Working girls and workshops

After leaving the job world with Doctor’s orders to rest during my pregnancy, I became a stay at home, work at home mom, researching and writing and editing during naptimes and after bedtime, while also going through a difficult separation and divorce. To say I was exhausted is putting it very very mildly. I’ve been happy and so lucky to be a constant presence in my child’s life (Thank you again, amazing family support system!) but I also wanted to work.

Then came the B3 Blogging Workshop from Single Edition Media. And in addition, an invitation to join the most important network for single people I’ve seen yet, Single Edition itself! Like a sudden burst of sunshine after a thunderous rainstorm, (forgive the cliche) I was shown a path towards the life I want. As I rushed to get ready and organize what I needed and what Zahara would need for the day, I felt the kind of energy that makes stomachs roll and fingertips buzz. I was amped.

Saturday, April 28th was the first time in 3 years that I have felt like a real working woman!

Scheduling conflicts meant that I had to have a babysitting alternative in place for the day. Instead of my mother who has been a second mom to Zahara since the day she was born, I had to plan ahead and pick someone with both the desire and the capability to watch my little girl. Parents who have to do this regularly, I salute you.

That was the hardest thing. Leaving my daughter anywhere without me is difficult. Maybe it’s a single parent thing or maybe it’s a “I give a damn about my child’s welfare”-every parent kind of thing. I don’t know. I’ve only ever been a single mom. But even leaving Zahara with my parents for a few hours leaves me a little sad and guilty. I had to learn that mommy needs some me-time, too but still, there’s always that nagging little bit of unease.

Fortunately for me (so very fortunately, thank you God) I have a HUGE, extended family living within 20 minutes of me. Finding a reliable caregiver wasn’t ever really about searching, but about picking one of the many who’d be available. So early Saturday morning, I stuffed as many outfit changes and Pull-ups and other necessities in multiple bags as I could packed. I’m sure the Aunt I left Zahara with was laughing at my overzealous preparations and extended explanations of just exactly how my baby had to be dealt with during meals and naps and play. She’s got 3 kids. She knows.

And the child I was so worried about “abandoning” for the day? Turns out, I was the bigger scaredy-cat. She ran to find her “friend”, my cousin who is insanely patient and kind for her young age, and one of Zahara’s favorite people. I admit, the swimming fiasco from a few months ago popped in my head and I imagined having to run out of the blogging conference and hitting midtown New York traffic and running over pedestrians and bike messengers. But thankfully, my family was well prepped and Zahara was well-behaved throughout the day.  :~)

*****

After dropping Zahara off, I drove into New York City, coffee mug in hand, a sense of accomplishment and excitement making said coffee redundant. I felt so good!

Music creating just the right mood, head ready to be filled with blogging know-how, I headed towards my goals.

And the conference? IT WAS PERFECT! A free, one-day workshop bursting with intelligent, inspirational people and speakers who were engaging and informative- what more could I have wanted for my first time? Single Edition‘s Sherri Langburt and Melysa Schmitt made the day fun and worthwhile. I took notes and I took pictures. I ate up the presentations and I gorged on the lunch, snacks, and dessert! (Side note, I took notes with pen and paper and yes, it’s low-tech, but actually writing things down helps me process them so a big fooey to all those who think I’m a cavewoman LOL)

I learned about copyrights and Internet laws, marketing and Public Relations, self-publishing and self-promoting. I networked and met other creative souls eager to share their own experiences and expertise with me. I enjoyed every single moment and I added this new flavor to my own personal masala of life.  :~D

Check out my pics from this amazing event!

