Thursday, December 30, 2010

Distracting Toes

Yesterday marked the beginning of Stella getting her groove back on. (I'm claiming that damn line - I hear it all the freaking time).

Anyway, while I was doing yoga in my apartment I found myself obsessing about my pedicure instead of my ohm. Each time I came face to toe I noticed how I would get out of sync and start to ruminate about the new nail color on my feet. WTF?

I knew what my mind was up to. So I just put my socks on and problem solved. Ohhh how my tricky little mind loves to pick at useless shit.

Sometimes you have to outsmart your mind and create an environment where it doesn't get to take you for a spin. Because it's you and it's just the way we're and accept the jibber jabber - just consider ways to distract yourself from what's most distracting.

Here's to focus and flow.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Slippery when wet

Yesterday I was driving in snowy NJ. It was all sorts of mush. I noticed myself consciously focusing on the road and especially looking out for drivers who thought they were too cool for school. Which, is essentially how we gots to live. Right? You can only control how you drive and leave the rest up to... In addition to not being able to control where others choose to go (and how) we also can't control how they react to what we do. How nice. How scary. How easy.


Monday, December 27, 2010

How Relaxation is like Grief (Don't worry, it's all good)

If there is one thing that 2010 has taught me, it's how to respect the rest. How to honor the process of relaxation. This lesson comes on the heels of 2009, a year that was all about loss (a few relationships, some financial investments, and my vision of what I'd be by 30 (I'm still not 30)). Of course, all happens for the best, and both these challenging years have catapulted my growth as a human being unlike any other. Interestingly, I've realized that both relaxation and loss have a lot in common (at least for me).

Bear with me here...I haven't totally worked all the logic. But here are some parallels and some intersections I've noticed between the two.

1. In the most positive sense, loss is about letting go (again, I'm only speaking from my personal experience, so some of this may not feel right for you, esp if you're in the midst of it). Most of the time we don't choose to lose because it's painful.

2. But, in the end, in loss, we grow. Be it through its lessons, or the space it creates for newness, we are usually not less, but more because of our loss.

3. Relaxation, literally, is about releasing. It's about letting go. For me personally, my journey to really relax (and I mean beyond a massage) but to relax so I feel every cell in my body dance with ease, joy, lightness, looseness - this type of relaxation, getting there, is messy. Think about when you go on vacation, it usually takes a few days to get into a different rhythm right?

4. When we are relaxed, we are open, we are positive, and this yields growth. When we are stressed we're in fight or flight. This means our focus is narrowed, we are less likely to take on challenges, we are less social, and so on. Relaxation means we're in flow with the universe and can find treasures in the second.

Not sure I'm making sense but will continue...

This year was a biggie for me. Lots of things I'm proud of...lots that kept me busy...such as: finishing my masters, creating one of the largest conferences for women entrepreneurs, and moving into a new home in NYC. All this kept me plenty tense and taking time to chill actually felt bad. Even though I knew it was good for me. It got a little ugly.

If I were to paint a picture of Stella trying (in process to) relaxing it would be a flurry of stuff: I'd be wrestling a force, blindfolded, unable to see, tumbling around in a room that looks like home but is completely unfamiliar to me. I'd be hot and cold. I'd be uncomfortable. I'd be guilty and lustful, pure and clear. I'd be fidgety and still. I'd be bouncing between Heaven and Hell. I'd be black and white. I'd be depicted as confused and disoriented, yet in the perfect place. I'd be wriggling around, like a round peg in a round hole thinking it's a square. Not very relaxing is it?

But what I learned this year, and just realized about 15 minutes ago, is that achieving relaxation (especially during intense times) take time. On Saturday mornings, for example, when considering my day blocked off for nothingness, I'd begin to feel panic or guilt about all the things I could be doing, should be doing, people I could be with - I'd go through a process similar to the stages of grief- until, at last, with time, and through the journey, kicking and screaming, and with the coaxing of good friends, I'd achieve acceptance, release, and stillness.

Five Stages Of Grief (source: MHMatters) and Maybe Relaxation

1. Denial and Isolation.
-At first, we tend to deny the loss has taken place, and may withdraw from our usual social contacts. This stage may last a few moments, or longer.
-At first, I tend to deny that I'm as stressed as I am or that I really need to chill. I also, at the same time, feel the need to isolate. Hide under the covers. And turn off all communication devices.

2. Anger.
-The grieving person may then be furious at the person who inflicted the hurt (even if she's dead), or at the world, for letting it happen. He may be angry with himself for letting the event take place, even if, realistically, nothing could have stopped it.
-Yep, I'm usually angry at myself for letting myself get to this state. Stella, why don't you take steps to prevent this? You shouldn't be working so hard.

3. Bargaining.
-Now the grieving person may make bargains with God, asking, "If I do this, will you take away the loss?"
-"God, please help me. I'm exhausted! But I have so much to do. So I'll just take this time to chill because a) I deserve it and b)I promise to be more productive tomorrow."

4. Depression.
-The person feels numb, although anger and sadness may remain underneath.
-"Shit. Isn't this supposed to feel good and fun? I'm bored. Why am I spending this time debating whether what I'm doing is what I should be doing or rewarding enough?"

5. Acceptance.
-This is when the anger, sadness and mourning have tapered off. The person simply accepts the reality of the loss.
-"Okay, I'm feeling the blood come back to my soul. Ahhh, yes. This is what it feels like. Normal. Balanced. I just needed time."

Hope some that of made sense. And that it was positive.

Happy New Year!

Who is in control? The apples!

Literally watching The Botany of Desire, a documentary, live, like now. Couldn't resist letting another cool "aha" escape my mind before planting its way here (so bad, I know...pun intended).

Essentially this documentary points out how plants, not us, are essentially in control. Plants such as apples, marijuana, potatoes, and tulips use humans as allies in their proliferation.

By adapting to our desires for sweetness, intoxication, beauty, and control - these plants have strategized their flourishing.

Why this is cool, what it reminded me of, and taught me:
1. We are at once in control and responsible for it all and also none of it.
2. I'm reminded again, that we are in it, with nature - not the protectors, destroyers, or observers, we are partners with it. Nature can take care of itself.
3. Flexible, seductive, creative organisms make it.
4. There's always something brilliant to learn from switching your perspective. Not just to another human, but to other organisms and non-living things.

Sumpin to chew on (goodness I'm on a roll):
Consider how you're not just the consumer or producer, but the ally or the instrument for something else at work. Honor it. It will help you get that much deeper into appreciation and the now.

Here's to flourishing.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Greeting Card Detox

Yesterday was my sister's birthday. I woke up early to write her a card. 30 minutes later I ended up laying in bed, crying over my laptop (had to write a draft), snotty in my pj's, with heart stretching. I call this episode:

Greeting Card Detox

It's happened before. It occurs when I actually give myself the space and undivided attention to truly appreciate someone I love and tell them in writing. It's not easy for me and it gets messy, but the reward is powerful.

Yesterday I realized that this process would make a really good positive intervention. Meaning, it's a tool you can add to your tool-kit of things you can do to optimize your mood. So here it goes:

I encourage you, next time you need to get out of your head or are in need of a lift, walk into a greeting card store, think of someone you love, and just read. If you have time, buy a card and spend at least 10 minutes writing to that person. By focusing on someone else and how beautiful they are you'll be experiencing a mini-love meditation. In no time you'll hopefully feel more clear and clean in mind and heart. If you're courageous enough to share it with the person you love, you'll feel even bigger in mind and heart. Get ready to cry.


Friday, November 26, 2010

MARTYR OR HERO? Which are you to YOU?

   /ˈmɑrtər/ Show Spelled[mahr-ter]

A person who is put to death or endures great suffering on behalf of any belief, principle, or cause: a martyr to the cause of social justice.

   /ˈhɪəroʊ/ Show Spelled[heer-oh]
A person of distinguished courage or ability, admired for her/his brave deeds and noble qualities.

Which do you want to be for yourself? Are you sacrificing for some belief? Or are you courageously facing what is and acting in your own best interest? I'm working on being my own hero. It's a process. I'm one of those people they need to constantly remind: "put on your own air mask before assisting others."

