Posts in recipes for life
how to become a more sensual person
how-to-become-a-more-sensual-person-recipes-for-life-the-good-life-cookbook.png

For many, the word sensual has a purely sexual connotation, but the more traditional meaning of the word is, 'gratification of the senses'. Using that definition, a sensual person is someone who knows how to stimulate their senses for not just practical, but also both pleasurable means.

Aside from the obvious benefit of experiencing pleasure, being able to tune into or focus one's 5 primary senses has numerous physical and mental benefits.

What Keeps Us From Being Sensual In the First Place?

As babies and small children, we were completely engrossed in sensory exploration of the world around us - putting everything (including our own little toes) in our mouths, delighted to hear the sound of our own shrieks, laughs and cries. Our five senses were the way we learned about everything. But social conditioning and maturity taught us to lessen our sensory interaction with the world in the name of appropriateness. Things like self-touch, loud vocalizations and uninhibited movement were discouraged and labeled as things that 'well-behaved boys and girls' didn't do.  As a result, many of us have become largely detached from our senses, and may even be uncomfortable as over-indulgent or immoral.

sensuality osho
sensuality osho

To become a truly sensual person, some unlearning of the norms of so-called good behavior is necessary.

These tips from MindBodyGreen and Mind Map Inspiration will help you increase your awareness and heighten your senses.

25 Ways to Increase Your Sensual Awareness

  1. Dance
  2. Self-massage 
  3. Walking meditation
  4. Stretch
  5. Give a hug
  6. Eat and drink more slowly
  7. Silently observe nature - watch your cat grooming, listen to the wind rustle the leaves outside, pay attention to the pace and rhythm of your own breathing
  8. Go barefoot
  9. Close your eyes to enhance your hearing
  10. Focus totally on your breath
  11. Look at a close object then a distant one and alternate focus
  12. Study your hand – explore the detail and aging!
  13. Smell deeply – differentiate between subtle odours
  14. Touch with eyes closed – explore textures, surfaces, shapes
  15. Close eyes and feel temperature of objects with hands
  16. Close your eyes and sense individual body parts
  17. Close your eyes and identify objects solely by touch
  18. Close your eyes and try observing your pulse or blood flow
  19. Gently pull your ears out and listen!
  20. Feel the wind – really feel it with all the senses
  21. Close your eyes and pass your hands through water
  22. Identify foods with your eyes closed
  23. Close eyes and brush fingers lightly over arms and face sensing hairs not skin
  24. Walk and be conscious of every step as you plant your feet
  25. Become aware of your entire body and “feel” with every cell

The more we feel with non-judgmental awareness, the more we open to the experience of our innate sensual pleasures"

While becoming more sensual may make you feel sexier - it may even make you a better lover - the real benefit in being more in tune with your senses is improving your ability to deal with the stress of everyday life.

What tips do you use to heighten your senses?

5 self-massage techniques you should learn right now
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Bad posture, stress and overuse can take a toll on our delicate muscles and tissues, making us feel tired, tense and not our best selves. Getting a professional massage may not always fit into our busy schedules or our budgets, but neglecting self-care for too long isn't the best for our physical or mental health. Whenever your body is feeling stiff and tense, try these 5 self-massage techniques to ease pain and stress in your feet, hands, neck and back.

How to Give Yourself A Foot Massage

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AUQYuQC-lWQ

 

How to Give Yourself A Hand Massage

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=168lKIyc3lw

 

How to Give Yourself A Neck and Shoulder  Massage

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uFCO4f-NklA

 

How to Give Yourself A Breast Massage

4 Step Self Breast Massage

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OSd0dpwixvo

 

How to Give Yourself A Back Massage

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6CYAXocIk_U

 

For even more tips on how to give yourself a massage, check out this full-body guide to self-massage from Beyond Talk.

happy inauguration day
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Aight. I’m just gonna speak on this once, then I’m done. This message is for my godchildren, praying folk, spiritual warriors, lightworkers, wakan women, men of magic and mastery, meditators and chanters, and for all those that have ears to hear. All of this railing and gnashing of teeth and swearing at TV screens and hyperbolic commenting on every move or action this new leader makes is not the move. More than ever, your purposeful energy and focus is needed, and frittering it away on ‘being in your feelings’ is effectively weakening our cause. Case in point: I work with a lovely woman, a godly woman who mentioned to me on our way to lunch today that she was doing the ‘Daniel fast’ with her church. I asked her about it and what it entailed and then went on my way. Moments later, we were both in the breakroom. Me eating my lunch and deep into my Facebook feed, purposely ignoring the goings-on in the room. She – along with at least a dozen others – staring at the inauguration on the TV screen with a long face and emitting a caustic comment to almost every line of the new leader’s inauguration speech. When I finished my lunch, I quipped to the others as I walked out, “What y’all watchin’?” before laughing and sashaying off to my next meeting (Yes. I said, sashay, dammit.).

Later, still intrigued by the ‘Daniel fast’ my co-worker mentioned, I googled it to learn more about it. The fast is based on the biblical passage from Daniel 1:12 which talks about eating veggies for 10 days. But looking back to the beginning of the chapter and taking the verse in full context, the larger story is about 4 Hebrew youth (Daniel being one of them) who were true to their faith and considered some of the ‘cream of the crop’ in their community. A new leader had recently taken control of their lands and had specifically picked these 4 to come ‘be on his team’ so to speak, which included learning his language and eating his food. Danny-boy was like, ‘Cool, I get it. New leaders come and go. It’s the Old Testament. Sh*t is mad unstable. But this whole eating the food thing? Nah. Not gonna work for me and my homeys. We are officially anti- that.’

inauguration-danielfast-ill-pass-obama
inauguration-danielfast-ill-pass-obama

The king’s caretaker was nervous. ‘If y’all just eat veggies, you’re gonna be thinner and ashier than everybody else on the team for sure, and that’s gonna get all of us in trouble. No way, Daniel-san. Not on my watch.”

To which Danny replied, “Just give us 10 days.”

After the 10 days were over, Danny and his 3 kinfolk were fatter and prettier than everybody else in the place, so they were left to their own devices from then on. Over time, they came to be known as the wisest men in the land and even became known for having ‘extraordinary’ powers.

Now, all mystical / spiritual texts can be taken either literally or as encoded message. What I took from that text was not a command to eat veggies for 10 days, rather it was a command to not swallow the BS if you want to stay true to your own values and grow in personal power.

Don’t consume the filth, the vitriol, the bad behavior. Refuse it. Ignore it. Fast from it. If you do not, your mind and energy will be scattered with every new occurrence, and you already know there will be plenty of occurrences. Furthermore, don’t be dismayed when some of your assumed kinfolk start supping at the king’s table. Instead, bring all of your energy back into yourself. Redouble your efforts on your work, your craft, your service. Dance your dances and sing your songs with all the windows open and the lights on. Never let them see you looking thin and gaunt, or sad or frustrated or unhappy or bitter. Support and speak life into others who are working on causes that are aligned with yours, and watch us all grow fatter and stronger.

We all have our chosen work. I am not a political person, but I appreciate and support and answer the calls of those who I trust that are activists in that arena. Those of us who focus our efforts on areas that transcend politics have a responsibility to work just as hard as our cohorts. We fail them and ourselves if we focus on the distractions and neglect our own goals and missions.

So, for all of us who are officially ‘anti-that’, today was your inauguration. What promises will you keep, what accomplishments will you count over the next 4 years?

how to make time slow down
how to make time slow down
how to make time slow down

A while back, I was talking with a co-worker about an NPR story on why time seems to move faster as we age. One explanation offered in the story was that, when we were younger, everything we encountered was new and big and significant – we’d never done most things before, or, we’d done them so few times that it all still seemed like new.

Something about how the brain registers time makes it feel like everything slows down when we’re in new situations or experiences. Likely, it’s so we can process all this new information and store it in a logical place according to our brain’s particular filing system. As we age and repeat experiences, however, the brain takes shortcuts. It no longer needs to record every minute detail of something that you’ve done a thousand times. It speeds past those familiar and known experiences, and as a result we feel like our lives have sped up as well.

But part of the beauty of being older is the accumulated experience. The wisdom that is its own treasure. Even if we could turn back the clock to when we were young and time moved more slowly, certainly we wouldn’t to lose all that precious learning and growth we’ve gained over so many years of living?

So the challenge is: how do I look through ever-older eyes with a forever-new heart? How do we make time slow down like way back when everything was new?

Here are some ideas:

9 Ways to Make Time Slow Down

Be fully present in your body. I think most of us are pretty detached from our bodies. We only really pay close attention to our body when something’s wrong with it (‘my knee hurts’, ‘I’m hungry’), or when it experiences pleasure. Most of our relationship with our body is spent in either avoiding pain or chasing pleasure for it – things that send our mind racing through time. Taking time to slow down and actually focus on how the body functions, and what it feels like when it’s being used, is essential. Active hobbies (e.g., sports, biking, walking), stretching, meditation, sex, even massage are good ways to get your mind back into your body.

Be observant. I can get in the habit of having blinders on while going about my day – walking with such purpose to my next meeting or to grab my lunch, that I don’t really see anything except for what’s directly in front of me. You’ve probably done the same. Convinced yourself you’re in a hurry, even if you don’t want to go where you’re headed (Really? I’m rushing… to work?) or you aren’t on a schedule at all (It’s Saturday, why am I mad that everyone’s moving so slow?). Instead of rushing past everyone and everything to get to your next location, slow down and pay attention to the things that you would normally pass by without noticing. Turn your head from side to side as you walk. Look up at the sky, count how many trees you pass from the train station to the office. Imagine the whole world is a ‘Where’s Waldo’ drawing, and you’re trying to see where that sneaky sumbitch is hiding.

how to make time slow down - ferris bueller quote
how to make time slow down - ferris bueller quote

Change 1 small thing. Routine makes weeks and months pass by in an indistinguishable blur. If you’ve been going about your daily life with minimal variation, introduce a little change. Take a new route on your commute. Switch your brand of cereal. Take a day off for no reason at all.

Go somewhere new. Even if it’s just a new park, a new restaurant or new area of town. Explore somewhere you’ve never been.

Learn something new. A new language, a new dance move, a new joke. Once you’ve got that one down, learn a new one.

Hang with kids. If you can’t be a kid again, be with kids again. Ask them questions, listen to them talk and engage in conversation with them like you would with any other friend. Play a game with them, show each other your best dance moves, have them tell you a story, laugh together at something silly.

Stop saying you don’t have time. I’m a big believer in the idea that what you affirm mentally and verbally, is made real in your life. If you say you don’t have enough time, you won’t. Your actions will follow your words and you’ll keep finding ways to squander away your time on a hundred things that you’ve chosen to do instead of the things you should be doing. If you really don’t have enough time to do the things that you need or want to in your life, that’s a big red flag that you need to sit down and make some difficult decisions about what needs to stay and what needs to go in your life. Ask yourself what and who you need to re-prioritize in order to stop feeling so overscheduled and overwhelmed. Or, you need to stop sweating the small stuff and change that statement from a helpless, “I don’t have time,” to a knowing, “I can’t do everything.”

