Archive | Opinion RSS feed for this section

Supercool Blogs That You Should Read

19 Jun

People have been asking me lately which blogs I really love to read. I know I need to mention these guys more, but here you have it. Here is a list of blogs and other stuff I dig– similar content to Soul Lab, but also very unique indeed.

Idol Chatter on Beliefnet.com combines the latest pop culture news with sort of a spiritual spin on TJI_REV-RUNthings. Yes, it totally makes sense. Recent posts have talked about stupid antics that Christians on reality shows have been caught doing (yeah, we’re talking about you Speidi); The Jon & Kate Plus 8 dilemma asking readers to share heartfelt advice– remember this is Beliefnet, not E! News; and an enlightening post on the 10 most inspiring celebrities using Twitter in positive ways… from Rev Run to Paulo Coehlo.

On YogaJournal.com, there are a couple of areas to check out. First, let me just say that I absolutely do not do Yoga (I’ve tried– Lord I’ve tried), but I probably will some day again and I really like the idea of it. So, what the hell, I get into Yoga Journal when I can. Check out the Yoga Buzz blog and you’ll find posts about Janice Dickinson trying to find natural laxatives in the jungle on an episode of “I’m a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here!” Then there’s the hysterical web series, “Ogden: The Inappropriate Yoga Guy.” Check it out:

rainn-wilson-the-rocker1Spearheaded by Rainn Wilson, Soul Pancake is an uniquely cool site where life’s big questions are just put right out there for spiritually-minded hipsters (or seeksters as I prefer calling them) to dicsuss. There is a great emphasis on the relationship between spirituality and creativity which I appreciate. A recent post asks the question, “Is fear learned or inherent?” accompanied by a video of Spike Jonze trying to freak out his son by wearing a prop head from his latest movie, Where the Wild Things Are (coming out in October). I have to say that the quality of the comments in response to some of these questions is refreshingly thoughtful on the most part. In another post, the question is posed, “Are you a social chameleon” trying to understand the concept of putting on various personas to meet the expectations of variety of audiences in one’s life (I talk about this in another earlier post). They showed this cool video with that question:

What’s the Big Deal About Turning 40?

1 Jun

The big question for me in the last few days has been “are you OK?” whenever the topic of my 40th birthday came up. And the answer? “Well, I’m not dead yet.” I admit, it’s a response that’s fairly non-commital. I don’t hate the idea. I don’t love the idea. It just, as they say, “is what it is.” And then my birthday arrived yesterday and I was feeling a bit more anxious than I expected to. Sitting with my 21 year-old nephew, I flashed back to that time in my life when choices abounded, and opportunities flocked to me. At 21, I was graduating from college, getting my first job and making a plan for myself. Only two years earlier I experienced deeply transformative awakening that felt like being shot out of a cannon smack in the middle of downtown Boston on a cold and rainy Fall evening. To this day, I can not fully explain the epiphany, but in my research since, I know many people describe similar experiences that mark a major trajectory change in their lives.

Even after that I regressed back into old ways of being. I wish I had been a bit more adventurous, a lot less worried, and much more grateful. At 40, I’m making up for lost time in some ways. But the best way to do that is to remain as present and peaceful as possible. What I’ve learned since is that coming to an understanding about yourself is not enough. You have to act on that understanding and begin to integrate this deep knowing into your life as soon as possible. Don’t wait.

My father wrote me a letter for this auspicious occasion and he alluded to the metaphysical significance of the number 40. Forty days in the desert. Forty days of flooding. Forty seems important and catastrophic. But his theories of newfound spiritual energy and deep awakenings reminded me of something I learned recently about creating new neural pathways in the brain. It takes between 30 and 40 days to literally create new folds and paths in your brain if you commit to a practive every day without interruption. So it took 40 years to be where I am at this moment, and it will take (supposedly) 40 days to retrain myself into some new realities.

Though I already quit smoking several years, this is not about quitting anymore. This is about remembering and reconnecting with who you really are. Spiritual truths are unchanging, unflappable road signs that point in the direction of deep inner knowing, peace and connection. This is certainly a trip I’ve been taking for a long time, and the mathematical reality of my physical age is a nice starting point for the next leg of it.

The Conversation: Who do you wanna meet?

15 May

dreamstimeweb_questionhead

So it has been awhile since my latest installment of “The Conversation.” For those of you who have expressed an interest in my revitalizing this, I need to know… who do you wanna meet? Just to recap, “The Conversation” is a series of personal (fake) conversations with celebrities– authors, politicos, pop stars, etc. Past conversations (which are purely made up in my tired brain) have been with J.K. Rowling, Dick Cheney, Tyra Banks, Britney Spears, Barack Obama, Lindsey Lohan and more.

Check them all out here and tell me who I should “talk to” next.

Don’t Be a Selfish Ding Dong: Fast for Darfur

28 Apr
Darfur child in refugee camp

Darfur child in refugee camp

I watched Mia Farrow on Larry King Live tonight as she announced her 21-day hunger strike to raise awareness about the situation in Darfur. She is inviting anyone interested in joining the fast to choose a day (or more) to either drink water only, take refugee rations (there are suggested guidelines) or liquids only.