Not sure how to be a HERO to yourself? Here are tips from a recovering martyr:

1. Find a hero guardian and model after them. This is someone who has your best interests in mind and shares your values. Use them as a thermometer when making a decision if you feel yourself weakening to your martyr devices. If you're like me, and easily sacrifice because "you can handle it" - usually the hero guardian reminds you you're on crack if you're about to agree to X. This is often my parents or closest girlfriends. Sometimes we naturally avoid our hero guardians because we don't want to face the truth. For example, if a boyfriend was acting up, my hero guardians might be the last to know because I didn't want confirmation that yes, indeed, John Doe is an asshole.

2. Don't try to be a Super Hero. A super hero is a martyr in disguise. Why? Because you're taking on too much. Being a hero takes courage and lots of self control. Self control is like a muscle - which can be fatigued. Studies show that we actually have a finite amount of self control. So if you want to create a change in your life, start with just one. Don't go on a diet and try to quit smoking all at once or you'll burn out.

3. Own + Forgive. Being your own hero means standing up for yourself even when you did something you wish you didn't. This takes two steps: 1)take responsibility for something you did that you would have done differently 2)forgive yourself for any mistakes. Remember, you are worth protecting and that involves whatever it takes to get you into a safe and positive place to move forward. So take the steps you need to own and forgive so you can move onto what makes you happy.

Much love,

Thursday, November 25, 2010

I'm Cooked!

Ahhh. Thanksgiving. My favorite holiday. While I love it and love my family, add vodka, sensitive conversations, and suddenly I'm rubbed better than that buttered turkey.

Here are the various techniques I tried to keep my cool:

1. Switch the topic
2. Do something funny
3. Remove myself from the room
4. Find something that positively engages me - I found a book on Kabbalah
5. Remember I love these people

While I can't always control what others do or say, I can control what I do with myself.

Here's to the people I love the most who somehow, somehow, bring out the animal in me.

Thankful for it all.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

ASK, Silly! Here's how...

He: keeps texting instead of calling.
You: Honey, thanks for being so communicative. I'd love to hear your voice, call me.

Your boss: chose Nancy to take the lead instead of you.
You: I'd like to take on more leadership roles at the company. This is why and what I can contribute...

Your dream: needs $1,000,000 to kick start.
You: Hi (investor), my business offers you an opportunity to achieve X. Join me.

Man on subway: is taking up two seats.
You: I'd like to sit down, would you mind moving your bag.

Teacher: gave you A-, you deserved an A+
You: Professor, I'd like the opportunity to discuss my paper with you and request your re-evaluating my grade for an A+. This is why...

Whatever it is that you want. ASK for it. ASK. ASK. ASK.

Nobody can read your mind or wishes. You have a responsibility to yourself and to OTHERS to let them know. The world feels good when you do. Seriously. Help others help you.

Here are some tips:

1. Be clear on what you want and WHY
2. Identify who can help you achieve what you want
3. Ask that person
4. Be polite but firm (don't apologize or be concerned with being a burden)
5. Focus on what you need (and not on what the others are missing or doing wrong)

If you still find it hard to ask for what you need. Remember this:
1. You're worth it.
2. You're setting an example. So set a positive one. If you don't practice asking for what you need - you are sending a message to everyone who looks up to you that it's okay to take shit.
3. Like everything, this is a practice. Seems so simple, but it's not. Take baby steps. It took me 6 months to muster up the courage to tell my nail lady to change the way she files my nails.

Here's what I am asking to kick off for everyone:
1. Share my blog with three people who would enjoy it and have them subscribe
2. Practice asking for something that you may be holding back on and report back!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Sulk. Just a little.


1. Realize you feel like shit. Be honest.
Whether you're angry, sad, anxious, or aren't sure but just out of can't change course if you don't recognize where you're at. Stop trying to stop whatever you're in. By pushing it away, ignoring it, or trying remedy it asap you're ignoring a symptom. Honor your emotions. No need to fake you're fine.

2. Allow it. Sulk.
We think so badly about negative emotion. But they are there to guide us towards a better way. It just doesn't feel comfortable. Let yourself sulk. Know that this is normal. When you catch a cold, you let it pass. You get all snotty and icky, but the best thing to do is just chill and let it run its course. Same here. Simmer a bit.

3. Get quiet.
Sulking usually is isolating. Any negative emotion - fear, anxiety, sadness, etc. is designed to push us away from danger. By doing that - it pushes us away from others. I think sulking in whatever you're feeling, may be good to do alone for just a bit. It enables you to tap into what may be going on. But be your own judge, you may prefer to share to help someone work it out with you.

4. Ask, "what's up?"
With as much curiosity as you can muster and without any judgment, ask yourself, deep inside, what is there to learn or gain from this ickeyness. Take your time. There is no time that is too long or too short. Take YOUR time - which only you KNOW.

5. Integrate and own.
Take in the lesson (although you might not recognize it as such at the time) with gratitude and own whatever responsibility you had in the creation of your own experience.

Make a choice to take one small step towards something that will lift your spirits..

Keep repeating until you feel not just better, but more grown.

much love,

*Disclaimer....this advice is for the rather small to moderate rough patches. If you are experiencing deep depression or a major traumatic event, do consult with a professional nearby for support. We all need support.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Don't Be So Serious. I am.

It's 9:15pm. I'm trying out a new regime. Going to bed early and waking up super early (like 5ish). As I was about to rush off and do some last minute work before going to bed, stressed, my sister said, before you go, you have to watch this. "Uggghh...ok...fine!"

This video is hilarious and I felt it immediately lift me out my tight-ass, serious, mood. Ironically, I'm in the midst of creating a business on play and often don't give myself the opportunity to do it.

That's why I'm teachin what I need to learn.

Anyway, enjoy! And goodnight!

P.S. Not sure if you're reading this in time. But you might notice funny robots and rockets in my web design. They made me laugh, too. So hopefully you enjoy as well.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Give Up

I recently got an e-mail from an entrepreneur I work with that said she chose to give up on her idea. I immediately hit "reply," starting a letter with a bunch of motivational, "never give up" stuff. But then I paused, deleted, and thought, "you go girl."

Ever stay in a relationship or job way longer than you should have? I have. Why? Because I thought I could do it, win it, conquer it, transform it, make it right, change myself, change the other, whatever it was - I was up to the challenge. And if I gave up - than that meant I was a failure. But that's bull-shit.

Think about the words, "Give UP." "Give" is an offering. "Up" is positive. If you are considering releasing something that no longer serves you - don't berate yourself as a "loser" or a "quitter" because you gave up. Instead, consider yourself brave for making a choice to release that which is no longer serving you.

Let's give up "Never give up" as the heroic path.

Here's my BUT. What I gave up were executions or expressions of what I thought I wanted. I didn't give up on my dreams. There's a fine tricky line. I'm considering doing a talk or workshop around this. Would be interested in your stories or thoughts around giving up.

Much love,

Saturday, October 9, 2010

I wish I was a Neat Freak

On a scale from 1-10, 10 being anal about organization and cleanliness, I'd say I'm a 7. But I envy 10's. I'm a wanna-be neat-freak. I admire people who fold precisely, make labels for things you wouldn't expect to be labeled, etc.

When your stuff is in order. Your stuff is in order. Your thoughts run smoother, your time runs more effectively. Period.

I'm a 7 and not a 10 because I let certain less-used drawers go mad and I'm a pile-er. While my closet and desk are organized, the drawer where I keep my sewing kits looks like a vomited bundle of threads, material, zippers, scissors, sequins, and pins.

Every time I go to replace a button I subconsciously brace myself. It kind of stresses me out.

Notice, do you "brace yourself" or "avoid" or "look away" from mess?

Yesterday I couldn't taken it any more. What started off as an innocent repair to one of my favorite shirts ended in an attack of my little craft drawer. I stayed up until 1:30am on a Friday night clearing the mess. (I know, I'm so glam).

Let me tell you, now that it's done, I actually feel lighter. Even though I rarely visit that drawer, it still silently gnawed at me having it in disorder. This morning, (this is a little sick-o) I looked in and just reveled in it. It felt a little better than some sex. That good.

For those of you lower on the scale or with higher tolerance to mess, I don't care what you say, getting your stuff in order creates more order inside you.

So give it a try. Start small. Go for your wallet, go for your desktop, go for your calendar, go for your medicine cabinet. Clearing it up will give you instant HIGH.

Living today as a 10.

