Thursday, December 9, 2010

Super Secret To A Fabulous Hollywood Body!

Everybody loves Hollywood!
We all want to look like fabulous Hollywood stars, but they have cooks and trainers and coaches and nannies and prescriptions and surgeries. Honey, we just don’t have that kind of cash flow! So how do we get that fabulous Hollywood body "on the cheap?"

Well it just so happens that I know a fabulous Hollywood star
and she told me one of her super body secrets!

Wanna know it? Of course you do!
Picture this:  it’s mid-afternoon and you’re starting to have that “siesta time” slump but you don’t want to cave in and eat a bag full of calories or anything that might make you look bloated on camera! So you take your ever present water bottle and add to it

one packet of Emergency (1000 mgs Vit C and only 25 calories) and
one teaspoon full of Bene-fiber (9 grams of fiber and only 45 calories).
Now shake it like a Polaroid picture and drink it when it’s uniformly pink.
This is the new Hollywood Power Lunch!

You just did a decent for your body giving it a full days supply of Vitamins and Minerals, which helps your immune system. It also promotes good skin and a shiny coat. Plus, doctors say Americans don’t get enough fiber in our diets. Fiber can make you feel satisfied so you don’t eat as much, it lowers your cholesterol and helps keep your insides clean. Most of us reach for coffee or a soda to pick up, but the caffeine and sugar don’t give you the low-cal benefits of the Emergency and Bene-fiber cocktail. AND It fizzes!

I know you're whining "But Liz, I can't go to Hollywood to get these magic potions!"

Don't get your panties in a bunch, Francis. You can get Emergency (or a generic eq.) at any drug store.
(My friend Jowita found a box of 36 Strawberry-Lemon flovored packets at Sam's Club for $10)
It comes in a variety of flavors so drinking water will never be boring agian, did I mention IT FIZZES?!?!

I buy it by the box and keep a bunch of packets in my bag so I stay healthy while traveling and during flu season. Sometimes you have to sing into a mic after somebody else had their mouth all over it or  (in Tommy McCracken’s case) down their trousers, that 1k of Vitamin C is all that stands between you and whatever alien virus might be lurking there.

Bene-fiber is the only brand of fiber I recommend for a Hollywood power lunch. The other ones don’t have as much fiber per serving and most of them turn into a disgusting viscous fluid after they’ve been in water for a few minutes. I got married so I don’t have to drink that kind of stuff anymore. If this is too much clean living for you, add a little Vodka. That'll add about 70 fat free calories, but it might make it hard to stay on the treadmill! Remember darlings, little choices made regularly can make big changes and summer is just months away.

Ready for my close-up, Mr DeMille...till next time, stay FABULOUS!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Paying the Cost to Be the Fabulous Boss Lady of the Blues

Back in the year 2000 or thereabouts I was working with the fabulous blues drummer Twist Turner, he plays drums on my 2002 Earwig release "Back In Love Again". We did a couple of very memorable tours together, but the reason I mention Twist here is that he gave me one of my favorite nick-names: "The Boss Lady of the Blues."

What does it take to be a boss lady? What does that mean? What has being Boss Lady taught me? Why did they call me that? Well...It was my name on the contract, my butt out on the line. I owned all the equipment, wrote all the music & onstage material & it was my responsability to make sure everything went right! And I took care of my band like a mama wolf.
Believe me I asked advice of all the men I admired who were also bandleaders, the wonderful Charlie Love, they guy who got me my debut recording, Aron Burton, the late, great George Baze & Willie Kent, and many others. They all gave me sage advice.
Do yourself a favor, Liz, get a Dodge Ram Van.”
These words of wisdom came from professional band leader, guitarist & veteran road dog, Glenn Davis.

Make sure you change the oil & keep an eye on your bearings & shocks!” he added.

Glen had booked his band & traveled all over the US & Canada in the 70’s & 80’s. Big Time Sarah was the singer in Glenn’s band and with 300 pounds of dynamite sitting in shotgun it behooves a man to keep his bearings well greased & his shocks and springs in top shape!

Before hitting the stage, there are a million things a band leader has to take care of. If you’re a lucky artist, you have a road manager, personal manager or business manager to take some of the load off, but I haven’t had that luxury. Most bandleaders I know are self contained one stop multi-tasking heads of a complex family that is the traveling blues band. Usually they’re doing all this extra leg work without the knowledge or appreciation of the audience or sidemen they’re looking out for. In my opinion being a band leader is akin to herding cats.

Before you even roll out of the parking spot to the first gig, as a band leader you’ve had to make your vehicle road ready, you’ve cleared out the detritus of the previous trip, aired out the pillows & blankets, deodorized & sanitized your rolling home for the next few days or weeks. (Don’t forget the Rainex.)

You’re performing, not music, but oil & filter changes, tire rotation and other routine maintenance. You do any repairs necessary to make sure you don’t break down. I’ve gone through five vehicles in my career putting an average of 200,000 miles on each one.

Here’s the skinny: Ford vans are wide & they vibrate.
The biggest problem you’ll have with a Ford after 100K miles is the bolts have vibrated loose & they fall off!

I once was driving a 15 passenger Ford Van on a highway outside Milwaukee WI when I looked out the window & saw the whole wheel axel & tie rod standing about a foot out in the next lane! The mechanic later told me it was because of a bolt that was missing.

