There’s No Better Time For Fairness

So I tuned into a few of Lynne McTaggart’s “Fairness Campaign” shows where she converses with many renowned life coaches and I have to say I was not only impressed, but felt a shift in my own perspective.
On the surface, McTaggart’s attempt at such a movement may seem like a new age idiom or a lost cause for hippies, but I found her conversations extremely relevant to the current state of humanity worldwide. Insights from Jack Canfield, Hale Dwoskin, Marci Shimoff and Michael Beckwith couldn’t be more perfectly timed.
One conversation that stood out to me was Marianne Williamson’s. She’s been around for a while and I was somewhat familiar with her overall general outlook on things as a result of reading random columns she’d written or occasionally spotting her on TV.
Williamson said something so obvious, yet poignant, yet often forgotten in the midst of havoc. “When there is imbalance, great or small, individual or collective, the Universe will seek to balance itself.” Of course, it may seem trivial, but entertain this statment. I won’t get into dissecting this it because, 1, I don’t feel it’s necessary, 2, this blog would go on forever, and 3, I don’t want to offend the doubters who often cause the unfairness of which McTaggart speaks.
I began to think about Williamson’s statement and understand how it applied to me. I consider myself to be pretty balanced and, for the most part, unaffected by distant matters. Then I realized, therein lies my problem. What do I define as “distant?” Why do I feel like matters outside of my immediate surroundings aren’t part or an extension of me? Why am I easily knocked off balance when someone I love is hurting or ill? When and where did I draw this proverbial line of what shouldn’t matter to me and what is worthy of knocking me off balance? And is anything at all truly worth my being out of balance? After all, I know that when I am out of balance, I am only half as useful to anyone or anything than when I feel completely secure.
This one tiny statement in this one isolated conversation greatly impacted me. So much so, that I now constantly ask myself – from the time I wake up to when I go to bed – “Is that worth rocking my foundation? Is there anything I can do to contribute to a good outcome? What can I do to make the best of this?”
Those three little questions have already changed the way I live my daily life. I hope to maintain this “check list” and its contribution of fairness to myself; I’ve already noticed the influence that my newfound energy has on those around me – close and far.
This is the last weekend to listen to Lynne McTaggart’s online Fairness Campaign Speaker Summit for free. The remaining speakers are Ivan Misner, Barbara Marx Hubbard and Jean Houston. It’s convenient and, most importantly, effortlessly mind opening. I suggest you check it out.

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New Music Series Offers Fan Favorites at Fan-Conscious Prices

UMe ICON Music Series

In a time where our environment, weather and economy seem to be compromising for us all, we like to turn to some form of affordable entertainment for distraction. Heaven knows the cost to see or rent a movie and buy music is only increasing.
Alas, Universal Music to the rescue! Available today is their new series of greatest hits compilations entitled ICON. Spanning from the early greats of Patsy Cline and Abba to KISS, Etta James, Janet, Erykah Badu and many, many more, there is something here for everyone that anyone can afford! Some artists in the series even have 2 discs comprising all their chart toppers. The best part is: Each CD is a pleasant trip back down memory lane for only $7.99! Oh, and in case you’re in need of a new ride, play the ICON Memory Game to win a brand new Vespa. Now, that’s Iconic!

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Expired Race Card

I was born and raised in a middle class, multi-race neighborhood in Philadelphia. Since infancy, I gravitated towards the black community. My late mother always said it was because the nurse who took care of me when I was born happened to be black. Like me, my mother was an equal opportunity lover, friend, co-worker who’d give the shirt off her back for anyone who needed it. And she did. I saw her do it at least once.

Growing up, the racism-related incidents I witnessed and even personally experienced were uncountable. Strangers and even schoolteachers harassed me for “hanging with the blacks.” My mother battled with my school to dispute an “F” we both knew I didn’t deserve on my report card. My mother won. I got my deserved “B” and, “More importantly,” my mother said, the teacher was “let go.”

As I got older, the racism continued. Depending on the circumstance, I felt it my responsibility to speak on my friends’ behalves so they wouldn’t be either verbally abused or further discriminated. I didn’t know whether doing so made any type of difference in retrospect, but I know undoubtedly my heart was in the right place in those moments. It was a place where I wanted to avoid a bigot making my friends shed more tears; A place where I could possibly protect them from the ignorance of others; A place where I wanted to assure them I loved them and we’d get through anything together. It was the same place where I felt utterly embarrassed to be part of the human race.