On Track

Today I was waiting for the R subway as usual in Times Square. As the slight, warm, warning breeze of a coming train stirred, I edged closer to the platform, looking in to spot a confirmation. Yes! There it is. The light at the beginning of the tunnel.

For non-New Yorkers reading this post, the way you identify a train is by: 1) The Letter or Number visible on the front of the train and on its windows 2) The color of the circle surrounding that letter or number.

As soon as the train surfaced into light I noticed that instead of seeing my anticipated yellow circle with the letter "R," I saw a blue circle with the letter "H." I never heard of an "H" train. I felt like I was in the twilight zone. Then I saw a quick glimpse of my familiar "R" on the window of another car. Then I saw an upside-down "N," and then I saw an "M". These are all signs on the same train, just on different cars.

The train passed the station, not stopping. "Out of service," said the voice of Times Square.

Hmmm. That train seemed confused, I thought. That must be why it's not in service.

Ding! ding! ding! This thought would make a great blog post.

So here it a.m. AHA translation of all those signs:

If you feel confused about who you are or are just having an off/disorienting day, do something to be of service to someone or something. Helping others is what makes you feel purposeful, reminding you why YOU matter.

For example, the fastest way to snap myself out of a spiraling negative mess is to give someone else a lift. It can be small - like giving a stranger a compliment, offering my seat to an older person, or listening to a friend who wants to be heard. Also, realizing others are in need doesn't make me feel so lonely in whatever I'm experiencing.

The reason why this works for me, for others, and I bet you, too, is because we're literally wired to help one another. If you do it enough, on a regular basis, there's actually something called the "helper's high" which has similar effects to a "runner's high" in the body.

Sometimes we can't avoid the sensation of not knowing where we're going, of being too many things, and perhaps, sometimes we might even miss our stop. But the opportunity to be in-service is always in your control.


Sunday, October 3, 2010

Punched in the Face. Seriously.

"It is not what happens to you but how you respond to what happens to you." - Anonymous

Yesterday I was visiting the Bronx Zoo. It was super fun. I was in a great mood. Fascinated by the animals. Centered by watching little monkeys eat leaves.

As I stood eagerly checking out the mice in the Mouse House, the dark little mouse house, BAMMMM! Right in my nose. I'm hit. My nose. My eyes. My chin. OWWWW.

It turns out someone in front of me decided to use all his force to turn around and accidentally land his elbow on my face.

I have never been hit in the face so hard. And my contact lens popped up into the upper lid of my eye. I couldn't see from one eye suddenly. I wasn't sure what was happening. Is my nose broken? Are my eyeballs in place?

I was with a very kind gentleman/ date which made this whole episode even better. HOT.

It's okay. You can laugh. I would have if I wasn't hurting.

As someone who believes that everything happens for a reason, this situation was a challenge to understand. But sometimes we need not understand, just accept.

There was no bad intention on behalf of the owner of the huge elbow. So, what to do? Get some ice. Re-locate my contact lens in the lost ether of my eye-lid. Laugh and enjoy the rest of my day.

And I did.

Much love with her all her face in place (thank goodness).

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Speak to Strangers

I just spent the weekend at two conferences: Biz Tech Day and the Omega Institute's Women and Power Conference.

At both conference I felt I was with "my people." I eagerly made eye contact with others, openly smiled, and introduced myself to anyone and everyone I came across.

Now cut to the scene of me two days later in mass transit. As I unintentionally made eye contact with someone, something surprising came out of me. It was, "hello." The "hello" sounded surprised by its own existence. It was soft and vulnerable. It was almost lost and confused. The man I said hello to just passed me by.

And then, the flash of awareness hit. When I was a wee-one I remember being brainwashed not to speak to strangers by everyone from my teachers, my parents, and friends. "They could be dangerous and can kidnap you and feed you poison."

As a little girl, anyone who I did not know was a "stranger." Here's what stranger means according to some online dictionary: "anyone who does not belong in the environment in which they are found."

Is that how we view anyone who is not someone we know? As a STRANGEr? As someone who does not belong? Imagine if instead of walking down the street and seeing others as people who don't belong, you see them as if they do. How will your walk to work be different?

I challenge all of you (especially in NYC) to make more eye contact and smile to people as you pass them by.

Please report back and let me know what you experience.

Much love,

Monday, September 20, 2010

Meditating to Murder

I know that title is freakish. Scary. Ugly. I don't like it. I'm sorry if it's disturbing. But I use such dramatic juxtaposition to capture your attention and demo the reality of the images/messaging/media we consume.

Today I was meditating at my parents' home in the morning while they were watching an action movie on HBO. As I tried to produce my OM, I had a hard time centering with the background noise of primal screams and gunshot permeating from downstairs.

In many studies, scientists intentional use movie clips to manipulate the moods of participants...because that's what movies do. Just because we know it's not real, doesn't mean our bodies and emotions know it. When you're experiencing negative emotion - you go into fight or flight, your blood pressure is increased, etc.

I now choose to watch movies that give me some positive emotional value - movies that uplift, enlighten, humor, inspire, or teach me. I avoid things that are depressing or scary unless they're super good in some artistic way that's worth it.

Consider your choices in what you watch and read as much as the food you ingest. We all go to the gym and watch what we eat to take care of our bodies. But what are you doing to pro-actively take care of your emotional/psychological well-being?

Much love and peace.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Treat Yourself the Way You Treat Others

I work with LOTS of women. What I see happen all the time is women giving more to their clients than they do to their own businesses at the sake of their own business. For example, I've see women who do PR do great PR for clients - but miss out when it comes to their own business. They give so much that they are not focused on growing their company.

If you were your best client, how would you treat yourself differently?



I truly believe that we get what we ask for. That we choose the life we live today. The key is to make those choices as consciously as possible - otherwise you might lose your voice when you need it most.

Let me share an example I'm living right now.

If you read my last post, you'll know that I lost my voice. (It's still finding its way back after about one week).

This is quite an inconvenient time not to speak. Work is busier than ever with our upcoming event: I need to be on the phone with speakers, sponsors, members, new employees, and volunteers. Plus, next week I'm attending Omega's Women and Power Conference and look forward to meeting hundreds of amazing people - I need my voice in full effect.

But, I must say, I actually asked to be silent at exactly this time. Earlier this year there was nothing I didn't want more than to escape to a silent retreat in upstate New York in early September for 10 days. While finishing my masters I kept promising myself that I'd give myself this gift.

Well, I may be stuck in New Jersey for now, but I certainly got the no-talking I craved. It might not be in the form I envisioned, but it's here.

We really must be careful what we ask for. Or rather, be careful in our thoughts. Because everything gets answered.

I'm grateful for this rather unexpected answer to my desires. It's at least a reminder that I have the power to create my whole life and the events that I experience.

I'd love to hear your thoughts on this.


Monday, September 13, 2010

Between a Frog & a Pornstar

Okay, so after coming back from Jamaica I started going like 300mph. We have an exciting conference coming up with some amazing women who I'm in love with. PLUS, I'm launching a new biz (more on that soon!).

So while in the middle of my fifth hour of talking, talking, talking with Alisa Vitti (aka Vagina Whisperer and Protector of the Period) over yummy dinner at Market Table last Wednesday I noticed my voice began to sound scratchy in a sexy kind of way.

Quickly my low, sultry, vocals progressed to croaky-ness and then to nada in the next 24. That was my sign to sloooow down. So I did and slept and slept as much I could this past weekend.

Once I got my rest I began to feel lighter and better. And then Sunday night I realized "OhMyGod...the copy on the website hasn't been updated...we're delayed another week...I won't be able to promote...and then..and then...ohmygod."

All that rest I accumulated zipped out the window. My body got tense. I was GRIPPED with stress. I could feel it everything tighten up. The world went crashing down. Suddenly I felt depleted, annoyed, and just wanted to kick some ass. SHIIITTT! I realized. All in a matter of minutes.

I quickly got in touch with this nasty, fear-based, stressed out, state and knew it need immediate adjusting - especially given the delicacy of my vocals. Knowing what I know - I knew that I wasn't in "broaden and build" mode - the upward spiral of positive emotion that leads us to flourishing. So I thought...

