lashes and unscented.  It doesn't come in waterproof, but the formula is incredibly stable and doesn't clump while applying.  A great addition to the MUFE family.

#6 Make Up For Ever High Definition Powder
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This made me a believer that a powder can go on and not affect the color of your skin.  I use this on every color of skin and it disappears.  It controls shine, sets make up and truly creates a gorgeous finished surface.  It was created for TV and Film to be undetectable under HD camera's unforgiving lens.  I use it with all kinds of products.  I brush it on with a powder brush or pat on with a sponge for stubborn shine.


And there you have it- my list of products that have my high esteem at the moment!
Tell me what you're loving RIGHT NOW.  I want to know.

Be Well,
Shannon
Gotham Goddess

Make up news from Gotham Goddess

A quick post about trends I've been seeing from New York fashion week (I am not physically there, I'm just reading the Blogs).
Most noticeably I have been seeing orange, matte lipstick.

Orange lips for fall
Just last week I used a bright orange lipstick on a BRIDE!  Yes, a bride!  And it looked fresh and lovely.
I suggest Revlon's Orange Flip for the timid yet willing to try type.  Maybe that's you?

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It's a small investment for a terrific color and Revlon's lipsticks are legendary.
Do this with it: smear it on the bottom lip (no liner!) only and then blend with your finger or brush, rub lips together.  Voila! A clean, bright stain for the lip.
There is great color saturation, but not the full-on cream consistency.

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I took this picture after the trial make up for Madeline's wedding make up.  She brought in a picture which showed a model wearing a juicy, orange mouth!
So here she is wearing Revlon's Orange Flip as a stain with Make Up For Ever's Super Lip Gloss #22 over it.
Anyone can wear this color.  Give it a try for Fall.

I was so psyched to discover that Marc Jacob's new make up line is at Sephora.
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I have been reading all of the strategic shout outs placed in every fashion magazine this summer and wondered how good could it possibly be? Pretty damn good, I'll say!

But first I tried a fabulous new mattifying liquid powder foundation from Hourglass which made my skin feel and look amazing.  It is a medium-heavy coverage, for sure, but for fall and winter weather, it looks clean and fresh and provides great effects- not aging at all.

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I have on two foundation colors: Natural & Beige
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And then I dove into those gorgeous colors at the Marc Jacob's display!
Here is my take away:
I have NEVER seen anything more waterproof on the eye than his gel pencil.  I used his Gel Crayon in deep navy inside my bottom lash line and then lined above my top lashes and smudged it.  I love navy liner and shadow for Fall and am wearing it and testing everyone's version whenever I can.
Once it was applied and dried (in about 5 seconds), it never moved again!  My eyes water when ever I line the inside of them, to prevent
the liner from washing away, I like waterproof pencils.  Make Up For Ever has had my heart in this category but until yesterday, Marc stole it.
The liner stayed. No matter how much my eyes watered.  Even the tester line I put on the back of my hand stayed on!  And I rubbed it- didn't even smudge.
And the color was dark, saturated with a great color payoff.  This will be the pencil I use on brides in the future (and perhaps all clients).
The lipstick, shadow, blush and mascara were good too.  I liked the blush color I tried- an orangey-saffron color.  Modern, for sure.
The gloss color was beautiful (not pictured) but it was minty and made my lips tingle (on purpose, mind you) which I didn't like (Buxom does this to their glosses too! Annoying.).  But all in all, it's a strong debut.

I bought a dove gray nail polish (which I love because it dries super fast, with a great quality finish and went on like a dream).
And a lovely chic coral neutral lipstick.  Excellent "gel" formula and feel. (I'm wearing it in these pictures).

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I realize iPhone pictures (especially selfies) do not give great results.  But trust me.  This make up is n i c e.
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I bought Baby Jane nail polish and Understudy lipstick. The case has a cool magnet to keep the lipstick cap on!

I love the start of a new season!  New beginnings and new Fall colors to play with.  Do yourself a favor- make a date with yourself and head into the nearest Sephora.  Take the time to do your make up and try those brands and formulas you normally wouldn't try, either because it's too expensive or it seems out of your comfort zone.  Let me know what you like out there.  I want to hear your voices!

Until next time!
Be Well,
Shannon
Gotham Goddess

Bridal Make Up

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This is me doing Christina's make up on her wedding day.

If you're planning a wedding, read on.
If you just like to vicariously live through a bride-to-be, then by all means, keep reading.
I have been doing bridal make up since 1998 and have seen many trends with this particular genre.
Although the 1990s had a lot of dark red, ruby lips on brides, at this point in time I do not recommend it.
What this means is women who are getting married should take the time to consider what makes sense for their wedding.

Consider these factors when deciding your concept for make up:

  • The time of day you're getting married

  • Is it indoors or outdoors

  • Time of year

  • The amount of kissing, talking, eating and smiling you will be doing (a lot)

  • Is your complexion oily or dry

  • The lens, flash and filter the photographer will be using

  • Your willingness to touch up during the day and evening

  • Changing your wedding make up to reception make up

  • Budget

Yes, I discuss all of those things and more when I work with brides.  And you would be surprised how many brides don't give a lot of thought to this.  Why is it important to think of all these things?
The practical answer is PICTURES.
Your wedding day will be captured forever on film (or digital- you know what I mean) and these common sense details will improve your photos.
The emotional answer is CONFIDENCE.
When you put the time and attention into your look and appearance, you will feel amazing the whole day and will totally focus on your groom, not yourself.  As a bride, you put so much attention into every detail so let someone take care of you the day of your wedding.
You have chosen the invitations and guest list with great care, tasted 8 different cakes, foods and wines for the menu, visited venues for your reception, listened to tapes of bands or read bios of DJs, focused on your dress since you were a girl not to mention your bridesmaids' dresses and your mother's dress!  And there's the rehearsal dinner, traveling guests, transportation and directions - it is an endless list of things brides-to-be have to take care of!
So, look at it this way: your dress, hair and make up is the only thing specifically for you.  No one else.  The planning for these three things affects only one person- the bride.  So put some thought into it.  In my experience, brides put their look in order of importance and usually goes like this-
dress, hair/veil, jewelry, nails and then make up.
So naturally, my work is cut out for me.

I focus the bride's attention on the whole concept.  The bride puts so much attention into what her brides wear on their body but not much in their make up.
Why is this important?  Just like a guest shouldn't wear white to a wedding, a bridesmaid shouldn't upstage the bride.
Think about it.
The bride should set the tone for how the entire ensemble should look.  And the bridesmaids shouldn't have a better dress or more dramatic make up than the bride.  And I help articulate this to the bride.  I offer packages to brides where I can do the whole wedding party's make up therefor controlling the overall concept and image of the wedding.
It works out beautifully.


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I did everyone's make up in this photo except for one person.
The bride wore deep mauves and false lashes and a soft pink mouth.  The bridesmaids wore a softer variation of this concept -
but all wearing the exact same make up!  Same eye, cheek and lip.  Complimenting the bride, not upstaging her.
My advice to brides is always do a test run with your team.  Keep going until you feel good about the make up.


Meghan
Meghan took three tries during the trial before she felt like herself in her bridal make up.
A bride's wedding portrait is her lasting, physical memory of her wedding day and the make up should be clean, beautiful and reflect her inner beauty and confidence.

Lindsay
Radiant Lindsay

Christina.  A sense of calm and professionalism is paramount for the bride to feel relaxed.
Christina.  A sense of calm and professionalism from the beauty team is paramount so the bride can relax.


Christina looking confident and gorgeous.

Many brides wear body make up as well.
This eases stress over unexpected tan lines, spots and redness on the body.



Remember that on her wedding day, a lot of close contact is normal for brides (think romance).
Professional make up won't transfer on the clothes or the groom's lips!  This photo was taken outside on an overcast day.
Something to consider when collaborating with a make up artist.
He or she must be able to adjust the make up in the moment to suit the weather!
Planning for a make up artist in your wedding budget is well worth the money.  As you can see, the results do last a lifetime.


Be well
Shannon Park
Gotham Goddess



Common sense make up

What's happened to make up?
I have always gravitated to make up for the fantasy, pretend, pageantry of it all.  It's a total indulgent fantasy.  But the part where real women wear it and live in it on a day to day basis is what drives me as a make up artist.
I'm interested in two things: first, the make up should never piss off the woman wearing it.  I want to love what I'm wearing and I want my clients to love what they're wearing too!  Who wants to hate their foundation?  Bummer.
Second, the shift a woman feels deep within herself when she feels beautiful.  That feeling can come from something simple like mascara or lip gloss.  It might not take much.  Other times, I've seen women totally escape into the glamorous affects of false lashes or a very dark, smokey eye.  I get it, I do.  It's this deep energetic reaction to the way we internalize our own attractiveness that is very important to me.
I want my clients to feel that energetic shift from BLAH to WOW!

But why is make up getting highjacked by Kardashian-induced hysteria over daily, way-too-thick make up?  This is not realistic and leaves little wiggle room to experiment.  Once you have on a bucket of make up, daily, just for lunch with your mom- what's left to do with it?  You have basically created a high-maintenance mask that people expect and you can't ever feel truly comfortable unless all that stuff is in place.

I approach make up the way I approach any accessory: how am I feeling today? What do I feel like today?  Kind of like a menu.
Gold jewelry? No, plastic.  Or none at all.  Glasses or contacts? Hair curly or blow out or pony tail?  Shorts or skirt?  Nail polish or none?  SPANX or sweat pants?
Make up?  Yes.  Sure.
And then I open my make up drawer and look at my options, look at the weather and decide how high maintenance should I go?  Am I feeling a little insecure because I started my period and feel gross?  Well, then, I'm going to accentuate my eyes.  Or put on bronzer to substitute the lack of color on my face.
This is how I've been since I was a tween.