Driving that same vehicle fully loaded, it was about 6 AM outside Wisconsin Dells and it was 4th of July Weekend. Phil Baron was at the wheel when we heard an unholy shrieking from the back end of the van, followed by a terrible gravely grinding. Phil pulled over & we all got out, it was Phil, Me, Melvin Smith, John Hill, & Bob Carter sleepily staring at the red hot, glowing hub cap.

Mmm, bad bearing.” was the consensus.

The only garage option was a junk yard owed by the family from Deliverance. There wasn’t a motel room to be had in town for love or money, so we spent the day hanging around the junkyard while Clem & Eb worked at the fused metal lump of hub with a crow-bar & a blow torch. It was about 97 degrees and humid that day. Yes, I’ve been to hell, isn’t it near the Dells?

And that was the beginning, the first 8 hours of a three week road trip! That van broke down again a few days later in Vancouver B.C. it was the brakes this time. After we’d done a weekend at the Yale and were heading across the mountains to Edmonton. That, as it turned out, was rather fortunate. We ended up staying over with the Yale Hotel, jamming with the house band, Jack Lavin’s Demons, and meeting a lot of cool musicians, but that’s another story!

Every time a band comes to your town, chances are they spent hours driving, drank vats of coffee, braved scary weather & risked life & limb for those few hours of pleasure they get from playing for you. A bad vehicle can lead to missed gigs or worse, crashes, roll-overs, injury or death. It all costs more when you’re at the side of the road in an unknown location and depending on what ever mechanic might be available. Unlike Blanche Dubois, I don’t like to depend on the kindness of strangers!

When getting to the gig, I use a Garmin & Map-quest & it’s good to have an up to date Atlas in the car too. I suspect the people who own the Garmin satellite also own the toll roads in several states. From experience I’ve found Triple A is my friend. From maps to travel discounts, towing to bail bond, worth its weight in gold and having a good reliable mechanic is priceless.

As a band leader you look for much more than a musician who is merely talented at their axe, you’ve got to have someone who is good company and gets along with other people. Sometimes you’re out there in that van driving for whole days at a time between gigs, you can’t have somebody with disgusting personal habits or who likes to argue for the hell of it.

I’ve had bands with guys I just loved their playing, but they wouldn’t lay off the prescription drugs, or the Mini-mart Burrito. It’s better to have guys who are fun and helpful, than people who are genius musicians but addicted to crack. My criteria: play good, keep your nose clean, and be not insane, a bigot or drunk, AND you must also be a good, licensed driver with a clean record.

You can’t cross the border into Canada until you’ve paid all your outstanding tickets, gotten your license plates up to date, paid your insurance. You can’t go if you have any outstanding warrants, convictions, if you don’t have a passport, work papers & then if that's all in order, you still have to pay a large border crossing fee, so a good band leader has to have their shit together & have some money in their pocket and a paid up credit card.

In addition to that, when crossing a border, if you act at all suspicious (not having your passport ready, wearing dark glasses, long hippie hair, suspect odors emitting from the van, looking scurrilous or unprofessional) they will take your van apart & you lose those precious travel hours while the border guards scrutinize you & your vehicle.

I’ve seen a dismantled 18 wheeler; I mean they took the engine and the body apart, at the side of the border crossing above Minot ND. The driver was standing there crying, because, even if they don’t find anything, they don’t have to put it back together, you do.

I crossed that same border with those same people several times a year but the guards always pretended not to know me or my band, it was always rather unpleasant.

It just happened this one time I had gotten on a Spirulina Seaweed Nutrition Health kick & I had boxes of this stuff in the van, energy bars, tea, the works. Well these guards didn’t know what to make of that, they rolled out this machine which was a proto-type of the X-ray machines they now have at airports & they put everything in the whole van thru it and stared at each thing like it was going to sprout eyes! Then we had to repack it. All told it cost us about 6 hours after driving 12 hours to get there.

Hard working bandleader, you’ve spent hours at the computer & on the phone getting maps, confirming hotel reservations, signing contracts, sending out promo material, communicating with club owners & promoters, calling radio stations, getting your CD’s & T-shirts sorted. Plus you’ve cleaned & checked out your equipment & both your on & off stage wardrobes.

Know this one thing: A Diva must have all her girl drag with her and it has to be light enuff that she can roll it by herself in case there are no gentlemen around to help her with her luggage. It’s great that they’re now packaging almost everything in travel sized 3 oz bottles so I never have to do without my own cleansers, shampoo & conditioner. Travel sizes mean I don’t have to lug around 2 pounds of toothpaste, but I can still always be minty fresh! Also, never go anywhere without a swim suit, you just never know.

Today’s bandleader also has to be a mini accounting agency, collecting receipts, corralling contracts, keeping track of advances, expense money, separate from CD money, separate from Pay. Who got paid what when & how much. You gotta keep Payroll records, 10-99’s because Uncle Sam don’t care what you did if you was makin money he wants some! I know several band leaders who’ve been audited & ended up paying taxes on their gross income because they didn’t keep accounts.