New experiences shed light and somewhat changed my perspective as I entered adulthood and traveled abroad. Although these experiences have been the catalyst for my acceptance of no longer being embarrassed to be human, I still find myself analyzing people in general and, more times than not, am convinced almost everyone has at least a little hypocrite inside them. It doesn’t have to be an obvious situation. It can be the way someone stands in line at the grocery store, the way they interact with their friends, what they choose to eat, read or watch on television.

The unfortunate part for me is I now realize my efforts – as one tiny individual in a very different time – made no difference at all. When I hear about things like the uproar over Angelina Jolie playing Cleopatra in a movie and Sandra Bullock adopting a child who happens to be black, it turns me into that same person I was decades ago. Except this time I WANT to represent white America: The place I never thought I’d want to be and of which, in fact, would’ve bet my life I’d never be part when it came to any race-related issue.

A Real Modern Family

While it’s no secret I am a serious fan of both Vanessa Williams and Halle Berry, I do think the role of Cleopatra is suited for a famous Egyptian actress. As for Sandra Bullock and her new baby, I want to look each black person in the face and shout, “Would you rather a baby stay in foster care and never know what love feels like? Would you really rather that child not have a guardian and provider because that guardian and provider is not black? Is your disapproval for interracial families stronger than your desire for the children of America to grow up in homes filled with love, laughter and support?”

What I once regarded as validated and justifiable frustration has, over time, spiraled into out-of-control irrationalism amongst the black community. These uproars are not about justice and equality. Oftentimes, they’re not about significant issues. They’re about trying to inflict guilt and revenge on generations of people who, like myself, would actually like to regard each individual with the same level of respect as any other; As a human being.

Outcries respected by key figures created platforms for black America to be rightly honored and recognized. But these same platforms divide America today. And ongoing uproars over which entertainers play which roles in which films and who’s adopting what color baby serve as the channel for modernized segregation. 14 decades after slavery was abolished.

This brings me to my journey through Europe, where a few acquaintances from Amsterdam asked, “Why does America have so many issues with skin color? In Amsterdam, we don’t identify people by their skin color. We’re all just Dutch.” Just Dutch. Wow. Even parts of Europe, widely known for starting slavery, have evolved to generally regarding everyone equally. Imagine that. In America. If for just one second.

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Thoroughly Enjoying Modern Humor

The Cast of Modern Family

Once in a while, if you’re lucky, along comes a TV show so entertaining and intriguing, you cannot fathom missing a segment let alone an entire episode. For me, this show is ABC’s Modern Family.

Modern Family is a staple in my weekly routine. It is only for this show that my anticipation will not allow me to do anything but stop whatever I am doing, sit down and watch it as it broadcasts.  Never via dvr.  That would be an insult to the creators. (Though I do record it in the event my excessive laughter results in my missing some dialogue.)

Modern Family is a perfect example of the old saying “It takes a village…”  Here we have phenomenal writers, an impeccable cast, identifiable yet infectiously humorous matters and an ideal timeslot.

In only its second season, I initially thought my favorite character was “Manny,” played by Rico Rodriguez.  That quickly shifted to “Phil” played by Ty Burrell, then I just couldn’t get enough of “Gloria” played by Sofia Vergara and “Cam” played by Eric Stonestreet.  Then I realized: It’s just impossible to have a favorite actor in this show.  And that’s OK!  This is not only because each actor is thoroughly enjoyable, but they are each critical to the overall “village.”  That is the very reason Modern Family is ABC’s most-watched telecast.

Another interesting facet for me, personally, is finding myself intentionally watching repeats for the first time in my life.  Outside of reading a great book twice, I’ve never felt like I was doing something for the first time after having actually done it already.  This show is just that thoroughly entertaining.

Sometimes it’s difficult to believe Modern Family is on the same network that didn’t know how to salvage Golden Globe Award-winning dramedy Ugly Betty.  Perhaps they’ll entertain the idea of some sort of spin-off with three-time Emmy nominee Vanessa Williams and her ever-so-entertaining onscreen sidekick Michael Urie?  The network would be foolish to let Williams get away.

Regardless, ABC gets major kudos from me – and apparently millions of American viewers – for getting it right with Modern Family.

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When Surgery Goes Wrong

I created this post for anyone who is considering surgery by thoracic surgeon Dr. Robert J. McKenna Jr. Dr. McKenna performed thoracic surgery on me at Cedar Sinai Hospital in Beverly Hills, CA.

Thoracic surgery is designed to take pressure off the nerves to the arm and can be achieved by removing the muscles that surround the nerves (scalene muscles), removing the first rib, or doing both.  In my case, Dr. McKenna concluded that my first rib needed to be removed to avoid the return of blood clots in my carotid artery.