Be someone new. This isn’t as un-doable as it sounds. I’m not suggesting you go fugue or check into the witness protection program, but do something that lets you see yourself as a different person. Change up your style, get a new hairdo, lose or gain some weight, talk in a German accent for an entire day, schedule some sessions with a therapist or a life coach.

Plan a vacation. Cuz, seriously, time moves at its absolute slowest in the weeks and days before it’s time for you take a highly anticipated trip somewhere.

Do you feel like time has sped up as you’ve gotten older? What other ways have you found to make time slow down?

how to do the impossible
how to do the impossible
how to do the impossible

“It always seems impossible until it’s done." ~ Nelson Mandela

When a group of friends comes to you and says that they’ve found a great deal on a 2-hour private Mediterranean boat cruise and want to know if you’re in, you say yes. You don’t think about the fact that you swim like a rock and are therefore mildly terrified of deep water without a pool’s edge or lifeguard in sight to cling to. You simply say yes. Because it’s summer. It’s southern Spain. And it’s what you do.

So when you subsequently find yourself scared shitless on a sailboat off the coast of Malaga on a blazing hot summer day with half of that group of friends taking turns diving from the boat into the water and playfully splashing about, and the other half shouting for you to jump in and join them, you’ve got a choice to make. Do you:

  1. Disregard the mind-numbing fear that’s gripping you, your bowels that keep threatening to loosen on you, and your lack of strong swimming skills, and take the plunge? Or,
  2. Act like a sensible person and say, “No thanks, guys, just gonna stay on board and make sure the chips don’t get soggy,” and miss the opportunity to add ‘swam in the Mediterranean’ to your list of ‘have you evers’?

If there’s anything I loathe more than the fear of ending up in a watery grave, it’s the fear of missing out on a chance to make an amazing memory. So, after watching my friends enjoy themselves for a few moments longer, I walked to the edge of the boat and stood there peering down into the water, hoping I’d be able to will myself into doing the impossible.

How to Do the Impossible

Find your motivation (aka, ‘the push’)

What is the one thing that makes you feel like you can’t not do this? The one thing that makes the impossible task looming in front of you seem like something you must attempt, even if you don’t prove to be successful at it? This is the thing that will give you that initial push that you need to get started with an impossible task, and will keep fueling your fire to see it through to the end. In almost every situation, that push will come from one of the following:

Naysayers

Years earlier, I was faced with a similarly impossible moment. I was at the famed Rick’s Café in Jamaica, nervously waiting my turn to jump off of one of the surrounding cliffs into the cool blue waters below (I know, I know. For someone who can’t swim well, I jump into deep water an awful lot). I wasn’t even sure if was actually going to jump. I waved 2 or 3 others ahead of me, while I continued to work up the nerve. Just as I was starting to talk myself out of it, one of the guys who’d seen me around the resort that I was staying at, sauntered up and took a seat on a rock off to the side of the diving ‘platform’. He took one look at my terror-stricken face and started playfully chiding me, telling me that I wasn’t going to jump, that I was too scared, that I should just walk back down and join my friends at the bar. It turns out that someone telling me that I couldn’t, was all the motivation I needed to realize that I could. When my detractor was right in the middle of one of his wisecracks, I ran to the edge of the cliff and jumped. Geronimo, ho.

how to overcome fear and do the impossible despite naysayers
how to overcome fear and do the impossible despite naysayers

Necessity

You’ve heard the stories of people who’ve rushed into a burning building or displayed superhuman strength to save someone they love in a moment of disaster. What makes those miraculous feats possible is a certain type of necessity. A necessity brought about by the fear of an outcome that is worse than or would cause more suffering than the impossible thing to be done. The avoidance of pain or suffering is a powerful motivator, and can make you completely suspend the notion that you can’t do a thing. After my Rick’s Café cliff jump, I hit the water so hard that my watch – which I’d forgotten to remove – came off and began to float away from me as I sank beneath the surface. The watch was a treasured gift from a dear friend, and I was damned if I was going to let the Caribbean claim it. In that moment, I completely forgot to remember that I couldn’t swim well. My panic at being in a big body of water was replaced by the panic of potentially losing my watch, and before I could think, I’d swum my way up to retrieve it and over to the bottom of the cliff where I extracted my beloved watch and my beloved self from the water.

Tragedy

Sometimes a personal life tragedy and the long, slow pressure cooker of time is what you need to accomplish a seemingly impossible feat – like this guy who went from Homer Simpson to hotbody in one year after a breakup with his girlfriend. Tragedy and adversity often gives us a reason to fight and a willingness to win – or at least, persevere – despite impossible odds.

Cheerleaders / Role Models

Things don’t seem nearly as impossible when you’ve got a friend or few by your side cheering you on, believing in you, and pledging to be there for you if and when things get dicey. Sometimes a support group and a gentle nudge is what you need to get started on an impossible task. While I was standing on the edge of that sailboat in the middle of the Mediterranean, still debating if I could jump, I heard my friends cheering me on and smiling from the water. “C’mon, Kisha! You can do it! Jump!” Surely these smiling, strong-swimming people wouldn’t let me drown, I thought to myself. They weren’t even pointing and laughing at how obviously scared I was. Maybe they’re right. Maybe I can do this.

Fully commit (aka, ‘Sh*t or get off the pot’)

So you’ve found your motivation, but you’re still a little bit scared, you may even still be hemming and hawing about going through with this impossible feat. Nothing unusual about that. Fear doesn’t necessarily fade away simply because you’ve found a reason to face it. But if you’re still hesitating and reconsidering once you’ve started down the path toward the impossible, there’s a huge chance that you’re going to hurt yourself in the process. While motivation gives you the power to start an impossible thing, commitment is the thing within that says there is no stopping, no turning back, no giving in once you’ve started. Or, if you’ve decided to ‘get off the pot’, commitment prevents you from regretting that decision and continuing to beat yourself up about it.

how to do the impossible
how to do the impossible

Visualize the Desired Outcome

What’s the worst that could happen? Instead of letting that be just a rhetorical question, allow yourself to imagine the worst possible outcome – failure, embarrassment, physical pain, financial loss. Sit with that image for a while, try to feel the emotions attached to that outcome. Now, imagine the most desirable result. How would that feel? What would that look like? Spend more time filling out that image in your mind. See yourself swimming and playing with your friends in the water. See yourself not drowning, making it back to the boat and enjoying soggy chips with your friends as you sail off into the sunset, still laughing. Imagine yourself 1, 5, 10 years from now telling your kids the story of that one time when you swam in the Mediterranean despite the fact that you were scared to death. Then tell yourself that all the positive things you’ve just imagined can be real. All you have to do is….

Once It’s Done, Do It Again

You already know how my story ended, right? Of course you do. I eventually jumped off of the sailboat into the water on that sunny summer day in southern Spain. It was much, much colder and a lot less scary than I thought it would be. I splashed about in the sea, dodged several jellyfish undulating by, floated on my back (yay, saltwater!) and admired the cloudless sky above, and, when our little swimming pit stop was over, I climbed back onto the boat, proud of myself for having conquered my fear. We pulled up anchor, sailed off and headed back towards the shore. But just a few minutes later, my friends pleaded with the captain to stop the boat once more so we could take one final dip before heading back in. Once again, my intrepid friends dove fearlessly into the water. And, once again, I was struck with fear at the prospect of following them. Even though I had already jumped, here I was, moments later, just as scared as I was the first time. Even I was surprised at my lingering fear. Why was I still afraid? Hadn’t I already slayed this dragon? Doing the impossible once doesn’t necessarily make it any easier or less frightening to do the next time. My fear was still present and it was clouding my brain with irrational, but very convincing thoughts. What if I just got lucky the first time? What if it was just a fluke? What if I was about to let a false sense of confidence get me into trouble? Fear is not a rational thing. Which is why the only way to conquer it is to do what it says you can’t, and do it again and again and again. The fear may never fully disappear, but you will eventually learn to tune it out when it starts whispering its senseless nothings to you.

That day, I ignored my fear, and jumped. Twice. And once my friends and I were safely back on the shore and enjoying a few celebratory beers at the nearby beach, I confessed to one of them how scared I’d been because of my weak swimming ability.

“Whoa, that’s pretty awesome! I didn’t even know you couldn’t swim that well!” exclaimed my friend, before giving me an enthusiastic high-five. And at that moment, I realized a simple truth. Even if your attempt at the impossible is awkward, fumbled, ugly, causes you to shit your pants, lose money, lose friends, or get laughed at, going ahead and doing it anyway is infinitely better than the feeling of ‘what if’ or what might have been.

In short, doing the impossible – not necessarily being flawless at doing it – is the reward.

how-to-overcome-fear-do-the-impossible-jay-z
how-to-overcome-fear-do-the-impossible-jay-z

How have you overcome impossible feats in the past? Are there any big, impossible things you're afraid of that you need to go ahead and do anyway?

q&a with atlanta artist michael jones

Atlanta artist Michael Jones at his Moving Targets: Full Clip exhibit at Eyedrum Atlanta-based artist Michael Jones is a man of many faces – he’s a visual artist, a budding musician, an accidental comedian, a social commentator. He also happens to be my neighbor. A fact that made it easy for me to reach out to him to discuss his latest exhibition, Moving Targets: Full Clip.

The exhibition – a collection of 25 pieces displayed in 3 separate, but conjoined spaces – is a visual representation of the artist’s commentary on the themes of guns and targets in American society. After attending the opening of the exhibit, I invited Michael to a casual one-on-one interview to share his thoughts about his work, his influences, and his take on the role of guns in modern society.

 

What was the inspiration for the show’s topic? Why did you decide to broach this subject in the manner that you did?

The first time I shot a gun was 4 or 5 years ago. I got invited to go to a gun range for someone’s birthday party. That first firing range experience was exciting, but unsettling – the devil on my left shoulder and the angel on my right shoulder both pissed their pants – it was sensory overload! The sound, the smell, the sight of the fire coming out of the barrel.

The second time I went, there was a group of black ladies at the range too. This was just after Trayvon. I overhead the ladies imagining that it was George Zimmerman they were shooting. That’s when I realized that the target is more important than the firearm.

 

Moving Targets: Full Clip 'Backpackin''

You’re a Texas native right? How were you influenced by gun culture growing up or living there? Were you at all?

I’m originally from Dallas, Texas. My dad was in the military, he served in the Army in Vietnam. He always had guns when I was growing up. But I never owned a gun. My dad came to visit me one time and when he was going back to Dallas, we were at the airport, and the security guy asked if he had anything on him. And my dad goes, “Yeah,” and pulls out his gun – he had it in a Crown Royal bag. I’m like, “You can’t take that on the plane!” So that’s when he gave the gun to me.

 

Why do you think Americans are so obsessed with guns? What do you think guns symbolize to the people of this country? Do you think that obsession will ever change?

Because we manufacture them. So it’s only natural that we have our citizens support it. We are the number one manufacturer of weapons and firearms, across the board. I think it’s too late for stringent gun laws. Even if we restricted citizens from owning, criminals would still have guns.

Also – there was a time when African-Americans were prohibited from having guns. I think that’s part of the problem – because we aren’t educated gun owners. Also, a lot of us aren’t responsible enough to have guns.

