Living Out Loud


I’ve chosen this blog entry’s photo to make a statement.

Now with Mr. Toupee endorsing the denial of women’s rights and human rights I’ve struggled with how to make sense of the hate in the world that has risen up.

It’s always true that in order to love other people you first have to love yourself.

For those of us who’ve always felt different the truth is most likely we ARE different.

How can we come to terms with the hate in the world right now?

I’ve figured out a solution that is simple, effective, and oh-so-easy to execute right now:

We must stand up for ourselves and refuse to take a backseat.

I figured out that dressing in fashion can be a political act too.

We can create the person we want to become by dressing the part.

I for one think boycotting Ivanka Trump products and her fashion line is called for.

Dressing in a way that stands out is a way to rebel the hate that has become standard operating procedure in so much of society.

Dressing in a way that pleases ourselves first of all is the ultimate way to take charge of our destiny.

What better way to stand up for ourselves than to stand out walking down the street?

It signals that you can’t be messed with when you’re making a fashion statement.

Pastels? Muted colors? I just say no to all that. First of all because of my dramatic Mediterranean features.

The premise of titling my memoir Left of the Dial was also because blending in doesn’t really get a person very far.

Conforming to how other people expect you to live and act and dress at the expense of your own happiness is the surefire route to ill health.

I say: dare to be different and do your own thing. You’ll be a lot happier and healthier.

You and I should not live in fear of having our rights taken away.

I’ve decided I might join a protest at some point.

The antidote to this ongoing hate is self-acceptance. Once we can be happy with who we are and like ourselves it won’t matter what other people think of us.

The time now is to get up and stand up for our rights.

The very act of living in recovery is in itself a political act.

To speak the truth to power and say:

I’m not going away. I’m not going to join you in accepting hate as a lifestyle option. I’m not going to accept ill treatment.

Emile Zola is quoted:

“If you asked me what I came into this world to do–I would tell you–I came to live out loud.”

Live out loud.

That’s an effective strategy for combating hate.

Simply by walking down the street with our heads held high we can effect positive change.





Fear and Clothing

Marshall McLuhan’s book was famously titled The Medium is the Massage.

I’m reading a great guide that proves his title’s point: Fear and Clothing: Unbuckling American Style by the bellicose lettres author Cintra Wilson.

She writes in the most clear, specific, compelling way–better than I ever have or could–about the connection between our clothes and our personalities.

She understands as I always have that young people try on clothes as they go about identifying themselves.

For me how I dressed as a young woman was a way to take on the world. I was told I couldn’t get a job. I was told there was no hope for a person like me.

My fashion choices were a way to arch my brow and say: “So? I can’t get a job? Then I’ll be the best-dressed chair-warmer at the day program.”

It was true that the mental health staff didn’t know what to do with a quirky creative young person like me. I abhorred the vanilla thinking of the time that proscribed women to getting married and breeding kids living in a picket fence house.

Dressing trendy was a way to send a direct message: I wouldn’t submit to the vanilla expectations that the gatekeepers of my success had of a person like me.

Wilson calls how we style ourselves “fashion determinism” because it’s clear that we can become whoever we want to be simply by dressing in the clothes we choose.

Wilson relates: “If there is anything I have learned…life is too short to wear disguises that hide you from the world, because these choices can end up hiding you from yourself.”

Deploying your clothes in a confrontational way really won’t get a person anywhere. You see wearing Fright Night makeup won’t garner you any fans of whatever message you’re selling (unless you’re in a Goth band catering to vagabond vampires).

As I got older I understood clearly that it’s true the medium is the massage. Fashion is a medium–an art form at its highest elevation. How we compose ourselves speaks volumes–and our clothes are the loudest first expression of who we think we are or want to be.

Cintra Wilson traveled all across America to scoop what people are wearing and deconstruct their lives behind the seams.

I’ll end here with one interesting theory Wilson espouses: that people who live in cities like New York where buildings are high and vertical tend also to be built like rails–skinny. People who live in places like Iowa with wide expanses of land tend to be voluptuous.

Do I think this is true? I think it might be true insofar as city dwellers have easy access to gyms for the most part…and living in a city can be a competitive sport.

I will continue to write about fashion when it strikes my fancy to do so. I recommend buying Fear and Clothing which is why I quoted from it. Cintra Wilson’s irreverent whip-smart voice is the prime draw.

Making Life Easier in Recovery

The past is over–it had an expiration date. Only today matters. We each of have one day–today–in which to do things to create a better life for ourselves.

Linda Ellerbee is quoted: “Change is one form of hope. To risk change is to believe in tomorrow.”

It’s my contention that each of us can do things to make our lives easier living in recovery. Like I said there’s no one path that we have to take. Detours are to be expected. If we reach a dead end we can back up and go a different way.

A couple of people criticized me for focusing on fashion in my memoir Left of the Dial. Yet I maintain that having a love of fashion enabled me to recover just like having the job I love enabled me to recover.

I firmly believe that doing what makes us happy can make our lives easier.

