I used to kick ass

I have a confession.

Once upon a time, before all “this”-

…back in the days that felt most muchless to me, when I’d stopped thinking or caring about myself, when I’d given up on the entrepreneurial dreams I’d held since childhood, when I rode the bus exhausted to work day in and day out, wondering what had happened to the excited and colorful girl I’d used to be. …back in the days when I felt so blessed to have an amazing husband and to be a new mom of my first beautiful healthy daughter, and didn’t really believe I had a “right” to ask for more.
…back in those days when I wore my attitude on my sleeve, when cynicism and snarkiness were defenses I wore to keep my insecurities at bay….
…back in those days, I was also pretty fierce.

I was working as the art director at a clothing and accessory company. I’d built the business basically with the owner, starting as the only design or production employee in a company of 3 people, (myself and the boss included.)

I was on the ball.

I made shit happen.

I had an idea and I could execute it, knowing all the answers before the questions were even asked.

I created stuff and stored mountains of detailed information neatly and precisely in my head. My boss could wake me from a coma-like sleep at 3am, ask me about the velour pajama pants that were made 3 months ago by such and such factory in china and I could spit the details out to him as though they were the names of my children.

Together with my former boss, who himself was a very creative man, I built that design and production room into a team of amazing creative people. I taught my team members how to do things, and how to do things smarter and quicker than anyone else could teach them. I taught them how to think about products more intelligently. I taught them how to come to work with a positive attitude and a strong work ethic because we were all working towards a common goal, and that was to make stuff that we could be proud of. And I loved it, and was really, really good at it.

And then, everything changed. My babies died, and with them, every ounce of strength in my body. There is simply no way to hold yourself up when the bones in your body can’t even stop you from melting into a puddle on the floor.

8 weeks after they died my boss pulled me aside and told me I was carrying a lot of anger. I needed to let it go and get back to work. He said my loss was a result of doing something that pissed God off, but now we were “square” again and so I could get back to business.

I stared at him, willing myself not to cry, yet somehow afraid I’d burst into laughter.

I then dismissed the entire conversation as something that had absolutely no significance to my life whatsoever. He was a man. A man who had no idea what he was talking about and saw the world in an entirely different way than I did.

Three years later I finally left that job. It was hard. I felt like I’d  built what was now something like a $250,000,000 company. I’d imagined being there for a long, long time. It was like family (dysfunction and all) I made a great salary. I worked 27 hours a week. I had great insurance.

But I couldn’t stay.

I’d changed and I needed to honor the person I was becoming.

I remember a conversation I had with my boss shortly before I pulled the trigger. He told me I’d gotten soft. He said I used to be so incredible. That I was worth the salary of two people (which some may suggest I was earning) because even at part time (I left at 3:15PM and didn’t work fridays) I was able to accomplish more than two other people would be able to accomplish working full time. He said I owned that town (The NYC Garment District, an industry I grew up in) He said they just don’t make them like me anymore.

But I wasn’t incredible anymore. For years I’d been less than incredible. I’d been lazy, distracted and unreliable.

And part of me knew he was right. Another part of me, the part connected to my face, told him to go screw himself. (We had that kind of relationship. It was like a marriage. Except I got no alimony)

The truth is I couldn’t do it anymore. I couldn’t deal with the pace, the details. I couldn’t care less about a pair of velour pants that were being made in China and sold to the lowest bidder when my babies were dead and staying optimistic and sharing my happy shoes on social media and making other sad women happy was the only way I could get through the day.

It’s been almost 4.5 years since they died. I miss the part of me that kicked ass like that. The me that was focussed and detailed. The one that knew the answers and made quick, smart, confident decisions. The one that could look at a to-do list of 25 things and know that I could cross them all off by 3:15 and remember exactly what I had accomplished that day.

Now I feel lucky if I get 3 things done and swiped off my list…. and that’s often only if I can even find my effing list.

Even at my most Muchless I suppose there was some level of Muchness in me. Muchness of a different kind.

I miss my bad-assness. I want it back- just a hell of a lot muchier. I think it’s time for the best of all of the “me’s” to hit the ground running and do what I was put here to do.


What parts of you do you miss? The good parts that were hiding in the background of the bad parts, or maybe even the bad parts that were hiding in the good parts? I don’t know. Us people, we’re pretty complex, ya know?

Love your body, even if your boobs hit your belly button.

This conversation happened today between myself and two friends on my facebook wall and I knew I needed to share it here so it doesn’t disappear into the oblivion of Facebook. Every woman needs to read Dennel’s words. EVERY WOMAN. Dennel is a home healthcare worker.  I made her words into a graphic. Please share it. On your wall, with your friends, with your friends friends…

Christina: College was when i was my muchiest!

Tova Muchness Gold:  Me too!! I talk about that in my talks at empowerment events.

Christina:  i feel like marriage and kids are muchness thieves. You can be selfish when you are single. It’s really, really hard to feel hot when your daily routine involves wiping someone else’s butt.