 

You’ve said this exhibit is less about firearms, but more about targets – explain what you mean by that.

The media uses the audience as a target – with different media you can do that. Take the Catholic Church for instance. The Catholic Church’s images of Jesus are different because they are targeting a different audience, wanting to give you a bigger guilt trip. I try to utilize those tools as well in this series. This is the first time I’m dealing with social commentary – the reason is that it’s bigger than me. I’m just the vessel. I’m the bottle that’s holding the beer.

 

The artist, the writer, the target

I’d be remiss if I didn’t ask about how you feel about the increased media coverage of black Americans – men, women, and children – as targets, by both armed police forces and by gun-toting private citizens. There was even a news story in Jan of this year about a police force using mug shots of black men to conduct target practice. As a black person in America, have you ever felt like a target? How do you personally manage those feelings of being targeted?

It ain’t nothing new, it’s just crazy that it’s getting exposed now. They can fix the shit without even showing it on TV. It all goes back to the overseers, the slaves and the master. The masters are the elite. The masters aren’t all white, but that’s what gets people riled up. It also happens to Latinos, poor white people, even some rich people.

I have a friend who’s a cop. But I’m glad he’s a cop, because I know he’s a standup dude. The cops are also a target. My friend had a similar situation happen, and the media jumped all over him – and his victim was white. When all of these mass shootings were going on – where were the people who were supposed to be the good guys? That’s why cops should be honored.

I’ve always felt like a target – but that’s just because of who I am. I grew up in a lower middle class black neighborhood. Growing up being the weird artist kid I was a target in my own community. The other day I was driving thru the ‘hood and hit a stop sign. There was a dude in the middle of the street, saying something. I don’t know what he said to me, but I said, “Naw, man, I’m cool.” And as I drove off, he raised up his shirt and showed me his gun, right by his nuts. And I thought to myself, that’s a bad ass motherf----. ‘Cause if you carrying there? (laughs)

 

Tell me a little about your background as an artist. How you got started? Who influenced you? When did you first say to yourself, ‘I am an artist’?

My mom and dad got divorced, but they were together the majority of my childhood. I lived with both of them at different times. My dad was the person who pushed me to get into art, but my mom was the artist of the family.

I’ve always been doing artwork, but it’s funny because the title was bestowed on me… by the community. Everybody always referred to me as Michael, the artist. In 3rd or 4th grade I used to draw G.I. Joe men and sell ‘em to my friends, until I got busted for tracing. One of my friends busted me and said he wasn’t gonna pay me until I drew it right there on the spot. So, I did. I thought it was bad, but the dude paid me for it. I used to draw funny pictures of my teachers too, and all the kids would laugh.

Comedy and art has always been something that goes together for me. That’s why I’m a smart ass artist, it’s why I call my art ‘signified’ – it’s a layer cake. It’s satire, it’s comedy, but it’s also truth.

When I got older, my dad was the one who forced me to go to art school – a local arts high school. I fell in love with the school ‘cause girls was running around in leotards, there were kids playing sax in the stairwells after class... it introduced me to art life. I got blown out of my mind – there were artists there that were way better. But they were pushing me to be better, yet also respecting where I was coming from. So that was when I first started painting. And people would come and talk to me, ‘cause my studio was in the school hallway – so people were always passing by, and the principal would walk by with visiting guests and ask me questions.

When I was a senior, I got to go to Chicago on a contest I won – an NAACP ACT-SO award. It was my first time on a plane, so I was nervous. My best friend was like, “Why you nervous? Your artwork will be able to take you anywhere you wanna go.” He was always like that old coach on Rocky – getting me amped up. I remember this one guy came up and asked me, “Are you an artist?” And I said, “Yeah I’m trying to be.” He was like, “What you mean, ‘trying to be’? You either are, or you aren’t.” But I still was kinda bitch about that shit.

About 6 years ago, I went home to my grandma’s funeral, and everybody who came up to me was like, “You’re Paulette’s son, the artist.” At that time, I was getting ready to figure out something else to do. But going back and having everybody already refer to me as that kinda did it for me.

 

You have an alter-ego persona named Iceworm. Who is Iceworm? Why the need for this persona? What does Iceworm do that Michael Jones can’t?

(Laughs) Yeah… Iceworm Jones, aka, Ratfoot. He’s a very clever individual – he’s been baptized. That’s his baptismal name.

Iceworm likes to explore and push the elements of music – from a person who never took any music classes, but still plays and makes music. That’s what Iceworm brings to Michael Jones. I’m a baby at all of this music stuff, but all of it starts with ambition. Learning how to work with tools and making a rhythm. A rhythm is something that everybody has – I have a heartbeat, or when I tap on something that’s me expressing my rhythm. That’s why I think music is a higher art than visual.

 

Moving Targets: Full Clip 'Target Practice'

You work with a variety of techniques and media – sculpture, paint, performance art – all of which are represented in this exhibition. How do you decide which medium to use for a piece? Are there any techniques that you feel more comfortable with? Are there any you’re still learning or wanting to learn?

It’s kinda like a pimple or a volcano – it builds up – it don’t come outta nowhere. I’m more comfortable with painting. Less comfortable with spoken word, poetry. But the art that you’re scared of is the shit you need to be doin’. That’s when I said, ‘Imma release an album’.

 

Speaking of which, what other projects are you currently working on or have planned?

I’m collaborating with a couple of other artists to work on a play. I just finished the mural, Letter Blue in our neighborhood, Westview.

There’s The Pavement Series – my collection of abstract cityscapes. The Trinity Series is a non-objective abstract collection. I’m also getting ready to go back in the studio.

 

Tell me a little more about the Westview mural you just completed – what’s the subject of the mural?

It’s funny ‘cause I like to layer things. When I went to the first community meeting about the mural and listened to things people were saying, what I got out of it was: some people want the new and change; some people fear it. The piece represents the tug between the two – where you have an old school neighborhood and the downtown influences that could be coming, not necessarily taking over – but sometimes they could be doing that, too.

michael jones letter blue mural westview atlanta

What’s one of the greatest obstacles you’ve encountered as an artist? How did you overcome it? What advice would you give to other new and budding artists?

Getting people to give you the chance to showcase your art. And being a hustler – hustling.

The people I do know that are in the game – they are good hustlers. Hustling is something that they all do well.

I would pass this on from 2 or 3 people who’ve said this to me; and I just recently started to apply it. Be a part of a community or some kind of family, and be loyal to your word. Artists give artists a bad name. I hate artists. Artists suck.

 

Why?

Because we need to think a lot bigger than ourselves; we need to stop being selfish. Artists are assholes. Artists are divas.

 

Are you a diva?

No, I’m a smartass.

One thing artists can do is volunteering. Dedicate some free time to do something that’s not just on you; that doesn’t have shit to do with you or the career that you’re trying to be in. It’s a way to get connections, but also to learn and grow.

 

What can people expect from the show, the venue – Eyedrum – the 3 different spaces? Why should people want to be there?

The space is perfect for me – it allowed me to display and showcase some of the work in different mediums. The space was able to allow for the opposing themes of the show – which I like. The gallery space holds framed artwork; next door allowed me to create an interactive scene, to recreate the shooting galleries that used to be at the back of arcades or state fairs. Then, on the rooftop – the space with the videos – those are like the teasers, the previews you see when you’re getting your popcorn at the theater.

The curators at Eyedrum definitely push artists to be out of their comfort zone. They gave me that opportunity, and I wanted to jump on it.

 

What is art to you?

I figured it out when I went to Chicago to visit my best friend one time. I was driving through Chicago and I saw that someone had made a penis out of the snow on someone’s windshield. Then, later on, I was outside smoking a cigarette, and I started stomping these patterns on the snow.

That’s when I realized that art is when u purposely put something here. And there and there. Martial arts is when you intentionally put a kick or a punch in a certain place. It’s about coordination, practice, repetition, rhythm, vibrations. That’s what f—kin’ art is.

--------

Moving Targets: Full Clip is showing at Eyedrum Art & Music Gallery in downtown Atlanta until December 5. Michael Jones will host an artist talk at the gallery on Sunday, November 15 from 1-4 p.m.

michael jones eyedrum gallery atlanta

 

what i wish i could tell you about natural hair
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what i wish i could say

Having been natural for ~15 years, I often find myself being treated as something of a nappy hair ambassador by my fellow brown girls who’ve decided to embrace their kinks, coils, and curls.  While I love sharing my experiences on damned near anything to damned near anyone who’ll listen, some of the questions and stories I get from ladies who are either considering transitioning to natural or who’ve recently made the transition often leave me scratching my head (yes, pun intended). Usually, I downplay my befuddlement, and try to provide as much meaningful info as I can in as supportive a manner as possible, but I often I wish I could tell them what’s really going on underneath my naps.

 

What I Wish I Could Tell You… But Can’t.

Your boyfriend/husband/significant other/potential suitors won’t be turned off by it.

My telling you that would require me to presume that you’re not the type who picks douchebag guys to begin with. Since I can’t assume that, I can’t assure you that some douchebag guy isn’t gonna try to  make you feel like you’re less attractive or desirable without a chemical relaxer, straightening comb or weave. Yes, guys have preferences on skin color, hair styles, and body parts just like women do. And most of the times, the person that we guys and girls end up loving isn’t the person who meets all of our physical ideals – it’s the person who is worth investing time and energy into because they bring a wealth of positive, non-physical qualities to the relationship. So, if changing your hairstyle or texture is enough to send your beau into the arms of another, or to have him stop showing you affection or giving you compliments, then your relationship probably wasn’t as solid as you imagined it was anyway. Simply put, real love is hairstyle-independent.

 

cat digs nappy hair

 

What products will work for your hair.

I can tell you the products I like, or the products that work for my hair. But, that doesn’t mean you’ll love them too. Same goes for relaxers or hair extensions or hair products for any other hair type. The brand that someone else swears by may not be the brand you think is best. It’s a matter of trial-and-error, experience, and personal preference based on your styling habits and grooming routines. Before going natural, I used a variety of styling products based on my evolving hair needs/wants over the years, and that concept hasn’t changed for me since going natural.

(incidentally, a little shea butter, coconut oil and a really good conditioner are enough for me about 90% of the time)

 

How you can get your hair to look like mine.

Half the time, I never know what I’m going to do with my hair until it’s done. I try different techniques and methods, and work with it until I feel like I like what I see in the mirror. Sometimes people I pass look bemused by my style du jour, and sometimes, I get something along the lines of:

See, now… I like your natural. How do you get it to do that?

Or,

I wish I could get my hair to look like that.

I never really know how to respond to that. It actually makes me feel squirmily uncomfortable when women say that to me. It wasn’t until a couple of weeks ago that I realized why. I was in a conversation with 2 other natural-haired ladies, and one of them asked that question. The other smartly replied to the effect of… ‘the reason you go natural is because you want to wear YOUR natural hair, not someone else’s’. Wise advice, I thought. I think it’s nice to be inspired by other people’s hairstyles, but you have to make them your own. Wearing a natural hairstyle sort of implies that you’re ok with embracing your natural self, not trying to completely copy someone else’s natural self.

 

How you can be more comfortable with the decision to go natural.

