Nobody's Little Mrs.

Category: Engaging (page 1 of 2)

Being a “Spiritual Gangster” in an Irreverent World

Recently, I posted this photo of myself in my Spiritual Gangster tank and while of course, I really like the shirt, I never thought it would get so much attention.

Interesting term, spiritual gangster.

What does it mean exactly? If you’re not sure, Webster’s won’t be any help. The term isn’t included in our trusty reference.

But I think Urban Dictionary  sums it up nicely:

Someone who lives life to the fullest. spiritual gangsters are so magical, they have the ability to manifest anything they want instantly just by their ability to release resistance and allow pure positive energy to flow through them. The universe always has their back!! They are enlightened deliberate creators of spiritual evolution and the expansion of consciousness. They focus on the positive and always reach for a better feeling and a higher vibration. They always seek the greatest good possible for themselves and others…. They are hardcore lovers. They love the entire world very deeply and passionately. But make no mistake, they are fierce warriors who will handle any situation like a badass!
(I took the liberty highlighting some of this definition’s many assets of being a spiritual gangster.) I don’t know about you, but  I’ll happily associate myself with this term!
While it’s become very popular for people to claim enlightenment and profess how #blessed they are, many of those people are not being true to anyone, least of all themselves.  Many of those same “#blessed” people also troll the internet and insult, name-call, and shame other people, all the while righteously proclaiming their “strong faith.”
Hypocritical, no?  Because it’s exactly that kind of intolerance and irreverence that directly opposes any true faith or spiritual path. There is an obvious lack of not just respect for other people, but a lack of mere consideration of others. What happened to “live and let live,” to “smell the roses,” to “appreciate the little things”?
Listen–social media is lousy with the “blessed” hashtag, but unless people actually, honestly, and indiscriminately embrace a positive attitude and an appreciation for all things on a spiritual level–unless they seek the goodness in all things–then  I would suggest taking a holiday from the social media hamster wheel and stop misusing it so blatantly.
In the meantime, if you can identify as a spiritual gangster–or if you want to be one–wear it proudly and share it widely! Then you can sincerely feel #blessed.
Namaste, friends!
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Ask Wifey: Part-Time Housemates or Full-Time Relationship?

Dear Wifey,

My boyfriend never finished the home projects he starts. We “part-time” live together and when I first saw his home I thought many of the home repair/rehab projects had just been started. Boy, was I wrong.

It is his marital home, where his now-grown kids were raised. My opinion about what’s to be done is not welcome. I’d like him to sell the house so we could possibly get an “our house” down the road. When I bring any of this up he gets angry.

What do I do?

Frustrated in Philly


Dear Frustrated,

One of the ways in which relationships can be challenging when we are older (from you telling me your boyfriend has grown children, I’m guessing at least he is at least 40), is that most of us are less eager to change and/or compromise. I’m not saying this as a criticism, rather as a fact. By middle age, most people have already made compromises, learned lessons, and have decided what they like and how they want to live.

You mention that you are “part-time” living together in his house and I would imagine he would want you to contribute your opinion and make the place yours as well, rather than make you feel like an unwelcome guest. I gather that you have your own place too, and I wonder if he feels the same about your place.

My understanding of the situation leads me to believe that one of two things is going on here: Either he is feeling the same way about you and your place–like you don’t want to include him in your place–or he is just very set in his ways and unwilling to fully share his home with you–or anyone else for that matter.

Before you do anything, I would figure out which situation is happening, and the best way to do that is simply by asking him directly.

If it’s the first scenario, maybe you need to spend more time together at your place too and hopefully, you will both feel more comfortable in each other’s homes and will learn to find your own place in each other’s space. Personally, I think buying a place together is the best idea so you can have a fresh start at creating a common home and life and a full-time relationship.

The second scenario is more troublesome, unfortunately. It’s entirely possible that he simply is very comfortable with his solo living arrangement and–other than having you as a part-time housemate–doesn’t really want to change his life or his routines in any way. If this is the case, I would seriously consider how much more effort you want to invest in this relationship.

No one should get angry with someone who loves them–and whom they love–and who wants to share a home and a life with them. On the contrary, it’s often the path many people hope their relationship takes. I think you owe it to yourself to find out if he is one of them. Once you do, you can decide what path you want to take and whether you’re he’s the right person to walk it with you.