Tova Muchness Gold: Do it in heels Christina. And ask Dennel about that. She does that for strangers. In shiny pants. Anything is possible!!

Dennel Link-Pickering: Totally I do. The other day I caught vomit in my hand. Not my vomit. While wearing sequins. All in a days work.  the truth is, Christina, when you’re wiping someone’s butt, it’s all the more important to feel pretty. Gets you though it. If you have a bridesmaid dress hanging in the closet, wear it on your next day at home while you clean the house, do the laundry, take care of Chase. You’ll soon start humming cinderella tunes and twirling. Guarantee it. 

Christina: that’s awesome. i did buy a lot of new clothes over the holidays, bright colors and sequins. i need to get off more weight though.

Dennel Link-Pickering: Ha. That sounds good in theory. Not so easy to do. Truth is, try and lose wait, but love your body as it is in each stage. I would like to lose weight too. Need to start going back to the gym. But I need to feel pretty no matter what size my body. Brooke told me my jiggly belly was gross. I told her that I am proud of that jiggly belly. It grew 6 people in there. Now she asks to jiggle it and tells me she was the first one to live in there. You could be a whole lot fatter. Perk to my job is that I see all sorts of people naked and every body is beautiful. Even when your boobs sag to your waistline. Even after shoulder surgery, hip surgery, knee surgery, c sections, etc. bodies tell a story. Every body has been through something, something unique. Your body has grown two beautiful boys. Your body has comforted you through the loss of your baby, through fights with friends, relatives, lovers. Your body has given you pleasure (won’t elaborate on that one ha ha). And your body allows you to get out of bed and wipe that little guys butt. No one has a body exactly like yours. And some would love to have your body, I took care of a woman my age in a wheel chair with a degenerative, fatal disease. Her body couldn’t walk, barely talk, and has difficulty breathing. Kinda outs it into perspective. So. Long winded story, love your body exactly as it is. Show off your curves and love your boobs that haven’t made it to your belly button yet. Love it enough to try to get it in better shape, but love it for the shape it’s in too

Tova Muchness Gold:  Dennel- I love love love this so so much and I am going to make it a graphic and spread it far and wide. I’m like, crying. You’re amazing. And you too Christina!! Xoxox

Dennel Link-Pickering:  thanks, Tova! That would be awesome!


Muchness mind-shift: Turning a crap day into something amazing.

Back some time ago, in May of this year, I think, Elie and I packed up the kids in the car and headed to Brooklyn to see some friends. It was one of those days when everything just was not working. When the moments just feel out of sync with each other. The kids were moody, we were disorganized, running late and  the day carried with it that unease where everything that was spoken never felt like it landed anywhere.

Finally, we got our acts together just enough to get into the car, buckle in the kids and get the heck out of the house.

We hit the road and almost immediately hit traffic. Unless I am on the way to the airport, in which case traffic can cause me to hyperventilate, I’m never really that bothered by it. We kept going assuming it would let up, and as we inched slowly passed the last exit before the bridge, Elie asked me one last time if I was SURE I wanted to go ALL the way to Brooklyn fighting this traffic with the kids in the back seat, who by now were whining for snacks and potty breaks.

I insisted. I really wanted to see my friend and I really like spending a sunny day in Brooklyn.

We went through the toll, which these days costs as much as dinner for two at a crappy restaurant, and continued inching across the bridge.

I realized this traffic was probably going to get worse in Manhattan before it got better. I realized that it was entirely possible we were going to spend 3 hours in the car. I realized I should have listened to Elie.

And so, I told him we should turn around.

He was not happy.

I was not happy.

The kids were not happy.

So far, pretty good day, right?

I pulled out my phone and said I would find something for us to do in New Jersey. Because that plan would have been too easy 45 minutes and $12 ago. 

I saw that there was an arts and kids street festival in Hoboken, which is a town situated between where we were and where we live.

The last time I was in Hoboken was in college. Back then it was a party town filled with bars frat boys and sorority girls. The kind of folks that went on booze cruises and grew up to become stock brokers and dentists. At least that’s the way I categorized it. The artists I related to moved to Brooklyn and grew up to become… I have no idea what.

Turns out, Hoboken has grown up too. It’s now filled with strollers and families and arts and culture and all sorts of things that I like.

We walked through the street fair, each of us in our own little world. Elie was aggravated that I had made us go all the way into the city before coming to the conclusion that he had been right all along. I was annoyed that all he wanted me to do was admit that he had been right all along. The kids were hungry.

I decided that I was going to adjust my mind-set about the day and redirect my energy into looking for the “Why.” I concluded there was a reason we ended up here- a place we never would have ended up, if the day hadn’t started out so crappy. And if there wasn’t a reason, I was going to create one, dammit!

So I slapped a forced smile on my face, bought us all some street-roasted corn on the cob and started looking for the Why.

And there it was.

