What are you?

2014-04-10 07.25.00Hello Darlings,

LaDiva here.

At a dinner for a civic group, of which I am on the board, I met someone new.  Instead of introducing myself, a colleague introduced me as a dietitian and plant-based.

Now the fun begins.

The new friend begins to tell me that they don’t eat that much meat.  I am now trying not to look bored and interested in their meal choices.

Here’s the scoop:

I am a vegan2013-07-30 13.43.39
I am a woman
I am a mother
I am a gardener
I am a business owner2013-02-02 14.18.55
I am a cook
I am a skier
I am a film professional
I am a car driver
I have traveled around the world
I am a liberal with a libertarian streak
I am an actress
I am a home owner

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I am a wife
I am a guitarist
I am a teacher
I am a sister
I am low maintenance
I am an author
I am a backpacker
I am a companion pet to my cats

All of these things are a part of me.  They all define a part of myself.  None of is all of me.  When we meet, let’s not start with one that makes you feel uncomfortable.  When we meet, give me your list and I promise to discuss whichever one you want.

 

The New Slave?

National Constitution Center

National Constitution Center edifice

Darlings,

Happy New Year!

The first weekend of the New Year found me at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia, PA.  Perfect for a cold, damp, rainy day.

Truly a fantastic place filled with interesting facts about how and why the American Revolution happened.  For a fact wonk like me, heaven on earth.  In addition to the permanent exhibit detailing and exploring the full document, was an exhibit about Thomas Jefferson and his home/plantation, Monticello.

Monticello was Jefferson’s experiment in architecture and agriculture.  But one can also learn a great deal about the mentality of that era and how it is still reflected today.

On the grounds of Monticello were 200 enslaved people.  Within the exhibit is a large sign in naming most of the enslaved that were born or bought, worked and died on the premises.  Many names are repeated for various workers, including several John’s and three Sukey’s, plus more Sukey’s with variety of second names.  People with names no one remembers who had little to no hope of being in charge of their own destiny due, mainly, to circumstances beyond their control.

The signers of the Constitution were smart, caucasian, male, land and business owners.  Many believed that the entire economy, not to mention their own wealth, would collapse if slavery were abolished.  What would happen to their inferiors – women, the poor and non-whites?

At the time of the revolution, 1 in 5 citizens in the colonies was enslaved.   Currently,1 in 5 US citizens goes to bed hungry, 1 in 31 citizens of the United States is on parole, probation or incarcerated, 1 in 3 has a criminal record, 1 in 2 homeless are under the age of 18.

Signers of the Constitution

Signers of the Constitution

If you have read this blog you will know that I work in a small residential treatment facility for teens with “anger management challenges.”  That’s the politically correct or let’s-keep-positive-at-all-times term for problems.  They and their families are represented in the statistics listed above.  Many encompass all categories.  What are we doing, as a society, to give these folks hope for a better future?

I am a big believer in the idea that I am in control of my destiny, but I had help.  I was not born in poverty or had to live with multiple families because my parent, the one not incarcerated, couldn’t keep a decent roof over my head.  I never had to figure out how to get to school from a new homeless shelter.  I never had to go to bed hungry as a child or without a winter coat, albeit my coat was a hand-me-down.  I was never sexually abused as a child or beaten into submission.

What is the long term outlook of those who have grown up with these “challenges”?  When the kids I work with made posters of occupations they would like to have, the jobs were: bereavement counselors, hair and nail stylists, parole officers, therapists, lawyers and basketball players.  Where were the doctors, nurses, pilots, actors, writers, business owners, teachers, real estate agents, chefs, journalists, mechanics, welders, engineers, hospitality professionals, architects, scientists and designers?

These kids see themselves as a cog somewhere within one of the fastest growing businesses in the country – the prison system.

The United States has, by a wide margin, the largest amount of its own people in lock up.  Being at the Constitution Center, I read this incredible, historic document put together to govern a country, not by rule of a family or separate section of the populace, but by the people as a whole.  The difference of 1700’s slavery and 21st century poverty is apparent.  Yet, we share the same percentage of the citizenry who have little notion of liberty to pursue their happiness.  Now a paycheck deems where they live, what foods they can eat, life expectancy and future possibilities, or lack thereof.

