Monthly Archives: September 2012

WoW – Reclaim Your Body: Follow Elaine Morales from Cellar to Stage

Like so many work-at-home Moms, Elaine took care of her business, her husband, her kids – but not herself. She loved everything about her life except how she felt and what she saw when she looked in the mirror. The effects of spending hours in sloppy sweats in her basement office led to “this kind of malaise … dealing with it with this long term emotional overeating and kind of closet eating sugar addiction that led me to not be happy with my body and to have tremendous moods and GI problems.”

She knew she had to change, “And so, I attacked it by buckling down with nutrition and an exercise program and deciding to make that part of my life and just getting it done.”

Now, don’t get the idea that Elaine was a natural athlete who had just temporarily stepped away from the gym. No – she had flunked gym in high school. But she was determined. And, in the process, she made an interesting discovery.

As she tells it,
“I got stronger in the gym and I started to really have the chance to get to know myself again. And to see myself in a new way and to gain an inner strength and really get to know myself. And, suddenly, it occurred to me, this is not just about my muffin top. This is about connecting to who I am, what are my values, how do I live out my values I all areas of my life and how do I challenge myself to go beyond my limits? And I – and also in taking care of myself – getting stronger and getting healthier with good nutrition – I felt like a gazillion bucks and all kinds of health problems I had cleared up. My mood improved – all kinds of wonderful, wonderful side effects, and I just thought, if I could bottle this up and sell it, I’d be a gazillionaire.”

Well, Elaine didn’t figure out how to bottle her results, but she has learned how to share them. She received my training as a Health Coach from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition’s cutting-edge Health Coach Training Program and studied dietary theories, practical lifestyle management techniques, and innovative coaching methods with some of the world’s top health and wellness experts, including Dr. Andrew Weil, Dr. Deepak Chopra, Dr. David Katz, Director of Yale University’s Prevention Research Center, Dr. Walter Willett, Chair of Nutrition at Harvard University, and Geneen Roth, bestselling author and expert on emotional eating.

Oh – and along the way, Elaine became a competitive body builder. As she describes it, “I was really enjoying the changes in my body and I felt so empowered in the gym and by getting stronger. And one of my mentors said, did you ever think of competing? I loved the training. The hardest part for me was going from sweats in the basement, no makeup, married for almost 20 years, and putting myself out in public in essentially a crystal bikini, five inch stiletto heels, and drag queen makeup – getting up there on stage with barely any clothes on. That was just – that was TOTALLY out of my comfort zone.”

Elaine won’t ask you to get into full competition get-up; she will help you come to terms with your relationship with food. You can find out about her individual coaching and workshops here. You can also read more about Elaine on and

Why is Elaine the Woman of the Week? Because she understands that fitness and wellness begin in the mind. Because she was so excited about her self-discovery that she knew she was called to share it. And, finally, because she got the training and did the research to be of service to her clients. She knows that everything she suggests works and she can tell you exactly why!

West Village Nostalgia

For more than fifteen years, the Far West 10th Street Block Association has hosted a street fair and for many of those years my friend Betsy has coordinated the event. This past year, in part because she no longer lives on West 10th Street, she stepped down from this role. This year was slated to be the final fair, so I wasn’t going to miss it. The fair set of a chain of nostalgic stops in and outside of the neighborhood.

Saturday was one of those perfect September days where you need to think about whether or not to add a second layer. The fair seemed a little smaller than some years, but there were so many familiar faces that it was a delightful experience. I had time to chat with a couple of the vendors and we reminisced about fairs past and the neighborhood and history. My sole purchase was an old pedometer – no bells and whistles, needs to be reset, operates on a pendulum, no battery. He wanted a dollar. I gave him two.

Then, on to lunch at Rosemary’s Enoteca and Trattoria – a wonderful new place on Greenwich. It’s on the site where Sutter’s Bakery was in the 60’s and 70’s. As I sat facing out onto the street and the community park, I was immediately transported to those days long ago when we would sit in Sutter’s for hours. For probably about $2.00, you could get coffee and a croissant and sit with the Sunday Times enjoying the great show provided by men and women calling up to their girlfriends in the Women’s House of Detention across the street. Even as I admired the beautiful trees and flowers across the street in the garden that has replaced the jail, I could hear the echos of those voices.

