I’ve been working on two book projects for the last eight months. Both books center around an Indigenous man and an Asian American woman. I know a lot of writers were shocked to learn that I’m working on two books at once, but one is the buffer book to help me emotionally get through the main book…the horror romance book.
Yes, I had to add horror to that story, or I just wouldn’t be interested in writing it.
So what right do I have to write about a dream I had about an Indigenous man when I am not Native American? I can definitely write from the Asian American woman perspective, but what right do I have to write from the Native American perspective? Absolutely none.
So I have immersed myself in learning everything I can about the many tribes and their cultures, but more importantly, I am making sure I lift up those people I come across, because if I’ve learned anything, we rise by helping each other. This is what we call community. You give back by helping each other rise up.
While the book publishing world has been sending Indigenous stories my way, I spent some time at the new Perelman Performing Arts Center across the street from the World Trade Center monument in New York City over the weekend to learn more about Native Americans in Hollywood and in comedy.
I started off by attending Good Medicine, a comedy show making its rounds across America, featuring Jackie Keliiaa (First Nations Comedy Experience), Adrianne Chalepah (The Curse, Reservation Dogs), Brian Bahe (Vulture‘s “Comedian You Should and Will Know in 2023”), Bobby “Dues” Wilson (Rutherford Falls, Reservation Dogs), and Jana Schmieding (Rutherford Falls, Reservation Dogs, Echo).
The next day, I attended the Native Representation in Contemporary Media panel, followed by the play Between Two Knees (written by The 1491s). There was even a stop into Marcus Samuelsson’s newest restaurant, Metropolis, for brunch.
All of this, of course, took place on Lunar New Year. I am usually celebrating Lunar New Year with Matthew (the Maine Coon), but this year, I ended up spending the day decolonizing. But while I was in line, I heard many Native Americans talking about their excitement in celebrating Lunar New Year, as well. That put a smile on my face. We’re celebrating each other’s cultures.
Speaking of being in line, back in December, I got a news blast from the fashion industry that Polo Ralph Lauren selected a Native American woman as their artist in residence. This was amazing news. So it should come as no surprise to anyone that I would wind up in line behind the Glasses family as they were on their way to the Between Two Knees show. Both Naiomi and her mother, Cynthia, were wearing items she created for the Polo Ralph Lauren collection. If you haven’t seen the collection in person yet, you must. Naiomi Glasses’s work is incredible. It’s literally how I would imagine Native American luxury clothing to be. That’s how well made everything is. I have my eye on two pieces to curate into my wardrobe, as well as the wrap that should be coming out in the next drop.
These pieces are ones you keep in your wardrobe for the rest of your life. They are well worth the investment. I even have my eye on the blankets designed by Naiomi and her brother, Tyler. You can pick those up at Sackcloth & Ashes. You’ll even find a collection designed by Lauren Good Day (who recently did some work for Louis Vuitton with Dee Jay Two Bears in the Pharrell Cowboys and Indians collection).
While I am not completely in favor of non-Natives wearing the blankets as a fashion trend, I would definitely buy them for the home. They are absolutely beautiful. I first became obsessed with the blankets when I saw Lily Gladstone wearing them in Killers of the Flower Moon. These blankets are the epitome of luxury. They’re beautiful and so well made.
Speaking of Gladstone, I’m looking forward to seeing her win Best Actress at the Academy Awards. I already see the narrative they have going there. Notice that all of the other women in that category are white. Not a single person of color except Gladstone. If you think the Academy did not plan that narrative out a certain way, think again. It’s designed so that the Native American woman will reign over the whites. All this talk about Margot Robbie not getting a nomination – consider this the Academy doing her a favor. It’s the narrative that will follow that they are protecting her from. So let it go…
Although, I would be really mad if I was any of the other women in that category.
Speaking of Hollywood, if you haven’t been watching True Detective: Night Country with Jodie Foster and Kali Reis, you really should get on that. This story takes place in Alaska in the middle of winter. There are supernatural Native American elements involved as they investigate a strange occurrence at a research facility that killed all of the researchers in it, and it seems to be connected to an Indigenous woman that was killed a few years before. The murders are intertwined within a white world living on Indigenous lands.
If you like this show, I also recommend reading Village in the Dark, which also takes place in Alaska and deals with murders in the white world stretching into the Indigenous lands.