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Shelf Life: The Divorce Papers by Susan Rieger

The Divorce Papers by Susan Rieger


There are many novels that tell the tale of a love story, a marriage, a breakup, a divorce–intimate tales of emotion and relationships. But when it comes to divorce, one thing that people often forget–or for that matter, never even consider–is that it’s not about emotions at all. Divorce is about business. Yes, of course, we are often emotional about divorce, but the reality is that it is, at it’s core, a business and legal matter. With that in mind, it was refreshing to read The Divorce Papers, by Susan Rieger, which is the story of a high-profile divorce, told through the literal papers of the divorce–letters, emails, legal documents and filings, pages from the law books of the fictional locale of “Narragansett,” etc. 


The book brings out the best and the worst of it’s characters, much like an actual divorce does to those involved, and it offers many moments of much-needed (in the book and in real life!) comic relief. It manages to be both heartfelt and humorous and I felt engaged and invested in the futures of Mia (the client) and Sophie (her lawyer).  Rieger kept me reading and I’m glad she did. 



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Party OR Politics? Party.

The election is over, and whatever your vote, whatever your opinion, whoever your choice for President, I think it’s time we gathered with friends and family–especially those who have tested our patience over these last months–and have a party free of  “Parties.”

Here are some things to enhance the festivities . . .



Make sure your guests know that the only things you’re serving are cocktails & escapism.

What’s your choice? Party Preference t-shirt by WILDFOX



Shake it up in style with a gold-accented  retro cocktail shaker.

New York Dot Cocktail Shaker by Kate Spade


Let your guests know that no matter who they voted for, you still think they’re fab . . .

Fabulous Cocktail Glass, by Easy Tiger


We can’t always get what we want from politics, but from the bar, well . . . the possibilities are endless!

Mrs. Lilien’s Cocktail Swatchbook


The DC-set TV series Scandal has a soundtrack of classic music, heavy on the Motown; sure to get everyone dancing rather than debating.

Music from the TV Series “Scandal”

So whatever happens in the weeks, months, and indeed, years to come, remember . . .

  • we have it better than pretty much most other places on earth
  • we have each other
  • and it’s always happy hour somewhere.



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Shelf Life: Catching Up

The point of books is to have way too many but to always feel you never have enough.

-Louise Erdrich

I read the quote above a couple of months ago and I can completely relate. If that is the point of books, then I get it.  In fact, if the shelves and stacks and boxes of books that I see at every turn in my home are testament, I live it.

For as long as I can remember I have been a bibliophile. I love books–everything about them. Most of all I love falling into them and losing myself, learning something, or being inspired. Sometimes even all three.

I am never without reading material and usually I read a couple of things simultaneously. I know that reading more than one book at a time sounds odd to some, but I have fiction books that I read before bed or when I need a break from work or when I have some time to relax;  not to mention non-fiction that I read for business reasons, health research, educational purposes, etc. And I always have something on me to read if I find myself with a few  minutes to spare, waiting on someone or something, or if I need a brief escape.

I devour magazines of all kinds, literary journals,  and my daily Wall Street Journal (on paper, thank you very much). And though I thought I would never succumb, I did eventually buy an e-reader years ago, which has since been augmented by apps on my tablet and smartphone, so I really always have reading material on hand.  (I also keep a book of short stories in my car. . . just in case.)

Sometimes, all of this reading makes me feel like I might come to a similar end as Cervantes’ Don Quixote, who “from so little sleeping and so much reading, his brain dried up and he went completely out of his mind.”

With all my reading, you’d think I wouldn’t have an unread book in the house. But I do have a few. Actually, more than a few. Okay, okay . . . a lot more than a few. I’m know I’m not the only reader out there who has a hard time keeping up with their “to read” list.

But lately, the reading I do for my work as a book editor has taken up so much time that my pleasure reading has waned, much to my dismay. The bookcase in my office is overfull and I have stacks in other rooms as well. Books are almost literally closing in around me. It seems the occasion to catch up on my reading is long overdue. No time like the present, I say.

So, starting with my office bookcase, I’m going to make an effort to catch up–or at least make a significant dent in my ever-growing cumulative page count.

Here’s what my bookcase looks like now:


I know . . . overwhelming.

After removing the books I’ve read, and some of my reference books,  this is what i looks like:


I’ve left some reference books as well as some volumes that I’ve read but refer to from time to time on the shelves, but those only take up about two shelves.

Still  plenty  to read.

And that’s what I’m going to do. Read. . . . .More. . . . A lot more.