  • Ready to learn more about blogging Ready to learn more about blogging
  • My badge My badge
  • What I've been saying! What I've been saying!
  • The image of the lone ranger-type single man, 60 years ago. The image of the lone ranger-type single man, 60 years ago.
  • So delicious So delicious
  • NOMS NOMS
  • Percentage of people living alone. Desis are LAST! Percentage of people living alone. Desis are LAST!
  • Melysa S. dressed for success Melysa S. dressed for success
  • All smiles as I drive home, pre-NYC ticket (ouch) All smiles as I drive home, pre-NYC ticket (ouch)
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You can also see all the official pictures and get a sense of my day. My report is that the workshop was pure awesomeness!! I also need to send a giant THANK YOU to everyone involved: Lord & Taylor for the location and the gift card, The Fresh Diet and popchips for adding so much yum to the day, Silk’n SensEpil for the prettyfying product info, and the sensational speakers, @ACGC @EricKlinenberg@rosecomm @baskingtheglow URBookIsURHook and #johndmason. I gave you links to webpages and Twitter handles because, well, I can’t think of a better way to thank these emissaries of my soon-to-be successful single life!

And to the Single Edition network, thanks for the opportunity to join you and for everything you’ve already taught me. I promise you, I’m going to make your mouth water and your belly happy with what I’m dishing out. Get ready for a sweet and spicy ride together! xoxoxo

 

 

 

I think I can, I think I can

“Any change, even a change for the better, is always accompanied by drawbacks and discomforts.” – Arnold Bennett

You’ve probably noticed major changes on my blog lately and I’m sure there’s more to come. Truth is, as I’m expanding what I’m doing here, I’m also learning what I’m doing here! I could never fully grasp the concepts of technology and how all the “gadgets” worked. I used them, but I felt overwhelmed and flustered when I thought about the vast reaches of the Interwebs. But that’s okay. I’m not going to talk myself out of trying. I won’t say, “Oh, I could never do this so I still can’t,” and then give up. I’m a smart girl. I can figure things out. And when I don’t know what to do, I can ask for some help. That’s what technical support is there for, right? :~)

Nothing in life that’s truly worth it is easy. I’ve always sold myself short with my self-deprecating humor and overly explanatory justifications for why I just could not do something. But last year I challenged myself to start running. I trained with Stroller Strides of Long Island among moms who were trying to get back into shape, moms who’d been great athletes and moms who had never run a day in their lives. I fit in that latter category.

I believed I wasn’t cut out for it. I was the last one to finish the mile every fall and spring in school, barely making it through the last lap because I was so out of breath. I felt like a tight-fitting helmet was shoved down on my head, the heat suffocating me. I’d get dizzy, my face blotchy red and yellow, my lips pale, and I’d have to go to the nurse’s office. Every time. Twice a year, every year, all through school. Oh yeah, that was a great way to feel like less of a nerd! (It’s okay, nerds are cool now :~D)

Guess what? I ran the 5K and although my goal had been to simply finish by walking and running in intervals, I actually ran the whole way! I have never been prouder of myself than that moment when I accomplished something I thought was impossible. During a time in my life when I really needed it, I felt like I was in control, strong and able and positive I could do more. The craziest thing was that after all those years of discouraging myself and not really learning how to do it right, I found out I actually liked running!

What believing in myself looks like

So the same thing applies here. I’m learning about blogging with a little bit of trial and error and quite a lot of intuitive know-how that I didn’t expect. I got through the process of transferring my blog from a free WordPress hosted one to a self-hosted site almost seamlessly. There are a few bugs to work out and I might play with the theme and widgets a bit to get the right look and feel, but I’m doing it. And it feels fantastic to say that this is really MY blog, with my sweat and tears and aching fingers!

What feels even better is knowing that my efforts are essential to taking my life to the next level. I could have left this as it was, free and simple, but then I’d be getting back exactly what I’d paid- nada. And although I started this as a therapeutic activity, there’s no reason why I can’t make some moola for myself and my daughter with my writing. I know my worth- I’m not worth zero! So I’ll be writing some sponsored posts and personal ones and you might see some advertisements, too. *Waves at potential sponsors*

Don’t worry, I’ll never sell out. I’ll always write what is true for me. My opinions, my thoughts, my own blog. Just like it’s always been. Only now, in addition to all of your likes, comments, and support to feed my soul, I’ll also be getting a little green in my pocket. Besides, you know I’m still the real thing when I can put that I’m a Muslim in the tagline and put a button in my sidebar for a blog with the words sex and bacon in the title! And the button has a (gasp) pig on it. The blasphemy! ;~)

What can I say? I’m unashamed and unafraid, uniquely me, adjusting as I learn and improve. Join me in this transition, won’t you?