As I walked along Greenwich and down 6th Avenue to Houston Street, I thought about shops and restaurants long gone and celebrated those few that have remained. I spent another nostalgic hour staring at the former home of The Fantastics and missing Jerry Orbach’s wonderful voice while having espresso at Dante, one of the few remaining coffee houses, a place where laptops are banned. Raffetto’s is still selling pasta but the Mystery Bookstore is gone.

The Belly Button transformed to become Elephant and Castle, but is still selling their signature burger with bacon, curry sauce, cheese, tomato and avocado.

The day ended with drinks with a friend at the Algonquin in tribute to Dorothy Parker.

Driving rain aided a more rapid transition to the present than I might have wanted, but, within the safe (dry) confines of the bus home I reflected on a day full of a wonderful blend of past and present and wondered what the future will hold.

WoW – Deborah Roth: Personifying Spirited Living

Talk about one-stop shopping! Deborah Roth, life coach, ritual consultant, and interfaith minister, is a warm, wonderful woman whose very presence makes you feel better and whose array of skills includes just about everything a woman could want to create a spirit-centered, fulfilling life.

You can start with her Spirited Woman Empowerment Program to come into your full power, move on to Conscious Dating for Singles if you want a life partner and stay connected to your strength by attending Deb’s New Moon SisterCircles. Oh – and, of course, Deborah can create ceremonies and rituals for all those marker events in your life, including officiating at your wedding.

One of the things that amazes me about Deb is how someone who grew up with three brothers and raised two sons is so in tune with everything feminine. She started out in the corporate world and moved on to supporting her husband in his business before discovering the concept of the Divine Feminine at the 4th Universalist Church. This led to a deep exploration of women’s circles, women’s rites, feminist psychology, Jungian psychology, astrology, tarot and ritual. All these influences are clearly present in Deb’s work.

Deb sees the strands that weave through her diverse interests and skills as:

  • developing a practice of radical self-care
  • embracing the power of women’s circles and cycles
  • learning how to create sacred space in life and work
  • making life transitions intentionally with simple, meaningful ceremonies

Her New Moon Sistercircles are a delightful way for women to come together and celebrate themselves. Each month, different goddesses from Deb’s collection are celebrated as the participants meditate, chant, sing and dance together. They are wonderful, life-affirming events.

Oh – and in her “spare” time?

I’m a pretty voracious reader, I sing in a terrific, small women’s chorus, am on the board of my community garden, and I’ve produced 3 successful benefit productions of The Vagina Monologues, raising more than $35,000 for, to end violence against women and girls around the world.

She also squeezes in serving as co-cordinator for the Association of Transformative Leaders – Northeast and as a member of the team for Conversation Among Masters. And she still finds a few minutes to walk across the street to visit her favorite tree in Riverside Park.

Deborah is the woman of the week because of her aura, her skill set, her warmth and her compassion.

Trying Serendipity

I love it when things just appear exactly when I need them, don’t you? This has been a week of serendipitous happenings – from perfect people showing up to something as simple as the perfect tomato. I’m just dancing!

On Saturday, I called a friend to check on the date of a street fair that turns out to be next week. There was another fair that Saturday, though, and my friend had an unexpected empty space in her normally packed schedule, so we were able to spend a beautiful afternoon together. The weather conspired in our favor and it was one of those perfect, cool, breezy September days. We had a wonderful stroll, admired many beautiful things and managed to buy none of them.

We needed coffee, though, and on the way discovered a new store, where I found the perfect dress for an upcoming event. And, on a side trip to check on a second dress (that turned out to be wrong for me), I discovered the perfect shoes to go with the dress.

The day before, a quick trip to the Greenmarket yielded some perfect tomatoes and a bargain – delicious – lunch at a new pizza place.

Sunday, completing the last of the seasonal closet switch-over led to the discovery of my long-lost silk thermals and a favorite shirt I thought was long gone.

A brief check-in to plan a meeting this morning led to the discovery of a perfect interview for my book project, an invitation to join a group, and this week’s Woman of the Week.