_DSC0004
My vanity table in my bedroom.  It's my sacred space; my alter.

Every day is a chance to decide what mood-altering device will I choose today?  And by device I mean the cosmetic, superficial adornments we dress our shell that houses the soul in.  And this is why it rocks to be a girl.
Girls, Ladies, Women- don't be intimidated by what you see on TV, in movies or on the internet.
Embrace your look and play with it often.  Don't get set in your ways.  Try new stuff.
And let me help you find those new set of tricks that makes being a girl and wearing make up so awesome.
Introducing my tutorials!
The first two videos, I filmed myself tweezing my brows and then putting on simple make up for a slightly made up eye.
I hope they help you!  I hope they inspire you.


This first one is eyebrow tweezing and shaping.



This second one is easy make up and the products I use.


Keep in touch.

Tinted Lip balms: My Favorite 5

Before the category of tinted lip balm was even created, Bonne Bell already had one on the market with their iconic Dr. Pepper Lip Smacker.  At the time, I'm sure they didn't plan or even know that young elementary school girls figured out the closest thing they were going to get to a lipstick was this sheer burgundy lip gloss.
I wore the brand from elementary school through college and beyond because it really was the perfect amount of color and had the emollient properties that we all have grown addicted to.  It was the first and continues to be a great option when shopping for an inexpensive sheer lip color.

The first! Dr. Pepper Lip Smacker from Bonne Bell

What's the appeal of tinted lip balms?  It's the moisture and protection of a lip balm with just a hint of color of a lipstick.  Some are matte, some are glossy and some are in between.
A lip with an enhanced pigment goes with that no-make-up-face or a nice compliment to a full-face of make up.  It's a very versatile make up bag staple.

In last week's Manhattan Times I was asked to name the five make up products I think every women should have.  I'd like to expand on one of the items which is, you've guessed it, tinted lip balm.
I use these a lot and they've come a long way- varying in color and formulas.

In no particular order, let's start with Fresh Sugar Lip Treatment with SPF 15

Fresh Sugar Lip Balm
Not only does this taste like sugar, it has SPF!  Lips are particularly susceptible to sunburn (and wind burn) and if you're an outdoorsy type of gal, then you should be wearing SPF on your lips (not to mention those lines we start getting around the lips- which become worse with sun exposure!).  This will protect your lips while giving a little bit of fresh color.  This product is less shiny and glossy than others in this category, so that makes it appealing for people who hate to look like they're wearing anything at all on their lips.

That NYC apothecary gone global beauty and skin care giant, Kiehl's, took one of their most beloved products, their Lip Balm, and made it even better- added SPF and two "hue" options.

Kiehl"s

This is the oposite of the Fresh Sugar balm because it does provide high shine.  Due to the oil content of the product, you will notice it doesn't stay on for a long time, so you'll have to reapply.  But, so what?  It's a fabulous product and really does look and feel terrific.

I LOVE Laura Mercier products!  She is a make up artist who understands women's lives and creates make up products that are luxe and look beautiful on the face.  Her HydraTint has the SPF, deliciously creamy shea butter as her main ingredient and gorgeous, rich pigments one would expect from a line like hers.

Laura Mercier
If you want more color saturation, then Laura Mercier is the product for you.  Her HydraTints are the best of lip treatments and lipsticks: real lip nourishment and really gorgeous color.  6 to be exact.
As an added bonus, may I include her amazing Lip Silk?  Please indulge me.

Lip Silk
Colorless, odorless and loaded with fruit acids, this lip treatment is recommended morning and night, but I use it all day long.  It exfoliates the lip skin and helps improve the appearance of the surface of the lips and diminish fine lines around the lip area.  LOVE.

So anyway, as I was saying...
One day, I was buying a bottle of wine at a local Washington Height's wine shop, when I was distracted by the beautiful lip color on the woman at the register.  I asked what is that gorgeous red lipstick you're wearing?  She said, "It's not a lipstick, it's a tinted lip balm from Burt's Bees.  It's really intense which is why I prefer it."  Indeed!

Burt"s Bees
And so I want to add it to this list.  I have a much more sheer color from this line and I love it because like the Sugar lip balm, it isn't shiny.  It's more matte and the colors are very natural looking.  However, the darker colors, like Red Dahlia, give lips a richer color than the lighter more natural hues.  At $7.00 a tube, it's reasonable too.

And finally, may I suggest to you to go out and buy the Bonne Bell Dr. Pepper Lip Smacker!  It finishes the list because it is great looking on all skin tones, it costs $1.99 and smells like one of your favorite pops.
So there you go, ladies.  Even if you want to remain natural and cringe at lipsticks, there are nourishing, lovely products out there that will take care of your lips while providing a little extra something!


Be Well!
Shannon
Gotham Goddess

Red Lipstick. Tis the season.

Nothing says kiss me under the mistletoe like a pair of gorgeous red lips!
The second my fork hits my empty dessert plate at Thanksgiving dinner, I am thinking about Christmas cheer.
Well, if you know me that is not entirely true.  Whereas I might suck a little at decorating up the home, sending out cards and every time I hear Dean Martin's boozy voice slur, "Rudolph!" at the opening of that song I scream, "Shut that crap off!",  I am totally on board for Christmas cheer when it comes to the fashion and make up you get to wear to parties!
Sparkle, glitter, velvets and satins!  And of course the unmistakable red lipstick.

My friends, NOW is the time to seize the moment and try on a red lipstick.  Your friends and family will forgive you for wearing this bright and obvious lip color just ONCE a year and that time is now.
Just yesterday at the Chanel counter, there were at least 15 different shades of red!
Blue/red, brown/red, pink/red, orange/red, coral/red, fushia/red, wine/red.  Matte, glossy, soft or creamy- there is a lot to choose from.
And that's really good.  One-size-fits-all does not work when it comes to red lipstick.  You have to try them on.  It is a must.
Also, a large selection and many choices is a good thing because
a.) our skin color has everything to do with which red looks right.
And b.) red lipsticks in particular can hurt.  There is something about the dye that totally freaks my lips out.
I can tell I am wearing a red lipstick, blindfolded, just because of how it feels.  So not every formula is compatible for me.  I will endure a red lipstick because they are so amazing, but I have to say they tend to burn me and feel gritty after a couple of hours.  Is this just me?

But yesterday, I put on this gorgeous blue/red Chanel lipstick called
Pirate.  It is the darling of beauty editors because it has been in all of the fashion magazines this Fall as the it red.
Admittedly, I am a sucker for glamorous and rich pictures of make up and I get seduced easily.  So once I saw the editorials and the ads- forget it.
I had to see for myself what this Pirate color was all about.
So I sought it out.
As a red, it is very pretty.  But a lot of French reds are.  And that is my advice- go for the Parisians when it comes to red: Make Up For Ever, Dior, YSL, Givenchy.
Sure, Revlon has their classic colors:
Cherries In The Snow, Love That Red and their matte version Really Red.
And Mac is known for
Russian Red (Madonna's signature color!) and their first Viva Glam- a matte blue/red, which everyone wore in 1993.
So hats off to them.  And I have worn them all!

But Pirate knocked my socks off.
My friends agreed that the color was gorgeous.  But what I felt wearing it was comfort.
First off, it is completely odor-free.  This was surprising because Chanel usually smells like roses.  So, this lipstick was unscented- a BIG plus for me.
And then it was long lasting without out caking in the corners of my mouth, it didn't feather (which means it didn't seep into the skin around the lips) and the color stayed fresh and true, as if I had just put it on.  Totally unheard of with red lipsticks.
A perfect holiday red or anytime red.  If you've got the ovaries.


Photo on 2012-12-02 at 16.54 #3
Wearing Chanel's Pirate.  Picture taken 2 hours after application.

Make Up Bag Makeover

What are you doing with that Cover Girl blush from college?
What color was that eyeshadow before you dropped it on the bathroom floor and it crumbled into a dust?
Why are you holding onto that nub you call an eye pencil?
And why are those make up brushes dirty, brittle and frayed?

Has 2012 just caught up with your make up bag?  Maybe the reverse should happen: your make up bag has to catch up to 2012.
So many breakthroughs have happened since that hasty shopping excursion you did before your friend's wedding.
The pigments are so much more flattering, the foundations are actually good for your skin and mascara doesn't break your eyelashes in half anymore (yes, waterproof mascara was a big risk at one time).  Make up is so much better than it used to be that the stores are flooded with brands because everyone makes a line of cosmetics.
I walk into Sephora and it's like new brands pop out of nowhere!  Tarte, Hourglass, Jane Iredale, Too Faced.  WOW.
And what about formulas and the confusing buzz words used today?
Foundations have added new categories: dewy, plumping, matte, light enhancing, High Definition, spray flash, tinted moisturizers, BB Creams & primers.
I can see why you cower with that old make up bag.  It's overwhelming.

So you know what I have decided to do about it?  You've heard of a makeover, right?
I do those.
I also do a make up bag makeover.
What I do is help you figure out what needs to go and what can stay in that old bag.  Who knows?  Maybe you should get a new bag too.
I show you my make up bag (it's really big) and suggest what I think would work for you.
I listen to you.  I hear how your day goes, what your lifestyle is like, what you can and can't afford.  I wear make up and know how this stuff works.  Nothing I recommend to you hasn't passed my approval.
I know what it's like:

  • to get caught in the rain
  • step outside in 100% humidity
  • take a bite of sandwich with a slippery,ruby red lipstick
  • have eyeshadow crease
  • to put make up on quickly and/or with no mirror or proper light
  • to put on gloss with a brush, sponge or finger. Without a mirror. In a moving train or car.
  • get a huge zit in a weird place like on your lip or neck and trying to cover it up with the wrong color
  • can't see in the mirror anymore
(this is a recent thing and I now know how hard it is to apply eyeshadow without a magnifying mirror).