Even though Wall Street is having a huge resurgence, the notion of increasing the minimum wage is shunned because it will “put businesses out of business.”  Again, the wealthy few breed fear of a collapse in the economy for the majority of minimum wage workers – women, the poor and non-white.

Is this the modern form of slavery?

Two ears and one mouth

Screen Shot 2014-07-10 at 6.24.46 PMDarlings, LaDiva here.

Just got back from the North American Vegetarian Society’s Summerfest.  This is a 5 day veg affair in Johnstown, Pennsylvania for everything vegan or raw.  It is where everyone in the plant-based food land launches their books, hangs out and gives presentations on nutrition, environment and activism.  I think even mosquitos are safe here.

I gave 3 presentations – You’re Not Dead, Yet; Why do I have Stubborn Belly fat when I do a Million Crunches a day?; Pregnant? Vegan? FAB! – and was part of a panel on raising vegan kids.

At this conference dietitians [RD-registered dietitian] are royalty.  Which is a good/bad thing.  Great that people respect you enough to ask questions, bad if you want to eat hot food or meet friends.  But I am with the creme of the dietetics world – Brenda Davis, RD; Jill Nussinow, MS, RD; Mark Rifkin, MS, RD; Juliana Hever, MS, RD; Dina Aronson, MS, RD and Myriam Parham, MS, RD and I know I am leaving other folks out.   Then there are the MDs.  Well, who really cares about MDs?  Their wives, and don’t get me started on male MDs telling us all how to eat and cook for families!

Anyway, there I was listening to everyone talk about their book deals and festivals.  And I had nothing to say.  Mainly because there was so much great information about publishers, book deals and other folderol that I have never dealt with.  One RD looked at me and said, “Are you okay?  You’re not saying anything.  You are so calm.”

Well, I was calm and also overwhelmed by the fact that all these people were doing thingsLaDiva outside cooking demo Sanctuary I want to do.  And I was fairly clueless as to how to get into their league.  I felt like a teenager allowed to sit at the adult table. They have “people” like publishers, book designers, literary agents.  I do goofy dancing on videos and LUV immersion blenders. So, I decided to be a sponge.  Also, to use my 2 ears and 1 mouth in that proportion.

Later that day, I ran into one of my esteemed colleagues.  I told them about my email to the publisher for my book because it had been months with no communication.  The publisher did respond to my “maybe we don’t have a fit” email.  They said that they are still interested, but they aren’t picking up anyone’s book at the moment.  My colleague said that they knew this publisher had a reputation of dragging their feet.  My colleague gave me some good advice – Publish it yourself.  I nodded, not totally in agreement.  I mean who wants to do ALL the work?

They said, “The publisher is going to take a large cut.  They are dragging their feet.  You could put together the book as a PDF, sell it, put up the cooking videos yourself and keep all the profit.  Why are you going to wait to make money and then give so much of it to someone else?”

It did make sense, but what about getting me out on a publicity tour?

They said, “Book yourself.  Sell some books.  Get some good response.  Then, go to someone, a publisher, when you have sales to show your worth and have them together the print version.”

For a split second I felt stupid, like I should have known that.  But, then I thought, how cool that these folks think of me as a peer.  There was no “please, god, don’t let that LaDiva person sit at our table.”  There was an expectance that my book would be worth reading and that my presentations would be interesting and well-researched.  One of them even said, “I want to be you!”  And I thought, no, you don’t.  That made me think, maybe I don’t want to be them, either.  But I don’t think I’ll mention it.

One mouth and two ears.  That’s what Abraham Lincoln was thinking when he said, “Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt.”

 

Why don’t journeys have escalators?