I’ve never been one for New Year’s resolutions. But  in the case of my reading backlog, I think I owe it to my bookshelf to commit to reading, if not all, then at least a lion’s share of the volumes still waiting. So come January, get ready for more reviews and recommendations and hopefully, we’ll watch the bookshelf’s unread contents will slowly dwindle together.

Wish me luck!

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No Weekend Getaway at Sara Taylor’s THE SHORE


When I first started reading Sara Taylor’s The Shore, I was unsure what to expect, but one thing it could never have been was a peaceful escape in an idyllic island community.

Spanning centuries, Taylor follows two island families through generations as they survive the struggles of poverty, isolation, and the burdens of community.

At times it’s easy to forget that the stories are interconnected, each perfectly able to stand on its own. (Thankfully for me the author includes family trees at the front of the book for reference.)

The Shore‘s characters are real people, their emotions, desires, worries, insecurities, strengths, and weaknesses all masterfully crafted by Taylor. The relationships between the characters are portrayed with taut and meaningful dialogue, which exposes their fragility and tenuous nature.

It’s not always an easy read–characters experience domestic violence, drug abuse, rape, and and an epidemic, for example. And there’s a deep sense of loneliness in many of the characters that comes through very clearly.

Most significant, though, is the relationship that the residents have with the Shore itself. All of the characters are, each in their own way, bound to the land and the generations of family history. It is a love-hate relationship that in no small part defines them all.





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If Wishes Were Horses . . .


The first time I heard this expression “If wishes were horses, beggars would ride,” I didn’t get it right away–I thought I was missing something. Then I realized it tells us “don’t bother simply wishing for something if you’re not going to do anything about making it happen.” In other words, wishes alone are folly.

Sounds like good advice. After all, a wish is often described as a “goal without a plan,” and I don’t know about you, but in my experience, not having a plan is a terrible plan.


Then there’s the cautionary proverb that tells us to be careful what we wish for, lest we get it.

It’s true we need to take actual care in choosing our words. Our words are powerful because they are expressions of our thoughts, and because they become our actions. Our actions determine our reality.

When talking about wishes, it’s difficult to forget the traditions of wishing upon shooting stars or breaking off the better half of the wishbone on a Thanksgiving turkey.  Think about that, though–the idea of having a wish come true is considered so unrealistic that it’s been  simply left up to the random chance of seeing the elusive shooting star or having a better grip on the fourth Thursday of November.

So I’ve tried to not use the word wish so often. I’ve curbed that kind of thinking and made an effort to replace it with a thought process that is more creative, one that will help me actually create my life the way I want to live it.

In practical terms, there’s no more waiting for opportunities to present themselves, no more wishing for things or experiences; there is only creating the opportunities for myself and making my own plans.

But I don’t mean to imply that wishes are bad,  or that I’ve stopped wishing. Having a wish or a dream is important–anything really is possible. It’s just that I think it’s a good idea to do more than wish. Only sometimes it can be difficult to remember that . . .  old habits do indeed die hard.

Wish necklace

Recently I came across this necklace in a shop.

And as much as I had been thinking about wishes, it made me smile.

There is was–a way to remind myself that wishes are good–and pretty. But they are things of which we must be conscious, with which  we must be careful, and which we should actively wear if we want to see them realized.

So, yes, I bought it.

And when I put it on I think about what I wish for, what my goals are.

Most importantly, I think about how I make wishes, and what I will do to make my wishes and goals as real as the one around my neck.


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Are you there, Apple? It’s Me, Wifey. (Or: Why My iPhone Makes Me Sad)

I’ve been both an iPhone user and an Android user. I waited a bit from the start to hop on the iPhone bandwagon, but once I got on I was hooked on the myriad apps that were “there for that.” (Seriously, I had so many apps I ran out of room for more.)

I loved my iPhone, but Android phones were catching up (and overtaking) iPhone really fast. I was seduced by the size and resolution of the Samsung Galaxy Note II’s screen and its stylus.



It took a little while to get used to, but the brilliance of the screen kept me transfixed. Finally it looked like Apple was reclaiming their spot at the top of the smartphone food chain. The iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus were as big, or bigger, in size than most of their Android counterparts, and whispers of an Apple Watch were being heard.


While I love my Note II,  it was getting on in months (let’s face it, when was the last time your smartphone lasted for more than a couple of years?) and not working at top speed. After a good deal of fence-sitting, I broke down and went the way of iPhone 6 for my personal mobile phone, while keeping my Note II as a backup.