This is also good advice I got from Glenn Davis
I keep every single receipt for anything related to my car, musical equiptment, lessons, all of it. You have to prove you have income if you want to get credit or a loan.”
True dat, Glenn!

Some of us have formed LLC’s or S-corps to protect ourselves from the IRS swooping in & doing a Redd Foxx on our ass. That means after the gig we got to get with the Excel Spread Sheet and enter every thing, which just thinking about it gives me the blues.

After all this, you load in, set up, sound check, make sure the band gets what they need, every body’s got power, every body’s balanced. Then, if we have time, maybe get something to eat and change before the show.
Then the pay-off comes! In the words of William Shakespeare,
“I strut & fret my hour upon the stage…”

For all the hours of practice, all the planning, all the phone calls & e-mails, all the hours traveling, all the time spent shopping & packing & computing is all leading to this one thing, this making of art for you.
I hope it was good for you because that’s what I live for. It’s for the pleasure of making you laugh, of getting your face to relax, of coaxing your foot to tap, your hands to clap, that’s why I’m a bandleader. That’s why I play the blues.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

To Be Fabulously Sexy Be Prepared!!

Are you looking for love? Craving romance? Itching for some one to do the horizontal dance?

Then is pays to be prepared!!

My girlfriend, "the Lovely" Mary V, always looks delectable. She's fit and trim. Shes always dressed in a cute, stylish outfit.

So I asked her, "Mary, how do you stay motivated to always look like a fabulous dessert?"
She said "Liz, sex is very important to me so I want to be ready. I always want to look great - even naked!"

That got me thinking. She's right! Maybe looking great for a lover later is better than a chocolate croissant now? If you're in good shape you won't be worrying about the wrong things jiggling when you're getting busy. Endurance built on the jogging track translates to other areas and flexibility can equal fun! Maybe that extra ten minutes on the elliptical, that religiously attended yoga class, that extra set on the total gym is the prerequisite to a romp that will rock your block! Find an exercise that fits your life and stick with it. You'll find you not only become more fit, you'll improve your mood.

There's something to be said for delayed gratification, thinking ahead pays dividends! Next time you're tempted to hit the drive thru or soothe yourself with Krispy-Cremes think of my mantra:

Nothing tastes as good as size 6 feels.
(fill in your own perfect size, of course)

There is a wonderful book by Jill Conner Browne, "The Sweet Potato Queens Book of Love."
Jill really tells it like it is! Among her sisterly advice is something like: you never know when love will come along so always shave your legs & wear nice underwear. In other words, be prepared.

That got me thinking. If the perfect person comes along, the sparks are flying & the moment seems right, but you happen to be wearing a pair of undies from the 7th grade, you neglected to shave, you last purchased new sheets in 1992 and your apartment smells like a wet dog,


How to begin the process of becoming delicious? Start by being a lover to yourself. Take a good look in the mirror, would you like to date you? If you're not making the A list, it's not too late to start loving yourself to Fabulosity!

We already covered the "get your butt off the couch & start moving" part. So you're more attractive with your clothes on. Now what if you had to take them off?
The first thing you're potential mate would see is your undies. Be honest, what's in your top drawer? If the true answer is shapeless, old, grey shorts full of spots, holes & skid-marks, it's time to throw that stuff in the rag bin! Take yourself shopping for something that makes you feel sexy when you put them on.

When you feel sexy you are more confident & a confident person is just HOT.

Whether you're a man or a woman, old or young, if you want to be loved you must be lovable and like it or not looks count! Take care of yourself like you would someone you're crazy about! Buy yourself some 300+ thread count sheets, even if it's just you in that bed you'll feel loved.

Keep your hair styled, your clothes fresh and up to date, your sprouts plucked, your ears clean. Brush & floss. Spending this time on yourself isn't selfish it's a public service!

You may be saying, "Liz, you're married. Why do you need to think about love?"
And I say "Hello!?! How do you think I got this way? Plus, I want to keep having a steamy romance with my hunky husband!!"

Marriage doesn't have to mean the death of sex and the adding of padding. In fact it's those things that lead to cheating and divorce! While my husband is deployed I'm taking my own advice, shaping up for the next time we're together. At least 5 times a week I'm riding a stationary bike while watching TV or walking in the neighborhood fast enough to work up a sweat. Sometimes I add yoga or resistance bands.

I'm halfway to my goal weight, having dropped 14 pounds. I'm getting rid of my fat clothes and rewarding myself with lacy lingerie and new threads. Short term mid range & long term goals help me stay focused. If I can do it you can too. Then when love comes to town you'll be ready, you'll be more than ready, you'll be fabulous!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

It Takes 10,000 Hours To Be Truely Fabulous!!

It’s been said that to be truly great at something you need to invest ten thousand hours in doing it. After that magic number something changes & you become a master. Hopefully there are the incremental improvements that give you hope to keep putting in the time & working at your chosen craft.

In the 80’s I decided I wanted to be an authentic blues singer. With that aim in mind I began a process that easily has involved ten thousand hours, 100 thousand miles, thousands of dollars, not to mention my personal identity.

I’ve always been highly motivated if not disciplined and I’ve never been able to resist a challenge. It came the night my boyfriend came home from his gig & announced that the band was breaking up because the lead singer had quit.