This one baffles me. If you’re not comfortable with it, why the hell are you even considering it!? There’s no law requiring every black woman on Earth to wear her hair natural. There’s no shame in wearing your hair straight or long or any other way you want to wear it. So why are you trying so hard to convince yourself that you should do this? If the thought of wearing your hair a certain way makes you feel skittish, or scared, or irritated, or weepy, here’s an idea: stop thinking about it. Oh, I see. You can’t. Cuz being natural is what’s hot in the streets right now? Carry on, then.

difficult decision

 

What I CAN Tell You:

 

Hair typing is for suckas.

Of all the natural hair hype out there today, hair typing is the one that pisses me off most. In case you haven’t heard of it, hair typing is a number- and letter- based system of classifying hair curl patterns. What irks me about it is that it really serves no purpose other than to force women to try and put their hair into neat little boxes or categories, or to make them wish they had hair type 1A instead of 9F (or whatever the hell). Hair typing really doesn’t even do much good in helping you decide which hair products you can use (as this article explains, there are so many other factors that come into play). And to further confuse things, there’s so much disagreement and debate about whose hair is what type that it’s often the subject of heated debates. To me, the whole hair typing neurosis smacks of the antiquated idea of good/bad hair. And yet, all over the interwebs I still see women touting their ‘hair type’ like some type of kinky ID card. Ridiculous. In my opinion, there are really only 2 hair types – the type of hair that ‘stands up’ even when it’s wet, and the type of hair that ‘lays down’ even when it’s dry. Marinate on that for a minute.

hair typing hype

 

It’s not for everyone. Nor is it for ever.

natural hair mafiaI’m not one of these natural hair Nazis that thinks that if you don’t wear your hair natural, you’re a sell-out or self-loathing (unless you ARE a sell-out or self-loathing). Hair is a matter of self-expression. If that’s not how you want to express yourself, so be it. If you want to express yourself that way now, but decide on a different form of self-expression later, go right on ‘head. I like to mix it up myself, and for that reason I have 2-3 wigs that I put into service for special occasions, or whenever I feel like totally changing my look for a day or two with very minimal effort.

 

It’s a relationship.

Natural hair is the kinda thing you’ll probably be into if you’re into that kinda thing. There will be good days, there will be bad days. There will headwrap days and ‘hot damn I’m smokin’’ days. You will have to learn what you can and can’t do with your hair based on the weather, your skills, or your time constraints. Your hair will let you know if you aren’t treating it or yourself right. And as a result, you’ll develop a relationship with your hair. No, that doesn’t mean you’ll go out on dates with it or make out in the corner with it, but… you may find yourself stroking it quite often and getting a great deal of pleasure out of it. :)

cheers,

k

photo: Nappy Hair by shekouvillage, on Flickr

photo:IMG_1362 by Sasquatch I, on Flick

photo: Hair Type Hype, courtesy of sisterswithbeauty.com

photo: Nappy Mafia, courtesy of Zedhair.com

the summer fling - how to find one and work it like a pro
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Nothing says summer like a hot, steamy, and ultimately temporary romantic escapade. As youngsters, it was relatively easy to find a summer fling. Your parents would ship you off to summer camp or a multi-week stay with distant relatives, and before you knew it, you'd hooked up with a cute guy or gal who you clung to with all the intensity of someone who knew they had a limited-time offer on their hands. But, that was then. Now that you're all growed-up, it can be downright difficult to find a casual companion to spend the sweltering summer months with. Never fear, Dear Reader. These tips should help.

 

Show Some Skin.

This doesn't imply that you should go for the plungiest neckline or the shortest shorts you own. Skin-showing is an art that, if done poorly, can be more offensive than it is attractive. Some smart ways to show skin? Put your hair into a easy updo to show off the nape of your neck. If you're a jeans-everyday kinda guy or gal, work in some shoulder- or ankle-revealing sundresses or seersucker pants. And, if you've got a beach-ready body, by all means, break out your bikini and hit the pool or sand to soak up some rays (and Bobs, and Davids, and Erics...)!

If you want to practice your skin-showing (or viewing) skills, might I suggest:

Elevate - the weekly summer pool party at the W Atlanta Downtown, hosted by DJ Mike Zarin. Starts June 24.

 

Ditch Your Pals (Occasionally).

If you're always surrounded by people you know, you'll be less likely  to encounter someone you don't know. Leave the pack behind occasionally and go solo for a spell.  Great places for solo outings? Coffee shops. Meetups. Conferences / conventions. Wine / beer tastings. Dog parks (but only if you have a dog, otherwise it's just... weird.) And even the bar/lounge of your favorite restaurant or hotel. If you're bold enough, try a solo vacation (the growed-up equivalent of summer camp). Or if you're the shy type, volunteer events offer a great, low-pressure way to meet people while not being totally self-serving. 

Might I suggest: United Way of Metropolitan Atlanta's Day of Action - June 21

 

Go With a Group

Only stalkers and serial killers are solo 100% of the time. There are definite times /places that are ideal for being with a group of friends, and also being accessible to meeting a special new friend. These include:  festivals, backyard BBQs, and club meetings.

Might I Suggest: Life’s a Fish and Then You Fry - the ultimate summer fish fry complete with fireworks, waterslide and live music. I believe there will also be fish. :) - July 7

 

Work the Right Props.

With all the skin-showing, sweating, and crowds, how ever will you catch the eye of a potential fling? With the right summer 'prop', you can make yourself stand out and catch the eye of someone who's eye is worth catching. Some simple summer props include: a popsicle, an ice cream cone, a saucy summer hat, a cube of ice. My personal favorite summer prop, however, is the hand fan. It's not only eye-catching, it's quite practical

Might I Suggest:

FancyHand Fans on Etsy

Olele - handcrafted Spanish hand fans

 

Get Back to Nature.

Even with the right props, there can still be a lot of competition that makes snagging a summer cutie that much more difficult. One way to solve the over-crowding issue? Get away from the singles scene and answer the call of the wild.

Might I Suggest: Raft. Hike. Camp. - a weekend excursion including whitewater rafting, hiking, and camping near the GA/TN border - July 14-15.

 

Cast Your Line.

Yes! So you finally got that cutie to look your way and engage in some flirty banter with you. So, how do you seal the deal? Perhaps the best way is to say something along the lines of: 'I typically do (totally interesting thing I like doing) alone, but it would be really nice to have an activity partner. Could I call you the next time I'm doing (totally interesting thing I like doing)?' Or, if that doesn't suit your style, maybe one of these 'best pickup lines' from Jezebel would work.

 

A Final Word of Advice.

Perhaps the most important thing to remember when scouting a summer fling is to be absolutely clear and upfront about your intentions. Don't go into a fling by pretending that you're looking for something long term. And don't avoid the topic of relationships altogether. By addressing your true intentions early on, you can avoid future misunderstandings and missteps that might spoil an otherwise fabulous experience.

Once you've got your summer fling, play it cool and casual. Don't get all relationshippy. Its a fling, remember? Be adventurous, flirt like crazy, have fun, and don't completely neglect your other friends or social circles. When fall approaches, make sure you and your summer bunny start cooling things off. See him/her less. Find other things to occupy your time. But if you'd like to keep the romance going into the next season, you might simply say: 'I've really enjoyed our time this summer, got any plans for football season?'

 

cheers,

k

photo: Summer Love by Geekr, on Flickr

how to survive a zombie attack
how-to-survive-zombie-barbies.jpg

The recent flesh-eating incidents in Miami and Maryland may have you wondering. The zombie preparedness kits issued by the CDC may have you questioning. But believe me, Dear Reader, zombies are real*. They are already here. And… they’re coming to get you, Barbara. You may have even had a few run-ins with zombies already and survived those incidents based on nothing but sheer luck. Well, let me tell you, luck isn’t gonna get you to the end of the movie with all your limbs still intact. Know-how will. So, since I’d like to see you on the other side of the closing credits, I thought I’d share these 10 tips for surviving a zombie attack (aka, 10 tips for dealing with the people and situations that suck the life out of you).

 

  1. Learn How to Identify a Zombie

Aka, ‘What You Don’t Know, Might Eat You’. Some folks find it difficult to spot zombies since zombies kinda look like everybody else. But it’s actually pretty simple to identify a zombie once you know how. Zombies move very, very slowly and they stumble and stagger about without any sense of where they’re going. They always seem dazed. Everything that comes out of their mouths is either a foul, disgusting mess or incoherent babble. If you find yourself in the company of someone like this, you might be chopping it up with a zombie. No need to excuse yourself. Just bounce.

 

  1. Don’t Go Where Zombies Go

This can be difficult to adhere to, since zombies can be almost anywhere. But there are certain places that zombies seem to have particular affinities for, such as: places where there’s not a lot of intelligent life around (like graveyards and shopping malls); Dark, smelly places (like graveyards or strip clubs); and places where there are a lot of plump, slow-moving humans to feed on (like crappy Chinese-food buffets and South Florida). Try to stay clear of these places as much as possible.

 

  1. Wear Protective Gear

Even in their decaying state, zombies seem to have pretty strong choppers. They can chomp right through bone, flesh, and organs. A full-body suit of impenetrable armor probably isn’t practical, but you can minimize your risk by protecting your most vulnerable spots from suspected zombies, namely:

  • Your head / brain – brains are zombie delicacies, remember?
  • Chest/heart – without your heart, you’re useless
  • Feet / hands – the two things that will allow you to either escape or fight off a zombie

 

  1. Learn to Use a Weapon

Doesn’t matter if it’s a rifle, a pickaxe, a bow and arrow, or a slingshot. Get skilled at using something to defend yourself against the zombies when you can no longer outrun them. And the # 1 weapon you should learn to use? Your brain. It’s the one thing they’re after and the one thing you’ve got that they don’t.

 

  1. Keep a Light on You

Zombies hate fire. Make sure you always have something on you (or in you) that burns brightly enough to send them scurrying away like roaches.

 

  1. Go to a Deserted Island

Aka, ‘Go to Your Happy Place’. You ever seen a zombie swim? Me either. Find a place in the middle of a vast, deep ocean that the zombies can’t reach.

 

  1. Get a Redneck Friend

If, during your zombie-fighting adventures, you encounter someone who regularly wears a cowboy hat or boots, speaks with a Southern twang, or sounds un-self-conscious saying the word ‘y’all’, stick to that joker like white on rice. A good redneck friend can be just what you need to help you survive in zombie land. They generally know how to make do in the worst of circumstances without letting it get them down; They’ve likely been shooting and killing things since they were knee-high to a Junebug; and they’re pretty much guaranteed to have a kick-ass batch of moonshine one them, which you’re probably gonna need to take the edge off. Just be sure to make sure your redneck buddy isn’t a zombie before you ride off into the sunset together.

how-to-survive-in-zombieland

 

  1. Travel in a Group

It can get lonely in zombie land. So, if you can, find some like-minded non-zombies to keep you company. You’ve got the added benefit of safety in numbers, and you can even share strategies for zombie survival with one another. And remember, if and when the zombies attack, you don’t have to outrun the zombies, you just have to outrun your slowest friend.