From scary island to the secret to her sexy allure, Kelly Bensimon gets real

After surviving what she herself termed Scary Island on television’s The Real Housewives of New York City, she was dubbed Crazy Kelly and forced to endure media scrutiny and a trial of public opinion on how she handled facing off against the mean girls. But here on another island, in the city she calls home when she’s not out in Easthampton, Kelly Killoren Bensimon appears calm, casually talking with bloggers and reporters during a press tour for her new book I Can Make You Hot! The Supermodel Diet, available in stores and online.

Kelly’s laughter and energy were infectious as I sat with her and a few other bloggers. Although it was unseasonably cold for New York, the atmosphere in her penthouse suite was warm and inviting, an intimate gathering complete with fresh smoothies and fruit on demand. :~) A few minutes into our interview and she had us all laughing along with her. That hilarity continued throughout our 45 minute conversation, with gems like “I’ve always been really positive. I don’t know what it is, maybe it’s the Midwestern corn!

It isn’t enough that Kelly’s beautiful and funny, she has to be caring also! Twice during our time together she was actually concerned about me, asking how I was handling the separation and impending divorce. Every bit the sexy, happy person she claims you will be if you follow her plan, Kelly Bensimon made me feel like I was talking to a good friend, an advocate for my happiness. They may call her Crazy Kelly, but I’d say she’s crazy quirky, crazy kind, and just plain, crazy hot!

“HOT is really an acronym for Healthy Options Today,” she explains with a shrug. Really? Have you looked in a mirror lately? At 43 years old, you’re the kind of hot college girls, moms, and women of all ages strive to be! Kelly explained that it wasn’t always this way.

“I always had that song in my head, that if I lost 10 pounds, I would be prettier, I would be a better model, people would like me more… no one’s looking at your waistline at the dinner table and nobody’s like, oh my God, I can’t go out with her, she needs to lose 10 pounds I’m lucky I finally came to that realization.”

But you were a model! You still are this gorgeous, long, lean woman.

It’s not about being the skinniest version of you, because that’s really not happy.” So how would Kelly describe being hot and happy? She tells people “just to be the best version of them, because if you’re smiling and feeling good about yourself then other people are going to respond to that as well.” And explaining further, she advises “treating your body like a Ferrari, it’s like you want your engine to purr all the time.”

So why write a book about losing weight?

“I have two tween girls. So as a mother of two from the Midwest, it’s really my responsibility to be a healthy advocate for them… Listen, they’re going to eat McDonald’s and I’m not going to stop them. I’m not the tofu mom, like if you don’t eat tofu all day long I’m not gonna talk to you… I am encouraging my kids to eat well, but also, to learn how to balance… I’m not a weight loss program. This is a lifestyle diet.

What kinds of lifestyle changes are you suggesting then?

The whole book is really about nurturing, it’s not about starving… you’re drinking water, you’re sleeping well, you’re eating well, you’re taking care of you… If I can encourage you to change your dinner plate for lunch and your salad plate for dinner, you’re already switching it up… You’re tricking yourself and everybody needs that. I need it.”

Kelly’s biggest advice is to be “an active participant in life, not blaming people, just going for it and being accountable for every mistake… I don’t regret it, but I’m like, I learned from that, okay I got it, I’ll move on from that.”

Is that how you dealt with what happened during and after the Real Housewives of New York?