So, as a fellow sister who wears make up and runs around with kids and all that other stuff life is made of - I can confidently bring forward my own personal Make Up Consumer Reports, if I may. 
Tested, tried, failed or succeeded- I tell you all about it.
And then- we will go shopping!
Some clients take a list I make and order online (I sometimes email them links).  Other times they brave the stores (they are warriors) and get the items themselves.
Some people are just really comfortable in a make up store like Sephora, Blue Mercury or Ulta.  Super brave if they step into Saks, Macy's or Bloomindales.
I have also shopped for people.  They tell me what they want, I know exactly where to get it and I go for them.
But most fun of all?  Shopping together.
A field trip.
Testing and trying stuff on, I show the client the lay of the land, like a tourist in a strange new world, I teach her the how's and where's.

So that is it.  A make up bag makeover.  Lady, maybe it's time for an intervention.  

Why make up?

The evolution of a girl who loves make up.

When I was growing up I remember the large, heavy glass bottle that my mother's Oil of Olay came in.  I remember the black cap and the dusty rose smell of the pink fluid.  When my mom moved out when I was 10, everything that was hers went with her.  Her make up, maxi pads, bras, Oil of Olay...all things feminine.  All things mom.  It is a visceral sense memory.

My sister, who was just 2 years older than I, wasn't really into make up or hair.  But me?  I was obsessed.  I poured over her Seventeen magazine, staring at the fresh beauty of Phoebe Cates and all of the other models of the time that looked so flawless in their sweater dresses and ruffled blouses.  I remember the Bonne Bell, Ultima II and Clinique make up ads, wishing I had access to some make up.  I had no resources at all.  I was 11 years old and wanted so badly to be near a woman.
Eventually, I found somebody that was obsessed with all that stuff.  It was my mother's youngest sister, my Aunt Jamie.  My mother would take me down to Pittsburgh during holidays to be with her family and we'd stay at my Grandma's little house and her four other kids- my Aunt Jamie being the youngest and closest to my age.
She was a young teenager and loved make up and she bought the good kind - Estee Lauder and Clinique.  She wore Nail Slicks nail polish in a deep reddish brown on her very long, pointy nails and would take a half an hour to blow out her hair into the perfect feathered do.  She was my fashion and make up icon.  She had all the goods too!  Make up, perfume and nail polish?  She had it all.  I would go through her stuff while she was out on dates and practice putting it on.  Sometimes, she would catch me in her make up drawer and yell at me and tell me to stay out, but I wouldn't.  I kept going back into her stuff every time I visited.  I clearly remember hearing black artists on her clock radio like The Commodores and Earth, Wind and Fire (something else I was exposed to when I'd go to Pittsburgh!) while she stood in front of the bathroom mirror patiently apply Estee Lauder midnight/navy blue liquid liner to the top and the bottom lash line of her almond eyes- and do it quite expertly, I might add.
It was my only access to watching someone put on make up and I loved watching and learning.
Until I started spending my own money on make up- that was around the age of 13 or 14, her foundation, powder, blush, mascara and lipstick was my only access to it.  I give my Aunt Jamie all of the credit for influencing me the most.  Watching women put on make up is how we as women learn.  Practicing on ourselves is how we get good at it.

So why do I encourage women to try a little make up?

It's forces us to stop and take a moment to look at ourselves.  Touch our face and see into our eyes.  It is a form of self adoration and if you refrain from self criticism while doing it, it can be very therapeutic and relaxing.  The act of applying creams to the skin, color to the cheeks, sheen to the lips can actually be fun.  Being a woman is fun.  We get to dress up and be fabulous, if we so choose.  We can choose from a Scarlet O'Hara velvet ball gown or an Annie Hall vest and tie.  We can wear a silk nightgown or cotton boy shorts and a tank top to bed.  We can wear 4 inch heels and completely change an outfit - like that.
We can also choose to wear nude, pink or red lipstick.  Or not.
It's fine if you are a woman and don't want to buy into the "beauty myth".  But I don't see it like that.
I am not buying into some patriarchal mandate about female beauty.  I am not wearing make up because I feel I am ugly without it.
I wear make up when I feel like it- like jewelry, high heels, lingerie and a spray tan- I wear those things because I can.  Because it elevates and briefly changes my reality.  I am aware of this heightened reality and enjoy it.
It is fun to be a woman.  I love seeing women have fun with it and I love helping women figure it all out.  As a make up artist, one of the pleasures of what I do is encouraging women to try a little make up on and teaching them how to do it so they feel awesome.
The irony in all of this is I have taught my mother how to do her own make up.  And she loves it.  It's time for us to be together and I pass on to her the ability to look in the mirror and see all the beauty she possesses.  No thanks to Oil of Olay, by the way, it's completely beauty within her soul.  As it always is and should be.  I can only do so much.

Affordable pampering and beauty

It comes right down to the fact that ever since I was a kid, I have loved dress up and make up.  I became a make up artist in the early 1990s and always enjoyed the work.  Since having children, the work is not like it was and I am fine with that.  Now, my make up work is with the women in my community and doing it for a decreased rate or barter.  This brings even more happiness to me.
I will be bringing the inexpensive make over to my neighborhood yoga studio.
The average women, who normally cannot spend a $100.00 (or more) on getting her eyes brows or make up done can with me in a couple of weeks at the Holiday Market.  
I will be posting a schedule and prices soon.


Bread and Yoga
Holiday Market
Saturdays, December 3rd, 10th & 17th
1:00-7:00pm

Yoga butt

March means that Spring is right around the corner and before you can say out like a lamb, summer and all her cellulite hiding days will be here! This year will be different.  I will not be hiding my belly, thighs and back fat come summer.   I am determined at the age of forty two to finally look half way decent in summer clothing.  This is for me.  For my mid-life crisis.  For my ennui and all its shades of depression.  This is so I can thoroughly enjoy New Haven's Pepe's pizza and not feel shame and self loathing after inhaling two pies.  If I exercise and become fit- just TEN pounds people- it will change my brain.  I have done this before and I know the pay off.  My friends Margaret and Marcela and I are embarking on a yoga and pilates throw down.  Three to four times a week we will take classes at Bread and Yoga. Together we are going to have fun, ride the wave of frustration and get back on the horse!  With my sister-wives beside me, I can do this.  It doesn't matter that Marcela is a rock star and is a Yogi herself and can do EVERYTHING in a class.  No matter that Margaret is a former gymnast and has the body of a runner and has shown time and time again that nothing slows her down or is too demanding.  Peshaw!  I mock their acumen!  I have more arrogance in my pinky than they do combined!  I will Charlie Sheen this, people.  (Winning!)
This morning I got my ass kicked in pilates.  I have no abdominal muscles to speak of - I have had too many kids and did too few kegels.  But there is hope.  I show up.  I try.  I go back.
I promise that when I achieve my "yoga butt" I will post a picture of it! 
If anyone reading this lives in upper Manhattan and would like to join us in our "throw down" and you have tiger blood, please post and I will invite you to our next class.  Come on witches and warlocks!  This is going to be epic.


A little corner of a collage a friend did of me.  Ah...youth!

I need a lecture from my dad

 I've been moping around the house today.  I'm cleaning and putting away and going over in my mind how our family will stretch this month's paycheck until next month's paycheck.  I was talking to myself, spinning further down a spiral of doom.  I was standing at my dresser and picked up a picture of me and my dad from years and years ago that I tuck between the mirror and the frame.  It had fallen down and I stared at it for a moment and then slid it back where it belonged and thought, "What would dad say about my financial predicament?"
And then I imagined his disappointed voice over the phone, lecturing me about responsibility and ethics.  Using no-no words like can't and shouldn't.  The very words that turn your ears off.  The last thing I ever wanted when he was alive was his judgement- and he had plenty for me.
Dad had very specific rules everybody must do.  Here is a varied sample:
Pay every bill on time
Go to the dentist regularly
Pay their credit card bill in full every month
Your word is your contract
Wear a hat when its cold outside
You don't marry an addict, abuser or an unemployed person.

These were simple rules.  I hear them ring in my head and I can hear his lectures about them when I break one of them.  When he was alive, I would intentionally tell him I fucked up so I could feel worse about myself via his lectures.  It was some sort of self abuse.
With him being dead I have to abuse myself now.
But that's no fun.  I want my dad to be disappointed in me.  How can I exist without his shame and judgement?
Oh lord, what is wrong with me?  I was set free of all of this last year!  I don't have to accept this as my internal monologue with myself.
But I go back and forth.  Between two mind sets.  The old one I grew up with and the new one I taught myself as an adult.
One is unhealthy and familiar, the other is positive and exciting.
Human existence is a continuous series of mind fuck after mind fuck.

Dad and me in 1985, sitting in his study.

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  • Mon, 13:53: Going to a friend's house for lattes and baguette.
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Just let her cry

 My seven year old daughter cried the whole way on our walk home tonight.  I picked her up at Bread and Yoga, a lovely studio here in Inwood where she takes yoga and art after school.  When all of a sudden something deep inside just had to come out:
She was devastated that her friends Liliana and Jonah were not, in fact, coming to our home for dinner after all.  My friend had asked me to watch her kids for several hours which included dinner at our house.  This changed, however, when her husband's flight got canceled (ice) and he being around to watch them now. This news was too much for Jane.  She values her friends visits to our house very highly since they are so rare during the school months.
And there we were at 5:45pm tonight walking up Park Terrace West - mother standing and watching her little girl sit on a huge ice mound sorrowfully wailing.  Mouth open wide, guttural keening, arms limp at her side- total surrender to her feelings.