Darlings,

ImageOpened my season of cooking demonstrations June 7th with the next June 14th.  My mustard sauces were a big hit and the vendors told me they saw an increase in sales.  FAB!  I use ingredients from as many vendors as possible for my cooking demos.  The point is to have customers LUV a recipe and then be able to take all the yummy fixin’s home with them.  The bok choy gal sold out.

So, I’m feeling pretty good.  Then, I read a note from myself, posted in March, in my calendar.  Today is the day I have to write to a possible publisher for my book, You’re Not Dead, Yet and find out if they are going to #%& or get off the pot.  Now, this is not some schlump publisher.  We had many emails about my book and they were very positive.  They had lots of good questions about where I was going with the material.  I knew they had actually read the chapters and other recipe materials I had sent.

In speaking to a well-known book author, I was told that the publisher has had enough time to make a decision.  They need to make a deal or let me move to the next step.  I thought about it and agreed.  Time to jump without a parachute, again.

Most of my life and successes have been things I did by myself or I was the reluctant leader.  I was so hoping that some professional person would edit my material, hold my feet to the fire and show me how to get this done.  Doesn’t look promising.  Also, I need to have something to sell at cooking demos, conferences and other events.  The real cash is in product, not speaking fees.

I have a big conference coming up, The North American Vegetarian Society Summerfest.  This is where you go to learn all things plant-based.  I learned more there in 5 days than my whole year in grad school about biochemistry and nutrition.  The audience is WAY smart and will ask the most detailed questions.  They also buy product.  Thus, I thought my book would have a release date by now and I could get a pre-sales going.  Not going to happen.  I am putting together a one-day Summer Cooking Intensive at the LaDiva studio kitchen.  That is one thing to sell, but these people buy books.

It is true that I have not heard back from my email of “Maybe we don’t have a fit” to the publishers.   On the other hand, if history repeats itself, I will be self-publishing, creating an E-book, figuring out how to link videos, designing covers and whatever else it takes.  I’m almost finished with the first draft of the entire thing.

I do want to roll my eyes, exhale and say, Who really cares whether I do this or not?

What I was running to during the last 1/2 mile

What I was running to during the last 1/2 mile

Then that annoying voice says, You wrote it.  Publish it.  Who cares if no one buys it.  You can say, just like when you finished the marathon, I did it and I don’t ever have to do it again.  You are going to get older, anyway.  You are going to write other stuff, anyway.  Get it done anyway.

Gee, I can’t wait to get on another untraveled road to possibly nowhere.  But I won’t know if I don’t put on my walking shoes.

Here’s a sigh and a nod to Maya Angelou, Wouldn’t take nothing for my journey now.

 

Does your food do what you want it to do?

There I am at a party looking at the food.  I’m looking for guests I know and who looks fun and interesting.

Before I can finish scanning the room.  The host says, “Meet my friend, LaDiva, she’s a dietitian.  LaDiva, don’t hate me because of the food.  I know so much of it is bad.  But it’s a party.”

Great way to meet someone new.  Now, the new person will begin to spew all their guilt about their diet to me.  “I don’t eat THAT much meat.  I mean, why does bad food taste so good?”

Really?  Do you think I care?  Did you notice I had a glass of red wine in my hand?

So here are my mental replies:

  1. “Hmm, interesting.  You don’t eat that bad-ly.  You are using the word, bad, as an adverb.  You need to add an -ly.  Strunk and White have an app.”
  2. “Hmm, interesting.  What else do you think about your food?”
    “Well, it is just hard to make healthy stuff.”
    “Hmm, interesting.  Hard to make.”  I nod my head.
    “Yes.”
    “Do you have a credit card?”
    “Yes.”
    “Great.  The rest conversation is going to cost you $150 for an hour.  I have my Paypal swiper with me.”
  3. “You eat really bad?  Actually you eat BADLY, and have you ever painted a room or anything?”
    “Yes.”
    “Well, this conversation is about as interesting to me as watching that paint dry.  I am now going to put that knitting needle through my eye to divert the pain of this verbal interchange.”
  4. “Okay, I’m going to cut to the chase.  You need to ask yourself, what do you want your food to do for you?  Answer that and the rest is easy.  Excuse me.  Those folks look like they are having fun.  I’m going to join them.”

