Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Don't Waste Your Breath

When God created creation, He did it by speaking things into existence.  Genesis teaches us that God said "Let there be light, and there was light."  Likewise, human co-creators have been endowed with this awesome power of speech. In fact, the Hebrew words Abra Cadabra mean, "I will create as I speak."  And yet humans seem to be haphazard with their speech.  We say things we don't mean and we mean things we don't say.  One of my teachers says about the power of speech that, "The tongue is not like a sword, that when one goes to lift it up against another, one may change one's mind and put it back in it's sheath.  The tongue is like a bullet, once it is fired, there is no retrieval." From Avraham Greenbaum's Wings of the Sun.  Therefore we must carefully calculate not only every word we utter but also our tone of voice and body language when we deliver it so as to not hurt someone else's feelings.

There are many sayings from many traditions regarding the power of speech including the wisdom of silence.  Sometimes biting our tongue when we want to say something is the more enlightened and appropriate path.  We often say things that were better unsaid and we also often fail to say important things such as "I am sorry, I was wrong, please, thank you, and I love you."  Why is it so hard for us to say or not to say the right thing?

The particular speech issue that I wish to address in this discourse is when strangers or acquaintances profess the words, "I love you" to me.

I recently took a Landmark Education class and one of the participants went on and on professing his love to and for all the individuals in the class.  Honestly, when complete or virtual strangers tell me that they "love" me, it makes me want to barf in my mouth a little bit.  Okay, I am exaggerating to make a point and I am sorry for my over-dramatization but let me explain why it's so bothersome to me...

To me, loving someone means something very specific.  Regardless of whether it is romantic love, familial love, or neighborly love,  Love bears a HUGE responsibility.  Love is not to be taken lightly.  Love is a not only a profound and powerful emotion, it is also a verb describing certain specific and significant ACTIONS that people take when they are affected by such a condition.  These actions include nurturing the love by virtue of communication with the beloved and by providing evidence for its continued existence!  I don't need a reason to love someone but when I say I love someone it means I will be there for them.  It means they are important to me.  It means I care for their greatest good and more.

When people toss around, "I love you" today, I think what they really mean to say is, "I hold you in unconditional positive regard."  And that's great.  In fact, it is lovely, and yet it's not love.

I wish I could find that guy from my Landmark class and ask him precisely what did he mean when he proclaimed that he loved me (and everyone else in the class).  Does it mean that he:

1.  Would cook me Kosher chicken soup when I am sick?
2.  Would pick me up or take me to the airport at 3 or 4am?
3.  Would take me to the dentist and wait patiently for me to have my wisdom teeth extracted and then drive me home because I would still be under the effect of the general anesthesia and unable to drive?
4.  Would he humor my cranky attitude as the drugs were wearing off?
5.  Would he love me, listen to me, and humor me when I was at my worst?  Heart-broken?  Angry?  Irritated, or Exhausted?
6.  Would he go out of his way and inconvenience himself and sacrifice of himself for me or for my sake?
7.  Would he do something he had no interest in doing because it was important to me?
8.  Would he fight for my honor and defend me when I am not there?
9.  Would he support causes that are important to me?
10.  Would he lend me some money if I needed it?
11.  Would he help me move my home or office?
12.  Would he fix or wash my car or help me with chores?
13.  Does he even know anything about what matters to me?  Who I am?  What I stand for?
14.  Would he help promote by business as if it were his own?
15.  Would he go to family events with me such as holidays?
16.  Would he babysit my dog (if I had one) when I went out of town?
17.  Would he take care of me if I couldn't take care of myself?
18.  Would he even be able to prioritize me in his busy schedule?
19.  Would he stand by me when I have to go to court?
20.  Would he be willing to allow himself to be embarrassed for me?

To that classmate of mine:
Those are all ways to show me that you love me and if you're not interested or not willing to do them then you have absolutely no business abusing your power of speech and creating an illusion that has no weight and no meaning.  Your words are vapor.  You are not a creator, you are an illusionist, and how on earth can I even trust you if what you say is not true?  It doesn't make me feel good, it does just the opposite.

What are people trying to accomplish exactly by saying I love you to strangers?  I don't get it.  Can you "love" someone without caring about them?  Maybe you mean "I respect you" or "I like you?"  Can you be more specific or precise or just tell me the boundaries of your so-called "love?"  Like, I love you but don't call me before 10am.  Do you love me like you love coffee or flowers or sunshine?  That's not what love means to me.  To me I love you means, I got your back.  It means call me when you need me.  It means let me be your shoulder when you need someone to talk to.  It means I want you to be happy and I want you to succeed in life.  It means THIS:  

Relationships are built on trust and trust is gained by being impeccable with your word, as Don Miguel Ruiz says in his book the 4 Agreements.