“Listen, if you’re not being real, then what are you gonna do, cry in your closet? So nobody knows? So you’re hiding? Or would you rather people see, okay, this is her threshold for pain. This is her threshold for empathy and for pain… Right after scary island, I was like, oh my God, margaritas, someone help me! I was like, margaritas, chips, guacamole. I’m like, the world hates me, they think I’m crazy! I was like, one more margarita and the next day… and then after I was like, okay, I cannot go out and have margaritas at night anymore. I have to get myself back on track… I do a lot of handstands and headstands… it’s just like everything’s just pouring out of you and it’s like, you’re out of that headstand after like a minute, and you’re like, Woooo, who cares what they think… Let ‘em talk, all the time!”

So in addition to enjoying the blood rushing to your head, how else do you stay fit physically and emotionally?

“First of all I think that running is just a simple solution. You put the shoes on, you don’t need to go to a gym, it’s very inexpensive, you sweat, you’re done… Run twenty minutes a day and run with a friend so that you can, like, not have a therapist… you vented everything out and you feel better about yourself… [and] jumping rope is UN-BE-lievable. You can time yourself and just like, add time every day.”

Really? Just twenty minutes and I’ll look like you?! But you just ran the New York City Half Marathon!

“I’m a jogger, let’s make that clear. I am not a runner! I run after people and away from people… I think the 20 minutes is something doable. It gets your heart rate going and it gets your body moving.”

Then it must be the food. The recipes in your book all result in bland and boring diet food, right?

“It’s my food work week, it’s like 6 days, this is how I’m doing it and then, you know, the seventh day you can do whatever you want… and that’s really the way that it works. I mean, if I know that I can have it, I don’t want it. You always want what you can’t have… [but when I do indulge on Sunday funday,] I really love the drunken wings, ‘cause you cook them with beer!

Umm, well other than the drunken wings (!) everything else you eat on this supermodel diet must be less appetizing and your daughters must hate it.

“[Actually] my kids’ friends are always like, ‘Can we pleeease have Mrs. Bensimon’s pancakes.’ And I was like, wow, cooool, I’m that mom now? Great!” Kelly was nice enough to share the secret of those amazing kid-pleasing and good-for-you pancakes: a little vanilla and coconut milk instead of cow’s milk!

Speaking of your kids, how do you handle being a single mom, a writer, a television personality, and everything else you’ve accomplished, and still seem so upbeat and energetic and look so damn hot?

“I don’t juggle it all. I’m constantly running from everything, from life to work… [but] I don’t want to be mediocre… On my tombstone, it’s going to be like, she was a great mother and a great woman. It’s not going to say she was a party animal until 2 o’clock in the morning… [and] there’s like a uniform for life… after I wash my face, I always put mascara on… if you’re very simple, clean, even if it’s leggings and a sweatshirt, it just shows other people that you have a sense of respect for yourself… It’s not like dressing up, it’s self-respect.”

So what do you want your girls to learn from you?

“[I] tell my girls that Bensimons have rules… I want them to be great women, I want them to be great friends. I don’t want them to be mean and be the pot-stirrer. I don’t want that for my kids… [and] the greatest gift you can give to a child is that they’re awesome and they’re going to do great. So anytime they think they’re going to fall, they’re like, wait, I can do this. I can actually do this.”

That is an awesome message for anyone! And it’s exactly the kind of sentiment that comes across in the unbelievably fun to read new book I Can Make You Hot! The Supermodel Diet. You can buy the book now and get started on your path to what you consider true hotness. Or, you can comment on this post and tell me what you think is hottest about you. One random person will be chosen in a drawing on Sunday evening and receive a free copy of this life-changing book, signed by Kelly Killoren Bensimon herself!

I can tell you, if the woman I met is any indication, you’re going to be a happier, healthier, hotter version of yourself before you know it!

It’s getting hot in here…

Ever notice how the most exciting moments are often the most nerve-wracking? Scared shnizzle-less does not make for a very appealing photo op, but here you go.