That’s my bottom line.  What is it you want your food to do?  Here’s an example:

  • I’m a person with high cholesterol.  I have a couple of teen age kids, I want to get through college and off into their own lives.  I know what I eat causes my problem.  I pay my own insurance and if I need more medication, my premiums will go up.  I need my food to lower my cholesterol and make sure I go to my kids weddings.

If this person is chowing down on the animal foods, saturated fat and little fiber, their food is NOT doing what they want it to do.  Their diet is actually supporting their next stroke and decreasing the number of meals the caterer plans for the graduation parties.

  • I’m a person wiling to risk the damage to my liver by having a martini.  I drink my martini after 5:30pm.  The point of the martini is to break the work day from the evening.

This person’s food does exactly what they want it to do.  And if they have an olive, they even get fiber.  If they have more than one martini, it may not do what they want it to do because, depending on their alcohol tolerance, they make get to tipsy and not make dinner or go to bed at a reasonable hour.  If they have 3 or 4, they may have a hangover that REALLY ruins their next day and any relationships they have with people who don’t appreciate their 3 am bad joke phone calls and texting about how their bosses really don’t understand them.

The idea is not rocket science.  It does take looking at yourself, your goals and owning what you do versus what you want.  I come in when you want to get these two – goals and daily life – to work together.  That’s where my expertise gives you strategies to make your healthy life a reality.

So looking at your life and health goals, that’s the question to ask.  And when we meet at a party, tell me a great joke and the most fun thing you have ever done.  Leave the food guilt in the car.  It will wait for you.

One step back, two steps forward

LaDiva outside cooking demo Sanctuary

I’m coming to an event near you!

Darlings,

My writing space is about 80% together.  However, I had a huge cooking demo and had to stop and prepare.  On the other hand, what I have done is so comforting and truly me that I have no problem putting off finishing into the summer.

Monetizing my business has been a mental struggle.  That is one reason I am writing the book, You’re Not Dead, Yet – Nutrition for the over 50 crowd.  People ask me for a book at every cooking demo or presentation.  Right now, the project is in the hands of a publisher.  In the meantime, I am re-shooting and shooting anew video recipes to accompany the Ebook.  You should be able to click on links to bring you to recipes that reflect the nutrition info you have been reading in each chapter.

But that Ebook is at least a few months away and I need to make you, other blog readers and YouTube viewers happy with content that will better your lives, increase cash-flow and create my long term goals of creating a more compassionate world through parties, food and fun.

Well, my time banging out walls and designing a closet formulated a clear plan.

To better your lives through content, I am starting a subscriber service via theScreen Shot 2014-05-21 at 8.59.25 PM YouTube Channel.  Folks have written that they had to wander around on the channel to find what they wanted and they wanted PDFs of the recipes.  A subscription service means I can spend time sending off PDFs and answering emails like, “What is that eggplant tomato recipe?”  I can take the 10 minutes to sift through and send all the videos with eggplant and tomatoes.  Also, I will be able to create a series of basic cooking/shopping techniques.  Helping newbies in the kitchen is why I teach teens cooking, seasoning and knife skills.

For creating a more compassionate world through fun, this summer I am conducting cooking demos almost every weekend.  [Check out my Facebook page for details.]   In the fall, I will have my Cooking Club.  A small group of 10 will learn to prepare dishes to keep their girl/boy-ish figures once a week for 4 weeks.  I am also looking at having a weekend intensive next spring.

But farmers markets aren’t the only place to have cooking craziness.  The BIG cooking demonstration I spoke of in the beginning of this was my second at a state conference.  What a hoot!  Party and event planners, take note.  What  is the best way to end a day of sitting on your rear watching slide presentations for 8 hours than to crack up with a LaDiva Girl-ish Figure Gastronomy?  Yes, there will be the Diva-ette Dancers!

So, my “step backward” writing break that seemed incredibly decadent and merely work-aversion actually gave me a new plan . . . with twice as much work to do.  And I have to get back to it.