So I prefer if people don't tell me that they love me unless they really mean it.  As the cliche goes, actions speak louder than words.  I am not a fan of fluff,  I don't want my ego fanned and it won't earn the person brownie points in my book.  It just really confuses me because I have no idea what they mean.

As my high school English teacher Mr Meyers used to say, "Show, don't tell."  First show me that you love me, then I will understand that the words you say are real and true and meaningful.


Post Script

After writing this piece, I had the following occur to me:

We see the world, not as it is, but rather as we are! And in our delusion we sometimes forget that our perspective is just one of many possible points of view. We are addicted to being right at all costs. Today I had a #breakthrough that will change my life forever. You see, I had my heart broken in the past. Things happened to me in life that made me feel betrayed, disappointed and unable to trust. So much so that when someone said the words I Love You to me, it made me uncomfortable, defensive, on guard, and skeptical. I thought for sure they were fake, lying, going to hurt me, or just abusing their power of speech. Today I realized that it's not them, it's me. I got that I had certain stories in my head about what love looks like. I suddenly realized that love doesn't demand or expect or anticipate. I realized that I didn't need someone to prove or show me that they loved me. All I need to do is accept that love and let it be, whatever it means to them. I wrote a blog article previously which I will soon take down because I got it all wrong. It was my hurt talking. I am so thankful to #Landmark for helping me to embrace #love, in whatever shape or form it comes in without having any demands, expectations, or qualifications or definitions. I choose to allow love into my life. I choose to BE the kind of LOVE I wish to experience. Thank you Universe for the #priceless gift I have received tonight. I'm ready.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

The Ugly Truth About Beauty Pageants

When I was 22 years old I moved to St Thomas, a US Virgin Island, for a year.  I had finished my BA in Psychobiology from UC Santa Cruz in 3 years and did an internship at Cornell University for a year and I wanted to take time to "find myself" before jumping into graduate school.  I had decided that conventional medical school was not for me because I was turned off by the toxic medications and their "side-effects" as well as all the politics around medicine and how impersonal and uncaring the practice of conventional medicine has become, with insurance companies dictating how much time doctors are allotted to spend with patients.  That  combined with my bad experience volunteering as a nurse's assistant, pushed me away from wanting to be an MD.  On top of that, I was never good at standardized test-taking and the MCAT was not my friend.  I didn't want to be part of that money-centered business and I also wanted to choose a career path which I would enjoy the journey.  Since I didn't know what to do, I took some time to figure it out.

I considered getting an MBA and going into biotechnology.  So I took some business, accounting, and computer courses at the University of The Virgin Islands and applied to a few top schools.   Luckily, I didn't get in to any of them probably because my GMAT scores were not impressive enough.  I say luckily because if I didn't get rejected then I wouldn't be doing what I am doing now, which I am so lucky to be doing.  But I digress....

While I was there, besides taking classes, I also waited tables at the Hard Rock Cafe, worked part time in a retail store and also at another fine dining restaurant called Agave Terrace.  I made enough to pay my bills and my tuition.  During my final month there I got scuba certified I went island hopping all over the Caribbean for a month with my step-brother.

While living in St Thomas, my boyfriend at the time encouraged me to enter a beauty contest which was being held at the restaurant adjacent to where we worked.  I hadn't really considered it but he was motivated by the FREE trip to Las Vegas for the winner to attend the international pageant.  Well, he talked me into competing and I entered the pageant.

The pageant was well attended by all the locals and I became the undisputed winner of the title.  Following the initial pageant which included only women from St Thomas, I had to compete in a second pageant against women from St John and St Croix, the other 2 US Virgin Islands.  Following that victory, I was awarded the crown, sash and title for MISS HAWAIIAN TROPIC OF THE VIRGIN ISLANDS.  I won the trip to Vegas!  Unfortunately the trip was only for one person and my boyfriend did not attend with me, but my parents who live in California met me there and supported me in all the segments of the pageant.  My favorite was the fashion show.  I totally rocked it!

So what's the point of this story, you may be asking yourself.  Well here it comes!  When I got to Vegas, all the contestants were given a Hawaiian Tropic gym bag, filled with sun screen, and other gear and prizes.  In the goodie bag was also a magazine of theirs from the previous year.  As I flipped through the pages I noticed that the girls in the photos were present in the pageant again the following year.  They were using recycled models.  That wasn't so bad.  What really burst my bubble, was very upsetting, albeit eye-opening was when I saw one of their recycled beauties wearing a sash that said MISS HAWAIIAN TROPIC OF ST JOHN.  Wait a minute!?!  I was supposed to be MISS HAWAIIAN TROPIC OF THE VIRGIN ISLANDS, I won 2 pageants fair and square to earn that title and they just gave away part of my territory, what was going on?  Was this some sort of a mistake?  I asked the girl if she was from St John and she said, "No, I'm from Alabama, they just gave me this sash."  What the what!?!  I was crushed.  My whole illusion of fairness and pageants just crumbled before me.  What to do?  I was demoted to 1/3 of my true title and was now just MISS HAWAIIAN TROPIC OF ST THOMAS.  It wasn't fair.  I guess that was my first real world taste of "life isn't fair."