The day before, our walk home from the same place at the same time was much different.  It was spitting ice and I was cold and had no idea what I was going to feed them later on and was very impatient.  
Jane, the seven year old, was climbing said ice mound with a paper scroll in one hand and an umbrella in the other.  If you are unsure of what I am talking about, in NYC, along the sides of streets and avenues, in between the parked cars and the sidewalks, are huge mounds of hardened snow left there from days and days of snow.  They accumulate in size from piled up snow from shoveling and plowing and then made hard by sleet and below freezing temperatures.   A total kid magnet.
"Sweetie, you need your arms to balance.  Please be careful!"
She stomped on, climbing higher as the crunchy ice gave way under her Lands' End boots.
She noticed the icy glaze over the parked cars windows.  I could feel the "WOW!" in her energy immediately.
She made a wobbly B line for a car, arm outstretched.  Realizing her hand wasn't free she said impatiently, "Mom put this in my backpack." as she handed me the scroll.  I sighed in a snippy way and tightly said, "Come on Jane!"
I unzipped her backpack and put the scroll in and then she carefully went over the peak of the icy snow mound.   I waited on the side walk, arms crossed.
"Jane, please, what are you doing? We have to get home!"
She reached the parked car and placed her hand on the driver's side window, feeling the bumpy icing.  She slowly moved her hand left to right.
"Mom!  I have to experience this!" she said.
And her perfect expression of what life is about and how most everything is new if you open your eyes left me feeling so proud.
I felt proud that she said that.  And proud that she was brave to climb a dirty, icy snow mound to feel something she had never felt before.

And now it was 24 hours later and this same child is sad and crying on this very same mound
and all I could do was think to myself,
"Jane, I guess you have to experience this too."
And so she did.
For 15 more minutes.




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How to create inspiration

 I watched the documentary film Exit Through the Gift Shop (ETGS) Sunday night.  It's about the street artist Banksy and the entire street art movement here in the U.S. and in Europe.  I have been a fan of Banksy for years after seeing something in NY Magazine about how a Banksy was spotted here in NYC and then was quickly destroyed by another street art movement, however this one was ANTI street art, known as The Splasher, whereby they go around and basically dump a can of paint over the art.  Very depressing.  
The movie reminded me of my own little brush with street art back when I was in college.  The year was 1990 and I was living in Cambridge, MA. and going to school in Boston.  A girlfriend of mine was close friends with
Shepard Fairey who was at RISD at the time.  He sent her pages and pages of black and white square stickers with Andre the Giant's image on them with the directive to stick them EVERYWHERE.  So she did.  And she got all of her friends involved too.  We would get sheets of these things and put them on ketchup bottles, bathroom stalls, in the T, on the buses, in clubs, bars and on the music stands at the Boston Conservatory.  We did this for years.  And when we ran out of stickers, Shepard sent more.  I never knew how far reaching it was until every fucking place I went around Boston as well as other places (NYC, Charleston, S.C, Ft. Myers, FL) had Andre stickers everywhere too!  It was thrilling and I felt a part of this.


OBEY




So anyway, this movie really inspired my husband Jeff and me.  It is a really good time in our home because Jeff has been painting again.  He gave up oil painting and all of his art 10 years ago when he did the responsible thing and went out and got a better paying job to support his family.  After years of struggling with how to balance all of the things that are important  to him, he has reached a level of ease within his job and inside the home.  He picked up the paint brush last Fall and has been going non stop ever since.  The movie gave him the energy to think about art, especially his art, in a whole new way.  He is even thinking about what kind of street art would he do?  What does he want to say?  I on the other hand was struck by the film itself.  I am in the process of making a documentary movie about Jesus Christ Superstar and got pretty far with it until I hit a wall.  This movie (ETGS) was a good dose of reality that showed me a.) it can take a long time to make a movie- and that's ok.  and b.) each and every one of works differently.  
I have to accept the way I work, think and get things done and sort of accept my limited mind and distracted brain.  Maybe I have ADD.  Or I could be touched a little, you know, like off.  And things are felt in a heat of the moment and I burn my energy brightly and quickly.  Which leaves me retreating and recharging.  So frustrating.  For me and for my Producers.

I love having this creative energy in my home.  Jeff's painting, Jane is singing, Zuzu is always dancing and I do whatever it is I do.  All I know is I belong somewhere, in some tribe and it may just be a band of artists or a gang of misfits.  Hell, that's basically what my family is anyway!
What I need to harness is the creative energy.  Instead of feeding off of it when it burns brightly, I must find a way to access it when I want to.  I can't be at it's mercy.  All my life I have been at the mercy of my emotions and feelings which has propelled me to HERE.  Thank God.  But it isn't consistent and I have to find out how to make it a discipline.  UGH, there's that word again.  First thing I should take care of is my repulsion of the word.



Until next time!  Be well...
SJP

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  • Tue, 19:41: My chest feels tight after watching a compelling 9/11 film. I've always believed it was an inside job. Proof is staggering. Blog later.

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Notes on a dignified death

Note to self:  I want to be sure I am very clear about what kind of death I want and make sure I am surrounded by loving, gentle family members and caregivers at that time.

What a difference one month makes.
My sisters and I were just here, celebrating Thanksgiving with our 86 yer old dad and his wife/partner of 30 years Laurie.  He wasn't thriving but he was plugging along.  He was in chronic pain and kept stressing every morning how awful it was to be able to wake up and have to exist in his hell another day.  His hell was Alzheimer's and painful Leukemia.
Shortly after we left to go back to our lives in New York, my dad visited his Neurologist and asked him point blank, "Doc?  What is going to kill me?"  The doctor answered with a statement that any Alzheimer's patient wants to hear, "Oh, probably an infection like a UTI or Pneumonia."
Sure enough, eleven days later, dad had a UTI and Pneumonia and was in the hospital with a 104 degree temperature.
He never went home after that.
His wife Laurie thinks he willed this illness and I totally agree.
In my eyes, Laurie is the real hero here.  She endured years of his declining health with love and patience and finally last week had the excruciating job of saying no to feeding tubes and chest tubes and anything else that would keep him alive or prolong it.
Better than anyone, Laurie understood how dad needed to die.  With dignity and as little humiliation as possible.
So after it was clear that he was not getting well and this was, in his mind, his way of getting out before the Alzheimer's killed him, my dad was transferred to a free standing hospice center to die a beautiful death.

I never saw anyone die before and sometimes I am shaken by how intense it is.  My dad can't talk anymore and can barely open his eyes.  But he reacts to conversation by furrowing his brow or gently smiling.  He will raise his brows when we speak of his brother or look stoic and still when we discuss our lives.  My sisters are here in Ft. Myers with me - we flew down Christmas day, and sometimes we laugh so loud, it sounds like a party in his room!  Often times we weep or sob because like a tidal wave we get crushed by the reality that he is never coming home again.  We are comforted knowing this is what he wanted and it is here, in this moment of letting go and surrendering to it- he is in charge and will truly be free of pain and free from the prison of his body.
Yesterday morning, Laurie put on La Boheme on the CD player and dad had such a passionate reaction to it that all of us were weeping.  The combination of the beautiful music, knowing it was dad's favorite, listening to the soaring soprano who was dying of TB and then of her heart broken beau at her untimely death crying, "Mimi!  Mimi!" left us all speechless and raw.
Dad was moving his mouth to the arias and a tear streamed into the tidal pool right outside his tear duct, which Laurie pressed away with her Kleenex.  I thought, "What does this music mean to him now?  Does it remind him of every time he saw La Boheme?  Does it remind him of the times he sang it when he was a singer?  Is he thinking of somebody specific or is he just invested in the music and singing and is once again moved to tears by it's glorious sound?"  Would he miss this?  Could he ever leave his true first love, music? 

Ten days since he has eaten a thing and days since he has drank drops of water from a straw, he works hard to process this passage and tidy up the loose ends in his brain.  I see how important this work is- the work of dying!  I respect this moment and honor him as he lets go and says goodbye to all the things he loves: Laurie, his daughters Vanessa, Megan and me, his youngest, Shannon.
His siblings Connie, Jo and Norman, his dog Chloe and cat Phoebe and of course his Grandchildren Win, Maggie, Zuzu, Jane and Tessa.  And let's not forget the other things you need to say goodbye to when you die- life's perks: wine, music, Cleveland Indians and Browns (honestly, though, who would miss them?), Europe, museums, a good cop show, long walks, laughter and the four seasons.  My dad will miss it all and yet miss none of it because he is honestly ready to go.
I am so grateful that's the case and it isn't the opposite.

I will fly out tomorrow and go home to New York and what sucks is I will have to say goodbye to him knowing it will be the last time.  Ever.
He is peacefully sleeping and feeling no pain whatsoever.  He won't feel my touch or even hear my voice, but I will say what I have been saying the whole time I have been down here, "Goodnight sweet prince.  See you later."

He doesn't know what or who I am

As I was reaching into my drawer to find an eyelash curler, of all things, I came across an old cassette tape.
In my father's handwriting it said, "Shannon's songs".
It was a recording of me during a recital in college that I recorded for him and sent down to Florida.
Somehow I am in possession of the tape.
I stared at his very familiar handwriting that I have admired all my life, but what really hit me, very deep inside, was that at that moment in time, when he got the tape in the mail, he must have been so proud of me.
I was doing what he did when he was a young man.  I was studying music at a conservatory and going through the recital and juries, just like he did a long time ago.  But he must have had one little glimmer of hope and excitement in him when he heard that tape back then.  He must have felt that I would be different than him. 
I would actually make it.  He really thought I would be on Broadway and charm the pants off of audiences and be really successful at something that he himself had no confidence to pursue.  Instead, he fell back on his gifts as a designer and carpenter and designed and built sets for theatre many years before he got into teaching English.  It was, to him, his biggest failure.
And now, I wonder, if I am not his biggest failure.
And this hurts so much.
As I seek out and talk to schools specializing in ballet about possible middle school options for my crazy talented daughter, I wonder how would it feel if she turned out just like me?
I didn't want what everyone thought I wanted.  And just because things come easily for you, doesn't mean it is the obvious choice for you.
I am far happier today than I was 20 years ago, but my father never grasped that.
I don't think he ever really knew who I was because who I was was a singing, dancing and acting phenom.
What I was was an angry, sometimes violent and out of control girl.  And that is who he knew too.
And he will never know me now.
Ever.