I took a number years ago, when is it my turn?

Take a ticket and wait

Take a ticket and wait

Darlings,

The kids I work with are not the reason I hate my job.  It is the frustration of nothing ever moving forward. . . and the 4 hour commute once a week.

So, I have been looking at other projects and positions for about 3 years.  A number of single event opportunities have come my way such as conference presentations, fat camps, corporate wellness, county agencies, but they all fold after first happy use like toilet paper.  Nothing moves to the next bigger step.

Yet again, I find another opportunity.  This one is to create nutrition videos, something I already Toilet paper rolldo, in the program I already use.  I read and comprehend the project that the company has emailed as the first hoop to jump through to decide worthiness.  The project was something I have done about 1,000 times.  I read everything, do the project and realize that I have an upgrade version of the slide presentation software and their computers have a problem with that.  I check the project for accuracy.  I now rack my brain trying to think how I can downgrade the version of the file I have to match the company’s software version.

Eureka, on another login for my laptop [replacing the stolen one from the summer with all of my book on it] I find an older version of the program.  I will now re-do the slide stuff.  I write to the contact from the company and state this is what I am going to do and here are a few other questions before I do a final checklist.

But the company’s files I need to complete the project in the older version need to be downloaded again.  However, the company’s download program, Dropbox, will not download what I need as a simple pdf.  The files open as blank pages.  My laptop has Dropbox loaded and I have used it before on .docx files.  Mr. Company Contact contacts me via email, congratulates me on my pithy questions and states that there are ambiguities because they want to see if people can think.  I do not mention the Dropbox issue.

I spend the next 8 hours working on this program, visiting around 15 sites trying to find out how to download these files again in a simple pdf format.  Apparently, hundreds of people have the same problem.  It seems that the computer system the company wants their work done on and Dropbox have some major communication issues.  I do all of the work-arounds detailed on all sites.  One works for about 3 minutes.

Brilliance arrives and I download the files onto a friend’s PC, that does not know Dropbox exists, and email them to myself.  I checked to see that I was not supposed to upload it to Dropbox.  I run through the final checklist and email.

The next day, an UNDELIVERABLE message shows up in my inbox.  I check everything, again.  I write the parts I worked on and quote the company’s instructions on how I completed the project just to cover my . . . tracks.  Resend.

This would be a great job.  I could do it from everywhere there is internet service.  I am in sync with the nutrition info put out.  I give myself a visa to Happyville because I know my work is good.

Today, I get rejected.  “You are not what we are looking for.”

Rereading the initial email with all the instructions, I realize that he wrote an incorrect instruction.  Or I think he did.  I put 2 pieces of different instructions together and now see that he may have wanted another thing done to the document.  The 2 pieces of different instructions shows that he doesn’t know how to count.

My first professional job in the entertainment business was over 30 years ago.  I spent years in the film and TV world.  My artistic habit was fed doing exactly what this new opportunity wants.  I did this job at international finance institutions for 15 years.

I never got what I personally wanted out of my artistic career, so after realizing I would just become old and bitter, I thought forget the frustration and do a job based on objectives [science] not subjectives, [art].  I jumped through the education hoops, the forget-everything-science-based and puke out 1950 medical-answers-on-the test hoops, the you-have-two-ears-and-one-mouth-use-them-in-that-proportion hoop, the find-out-what-you-do-well-and-do-that hoop and the ever popular I-will-do-everything-to-make-this-happen hoop.  When do I stop jumping and land?

Stay tuned, because you never know when there could be breaking news

Hang on!

Hang on!

that I get what fulfills my soul and life needs.

Until then- I did have a piece of interesting mail.  The second letter of its kind in 5 years.  One of the kids I work with sent me a letter thanking me for the birthday card I sent and he wants to be able contact me when he gets out and tell me how he is doing.  Not sure what I did to make this connection, but perhaps his family didn’t see the remember-my-kid’s-birthday or attend-family-therapy-day hoop.

This week the two hours each way will be, subjectively, worth it.