Speaking of books, if you’re looking to support a Native and queer bookstore, Vanessa Lillie, author of Blood Sisters, introduced me to Black Walnut Books. They have two different monthly book boxes you can subscribe to. This is a good way to decolonize and diversify your bookshelves. So far, I’ve enjoyed everything I received. I even bought a few more books, a t-shirt, and tote bags to help support their business.
So that’s it from me this month for this Editor’s Letter. You’ll find more posts going forward as I start to get back into my pre-pandemic life. I was getting tired of the post-pandemic Michelle. I missed my VIP life. It was time to give myself back the life I’ve been telling the Gen Z’er about. It’s been close to 4 years. Time goes by quickly, and before you realize it, your time left becomes short. This break from that VIP life just means that it’s time for transformation. That is what the Year of the Dragon is all about for us dragons. Our lives are about to transform into something else. I feel like it’s time for that change, as well.
I took the first week of the year off to recuperate from the final stretch of 2023. It was nine glorious days of forcing myself to do absolutely nothing. But nine days ended up not being a lot of time to recuperate from 2023.
At the end of the year and during my time off, I started building my list of goals and resolutions I wanted to begin in 2024. I came up with one singular theme: HEAL YOURSELF.
This year, I’ll be sharing my journey on what I am doing to heal myself. But perhaps, I need to explain what that means. As we grow older, our body changes. For women, we start to suffer from perimenopause. Perimenopause can last from a few years to well over a decade. For those who have a history of cancer or have had surgery, that means the symptoms for perimenopause are heightened. I fall into that category, especially since it was removing a hormonal gland (due to a tumor) that kickstarted perimenopause when I was 38. Almost 10 years ago.
I knew I was suffering from perimenopause in that first year because a polar vortex hit me, and I was stripping my coat off because I was burning up. That’s not how weather works in the coldest January that NYC had seen in a while.
As the years progressed, the symptoms grew worse from night sweats to headaches to every part of my body being in a constant state of pain. 2020 didn’t make things any better. I lost muscle mass rapidly. Spending these last two years doing 10k+ steps 5 days a week with no change meant that I needed to change things up.
Diet and exercise. That is the key to beginning to fix all of these problems. Many people would become angry the second a doctor would suggest this (and trust me, I did, too). But as you grow older, you kind of have no choice. You’re not as young as you used to be. You can physically see and feel how putting off exercise and a healthy lifestyle causes you harm. BUT what they don’t tell you is that you need to focus on healing your hormonal issues.
What they don’t tell you is that cardio will not work. You need to focus only on walking, weight training, resistance training, and stretching (i.e. yoga). Your diet needs to be plant based. You need to drink more water. You need to focus on certain vitamins. Stop using hormone disrupter beauty products. The list goes on with everything you need to change.
But there’s also your mental health. I discovered that hormonal imbalances can trigger anxiety. Trust me when I say I never had anxiety problems until a year ago. Like I said, perimenopause does something insane with your body, and it happens overnight.
So this year, my focus is on healing this body and correcting all of the hormonal imbalances. I would like to be pain free, have my hair grow back, stop hormonal based cancers from occurring, and just get to healthy and focus on living a healthy last half of my life.
Speaking of the last half of my life, healing myself this year also means changing how I approach how I treat myself, especially when it comes to finances. Two months ago, I decided to fix how I approached finances because I was not happy with how things were going. I WORRIED. So 2024 is about making sure to heal that worry. It is incredible how quickly your finances change when you decide to make yourself the priority and not everyone else.
Another quest in my journey to heal myself is to do the things I have been putting off doing and then hating myself for not doing it. SIGH. The life of a writer. I may not be writing here as much because I’ve been working on two novels (at the same time). Sometimes it takes a writer 8-10 years to write a book. Most of the time, it’s the inner dialogue we are having with ourselves as we embrace our fears, instead of just creating what we know is already in our heads. This year, I am forcing myself to finish the books and create an ongoing writing system, so that I am always writing and publishing my work.
I started pitching my work and it’s funny how the publisher that you know in your gut is going to publish your work starts doing their due diligence.
When I took a class at Conde Nast College in London, one of the things the editor of Allure magazine kept telling me was my strong points were my writing and my photography. That led to a class with Nigel Barker and I started doing some fashion photography, as well as street fashion photography. Of course, when life keeps happening, you stop doing those things because you don’t have the time. Imagine just 12 days into 2024 and I’m being asked to do PAID corporate photo jobs. My friend, Grace, told me that maybe it’s time to get things together. Make this a side gig.