I tried to tell him what I am.  The things I love and enjoy.  The people I know and share with.  The volunteering, the activism, the raising of my girls, the work I do on myself each and every god damned day just to feel okay.
But it never penetrated.
He would usually revert back to old ticks and memories and play the tape in his head of his lovely, fiery and talented daughter who he put all his hopes and dreams into.  The girl who "couldn't be told a damned thing."  The one who was a "dreamer not a doer."
My one wish with him was that before he died he would know who I am.
And now another dream won't come true.


The gift of goodbye

My eyes have been wet for hours.
I am in perpetual mourning and feel the dazed effects of shock.
I called my 86 year old father down in Florida today to convince my step mother to bring him up North one last time to say goodbye.  See the Autumn.  Hug his grandchildren.  Feel the love.
I have known that my father was in steep decline since last December when he went into the hospital for a procedure on his prostate.  He became disoriented on the the anesthesia and caught an untreatable case of pneumonia. 
My sisters and I flew down in a panic thinking this was it.  What it was was the beginning of the end for him. 
He is weak in constitution and does not handle the elements well.  Gets sick easily.
So, he came out of that one ok.  We circled him with love and care and perked him up.  Flew back home and got on with our lives...

So this is it for real.  My step mum drops a little bomb on my village with the, "He was diagnosed with Alzheimers 2 year ago...I didn't believe it, I was in denial...(so I told no one)" 
2 years. 
All of his memories fading away in those two years and I had no idea.  Instead I thought I had the luxury of time and chose to process some very intense feelings about the guy.  I was licking my wounds and feeling resentful- which I don't regret.  I was getting sick from his toxic energy that he would fling at me whenever he could.  I had to pull back.  Focus on why I am good.  Why I deserve my life and the things that I enjoy.  I was understanding me and who I was.  What I am.  I definitely cut strings. 
But then a year and a half ago I decided to heal and try again with him because I could feel he was slipping.  Could I tell he had Alzheimers?  Was it instictive that my dad was not going to last into his 90s?  So I visited a Shaman and got all of my black, negative energy towards him pulled out of my shockra.  It's true- anger and bitterness only poisins you, not the ones you are angry with.
It worked.  I was able to visit him last December during that scare without one panic attack.  I had beautiful closure with him.
I apologized for not ever visiting him and he forgave me like parents only can do. 
Without  a hint of resentment he said, "Oh, that's alright, dear. You have a life with your own family.  I understand."
There is something so sweet about him.  He really has such a tender and kind way about him.
I was reminded in that simple gesture of forgiveness why I loved him so much.

When my mother left my father in 1978, I was 10.  She wanted to take my sister and me with her, but my father pleaded with her to leave us with him.  The story goes that he said, "I will die without them."
She relented and embarked on a career path and rarely looked back.
Dad made sure there were 2 hot meals on the table everyday and taught me the lesson that families need to eat together and share about their day.  Dad encouraged me to sing and took me for my first ever voice lessons and drove me to them every Tuesday after school.  He drove me to my auditions too.  Came to every performance.  He took me rollerskating and quietly read his book while disco blasted from the speakers and I attempted shoot the duck.  He taught me how to drive a stick shift and let me watch Benny Hill with him.  I remember seeing The Blue Lagoon, Coal Miner's Daughter, Amadeus and Raiders of the Lost Arc with my dad. 
He always had time to talk and listen and told me I was the funniest story teller he had ever met.  He taught me that women are beautiful (through obvious, unashamed ogling of them) and said I should never be ashamed of my curves.
He loved women.  On the day I started my period when I was 14, he happily said, "Well I am so glad!  We should throw a party for you!"
He loved having daughters and never, ever made innappropriate comments about wishing he had a son.
He preached about why Government was evil, God does not exist and why I need to prepare for another Depression.
He stood by my side when I was a rock n roll freak with 5 inch high hair and held my hand walking down the street until I was 16.

I have this simple gift laid before me.
I get to fly down to Florida and be with him and say bye.
He said on the phone today that he stares out the window everyday and thinks about passing over to another plane.
There are no athiests in foxholes.



I feel truly blessed at times.
I live in a semi remote neighborhood in Manhattan called Inwood- the very top of the island.  It is the greenest part of the island and I have the good fortune to have an apartment right on a park, facing South.  I can lie on my big bed and stare out the window and watch dogs play or listen to the birds and i feel like I am not in NYC.  When this apartment lined up for us, I knew there was such a thing as the law of attraction because I had been wanting this very apartment for years.  Our building is one of the few apartment buildings in NYC that is directly on a park, with no road or side walk between you and the park.  I hear no street noise or pedestrian traffic.  I am in the country.

Beyond that amazing luxury, I also happen to have lovely neighbors who I cherish.  Friends that I have known quite a while whose children are growing up with mine.  I am also fortunate enough to have a neighborhood school that my kids love and I love too and where some of these neighborhood kids go to too.  How could this have happened here?  In NYC?  How did I hit the jackpot in this chaotic place?
I'll tell you how.  I created it in my head first and then created it in my reality next.
I had my first child and craved a tribe.  I lived in a different 'hood and felt so invisible and alone.
When we moved, I was completely emerged in a depression.  I was lonely and sad about motherhood.  My friends pre baby had not had kids yet and my world was lost to them.
So I thought about what I wanted and how badly I wanted people who were like me and parented with the same mindfulness.
It was a slow start because I was constitutionally weak and had no confidence.
But then i got pregnant with my second daughter and fortunately for me a pregnant belly was a good ice breaker.
slowly, I made friends up here.  Eventually, I found the right blend of people to talk and laugh and think out loud with. 
Years later, I have a huge tribe of people I call friends and a home I feel alive and centered in.

I am at a cross roads about what to imagine next.
Do I dive back into my make up career?  Do I continue with my doula work?  Should I study Shamanism and focus on my healing?
Or should I be available and present for my girls and their lives another year while I volunteer again at their school?
What shall I create for myself next?

You never know who you're going to run into in my park.  Friends, old clients, frenemies- it's possible.
Today I ran into my Shaman.
She has helped me heal in a very holistic and complete way and it was lovely touching base with her and filling her in with what was up.
We sat in the grass and watched the picnickers and the children creating theater under a large, swaying tree.
Hours rolled by and it was time for dinner and heading home. 
Our talk was mystical and deep and comforting.
We share so many unique ideas and values. 
And she came into my life because I moved up here in Inwood and asked the universe for a healer who would accept me and help me.

Life is good when where you live is heaven on earth.





Isham Park, NYC

I have no idea why it is so huge.  That's okay- it's nice to look at.





1 week out. How has it gone?

It has gone very well.
I still feel great and I haven't returned to previous eating habits.  Although I haven't made a fresh green juice all week, I have been eating a lot of fresh raw vegetables and have not had eggs, sugar, caffeine and a minimal amount of dairy and wheat/flour.
I can't believe I did 10 days and I am a little amazed I did it that long, but it was worth it.  I went to my last and final colonic last Thursday.  I woke up feeling the worst I had felt since breaking the detox.  It was rainy and cold and my head was stuffy and I felt tired.
I am impressed with my lady who does these things: no shit can hide from her.
For a half an hour I was clean and dumping nothing out.  She kept saying, "I know you have stuff up there, way up high at the beginning of your colon."  I asked, "How do you know?"  she said "I know."
She dumped a gallon of water in my colon and started to vigorously massage my abdomen up on my upper left side- where the colon/large intestine begins.  And sure enough, a lot of waste was dislodged and I happily relieved it.
Afterward, I jumped up from the table feeling amazing.
All of my previous symptoms disappeared and I felt wonderful for the rest of the day.
I can't believe colonics work that well and that fast.  I am a believer.

But there is a dark side.
I think the noticeable and strange presence of mind I have is that I am thinking about dying.  I don't think I am dying now, I am just thinking about the end.  The moment of death or going before you're ready.  What is that like?
I am thinking about nothingness, the big black void that swallows us up after we die.
When I was a lonely little atheist kid, I used to make myself think about really scary scenarios (this is similar to my previous post where I mention I tend to punish myself to feel pain and misery) and I would often think about what death was like and what it would be like to not exist anymore and thus was the beginning of my anxiety attacks.  I learned how to control my thoughts and I am very good at stopping the horrible thoughts that I used to welcome and turn over and over in my mind.
But now, I am allowing it to happen again and I actually had an anxiety attack on the A train Thursday.  I really freaked a little.  I was so scared of not existing anymore.
Thankfully, because I was a little lonely atheist kid, I am really good at soothing myself and calming myself down.  I am my own mother.

So these are things I will be exploring.  I will discuss this all with my Homeopath because I am totally in a state.
But I am not upset or scared that I am here at this place of obsessive thoughts again because it is all part of my deeper healing.
Like an onion I peel away each layer to discover my pure self.
The work I have to do on myself is never over.  I always seek divine clarity. 
My goal is to be a wise old crone someday.
My goal is to be queen witch of Inwood.


Day 10 and beyond...