The more good things come along, the happier I’m feeling. And the happier I’m feeling, the more good things appear. It feels like magic, but it isn’t really. If you’re looking for the good, you’ll see the good. If you come to expect wonderful surprises, well, there they are.

There will be gloomy days, rainy days, frustrating days, overwhelmed days, I’m sure. And it will be tempting to wallow and look for the negative. And see the negative. And expect the negative.

And on those days, I’m trying serendipity.

Woman of the Week – Dr. Isora Bosch: Tenacity Pays Off

It’s not easy to come to the United States as an immigrant; harder as a political refugee; harder without money and harder still as a minority within a minority. It wasn’t an easy path for a 14 year old thrust into a strange environment, but tenacity paid off and Dr. Bosch is now an internationally-recognized authority on post-traumatic stress. Isora’s experience as a black Cuban woman has provided her with increased sensitivity to the cultural aspects of traumatic experiences. She feels that

the difficulties we face because of our race in some cases and our ethnicity in others may create a great deal of confusion in regard to our sense of identity. This often leads to feelings of isolation, sadness, low self-esteem, fears of closeness and sometimes the inability to develop a sense of sisterhood with other women of color.

She realized that mental health professionals often overlook race and ethnicity and therefore miss areas where clients need help. Isora later put this knowledge to good use as she became the only mental health professional to successfully help the survivors of the Happy land fire in the Bronx. She understood that this primarily Honduran population would only be open to help linked to their religious and cultural beliefs and involved both the Church and local Santeria practitioners to reach out to the families.

Isora’s family came to the United States as political refugees long before the Mariel immigration. Although her father had been a banker and her mother a teacher, they arrived with nothing and had to start from scratch. Isora recalls making an arrangement for herself with an Italian bakery to get their leftovers,taking the principal into giving her a bus pass, haunting church bins for clothing and sifting through piles of shoe samples to find something that matched.

Her family had always stressed the importance of education, so Isora, despite limited fluency in English, managed to stay on the honor roll in school and eventually to receive a masters degree in Industrial Psychology and a doctorate in Adult Learning and Leadership, and, later, an masters in Clinical Social Work.

Although Isora likes to consider herself as retired, new projects keep flowing to her. For the past decade, she has been actively involved in providing stress management services to individuals affected by the events of 9/11.

Isora has never shied away from a challenge. And she never misses the opportunity for an adventure or a moment of pleasure. She’s organized trips to Portugal and Holland to celebrate her birthday. She’s likely to pull out her guitar and entertain party-goers with Flamenco songs.

In celebrating Isora, I celebrate all the women who never give up; who keep trying; who take risks; who speak up. In this week, as we remember the events of 9/11, it seems to be appropriate to recognize all the people who are still are helping others deal with the aftermath. And as we look ahead, it makes me feel inspired to know that tenacity pays off.

The Grass is Really Greener on My Side of the Fence

How much time do you spend looking at other people’s lives and thinking that maybe they have things better than you? It’s easy to forget that we only see what we’re shown – and even then, we tend to see things the way we want to see them.

On balance, the grass is looking greener and greener in my own back yard. And I’ll keep what I have, weeds and all. Today, I’m thinking about a colleague who was healthy and strong and successful until a week ago when a mysterious illness put him in danger and his life on hold. I’m thinking about so many who are mourning eleven year old losses today. I’m thinking about friends who are in pain and finding their quality of life diminishing.

As I sit here in my cozy office space, surrounded by things I love – not for financial value but for sentimental value and for comfort. I look at my Thurber dog, who always makes me smile. I download a picture of my Godson heading off to his first day of kindergarten. I nod to a picture of me sitting on a wall, staring lovingly up at my mother. When I’ve finished writing, I will enjoy a few perfect strawberries.

I’ve moved from a gratitude journal to a variation suggested by coach Natalie Tucker Miller. Every day, I write a letter to the Universe, expressing my gratitude for something. I now start my day in anticipation, What new things will I be grateful for?

Sure, my floors need resurfacing. And it would be nice if there was a bit more of a breeze in this room. But there will be smiling faces at the bus stop tomorrow. And friends to met. And art to see. And new adventures. I’m liking the grass right here.

