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New York Magic

Sharing my New York


People and places

Going to Los Angeles very early tomorrow morning. I am going mostly for meetings but there is going to be some down time. A well-meaning friend emails me a list of “must-dos”. Meh. When I travel I am much more interested in the “who” rather than in the “where”. I have added so many new interesting people to my LA contacts in the past year that spending time with them and seeing LA through their lens is a higher priority than hitting top tourist spots there. When you travel, do you” do the tourist thing” or do you use the time to grow your world? Do you return not simply with pictures of places but with memories of wonderful new friends, and even colorful strangers?


Social in the Key of Real

Are you really paying attention to your “friends” on FB? I drastically changed my appearance this weekend. Saw 3 FB friends early AM yesterday. 1 had already sent me a text: Can’t wait to see it person [this person “gets it”]; 1 stood next to me and did not even know I was there. It was eerie. [this person clearly hides my feed – which sadly means I don’t produce content relevant to them]; 1 said good morning as usual and added: I guess I don’t see you in person often enough because it doesn’t shock me and anyway I already saw you on FB. [this person forgot the “social” in social media.] A fourth FB friend called me on the phone last night to talk about it after commenting on FB on Sunday [engagement and followup — wow — and the only one of the 4 NOT involved with social media nor marketing.] We all have so much to learn. Most of the “training” we need in social media/marketing can be found “in real life”.


Are pageants ‘worth it’ ? — Someone asked

Pageants can be costly, yes. (Learning to be a frugal pageant queen can be very valuable in life!) But to ask whether pageants are ‘worth it’ is to ask whether any hobby or sport is ‘worth it’. Whether you are talking about collecting figurines, little le…ague, golfing, basketweaving, or pageantry, there is value in participating in what fulfills you that goes beyond any dollar amount. Pageants can help you stretch beyond your comfort zone, help you work on your public speaking skills, foster performing talents, or beef up your community service resume. There are as many reasons to be in a pageant as there are contestants. Some pageants are more expensive than others. Some are free to participate, such as the Miss America Organization pageants. No one should invest more into anything than what you are either willing to ‘lose’ or what it is worth to you. That amount is personal. I have had children in pageants and have myself, as a plus-sized adult woman, participated in them. For the most part, the experience has been both positive and powerful and I am grateful to have been able to do so. I can’t wait until I am 59-1/2 so I can qualify for the Ms. Senior America Pageant. You don’t know how powerful you can be when you take a simple tiara and turn it into an inspiration for the world to savor.

Ms Senior America 2010

The Women of Ms. Senior America


Sometimes ‘good luck’ is cleverly disguised as ‘creative chutzpah’

Sometimes “good luck” is cleverly disguised as “creative chutzpah”. Below are a few takeaways from recent life lessons that tweaked my comfort zone. Enjoy.

Don’t be afraid to ask — you are one “yes” away from success and one “no” away from the truth.  People often compliment me on having “balls”.  Lovely.  I am that “kid” who always gets sent in to ask the parents for permission or the boss for a new water cooler. My favorite “ask” was the day I asked my way onto the “red carpet” at an awards show. (No, I did not sneak in.) Walking in next to people whose creativity and amazing talents I greatly admire, more than made up for any of the pain associated with the initial question.  What do you want to ask for today? A move to a new city? A promotion? A meeting with a mentor? Unless the question itself will bring you physical, emotional or economical harm, go ahead. If they say no, then you can quickly determine your next move — and your next ask.

“Work” your life, don’t wait to be in a “room” —  With so much information about everyone in our networks so readily available, it’s easy to walk into a room full of “friends”. While I strongly advocate “working a room before you get to a room” —- leave room (pun intended) for a few surprises — read: opportunities.  Recently, I was at an event where I knew ONE person of 50  —  and had NO advance way to create a “target list”.  I walked up to people there and simply said, “Hello, tonight, I am talking to strangers,” and asked them about themselves. (Only a couple walked away, which was the really amazing part.) I ended up with three new life-altering contacts.  Yes, I was “lucky”. Who are the “opportunities” you see very day? That woman in the elevator with the cool shoes? Your banker? A friend of a friend of a friend who recently went viral on YouTube? Go ahead. Say hello. Just don’t “poke” them please. That’s so IE6. 

Add value beyond cash —  You don’t need money, you just need to want to make a difference.  A local chapter of a professional organization did not have the funds to fly in a very talented speaker. A single mother of two, I could not simply volunteer to donate roundtrip airfare at a moment’s notice. However, I really wanted to help and, selfishly, I really wanted to hear this speaker. So, I offered my frequent flyer miles. The speaker flew in and spoke. She is now a trusted contact  and a deep source of inspiration. No cash to contribute? Give time, miles,  business skills, or babysitting a colleague needs to  launch her startup.  Use your “powers” (gifts, talents) for good!