I am back after a little break.  I went through many feelings Saturday morning while I downed my green juice.
I talked with my husband all morning in the kitchen while our girls watched TV.
I felt ready to break the detox.  10 days felt like enough.  I knew I was ready because it was affecting my mood and outlook on life to the point of desperation and despair.  I was not in the right head space, but I had learned a lot and gotten a lot out of this cleanse.
  • I no longer snore
  • or get up in the middle of the night to pee
  • I am still off of caffeine and do not crash in midday
  • I have no reaction to the weather/pollen
  • no more headaches
  • amazing energy
  • clear thinking
  • renewed faith is everything!
So 10 pounds lighter I move forward cautiously, reintroducing foods slowly and yet not too ready to eat everything.  I don't know if I want red meat or eggs or milk.  I am fine without coffee actually.  I feel great! 
Mothers Day was wonderful.  We went up to my oldest sister's home and celebrated family.
Everything is new again and since I have broken so many rituals, after the cleanse you sort of reorganize and decide which rituals you want and don't want.  It makes life open and flexible- and I want that!  So I haven't gone back to old habits because everything was broken 2 weeks ago.
I do have my last colonic Thursday.  I will enjoy that one because what I miss most since ending the cleanse is my constant crapping.


DAY 9

I didn't quit!
I made it through, I persevered!
I ranted and raved and bitched on here, to my family, to myself.  I let it out!
And the next day, I was all better.  I felt good and I was hopeful the whole day would be ok.  I was just shooting for ok.
I went for my colonic and weighed myself before the procedure and I weighed 133lbs!  YAY!
The funny thing is, I weighed myself after the colonic and I weighed 131lbs. !!!!!
You mean, even though I haven't had solid food for a week, I have had one colonic and one enema I still have 2 pounds of shit inside of my colon?  Oh my god.  That is good to know.
I really felt so good yesterday.  I am now in the part of the detox where my body has adjusted to the calories, the drinks, the regimen. 
I bounced home from the appointment with a new bag of veggies and made an Italian flavored soup: fennel, tomato, leek, garlic, broccoli and basil.  And I liked it.
I got all fancy and put on my make up and went out with friends from my college to see a friend of ours in Rock of Ages on Broadway and had the best time.  I never felt hungry or tired or tempted.  Everything clicked and I released fears into the air.  I knew I'd be ok.

Today is going great too.  I got home at 1:00am and slept until 6:30am and feel good.  Amazing.  Never would have happened in the past.
It doesn't mean I won't grab a nap today, but my mind feels clear and I don't have my usual nausea and headache when I under sleep.
I'm so happy I didn't quit.
And I'm so happy for all of the wonderful people in my life.


DAY 7

Thank you everyone for your encouraging and uplifting IMs and emails. 
I need them because I think I want to quit tomorrow.
I had the worst day.  First let me describe what I think is going on with my body.  I believe I am in my "healing crisis" which is when my cells have dumped the stored toxins into my bloodstream and now they are going into my organs.  A healing crisis is a normal byproduct of any detox.  You feel fluish, sick and very tired and sometimes achy.  With this regimen I can help my organs get rid of these toxins through my skin, urine and poop.  I already have done many things to help this process along which is detailed in my earlier posts.
And it was doable.  Livable.  Possible even.
But today I feel awful.
I felt tired, cold and dizzy all day.  I eventually slept for 2 1/2 hours and woke up like a bear.  I had slept during the time I usually prep my soup which I need for dinner or I am screwed.
I had nothing.  And I was pissed.
So I woke up hungry and upset, not rested and replenished.  And that's when I felt ready to give up.
And I was doing well today in terms of attitude.
I was speaking with a dear friend, who also happens to be my Homeopath, about this process and felt truly grounded.  I talked about the spiritual process of releasing old garbage and welcoming in new changes and good, healthy things into my life.  I talked to her about why I decided to do this.  It reaffirmed my commitment.
That was at 9:30 this morning.
By dinner it's all too much and I resent the discipline.  Shocker.  (I hate discipline because I've never had it.)
This detox unnerves me at every angle!  And because I didn't feel great today, it made it worse- like talking about finances the other day.  Every discomfort is magnified times 100.
So I said to my husband, "That's it!  8 day detox and I'm done!"
I am going for my 2nd colonic tomorrow and I will get support and advice from her.
Then I will go to a healthfood store called The Westerly on 53rd and 8th and get a green juice and go home.  It is then I will assess my future.
I will decide tomorrow if I am continuing on with this detox.

Sorry folks.  I do not adjust to change well at all.  I am doing my best.  I am trying to do this.  It gets bleak.  Why is everything so fucking intense for me?
I hope clarity and happiness are mine tomorrow.
Peace.

DAY 6

I think we are ruled by our tongues.
Why do I think this?  Because look at me!  I am nourished.  I am not hungry.  I feel good. I am sleeping and pooping well!  Everything is going great but it is my tongue that is causing me problems.  We Americans can eat foods that satisfy the needs of our taste buds and then immediately feel horrible.  Bloated, acid reflux, gas, irritable bowels - name it!  We suffer for our food.  I am so guilty of this.
Eating pizza is one of my favorite foods, but it makes me really bloated, sleepy and gassy.  I actually crash a little from the high of chewing it it.
I am a slave to my mouth- the experience of taste, texture and chewing are the reasons why so many of us are fat!
It isn't because we're hungry.  It's because we love the way it feels and tastes in our mouth.  Like little babies on the breast, we are orally tactile.
I know this today because I wasn't hungry at all.  I was satisfied with everything I drank- I was not vulnerable and I felt very good too.
The opposite of how I feel any given day when I am not on this detox.
And yet!  I want more!  I want the taste, texture and to bite into my food.  It is primal.
This is my little discovery of how deep it goes.  It isn't just about being hungry or feeling full or anything else than our fucking tongues over power every other organ on or in our bodies.  Yes, even that one too.
Is this obvious to all of you?
Well it wasn't to me until now.  I thought oral pleasure (sorry) may be part of it, but I thought it also had to do with stuffing feelings, avoiding difficult topics in our lives, past resentments.  But ultimately, at the top of the pyramid is our tongue!  And she rules us all!

As I said, it was a good day.  Daughter # 1 is still sick and I toiled away doing odd jobs while she slept or watched Hairspray on HBO.
I found a way to really enjoy the Berry drink, yet again!  Dilute it further and add a lot of lemon.  It tastes like pink lemonade now.  And there are rituals starting for me on this detox I look forward to- like juicing and making fresh vegetable soups.
And boy, I am in my kitchen a lot.
That sucks.
And time creeps by so slowly.
What's the rush?  I don't know.  I guess everything will be perfect when I'm done.
Marcela says, "It's the journey not the destination."  Right-o!
Be here now.
Mantra, shmantra, I want all of the things I never really ate anyway!!
Top 5 things I thought I'd miss, but don't:
  1. coffee
  2. ice cream
  3. chocolate
  4. cereal
  5. milk

Top 5 things I crave, which surprises me:
  1. buffalo wings
  2. nachos
  3. tacos
  4. sloppy joes
  5. burgers

Ewww.  That list is really gross but it's honest.  And I know that as soon as I would eat it, I'd feel awful.  Which is why I am on this thing to begin with (among other reasons).  This process sucks.
But so do all things that are difficult and sometimes painful that have high rewards:
  1. childbirth
  2. climbing a mountain
  3. running a marathon
  4. finishing a doctorate
  5. building something from scratch
And I am in the process of rebuilding my life from scratch.

Day 5

Hey, is this font size okay?
Reading on a black background has its hardships so I am trying to make it easy on the eyes.

I couldn't have gotten through today without Marcela.  She was so helpful and really put my mind at ease.  I am accepting my reaction to this as normal even though I feel like a wuss.  I am following it to the T, but my attitude can really bring me down.
Advice for those who are curious in trying a detox- while on the detox don't discuss serious issues with your spouse.
I was feeling very good this morning.  I made my green tea, drank my berry drink and got my 5 year old ready for school.  As an aside, Jeff slept in after a long heinous night of caring for our 9 year old who puked OVER both sides of her bunk bed (we cleaned it up at 2:00am) and then subsequently puked every hour until dawn.  Poor baby.  My husband and daughter were wiped out all day.
Anyway, my energy was good, my jeans felt comfortable for a change and I had a positive attitude- this was good!
Then in mid-morning we started talking money and finances and it really got intense and stressful and it affected my physical feeling.  It was then I realized that normally I would walk out of the room and pour a cup of coffee or grab something to eat or prep for a meal- some distraction to deal with reality.  I used food as a distraction.  And I really felt it during this serious talk about our home finances and budget.
I had nowhere to run.
So the rest of the morning dragged on and I felt defeated by my hopeless hunger and the impossibility of this goal.
I asked my husband to go grocery shopping because I cannot do it.
And I went into the kitchen and started making my soup: red cabbage, onion, leeks, carrots,garlic, broccoli, kale, swiss chard, sweet potato and collard greens.  I kept the spices simple this time.  I then juiced my second drink and this time made a suicidal concoction of watercress, green beans, spinach, carrots, collards and kale.  It was so bitter.  But I have strange suffer fetish where I deeply feel that I deserve to suffer to feel what real discomfort is like and I will do these things to punish myself.  Terrible, right?
Once I was driving back to NYC from Western PA after my girlfriend's funeral and I had to kinda pee before I left for the 5 hour trip.  Instead of taking care of myself, I held it the whole way.
I was sad and deeply upset by the death of my friend I decided to suffer for the whole ride.  I almost pulled over on the side of 95 right before the GWB because I just could not hold it any longer.  But I didn't stop and I could hold it.  And I proved that I can take it.
So I drank the disgusting juice and felt proud that I did.
But still.  I was lost.
What if I quit?  Who cares?
I called Marcela, my good friend who has done this many times.  I needed a mentor.  Just like I reread the detox book yesterday, I now needed to phone a friend.  I am so glad I did.
Her words of wisdom rang true for me and she validated every hurdle in this process so that I didn't feel so alone.
What resonated, among many things, was that after the fast is over, the food you crave during the detox?  Not so appetizing or satisfying after the detox when you can eat again.  So it's a head game!  My mind is making me think I want all of that food while my body actually wants the vegetables and good nutrition.  Ah-ha!  So post detox, according to Marcela, you really crave veggies because your body has, for lack of a better word, muscle memory.  This really made sense and helped my jealousy of all those chewers! (you know who you are!)
It's like being in a desert and seeing an oasis, a mirage.
I am hallucinating and fantasizing about burgers, lasagna, cheese and bagette, guacamole, pizza, salads and Chipotle Cafe!
But what makes me feel good is what I am doing right now.
I actually do feel quite good!