"QUICK, STELLA. GET BACK TO NORMAL. WHAT THOUGHT CAN YOU THINK OR THING CAN YOU DO TO INCH YOUR WAY BACK TO POSITIVITY? Your health and your productivity are depending on it!" (Positivity greatly impacts our longevity, immunity, efficiency, and power to make things happen).

This is what I did.

1. I visualized success and let myself feel the excitement and pride of producing a spectacular event helping over 700 women grow and launch their businesses.

2. I took a few deep breaths getting into my body.

3. I focused on the present considering what I could do now and releasing the other stuff that would just have to wait. There is only so much time in a day (especially when it's 12:30am and your internet decides not to work).

4. I looked around and said thanks.. Thanks for my voice coming back slowly. Thanks for my family. Thanks for my business partner. Thanks for the opportunity to serve these amazing women. Etc.

5. I read a non-business book to distract me.Distraction is key. Sometimes we've got to treat ourselves like 5 year olds in a tantrum. Distract yourself away. Where your attention goes is EVERYTHING. If you continue to focus on your concerns they will grow.

THE LESSON: Inch your way back to feeling good. Leaping emotionally doesn't work. Take small steps to feel just a millimeter of relief (even if you feel silly doing it). Pretty soon it will all spiral exponentially and you'll be back in your groove, expanded, positive, and attracting all good things!

Much love,

Friday, September 3, 2010

Do You Choose to Suck It?

Finally, my moment had come. I was sprawled on the table. The air smelled fresh. There was a scent of lemon and echninacea lacing its way through the cool still room. The lights were dim and sunset was peaking its way through the sheer, plum blinds. My sister wasn't far…we were separated by a curtain. It was just me and a big, strong Jamaican man.

And then it started.

As I was getting ready to let out my first "ahhhh" of surrender, instead a big "UGHHHHH" escaped.

SHIT! This massage therapist SUCKS!

Oh noooo! But I've been waiting so long for this.

My shoulders and my knots! The long, long nights of writing my thesis! All the build up was ready and excited to be released by this man. Oh how I had hoped he had magical hands. Instead, with every stroke, I found myself getting frustrated.

Here's what was going through my mind (sounds a bit split personality when written out - but I know you can relate):

Dude, you don't know what you're doing do you? Do you know what muscle you're working right now? You can actually damage my little shoulder blade right now. Are those yours nails I feel in in my skin?

Okay, Stella, chill out. Relax. Focus on your breath and maybe you'll just get into it. Even a bad massage is still good, right? Just speak up and let him know how to adjust.

"Sir, I can feel your finger nails in my skin. Would you mind softening up?"

Of course! Of course! He says.

See, Stella. This man is so nice and he just wants to please you and help you. Just breathe. Use this as a practice for meditation.

Oh my god. But this guy doesn't know what he's doing. Now I'm really sure.

So what should I do, stop this? I've never had to stop a massage.

Once he moves up to the back it will get better. Just hang in there.

Hang in there? But this is supposed to feel good and I'm coaching myself through this. WTF?

Chill out, Stella. Acknowledge these thoughts, but focus on your breath.


Did he hands just squeeze my neck so hard that my air passage was slightly blocked?

Yes. Ok. That's it. I'm stopping this.

But it will hurt his feelings. He seems so nice and is doing his best.

So what? You have to do what's right for you. And if you stop, maybe he'll realize he should go back to school or communicate more with his clients. This may help him in some way.

But maybe in Jamaica they don't have such rigorous training. Maybe he needs this job really bad and I might get him in trouble. You only have 20 minutes left.

Are you really having this conversation right now?


And I feel more tense than when I came in. This is not serving me.

I sat up. Sir, I'm sorry. This does not feel good to me at all. I'd like to stop this.

It was hard to face him after the massage. But I did. I thanked him for what he had done and said it just was not right for me. The staff asked, so I gave some constructive feedback.

Without my saying a word, I got another massage therapist immediately for an hour. She was great. I still spent some of the time battling between slight guilt for shocking the young man on his performance, and pride that I did what served me best.

The lesson we all know, but that got further affirmed through experience is: if I don't stand up for what I need, who will? So my question to you is... do you suck it up and accept less-the-best for you? If you asked for medium-rare and it's well-done, do you send it back? It's sometimes harder to choose higher and ask for it...especially, if it doesn't come the first time around. But know that asking for what you deserve isn't bad or mean as long as you do it with good intention and grace. This is about justice, people!

I'd love to hear stories or comments about choosing or not choosing to suck it up. Do share!



One of the qualities I'm working on strengthening is CARE. Compared to other qualities such as creativity, humor, ambition, motivation, self-discipline, sounds boring and passive (at least I never gave it much thought). But alas, I was wrong.

Caring for me = mindfulness plus LOVE with a touch of gratitude wrapped up in ACTION with sprinkles on top. If you care about something that means you not only give it attention, but you do what needs to be done to express your care.

Here are some things I realized and care to share about CARING.

1. If you don't CARE about _____ (fill in the blank), why should anyone else? Remember what Gandhi said, "You must be the change you wish to see in the world." So if you want something to happen, begin by caring about it enough to act on it. This includes taking care of YOU. If you feel like you're not getting the love and attention you desire from others - pay attention to how much of it you're giving to yourself.

2. CARE about the SMALL STUFF. Not sweating the small stuff does not equal not caring about it. Consider how you can exit a car without slamming the door, but rather gentle close it. Think about how instead of chowing down in front of the computer at lunch, you take time to just eat.

3. CARE about others. Often we're in our own world so much that we don't recognize opportunities to help others. I regularly see standing pregnant women or elderly people go unnoticed on the subways. Most of the time I attest people not giving up their seats because they don't realize the opportunity to help. We are so wrapped up in ourselves, that our CARE radar isn't even on.

4. CARE about the GOAL and PROCESS, release the RESULT. The only thing you can control are your thoughts, and to some extent, emotions. So do the best you can and care about the parts you can affect. Release attachment to getting a particular result. If things don't work out as you had planned, continue to care about your desired result enough to adjust the process and go again.

5. CARE enough to care even if you feel like you don't care about much. Just take each moment for what it offers and care about that - start there. Wash you dish as best you can. Sit as straight as you can. Breathe. Write neatly. Think of the honor a monk gives to each step he takes. You don't have to do this 100% of the time, but the more you do, the better

Much love and care,

Friday, August 6, 2010

She's Baaaaack!

Did you miss me?

I'm back and more bouncy and positive than ever! It's been a while since I wrote - but my excuse is official (if excuses can ever be official). I officially submitted my capstone (which is like a thesis) for my masters program on Sunday night. 50 pageroos, on the power of positivity. Some of my writing will remain top secret, but I'll be sharing most of it with you.

Let me share a few factoids about positivity just to refresh.

1. You're not supposed to be positive 100% of the time. First, because positive emotions actually don't stick around, they are transient. Second of all, that would be unhealthy, even if it were possible. We need negative emotions to inform us when something is wrong.

2. But, if you're interested in flourishing, you should experience at least three positive emotions for every one negative emotion.
Just like ice has a tipping point for melting, you have a tipping point for thriving. If you're not thriving, you're languishing. This has been mathematically and scientifically proven.

3. Don't be so all-or-nothing and let yourself spiral into chocolate cake and misery. Just a little dose of positive emotion can deliver QUANTUM effects in your life. If you're more positive, you are open. When you're open, you welcome new encounters, literally see the world differently, more broadly, and you're more creative.

Hope you enjoyed just this little much more on its way.

Much love,

Resource: Positivity by Barbara Fredrickson

Friday, July 9, 2010

Homage to Oxytocin

Go Oxytocin, the hormone that makes you warm, feel connected... the master social juice.

Here are some interesting factoids about the big O. They are interesting to me because they SCREAM how wired we are for connection. Physical connection.

When an infant suckles at the breast of its mother, Oxytocin production is triggered, which further stimulates milk release. Overtime this stimulation is conditioned so that just by seeing her baby, a mother’s milk lets down.

Ewes that are injected with Oxytocin will actually develop maternal bonds with lambs that are not their own. But if they are given treatment to block their oxytocin during birthing, they won’t develop instincts to their natural born offspring.

Oxytocin overrides fear. If rats are injected with oxytocin, they are able to override their natural instincts to avoid “stranger” rats. Injected female rats will immediately begin maternal practices even if they are not pregnant. They’ll adopt and nurture other young rats, lay down as if preparing for nursing, and protect their “adopted rats” from others.