I’ll be the singer.” I said

And he laughed at me. “You?" He said "You sing like Robert Goulet. You have no soul, you dress like a clown & nobody will ever take you seriously because when you sing you shake your hips & make too many facial expressions.”

What?” I said, nonplussed, “I sing like who?”

Robert Goulet. You sing too pretty to be a blues singer. Your voice is too high, no grit.”

Well, who is a great blues singer?” I asked.

He said “Look at my record collection.” He’d already given up on me. I was just getting started.

I am not only going to be a great blues singer, I’m going to be the best dam blues singer of my generation!” I declared, with God as my witness, as my boyfriend had already tuned me out.

So I went to his record collection. It had great LPs by Jimmie Reed, Otis Redding, Muddy Waters, Slim Harpo, Little Walter, Wilson Pickett, BB, pretty much all male voices. Jimmy Vaughn was once asked who he’d listened to for his chops, he replied “…all the Littles, all the Juniors & all the Kings”. That was me. I made tapes & walked around with headphones on 24/7 absorbing this music like a sponge and practicing until I could sing all the tunes in their original keys, lick for lick.

Some of my favorite singing came from Little Junior Parker and Al Green. I loved the juicy suggestiveness of Muddy Waters, the conviction of my first hero, Tina Turner, the begging of Tyrone Davis. I learned about rhythm from James Brown. My favorite was a wonderful singer from Memphis: Big Maybelle. Her hip shakin’ music blended blues & Jazz, perfect tone, humor, wit & playfulness with flawless phrasing.

I absorbed those qualities, and the best of every player I studied, learning whole songbooks of the artists I admired. I listened to guitarists & horn players to get their licks too. As I put in all those hours stomping the stage & running up & down the road, all those folks I’d studied blended in my heart & mind. Now, after so many years it sounds like me.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Can't Stand the Heat? Try My Gaspacho!

Retire your oven & get out that blender!

As the temperature soars it becomes harder and harder to drag myself into the kitchen to cook. It’s even less appealing to heat up the joint by turning on the oven or standing over a hot burner. The problem remains: one needs to eat something! Even better, something that’s visually appealing, nutritionally satisfying that can be made in large enough quantities to cover several meals or be a good side dish. I like to eat chilled soups like Gaspacho. This Spanish soup has a tomato base it features lots of fresh veggies and is a great source of vitamin C and fiber too!

Starting with the basic ingredients, tomatoes, onions, cucumber & parsley, I experimented until I came up with this recipe. It helps if you have a good grocery store that carries Mexican foods as fresh Tomatillos & Cilantro add a wonderful zest to the main ingredients. I also prefer Videlia onions for their sweetness and plum tomatoes for their meaty quality. You’ll find your shopping list in bold.

Lizzie's Great Gaspacho

In the blender puree:
1 large Videlia Onion,
6 ripe plum tomatoes,
6 peeled, washed, tomatillos.
Add 2T garlic powder,
1T coarse sea salt.
Transfer to large bowl or pitcher. Then mix in:
1 whole cucumber (about 12 inches long), diced small
1 each large red and green pepper de-seeded & diced
1 bunch cilantro, minced
Stir, cover & chill.

By leaving some ingredients chunky it gives the whole thing texture. If you like it spicy you could puree a can of chiplote peppers in with your onion, tomato and tomatillo mixture. Some people like to add a dash of hot sauce to their individual serving. I like a dash of Balsamic vinegar.
The great Spanish film-maker, Pedro Almodovar, made a wonderful movie called “Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown.” (featuring a young Antonio Banderas). The heroine of the movie discovers her lover has been unfaithful & decides to commit suicide by drinking a bowl of Gaspacho to which she has added a lethal dose of Barbituates. The fun starts when, as she is distracted from her mission, her friends unexpectedly start showing up at her apartment & unwittingly helping themselves to mugs of her witches brew. The action intensifies as people start passing out all over the furniture. You’ll notice my recipe is sans sleeping pills…Bon Appetite!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

I Feel GOOD!!! Thank you, James Brown.

Thinking about one of my favorite musicians of all time, James Brown, after seeing Tommy Castro who covered several of Mr Brown's tunes last weekend at Space. When I asked Tommy Castro what he did to prepare for a gig he told me that he ought to be meditating or focusing or playing warm up scales or what ever, but usually it was his band, all sitting around in the tour bus watching the same James Brown video that got them all up for the show. I could relate to that.

James Brown was a big influence on my music, his primal screams, his urgent beats, his seminal TV & movie performances, vinyl records with their photos of James in a conch and super thin pants, wailing from the stereo. I digested these things and came back hungry for more!

My first band, the Supernaturals, played heartfelt covers of his songs like Please Please Please, Try Me, & Think, but we never matched his ernest begging. His "30 Golden Hits" cassette was always in rotation in my van when we went on road trips. I bonded with drummer Janet Cramer when we were driving to Tennasee for a gig & she played me James Brown mp3's from her lap top all the way there.

James wrote songs that got right to the point. Not a lot of words, fancy phrases, just the facts and always a great groove. James wrote the following classic song lyrics: "I feel good! Like I knew I would. So good, I got you." Short, sweet and to the point. Then there's this classic "This is a mans' world, a MAN's world, but it wouldn't be nothing without a woman or a girl." Okay?
How about my favorite 'tell it like it is' lyrics, ladies? "Hot pants, make you sure of yourself, cause a womans' got to use what she's got to get what she wants." That is the truth since the beginning of time!