Apple had won me back.

And though Apple may be happy with my and other’s reversion back into the iPhone fold, I’m not. At all. On the contrary, I am gravely disappointed in iPhone, and Apple in general.

Now let me tell you why.

  1. If you’re on a call on the iPhone you can’t use any other app requiring data.  Really? Android makes multitasking easy–put your call on speaker or Bluetooth and you can surf the internet, use your GPS, post on social media. On your iPhone you’ll just have to wait. (Can you imagine?!)
  2. iPhone’s keyboard is not user-friendly. This is really surprising to me since Apple has always been so proud of their user-friendly operating system. Android’s keyboard includes the row numbers above the qwerty keyboard as well as  “.com” and “@” keys so there’s no constant switching back and forth between keyboards. (It’s seamless, really.)
  3. Android has a “back” button! I don’t know about you, but I find it inconvenient to have to constantly close out and reopen apps and windows on my iPhone. With Android’s handy “back” button, there is very little of that senseless back and forth. Back on an iPhone now it’s not at all rare to see my trying to tap a “back” button that’s not there. (It’s rather sad.)
  4. iPhone has terrible auto-correct and is very slow to learn your frequently used words (if it ever does). My name is not a common one. I won’t be finding any cans of Coca-Cola with Melaina emblazoned on them. That’s fine. However, I’ve had my iPhone 6 all year and it still doesn’t remember my name or automatically capitalize it. (Thanks, Apple.)
    On the other hand, Android has a row above the keyboard which suggests three words as you type. But here is the best part: Android actually learns your writing patterns and if you use the same phrases often it will automatically suggest the next word (among the three choices it provides) in your phrase. If you often text “Be there in five” before you know it you will simply type “Be” and then just tap on “there,” “in,” and “five.” (Who doesn’t like being catered to?)
  5. Android remembers your info to fill in forms; iPhone has amnesia. When you need to fill out a form for a mailing list or enter your shipping address Android has your back. Each time I tap on a field labeled “email”  to fill it in, my email address magically appears above the keyboard as one of the suggested word choices. I don’t remember the last time I had to type it out in full on my Android. On my iPhone? Every. Single. Time. (Bad Apple!)
  6. FaceTime exclusivity. Last, but not at all least: why can’t Apple let iPhone users FaceTime with people on other smartphones. I’m sorry, I know I’m not a hardware or software designer, but I refuse to believe that video-chat across platforms is unattainable. (Get on the inclusivity bandwagon, Apple!)

So while I may be an iPhone user, I’m not at all a happy about it.

To be fair, Android phones aren’t perfect, but they are much more user-friendly, much more intuitive, and quite frankly, smarter than the iPhone. Considering Apple was on the cutting edge with the original iPhone, how much have their products really evolved?

They’ve become bigger and faster; the camera resolution has increased; they’ve developed ApplePay, sure. But what innovation is there really? And the Apple Watch? Please…Samsung has had a watch for years and it’s a standalone device so you can leave your phone at home.

And by the way, the minute that Apple Watch was released an Apple Watch app magically appeared on my iPhone and I cannot delete it! (I don’t know about you, but I don’t like anyone forcing me to have anything I don’t want.)

But maybe the most frustrating thing about iPhone is that other than wallpaper, everyone’s phones look exactly alike: page after page of app icons, maybe a folder or two.  I much prefer Android’s customizable features (especially the available widgets) and their motto of  “Be together, not the same.”

Is is just me? Any other dissatisfied iPhone users out there?

Are you listening, Apple?


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Rainy Day Reading

It’s been raining on and off all week (mostly on), but today the rain has yet to stop. Personally, I don’t mind at all. I like the rain; I like way rain makes everything smell, the coolness of the air, and I love the sound of the rain on the roof. If I can get a thunder and lightning as well, I’m in heaven.

rainydayMost of us don’t have much during our busy week to curl up and read a book, but the downpour changed my mind about riding today and so I’ve taken the opportunity to catch up on my reading (no matter how much I read, I never seem to keep up!).

While it’s no matter to me how long or short a book is, sometimes it’s especially satisfying to be able to start something you can finish in one sitting. So I’ve compiled a short list of good reads that you can read in one sitting (though I guess that depends on how long you’d like to sit, I suppose).

The following are older titles, all of which are rather short (novellas, really).