Which leads me to the last topic of resolutions and goals. I’m getting older. I know that maybe it’s just going to be me and Matthew (the Maine Coon) from here on out. I need to start thinking seriously about the last half of my life. I have to come up with a plan to make sure money is always coming in if I can’t work anymore. I have to think about how we’re going to live if I get sick and can’t work. I have to create a plan that will take care of us for the rest of our lives.
It’s funny how when you start prioritizing setting up your finances, creating financial goals, and working on generating passive income (in other words, focusing on paying yourself first and preparing for your future), the universe starts helping you. Two months ago, I was worried about how I was going to pay bills. Then I created a plan to get myself out of the worry. I didn’t care who was asking for money. Any money that came in, I paid myself 10% right off the bat. That is what I earned for myself. That belonged to ME. No one was allowed to have it, except ME. Then, all of a sudden, the universe started sending more money my way. In two months, I came up with 1/3 of my 2024 goal, and 11% of the long-term goal. IN TWO MONTHS. Oh, and I stopped worrying.
At one point, I got a call from Bank of America. There are certain banks that will help you reach your financial goals. While I was on the call, she gave me some financial advice and as soon as I got off the phone, I put her advice to work. It’s like I had an “Aha!” moment. She helped me figure out how to navigate the worst of the pickle I had found myself in, and put myself in a place where I didn’t have to worry anymore. Then the universe followed suit.
Grace told me at some point in our lives when Saturn Returns, everything you didn’t fix in life will become much harder to fix, unless you make sacrifices to ensure you’ve learned your lessons and you actively fix your mistakes. You have 20 years to fix it or things will get worse for you. That is why it is important to fix things that are hurting you in your life. Even the universe gets involved with making things better or worse. But I will tell you something, when you are doing the right thing, the universe helps you continue to do the right thing. If you’re doing the wrong thing, the universe will continue to help you do the wrong thing. See how that works?
So in 2024, you’ll be seeing a change in me. No more procrastinating. Just doing. The only way I can heal myself is to get up off my lazy butt and do something about it. Hopefully, you’ll find what I’m sharing on this journey will help you along the way.
It’s time for all things spooktacular! Oh, how I love the Halloween season. I love all of the decorations, the costumes, and the candy. Matthew (the Maine Coon) loves Halloween. I can’t get him to dress in any other costume other than his Superman costume. I tried to make him a skeleton last year. He took the costume off. So I put his Superman costume on him, and he ran around all day in it. If I tried to take it off at any point before Halloween was over, he would attack me.
He loves being Superman. I think it’s because the code phrase for me to carry him is, “Let’s go Superman!” He’ll get in position and I’ll carry him while humming the Superman theme song to him. He loves it.
Last year, since we have more dogs than kids in our building, we gave out dog toys and treats, as well as candy and small toys for the humans. Matthew had so many visitors that day. He got to meet so many dogs as they showed off their costumes. He absolutely loves Halloween. He took a few toys for himself, but that’s fine, considering all of the dogs got to take a few toys. We had treats and toys for the cats, but there were no takers. More for Matthew.
If you haven’t caught the new feature on the site called “The Interview,” you should definitely check it out. I selected these interviews to help inspire you to go after your dreams, no matter what they are. I started us off with interviews from my hockey writing days with John Madden and Ilya Kovalchuk. I also posted a recent interview I had with Edwin Walker (Filmmaker).
I hope that you will be inspired, but also find the tools you will need as you follow along in your journey.
I gathered a few of my growing up hockey stories to start The Interview because it shows the human side of becoming a professional athlete and all the hard work they put into the dream of becoming an NHL player. From the projects of Toronto to the Cold War days of Russia, these players share their journey to make their dream come true.
Chasing your dreams is a struggle. You really have to put in the work every single day. It is about the journey, not the end result. The journey is what makes the dream worth living. The work is what fulfills you and makes you happy. It challenges you to be better than you were the day before.
And oh, the people you will meet along the way will be more and more incredible as you follow your path. Those moments will also be more meaningful to you.
My hope is that The Interview will help inspire you in whatever you do, so that you will be true to yourself and follow your dreams in order to define your own greatness.
Another part of The Interview feature includes 50 Questions. So what better way to start off this part of the feature than with me answering 50 questions.