Young Michael Jackson stood back stage watching James Brown shimmy, split & slide back up, do the Good Foot dance on one foot across the stage while his band hit the back beat like a finely tuned engine. Then when you went to see the Jackson 5, you saw Michaels version of James, and it was great! Even in his later years, James could out dance, out sing, out bandlead, just out do most entertainers. There wouldn't be a Bad, or a Thriller, no Bootsy, no Parliment and half the Hip Hop wouldn't a been did if there hadn't first been The God Father of Soul.

There should be James Brown Day, a legal holiday, for the man who invented funk, who nurtured so many great musicians, who wrote so many hit records, who gave his talent for free on TV the night Dr King was assasinated in order to keep grieving people all over the country from rioting & starting fires. James Brown is one of my heros, thank you Godfather.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Are You Breathig?

"There is one common flow, one common breathing.
All things are in sympathy."

Before I became a fabulous blues diva I was a hyptnotist, specialising in behavior modification, memory retreival & past life regression. As a hyptnotist I used focused breathing to put my clients in an altered state of conciousness. Breathing helped them relax and allow what their subconcious had concealed to be revealed.

Since 2001 I've been praciticing Yoga. All the great teachers of Yoga down through the ages have stressed the importance of focused breathing to help calm the mind & body. You need to be calm & breath right to get the benefit of exercise, be it Hatha poses, aerobics classes, running or lifting in a gym.

Millions of people have trouble sleeping because of racing thoughts. The Yogis call our minds "drunken monkeys" that race from one thought to the next, getting us all agitated. Controlling that monkey is the key to calm.

"I'm already breathing!" You pant, sweat breaking out on your brow "I don't have time for this!"

Yes, you're breathing, but check yourself: most people breathe up in their collar bones, short, shallow breaths. At a point of stress or exertion most people hold their breath, cutting off their oxygen all together. You need that oxygen to blood thing to happen so you can think & all your parts can work right! Cutting your oxygen is a sure sign to your body that you're being chased by a carnivore & you need to run like hell. It turns on the adrenaline.

We live in a world that is full of stress. For your poor body, it's one adrenaline pumping situation after another. After awhile your adrenal glands get tired & your body starts breaking down. The md's write you a script & send you on your way. Without techniques to get control of your stressors you'll end up on multiple meds making some pharmaceutical company rich & your liver will pay the price. Much better would be to practive deep, yogic breathing for a few minutes every day & again if a stressful situation comes up.

Here's how to do it: Sit up straight. Close your eyes. Close your mouth & inhale through your nose to a slow count of 3. Hold it for 3 & exhale to a count of 6. Breath into your tummy so your body expands like a bellows. (This is the secret to power house singing too!) To keep your mind focused have it count for you. If you get another thought just pull your mind back to breathing. A few focused breaths does wonders, try it.

When I can't sleep I use yogic breathing, while imagining each part of my body relaxing with the exhale, starting with my feet & working up to my face. I hold a lot of tension in my jaw, so I concentrate on breathing into all the parts of my head. A relaxed face gets fewer wrinkles so it looks younger longer. If I'm still awake I go through my internal organs & relax them too.

Your breath can enhance your life, help you sleep, get better focus, stay in controll of your emotions. It's free, it's easy, just breath & feel more fabulous!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Look Fabulous By Eating More Food!

Don’t Starve Yourself!

I’m back on my diet.” Rebecca says, lighting a cigarette.
Oh?" I, the Professional Dieter, am interested. "What diet are you doing?”
I’m starving myself.” She says, “Let’s face it: I’ll never lose if I eat food I like.”
Her mouth is set, it’s useless to argue, but I can't help myself!
"If you ate the food that's good for you after awhile I think you'd like it" I venture.
She rolls her eyes "Liiiiiiizzzzz," she says, like I just told a really bad joke.

This is typical of conversations I’ve had recently with several friends who are in every other way smart, educated, productive people. They just don’t know much about how their bodies work, don’t know what combinations of food will kick-start their engines & get them burning energy even when they sneak in a cheat. These people are warring with their bodies! You can't win a war with your body, no tie, no draw. Your body will win eventurally by killing you & there's no satisfaction in that. Can't we all just get along?

Our bodies & minds are connected but not the same. Just as your mind is the center of thought your body is also a source of intelligence. It will try to guide you if you’ll pay attention to it.
Who is your most loyal friend & only true lifelong companion?
Your body!
Since you are linked together for the duration, it’s in your best interest to treat it kindly. Learn how it works & give it the best you can afford. You wouldn’t put Kerosene in your Cadillac, neither should you put unworthy fuel in your personal conveyance.

Show your body that it can trust you. When trying to shed pounds it’s important to let your body know you’re taking care of it by feeding it beautiful food at regular intervals. Lots of people diet by skipping meals & cutting portions or fat. These actions signal your body there’s a famine going on so if you go off your diet your body will store everything it can as fat to guard you against the next lean times.