Prepare for the fairytale ending — if you are going to the ball, bring a spare pair of glass slippers. Back to the awards show. The night before, a very special reception is held. I had asked to participate, even if it meant being a volunteer. (Good) I did not plan to attend because it was such a long shot. (Bad) I planned a quiet evening with friends instead. (Sweet)  Later, when checking calls, I hear the dreaded, “Where are you??,” from a frantic colleague. “I am waiting for you.”  Where was she? At the pre-awards shindig, of course. (Ouch)  When working on a project, do you work with the full expectation that you are going to win? Try it. Plan for it.  If you are wrong, you are likely to  end up with one heck of a good “second chance”.

I look forward to reading your “real life”  “creative chutzpah” tales.   

Bless you, @SisterMary


The Joy of Failure

I gained 2 pounds since my last weigh in seven days ago. Previously this would be categorized as a #fail. An epic #fail given the amount of time, heart and money I have spent on my weight loss goal. However, what happens after we “fail” is just as important as the fact that we did, even more so. Today, approximately 127 seconds after stepping off the scale I was sitting in  a contraption reminiscent of medieval times pressing more weight than I had thought humanly possible without your uterus falling out between your legs and onto the gym floor. A short time after that, I listened to the counsel of a maniac (or angel) celverly disguised as a trainer who then had me push a 45-pound-weight-in-a-box “toy” down what seemed to be an 1000-foot-long hallway. And so on. I failed at continuing to lose weight. I failed at not gaining weight lost. But today, ultimately, the victory was mine. Today, faced with failure I did not stop to CONTINUE to fail. I went in the other direction. I listed and recognized some things that needed to change and moved on — literally.  It’s OK to fail. It’s not OK to give yourself permission to BE a failure.

Bless you, @SisterMary

SisterMary and Trainer Kenneth Yim in May 2011

SisterMary in December 2010 Posing for Pageant Photos


When Life Gives You “Pause”….

Approximately 45 days from today, assuming I survive, I will reach a quirky little milestone called menopause: by definition, the 12th month after a final menstruation. A harsh and bloody farewell to fertility. No more eggs. No longer the possibility of humans emerging from my body.

Been there. Done two.

Should I look forward to this final phase of my life? Or should this be a time for, well, “pausing”. A dressed rehearsal for the inevitable pause that is death.

It seems that I am indeed, much to my surprise and perhaps because I am now faced with my own fading, an optimistic contrarian. Instead of pausing, I want to hit Fast Forward, Full Steam Ahead, Warp Drive.

“Pausing” does not excite me. Movement does. 

I have always been seduced by movement: whether those of the quick-firing neurons residing in deliciously smart boys or those of gently flowing but equally strong ballerinas. So, after putting away the paraphernalia of fertility, and shedding the palpable thoughts of old loves, I booked a one-way ticket to a new me. In March, I moved from the ever sensual Sunshine State to rough-around-the-edges Hell’s Kitchen, New York City’s Upper West Side.

The set for my new adventure comes complete with:

  • An apartment the size of a large designer handbag and equally as overpriced
  • An evil fitness trainer who has my body hurting in ways my exes never could and to the delight of my aging doctors is rescuing me from a lifetime of poor culinary decisions
  • Uber techie buddies who have no qualms about pointing out my online snafus but never ever hesitate to inspire, educate and retweet
  • A landlady who “does lunch” with the Dalai Lama
  • Real-life angels who gave me quick NYC survival lessons upon arrival: never stop walking; when it’s 3 a.m., it’s still New York City, no matter what you saw on Sex And the City; don’t wear heels in the snow (I really did this. Yeah.)

The overarching theme is to turn my “impossible” into “possible”:

  • Lose 100 lbs (Already said goodbye to 50) 
  • Give a TED talk (OK, several TED talks)
  • Using social media, implement a self-esteem program for young women (communications is both my passion and livelihood)
  • Finish that book (I promise you will love the part about the former pastor and the Las Vegas strip club)
  • Learn to sing well (there’s only so much that good drama can do for a bad voice)
  • Win another pageant (yes, you read that correctly; I love shiny things)
  • Make new friends (the kind you share a cigar with, not simply click on)
  • And yes, fall in love again (perhaps I should renew my JDate membership sooner rather than later)

I can’t do this alone. Join me. Share your journey. Inspire me. Challenge me. Keep me honest. And, if you know a nice single “creatively young” man, ping me.

Bless you, @SisterMary