At the time I was in the middle of a speech writing course from KC Baker. She teaches women how to write & deliver the talks of their lives. I’d won a scholarship to the course and was so filled with gratitude to be in it.

The Holy grail of public speaking for many people is TED.

Ted talks are a worldwide non-profit devoted to giving people a stage to present their Ideas Worth Spreading. Giving a TED or TedX talk is a huge honor. (TedX are local events sponsored by the TED organization.)

So, right there, in the middle of the crowd were two dudes standing near a table wearing TedXHoboken T-shirts.

I was like- “Dude! That’s it! That’s why I’m here. Got it.”

I shoved all my natural shyness aside (yes- that exists) and walked up to them to ask them about the event. The invited me to attend as an audience member. I replied, “Oh- actually, I want to speak.”

I’m pretty sure that’s not how these things usually happen.

They suggested I contact the organizer of the event, but chances are pretty definitive that that was not going to happen.

I contacted her anyway. I needed to prove my Muchness Theory right- that when we look for the opportunity in every moment, we give ourselves the potential to create them. I also needed to justify the $12 I spent on a toll to go nowhere.

And I did. I proved my theory right.

When the event happened in June I was called up from the audience to share the Muchness in 60 seconds or less. And I did. And it was AMAZING.

Screen Shot 2013-08-10 at 11.06.18 PM

It is those 50 seconds (I came in under the limit!) that let me know, in no uncertain terms, that public speaking is meant to be a part of this journey for me. It rekindled a part of my Muchness that has, for so, so, so long gone underground. The last time I stood in front of a room full of people and spoke was when I played the tin-man in my seventh grade play.  I didn’t even speak at my wedding. But those 50 seconds made me realize that in some ways, the things that fuel our Muchness the most are the ones we stay farthest away from, for fear  of doing it wrong or not meeting our own, or other people’s, expectations. I didn’t even know I wanted to do any kind of public speaking. I would have said, if asked, that it was totally, totally something I had no interest in, and I believed that was the truth.

But not anymore.

I’ve spoken a number of times since then, at a B.I.G Womens Business and Personal empowerment meeting and, most recently, at a remembrance walk for babies gone too soon.

And then yesterday, I got an email that had me bouncing off the ceiling.

The organizer of the TedXHoboken talk is taking on a new project. TedXHobokenWomen.

“This may be your lucky day!” she wrote and included a formal invitation to give an actual TedX talk!! (Look! I’m even on the speakers page– next to some overwhelmingly impressive women!!)

Despite sitting still long enough to write this all-together too-long blog post, I am still bouncing off the ceiling.

I think the most important lesson I want to hold onto and share with you is this:

Wait- there’s two.

1- In every moment we make a choice to lean into the crap of our moment or look for the possibility that exists there. It’s really easier to lean into the crap. At least a lot of the time. Sometimes if feels like not leaning into the crap is almost like trying to defy the pull of gravity. Do it anyway. You can. Even just a little bit at a time.

2- You don’t have believe everything you think. I actually saw this on a bumper sticker the other day while driving and got this awesome shot while stopped at a red light:

Screen Shot 2013-10-25 at 11.18.20 AM

I totally had no intention of adding this pic to this post but look how well it fits! For years I told myself I had no interest in public speaking, and I believed me! Yuck. That was a lie that somehow grew into a false reality. Now that I realize this totally happens, my mind is racing with all the potential stuff I could be doing and loving if I wasn’t so busy lying to myself all the time.

Next up, I’m pretty sure I wanna try the trapeze.

Screen Shot 2013-10-25 at 11.35.13 AM


Why I’m wearing my maternity clothes again…

Yesterday I went into manhattan to meet, for the first time, an online friend who was instrumental in my Muchness journey. If you watched my speech last week, I mentioned her- the woman who let me know she had an event that she didn’t want to go to so she bought herself a sparkly headband and it made it just a little bit better. That was the day I thought to myself “Oh! You mean this sparkle thing works on other people also?” And my brain started whirling with the possibilities.

I was picking my outfit yesterday morning and felt drawn back to those early Muchness making days, and pulled this sequins shirt from my maternity clothes bin.

Screen Shot 2013-10-15 at 11.42.03 AM

It’s actually a plus size tank top from target that, when I first saw it in the store, I was intimidated by its loudness and thought it was beyond tacky.  (Of course, I never claimed not to appreciate a good dose of tacky with my muchness … on occasion.  And yes- I realize my perspective on “tacky” is highly subjective…) Anyway, it made me smile, So I bought it. To test my boundaries and push my comfort zones. Because that was the kinda mood I was in.  I was about 6 months pregnant with liat the first time I wore it. I felt a bit shy and loud but I wore it anyway. I stepped into the elevator in my dreary office building and a bunch of dreary office workers looked up at the sparkling pregnant disco queen (this was technically pre-Muchness)  that had just stepped on the elevator. One dude made a joke about how I should spin in circles and turn the elevator into a mini disco party and we all laughed and by the time the elevator hit the ground floor, the dreariness had lifted.
That was when I first understood  how it felt to know you had brightened someone’s day just by showing up in their world. When I knew that doing that could immeasurably brighten your own day.