It’s much better to eat three or four meals at regular intervals through out the day. You can eat more if the food is high fiber & water content. All the reds, yellows & greens in fruit & veggies are nutrients that want to make you feel good & look sexy. Eat lots of color & your skin will thank you.

Portion size is a big problem for Americans. It’s not your fault nobody ever told you how to determine a portion & most of our restaurants overfeed us. Since everybody is a different size & chemical makeup no two people have the same needs. For protein your serving should be the size of your palm. My hand holds the perfect amount of berries, grabs the right amount of salad greens & holds a pen so I can write down what I’ve eaten. Keeping a food journal for a week will help you get a handle on what you are actually consuming. Write it down, don’t cheat yourself. I take a vitamin with breakfast & use cast iron pans to get iron in my diet, although you could just eat liver once a week.

While you’re dieting bake, steam, boil, broil, microwave or eat it raw! Frying makes you fat, fat makes you fat, white food is white because it has no value & it makes you fat. Eat color.

Here’s what you need every day:

· 5 servings of fresh fruit or veg, one must have vitamin C since your body doesn’t make that, organic will be easier on your liver & skin, less pesticides to digest.
· 2 or 3 servings of high quality protein. Beef has the most fat/oz, if you like red meat try Buffalo. Chicken, fish & eggs: free range, hormone free & organic will help you men not to get moobs !
· 2 servings of grain (a slice of bread is a serving, so is a cup of brown rice)
· 2 servings of dairy (keep your yoni happy ladies, eat yogurt everyday!)

These are not veggies: Corn, potatoes (includes french fries), mac & cheese, peas, lima beans, ketchup.
Anything with pasta, marshmallows, creamy sauce or jello is not a salad.

Drink lots of pure water, do lots of brisk walking, go to the spa & have a facial. When you lose weight give your old clothes to charity & reward yourself with something (not food) that makes you feel awesome!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

How Can I Rest In Bed While the Earth Goes to Hell ?

The Dali Lama was talking to a group of college kids, answering questions. Somebody asked him about global warming. Here’s what he said:

The environment should be of concern to everybody on a daily basis.

My personal contribution: shower, not bath.”

That got a laugh. He went on to say,

Scientists look to the Moon, to Space, for planets like Earth,

but colonies on the Moon or Mars without the Earth: impossible!”

And he chuckled at our folly.

The point is we can’t run away from the mess we’ve made & anything you do to improve the situation is better than nothing!

What brought this on? OK, if you’ve been reading my posts, you know I’m trying to recover from having my equator opened up, a few interlopers evicted, & watching the amazing scar topography develop below my navel. A tedious prospect, but I’m trying to use the time wisely; resting in bed, playing guitar, thinking, (remember thinking?) watching back episodes of “Bones”- my favorite TV show. I’ve also used this downtime to read 2 years of back issues of Discover Magazine. Result?

I am deeply troubled by the condition of our planet!

You should be too. Here’s why:

  • Did you know that there are four islands in the oceans that are made up entirely of plastic garbage? The largest, known as the Pacific Gyre, is as big as the state of Texas and goes at least 100 ft deep!

  • Did you know that irresponsible fishing has depleted entire nations of fish in the oceans?

  • Did you know that we are now eating fish that was once thought only fit for cat food?! The most plentiful life in the ocean is Jellyfish. How ‘bout a nice jelly-fish taco? Didn’t think so.

  • Did you know that every creature living in the ocean today has plastic in its system?!

  • How about the fact that where there used to be huge fields of oysters, near the Chesapeake Bay, there is now nothing? We have fished & poisoned what was a giant, ancient community into oblivion; it is a dead zone.

  • There is also a dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico where pollution from the Mississippi River has killed everything. Agricultural poisons kill more than bugs, my friends. And now they’re talking about bringing back DDT.

This is just the stuff that’s going wrong with our water. Our Earth is mostly water, our bodies are mostly water, nuthin can live without clean water. You may or may not “believe” in global warming, but do you really want to help kill your planet?

OK, now what do we do about it? Think globally, act locally. A pretty slogan, but one you can live with. Do what you can about your own home, (buy energy efficient appliances, replace your windows, use those swirly light bulbs) neighborhood, (pick up trash, especially plastic bags that get into waterways thru our sewers) city, (be a friend to your parks) state, (encourage your state to invest in sustainable energy, new infrastructure, vote green) & write your representatives. You voted, now tell them what you want them to do, they can’t read your mind! Here are some handy links to get you going. find your Congressperson find your Senator find out how your govt. can help you!

Here’s what I do:

• Recycle all paper, plastic & aluminum, (thanks, Mayor Daley!)
• drive a Toyota Echo (40mpg) Don’t be hatin’ Toyota, remember the Pinto?
• don’t litter
• turn off tap, lights, computer, TV when I’m finished using them
• ask the people I buy from to use non-plastic containers
• take my bags back to the store, reuse or recycle
• shop local so I can walk to my errands & get exercise at the same time!
• Support others efforts to preserve lakes, parks, trees help our air, plant & tend!
• I write my reps every week, let em know I vote, pay taxes & expect results
• Pray for my president & my planet.