Then more ugly things were happening all around me.  There were supposed to be 10 finalists.  All of them were pre-picked of course.  However, during the course of the week of pageant events, we noticed Miss Russia was ALL OVER the judges.  And guess what?  That year there was an 11th finalist.  Guess who?  Miss Russia.  Surprise Surprise.

Pictured above is me with the Trumpster himself 
at the HT costume party in Vegas.  I was a pirate.

Another appalling thing that happened was that the 16 year old MISS ISRAEL was being hit on by THE DONALD.  He offered to fly her back on his private jet to New York.  When she told him that she was traveling with her mother, he said that there wasn't room for her mother on the plane.  She declined his invitation.

So my experience of pageants was pretty negative you could say.  I was very naive and then to see all that corruption right before my eyes was heart-breaking and disappointing.  I thought the illusion was real but I learned the ugly truth.

Did I mention that a representative from Playboy magazine was there scouting the girls?  Luckily I didn't make a bad decision that I would regret now that I am a doctor!  There are some things that money can't buy and dignity is one of them!  I also observed that an estimated 80% of the girls in the international Hawaiian Tropic pageant had boob jobs.  Fake body parts should disqualify a contestant in my humble opinion!

Why am I posting this story now, many years after it happened? Good question! I recently learned that, once again, in a different pageant, someone who lives in one state was given a pageant title for another State. That was the trigger. I guess Hawaiian Tropic is not the only corrupt pageant who adopts the dishonest tactics of just giving people sashes when they aren't actually from that place.  Why?  Why participate in a deliberately dishonest scheme?  Is it THAT important to be recognized as a "beauty queen" that you have to LIE about where you're from?  What kind of false representation is that?  Why stand for something that is fake, misleading, phony and unkosher?  How rude and disrespectful is that to the girls who are actually from the state you represent?  As if none of them are pretty enough to be selected.  They need a fake representative for a pageant?  It's outrageous if you ask me.  The pageant does it to look good because they want to fill the spots instead of actually presenting what is true and real and authentic.  So what if you don't have someone from all 50 states?

People will stoop to anything for a shot in the spotlight, for a moment of fame, for the chance to launch their desired money-making modeling career.  But you know what happens when you stack your deck of cards without a solid foundation?  It crumbles.  In the end, nothing stands besides the truth.  People who lie and cheat and steal to get to the top end up miserable.  Especially if they have any shred of a conscience.  That conscience will eat away at their soul and not allow them to enjoy their "success."  They will be depressed insomniacs.  I would never encourage my daughter to do such a thing.  I think it is immoral and disgusting.  Just be real.  And if you don't win the pageant in the State you're from, it wasn't your destiny honey!  Let it go!

The bottom line is I think it comes down to poor self-esteem in these women who are competing with fake sashes.  Beauty pageants are objectifying and degrading towards women.  I can say that because I have been on the inside and it ain't pretty!  Our self-worth should not hang on how HOT we look in a bikini and an evening gown.  Platform?  Give me a break.  If you want to save the world go start a non-profit and do it in humility and grace not with a fake diamond tiara on your head.  Get real.  Do the right thing.  Stop trying to impress others with your lies.  It does just the opposite.  Getting to the top by being untruthful?  Where is the integrity in that?  Yeah, good luck with that.  Karma is a you know what.  Break a leg girl, break a leg.

Post Script: While living in the Virgin Islands, I did an internet search for "natural medicine" and found Bastyr University.  It was what I always wanted but never knew existed: evidence-based natural medicine and it's patient-centered, not profit-centered.  I became a naturopathic doctor and got a master's in acupuncture. Above is a picture from a photoshoot taken while on my first job after school as an acupuncture physician on a cruise ship.  That is why I am glad I didn't get into business school!  I never would have had a 2 year paid "vacation" traveling around the world helping people to heal with natural medicine.  My profession is so rewarding.  I feel it is an honor and a privilege to be part of someone's healing journey.

In terms of beauty, I have divorced myself from society's conventional standards and refuse to dye my premature grey.  Although I am in my 30s and get a lot of slack for sporting my silver locks, I refuse to allow my self-worth to hang on others who judge and think they can dictate how I am supposed to look or feel based on an external superficial unimportant factor such as the color of my hair.  Seriously?  Get a life!  Is that what matters to people?  Someone else's hair color?  I have bigger fish to fry!  I can't be bothered by people's own insecurities projected onto me.  Ha!