 

  1. Be Ruthless

As I mentioned earlier, zombies kinda look like everybody else. In fact, a zombie could be someone you thought you knew. Sure, that re-animated corpse looks like your Great Aunt Thelma, but it’s actually a brain-eating pile of rotting flesh. The zombie apocalypse is no time for being overly sentimental. If Aunt Thelma starts trying to nibble on your brains, don’t get all weepy and start screaming, “Why Aunt Thelma? Why!!??” Do both of you a favor, and put her out of her misery.

 

  1. If All Else Fails, Blend In!

Yes, I know I said you shouldn’t go where zombies go, but in the off chance that you find yourself surrounded by them with no immediate way out, blend in. It’s pretty easy to fake like a zombie. Anybody with half a brain could do it (refer back to #1 if you’re not sure). Just be very careful with this tactic and use it only when you have no other choice. Because the longer you pretend to be a zombie, the more likely you are to end up a zombie.

 

*Of course, I don’t really believe in zombies. And neither does the CDC, in case you were wondering. But we’ve all encountered people who made you question that belief. You know them. People who drain your energy, people who’d chew you up and spit you out and think nothing of it, or just people who seem to be wandering aimlessly about in life without a thought for you or even for themselves. It helps to have some strategies for dealing with those kinds of people or situations, and I hope this tongue-in-cheek list of tips not only gave you something to laugh at, but also something to think about.

 

Also – If you’re looking for a little break from zombies, I’m helping to coordinate a ‘get away from it all’ trip next month in the great outdoors. There will be rafting (no zombies in the water), hiking and camping (essential redneck stuff), and of course, a campfire (zombies hate fire). You should check it out.

cheers,

k

photo: Zombie Barbies by niallkennedy, on Flickr

photo: zombie-warning by This is Awkward, on Flickr

amuse bouche: how to live an umami life
umami-diagram.gif

umami diagram Umami, the so-called 5th taste, is described as savory, meaty, mouth-watering. Umami taste sensors are said to be in the center of the palate, surrounded by the other 4 taste sensors for salty, sweet, sour, and bitter.

Which makes me wonder: Maybe the savory life so many of us crave can only be attained by balancing the salty, sweet, sour, and bitter aspects of living?


 

umami life

i am sick of the cold, metallic taste of unwarranted fear in my mouth. i spit it out in favor of a hot-blooded, adrenaline-spiced passion. a flavor that never fails to make my mouth water

cheers,

k

how to celebrate your birthday
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birthday traditions and games

 

Everybody knows somebody who absolutely hates the holidays.

"Oh, I don't celebrate (insert holiday here). It's just made-up, anyway."

"Everything's just gotten so commercial!"

"It's just an excuse for a bunch of drunk crazies to go out and cause mayhem."

No doubt you've heard a similar statement from one of your friends or associates about a holiday they hate.

What probably pisses you off more than having to hear that person go on and on about why they hate said holiday, is the fact that they're usually kinda right.

Most holidays are either:

  • such a mishmash of different religions, cultural traditions, hearsay, and poor recordkeeping, that they bear little resemblance to the actual event being celebrated,

(see also: How December 25 became Jesus' birthday)

  • a reason for retail establishments to whip you into a frenzy so you feel compelled to spend more,

holiday birthday traditions

  • or, an excuse for a bunch of drunk crazies to go out and cause mayhem.

So, I've decided that the only true holiday, the only one that you can pretty much guarantee is accurate and as commercial-free as you want it to be, is... your birthday. Actually, your birthday is the only holiday that matters, since without it, those other ones wouldn't really mean much to you, now would they?

Plus, birthdays have one major advantage over other holidays. You call the shots. There are no trite traditions you absolutely have to follow, no obligatory rituals, no excessive spending required. Of course, if you're into those things, that's ok too. It's your birthday.

As I wrap up my personal holiday season, I thought I'd share some of my favorite birthday traditions:

Walking Down Memory Lane

Most of my pictures and mementos spend their lives thrown in a box tucked way back in the closet. Birthdays are a good excuse to get them out, whether just to reminisce or to use as party decor like this:

and this:

birthday decor picture tree

A Day Off

It should be considered a sin to work on your birthday. I can only remember one birthday that I spent at work, and I'll never do it again. It's nice to have my entire birthday to spend exactly as I see fit, even if it's just sitting at home and watching some of my favorite movies.

 

Travel

Travel - especially to some place you've never been before - keeps you young. I like to go to a new place every year. When I step off of the plane into a location I've never visited, I see the world with fresh eyes. I have to get my bearings and learn the language. I taste foods I've never had before and make new friends. All it takes is a birthday trip for me to be a baby all over again. Some of my favorite birthday trips:

Riviera Maya

London

Mom's Birthday Trip to Panama

 

A House Party

I have many different circles of friends that would probably never intersect on their own. A house party is the perfect excuse to bring them all together in one place (with some music and adult beverages) and watch what happens.

 

Birthday Games

Nothing beats a good birthday game. Once you've got those different circles of friends at your house with a couple of drinks in them, why not do something with them? Some of may favorite birthday games have been: Birthday Girl Trivia, Battle of the Sexes, and Finish that Line (the hip-hop edition).

 

Gift Giving

Receiving gifts is always nice, but giving a gift feels just as good, if not better. I'm all for selfish selflessness, so when a friend shared his tradition of giving a gift to someone else on your birthday, I thought it was a tradition worth adopting.

How do you celebrate your personal holiday? Do you have any favorite birthday traditions?

cheers,

k

how to live happily ever after
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I saw a funny-but-true statement on the internet the other day. It went:

Question: What’s the difference between a Northern fairy tale and a Southern fairy tale?

A Northern fairy tale begins with, “Once upon a time…”.

A Southern fairy tale begins with “Y’all ain’t gonna believe this sh*t!”

Well, y’all ain’t gonna believe this sh*t, but… I think I’ve discovered the secret. You know, the big one. The one everyone searches to find from the minute they realize that life is a search to find something.

I’ve discovered the secret to living happily ever after.

Ok, ok. So I didn’t really discover it, I just borrowed it from this guy named Kierkegaard. But hey, if Christopher Columbus can say he discovered America….

Wait a minute, Kisha. Who’s this Kierkegaard guy, and what’s he all about?

Oh. Sorry. I’m getting ahead of myself.

soren kierkegaard

Well, to keep it brief, Soren Kierkegaard was a 19th century Danish philosopher (apparently back in the good ol’ days when philosopher was actually a valid job title). In his book ‘Either / Or’, he explains this idea that one has to progress through 3 stages on the way to becoming one’s true self (aka, living happily ever after).

Here’s my summary:

Aesthetics (Love of Pleasure) – The First Stage

In this stage, one is concerned with maximizing pleasurable sensory experiences. Music, food, drinking, sex, travel, art, poetry, pleasurable memories, and the like. Even the anticipation of pleasure is maximized by someone in this stage. The primary purpose of this pleasure-seeking is to combat boredom. But since pleasure is usually temporary, the person at this stage is constantly pursuing the next pleasure to battle the boredom that always returns.

 

Ethics (Love of Others) – The Second Stage

At this stage, one is concerned with how his actions affect others. Instead of being driven by self-pleasure or personal gain, the ethical person is driven by pleasing others, adhering to a certain set of social principles, and doing things for the good of society as a whole.  The ethical person is in a constant battle with anxiety – the anxiety of not being good enough, or not being accepted by society.

 

Religion (Love of God) - The Third Stage

In this stage – which Kierkegaard considered the highest plane – one is concerned with her personal, spiritual quest, or her personal relationship with God above all else. Unfortunately, very few reach this stage because of the distraction of large-scale religion which discourages personal relationship with God, and encourages being ‘falsely religious’ by adhering to one-size-fits-all doctrines. The person at this stage battles the despair of trying to live an authentic, spiritual life in a religious world.

Kierkegaard proposed an either / or approach – that is, you either dedicate your life to love of pleasure, love of others, or love of God. But instead of either / or, why not ‘all of the above’?

You see, living happily ever after means you get to have it all. You don’t have to choose between one way of living or another. It’s your fairy tale. You own everything!

you own everything

 

In my opinion, to live happily ever after you have to find a way to balance all 3 of these loves. Thinking and living in terms of ‘either/or’ will almost certainly lead to a life of excess or imbalance. With the either / or mentality, something will always be lacking, missing, or given up. So, how can you start to move from 'either/or' to 'all of the above'?

The Path to Happily Ever After

Appreciate More – Or, exercise your 'pleasure muscle'. Instead of pursuing or chasing pleasure, derive pleasure from more and more things – even the simplest things. This will likely require a shift in perception, maybe even a slowing down. Instead of rushing through traffic or hurriedly gobbling down a meal, or speeding through your household chores, take time to savor something about every moment you experience. The more you do this, the more you’ll realize that pleasure isn’t something that has to be chased down, it’s something that has to be tuned into.

 

Give More – Now, I want to be clear here. I’m not necessarily suggesting that you sign up for another committee to save the world or keep going out of your way to be all helpful and savior-ish to everyone you know. On the contrary, I think many people (especially women, since we are often trained to be over-givers) should be more conservative with how much of themselves they’re giving away and who they’re giving it to. What I’m talking about here is giving more of the things that you have – whether they be material things or abstract things. Give more compliments, give away more credit (even if you did the work), give away more ideas, give away more of your belongings. Remember, you own everything, so why should you be so concerned with clinging so tightly to it all?

 

Meditate More - It takes a tremendous amount of energy to just sit still and shut the hell up. To calm your brain, cancel-out all the inputs and just be in silence (not even in deep thought). If you’ve ever tried meditating, you probably know that even seemingly harmless, little itty-bitty thoughts can quickly balloon into monstrous distractions.

stay puft marshmallow man

By meditating more, you develop the discipline and strength you need to find God or your spiritual center even in the midst of all the distractions that life presents. Imagine More – Or, exercise your 'faith muscle'. Imagining is a way of reminding yourself that everything is possible. Even the seemingly absurd. Many of us SAY that God is the source from which all good things flow or that the universe is abundant and overflowing. But the way we ACT is that God or the universe is judgmental, demanding, and always ready to punish. The reality is YOU’re the one doing the punishing, the demanding, and the judging by believing you’re not worthy of good things, or by not having faith in the idea that almost anything you think of, can happen in real life. Think of it this way, whenever you  present something to God (or the universe, or whatever you choose to call it) the answer is always yes. If you continually present ideas that affirm negative thoughts about you and the world around you, the answer will be, “yes”. Whatever you focus your mind on has a way of materializing. So instead of using your mind to focus on the negative, dedicate time to imagining the best possible things you can, and watch for the “yeses” to roll in.

as you wish

cheers, k

readers' comments on health and good living
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I really had no idea what kind of response I would get when I shared the story about my health concerns and my personal health manifesto. When experiencing a life event like this, it's easy to think you're the only one who has gone or is going through it. But I was pleasantly surprised, encouraged and occasionally moved to tears by the comments that came from friends, neighbors, and readers of this blog. Not only did these folks send words of support for my journey, many were kind and bold enough to share stories of their own health challenges.