I took my 5 year old to ballet and did not step foot in the gourmet markets below the studio.  Instead I read and had nice personal time.  I got home and my soup was perfect.  Absolutely delicious!
This made my day.

Lessons learned.
Now I am off for my salt bath.

DAY 4

Feeling good!
Went to bed last night starving and woke up fine.  No hunger pains at all so I think my body is adjusting to the 400 or so calories a day I take in. 

I made an appointment with some random spa I found online for what is called a mineral/herbal body wrap.  This detox calls for all methods of detoxification which includes colonics, enemas, lymphatic massage, dry brush scrubbing of the skin, saunas, salt baths and body wraps.  This is great for me because I love a good spa treatment.  I went to shangri-la day spa  on w. 72nd St. because the buzz was good on City Search and the prices were good!  And they had an immediate appointment open for Sunday morning.
http://www.shangri-ladayspa.com/
The place was weird in that it was the lady's apartment, but she had made it tranquil and peaceful and it had a home-spun vibe.  The woman was Tibetan and had lovely tapestries and decorations from India and a shrine to the Dalai Lama.  The place was really clean too.

The body wrap consisted of , first, a dry brush of my skin.  On my naked body.  This woman had no fears or pretense about what had to be done.  She rolled down my towel as I lay on the table and brushed my chest, belly, legs and arms.  Flip.  Back, legs, arms.  Usually spas are beyond careful not to ever see you naked so I was surprised by how matter of fact she was about how nakedness was normal and required for this treatment.

Next, she went to her kitchen and got the towels for the wrap out of, what I imagine, a huge cauldron filled with boiling water, Chinese herbs and essential oils.  she said to me, "You said you were doing detox so I made it extra strong."  Cool!  Bring it on!
She place plastic sheets on the table (just so you know we are in the dark with just one candle flickering in the corner) and then pulls on a pair of heavy duty rubber gloves and brings out the towels from a pot on the floor and places the folded hot towels onto the table and unwraps them.  Two huge ones in all laid steaming on the table and she instructed me to sit back on the table so she can wrap me up.  She picked up the side of the towel and tucked under my far leg and then did the other side.
It smelled wonderful and felt so warm and good.  She swaddled me like a baby and then wrapped the plastic sheets around me and then three heavy blankets.  She asked if I was cozy and I purred "yessss" so she left me to sweat and relax.
It was heaven.
And I had an epiphony while lying there that this is why I will live to be 100.  Taking care and getting pampered really does something for your body and soul.  It is indulgent and incredibly gratuitous in these times, but absolutely essential for well-being and stress reduction and management.  I could feel myself go to a place in my head that was spiritual and ambiguous yet very peaceful.  Maybe I was meditating.
I wasn't sleeping, but I was in an heightened state of mind.
The woman came back ever 10 minutes to see if I was okay and then offered to massage me for 30 minutes for an addition $20.00.
I said yeah! and got a glorious rub down and foot massage.
This woman said something sweet during the massage.  She said, "I have had the same prices for 10 years because if you're expensive people won't come and get treatments.  If people don't get treatments, how can you heal the world?"
Right.
And I feel healed.
My energy has been good and the cravings were manageable today.
I reread parts of the detox book later today for inspiration and I am glad I did!
It helps remind me that all of my feelings are normal.  It's about finding the balance and tuning in to your body to find out when it needs nutrients.  I see clearly how disconnected my husband is- he isn't mindful at all because his ritual and habits haven't been erased.
I have to slow down because if I don't I can be blind-sighted with severe hunger.  I have to be mindful every moment of how my body is doing and am I feeling nourished.  The book's testimonials were very helpful today and it felt as though I turned a corner.
Tomorrow may be different.



Day 3

It has been one hell of a roller coaster today.  One minute I am high, hopeful and psyched to be doing these great things for my body!  I am happy and positive about this entire experience.  Then, I crash.  Hard.  I feel like there is no way out of this but forward.  And that is exactly how I felt while giving birth.  And that is exactly why I stopped at 2 kids.  I really despise being out of control or not knowing an outcome or which way something may play out.  I do like a certain amount of predictability because then I know how it is going to be!  You know?
I do these things because I like testing my outer limits and this is a great way to see what I am made of.
And by the way, I love childbirth analogies.
It has helped me get through so many difficult times to remember the strength and perseverance it took to give birth.
And today was no different.
I am glad it is Saturday and that my husband is home and i can rely on him for support and help.  And he was/is wonderful.
He was interested in what I needed to do and drank the veggies drinks with me.  And on top of that he worked around the house like crazy!
So amazing.
So in the morning I was really up.  Around 10:30am I did my first ever enema.  And it was a coffee enema at that.  I had to boil organic coffee for 15 minutes, cool it down and then stick a tube in my ass and flush the coffee up in there.
WHOAH!
I got so high from the caffeine and felt awesome for hours.
The enema was not bad at all and it may, in fact, have been my favorite part of the day.
The crash came when we all took a nice walk down to our farmer's market at around noon.  I was looking for whatever seasonal green veggies they might have right now.  And of course they didn't because it is too early.
So I am strolling past the turkey sausage samples and the fresh sea food and usually on Saturdays at the farmer's market I am planning dinner in my head and buying yummy stuff for later.
So this hit me like a black, lead-weighted cloud.
I grew hungry and sad and felt what's the use?
Even though my pants felt looser and my husband said I look sexy and "clearer", it couldn't lift me out of my nostalgia for food.
Last Wednesday's dinner, a chicken cordon bleu panini, was a year away.
What was it like to taste nutty and fruity cheese?
Or savory sausage and a fresh farm egg? 
My husband remained strong and supportive and it got me through. 
But this is really hard.
Could it be I am lonely without meals?
Does food make me happy?
Does this enjoyment sometimes make me over indulge which thereby made me overweight?
Yes, yes and yes.

The first half of the day is easier than the second.
So I have to figure out how to make this easier at dinner time.

Third day done.
One day at a time.

Day 2

I feel I will be coming here a lot during the day to write about this process.
I need to write about it because it is weird to not chew.  I know I am not the first to do a diet detox, but this is big for me.

I slept really well lastnight and woke up without feeling too bad.
I made a cup of green tea and stared at the wall until I felt more awake- it was hard without the potent shot of strong coffee that I am used to.
I then drank down the "green" drink with distilled water.  OH!  I never told you that I have to drink distilled water during this.  Tap water has a lot of chemicals and to drink distilled it really gives your body a rest from processing chemicals.  And it is very good- clean tasting, in fact.
the walk to school was fine.  I felt spacey and weird.
When I got home I got organized!  Usually, and this is an old habit, I do a list of chores before I feed myself.  Then by 11:30am I am scarfing down eggs, sausage and toast.  Or I hold off until a proper lunch and the same thing: I eat it really fast.
With this detox it is imperative to put your nutritional needs first.
You can't not fortify yourself or you will crash and burn- almost like what it was like when I was pregnant.  But when I was pregnant I was putting the baby's needs first.  Today, I put my needs first.

I used for the first time my brand new beautiful juicer!
And it was amazing and the juice tasted like LIFE itself!  Amazing flavors I never cared to notice before.
The juice was:
1 apple
1 carrot
3 stalks of celery
1 cucumber
4 leaves of kale

And that was breakfast!
I had a big burst of pure energy and cleaned the living room etc.
Then I got hungry again.  My metabolism is ripping through this program so I have to be ready to keep drinking what I am allowed like tea, water, "green" drink, berry powder drink and veggie broth.
I reluctantly mixed up a berry drink- which I loath.  But this time I strained it and it was SO much better.  So that saved me.  I felt my energy and hope come back.  I can do this- just keep the water and nutrients coming.  I have to be on top of this.  It is a new rhythm I must get used to and i find it is becoming very zen.  The cutting of the veggies, the care of the juicer and the straining of the hideous gritty powder drinks- all of it has a peaceful rhythm to it.
So back in the kitchen I was and I started to assemble veggies for my soup tonight and put it in the slow cooker.  I am gonna try Indian flavors tonight so it will have curry, tamarind, cumin and coriander in the broth.
I also heated up left over broth from last night and drank that.  It was even better than last night- it really became so flavorful.  The cooked veggies from that soup got put in the blender and pureed thin- like baby food.  I slowly ate it.  SLOWLY, people!  I was so relaxed and aware of my needs.  And because I was being really mindful, I didn't even finish it.  I was feeling full and satisfied.
It had the consistency of a creamed/pureed broccoli soup.  It was wonderful. 
I finished with an enzyme capsule and iced herbal tea.

Before my shower I am supposed to dry brush my skin with a natural fiber brush- which, BTW, feels really good.
Your skin glows and looks new.
Off to the shower I went feeling really okay.
One day at a time.
I will be open to this new experience.
I welcome the new lessons about myself I am bound to learn and I am grateful for the bounty of the earth.
I am having an affair with veggies.  They are my new love!