Oxytocin creates a sense of calm and social harmony. For example, Apes spend 10% of their waking hours picking at one another’s fur. This is not for just hygiene, but rather, the rhythmic touching involved in apes’ grooming behavior stimulates the release of oxytocin, keeping relations among the group calm and cohesive.

Oxytocin reduces pain (like when your mommy kisses your boo-boo), relieves stress (like when your partner holds your hand through a difficult experience), and diminishes distractability (like when your coach grabs your shoulder).

When making love, the ultimate social connection, orgasm releases a flood of oxytocin in the bloodstream -which is why naps are so great after sex. Blood pressure goes down and levels of stress hormones. Performed regularly with the same person, this creates a bond between individuals - often resulting in a feeling we call “love.” This bond can temporarily misguide our attachments to potentially the wrong mate.

Oxytocin creates “warmth” in our bodies. When breastfeeding the baby shows increased blood flow to hands and feet. This also happens with adults as we smootch or whatever - we feel heat in our cheeks and warm chests.

So go out and touch someone.

Much O,

Source: Loneliness by John Cacioppo and William Patrick

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

And I Thought I was Strong

Okay. So first, in case you missed the pic, I'm a white Jewish girl.

But when watching this clip, I was AMENing, HALLELUJAHing, and MMMM-MMMing all over the place!

In this video (only 10 minutes) Bishop T.D. Jakes shares a story about women - and how we nurture everything - from baby to PAIN. He goes on to describe his wife who when she got sick, continued to do what she needed to do to keep the home, the family, and work in order. In fact, he had to double check with her, and ask her if she was really sick.

At this point, I'm nodding. Yep, been there done that. That's what I do. What my mom does. What my grandma does. That's just what we do. I'm flexing my muscles (figuratively) at this point - that's right, STRONG.

Then. He goes and shares how when HE got sick, he became a helpless child, asking for his mama. He canceled everything, demanded chicken soup, and was incapacitated with the same symptoms his wife just had.

At this point, I'm nodding knowingly, rolling my eyes. Like, "Of course. Why are men such babies? Grow some. Suck it up." (I know, this is not very "positively" stella - but, whatever).

So HERE comes the shocker. Bishop T.D. Jakes makes the point that: HELLO LADIES, why are YOU not stopping the world when you feel bad? You deserve to REST. You are IMPORTANT enough to rest and NEED it.




I never thought about it like that. I never saw this perspective. You know, self preservation. I always drew pride from my resilient lineage of women and those that surround me. Like we're made of steel and just get it done.

But, as I take 2010 to recoup from my crazy year last year (this is tough) I could not agree with the Bishop more. He is right. And that's what I'm trying to do - and now, this perspective further strengthens my resolve to not be so "strong" - or at least, what we perceive as strong.

So ladies, considering yourself a queen (and I know many of you already do this, but many of you don't), how would you do things differently to act in true service of yourself?

Much love,

PS Everything in balance, no? So let's take the above with a sensible grain of salt. :)

Special thanks to my friend Marjorie Dickinson who sent this over and continues to enlighten my journey.

Monday, July 5, 2010

God in Starbucks

“Late night sex, so wet, so tight…you can have whatever you like…I want your body, need your body, as long as you have me…”

This is a line from a song that played randomly on Pandora as I was reading one of the most deep spiritual stories I ever crossed.

Let me just paint this picture further:

To spite the fact that I have to write and research on July 5th (when everyone else is out on the beach or bbq'ing), I’m wearing a ridiculous outfit, my newest high heels, and crazy bright pink lipstick to… Starbucks in the middle of New Jersey. That’s right.

I have a tall coffee in hand. And am reading and sobbing. My f’it – I’m-going-to-look-good-even-though-I –have-no-where-to-go-but-sit-my-ass-down and write, make-up is washing down my face as I'm reading about an encounter with God.

I gulp my tall coffee.

And sit back at the irony...The high and the low. The deep and the hip-hop. The obnoxious vanity and tender sensitivity. The commercial and the truth...And relish this experience of being divinely human.

Much love,

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Gratitude is the Gateway Emotion to Good Things

After I lost just about everything (money, men, apartment, and job), the only thing that got me back was GRATITUDE.

By experiencing true gratitude for my family, my friends, and the opportunity I had to rebuild and rest, I learned that in all that was lost, I had been found.

I believe, and once I'm done writing my capstone I will publish something official on this, that GRATITUDE is THE GATEWAY emotion to all the good stuff.

By gratitude I mean HEARTFELT "thank YOU." Not the BS thanks we sometimes mindlessly express. I mean the kind where your heart expands and you FEEL it. Here's why GRATITUDE is the shit:

It induces you to SAVOR small things you can easily take for granted. Like running water, clean sheets, or your honey who just made you breakfast and wished you a good day.

In the process of SAVORING, gratitude gently, effortlessly, helps you become more MINDFUL, more PRESENT. Only if you are HERE and NOW can you be truly grateful for what is. (This is a relief for people like me who can't meditate regularly).

Being GRATEFUL opens your heart; by experiencing it you are automatically acknowledging all that you are able to RECEIVE and experience. So you are OPEN.

Lastly, true gratitude inspires you to want to give and serve others (Fredrickson, 2009). Not in the tit for tat kinda way, but in a way that is energized to really make a difference.

I have so much more to say about this...but for now this will do. Gratitude is the bombdiggity.

PS Sometimes people think I'm all pie in the sky - like just because I'm me I have an extra canny ability to experience this full-of-wonder-type-of-gratitude...but it's not me.

Anyone can get themselves into Gratitude. It's a process. Here are some ways I do it:

1. If I'm feeling like dump and throwing a pity party or hissy fit, I'll take a mental break from whatever I'm thinking and just list all the things I'm grateful for in my head until I feel better. I'll do this as I walk from the subway to my office or as I take a coffee break. Sometimes it takes a while. Here's how it sounds: "I'm so grateful for my legs that carry me. I'm so grateful for my mind that works. I'm so grateful for safety I feel. I'm so grateful for these cute shoes. I'm so grateful that it's warm outside..." Stay with this for minutes until you TRULY feel and believe just how damn lucky you really are.

2. If I'm about to sleep and feeling icky, I'll write at least three things I'm grateful for and why. The key is to be specific about the things as they relate to the day. So for example, even if a meeting didn't go well, instead of focusing on how it sucked or I suck, I'll say: "I'm grateful that I have a team dedicated to helping me organize our next presentation." Or, "I'm grateful that I had the opportunity to present and learn so I can kick ass next time."

3. If all else fails, just focus on everybody else who has it worse than you. This will zap you into a mindset of acknowledging all the abundance in your life. It may feel like cheating, but you gotta do what you gotta do.

To conclude (again). "If you focus on what you don't have, you'll find you never have enough. If you focus on what you do have, you'll find you always have more."

Thank YOU for reading.


Source: Positivity by Barbara Fredrickson

Friday, June 25, 2010

Practicing Breathing, a Transferrable Skill

William James, THE man in psychology, says that do and your emotions will follow. Exercise is a great way to practice self determination and discipline. Talk about transferable skills. My downward dog and breathing spill over from mat to work to friends. For example, having practiced focused breathing for the day, it's now easier for me stay centered on writing my capstone instead of e-mailing, or to stay fully engaged in conversation with someone, instead of letting my mind wander to build my grocery list.

Check out the video I embedded and Yoga Yak for free yoga online.



Yesterday my friend and I were talking and I shared my freakish fear of the octopus. Whenever I'm in the ocean and begin to wander into waters where I can't see a thing, I immediately begin to imagine a giant octopus lurking around ready to seize and squeeze and take me down.

Sometimes, get this, I even imagine it in the pool.

Sometimes, it gets so strong I have to get out the water. But usually I don't because I know my fear is bogus.

There's good, valid fear that keeps you safe and then there's what I call FAKE FEAR. Fake fear is the kind you need to have a face to face with, a sit-down.

Here's how my "sit-down" goes in the water (it's more like a pep talk): "Stella, look at how beautiful the water is...such a nice di da, la di da, ahhhh, doesn't that water feel amazing...there's no one here but your friends and little fishies, you are safe."

Now this is quite embarrassing. But but because our brains all work alike, I bet you have your own fun batch.