I hope you all have an opportunity to brighten someone’s day just by showing up in it.


This is me and my beautiful friend Dana yesterday in front of Freedom Tower in downtown manhattan.

What an amazing, gratitude filled day.

Talking to babyloss parents about their joy (a video)

What an amazing weekend. For almost a year I have been looking forward to speaking at Forever In Our Hearts- a baby loss memorial walk in Wisconsin. It was such a thrill to be asked and I worked on my speech for months and months leading up to the event. And then, a week before I was set to fly- I trashed everything I’d written and started from scratch. I knew that to be impactful and also not completly freeze up in fear, I’d have to talk from my heart. I’d have to figure out and organize the thoughts and beliefs and experiences I wanted to share and then I just had to get up there – let my girls guide me- and share them.
And I think that’s what I did.

I poured my heart into it and I’d love if you would take a few minutes and watch my talk.

I was so grateful for this opportunity and afterwards, so many people came up and thanked me.
Thanked me.
One woman thanked me for giving her permission to find joy.
Nobody needs my permission. It’s inside of you. 

Another thanked me for reminding her its ok to bring light back into her home.
Friends, it’s OK. That’s where the light SHOULD be. 

And others asked me how.
How do you start?

How do you start to see the moments of light when they’re trapped in and filled with the murkiness and weight of grief?

And I told them-
it’s when we are trapped in the utter darkness that the tiniest little spark gives off the most light.
If you’re looking for a glorious sunrise in the middle of a star-less night, you will continue to be disappointed by the darkness.


Instead, search for the tiniest little star and move towards it. As you get closer, you’ll realize it’s bigger than you thought, and surrounded by many other little stars you couldn’t see before. Keep exploring those tiny little stars. You may not find the sunset you thought you were seeking, but you may just discover the light and beauty of a moon you didn’t know was there.

What spirit and funk have you lost sight of over the years?

As my kids sat at the local pool eating their dinner in the picnic area, this woman at another table kept eyeing me. She had a smile on her face so I smiled back but I was pretty darned sure I’d never seen her in my life.

…I just reread that opening line and it sounds a bit like the beginning of a sleezy porn, and this story is anything but, so please bear with me.

As we finished up dinner, she walked over to me and said that she was pretty sure we went to high school or college together. We did. She was two grades behind me in High School.

“I just have to tell you,” she began “that we didn’t know each other, I just remember your face and that you are really spirited and funky, and it made me so happy to see that with your pink hair and colorful outfit, you still are.”

I was speechless. I almost wanted to cry. I probably should have hugged her. I told her she had no idea how much it meant to hear that. That I didn’t spend the last 20 years being all “spirited and funky.” That my spirit and funkiness – my creative and personal confidence -AKA: My Muchness- went on hiatus for many, many years in the middle there and I am on a journey to get them back.

I believe that everyone is put down onto this earth with a  purpose. The majority of people who agree with that statement go through life searching for theirs. I believe, at our core, stripped away from all the judgement and perceived social appropriateness and various levels of insecurity, we are already so much more aware of what we’re here to do and be than we allow ourselves to acknowledge or see.  We slowly, over days and weeks and months and years,  lose sight of the things that draw us closer to ourselves, our strengths and joys.

For me, reconnecting on a surface level with my “spirit and funkiness” has drawn me a lot closer to my purpose and the reason I was put on this planet.


Me—-> at the pool. 🙂

What is your true nature? What is it that lives inside you that feels like home and the easiest, most honest expression of you your youist you?

How does your Facebook Face compare?

I have a picture of my family that I wanted to post on Facebook tonight but I hesitated. A lot. Something inside me kept gnawing at my gut telling me not to post it, and I couldn’t figure out what it is.

And then, I was on facebook, reading through my feed and I saw a post on a page from a baby loss mom, and it read, in part: “I have a confession to make. Today I had a really horrible, horrific, really bad day. Today my husband had to do EVERYTHING with our kids because I couldn’t get out of bed, because I couldn’t stop sobbing all. day. long…. and yes, even five years later, they {days of unstoppable tears} still happen to me, and they still knock the shit out of me….So when (or if) you’re ever fed up with everyone’s seemingly peppy, perfect Facebook versions of their lives, please drop by here to remind yourself that someone else in the world is living real life, a really hard life, and is desperately trying to make the best damn lemonade possible out of rotting lemons.”

I cried as I read the post, because I can relate. and though haven’t had one of those days in a long, long time, sometimes I think I need one, want one- but I don’t take one. – Actually, that’s not true. I took one a few months back, and it was the best use of a day I could imagine.  Those darkest days of grief are the ones that teach me to allow myself to just be. Be who I am. Be where I am. Living in the present and accepting my feelings for whatever they are- the good, the bad, the ugly.