Five books that helped shape you. The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle The Secret by Rhonda Byrne Twas the Night Before Christmas
Favorite movie. Dune (1984)
Favorite ice cream. Mint chocolate chip
Coffee or tea? Oh, definitely coffee.
Favorite place in the world. At home with Matthew (the Maine Coon).
Most influential person you’ve met. Amy Tan. Before I became a writer, she knew I was a writer. She saw that in me before I even saw it in myself. She said to me when I went up to get her book signed, “When you finish your novel, we can look it over and help you with it.” She was referring to herself, Scott Turow, and Stephen King. I told Scott Turow about this many years later. I even got to meet Stephen King. I guess I should finish the novel(s) before they die. They are getting up there.
Who inspires you? My grandfather. He told me before he died that I needed to get on my path in life. Nothing would ever work out until I did. Love would never work out until I was on my path.
Favorite band/musical artist. U2
Favorite song. There are so many. I think right now, it’s George Michael’s “Freedom! ’90.” This one has been on repeat this week. The song is about George shaking off what the music industry expected of him, this sex symbol that the teenage girls loved (I had his Faith posters up on my wall). But he was secretly gay. This song was his coming out song. This was his way of saying stick around for the music, and let me be free to be me. The music video for this song featured every supermodel in the world at the time. For me (this week), this represents choosing myself and being the person I am meant to become. It’s about letting go of the person I can’t become, so that I can become the person I am meant to be.
Favorite actor/actress. Bing Crosby, Cary Grant, Laurence Fishburne, Russell Crowe.
What do I love about my life? Matthew. This Maine Coon cat became the child I never had. When I realized I wasn’t having kids, Matthew came into my life. I did not miss out on mom brain, the all night feedings, the 2 hour naps, Matthew proofing the entire house, the shit, the vomit. Oh, I got the whole baby/child experience out of this cat. But the thing I love the most with my life with Matthew is that we upgraded our life back in 2021. Since I couldn’t get out of the country to move to France, I decided that if I couldn’t get out of the country due to the travel ban (and I had to move because the landlord had served an eviction notice to everyone in the building because he wanted to remodel it), I would just upgrade my life. So we moved down the street to a luxury building where professional athletes live and movie stars stay. Matthew has made several celebrity friends in this building. He is so much happier. Because he’s such a social animal, he has made so many dog and human friends. He has a whole courtyard he can run around in (he even sneaks into the dog park). He’s happy. I’m happy I did this for us. The whole point was to do something amazing for myself. I do not regret this happened. It was a nice consolation since France was put on hold.
Where do I want to be in 5 years? In the South of France with Matthew, writing, photographing, and maybe thinking about opening up a bookstore.
Astrological sign. Cancer
What hobby have I been wanting to start? Needlepoint? LOL. Looks interesting, but I don’t have the time nor the patience to learn.
Favorite song from your childhood. “Say Say Say” by Paul McCartney and “American Pie.”
Favorite memory. My grandmother was living with us in Georgia for a little while. Something happened and we started laughing hysterically. I just remember laughing so hard with her. Probably the happiest moment of my life.
The icon in your life. My grandfather. He passed away in 2007. He was the only person in this universe that actually loved me. Love is changing who you are to become a better person, because someone kept knocking on your door wanting to be loved by you. When I was 3, I used to knock on his door every day (we lived next door to each other). I would say, “Grandpa, are you home?” Even after I just watched him walk into his home, I’d run over and follow him. He’d close the door, so I would knock. He didn’t like me. He didn’t like anyone, truthfully. He was a bitter old man back then. But one day, I saw he was actually hiding from me inside. I kept knocking. He kept hiding. I started to cry. He heard me, and something inside him changed in that moment. He opened the door, and his entire life changed. It was that moment that changed his life to becoming a more loving human being. A few years later, he found out my parents tried to adopt me out after finally getting the boy they wanted. My dad was so cruel to me. My grandfather asked him why he hated me so much. He responded, “Because she was born a girl.” My grandfather was shocked. In that moment, he truly hated his son. My great uncle (his brother) was with him at the time, and they decided to love me. They could both see that I was not loved by anyone in the family, so my grandfather and his brother decided to love me and to give me opportunities to have a better life. Before my grandfather died, he told me the family planned to kick me out. But he had a surprise in store for all of them. When his Will was read, they discovered he had written them all out and disowned them all…except me. This was how he made sure I knew there was at least one person in that godforsaken family that loved me. He had written them out because he sat through so many dinners for years, quietly listening to them plot against me and talk crap about me, as if they knew me. This was the man who believed in me, and he knew I was meant to become something far greater than the person they wanted to believe I was. He made them pay in the end.