I was so moved by them, that I asked if it would be ok if I shared a few of them with you here.

from Kimberly: "Your story kind of sounds like mine. About a year ago now, I was diagnosed with abnormally high cholesterol which threw me for a loop because there was nothing else going on with me in terms of my vitals. My doc and I went through my diet and came to the conclusion that much of it was attributable to stress (I *really* hated my job). She didn't prescribe meds (first time high cholesterol and too young), but she did ask me to monitor very carefully my diet and get rid of the stress.  To make the story very short, fast forward to January of this year, I decided to change my diet to a plant-based, low-fat diet (essentially vegan).  I never felt unhealthy before, but in these three short months, I know the change has brought about renewed energy and my body now feels really great. Admittedly, I haven't recently had my cholesterol checked, but I know leaving the classroom and changing my diet have worked for the best."

"I know you're highly knowledgable on issues of food, health and related things, but I've found docs such as Esselstyn, Joel Furhman, T. Colin Campbell and others helpful as they all attest to and celebrate a plant-based diet and its power to heal the body of many "food-borne" illnesses (e.g., high cholesterol, hypertension, diabetes, heart disease) naturally. They've been in several documentaries (maybe a little biased) promoting their findings, including the most recent Fork over Knives...."

(sidenote: I watched Forks Over Knives the day after I received Kimberly's message. I agree with her comments, and definitely recommend the film.)

 

from Melanie: "We are SO in the same space and place!!! I have been in a battle with HBP (high blood pressure) for years and I am determined to win. If you need info or perspective let me know - I am willing to share."

 

from John: "I recently listened to the old folks talk about the diet they had growing up. Meat but not a lot of it, plenty of veggies, rice, peas, and taters. I have been giving it a try along with some modest exercise, good things have been happening. The point is it works for me, lifestyle changes have to work for you, find activities you like and it won't feel like exercise. Best of luck to you K Solo, and if you want to go on a bike ride sometimes, I have an extra bike."

(sidenote: I am now the proud new owner of a bike - my first since childhood!)

from Rhonda:

This is a wonderful, honest account of your experience. I also have high blood pressure - and take care of it through a lifestyle approach. Best of luck to you in this journey, my friend! You are far too special to leave us anytime soon....

(sidenote: Rhonda and I have been FB friends for a while now. Though she lives in Canada, we've found we have a lot in common via the thoughts and messages we share on FB. I knew Rhonda was in the health/wellness business, but had assumed she was a trainer for serious athletic types only. Boy, was I wrong. Turns out, Rhonda does work with serious athletic types, but she also works with regular ol' folks like me. I asked her to share a little bit about her amazing business, so I could share with you.)

Satori Concepts helps individuals realize a myriad of health and fitness goals using a holistic, lifestyle-based approach. Over recent years, the health industry has become more and more about “thin” than about good health. My organization focuses on a healthy body image, awareness of media messages, and most importantly, what good health “feels/looks” like. Clients follow a health-first path towards the realization of their individual goals – whether that is to become a competitive athlete, or to have more energy to play with their children. We always consider the question, “Will this approach contribute to your overall best physical/emotional/mental fitness?” before all else, which is not always easy in a world that sells us on quick fixes and unrealistic role models. Through the magic of technology, I am able to offer services that reach far beyond my little office/fitness studio here in Calgary, Canada. Clients receive ongoing contact and training with me via methods that accommodate their own identified learning and motivation needs, in addition to receiving daily contact with me in their venue of choice. Additionally, being a client with my organization means that you will experience networking and mentorship with other clients. So much to tell…and we are just getting started.

I highly recommend that you check out the Satori Concepts website and 'Like' Satori Concepts on Facebook - you will not be disappointed!

If you're experiencing a health challenge or are feeling lost or alone in your journey to better health, feel free to share your story as well, or if you're looking for more resources on healthy living and eating, reach out for suggestions. Leave a note in the comments or send an email to: health (at) bonvivantonline (dot) com.

cheers,

k

8 simple ways to improve health
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live-well-health-manifesto Since last year’s personal health discovery, I’ve had fits and starts with making permanent - and hopefully beneficial – changes to my lifestyle. While I’m still not 100% there, I’ve already made several small adjustments and have begun to see noticeable benefits. Those results are encouraging. They’re also evidence that I don’t have to make this ‘reclaiming health’ thing overly complicated. I just need to exercise some common sense and a little bit of commitment. Since I know that I’ll occasionally need a reminder of what it is I should be focusing on, I decided to pen my own personal health manifesto. Wanna hear it? Hear it goes….

  1. I have to be my own health advocate. A doctor is not an all-knowing source of medical wisdom. He/she is a practitioner. And practitioners of any craft are as much students as they are adepts. I have the responsibility to educate myself on my own body and conditions so that when I meet with the practitioner, I can engage in thoughtful dialogue and Q&A with him or her and challenge (respectfully) the info he/she provides. We are a team. I should not just take what is said or prescribed as Bible truth. I should use that as a launching point for further investigation, so that when I next meet with him / her, we can continue to plot a course to optimal health for me together. If my chosen practitioner is not open to this type of relationship with me, I should choose another.

 

  1. My body is itself a store of wisdom. If I quiet myself and listen, really pay attention to it, I will receive tons of clues about what might be causing dis-ease or imbalance within me. I was gifted with intuition to do this work, and I should make a conscious effort to strengthen this gift by paying attention to outward signs of inner distress or well-being. My skin, hair, nails, weight, emotions, eyes, teeth, gums, bowel movements, and menstrual periods are all readily accessible and easily observable external signs that give me clear clues as to how I am doing inside. I should not ignore these things or think of them as yucky, messy, gross, or inconsequential. I should pay attention and note any significant changes in them. I should seek out tools and reliable educational materials that allow me to accurately interpret what these changes could be saying about my overall health.

 

  1. Diet (i.e., what I put in my body as food, fuel, or sustenance) is of paramount importance. The KISS (Keep It Simple, Stupid) method applies here. The simpler the food, the more beneficial it is to me. The more the food looks like it did in its original state, the better it is for me. If it comes wrapped in plastic, encased in cardboard, Styrofoam, cellophane, aluminum, or glass, it is probably less beneficial than things that don’t. I should avoid those types of food as much as possible, but where I can’t or don’t want to, I should both: be very aware (by reading labels) of what extra / unnecessary / unhealthy ingredients are coming inside that package; and be sure to balance consumption of those foods with other, healthier choices. I will limit my consumption of foods prepared by strangers. It is my belief that the closer my relationship to the preparer of the food, the more likely that food is to be good (or at least not bad) for me. I will prepare my own meals as much as possible. I will plan ahead by stocking my fridge / cabinets / workspace with foods that are good for me, so I am not forced to make bad decisions due to limited options.

 

  1. ExerciseMovement is essential. Because I am not an athlete and never plan to be, nor am I a supermodel (though I could be… lol!), I refuse to become obsessed with points, pounds, number of reps, number of calories burned, miles logged, etc. My only obsession will be making time daily or at least 4 out of 7 days to get in the movement that I enjoy, that brings me pleasure, and preferably, that causes me to break a sweat. For me, this includes: dancing, gardening, stretching, dancing, swimming, hiking, biking, stretching, dancing, and stretching. Also – sex is exercise. Especially when done with a partner, and especially when done right.

 

  1. Nature is a source of regenerative energy and healing for me. Its cycles mirror my own internal cycles of birth, growth, death, and rebirth. I must dedicate time to interact with nature on a daily basis, whether by combining it with my physical activity (e.g., hiking, gardening, walking), by meditating on some aspect of nature (e.g., a tree, squirrels playing in the yard, a vase of fresh cut flowers), or incorporating nature into or acknowledging it as I go about my daily routines (e.g., taking lunch outside, touching a leaf as I pass, observing the movement of the clouds overhead).

 

  1. My mental diet is as important as my physical diet. The information and ideas I consume have a direct impact on love-your-lifethe health of my mind and emotions. I will make conscious decisions about the books and magazines I read, the websites I visit, the TV programs and movies I watch, and the conversations and friendships I enter into and foster. This does not mean that I will only consume info or ideas that I agree with, but that I will limit intake of such info that leaves me feeling distressed, anxious, uneasy, or causes an uptick of negative emotions or associations about myself, others, or the world around me.

 

  1. Vices. I like to stay up late. I like to drink. I occasionally like to smoke. I like to drive over the speed limit. I tend to stress. I recognize that none of these things are beneficial to my health, especially if done to a level of excess or overindulgence. At this point, I don’t think I can or want to eliminate any of these behaviors 100%. I accept the inherent risk I am assuming by not being able to do this, and plan to at least minimize / mitigate that risk in the following ways:
    • If I stay up late (or don’t get enough sleep) one night, I will go to bed early the following night and/or sleep in late the following morning, and/or incorporate a nap the following day or days.
    • I will not drink during the week. If I find myself at a weekday event or occasion where alcohol is a factor, I will opt for my non-alcoholic beverage of choice (grapefruit juice and tonic water).
    • I will try to limit smoking to ‘special occasions’ (e.g., 2-3 times / year). Since I’m especially tempted to smoke either when stressed or when drinking, I will ask myself these 3 questions when the temptation arises: 1) is this worth a new wrinkle? 2) is this worth an increase in blood pressure? 3) is this worth dying for?
    • When I recognize stress in myself, I will either: remove myself from the stressful situation, reframe the situation in a more positive light, or focus on my breathing (i.e., taking several deep breaths until I feel the stress is reduced or eliminated.

 

  1. I will practice self-acceptance and self-forgiveness. Not beating myself up for falling off the wagon or experiencing setbacks, but using such experiences to reflect on what caused the setback and what I need to adjust to get back on track.

Do you have any healthy reminders for yourself? How do you keep yourself on track with your health and wellness goals? cheers, k

photo: 100_2230 by echoesofstars, on Flickr

photo: Reminder... by redwood 1, on Flickr"

wake-up call: how i got real about my health
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finding-a-healthy-balance

I don’t deal with sickness well. Whenever I’m called upon to visit an ailing friend or relative, I’m the awkward person in the room. I don’t know where to look or what to say. I just feel uncomfy about the whole business and literally struck dumb.

So you can imagine how I reacted when I went in to one of those urgent care centers for a persistent sore throat almost one year ago today and the doc-in-a-box shared some unexpected news:

"Ms. Solomon, your blood pressure is extremely high."

Me to him: “Really?”

Me to self: “Well, no shit, doc. I just fought Atlanta traffic to get here after a long day of work.”

Him to me: “I don’t mean just a little high. I’m talking stroke-level high.”

Whoa. Now he’s got my attention. Stroke-level high? What the!?

“In fact”, he continued, “If your blood pressure is this high consistently, you’ll be dead by your 45th birthday.”

Gulp. Gee. Thanks, doc.

After reluctantly letting me leave(he seriously considered sending me to the ER), and reassuring me that the sore throat wasn’t an infection, the doctor advised me to monitor my blood pressure several times over the next week or so, and if it remained elevated, to go see my primary doctor.

I left, stunned. What did this mean? I mean, I’d been stressed at work recently, but… I didn’t think it was this bad. I know high blood pressure doesn’t run in my family, and though I’d put on a few pounds and treated myself out to dinner and drinks fairly regularly, I wasn’t exactly an unhealthy eater. Plus, I’d just visited my GYN 6 months ago and my blood pressure was normal. This guy’s tripping. I just need to meditate, enhance my calm, and everything will be back to normal soon.