Upon the completion of my procedure, I awoke to a completely paralyzed arm.  My family member and I immediately informed Dr. McKenna.  He was visibly shocked and proceeded to order a series of tests to figure out what went wrong.

After being discharged from the hospital, I continued to pursue my own neurological and nerve tests in hopes of determining the reason behind my paralysis. My neurologist discovered that a series of nerves (brachial plexus) had been nicked during my surgical procedure.

Obviously, I could not function properly with only one mobile arm and had to rely on friends and relatives to help with daily life such as walking the dog, cooking and cleaning. I endured great pain and could not sleep or work for weeks.

While I had many friends, relatives and even doctors advising me to file suit, the last thing I wanted was litigation.  I was already physically, mentally and emotionally spent.

After my neurologist determined the cause of my injury, I sought physical therapy several times a week to try to preserve whatever healthy nerves and tissue I had in the injured area.  I also began to seek acupuncture treatments and Chinese medicine from an acupuncturist and herbalist who had experience with brachial plexus injuries. I was under these treatments for five months before I started getting feeling back in my arm.

I made sure to inform Dr. McKenna’s office of my test results as they became available as well as the costly treatments I needed to determine if it was even possible to regain mobility of my injured arm.  Surprisingly, Dr. Robert J. McKenna Jr. and his staff were more concerned about the $3,000 my insurance company did not cover for the surgery he performed.  I knew then I had a bigger problem on my hands.

I immediately sought the help of my PCP who believed I had a case and referred me to several thoracic outlet surgeons in the area.  I provided them with copies of my post-op report and they each concluded my injury was a result of Dr. McKenna’s neglect. Two of the thoracic surgeons with whom I spoke (I’ve omitted their names from my blog to protect their identity at their request.) indicated that Dr. McKenna wrote in my post-op report that my “brachial plexus seemed to be relaxed,” so surgery proceeded.  They advised me to file suit immediately because a doctor should never proceed with an operation unless they are sure of something.  Apparently, Dr. McKenna’s choice of the word “seemed” indicated that he was anything but certain. The surgeons also explained that they could not personally testify for me as they know or know of Dr. McKenna. Interesting, no? I had to locate thoracic surgeons in another region of the country who would come to the same conclusion and be willing to testify.

After locating an attorney who would take my case, I’d already received extensive and costly physical therapy, transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation and acupuncture for over a year.  I was able to again lift my arm and move my fingers.

My attorney located a thoracic outlet surgeon/specialist in the midwest who concluded that, although Dr. McKenna did inflict injury and was responsible for nicking my nerves and causing the paralysis, it wasn’t “neglectful;” Therefore, he could not testify.  My attorney advised that unless I could secure the testimony of the two local thoracic surgeons, I wouldn’t have a strong malpractice case, making him reluctant to proceed.

To this day, my arm appears normal, but I cannot hold it above my shoulder for longer than four minutes nor can I lift anything more than 7 pounds above my shoulder.  I tend to have sporadic pain jolts down my forearm and tingling in my ring and pinky fingers as well.  Although I am extremely grateful to be able to again use my hand, my nerve injury – though not as drastic – is permanent and my functions are unfortunately very limited.

Unfortunately, I was forced to surrender to my injury and the neglect of Dr. McKenna. In fact, after recently informing him and his office that my arm functions are still significantly abnormal after all the tests and therapy I sought in an attempt to regain full mobility of my arm, he still demands I pay him that $3,000 my insurance didn’t cover.

The truth is, even if I owed him only $5.00, I would refuse to pay that $5.00 on principle.  I believe his reaction to and behavior towards my permanent injury is immoral.  I know what I’d do if I were in his shoes.  Do you?

So, if you’re reading this, I am glad you are doing your research. That is my purpose for sharing my story.  Please choose your surgeon wisely.  Don’t hire someone with a history of neglect and lack of morality.

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P!nk Empowerment

P!nk

Photo: Andrew MacPherson

Having worked closely with various recording artists in the music industry for half my lifetime has resulted in me being a fan of very few performers. If you know me, you’re probably already aware that there are no more than eight recording artists for whom I will purchase albums (on the actual day of release) and concert tickets. There are even fewer about whom I’ve been compelled to blog. However, I am proud to say that P!nk (or do I say, simply, “Pink”) is one of them.