I now have a meeting at my daughter's school and then it's a rush down to the Upper West Side to ballet.
I'm gonna hit up Fairway for some items I have blown through like onion, celery and I want to find seaweed or kelp to add to my soups.
If you are curious what I am doing, here is the link to the website.  This is for clarity- this is not an advertisement.
www.mvdietdetox.com

Thank you for reading!  check back tonight to see how the rest of my day went.  If I get to the Blog...if not, see you tomorrow.


DAY 1

So I made it through day 1.
It was a lot harder than I expected because I had a shitty attitude this morning.
I wanted the coffee.
I wanted an egg sandwich.
But I drank my green juice and took my enzymes and went to my colonic.  That in itself was inspiring because I never knew how much poop stays trapped in your bowels!  But there I was, lying on my back with a steady stream of water going into my ass via a small tube and out came tons of muck that must have been in there for a long time.  How old is that poop anyway?  From childhood?
When did my body stop eliminating efficiently?  It felt good, it felt odd.  Good in that who doesn't like a good shit?  And an hour-long shit to boot!  Odd because I do not do these things in front of other people with the exception of my daughters and my big sister.  Weird, but it's true.  It happens sometimes.
Anyway, when the colonic was over I felt amazing.  I felt light, energetic and maybe it was in my mind, but my corduroys fit more comfortably.
I loved my "colon therapist" too- she made me laugh and feel at ease.  Her room was decorated with nice tapestries from India and Mexico and she had posters on the wall pointing out the Chakras.  All very new age yet NYC too.

The rest of the day had moments of boredom and despair.  I missed chewing.  And I really missed a variety of flavors.  As I pointed out yesterday, it is a lot of green veggies and one hideous "berry" drink from a powder and that's it.
I can use spices in my baby-food style soups, but I bought fresh strawberries today for the kids and how do you replace that taste and texture?  You don't. 
So I sought refuge with my friend Marcela who is on day 8 of her detox and sympathetically commiserated with how starting off is very hard.
She said, "It's a process!  We have so many emotions around food so of course you are going feel all of these emotions today."
And then she told me it gets better.
Take it one day at a time. 

So here is to tomorrow and finding the strength to get through another day of not chewing.


I am back. And I am detoxing

I am finding my voice on here.
I went away, discouraged that I would never get the hang of this Blog thing. 
I am not a writer or a philosopher.  I am not a critic nor am I a town crier.
So why do I want or need to Blog?
Well, I guess I just have to put things down and send it on out there.  I am back to try again.
And this time I will be talking about my Diet Detox.

Anyone who knows me knows that I am a die-hard Howard Stern fan.  I followed him to Sirius and listen every day.
I have been inspired to try a juice detox that his co-host, Robin, did and still does called the Martha's Vineyard Diet Detox.
What you do is totally eliminate everything that can create toxins in your system: sugar, breads, processed foods, caffeine, alcohol- you name it, you cannot eat it.  A matter of fact, you can't eat at all.  It is a chew-free, complete juice and broth diet...for 21 days.
You can choose a shorter detox, but it won't really clean out your colon, gall bladder, kidneys and liver.  That takes 21 days.  And the pay off, besides gorgeous skin, a clear mind, more energy and better poops is you loose a lot of weight.
I don't have a scale, but I am guessing I weigh 138lbs.
I would really love to be down to 120.
It may be yucky skinny, but I really want to be in a bikini just in time to surprise my husband on his 40th birthday this July. 
I started Pilates too, which I will put on hold until this detox is over, so the flab will become fab!
Anyway, where am I going with this?

I am feeling sad about saying goodbye to coffee for a while.
Or a good sandwich.  I know it isn't forever, but it feels like forever when you're staring down a 3 week diet of fresh green veggie juice and gritty powder supplements.  My cynical New Yorker friends remind me of how, "I could never do it!"
and "You're giving up coffee and wine?  Oh my GOD!"
And the thought of making dinner every night for my chewing family makes me bitter.
But alas, I love a good challenge and I love finding out what I can do when I put my mind to it.
I want better health and a clearer thought process.
I want less weight on my frame and my libido back!

So this is my day tomorrow (I must share because I need support even though I know no one is reading this):

7:00am  Wake up, drink "gritty" Green drink, herb tea and 8 oz. of water and an herbal cleanser (like dandelion tincture)

9:00am  antioxidant berry drink and another herb tea

10:00am get a clonic

11:00am drink a fresh veggie juice, take enzyme capsule, more herbal cleansing formula and 8 oz. of water

1:00pm 8oz of water, "gritty" green drink, herb tea

3:00pm  berry drink again

5:00pm  1 cup of soup broth (all veggie and vegan), i cup of herb tea, more cleansing formula and 8 more oz. of water.

7:00pm  tea and water

night time: aloe vera

As you can see, I will be promoting good pooping.  The herbal cleansing formula is supposed to make me crap and clean everything out.
Okay, that just overwhelmed me.  Not the poop, but the schedule above.
You see, I want the results without the work.  Without the sacrifice!  I want a hot, tight, skinny bod without any change in my current habits.  Is that unreasonable?
Off to bed now.  I'll let you know how day one goes tomorrow.

Off the top of my head

I am winging this.
I logged on and started typing.  I am tired and I am punchy.  Jane Agnes, my darling 4 1/2 year old, is still suffering from abdominal pain.
It comes and it goes and it hits her like a Mack truck.  No other symptoms.  Hmmph.

Feeling pissy about Hillary coming to the end of her possibly being the next president.  I don't want to believe that she lost her grip on the nomination.  It was in the bag!  All the white dudes gloating on CNN makes me sick.  One dude said, "She is difficult to work with."
It hits me so deep when people aren't even aware they are being sexist.  It is as evident as natural gas in the air and yet all year she was hit with one insult after another.  No one does a thing.  Anyway, I wish I could give a thoughtful political analysis of everything, but I am numb and a little over thinking about the Democratic nominee.  Let's just get this Bush white house out.

I made kick ass meatballs, however.  Despite the sick little girl, writhing on my floor, I made delicious meatballs.  Oh, and I saw our very own mouse today too.  We have a mouse.  Yep.  Saw it.

Oh my Goddess.  This is pathetic.  But that is fine because no one knows this Blog exists!!  Haha!

OT: my NEW favorite TV show

Yell it from the rooftops!
My passion for dance has been restored.

I have been turned on by Bravo's first season of Step it up and Dance (SIU&D).  The show's finale will be next week and it is a little late for me to start telling people to get on top of this and watch this TV show, but I am so energized by how creative and beautiful this show is.
The format is the same as Top Chef (TC), another one of my favs, so I already am comfortable with the format.
But it touches me the way Project Runway (PR) does: I am so inspired by the artistry of young freaks.
Nobody can hold a candle to the talented freaks on PR and calling the people on SIU&D freaks is very inaccurate, but I guess I use that word to convey how unusual it is to see people so connected to their bodies and to movement and music that they devote their life to the chorus line and dinner theatre circuit.   The contestants are actually lovely people who live for dancing.  And I root for all of them!  I want all of them to make it because they're all likable.
Whoever cast this show did an exceptional job.  Just like TC and PR, they go for the talent not the drama queens.  I love Bravo's reality shows because it is a showcase for talent that I envy and covet. 
And this show allows someone like my husband see behind the scenes what it takes to choreograph a piece and how difficult it is.  Our oldest daughter loves dance and is very good.  I see how this show brings a richer context for both of them as they see everything that goes into learning different types of styles of dance and how each dancer is unique with their own set of skills and strengths.
The payoff, the performance on the main stage, really is exciting.  You have watched the dancers throughout the process and now you can sit back and see the performance.  The judges feedback is not watered down in laymen terms either- this show is for all the theatre fags and their hags who know exactly what they're talking about- and I am one of those hags!  And I love it!  My hag has been revived.
I love Bravo for that reason too!  Oh my Goddess, Bravo has the gays.  And being a stay at home mom of 2 girls, I have no chance of ever being a mom to a gay son, but more than that, no social life with my gay cohorts anymore.  So Bravo scratches that itch.

Last night's show belonged to Nick Drago , who looks exactly like a Roman soldier (as one of the judges pointed out). 
He is straight, I think (he could have excellent skills as passing as straight, but I doubt it) and he has come the farthest with his dancing.
Nick used to be in "elimination group" basically every week until about 3 weeks ago he turned the corner.  His other only straight competition, Cody, stand out because the judges love masculine dancing.  Something I have learned from watching this, don't look too fem while dancing- you will not be marketable!  So Cody is technique driven and gorgeous with execution while Italian, loud, goofy tawking Nick keeps getting the notes to "emote" and "connect to the music; to what you're feeling."  Hey, he just keeps going with the flow, doing his very best and tries his hardest without over-thinking it.
Cody isn't so simple.  He is quiet and sensitive and every note goes to his core, which we found out last night is very damaged and bruised from serious and sad life struggles.  A note from one judge calling Cody "snobbish" devastated and really hurt him.
But those feelings never bubble to the surface and present themselves in his dancing.
He just remains composed and controlled.
So Nick shined like a penny last night and really blew me away.  I thought of his work all day today.  I thought of all of their work actually and am glad I DVR'd it so I can watch it again with my daughters.

I am inspired to go to a dance class again!  Yes, I am.  I want to move too.  Feel the music.  Sweat and stretch.
I remember those classes, 20 years ago, when I was good.  I did well.  I felt great and looked great.
I am always appreciative of any TV show that can really create good stuff.
Mad Men, Six Feet Under, The Sopranos, Project Runway and now my new favorite:
Step it up and Dance.

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