Except… it wasn’t. I followed the boxdoc’s advice and checked my blood pressure at a nearby pharmacy a couple of days later. It was high. And when I checked again a couple of days after that, and a couple of days after that, it was still way higher than normal. Like… way.

The boxdoc’s words kept reverberating through my head, ‘Dead by 45.’

Even though I had insolently and defiantly quipped at him when I walked out of the door, “See ya on my 46th birthday,” I couldn’t deny the simple truth.

I was scared.

 

Coming to Grips

Over the next few weeks, my emotions were all over the place.

I went from a numbed state of shock: “Why is this happening to me? Is this really happening to me?”

To avoidance: “This isn’t happening. I’ll just not think about it. I mean… I don’t even feel sick.”

To morbid fatalism: “Would it really be so bad to die young and leave a good-looking corpse?”

To finally sucking it up and searching for and visiting a doctor who talked to me, let me cry, reassured me that this wasn’t the end of the world, then scheduled a few diagnostic tests and prescribed some little pills and sent me on my way.

pills-and-billsAfter the tests, which revealed no physiological abnormalities and left me with as many questions as before, I was faced with a daily regimen of pill-taking and a nice stack of medical bills. Both of which pissed me off.

It was then that I confessed to myself that if I to reduce my reliance on pills and avoid even more medical expense in the future, I’d really have to suck it up and take a long, hard look at the factors in my life that had very likely brought me to this point.

 

Skipping Breakfast

Most mornings, my breakfast routine consisted of a cup of coffee. And on a good day, two cups of coffee. After doing lots of research on the benefits of eating breakfast (namely: improved focus, weight loss, reduced risk of heart disease), I determined that this was one of the first things I’d need to change.

 

Eating Out

As a self-proclaimed bon vivant, I consider it almost a duty to try new restaurants and cuisines as often as possible. Plus, I write about food. And how can I write about it if I’m not out experiencing it as much as possible? Yet, when I was honest about my food experiences of late, I had to admit they often left me underwhelmed. And in my desire to try the most interesting- or exotic-sounding or most highly acclaimed items on a restaurant’s menu, I was often consuming the worst food they had to offer from a health perspective. And I was doing this multiple days a week. It was time for me to reclaim my meals by re-entering my kitchen.

 

Too Much Alcohol

I drink. I drink when I’m stressed. When I’m happy. When I have writer’s block. When I celebrate a new gig or the loss of an old one. When I wanna feel sexy. When I wanna appear witty. When I want to calm my nerves after a hard day at work and when I want to be the life of the party on the weekends. And, all of my friends and associates drink too. As with my food interests, I’m always looking for unique or not-so-common cocktails, beers, wines, and liquors to imbibe and share with others. At every event I attend, whether it’s an after-work happy hour, a gallery exhibit or a casual backyard barbecue, alcohol is almost always a central component of the festivities. And my social calendar is often quite full with these types of gatherings and events. I had to find some way to cut back.

 

Smoking

While I’ve never made a regular habit of smoking, the habit I picked up in college continued to linger, and I’d often find myself lighting up when drinking heavily or when around friends who also smoked. My doctor minced no words when I told her about my occasional smoking habit. Her words, “Oh, no. You don’t smoke anymore.”

 

Not Enough Exercise

The most movement I got on many days came from a mild morning walk with some neighbor friends of mine. Certainly not enough to get my heart rate up, break a sweat, or lose weight. I’d often spend the rest of the day sitting in front of a computer, often only getting up to take care of biological necessities.

 

Reliance on Quick Fixes

In the past, when I’ve admitted to being out of balance, say, due to an excess of partying, or a really finding-a-healthy-balance2decadent holiday season, I’ve tried to get back in balance by focusing my energies on the opposite extreme. For example, I’ve used the Master Cleanse (or lemonade diet) to ‘get back on track’ several times. If you’ve never heard of the Master Cleanse, it’s essentially a fast where you consume nothing but a mixture of lemons, water, cayenne pepper, and maple syrup for anywhere from 5-21 days. While it does take a great deal of willpower to do such a fast, and while such fasts are touted for eliminating accumulated toxins from the body, I knew I could no longer rely on quick fixes to provide lasting effects. Proving that I could subsist on spicy lemonade for 5 or more days didn’t change my day-to-day behaviors, my approach to relating to my body, or my discipline to make the right decisions and sacrifices on a consistent basis. I realized that using such binge-and-purge tactics to achieve balance was akin to bouncing up and down repeatedly on a seesaw and assuming the net of the bouncing movements would produce a state of balance. When, in fact, to achieve balance – either on a seesaw or with my health – I would need to find a centered spot that produced the desired effect, then move very little to stay in that space.

 

Other Conditions

I – like many other women (especially African-American women) have suffered from symptoms of fibroids and estrogen dominance for years. Neither my doctor nor any of the other medical information sources I’ve perused had been able to give me any solid or conclusive guidance on what to do to fix this issue (you may remember a previous post on this topic). Yet, intuitively I felt that there might be some connection between the estrogen dominance and my high blood pressure. At a minimum, I felt that the healthy balance changes I planned to implement could only benefit this condition as well. I also made a note to find ways to deal better with daily stresses both on and off the clock.

 

At the end of all that reflection, I simplified the changes I needed to make into the following equation:

Current Health + Exercise + Improved Diet + Consistent Effort – Alcohol – Stress = Healthy Balance

 

It was clear that I had a lot of things that needed working on. And I knew it wasn’t going to be easy. But it was a journey that I was willing to take, and it’s one that I look forward to sharing with you.

 

cheers,

k Photo: Balancing Act by Digitalnative, on Flickr

Photo: Interest's Conflicts by CarbonNYC, on Flickr

Photo: Seesaw by nzgabriel, on Flickr

how to get sexy with food
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Food is sex

 In a recent article on this here blog, I mentioned that eating was one of the few activities that engages all 5 senses at once, and that travel was a close second.

Well Dear Reader, once again, I have something to confess. My Southern demureness (and the fact that my Mom occasionally reads this) kept me from truthfully asserting my real choice for 2nd place in the 'stimulates-all-your-senses' category... Sex.

There. I said it. Sexsexsexsexsexitysex...sex! Have you clicked away yet? Unsubscribed? Fine. Better do it now before we really pass the PG-13 zone (Yes, mom. That includes you.).

So, why the change of mind?

After reading a recent Creative Loafing article on the eroticism of food, I was emboldened by this quote from chef-cum-prophet Paul Luna:

"Sexuality and erotica play essential roles in exploration and self-discovery. These elements seem to be culturally suppressed in Atlanta and Southern culture — at least, overtly."

Well, I'll be.

Not one to be restricted by the often prudish Southern attitudes towards either food or sex, I decided to take Chef Luna's quote as a challenge to overcome my own self-repression and explore - in one fell swoop - the various facets of the food-sex connection. I hope it's as good for you as it was for me.

 

Erotic Foods

The most commonly cited erotic foods are usually ones that resemble certain parts of the human anatomy, such as: asparagus, bananas, figs, and pomegranates. But you already know about those, so let's indulge in a few lesser-known sensual foods.

Mole (pronounced, mole-ay) - A Mexican sauce that comes in as many varieties as there are sexual positions (well, almost).  When prepared from scratch, it's a labor of love that typically combines rich chocolate with chiles and spices pinch-the-taillike cumin, and cinnamon. Like most new adventures in bed and out, mole might take some getting used to,  but if you find it's not for you, you can always go back to more tried-and-true tastes.

 

Peel-and-eat crawfish - The well-known instruction to 'pinch the tail, suck the head' is sexy, albeit in a somewhat juvenile way. But hey, silly can be sexy too. Plus, any eating experiences that requires tearing at food with your hands, getting your fingers all messy and sucking your digits clean can be a real turn-on. Of course, you're not limited to crawfish. Try other peel-and-eat seafood, fresh cut fruit, Moroccan or Ethiopian food, or, for you prudish Southern-folk, barbecue.

 

Truffles - Truffles have an earthy, mouth-watering flavor, but they can be both hard to find and very pricey. As an alternative to whole truffles, a bit of sprinkled truffle powder or drizzled truffle oil can transform a conservative dish into something downright decadent.

 

Mango - This one has highly personal significance. I dated a gent once who literally made me blush at his method of consuming every fibrous piece of a whole fresh mango, all the way down to the pit. But even if your mang0-masticating skills aren't as... entertaining, the fruit itself  - with its blushing exterior, brightly colored flesh, and exotic fruity flavor - is enough to titillate.

 

Sexy Food on Film

Like Water for Chocolate - An enchanting story of two lovers who, for years, can only express their passion for each other through food. Keep an eye out for the making of Mexican mole.

 

Tampopo - Man, those Japanese are weird. While this film centers around a Japanese housewife on a quest to make the perfect bowl of ramen, the movie is interspersed with several seemingly unrelated food scenes. Of particular interest are scenes of a couple who really enjoy playing with their food. Like, really.

 

The Cook, The Thief, His Wife and Her Lover - a deliciously dark drama that is at once brutal and beautiful.

 

Eat, Drink, Man, Woman - A Chinese dad and his three daughters experience life and love with su912weeks-foodscenemptuous family feasts as a constant backdrop.

 

9 1/2 Weeks - Kim Basinger, a young unscary-looking Micky Rourke, and a refrigerator full of goodies. A classic 'food-play as foreplay' scene.

 

Oh, and let's not forget the erotic scene from The Matrix:Reloaded in which the Merovingian delivers a sexy slice to an unsuspecting diner (extra points for both Monica Belluci's appearance and her character's name: Persephone).

 

Food, Sex, and Song

According to an article in Psychology Today, the link between food, sex, and music isn't circumstantial, it's scientific. Here are some sexy food-centric sounds to get you in the mood.

Ungodly Fruit - a sensual, lilting instrumental from Wax Tailor.

 

The Sensual Woman - Jello makes a notable appearance in this slickly sexy song from the soundtrack of Snatch (warning: some explicit language).

ohio-players-honey

Sweet, Sticky Thing - a classic from the Ohio Players album 'Honey'.

 

Kelis' Milkshake - Yeah, I did it. So what? You need the Vitamin D.

 

And for a song that seems to be a song about food that's really about sex but is really about neither, D'angelo's soulful ballad 'Brown Sugar' takes the cake.

 

You might also want to check out my YouTube playlist: music to cook to - lots of spicy, savory, and sweet sounds for heating things up in the kitchen or any room of the house.

 

Food Scents that Stimulate

Some food scents are so arousing, you might even call them 'olfactory Viagra'. But these scent-ual smells don't have to be confined to the kitchen. Scented candle, oils, and scrubs are perfect ways to bring the smell of your favorite foods into the boudoir.