I remember, clearly, scrolling through facebook and reading those posts from people with their “peppy, perfect facebook versions of their lives.” Honestly, it annoyed the living shit out of me. I’d go through my feed and want to physically kick people who looked all happy and blissfully ignorant of the pain and torment that others’ were simultaneously experiencing. I blocked people from my feed when their messages were too cheerful. I blocked them when their pregnancy pictures became unbearable. I responded bitterly when they posted about God and how great and amazing and loving he is, and then I blocked those people too.

All that crap just made me feel worse.

There were days I wanted to reach through the computer screen and scratch peoples eyes out …I’m just keeping it real, Yo. 

But here I am, four years later. Posting cheerful shit on facebook.

Sometimes I worry that what I post, my little Muchness Moments, which are intended to bring a smile to someone’s face, are actually breaking someone’s heart. I worry that my cheerful positivity is annoying the shit out of someone who has every right to be sitting in their pain and self-pity.

But the fact is, finding those little moments and sharing them, that is my version of making lemonade out of rotting lemons. And sharing it with other people, that just makes the good stuff better.

life gave me lemons shoes

What I realized is that I didn’t want to post that picture of my family and worry that a “peppy perfect facebook version of my life” would mislead someone into thinking that my life is so perfect, or that it’s not “real” or that it’s not hard. I didn’t want to make someone else feel bad- or worse- about their life, just by posting a picture of mine. And so despite wanting to share the picture, I didn’t post it.

(Sidenote: I’d also like to think that life doesn’t HAVE to be “hard” to be meaningful. That seems to be a pre-requisite of sorts- like one should have to apologize for NOT having it too hard…. hmmm… I think I definitely fall into that trap… maybe a post for another day…)

I’m still not sure if that was the “right” move or not. Part of me feels sad that I feel that way and the other part of me is grateful for the empathy I now have to understand that perspective.

I just want to tell you that no matter what you see on facebook, or what you believe you see there, your world is just as beautiful- sometimes beauty just hides in the shadows.  Everyone struggles and everyone has their own plight to get through. It is easy to sit back and draw conclusions about other people based in the snippits they share publicly. Be where you are and focus on your blessings and small joys. That’s the way to find your own Muchness Moments… and never compare your insides to anyone else’s outsides.

It just doesn’t do anybody any good.

I’m curious: How Does Your Facebook Face compare to your reality?  Do you think you share the good, the bad and the ugly, or do you paint a picture very different from your actual life? 


How are you using your TODAY?

My great uncle died one morning last week. That afternoon they buried him. Jewish tradition has you bury the deceased as soon as possible after they pass. They don’t dilly-dally. Chick-chock.

This uncle was the brother of the grandfather I mentioned here, and the son of the great-grandmother I mentioned here. (Who apparently, was totally obsessed with sparkly clothing. Go figure.) My grandfather is one of nine siblings and this was the youngest. He was just a baby when his family was brought to the concentration camps in Nazi Germany and it’s a true miracle that he, or any of them, survived.

I remember being a little kid and going to his house. There was a pool and a lake where some of my cousins would go fishing, but I never did that because the worms were so gross. I was heartbroken to hear he’d died, He was a funny, big hearted guy who loved to smile. One of my first thoughts after hearing he’d passed was “He knew about the twins so now they’ve got yet another amazing person to look out for them.” (How I manage to make this about me might be a little disturbing, or at the very least self-indulgent, I know, but I’m just being honest- that thought crossed my mind.) 

Anyway, we were at the cemetery early and I found myself wandering through a section with really, really old headstones. Some of them were 200 years old. 200 years!! It’s amazing that somehow we have found enough land upon which to bury all the bodies of all the people that want to be buried and that there are not graves like, everywhere you step. I mean, logistically, how does that work? When do they run out of space to put these people? It boggles my mind.

But back to my point. I was looking at the headstones from 150 / 200 years ago and I was surprised to see how many of them wrote out how long the person lived for.

You might be confused by that sentence, after all, basically every headstone shares the dates of the person’s birth and death, right? Why would I be surprised by that?

But that’s not what the oldest headstones said. They actually shared the number of years, months and days that the person lived. Look:

Screen Shot 2013-08-06 at 11.56.34 PM

John Cooper died on March 6th, 1883. He walked this earth for 67 years, 10 months and 6 days.

Peter Foushay died on February 25th, 1815. He walked this earth for 45 years and 2 days.

Peter Foushay died on February 25th, 1815. He walked this earth for 45 years and 2 days.

There will come a day when each of us has had our fill of days when we are blessed to walk this earth. When you see it, like that, engraved in stone- stone that has sat in it’s place for 200 years it really hits home.

Every day is a gift. Every day is an opportunity. Every day is one day closer to our last day. When my day comes I want to know that I LIVED those days. 

There is something about marking time on the gravestone in that way that I really do love. Defining our time in the number of years and months and days spent here, on this earth, in this body, somehow it makes it feel like it’s just part of a longer, infinite, beautiful journey. A life, not defined by the dates on a calendar but defined by the time spent living it. 