George Brescia wrote the book Change Your Clothes, Change Your Life. It’s a great book. You don’t have to believe me.

Here’s what George has to say: “Our clothing has the power to help us manifest the goals, dreams, and desires we hold closest to our hearts.”

I recommend buying the book and reading it.

So often getting rid of old outdated or outgrown or worn-out clothes is the first step in making room for the new and improved in our lives: whether that new thing is one new item of clothing, a new person, or a new belief about what you’d like to do in the future.

I say: whatever a person can do to make their lives easier is worth trying out. If it doesn’t work, you can try something different.

It’s precisely because life in recovery can be so hard that I’m all for doing little things that can make our lives easier. Call these life hacks if you want.

It could take experimenting with new hobbies or new routines to figure out works to commit to. Like throwing spaghetti against a wall to see if it sticks as the expression goes.

In this regard I’ll end here by suggesting that you can better find out what’s going to stick by getting help figuring it out. The book Born for This I recommend as a great catalyst in helping readers find their right livelihood and right life hacks.


Black Friday Blues

A lot of people are aghast that stores open on Thanksgiving now.

Yet if I had no family to celebrate with I might dip into K-Mart to shop.

The idea that celebrating the holidays is a normative experience for everyone is what I don’t like.

Though it seems right to me that in New York City schools are now closed for Eid and Ramadan as well as Christian and Jewish holidays.

I was able to buy two pairs of pants for $50/each last weekend.

What I’m against is supporting companies whose products cause people ill health. I don’t want my money invested in Coca-Cola or the latest version of Phillip Morris or in Monsanto or Synerga or Dow.

You get a higher return investing in stocks yet we should be aware of where our money is going.

I say: take advantage of using discount codes on the Internet when you shop. Timing what you buy right you can get clothes for 50 percent off.

This rings true to me too: no one should go into debt to support their lifestyle.

I realize the economy has forced families into homeless shelters and might have forced people to charge necessities on their credit cards.

In New York City gentrification has forced life-long residents of certain neighborhoods out of the City when people with easy cash start moving in. Trendy stores and boutiques pop up. Landlords raise rents and in some cases fail to make repairs in the hopes that poor tenants will give up and move out.

You can read about this in the New York Times.

I’m against how poor people are pushed out of neighborhoods. I’m against how the City now caters to millionaires with ultra-luxury hi-rise apartments.

The Black Friday blues are all too real for a lot of people who can’t afford to keep up with the Joneses.

I say: refrain from chasing the things money can buy. Like experts tell us: buying experiences gives us joy.

So buy lasagna to serve at a dinner party. Buy your poor friend a shirt for the holiday. Buy a train ride to take a day trip to watch the fall leaves turn color Upstate.

You can be happy living on very little money. You can be healthy even if you’re not rich.

Health trumps money in my book.

Happy Tuesday!

Living an Organic Life

One definition of organic is “denoting a relation between elements of something such that they fit together as parts of a whole.”

This is what I’m referring to in the Mission Statement link on my author website. Living an organic life is the true premise of Left of the Dial: where our thoughts and feelings, actions and values are aligned and in balance.

I’m interested in how elements fit together as part of a whole. The goal as I see it in recovery is to be whole and well. You can have a full and robust life.

In this regard I don’t discount that a lot of times a person’s life is changed forever after they’re diagnosed with bipolar schizophrenia or another mental illness. Yet here too life can be beautiful even though it’s hard.

The goal as I see it too is to find what gives you joy and satisfaction and go do that as long as it’s healthy.

One thing I firmly believe: it’s not the enormity or severity of a challenge that determines a person’s fate but how they respond to that challenge. It’s possible to find pockets of joy even though a person struggles or is in pain.

In this regard I have been famously assailed because of my love of fashion and makeup. Yet I can tell you without a doubt that my interest in fashion was one of the prime factors that helped me do better in my recovery.

For you it might be painting or sketching. For another person it might be hiking a mountain trail.

The point is it’s interesting to me how these elements come together in an organic way. And when our lives are out of balance it’s often because we’re caught up in busywork that is out of synch with who we are.

I will write in here about my theory on this next week.

Cheerful Chic

I firmly believe that clothes can cheer a person up.

Imagine: using fashion to feel better. Or as a way to hide or camouflage ourselves. Like in business wearing a suit. Or dressing head-to-toe in black.

I noticed that H&M now has an area with 1980s type clothing. Very Goth. As if there is a resurrection of that era in fashion.

Step away. From those racks. No one should revisit a style she originally wore the first time around.

I have no desire to go back in time. The 1980s were memorialized in the Bowling for Soup song “1985” and also in my memoir.

If you had the chance, would you go back and do things differently? That’s an interesting question.

Fashion has evolved over the years. So this aspect of our lives allows us to do things differently right now.

I make the case for having a light hand with a makeup palette too. For deciding on the cusp of 50 (as I am) whether a certain look suits you or it’s time to change over to something else.

Shortly I will write a review of the style book Life in Color. The authors get it right about their 5 Style Types.

Fashion as therapy. Something to think about.