The website, http://fastdarfur.org/, states “Darfur Fast for Life was created so that you and many more around the world can participate in saying no to the status quo on Darfur. Mia will be blogging here and at www.MiaFarrow.org. Others will join by participating in water-only and/or refugee rations fasts to bring attention to the immediate humanitarian crisis in Darfur created by the expulsion of aid organizations by the government of Sudan. Darfur Fast for Life demands from our leaders around the world to be ambitious and work on creating lasting peace in Sudan and guaranteeing the respect for the human rights of all.”

I signed up for a few scattered days to do rations and liquid fasting.

Women’s Journeys Better Than Fiction

12 Apr

on-the-way-to-satoriLately I have been thinking about some true life stories of women who have tackled the tough task of leaving it all behind and embarking on incredible journeys of self-discovery. I stumbled upon a book I once loved and it got me thinking that I’ve always loved these stories and soaked them up like great fiction. But in these cases, the stories are documented and real, and here are just a few I highly recommend.

On the Way to Satori was written by Gerta Ital, a German-born actress who entered a Japanese Zen Buddhist monastery late in life. She recorded her experiences in two books, The Master, the Monks and I: A Western Woman’s Experience of Zen, and the one I read, On the Way to Satori: A Woman’s Experience of Enlightenment. Both books were published in German in the mid-1960s, but were not translated into English until much later. She recounted the physically and emotionally harsh conditions of being the first Western woman admitted to a Zen monastery.

Then there is The Sorcerer’s Crossing: A Woman’s Journey written by Taisha Abelar with a forward by Carlos Castaneda. Abelar, an anthropologist, recalls the mysterious and mystical journey which took her on many leaps of faith into the world of sorcery. In the late 60s, she was sketching in the mountains around Tucson, Arizona when she met a Mexican woman named Clara Grau. With intensity, gravity and fortitude, Grau convinced Abelar to visit her house in Sonora, Mexico– right then, and right there. Facing her own feelings of being directionless and confused about her future, she went. What followed was a powerful entry into a family of sorcerers which produced powerful healers and wisepeople like Castaneda.

eatpraylove1And more recently, Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert hit a major nerve with women seeking purpose, meaning and real clarity in their lives. Though she didn’t shave her head or become inducted into a secret world of magic, Gilbert did have life-changing moment after moment in a global trek which spanned Italy, India and Bali.

The bottom line with all these fine reads is that the real experiences of these brave women have produced books that are as mesmerizing, surprising, enchanting and deeply inspiring as any novel you could crawl into. Check them out.

Joaquin Phoenix: The Ego or the Artist at Play?

13 Feb

When I watched the interview with Joaquin Phoenix on David Letterman last night, I immediately flashed back to high school and college. There were these kids at my school, and the “richer” schools around town, who were so privileged and “cool” that their smugness and egos could light up a few counties. They didn’t have to answer to anyone, they didn’t “care” what people thought, their bratty and self-centered behavior mystified grown-ups and enchanted wannabes and social groupies. They hated the very system that elevated them and supported their dreams of becoming artists or musicians or wandering philosophers. They took risks because they knew their brand of risk came with the stability of parents with money, or a trust fund. I did not like these people because, to be blunt, they were assholes. They abandoned manners and their unique sense of judgement could make right wing conservatives look like Mother Theresa.

But then I caught myself. I started to remember other late night antics– Andy Kaufman, maybe? Naah… I think the interview had more to do with getting some cool footage for the Casey Affleck documentary about Joaquin’s new hip hop career. Seems there is always room for the requisite “Fuck you, Dave” or “This was me hitting rock bottom” scene in any self-respecting celebrity documentary. Perhaps Joaquin orchestrated the lame interview to provide that much-needed dramatic arch to any future true story docu-drama.

Or you know what? Maybe he was just high.

Harshing My Mellow

29 Dec
The Children of Slumdog Millionaire

The Children of Slumdog Millionaire

Yesterday I had a very rare day “off” meaning that my son was living it up with the grandparents, husband had to work and I have myself a nice break. Whenever I have a few free hours, I love to catch a movie and yesterday it was Slumdog Millionaire. About halfway into it, I developed almost a blinding migraine. I have not experienced one in years. But I think watching two hours of orphaned Indian children being put through every possible human horror pretty much sent me over the edge. I am over-the-top sensitive to seeing any harm come to children or animals and I’ve found it nearly intolerable to listen to or watch negative images, harsh music or bleak storylines. Though the movie had a redemptive ending, it wasn’t enough to ward off my exploding head. So I headed home and took a long nap. Why, over the last few months, have I become increasingly sensitive to audio and video cues? I think it’s where my heart and mind have been going lately which is more to the internal, introspective worlds that feed the soul.

Stuff Kids Like: Thomas the Tank Engine

22 Jul

A scene from our kitchen on Saturday night (as told by my husband, Fritz)

Me: “Sweetie, there are some things about “Thomas and Friends” that are kind of bugging me. There really is a lot of bad behavior there.”

Fritz: “Yeah, there is. Hubris is usually the big one. Whenever an engine gets too full of himself, something bad happens. Plus there’s a lot of conflict and infighting between them.”