What's really scary is when these fake fears disguise themselves as the real thing. This is my warning to all of you. When it comes to your dreams, beware of the FAKE FEAR. It's ugly and will take you down. I've spent over six years training entrepreneurs and shaking off this fake fear.

Now that you've met my octopus, take a fresh look at whatever is keeping you back in life - in your career, your relationships, or whatever. Is it a fake-out?

If it is, have a mini session with yourself. Don't be mean or angry. Just say, "thanks for sharing, but I think I'm going to do X anyway."

Much love,

I'm on a blogging out!

I was reading about electricity today. Don't ask.

And what I realized (I mean, I knew this before, but I just didn't think about it this way) is that even on an atomic level, we are both positive and negative. Remember protons and electrons?!?

Down to the molecule there exists both. Here's where being human comes in: down to your thoughts, words, and actions, you have a choice between the two.

This is a great little story illustrating the choice. It was shared by Barbara Fredrickson, author of Positivity, at the IPPA Conference.

An elderly Cherokee Native American was teaching his grandchildren about life.

He said to them, "A fight is going on inside me, it is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One wolf is evil; he is fear, anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, competition, superiority, and ego.

The other is good; he is joy, peace, love, hope, sharing, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, friendship, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith.

This same fight is going on inside you, and inside every other person, too."

They thought about it for a minute, and then one child asked his grandfather, "Which wolf will win, Grandfather?"

The Elder simply replied, "The one you feed."
- Unknown

Srikumar Rao: Plug into your hard-wired happiness | Video on

Srikumar Rao: Plug into your hard-wired happiness | Video on

Does your blood sing with happiness as you wake in the morning? Can you drop to your knees in gratitude at all the blessings you're experiencing right now? If you're not this damn radiant, well, Professor Rao, from Columbia University, says you are wasting your life!

Because, guess what, your life is perfect. I know, I're thinking, Stella, what are you on? But I agree with the dude. I'm not a complete master...but I'd say I'm getting there, and Rao is one of the reasons why.

Here's what Rao recommends:

Don't invest in the outcome, invest in the process. Do all you can to achieve your goal, but don't put your happiness on the line if you don't succeed. We've been taught that happiness happens when we achieve or get what it is we desire. But success is completely out of your control. The only thing you control is the process, the path towards your goal.

Watch out for the "If ______ (fill in the blank), then I'll be happy." This is the flawed model we've been trained on. Rao believes that if you can't find passion within yourself NOW, then no job, opportunity, person, or thing will do the trick. Everything you need to be happy, is within you, NOW.

Much love,

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Synthesizing Happiness

Here Dan Gilbert, Harvard Prof, discusses how we synthesize happiness. We CAN make happiness and the kind we make is equally as good as the kind that we kind of stumble upon. The very commodity we chase, is one we can manufacture from within. Fascinating stuff and great news!

He also shares some cool studies about choice. Our "creating happiness" button only goes on when we have no other choice than to accept the cards we're dealt. Given the opportunity to reverse a decision, or to choose differently, can actually leave you unsatisfied in the long run.

This flies in the face of our assumptions about freedom of choice as a good thing. Intuitively, as consumers, I think we're all beginning to feel this truth. Personally, I'm tired of standing in the grocery store stumped over which toilet paper to buy. That's why brands who curate our decision making process are cashing out!

Think of Chipotle (which I just had for lunch). It's a simple as 1, 2, and 3. Or Amazon, which smartly suggests, "customers who bought what you just did, also like this..." Consider how you can make the lives around you more rich by curating and simplifying options for others. It takes so much damn energy to make a decision - so there is a lot of VALUE (be it emotional or monetary) that you can provide by taking decision making work out of whatever is at hand. For business owners, consider how you can taste match your customers' needs and lesson the choices they have to make. For employees, give your boss less options and a clear recommendation. For friends, narrow dinner options down to 3 cuisines instead of "what do you feel like eating?"

Sunday, June 20, 2010

petting the grapevine

i haven't written in a while. i've resisted posting for the sake of it. as i chilled out on my deck this morning and heard and smelled nature - i got inspired.

seeping into the subtle humidity, deep into my chair
body surrenders - welcoming the warm sun
remembering the outdoors
forgetting the ac
my lids close, drinking in the sounds of chirp
and then open
i can feel a presence
i peek with one eye
someone is hovering
hey there, i say
i extend for a shake
my new friend, curly, green, fresh, dangles over me
hey there, he responds
we connect
and he wraps himself around my fingers
and i through his

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

A few notes from my happiness talk

I'm giving a talk tonight for Ladies Who Launch on the Science behind Happiness. As I gather my materials, thought I'd share some of the tips I'll be handing out.

It’s your responsibility to be happy. Happiness isn't some thing you catch in the wind one day. And lose the next. It's in your control. At least about 50% - the other 50% is biological - so if you're born grumpy - you probably won't transform into twinkle toes, but you have the capacity to increase your life experience to be brighter and better.

Here are some tips:

Remember that the questions you ask create your reality.  Instead of seeking what’s wrong, ask appreciative question and find what’s right. We're programmed to see what's missing, not going to work, or unreasonable first. Try to reprogram and find the brilliance first. This applies to everything from your kids finger painting project to giving feedback to your employees.

Check your positive to negative ratio (take the PANAS quiz by visiting the website Great business teams use a 3:1 positive to negative emotion, feedback, commentary.  Flourishing romantic relationships share a 5:1 to ratio.  This tool helps you become aware of where you’re at.  Negative emotions are much stronger than positive - so you need to outweigh them, or they'll weigh you down (are you loving my puns?).

You know this...but exercise makes a hell of a difference! Studies show that it can be as strong as anti-depressants.  80% of the chronic disease that people die from over the age of 50 can be eliminated by exercise. Also, don’t forget to sleep! If you’re too tired to enjoy what brings you joy, well…that’s depressing. 

Feeling down? Count your blessings! Write them down in a journal before you go to bed. List at least three things you’re grateful for and why. “If you’re grateful for what you have, you’ll always find more. If you focus on what you’re missing, you’ll find you never have enough.”

Act and your feelings will follow.
Legendary philosopher and psychologist William James discussed how your emotions follow your actions. So smile and you’ll feel better. This is also in line with “fake it, until you make it.” This is because your brain needs re-wiring to think and behave in new way. Action best reinforces your brain (literally) to make new connections.

Recommended Books
Positivity by Barbara Fredrickson
Authentic Happiness by Martin Seligman
The Happiness Hypothesis by Jonathan Haidt
The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin
Why Good Things Happen to Good People by Steven Post

Friday, June 4, 2010

Making Cake with My Grandma

In the last hour I've just been reminded of many lessons. And the cake we're baking isn't even done yet! I'm writing this blog quickly while my grandma rests, as Ella Fitzgerald plays, and as we wait for our cream to firm up in the fridge. Here's what I got for you:

1. BLEND with the mistakes, it will turn out sweet.
It's been about 30 years since my grandma made this recipe. We're not sure why the cream is so liquidy, we expected something more stiff. So we're going with the flow (excuse the puns) and working with what we got. Just improvising - adding a lot more butter and cooling. Improvising happens everywhere. Kinda cool that you have to use the same level of calm, creativity, and positive thinking in the simplest of tasks - such as those in the kitchen to more complicated events - such as those in the boardroom, on the surgery table, or on the battle field.

2. TIMING is everything.
My grandma has to take a break because she has Parkinson's. She was just reflecting on how amazed she is at all she used to be able to do. Time takes its toll inevitably. I'm feeling more grateful than ever at the delicacy of what tremendous gifts I have right now. My youth, my security, my brain, my body. Are you making the most of what you got? Don't panic or be too hard on yourself if you jump to "NO." Sometimes making the most of it is simply a matter a drinking in the gratitude and being right here right now - just REALIZING how lucky you are. Yes, and then get to work.

3. EVERYTHING matters.
As I've been adding more butter here and there, transferring the cream from bowl to bowl, I've taken several licks of the sweet cream left lonely in the mixing dishes and abandoned spoons. Yum. But now I feel it. And it's not feeling so hot. Little things add up. Whether they are positive or negative. So making just a small step towards towards improving your mood, your love, or whatever, can make the sweetest difference. The great news is, that even if your steps have been taking you in the wrong direction, you can take just one step the other way, and begin anew. I'll be taking several steps to the gym once this weekend is done.