I have always been a rebel at heart and I feel that women are beautiful when they are comfortable in their own skin.  My platform?  Simple.  BE YOU.  Failure is a part of life, accept it.  Learn from it, grow, move on.  Don't sell yourself short.  Modeling isn't all that.  I decided a long time ago that I wanted to be remembered for the contributions of my brain, not because of a pretty face or body.  Those exterior things are just the wrapping, what's important is what's inside!

So I stand for people being true to themselves, being honest with others, and being real.  When people see that I have the courage to authentically be me without conforming to society's "norms" by hiding behind dye, it gives them the permission to be themselves in whatever way they were holding back their full light and expression from the world.  By just being myself, I can have the effect of liberating others' freedom of full self-expression.  Now that's way more powerful than a spread in Vogue magazine!  Think about it!  

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Open Letter to Matisyahu

I would like to congratulate you Matisyahu for being a man and I am not referring to your gender. In today's day and age, it takes real character, real strength, and real effort to be a real man. There are many boys walking around in men's bodies, but there are very few men out there.

What is it to be a man? In our Jewish heritage we have the Yiddish term mensch which we use to describe a "good" man. But what the word really means is "one who struggles." In life, we all have our personal battles and it's our choice how we respond. We can act in FEAR: Forget Everything And Run or we can choose to respond in a more enlightened way: Face Everything And Rise. You have chosen the latter and that takes great courage. It takes a big person to do the right thing because doing the right thing often requires self-sacrifice, taking the harder road, doing unfamiliar and/or uncomfortable things, stretching out of your comfort zone, taking risks, confronting others, being accused of betrayal, being misunderstood, being negatively judged and so on.

Matis, you have struggled and you have prevailed and thus you really earn the title mensch in my book!

Specifically, I wish to publicly say KUDOS to you for the way you have handled being a father to all of your children. I found it so heart-warming the way you have accepted, embraced, and taken pride in your daughter regardless of the circumstances that she came to be here.  

I also have a child out of wedlock and it has not been an easy path. There are many people who judge and criticize and disrespect people like us for our choices in handling the cards we were dealt in life. I can't imagine what that would be like under the microscope of being a public figure and having to go through it on a much larger scale. It's rather daunting to even think about it.

For someone who is generally relatively (and understandably) private about his personal life, you have not kept your daughter a secret from the world. You have candidly shared pictures of her on Twitter with your fans and didn't hide the truth of her existence. I find that so brave and endearing, especially considering how sensitive you were to the judgmental critics who chastised you when you shaved your beard off and evolved in your spiritual practice.  In retrospect, maybe that past experience was to prepare you for being able to face and handle this one with greater ease?

For someone who is in the public eye to post pictures of his baby girl, without shame, is such a beautiful thing to me. That’s how a daddy is supposed to be! And not only that, because you have so many followers, you are setting a positive example for other young men who have children (who are married or not) to take responsibility for their child and to love their child and to be present for the child and to accept and embrace the situation and fatherhood and family and life no matter what shape or form it comes in! That is such a powerful message.  That is truly respectable!  

We plan, G-d laughs. Many of us are in situations that we didn't foresee and life didn't necessarily follow the fairy tales that we envisioned for ourselves and some people spend their whole lives fighting that, resisting that and not accepting what is so. Children are a blessing no matter what package it comes in.

I wish my daughter’s father behaved that maturely, compassionately, selflessly, and wisely! He hasn’t even posted a single picture of her (and she's 6 years old) and he doesn’t even have a high profile or anything—he just hasn’t come to terms with life not going as he wanted it to and he cares too much about what other people think of him.

So I want to thank you for being an example of what a man is and how a man should act. You were there for your daughter when she had her surgery and I know that you will always be there for her whenever she needs you and whenever she calls you. That is what a good person does. That is what a good parent does. That is who you have shown the world that you are. Bravo!

All the deadbeat dads who neglect and ignore their children should learn from you how a real man behaves.

Thank you for being you. Thank you for doing the inconvenient right thing, Thank you for having a heart. And thank you for sharing that heart with us. Blessings to you and your family.

Respectfully yours,

PS When you were recently here in Miami, I attended your concert at Temple Beth David. I recorded some of your beat boxing on my phone. Our Chassidic masters teach that a niggun (melody without words) is on a higher and holier level than a song/prayer with words because the melody transcends the limitation of words. When I came home I listened to the videos and noticed that one of them lended itself nicely for a rap that I am working on producing called We Be ILLin (Illuminating Love & Light). So here is our duet. The recording is bad due to the equipment not being professional but I think our song has real potential and I would love to professionally record it with you!

A couple of my songs can be found on my Sound Cloud.
I have live performances on this playlist on my Youtube Channel.
And below is my Electronic Press Kit.
I would love to have the opportunity to work with you 
and/or any of the producers that you have worked with to get on a label.
Thank you so much for your time & consideration.

more info