We, in the United States, like to think of ourselves as the best in the World, but we’re the ones dragging our feet when it comes to climate change and averting the end of our species. This is not a matter for American politics. We don’t have time to argue about it we’re close to Fracked on this one. Even China is ahead of us! They ride bikes, exercise together every day, they practice population control. We’re a couple hundred years old, they’re 5000. Maybe they know something? We could learn from other countries if we weren’t so busy being afraid of them.

I’m still hopeful & I know I’m not alone. Write & tell me what you do to reverse the trend. It’s time for Spring Cleaning, let’s clean up our Planet & live to talk about it. Peace.

Friday, February 19, 2010

I Survived!

I awoke on a gurney in a small room with yellow, cinderblock walls, unable to breathe. Two nurses sat in the room opposite me yelling at me to relax and that I was only making it worse. I gasped at them, “I can’t breathe! I can’t breathe!” They kept telling me, “You’re making it worse!” Then my years of yoga kicked in. I concentrated on my breath, slowly took a 3 count inhale and then exhaled to the same 3 count. After several of these breaths, I got my racing heart under control and I realized I had survived my surgery. I had no feeling from my ribs down to my thighs. I was wearing a hospital gown with blood all down the front of it. Once I started breathing normally, I passed out again.

I woke up in a hospital room with an oxygen tube going up my nostrils and a shunt going in my left wrist and another one in my right arm. My husband was standing at my side. He showed me color photographs of my pre-op internal scenario. He said, “Look, the tumors really had an extensive bunch of veins. They choked off the blood supply to this one ovary. The Doctor said she’s sorry but she had to remove it along with most of your uterus.” I gazed at the photos and saw what looked like a rotten egg surrounded by thick ropey veins and large wet-looking masses. These were my dead ovary and the tumors that had taken up residence in my body. It was horrifying to think I’d had these blood suckers inside me. I felt nauseated, hit the pain pump button and passed out again.

The shunt in my right arm was attached to a bag of fluid and I also had a button I could press every 15 minutes that injected pain medication into that side. I don’t know why I had a shunt in my left wrist but it had a bunch of tubes coming out of it, too. People in lab coats came in every two hours to look at my incision, poke and probe at my belly and to adjust my dressings and medication. Other people came in and took my vitals, drew blood and encouraged me to eat. I was so nauseated; all I could get to stay down was some jell-o. I really thought it would hurt so bad to throw up that it would be better to lay back and stay nauseated. I was also afraid that vomiting would open my stitches and I’d have guts all over the room.

The entire staff that looked after me at Prentice Women’s Hospital were wonderful. I know they had a lot of other patients to look after but they were attentive, kind, gentle, and very professional. I spent 48 hours in their care. The nicest part of my stay was that the Hospital had a “spa” TV channel that showed beautiful scenes from nature during the day and a star map at night accompanied by relaxing music. I miss that and wish that I had it at home. It was so serene.

The day I was discharged, just as I was getting dressed to leave, there was an announcement on the local news that a masked gunman had been seen entering the building right next to the hospital and the entire Northwestern University campus was on lock down. Never a dull moment in the life of a Diva! Carl wheeled me out to the car and the whole street was choked with Chicago Police, Campus Security, and frightened people. Frankly, at that moment, I didn’t care if somebody shot me. I just wanted to go home and lie down.

The first week was extremely difficult. I had an incision that went from hip to hip across my abdomen and a second incision just below my belly button. The larger incision was stitched closed but still felt like I was wide open. I also had a drain which consisted of a long plastic tube inserted into my groin with a ball at the end about the size of a hand grenade. The drain used natural vacuuming action to suck the fluid and blood that remained inside me after the surgery. I kept having anxiety about accidentally pulling the drain out so I kept it pinned to my night gown. Every four hours or so, I had to go empty it and measure the fluid to make sure I was healing properly. It was really gross, blood and yellow liquid. I also had to be bandaged and I’m not supposed to use my abdominal muscles for eleven weeks after the surgery, which made getting in and out of bed and the shower a real chore. Thank God for my husband! Carl took family leave from work and has been here 24/7 taking care of me.

My Doctor told me to get up and walk every day with a goal of 1 to 3 miles by the end of week 2. This is very challenging, especially in Chicago in February with the snow and cold. So the first two weeks I was limited to walking in my apartment. Last week we got in the car and drove to Home Depot where, aided by an empty shopping cart, I did 2 laps around the perimeter of the store before running out of energy. I am now intimately acquainted with the outside aisles of Jewel Osco, Home Depot, Menards, and Lowe’s. I do my couple laps, come home, and fall asleep for hours.

I have also been too tired to do more than read a few emails. When I tried to get some work done, I actually fell asleep at the computer! But I really appreciate hearing from you. After Hambone mentioned my situation on his Blue’s Party radio show (90.9 FM WDCB, Thursdays from 10pm to Midnight in Chicago), I received lots of nice Get Well wishes. My friend, John Schram, sent me an Edible Arrangement. I loved it! Shelly Rosenbaum sent me beautiful tulips. Thank you to everybody who emailed, called, sent cards and flowers. It did my spirit a world of good to know that people were thinking of me and praying for me. Even my Agnostic friends sent prayers to the universe. I’m deeply touched and gratified.