What’s going on in your yard?

Woman of the Week – Gloria’s Post-50 Tweak

When we met, Gloria was a 56 year old paraprofessional in the New York City public schools. She was the mother of three, active in church and community activities and was completing her Associates degree. I was her professor and interviewed her for a course I was taking. This is her story.

Gloria’s early childhood was divided between time with her mother in Harlem and an aunt in the South. She was independent and a bit rebellious and describes having run away from her mother’s home. She saw herself as not ready for marriage at 18:

I was never going to get married. Yup. I had this young man … we were supposed to get married, but I wasn’t ready. I ran away.

At 34, Gloria met her former fiance at a dance and agrees to marry him:

And I says to him, you know, I’m very sorry I ran away from you before. He says, “You’re not getting away from me this time.” And he was right.

And then I kind of felt like I’d been done an injustice, because we lived in Manhattan and I was going back to work and I’ commute … and he says to me we’re going to get a home … never dreaming he’s take me to hell and gone to Brooklyn! I was VERY unhappy ’cause I couldn’t go back to work.

Gloria enjoyed her children’s company, but wants to be back at work as well.

I’m very appreciative of the fact that I stayed home. Mothers don’t realize what they miss – the first walk, the first sound … I can’t say that my children were the happiest moment because with – I was so sick with Wendy and I didn’t even know it and with the boys (unexpected twins) I just couldn’t believe it. I wouldn’t call that happiness, yet they’ve BROUGHT me happiness.
My … job was domestic engineer. What a drag! The cooking and the cleaning and the diapers and … oooh! I couldn’t WAIT to get back to work!

Despite her husband’s objections, she returned to work as a substitute paraprofessional:

I had to con him into letting me do that. As long as I was the old “mummy” around the house, it was fine. He complains to the children, “Mother’s always on the go.” but he never once stopped me … and I do want to have some time alone with him. Maybe we can do a little sparking … I wish it could have been different with him.

She felt that his use of “mummy” was deliberate – he liked to keep her all wrapped up. Gloria clearly was always a strong woman. her juggling multiple roles in the 50’s and 60’s was not the norm. Her return to school in her 50’s was a bold step.

But Gloria, as a result of a course that involved looking at career alternatives, took it a step further. She became involved in politics.

They decided I should run for the Area Policy Board. Joe (a professor) tried to warn me. Joe said “You’re going to have to wear many hats.” I said, “Joe, I will never wear but one hat.” It became a class lesson. He said, “If you want something for your people over here, you’re going to have to give something over there.” And I told him NO! I wasn’t going to be that kind of politician.

At the time of the interview, Paras were being phased out of the schools, but Gloria was clear she would continue to work.

Like I say, I’m 56, and I really don’t know which road I’m taking now … but I know I want to be with people … I know I see me helping – I want to reach people.

The last time I heard from Gloria, she had decided to use her people skills in the political arena. She moved on from Area Policy Board to a seat in the State Assembly by the time she was 60.

Why is Gloria my woman of the week? Because all these years later I remember her feistiness and her great compassion. Because she never let anything get in her way. Because she understood how many different ways she could use her strengths. And because she went for what she loved.

Could you be the next woman of the week? Do you know someone who should be featured? Leave a comment!

September Rush and the To-Do Mobile

Everyone seems to be posting, tweeting, facebooking about getting back to work now that the Labor Day weekend has ended. Me too. The weather is not quite cooperating with this burst of energy, as it’s hazy, hot and humid when it’s not actually raining for the next three days, but, with some subtle climate control, I can make it feel like Fall in my living room and settle down to work.

The biggest problem I’ll have for the next few days is deciding what do to first. Here’s the list:

  1. Line up thought-provoking tweets and facebook posts (Where do people find all those cool pictures?).
  2. Clean out the last closet, otherwise known as the front hall horror.
  3. Find a good home for the walker I never needed.
  4. Transcribe six interviews.
  5. Update/rewrite/rebrand a whole bunch of materials.
  6. Throw out or donate all the unwanted clothes, shoes and bags.
  7. Line up some new blog posts.
  8. Get together with friends I haven’t seen all summer.


What does your September list look like?

How will you work your way through it?