Much love,

Monday, May 31, 2010

Are you chewing yourself a new one?

It's now 1:19am. At about 1:10am I was chewing myself a new one. Here's a glimpse of the conversation I noticed in my head:

"Stella. (Okay, I don't talk to myself in the 2nd person, but will for effect here). It's 1am again! Haven't you made a commitment to yourself like a million times that you were going to go to bed earlier? I mean really, did you need to stay up watching Sex in the City, again?"


"Stella. What is the big deal here? Are you really having this thought? Are you seriously beating yourself up right now for not getting to bed earlier on a holiday weekend?!?"

Perhaps it was yoga on Friday, or maybe my turning a year older last week, or maybe my practing self acceptance recently, or even the $50,000 I paid to learn about positive psychology - but whatever it was or is - the capacity to PAUSE, NOTICE, and re-direct my thoughts is the key to IT. Whatever it means.

We have about 60,000 thoughts a day. Most thoughts for most people are fast. We're so used to the noise of thoughts that it's easy to not pay attention to them. But tonight I did. I isolated a self defeating whisper that was not so much about going to bed early as it was on the gravy train toward undermining my self efficacy.

So I pulled the breaks as soon as I noticed and thought something like this instead: "So what? Maybe, you actually like going to bed late. Maybe you should F routine. You're not a routine, regular type of gal. You don't fold your shirts the same way, you enjoy wearing mismatching socks for the fun of it, so stop trying to act like an anal A job."

Standing up for myself and my behavior instead of judging it made me feel lighter. Why hadn't I thought to do that before?

This whole mental experience happened in a matter of seconds. But it's the capacity to tune into the chatter and transform the non-supporting thoughts that can change your life. Or at least, help you sleep a little better.

With much love,

Friday, May 21, 2010

Happy Birthday to me.

On the eve of my big 2-9.

I just watched the movie, Precious. All I have to say is, thank you, God.

I just went to the bathroom.

And as I washed my hands, in much need of a manicure, I looked at them, and said, thank you, God.

Thank you for these hands. The hands that I used to nag (from age 4-20 something), “but they’re soooo puffyyyyy, so chuuuuuuuuuubbbbbbyyyy, so stumpy, uhhh!”

Now I love ‘em. And I’m grateful that I CAN love them.

I know many adults who still don’t love their bodies. But that’s like me saying I wish I didn’t grow up in North Brunswick, NJ.

It’s done. Get over it. It’s you. Love it. And integrate how it’s made you, you. Accept.

Today I celebrate all of me. Grateful for each freckle, pimple, whatever else I happen to have going on, and all the beauty in between.

I started this post at age 28. I then took a break and watched Management with Jennifer Aniston. And now I’m 29. And then I watched part of Hangover.

These three movies represent life, love, and the happy accidents in between. They each tell the story of characters who accept the unexpected, fold into it (perhaps initially resisting) and then, revel in the unpredictable positive outcome of it all making sense in the end.

Here's to a year of gracefully and gratefully accepting, of trusting the mystery, and living as brightly in my light as I can, each step and turn of the way.

Happy Birthday to me!


If you haven’t watched any of the above movies, you absolutely must! I didn't plan on watching them. Nor in that order. But I totally recommend that flow.

Monday, May 17, 2010

What Graduation Feels Like

“If you want a happy ending, that depends, of course, on where you stop your story.” - Orson Welles

Today I graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with a Master in Positive Psychology. Kind of. Our class technically finishes in the summer when we complete our capstones - but we got to wear the cap and gown and I bought a Penn it feels like I graduated. I feel good. Relieved. Happy. Content. Sad. Uncertain. Anxious. Calm. Cool. A little numb. Open. Collected. Grounded. All at once.

Maybe it's the Gemini in me that's enabling so many different things to be going on. But this HUGE deal is just taking some time to integrate.

Much love,

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Panicking outloud

Help! I'm feeling worthless today. I know that's completely ridiculous. But it's one of those days where I'm not feeling like much. This is triggered when I fall behind on all my to-do's. Like for example, I'm handing in my homework late, I haven't figured out what I'm doing for my birthday which is in six days, I don't know how I'm going to celebrate my graduation tomorrow, I haven't called my grandma in weeks, and, and, and... (I thought there was more but I've run out of things).


Now that I wrote this out and took it out of my head it's not so bad. (You're witnessing real time positive intervention here)...I'm not completely better...but I do feel more silly than worthless.

They say you teach what you need to learn...I guess I'm in the right place. I've got a lot of work to do!

Isn't it amazing how easy it is to spiral into negative emotion by the smallest of things? I decided to write this as way to get out of my head. Which is where all the action is.

I'm taking deep breaths. And will commit to stop "shoulding" all over myself for the day. That's the best I can do for now.


Saturday, May 8, 2010

Softy shmofty: Happiness is hardcore!

Let me just set the record straight with just a few good factoids here about happiness:

1. Happier people LIVE longer and healthier lives
In a study with over 2,800 men age 65 and older, those who tested higher on positive emotion were HALF as likely to DIE and HALF as likely to experience disease (hello?!?).

2. Happier people make more money and set bigger goals
In a study with 272 people, happier people received better evaluations from supervisors and higher pay. In another study, both children and adults who were induced into positive moods (by watching happy movies or looking at positive images) selected higher goals, performed better, and persisted longer than those who were not in a good mood.

3. Happier people have more fulfilling relationships
In a study with 222 college students, those who were considered "very happy" spent the least time alone, the most time socializing, and were rated to be in fulfilling relationships by their friends and self.

4. Happier people have better sex
Yes, it's true! There are studies that support this. But damn, I can't remember where I read I'll get back to you on this one if you're interested.

5. Happier people are happy!
This is the funniest thing of all. That I feel compelled to write a blog that DEFENDS HAPPINESS! Sometimes I tell people I study happiness and they look at me like "what? ha." People...WTF. Experiencing happiness is what makes life worth living. Somehow we forget that. We forget that our mission in life should be to make ourselves happy. Some think that pursuing happiness is selfish. Some think it's impractical. Some think it's soft. But it's not. And best of all, when you're happy - you make the world happier. You make others happier.

Here are two of my fave quotes on that:

"Don't ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive and then go do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive."
-- Howard Thurman, Dean of Theology and the chapels at Howard and Boston universities for more than two decades, and in 1944 helped found the first racially integrated, multicultural church in the United States.

"When you find your piece in the puzzle, you enable 10,000 others to find theirs." T Harv Eker

With much love,

Sources: For more great studies and info, read Martin Seligman's book, Authentic Happiness. He's coming out with an evolved theory on positive psychology - but this book still holds major gems on the science of happiness.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Getting raw, my real deal

It's a ritual. And this is year number five for our Positive Psychology program at UPenn. At the end of the year, we have a Quaker Dinner. This is a dinner where, when the spirit moves you, you get up and share a few words.

These were mine. Reflecting, refracting, and reliving.

I'm incredibly grateful for all the beautiful people in MAPP who helped get me through this year, and those four minutes. A special shout out to my girl, Zuzana Zilkova, who literally held me up on stage.

One of my questions for Positive Psychology was what's the most positive way to suffer? How does one positively lose? So far, what I've discovered, is that you must feel the pain in order to heal. It's inevitably messy and damn uncomfortable - especially for control/achiever freaks like moi. One of the best books I've read on this is Elizabeth Lesser's Broken Open. Elizabeth describes this as the Phoenix Process.

In Elizabeth's book she shares not only her own story, but those of others. She demonstrates the universality of loss. And she goes on to describe while shit happens to ALL of us - we try to hide it from one another, like it's a secret. Quick, get over it, move on, DO. But by hiding the secret of being human - to oneself and to the world, by trying to sweep the pain away, one can miss the most beautiful part of being alive...and that's letting a piece of you die, so that the rest of you can flourish.

After saying my few words, several classmates approached me and thanked me. Wow. For what? I was surprised. But then I realized. This talk was not for me...but maybe for others. Maybe, just maybe, by sharing my secret, I might be helping others live through theirs. And for that chance, I share this magnificently messy moment with you.