When your time comes, will you want to look back on the amount of time you lived, or look back on how you lived in the amount of time you had?

Do you ask permission to be you?

At the local pool recently, a young girl of about 9 or 10 started chatting with my five year old daughter, Molly. They were both wearing cornrows in their hair and the girl mentioned it excitedly to her mom.

Then she set her sights on me and said “I like your pink hair.”

“Thank You!” I replied. I get that compliment a lot…. usually at daycare and around other random people’s children. 🙂

The mom turned to me and said “She has a friend who is always talking about wanting to dye her hair pink.” and then the daughter interjected “yeah, but her mom won’t let her.”

So I said “Yup, well, being able to dye your hair pink is just one of the perks of being a mom!”

and the mom looked at me funny…so I continued “…without having to ask permission.”

And she still looked at me funny, and we parted ways.

And then I started thinking about it. Seriously, as adults, we (generally) shouldn’t have to ask permission to do the stuff that we may have wanted to do as kids, but suddenly we feel like we have to ask some unknown, non-existent entity permission. WHY?

For months before I dyed my hair I talked about dying my hair. I wanted to gauge people’s reactions…. and everyone had one.

I was told it was childish. I was told it was a cry for attention. I was told that people would think I was ‘sleazy” or judge me harshly. I was looked at sideways and with concern by people who cared about me. I was asked would I keep it pink if I dyed it and my husband truly hated it.

And I tried to answer all those questions. I tried to debate them, negate them, consider them. I took it all very much to heart.

And as long as my brain was moving through those thoughts, thoughts that were conceived in other people’s brains and implanted in mine, I didn’t dye my hair.

Until, one random day, I just said to myself ‘Eff it.- I wanna look in the mirror and see myself with pink hair.” And ya know what I did? I dyed my hair.

And the heavens fell to the earth.


Absolutely nothing happened. My five year old told me it was pretty. My two year old reached out to touch it like it was a foreign object, told me she didn’t like it and promptly forgot it was ever anything other than pink. And everyone else? They all just concluded I was an immature, insecure hussy. Maybe.

Or maybe they really didn’t care.

Maybe their opinions only existed when they were based on the idea that they were entitled to have an opinion. Once I stopped caring about their opinions, I dyed my hair pink. And once my hair was pink and I liked it, their opinions suddenly became invalid, and they knew it.


Don't tell me the color of my hair is what determines what kind of human being I am. Thank You Very Much!

Don’t look at this picture and  tell me the color of my hair is what determines what kind of human being I am. Thank You Very Much!

What’s my point?

Don’t let other people’s voices inundate your brain. If you’re currently trying to process something that has to do with YOU and YOU alone, don’t let other people decide it has to do with them. Those voices only have any volume when we allow them to. You are an adult (presumably. If not, you’re in the wrong place, kiddo). You don’t need others’ permission to do things- certainly not things that your 14 year old self would have loved to do.

I recently caught a glimpse of my jdate profile from the era when I snagged my hubby. (Yes- we are an internet dating success story) In it I’d written that I like to dye my hair different colors, but that it had only been “socially acceptable” colors for the last few years.

WTF was I thinking?  Reading that made me kinda wanna gag at the muchlessness of it. Socially acceptable…. whatever.

…I was, however, very proud to read this gem that I’d written about my ideal man: “He should worship the ground I walk on, but only after I’ve proven myself worthy.”

I’ll give myself an A+ in that department, Thank You Very Much….

Go out and be Muchtastic people!!!!


How tightly bound is your heart?


A few weeks back I had the incredible opportunity to attend SHE Summit in NYC. SHE stands for She Helps Empower and it was two days of women, from all walks of life, getting together to teach, learn, share support and encourage each other on our various paths to career and personal success and fulfillment, whatever that may look like for each of us as individuals.

I have a little self-diagnosed ADD. That means that while everyone sat and listened to the talks and speeches, I paced. While everyone sat and took notes, I fidgeted. Don’t get me wrong. The speakers were amazing, but unless something or someone engages ALL my senses in some way, I need to move.

And then Agapi Stassinopolous took the stage. I was sitting waaay in the back (for pacing purposes) but when she started talking, I was riveted. She got up there like a lightning bolt and spoke with such exuberance and humor and heart that I couldn’t look away and just tried to pay close enough attention that I could drink in every word.

She spoke about being yourself. Owning your voice. Asking for help when you need it. And embracing life in all it’s beauty and its pain. She wrote a book, Unbinding The Heart. I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it.

Lucky for me, I didn’t have to wait as there were passing out complimentary copies as she spoke. At the next break I stood on line for an hour to meet her. An hour.When I got to the front of the line she danced with me. 🙂 IMG_4273

And then I told her about you, my readers, and Muchness and she generously invited me to contact her because she gets it. She gets The Muchness. I was jumping-out-of-my-platforms excited. 😀

I’ve read the book. It’s amazing. Agapi’s outlook on life is beautiful and contagiously positive. I want to sit down with her and eat olives and cheese and ask her everything she knows about life. (Full disclosure- I don’t even like olives or cheese, yet I’d be willing to devour them for that opportunity.)