Me: “And I’m not crazy about the whole management-worker dynamic. Sir Topham Hatt keeps them in a dark shed under a tarp until he suddenly comes in one day and pulls it off. He says, ‘If you work hard, I’ll let you out’. Then he orders them around like slaves.”

Fritz: “Oh, I don’t know, honey. An engine’s fondest wish is to be Really Useful. I think Sir Topham Hatt has a kindly way with the engines. He mediates their disputes fairly and picks them up when they get down on themselves. He only really chews them out when they do something dumb like blasting through someone’s dining room wall at breakfast.”

Me: “Yeah, I guess so. And what’s with all these people building their houses and setting up barber shops five feet away from a sharp turn in the rails? How do they get insurance, anyway?”

Shuffleboil: The Price of Pain in Hollywood

13 Feb

Check out my latest installment of “My Next Top Reality” on Shuffleboil.com!

The Conversation: Tyra Banks

28 Dec

tyra-banks-gl10.jpg 

Ring…. ring… ring… ring… ring (stop)

Ring… ring… ring… ring… ring (stop)

Ring… ring… ring… ring… ring (stop)

Husband to me: For the love of God, answer the phone. She will call until you do.

Me to husband: Fine.

Ring… ring…

Me: Hello?

Tyra: HEY GIRL!!! I have been tryin’ to call you! Were you in the back or something?

Me: Uh huh. What’s up Tyra?

Tyra: Well, I’m just calling my top girlfriends to wish them a HAPPY NEW YEAR!!! I mean last year was GREAT, but this year– the sky’s the lim-it, choo-no?

Me: Actually, it was a good year and all, but pretty tough too in a lot of ways, I mean…

Tyra: You are so NEGATIVE, Jennifer. You really need to work on that. You know you should come on my show and talk about how your negative attitude has almost destroyed your life, and how you have many dreams that you have yet to realize. You’re still relatively young and, well, you’re like an every woman.

Me: Oh yeah? How.

Tyra: Let’s see. Your life took some unhappy turns that you didn’t expect, you’ve put on a few pounds since college, you wish you were taller, your book hasn’t been published, I mean the list just goes on and on…

Me: Taller? No I don’t.

Tyra: Sure you do.

Me: No. I don’t.

Tyra: OK. Well, we can have a therapist come on and then maybe someone who went through some life-changing experience– like a car accident or a bad wedding- and came out on the other side all happy and beautiful and, you know, together. It could really help a lot of women. We could convince you to make all your dreams come true!

Me: No. Thanks, but no.

Tyra: Don’t you want to help a lot of women, Jennifer?

Me: Me? Yeah, sure, but…

Tyra: OK, so we’ll fly you down…

Me: Wait a second. Did you really call me to wish me a “Happy New Year” or to talk me into being a “before” on your show? I mean, there are things I’d like to improve but…

Tyra: This will be FIERCE! I’m so glad you want to help people.

Me: I’m not doing it. If I want to make changes, I’ll do it myself. I don’t need to do it on national television in a 12-minute segment with one commercial interruption. No way.

Tyra: You know what would be great? Why don’t you wear that gray suit dress? It sort of sums up your whole…

Me: Hold on, Tyra. I am NOT doing this. You can dream all you want, but why don’t you call the next girlfriend on your list and get her to do it.

Tyra: That would be impossible.

Me: And why’s that?

Tyra: Because it’s Ashley Judd. She’s fine the way she is… obviously.

Me: Obviously.

Tyra: So you’re free next week, right? Great.

Me: Oh my God, Tyra. You are NOT listening. I know it’s your “thing” not to take no for an answer but, alas, my answer is no.

Tyra: I see.

Me: Good.

Tyra: Good.

Me: OK then.

Tyra: Can I just ask you something?

Me: What.

Tyra: Do you still have dreams? Because, you know, if you really believe in yourself and work hard, any dream is possible.

Me: Is that so?

Tyra: Uh huh.

Me: OK. My dream is to be a supermodel.

Tyra: I KNEW it!

Me: That’s right. I’ve always been out of my mind jealous that opportunities and success come so easily to people like you. So I want to be a supermodel.

Tyra: OK. Now we’re getting somewhere.

Me: So now what?

Tyra: What do you mean?

Me: Well, I have a dream and I’m willing to work hard. So let’s go.

Tyra: Well, there’s no way you could ever be a supermodel. I mean, you’re five feet tall and in your late 30s and…

Me: Are you trying to shut me down and crush my dream?

Tyra: No! It’s just that…

Me: Because I’m getting a really negative vibe from…

Tyra: No, girl! What I mean is that you should have dreams that… well…

Me: That’s what I thought. Listen, if everyone wanted to be a supermodel, which I certainly do not wish to be, we wouldn’t have teachers and engineers and bus drivers and people to grow food which you wouldn’t eat anyway. Dreams are relative, Tyra. Not everyone wants every ounce of attention in a room hurled at them, believe it or not. Now, go out there and change some lives. What’s your show tomorrow?

Tyra: It’s about my boobs.

Me: Excellent. Keep up the good work and Happy New Year!

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.