84 Charing Cross Road  by Helen Hanff

Chronicle of a Death Foretold by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

The End of the Alphabet by C. S. Richardson

Walks with Men by Ann Beattie

Disquiet by Julia Leigh

The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett

The Alchemist by Paul Coelho

If you’re in for hurricane weather, here are some longer titles that nonetheless, kept me sitting still through to the very last page.

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

The Silent Wife by A. S. A. Harrison

Superstition by David Ambrose

A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness (it was a very rainy day–and night!)

The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s* Stone by J. K. Rowling (*I read the Canadian, aka British editions of the series)

For even more suggestions, visit this link at Read It Forward–a great source for finding your next good read!

What books kept you reading until the very last word? Please share!!


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Leave Your Mark, by Aliza Licht: Are You Willing To Do the Work?

My “to read” pile is big. Huge, really. I am definitely behind on my reading. But as soon as I read a pre-release excerpt of  Leave Your Mark, by Aliza Licht, I knew I would have to fall just a little further behind. Ms. Licht’s approach and tone hooked me and I immediately navigated to Amazon and pre-ordered the book, which instantly landed at the top of the ever-growing tower of titles.

You see, while Leave Your Mark is a perfect read for a twentysomething just figuring out their passions and their career paths, it’s also an ideal read for someone like me, who finds themselves in need of some inspiration, and a change of  course. A re-launch, so to speak.

The advice in Leave Your Mark is the best, most serious you’ll find available. But what sets this career guide apart from the rest is that beyond being so sensible, it’s highly accessible and engaging as well.

Ms. Licht shares many stories from her career and highlights myriad examples of what to do, what not to do, and essential “Insider Tips,” not one of which should be ignored. As the author states herself, this isn’t a “how-to” book, it’s a “must-do” book.

Like Ms. Licht, I started working in New York in the same pre-internet era and went through many of the same career growing pains. Those starting out today can’t comprehend how different things were, how much more effort was required for the most basic tasks.

As she describes in her book, in order to land a job in the magazine industry she had to load up on recent issues from her local newsstand and find editors names in the magazines masthead (no Google!). Resumes and cover letters were actually printed out on paper, and the process from application to offer seemed endless.

Reading Leave Your Mark reminded me of where I’ve been and all that I’ve accomplished. It inspired me to review and reevaluate the various phases in my career, and  it reaffirmed the value of the workplace wisdom I’ve accrued over the years. (Thank you, Ms. Licht!)

Leaving your mark in today’s job market almost always requires some kind of social media presence, and by presence I don’t just mean that you have a Twitter feed or a Facebook or LinkedIn profile void of content.

A social media profile is something that needs to be curated in order yield results, and there’s no better person than Aliza Licht to help you engage and and build your network online.

Ms. Licht is honest (at times, I’m sure, painfully for some) about what it takes to get where you want to be in your career and encourages that honesty from the reader, providing opportunities for self-evaluation.

Throughout the book, Licht includes “Take a Selfie” sections in which she asks the reader questions essential to figuring out when and if to take the next step. It’s so easy to compare ourselves to others–especially when we are all sharing so much online–that self-evaluation is especially vital now.

Ms. Licht offers the best kind of constructive criticism: the kind that points out the potential problem while simultaneously offering the reader a solution. She also urges readers to discover and foster their own strengths and creativity.

You may not know why what you’re currently doing isn’t providing you with the results you’re seeking. After reading Leave Your Mark you will. You might even have a brainstorm or two.

Another critical issue that Leave Your Mark addresses is the (often overlooked) difference between social/casual communication and professional correspondence. It’s easy to forget in this era of text-speak that even though you may be using the same medium to communicate with both friends and potential employers and colleagues, there remains a vast difference in the way one should construct these messages. Take a cue from Ms. Licht on what to say and how to say it.

Just because Ms. Licht is a social media maven, the voice of twitter’s DKNY PR Girl (with over half a million followers), don’t think for a second that she accomplished all that she has using the same friendly (and sometimes cheeky) tone that she uses in her tweets.

I won’t go on and on (though I could) because Leave Your Mark is simply a book that you #MUSTREAD (and learn from) for yourself, and I won’t presume to paraphrase Ms. Licht any further.

Ms. Licht should not merely be respected for her success, she should be admired for her work ethic, her dedication, and her generosity. The advice and experience shared in Leave Your Mark is a rare gift to anyone who is serious about their career success, and who is both humble and hungry enough to earn it.

If that sounds like you, click here and get on with it! (What are you waiting for? GO!)



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