In her book, Agapi shares 32 stories of her life, including when her mom and dad passed away, only 3 months apart from one another. Her outlook on these moments- these life events that have the power to shape and guide our future in amazing ways, is tremendously empowering.

About her father’s death she wrote “I’ve often reflected on the words I heard when my father’s life was coming to an end—It is done—and on the power of that concept. Whether it be the end of a relationship, the end of a job, or the end of a certain phase in our lives—and of course the biggest of all phases is our time of passing—these transitions can bring a tremendous peace if we are willing to surrender.”

Heartbreaking but also, ultimately, true.

Agapi was generous enough to send me an entire two chapters of her book to share with you, dear MuchnessSeekers. I’ve attached the first below. It is the moving story of her mother’s death.

Agapi - Blue Shirt - Cropped

Unbinding_the_Heart_cover USA





     My mother died on August 24, 2000, exactly three and a half months after my father’s passing. Their bond was so tight that when my father died, she was bereft, a woman who had lost the man she had so loved even after all she had been through with him.
     While he was still alive, her heart was already weakening. We didn’t know how serious it was until one night, nine months before she died, when she was sitting in our kitchen and began having intense pains in her limbs. We were terribly worried, but she didn’t want us to call a doctor. She just kept putting on homeopathic ointments and taking aspirin for the pain. I was getting ready to go out to do a performance at the Getty Center to promote my new book, and my mother had planned to come, but she couldn’t—the pain was too strong. Normally she wouldn’t miss anything that her daughters were a part of, so I knew she must really be suffering. Still, she was refusing to see a doctor; she wouldn’t admit there was something serious going on.
     A few days later, my book tour took me to Washington, where I performed at the National Museum of Women in the Arts. That night, at 4 A.M., I got a call from my sister. “Mummy is in the hospital,” she said. “She has a staph infection that’s gone into her bloodstream. We don’t know if she’ll make it.”
     I was terrified. I remember thinking, I can’t imagine a world without my mother. She had been such a big part of my life that a world without her loving, her nurturing, her eccentricity, her originality, seemed a world that would be bereft of joy.
     I took the next flight back to L.A. When I arrived at the hospital, my mother was in surgery as they tried to treat the infection. Two weeks before, she had cut her elbow; it became infected, but she wouldn’t go on antibiotics. She kept trying to heal it in her own way. Now the infection had gotten into the blood and it was threatening her life. She stayed in the hospital for four weeks on heavy doses of antibiotics and sedatives. I never prayed so hard in my life. All our friends, all the people who loved her, were praying ceaselessly, too. It was so painful to watch her suffer, and I felt helpless to do anything about it.
     During her stay in the hospital, while my father was still alive in Greece, he called her on the phone. They talked for an hour and a half. As she described it later, my father stepped in with his deep love for her and infused her with a sense of her own strength, conveying to her how she could overcome this, as she had so many other things in her life. That was a very significant call for her to receive, and it helped her get well enough to leave the hospital.
     She came home, but she wasn’t the same. She was fighting depression, sleeping a lot, and waking up without her bearings. In the hospital she had been diagnosed with congestive heart failure. It’s so hard for the soul to reside in a body that is fighting a disease; it requires a tremendous amount of loving and care. We were fortunate and could have nurses for my mother around the clock so that she would take her medicines, eat her special foods, and be looked after with great care. But she didn’t like being dependent on anyone for anything, even while her body was trying to heal. She still wanted to do things her way.
     Over the spring and summer, she did regain some of her old energy. We were able to do things she loved, like walking on the beach. But I had the sense that she was wrapping up her time here on earth. In August she began to weaken, and we begged her to see her doctor, but she wouldn’t go; she wanted him to come see her. “Come on your day off,” she told him. “I’ll cook for you.” But this was not Greece, where doctors made house calls and visited their patients for dinner!
     Finally we got her to the doctor, and she was quickly admitted to the UCLA hospital. Early the next morning, she suffered a minor stroke and they put her in the ICU. When we saw her, she looked like she was in a coma. The specialists told us that her brain had been damaged and she might not wake up.
     We spent hours at her bedside, trying to figure out if there was anything more we could do. Arianna would hold our mother’s hand and tell her that she loved her. My nieces’ caretaker, Maricela, who had looked after the girls since they were born and had become part of our family, came and massaged her feet and hands. She put a lemon in her hand, because my mother always loved lemons; she would boil them to make the house smell fresh, and she put them in everything she cooked. Then Maricela bent down close to my mother and said, “Miss Elli, if you wake up, I will take you to Ross: Dress for Less.” My mother loved to go to Ross, the discount store, and stock up on presents so she’d have something to give whenever the opportunity arose. It gave her tremendous happiness to give unexpected presents to people. Would you believe it, at that she cracked a tiny smile. To the relief of all of us around her, a little ray of hope came in.