I couldn’t have gotten this written without the help of my friend and associate, Cassie Soliday. Now I’m going to let her post it while I take a nap!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Grace Under Pressure, or How to be Fabulous When You Have Tumors

My second post to this blog was entitled “Always Have Something to Look Forward To.” At the time I was thinking of something pleasant like a vacation, a Broadway Show or a visit with friends. Life is full of surprises because immediately after that posting, during a routine physical exam, my doctor discovered several large tumors in my abdomen. I was sent for an ultrasound which revealed three major growths & a host of smaller ones. The next step was an MRI which confirmed the results of the previous tests.

I was so wigged out, looking at the MRI j-pegs of these tumors (it looked like a fruit bowl with a small watermelon, oranges & a bunch of grapes) in my tummy, I went right out & bought some ridiculously expensive boots. Then I went home & cancelled all my out of town obligations & began applying large quantities of Belgian chocolate to my already distended midsection. True, I’d been feeling tired & cranky, my body was taking longer to recover from the usual demands of Diva-dom, but I ignored it. I thought “I’m gaining weight, funny, I’m still exercising & eating well. Maybe I’m pregnant!” Ah, but it was not to be. The Doctors gave me the verdict: I now had something really big to look forward to: Major Surgery.

SO instead of going home & blogging about Fabulous Living I’ve been on a futile hunt for alternatives to surgery. Several of my friends have experienced this same health scare & gave me suggestions. Thus began a several month sojourn during which my every waking moment was spent making appointments, getting tested, interviewing MD’s, arguing with MD’s who didn’t realize what an obsessive self-educator (smarty pants know it all) I truly am, getting poked, probed & generally appalled at the way women get treated.

See, I’ve been incredibly blessed with excellent health up until this point. I’ve had no health insurance (& thank God I’ve not needed it until now) so I just didn’t go to the Doctor. If I got flu, I have a wonderful Family medicine guy who understood my financial situation & charged me $25 for an office visit. I’d go get a physical every 5 years or so. I’ve been so focused on the music that I neglected myself. Sometimes you need a thump in the head as a reminder that life doesn’t wait. On Monday, January 25, I’m going to have the first hospital stay of my adult life. They’re predicting the surgery will last 6 hours & after about 6 weeks I can start feeling like my new self.
I’m very grateful for the support that has been shown to me by my husband, family, band mates, and the concerned friends and fans who have asked where I’ve been hiding. I’m sorry I haven’t said anything up until this point. I wasn’t sure what to say. Now, I’m asking people to please pray for me. I’ve never had surgery and I’m really scared.

The challenge is to look at this as another new adventure. I intend to beat this & come back stronger & better than I was before. I anticipate being back at work by late spring. We’re planning a big party to celebrate my full recovery sometime in May with tour dates to follow. Plans are also in the works for a new album, a cookbook, and ventures into film and theatre. The question is: will they let me wear just a little make-up into surgery?

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Everybody Looks Better With A Little Make-Up

Your face looks fabulous tonight, sweetie, your makeup is divine!” this from my friend David on a recent night of blissful clubbing. Then to my surprise he asked “How about mine?
You’re wearing make-up?” I asked, scrutinizing his face…
Of course,” he replied, “Doesn’t everyone?”
You look terrific!” He did look terrific. It started me thinking, does everyone wear makeup?

The short answer is unfortunately no. The men reading this might object but yes, you might look even better with a dab of refinement. You are already practicing the popular art of exfoliation every time you shave your mug, you hunky brute! I guess since the advent of the “Metro-sexual” men in make-up is not the cause for alarm it once was & makeup products just keep getting better. Just visit ULTA & you’ll find make-up for every price, every ethnicity, even every gender!

Thanks to the miracles of modern make-up even marginally attractive people can look appetizing!

What does make-up do? The right foundation evens out your skin tone, blending in with your natural coloring to cause you to look healthier & that equals sexier. Even those who insist their natural face is the best & only face to put forward could benefit from a tinted moisturizer. Everyone should be wearing moisturizer with an SPF 15 or higher. It needs to be applied to freshly cleansed skin every morning. Don’t be fooled by youth or pigmentation, if you have skin moisturize & protect it, you’ll thank me later.
To find the right shade try it out on your jaw line, not your hand. If it is invisible you got the right shade. Really good makeup looks like you don’t have any on. This requires practice & blending. BLENDING is the single most important thing to do with make-up. There should be no visible lines of demarcation, just luscious supple even skin tone, which brings me to my next point: everyone looks better with a tan.

Some of us were born with fabulous caramel colored skin & the rest of us try not to hate. For those, like me, with freckles & pale blue skin, several companies have invented total body moisturizer with a hint of sunless tan in it. Oh joy, the killing of the proverbial two birds with one stone! My fave is Aveeno’s Pure Radiance series. It is subtle, creamy goodness that makes my radiator heated, moisture depleted, January hide a velvety textured human color. I recently tried Olay’s Touch of Sun which did more for my legs than a week in St Martin & was considerably easier on the wallet. Once again, it needs to be applied to freshly cleaned skin. So gently exfoliate in the shower & apply apres taking care to blend evenly. Please remember your feet, they need extra love after holding you up all day. A subtle tan on your legs will help hide razor stubble & varicose veins too.

Smooth, even skin tone, buttery soft skin, two elements that help you to radiate confidence & confidence is what makes one truly sexy!