Here's to life.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010


Play is being responsible in an unexpected's about letting yourself own the moment to create whatever you want. You don't just follow directions, color in the risk into the uncertainty of the future - be it on an adventure, in a conversation, at work, or any experience of life.

Tonight I met for coffee (actually, mint tea) with Carrie Lobman and Janet Wootten from the East Side Institute, a radical movement away from traditional psychology.

I was asking Carrie how to wrap my head around play and instead of helping me put play into a box, she said, why don't you just play with how to express it?

Love that.

Carrie Lobman, EdD is Assistant Professor of Education at The Graduate School of Education, Rutgers University. She is also the director of the Developing Teachers Fellowship Program at the East Side Institute. She is co-author of Unscripted Learning: Using Improv Across the K-8 Curriculum.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Breaking down in front of 50 people

Martin Seligman, the founder of Positive Psychology, one of world's most influential leaders in psychology, witnessed me losing it this weekend.

Him, and about 50 other people.

It was the best experience ever.

I'll have to share more soon.

Much love,

Monday, April 19, 2010

Blow Men Off No More...My Disco Epiphany to World Peace.

Last night I was celebrating my friend's birthday at an East Village spot. A great Whitney Houston song came on that triggered all females to jump up and dance. (Meanwhile, the men just looked at each other and said, "Who actually likes this song?")

Anyway, I happened to be in the back far away from the dance floor, but I couldn't resist getting down, even if it was all by myself. I was in my groove (yes, Stella got her groove back) when some very cute boy (literally) approached me. The exchange went something like this:

MY INITIAL THOUGHT: Does this boy even shave? Right now I'm not really feeling like being social. But let's see...I'll be curious and give him a minute to see where this goes.


NEXT THOUGHT: He's obviously a nice guy and very brave for coming over. An 'A' for effort. If only you were 10 years older, this could be fun.

I SAY: Well, thank you so much for coming over here and keeping me company on the dance floor. It's very brave and sweet of you. I pat his arm, and give him the signal that we're about done. I sincerely meant what I said and I think he really received that intention. He looked at me appreciatively, gave a little nod, shy smile, and walked away.

I thought that went well and I felt really good about the exchange. It felt nice being nice. I actually felt like I did a good deed. No need to be a biotch if you're not interested.

That then inspired me to reach out to someone who had been pursuing me and who I left hanging via text. I'd been deliberating whether or not it was better to just not respond or to face the situation. Which would be less bruising to the ego? But after last night I decided that leaving someone hanging isn't a reflection of what I want to be about. If I'm about connectedness and the value of every human being - than being too cool for school is not the way.

So I contacted the guy and that exchange went brilliantly. It has now sent me on a kick of reinforcement that being nice is not only nice, but effective. In fact, being honest about my feelings with both guys made me feel closer to them.

I know my experience on the dance floor can't possibly compare to nations at war. But there is a kernel of grander truth that shimmered for me in the dark, dirty downtown spot, at 3am, over Whitney Houston...and that was golden rule. Perhaps the secret to world peace revealed itself to me in a profound way - as I practiced what I was taught since I was little - treat others how you want to be treated. If we all worked up the patience and the guts to share our differences and varied intentions out loud, with respect, and honesty, I think we all might feel more connected, more love, and even a little sexier.


P.S. Insulting someone actually activates their fight or flight hormones for 48 hours. Consistent highs in these hormones lead to all sorts of negative things like heart disease. So next time you're considering being mean, know that sticks and stones may break your bones and that words can actually hurt you. Be nice!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Can you see it?

Here's a great article on how to achieve goals using imagery from Positive Psychology News Daily. One big point they make is that the thoughts we choose, if positive, are more likely to become a reality. Secondly, it emphasizes how the choice to create your reality is yours. Imagine your life as a movie and you as the director. You can choose to focus on whatever you want. Your movie has infinite potential - it's just a matter of whether you want to highlight the shit or the glory. This post also has some fantastic goal setting tips from one of my favorite ladies, Caroline Adams Miller, author of Creating Your Best Life.

By the way, I'm a total advocate of visualization for successful outcomes. It's worked for me and so many others I know. One way I use imagery is with my vision board. I have a 20x30 board with images that represent what I want to manifest in my life in the next year. I have this board above my desk and spend time looking at it everyday, getting excited about what's about to come into my life. Also, I spend time in the morning visualizing what I want to happen that day or in a certain meeting. I'll meditate briefly on these outcomes and muster up my feelings so whatever I'm imagining begins to feel really real. Sometimes when I'm without a book on the subway, I'll just spend time visualizing the details of the ribbon cutting ceremony of my next big venture. I see what I'm wearing, who is standing next to me, I practice my speech, I begin to get choked up because I'm so emotional and so excited and so grateful. I FEEL it and I SEE it. And I KNOW it's going to happen. Everything begins in the imagination - so visualize it.

It really works! It's easy. And it's fun. It's basically day dreaming but a little more strategic. You also don't necessarily need to give yourself that much time in advance depending on the activity. For example, on Friday, in yoga class, I used it before entering into the crow pose. I've never been able to master this pose until I took a few seconds before moving into it to actually imagine myself doing it. And then I did!

That's all for now.

Much love,

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Lately I've been acutely sensitive to the fragility, uncertainty, and mystery of it all. Sounds so dramatic and cliche. But I was recently in a bus accident and thankfully it wasn't serious. But woah, how damn lucky I was. And am. That I'm here writing you. That today I took the bus and arrived safely. That my limbs and muscles work. That my brain functions, heart beats, eyes see, and ears hear. The other day we had a pipeline break in my area and we received an automated message to inform us of why the water pressure might be low. Normally, I'd take that for granted. And perhaps even be annoyed - "uhhhh, there goes my shower!" But instead, I thought, "WOW, how nice to know that there is a system in place to communicate such things and to fix them." And then, how about the fact that today I ate food, any time and any where I wanted. I'm lucky that I still have grandparents to call up. I'm lucky I have friends who wish me the best and send me positive vibes upon request. I'm lucky I several pairs of shoes from which to pick for the same occasion. There is so much abundance, and so much to be grateful for. I know not everyone is so lucky...but there's always something for which to say, thank you.

Gratitude is powerful and studies show that expressing and experiencing gratitude leads to improved mood, pro-social and moral behavior.  Not only does it affect the individuals receiving and giving the gratitude, it has a cascading effect that spreads (Emmons, 2003). It's contagious!

So consider this blog a positive infection. I hope you get it!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Why my parents are beautiful.

Happy Anniversary Mom and Dad!

Today is my parent’s anniversary (yesterday by the time you read this post). I love them immensely. I want to celebrate them here with words, in a way I’m not always able to do out loud or in the moment.

I spoke to my mom in the morning and then my father around 5pm. I said, “Happy Anniversary! I love you and wish you lots of happiness and good health and ever growing love.” But I say that all the time. What I don’t say is this:

Dad. You are right.
You are right in the way you love.
You are right in the way you quietly go about taking care of us.
Fixing what we break.
Making something from nothing.
Letting us be girls and be happy.
Chit. Chat.

You are right about people.
As soon as you say, schmuck, it’s not long until I discover you’re right.
You are right about me.
Thank you for believing in me and seeing the rainbow above my head.

You are right that you chose mama and me.
And you are so courageous for it.
You are right in your heart even if it doesn’t always come out in the way I hear your words.
And that is all that matters.

You are brave.
You are a GOOD man.
You are STRONG human being.
I honor you.
I love you.
I’m grateful for you.

Mom. Sometimes I wonder if you realize just how amazing you are.
Sometimes I wonder whether you realize how meaningful your small gestures of care mean to me.
When you make me kasha when I’m in a rush.
When you stay up late with me, while I post on ebay.
When you remember my schedule better than I do, sometimes.
When you call me when I forget.
When you are strong for us, even when you feel weak.
When you love even through your anger and disappointment.
When you do what you are scared of.
Like swimming, skiing, trying parmesan cheese.
When you look stunning, everyday.
When you just do what needs to be done, with energy, joy, and life.

Mom and Dad. Thank you for all you do DO for us. And thank you for what you do not do for us. What I’m most grateful for from the both of you is the invisible stuff. The space you gave me to lead my life. When you chose not to say, or to question, or to get in the way. I know sometimes you may doubt whether you should have gotten in the way more. But because of your letting me grow, I am everything because of you.

I love you.