     What happened next was nothing short of a miracle. She woke up as Lazarus had done in the Bible, as if she were raised from the dead, bright and filled with light, and we took her home. The day she came home, she sat on the patio in her little hospital gown, eating blueberries and offering them to all the people who came to see her. We felt as if the heavens had given us the gift of our mother back. It was a gift that would last only one week.
     When my mother finally walked into her bedroom that first day, she looked around and said, “This is so strange. Where am I?” She was between two worlds—the physical world that was fading and the spiritual world that was opening. She had already been in that world, it was obvious. Looking after her that last week felt sacred, because I knew she could go at any moment. I massaged her, I held her, but I didn’t want to say goodbye. I think when we love someone so much, we don’t ever want to say goodbye. We don’t want to be the ones to initiate that ending, so we wait until life thrusts it upon us and says, “It is done.”
     One morning near the end of the week, my mother said to me, “I want to go to the international food market in Santa Monica.” That was like Disneyland for her; she’d leave with baskets full of food, fruit, and goodies for everyone. So I took her there. My mother in her fragile little body, still filled with a zest for life, bought salamis and cheese, olives, halvah, Viennese chocolate and Greek chocolate, and nuts, and by the end, we had bags and bags of food to bring back home. It was surreal taking her out into the world; there she was, like an apparition, buying food, and there I was, trying to hold the two realities together. I wanted to say to the checkout clerk, “You don’t seem to understand what is happening here. This is my mother! And she’s going! Can you please take care of her? Can you please take care of me?” But instead, I kept pretending that it was just like any other day. Deep down, I knew that we were shopping for the last supper, but I was holding it together so I wouldn’t fall apart.
     We went home, and my mother spread out the most amazing lunch in the kitchen, saying to me and our housekeeper and Arianna’s office staff and whoever was in the house, “Sit now and let us enjoy our food!” It was a feast. I couldn’t help thinking, Look at her appetite for food and love and sharing! This is not a woman who is going to die! 
     Early that evening, I came into her room and found her sitting at a little table, shelling shrimp and eating them. “Sit and eat some shrimp!” she said to me. She had her hair in little pigtails and she was playing beautiful Greek music. She was like a happy child. Now I know why she was so happy—because her spirit was calling her back and she was ready. There was no struggle, there was no suffering, there was simply grace.
     Later on, I went out for a while, and Arianna and the girls stayed with her. When I got home, Arianna met me at the door. She said to me, “Mummy has just fallen. She’s in the bathroom. She doesn’t want us to call the paramedics. Should we call them anyway?”
     I ran into the bathroom—really a large dressing room between the bath and the bedroom—and saw my mother on the floor, putting lavender oil on her feet. She said in a strong voice, “Do not call the paramedics. I’m fine.” I felt so torn. One voice said, She doesn’t want you to call them, and the other said, If you don’t call them she will certainly die, back and forth, back and forth, reaching for the phone with one hand and putting it down with the other. So, instead of the ambulance, I called my mother’s nurse, and she came right away. We all sat in the dressing room with my mother, her young granddaughters riding their scooters up and down the hallway, making happy noises, unaware of what was happening, because my mother was trying to keep everything and everyone calm. The nurse kept taking her pulse, but her pulse was fine. And even though I kept urging her to get up, she wouldn’t. Instead, she asked me to open a bottle of red wine and pour glasses for everyone.
     We all sat there, chatting and telling stories, for an hour or more, waiting for her to get up. There she was on the floor with a beautiful turquoise sarong wrapped around her, making sure we were all having a good time. It sounds surreal now, and it was surreal even then. I had the sense that something larger was moving all of us, keeping us from taking any action, so that my mother would have the chance to pass the way she wanted to pass. When I look back, it’s as if Spirit was saying, Relax—there’s nothing you need to do. We’ve got her now. Then suddenly her head fell forward and she was gone.
     Later, I found out my mother had confided to the housekeeper that she knew she had suffered a stroke and her time had come. She asked her not to tell us, and the housekeeper, who had known and loved my mother for years, understood why and honored her wishes. My mother knew that we would insist on getting her to the hospital, and she didn’t want to die in the hospital. She wanted to be at home, with her daughters and her precious granddaughters around her, in the warmth of those she loved and who loved her. She didn’t want to miss the moment.
We scattered my mother’s ashes in the sea with rose petals, as she had asked. And we gave her the most beautiful memorial, with music, friends, poetry, gardenias, and lots of food: a memorial that truly honored her life and her spirit. Everyone felt her presence there, taking part, looking down on us and shining her light on us. In our garden, we planted a lemon tree in her honor that has been producing juicy lemons ever since. And we installed a bench engraved with one of her favorite sayings that embodied the philosophy of her life: Don’t Miss the Moment.

Read Another FREE chapter from AGAPI’s book HERE.