 

Coffee - Even if you don't enjoy drinking this stimulating beverage, the scent of a fresh-brewed pot or freshly ground beans is quite invigorating, even arousing. Maybe that's the reason so many first dates happen at coffee shops? Or maybe it's because coffee and sex have been inexplicably linked since the 16th century. If you really like the scent of coffee, a quick home-made body scrub of ground coffee and olive oil is an easy way to be enveloped by the aroma all day long.vanilla-and-flower

 

Vanilla - a comforting smell whose soothing, calming effect could ostensibly make your sweetheart more open to your advances. It's also alleged to stimulate the production of the sex hormones testosterone and estrogen.

 

Japanese Quince - Some historians believe that the apple referred to as 'the forbidden fruit' in the Garden of Eden was actually a quince. Ancient Greek mythology associates the quince with Aphrodite, the goddess of love. While I can't tell you what a quince tastes like, I can tell you what one smells like. Well, kinda. The japanese quince scented products from Seda France are so mouth-wateringly good that they're well worth the price.

 

cheers, k

 

title photo:Food is sex by Mr. dale, on Flickr

amuse bouche: biodegradable
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Compost making class Extreme patriotism / chauvinism /  partisanship = little piles of dirt arguing over which piles of dirt they belong to and which long-since-turned-to-dirt people they believe in.

In the grand scheme of things, does it really matter 'who ya wit'? or 'what set you claimin'?

"By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return." - Genesis 3:19 (NIV)

cheers, k

photo: Compost making class by Milkwooders, on Flickr

you know you're a bon vivant if....
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A little while ago, I mentioned that I would be delving deeper into defining – in my own terms, based on my own observations – what it means to be a bon vivant. Unfortunately, the term bon vivant is one that is not well understood or is often misconstrued to be an individual who puts on airs or enjoys a excessively lavish, high-priced lifestyle.

Of course, I couldn’t disagree more. So in an effort to clear up any confusion, I’ve penned what I hope will be an informative series of clues that will more clearly define what it means to be a bon vivant and help you decide if you are one of that illustrious ilk known as bon vivants.

Let’s get started, shall we? 

 

You enjoy and actively seek out experiences involving food, drink, and travel

what is a bon vivant
what is a bon vivant

Source: lawsofmodernwoman.tumblr.com via kisha on Pinterest

Bon vivants are sensualists at heart, and anything that stimulates the senses is right up their alley. It’s no surprise that the bon vivant’s greatest passion is food and drink, since dining is one of life’s activities that involves all five senses at once. Travel is generally a close second, since it offers the bon vivant the opportunity for new culinary experiences.  The thorough enjoyment and passionate pursuit of good food, good drink, and good company is a tell-tale sign of a bon vivant.

 

You like work, but only if you can have fun doing it.

what is a bon vivant.
what is a bon vivant.

Living the good life doesn’t usually conjure up images of workday drudgery. So, many bon vivants  will only pursue professions that they truly enjoy. But not every bon vivant has a cool job, nor is everyone with a cool job a bon vivant. Many bon vivants have fairly traditional jobs, but very non-traditional career paths or working schedules. One bon vivant I know literally works to travel, and spends up to 2 months a year away from his high-profile corporate job. Another I know has no job to speak of, and lives modestly (but well) off income from past investments. And yet another bon vivant friend has taken a 2-year-on, 1-year-off approach to employment. She works in her chosen field for about 2 years, then takes every 3rd year to do whatever she likes, whether it be travel, volunteer work, or work on her never-quite-finished novel. [/nextpage]

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You enjoy having money only because it enables your lifestyle

what is a bon vivant
what is a bon vivant

“Money frees you from doing things you dislike. Since I dislike doing nearly everything, money is handy.” - Groucho Marx

For bon vivants, the amount of money they have is secondary to the type of lifestyle they lead. In fact, many bon vivants aren’t anywhere near wealthy, and aren’t driven by financial gain. But since they value high quality experiences, bon vivants usually have the financial means to indulge their tastes. As previously revealed, many bon vivants choose non-traditional jobs to earn money. Some bon vivants were simply born into money. Others, unfortunately, may resort to less scrupulous methods to maintain their lifestyles, including cons, marrying for money, or becoming a ‘kept’ man or woman.

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You have an extensive and varied social network

diversity
diversity

Bon vivants love to surround themselves with interesting people. Especially those with unusual occupations, intriguing conversations or personality traits that the bon vivant finds entertaining in some way.

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You have above average intelligence

above-average-intelligence
above-average-intelligence

Bon vivants tend to not only be well-educated, but also well-learned. They are perpetual students, always seeking to learn new ideas, languages, skills, and concepts. But unlike academicians or scholars, bon vivants often get bored with classroom learning, and prefer to learn by experience. Bon vivants are likely to opt for apprenticeships and self-directed learning to sharpen their intelligence instead of rigorous classroom instruction and advanced degrees.

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You're a Jack or Jill of all trades

Swiss Army Knife

The bon vivant’s love of novelty inspires him to cultivate many interests and skills, and he’s usually experienced enough in all of them to be dangerous. As a result, bon vivants thrive in careers or professions where they can be generalists or universal adapters versus specializing in one well-defined area of practice.

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You’re equally philosophical, spiritual, and religious

jesus-was-a-bonvivant
jesus-was-a-bonvivant

Because of their unconventional ways of thinking and living, bon vivants aren’t likely to be strictly religious. They may even have their own sense of morality or spirituality that is a hybrid of several religions or philosophical traditions. Yet even professed atheist bon vivants will usually have a strong sense of right and wrong that guides their behavior and is reflected in the behaviors and philosophies of their friends and associates. [/nextpage]

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You tend to overindulge in both work and pleasure, often to the detriment of your health

Bon vivants are known for burning the candle at both ends. Since their work is also their play, they are likely to spend long hours at their profession, with seemingly endless energy for the tasks at hand. Bon vivants put as much energy into their leisure (especially wining and dining) as they do their work. Though this work hard, play harder mentality often earns them the admiration of their associates, it can be quite detrimental to their mental and physical health. The bon vivant’s penchant for packing a lot of living into a short period of time is one reason – I’m sad to say – that many bon vivants throughout history have died relatively young.

"Human happiness and contentment involve so much more than improved material conditions... to say this is not to decry the importance of material alleviations, only to insist that they do not by themselves produce the good life." - John Hewetson

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You value high-quality goods, services, and experiences

Bon vivants have high standards of quality, but aren’t necessarily big spenders. A bon vivant will go out of her way for the higher quality item, but isn’t necessarily swayed by the more expensive item.

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You are uninhibited (or less inhibited than most) or gregarious

Little One.

There’s a reason that bon vivants tend to have such a wide and diverse circle of friends. They have no problem striking up conversation with relative strangers. And because of their diverse experiences and education, they’re generally able to find something to talk about with almost anyone. This social self-assuredness makes the bon vivant both fun to have and easy to spot at parties. He’s usually the one enthralling a small group of people with his sparkling wit, a funny story, or a string of well-timed bon mots between sips of his drink. [/nextpage]

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You are heavily dependent on rewards from others

APPLAUSE

Since bon vivants are such social creatures, they will often choose professions with higher visibility and influence, even if it means lower pay. More than most, the bon vivant is motivated by people’s appreciation of her and her work. This is why many bon vivants tend to thrive as performers, artists, and politicians. Read Psychology Today's 'Field Guide to the Bon Vivant' for more on this trait.

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You’re somewhat irreverent or a button pusher

Three Muses - Odd Bird
Three Muses - Odd Bird

Bon vivants are very keen on social graces and will shun those who obviously lack them - as it offends their sensibilities and love of beauty. However, bon vivants enjoy thwarting or challenging conventional ideas, and the bon vivant is often the first to bring up a controversial subject or adopt an unconventional, eyebrow-raising lifestyle. [/nextpage]

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You dress well and/or in a way that expresses your uniqueness

To the bon vivant, image isn’t everything, but it’s pretty damned important. Bon vivants love to express themselves, and their choice of clothing is one of the main ways by which they do it. In other areas of life, bon vivants tend to gloss over the fine points, but when it comes to their clothing, they’re all about the details. Accessories like feathers, hats, scarves, bow ties, rings, and brooches are favorites of the bon vivant, as are unique blends of contemporary and classic styles.

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You enjoy life to the fullest

for every true lover of life!

Bon vivants recognize that living a good life doesn’t mean there will be no bad times. In fact, it’s the bad times that make the good times taste even sweeter. Whether they’re down on their luck or riding high, bon vivants find a reason to celebrate life for as long as they live.

"The tragedy of life is not that it ends so soon, but that we wait so long to begin it." - W. M. Lewis "May you live every day of your life." - Jonathan Swift

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how to cure a hangover - top 10 remedies
hangover-cures.jpg

hangover show

I'm way too hungover to be writing this post. But since I love you, Dear Reader, I wanted to share 10 of my personal favorite hangover remedies. I'll talk softly.

#1 Water and lots of it

water-glass

Dehydration is the main culprit of the pain and suffering associated with a hangover. So load up on the H20.

#2 Multivitamins

vitamins

With a hangover, your body is depleted of necessary vitamins and minerals. A quality multivitamin helps you replenish them.

Note: The best cure for a hangover is prevention. The first two hangover cures in this list are most effective when consumed before or during drinking.

#3 Apple cider vinegar

acvinegar

Excessive alcohol consumption creates an acidic pH in the body. Apple cider vinegar helps create a more alkaline environment. Take a teaspoon or two of apple cider of vinegar in a full glass of water. The taste of the vinegar can also help ease nausea.

#4 Fresh citrus fruit

citrus

High water content helps with dehydration. Lots of vitamins help replenish vital nutrients. And the sour taste helps combat nausea. Honestly, almost any fresh fruit would be a great hangover cure, but citrus is my personal favorite.

#5 Beer

beer

If 'hair of the dog' hangover remedies are your thing, I suggest beer. Beer contains more water than other alcoholic beverages, which will prevent you from dehydrating your body any more than you already have. And the numbing effects of alcohol can help with your hangover headache.

#6 Exercise

exercise

Increasing your heart rate helps speed the metabolism of alcohol out of your body. Plus, the endorphins provide a much needed natural dose of feelgood.

#7 Beets

beet

Beets are nutrient dense, and antioxidant rich. Plus their mineral-ly taste can help your nausea. And they're Zach Galifianakis' (you know, that bearded guy from The Hangover) hangover cure of choice.

#8 Coffee

coffee

The caffeine in coffee constricts blood vessels. This can be a tremendous boon if you're suffering from a raging hangover headache. Unfortunately, coffee also dehydrates your body, so make sure to chase your cuppa with some good ol' H20.

#9 Echinacea

echinacea Echinacea is purported to aid in both the removal of toxins from the body and in boosting the immune system. Take echinacea in tea or capsule form.

#10 Acidophilus

probiotics

Acidophilus (aka, Lactobaccillus Acidophilus) - a strain of 'good bacteria' found in yogurt - helps maintain a healthy pH in your body and speeds the metabolism of alcohol out of your body, which will help you get over that hangover faster. Acidophilus is available in capsule form at most health food stores.

 

"Did you know that having a hangover is... is not having enough water in your body to run your Krebs cycles? Which is exactly what happens to you when you're dying of thirst. So, dying of thirst would probably feel pretty much like the hangover... that finally bloody kills you."

~ Charles Herman in A Beautiful Mind

 

cheers,

k