More than a decade ago, when I was much more stubborn and particular (yes, that’s possible), I experienced P!nk’s first album by default, as my best friend loved it and used to bump it in the car ALL the time. Her unique voice, which I find powerful – not just because of her consistently evocative lyrical content, actually made me listen on a level I found thoroughly enjoyable. (I have this amazing ability to completely block out music I hate and take myself to a totally different zone. I like to call it “Projectile Elsewhere Living.”) So, from that point, I made an effort to not only listen to P!nk’s music, but also note anything I’ve heard about her from legitimate individuals in my professional circle.

What a relief to experience a successful young female artist who is not only deeply involved in each and every aspect of her career, but also continues to release stimulating music that is meaningful and, in my opinion, worth far more than any value that any record label can put on it.

Just when I thought the journey from Can’t Take Me Home to Try This to Missundaztood to I’m Not Dead couldn’t be any more ideal, I experienced P!nk’s live show and never looked at any recording artist the same. I could go into a review of her show here, but in all honesty, my extravagant yet accurate verbs and sparkling yet accurate descriptions won’t do her concerts justice. So I highly recommend anyone reading this catch her on her next tour. I promise you will be pleased. If not, I will personally reimburse each of you for the cost of your ticket.

This brings me to P!nk’s new album Funhouse. I pre-ordered it. In fact, it was only the fourth album I actually purchased this year. Don’t get me wrong… I like various music genres and have thousands of songs on my ipod, but I won’t buy an album if I believe the artist isn’t genuine. (Thank God for friends who buy albums for their sheer love for music, period.)

Anyway, I played Funhouse for the first time on my ipod while checking out of a hotel. The songs didn’t initially capture my attention the way those on I’m Not Dead did (most likely because I was disrespectfully jumping from a car to a shuttle to an airport check-in line while P!nk was generously extending her talents). But I listened again, without any interruption, once I boarded my six-hour flight. Then I listened again. And again. And again.

As with her previous albums, I appreciated feeling like P!nk invested herself on multiple levels to sincerely share with us a transition into another chapter of her life. The freeing of her deep-seated emotions combined with her usual, but most appreciated sarcasm were a vivid reminder as to why this chick is successful. She doesn’t seem to back down regardless what she encounters all the while unintentionally empowering her audience.

So, whether it’s a song to which you can sing, dance, workout, wallow, drink, nod, hi-five your best friend or virtually assault someone, P!nk naturally conveys messages applicable to anyone at any given time. But Funhouse took me to another level in my imaginary relationship with P!nk. I learned that not only do I adore her as an entertainer, but her selflessness has resulted in my utmost respect for her as a human being. She makes me proud. Proud to be a chick (who, like P!nk, also happens to be from Philly and in the music business)!

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John McCain – A Man of Equality and Family Values… Not!

I’ve always found politics amusing.  Unfortunately (or, perhaps, fortunately), I never had serious regard for them, thereby never investing significant time to reflect, comprehend, respond, object, gamble, etc., to whatever the goings on.  Until now.

Since McCain announced Sarah Palin as his running mate last week, I’ve had a good amount of time to marinate in the insult I experienced from his obviously calculating, manipulative decision to attempt to get Clinton voters and unsettled Democrats to jump the fence.  In response, I’ve asked myself many questions – rhetorical and literal…

  1. Who the hell is she…. Really?
  2. Are our American women so naive to not see that Palin (and all of her “controversies”) is McCain’s token nominee who will “prove” that McCain believes in “equality?”
  3. Do American people not see that this nomination is McCain’s self-serving, pathetic attempt to market himself as the quintessential “family values” man?
  4. Out of curiosity, did Palin not properly inform her juvenile daughter about birth control, abstinence, etc.? Being Palin’s an extreme conservative/anti-abortionist and all…
  5. Does seventeen-year-old Bristol really want to marry her “baby’s daddy” and is doing so really her “choice?”
  6. Does Palin care about Bristol’s privacy?  I mean, hell, if the media can make a three-week saga out of Janet Jackson’s breast, the Alaskan governor knew her family festivities were plentiful for launching a 24-hour Palin Reality Network.

I’d like to point out that McCain’s choice of Palin (a woman with no views on foreign policy), is counterproductive to his “Barack Obama is inexperienced” movement. And Palin’s choice to exploit her daughter is just as self-serving as McCain’s decision to select her as his running mate.

The irony in all of this is that I, personally, didn’t think it could get any worse with George Dubya out of the Oval Office.  However, Palin, not Clinton – a woman who is undoubtedly capable of being president, could actually be the first woman in the Oval Office. I mean, hello!!! McCain is a whopping 72 years old!

Who knows? Maybe some Americans will actually trust that McCain does believe in equality because of this stunt.  And those same people wlll view Palin’s ruthless disregard for her daughter’s privacy as a heroic “Hey, when duty calls!”

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