What do you think, folks? Scary cute or just scary? LOL

Well, it’s okay that I look shell-shocked there because there is something quite amazing happening to me today. I get the chance to interview the famous Kelly Killoren Bensimon, a former Real Housewife of NYC and former model, who just happens to be an author, editor, and single mom of two as well. Can we say over-achiever? :~)

I’m going to learn how to prettify my outsides and unburden my soul with the new book “I can make you hot! The Supermodel Diet” which is full of recipes and advice on improving your life. I’ll be at an event in the penthouse of the San Carlos Hotel in NYC to promote the book along with my role model of singledom, Mely. Thanks to this superwoman of sexy singles, I’ll also be rubbing elbows at the event with some of the blogging elite, including Single Edition Media, and other reporters ready to meet and greet the lovely, lean Kelly.

I’ve only read an excerpt of the first chapter so far, but oh my God people. She has a plan for you that is much, much more than a typical “diet and exercise program.” The writing is simple, the recipes look yummylicious, and the life lessons are necessary in this cluttered, over-zealous existence most of us are caught up in. I’ve pre-ordered the book and you should, too! My next post will be a recap of the event and my interview, as well as what happens after, when Mely and I are set loose in Manhattan. Look out! :~D

I mentioned a while back that there were some new opportunities coming my way, and today is the beginning of all of that. Like I said, I’m so happy and nervous and kind of creepy in my enthusiasm! LOL But I’m taking a first step into hotness and into the next stage of my life and I’m feeling a confident joy as I do it. Now that is God damn hot!

What to expect if you’re expecting to date me

Sometimes I like crunchy cereal for dinner and cold pizza for breakfast. And I always like chocolate, except for white chocolate which really isn’t chocolate at all in my opinion, but vanilla masquerading as such to get noticed. Frankly, I think it’s a bit sickening.

Yes, I get a little irritable the day before and the first day of my period, but not always. I ALWAYS want chocolate on those days. (See the previous paragraph for more information.) I get a few small pimples or one really large, painful cyst a few days before said period and I’m extra hot the day of (body temp, not attractiveness, obviously) and carrying extra water weight around the already pudgy midsection. I will then, of course, walk around in as little clothes as possible because nothing looks good on me, excepting for my comfy period bottoms, and I’ll be eating Ben & Jerry’s New York Super Fudge Chunk and chugging Coca Cola like a boss.

I like to sing along loudly to every song on the car radio, except for most country music which I can’t stand. I will turn the radio up to cover the sound of my own voice because I am not deluded enough to think I’m on pitch, but I do like to pretend I must project to the back of a crowded concert hall. I also like to wake up to, fall asleep to, shower with, cook with, and pretty much anything and everything with music so become comfortable with spontaneous power ballads while I’m making breakfast, alternative rock as I lather and rinse, Bollywood love songs while I pee and/or poop, and Bollywood songs of loss in bed (ahem, this may change depending on how this thing with you goes. Or not. We’ll see.) I don’t have a favorite song, singer, genre, etc. and not because I’m indecisive, which I am, but because I love so many many different songs, singers, genres, etc. I am touched by each in a different way, pulled by a different emotion, memory, thought to make me feel like the song comes from within myself and was created just for me. Also, I am a little indecisive. Maybe. Just a bit.

I also love to read. And watch movies. And I don’t have favorites in either for the same reasons as above. Although if pressed, I’d have to say I love The Outsiders, by S.E. Hinton most of all, only because I’ve read it over too many times to count since first reading it in school and for some unknown reason, I currently have four different copies in the basement, along with a wall full of books that have survived my mother’s donations to the library over the years to make room for more of my loves. Don’t worry. This doesn’t make me fickle, but I may be a little bit of a hoarder. I’ll pack a carry-on bag full of books for flights and vacations and I won’t be ashamed to finish reading them instead of sleeping.

I do like my sleep, though. Don’t wake me up. Ever. I like having my own alarm clock, set to wake me up with (what else?) a great song and I usually actually wake up just before the alarm and I like that silence and then the burst of music and I don’t want to talk to you or anyone or meet your gaze or do anything until that happens. Okay?