Longest relationship. Surita (cat). She was with me for 18 years. My brother. 41 years together.
What kind of love story do you want? I thought I wanted the soulmate story, but I’ve learned that this is probably the most difficult love story to have. Although I’ve had more than one soulmate (I just encountered a third recently), I’ve learned that you end up alone in this story. I don’t recommend this kind of love story at all. I highly doubt the two living soulmates will change my mind about this. So the kind of love story I want…it just does not exist for me. There comes a time when you hope and hope and hope, then you realize it’s just never coming. Why hope for something that is only going to break your heart?
What did you want to be when you grew up? Believe it or not, a writer. Backup was a police officer (think FBI). Then, I wanted to be a Senator. I ended up being a writer. I was the first intern ever with the DC Metropolitan Police Department, and I worked for the Attorney General, the Senate, and the Republican Party (note: I am a Democrat and they knew this when they hired me). I learned that you always know what you should be when you’re a kid, before the world tries to tell you who you should be. Listen to you as a child.
Favorite season. Summer
Religion? No comment because you will not like what I have to say.
Favorite subject in school. I loved French class. In college, I loved the law classes that focused on victimology, constitutional law, or policing.
Hobbies. Reading, cooking, and writing.
Favorite vacation spot. The castle wall at sunset in Oia, Santorini, Greece.
Cat or dog? Both. I’ve always had cats, though, because cats can take care of themselves and I’m not home very often. Well, I used to say that. Matthew is more child than cat. He sleeps during the day. He starts getting hungry at 4PM. I’ve come home late to discover he’s tried to get out the can of food himself to feed himself. Not sure how he was opening up the can. But simply put, he needs his emotional support human.
Person (living or dead) you would like to have dinner with. Cary Grant
Have the date pay or go dutch? Dutch.
Favorite TV show. Supernatural
Favorite fashion designer and why. Valentino Garavani. The first designer I ever laid eyes upon their work was Valentino. He knew how to take the beauty of a woman and create a masterpiece from it.
Toxic trait. Running.
Do you believe in soulmates? Yes. I just discovered soulmate #3 recently. Edwin Walker asked me about this because, for some reason, in this lifetime, I’m gifted with more than one soulmate. He pondered why that was. Maybe because this is my last lifetime? At least, that’s what the Creator has been saying. So maybe I’m supposed to come across all of my past loves? I’ve come across two that were not soulmates, but I was definitely married to them in a past life. I had vivid memories of them, and they definitely were drawn to me.
Coolest thing that’s ever happened to you. When I was 16, Harrison Ford walked up to me to hang out and talk. When I was 23/24, the Secretary for the Department of Transportation told me that he would rather hang out with me than hang out with a bunch of politicians. And so he did. Every time he saw me. But the coolest thing…2001. Russell Crowe serenaded me with a song. He sang “Somebody Else’s Princess” to me. The man the Sex and the City girls masturbated to…he serenaded me.
Most loved item in your closet? My Fendi tote bag.
Favorite restaurant. Red Basil in Rutherford, NJ. I haven’t been there in years, but they have the best Pad Kee Mao I’ve ever had.
What do you get on your pizza? Depends on where we are. Little Italy Pizza in NYC – salad pizza or their spaghetti pizza. Papa Johns is the Works. Brick oven pizza – margherita. Everywhere else – cheese or pepperoni.
Favorite food. Pad kee mao.
What item would you like to add to your closet? An Hermes Kelly bag.
Favorite cookbook. Right now, it’s Bountiful Cooking.
Favorite author. Amy Tan
What’s your theme song you would walk out to? “We Will Rock You,” the Queen/VonLichten version.
Dating/married/single? Single. I have not dated in 23 years. This is likely some kind of record, but when you’re holding out for the right person, you reject a lot of guys before they can even ask. Sure, there were a few guys in those years I loved, but it didn’t quite work out. One broke my heart (he still to this day writes songs about how I left him). The next one showed he had no respect for me and tried to sabotage my hockey writing career (I am still mad about that time when I got multiple text messages from the Philadelphia Flyers media telling me what he did. Only one person printed it. The rest refused to print it, tweet about it, or even mention it out of respect for me.). The next one told me as he was walking out the door how he felt about me, and it nearly ruined me. I was so heartbroken and devastated over it. Took a long time to get over him. In between, there was some other guy that asked me to travel the world with him. If I didn’t have Matthew, I would have. But I have Matthew and he’s more important. I think with each one, I thought I deserved a better love. You know this when you love yourself first. I wanted someone who complements my existence. A best friend.