I like dancing almost as much as I like singing and once I get started, I really don’t care if I’m doing well or not but I’m just moving moving grooving to a rhythm maybe only my body knows. And I have to pause to breathe and wipe some sweat off the back of my neck and cool off because I overheat and feel like I might faint but then I’ll want to dance again, so we’ll just keep going in and out of the club or kitchen or hotel lobby, wherever my dance floor is at the time.

I love to drive, but I get sleepy after a couple of hours and you’ll notice me go from singing along to all those songs to eating some curly fries or drinking my coffee to snoring (just slight, ladylike snoring. Mostly. Except when I’m congested, because, okay, then I’m scary.) I open the windows even when it’s 20 degrees out and blast my music even when it’s 3 in the morning and chew gum like a Sweet Valley High teenager (what, you don’t know what that is? Ask ANY American woman what she read in the eighties) and I’ll drive for hours and hours like this on a long trip if necessary. But I’d prefer if you drive, because, and you can check back a couple of paragraphs, I like my sleep.

I am equally impressed with a hot dog, knish, and bag of hot, roasted nuts from the streets of New York as I am with first class, five star, V.I.P. service. I like diners and business class, jeans and mani-pedis, ponytails and massages. I enjoy calamari and popcorn, the Caribbean and my bed, amusement parks and cruises. I appreciate poetry and action movies, the ocean and the narrow part of a man’s waist, camping on a beach and dining on a New York City rooftop.

However, there is one major 2 and a half year old exception to all of the above. I am a mother and everything else comes second. All that I am or want or expect comes second. I am full of contradictions and indecisiveness (I think), but I am 100% , second-guessing myself to derangement, perfecting the never perfect act of parenting this child and if you want to date me, you’re going to have to accept that more than anything else that I’ve said here.

And if you expect to date me, expect to never meet this child that is at the top of my priorities list, unless of course, you fit my crazy, contradictory, kind of impossible to really understand personality, to the point of being the one I could share a life with. Because yes, I’m single, but I still believe in love and passion and relationships and I believe I will share this life with someone just as nutty as me. One day. For now, I’m happy with my chocolate. And music. And sleep.

Grateful for what is…

I am not a high school English teacher anymore. But now, I write. I think. I form phrases and pluck words out of the air and turn them into reflections of my inner world. I teach myself to be authentic with my thoughts and actions. I teach myself to be free.

I don’t have a New York State teacher’s license anymore.  But I earned that achievement once and instead, I am teaching my daughter to speak, to listen, to interpret and analyze. I teach her to be. I teach her love.

I’m not reading copy written by freelancers as the editor for an in-flight magazine any longer, but I follow and interact with writers who leave me yearning for their passion and the power in their pens (or keystrokes.) I edit my own life, and cross out the negatives as I slowly work towards a perfected draft of who I am and what I want to be. I continue to revise as I continue to change.

I am not standing in an airport, facilitating travel to beautiful places for hundreds of strangers as the Customer Service Agent they’ll love enough to mention or give a gift of wine and chocolate to, or who got promotion after promotion in a few short months because of it. But I am the one who knows I am capable of such things, and who uses it to smile through diaper changes and potty training, illnesses and tantrums, feeding and disagreeing. I am also the one who knows I will do it all again one day.

I can’t pay only airport taxes and make last-minute plans to fly to a tropical island, but I can pack a diaper bag and strap my baby into her car-seat and head into New York City for a dose of what is like epinephrine for my soul. I can go to museums and movies, parks and playgroups, and make any day a mini-vacation. Or I can order pizza and watch animated movies and clink glasses with my daughter’s milk in our own mother/daughter stay-cation.


I am not surrounded by the friends and family of my former life, but by real connections, people who support me and pray for me and make me laugh and make me grateful. New relationships and old that have proved stronger than the supposedly unbreakable bond of marriage.

I don’t have a husband but I have purer love. For myself. For my baby girl.

I am not someone’s wife, someone’s English teacher, someone’s editor, someone’s ticket agent. I am my own everything. I am Zahara’s everything.

I don’t need to be more.

I am enough.