Perfect date. A great conversation.
Favorite drink. Water.
What is your proudest accomplishment? Being me. I am more successful than anyone in my family ever was. I command a higher salary than anyone in my family, not to mention as a woman. I’ve done more things, met more people, had more amazing experiences in life than most. Once again, Russell Crowe (right after winning an Oscar) serenaded ME. I am in the NHL history books as the first credentialed writer to ever be allowed into the press box that was from a website (not newspaper/TV/radio). A bunch of senators told my rich aunt and uncle (who believe I’m the worst thing to ever have existed on planet Earth), that I was the best thing that ever happened in the Senate. They all loved and respected me there. My aunt and uncle were shocked. Best comeuppance I’ve ever witnessed.
What is the craziest thing you’ve done in the name of love? Flew to X. Did not end well for them in either instance.
What three items would you take with you on a deserted island? The longest really good book I could find, a tool kit & a first aid kit.
What is your goal for this year? To finish my current book projects.
What negative habit have you dropped? Thinking that everything will be better when X happens or when someone comes to save me. I am the hero in my story. I make my dreams come true. I save myself.
The scariest thing I ever went through. When I found out I had a tumor in my parathyroid gland back in 2013. The doctor told me to prepare for the worst. Some people stress eat, I stress shop. I was scared out of my mind. But luckily, everything turned out ok. I still deal with the after effects of missing a hormonal gland (like perimenopause starting at the age of 38). We’re always looking out for the next tumor.
Perfectionist Wannabe is getting a revamp this fall. Here’s what you can look forward to seeing from me and this site.
I’m back. This time, it is not temporary.
After spending the last eight months trying to create the site I dreamed of, I decided to abandon it and revamp this site. This is the only site making money from past content. I now know how to create what I want, so all I have to do is write and post. I don’t have to go through an error report from Google that is so long it makes you faint. Site maintenance may take up a lot of my time right now, but at least I get more of my time back to write and post content, as compared to the other site.
Last fall, I took a course at Conde Nast College in London. They showed me exactly how I needed to take my content and create something I am going to love as I go forward. I learned the business and marketing side of digital content creation for fashion brands, as well as for Vogue and other Conde Nast publications.
As I was going through old content to repurpose on this site, I was reminded that I need to do fluff pieces, because that is what generates money. But I also need to write the longer pieces that garnered most of my loyal followers over the years. Those are the pieces that reflect more of who I am.
With Meta’s new Threads, I can start building my new audience that I created through Instagram, and direct them over to this site, like I used to do with Twitter when I was writing about hockey.
So bear with me as I update the hundreds of articles on this site, create new content and fix/update things. For those who come here for the recipes, luckily, I saved a few of those at The Fashion Reader before I deleted the plugin here (oops!). But don’t worry. Those recipes will be back up soon. After all, this is where I go to find those recipes I love.
There will be one small change to the recipes. I HATE those long ass narratives people write before a recipe. I just want to get to the recipe already! So I’m only going to add a few words at the beginning and then you’ll find the recipe. You won’t even have to scroll down the page to get to the beginning of the recipe card.
If there’s a recipe you loved and can’t find it on the site, ping me, because it may not have survived the plugin deletion. Hopefully, I’ll have the recipe somewhere and can upload it for you.
So that’s housekeeping matters.
What’s New in My Universe
So my friend and filmmaker Edwin Walker messaged me last month asking me what was going on in my universe, because he sensed something was up. He was in the middle of an interview with The Boston Globe and he told them they needed to contact me. When he left a voice message on what happened, it was like he realized, the universe is strong around her. She’s working on something.
He would be correct.
I am currently working on two book projects simultaneously. I also started selling books online. Ends up, there are a lot of people out there willing to spend 3-figures on special edition books and autographed copies. So I’m selling my collection.
Between the day job, two book projects, Matthew’s Book Corner, and this site, I’m up to 5 of 7 streams of income. When I start clearing my closet, that will be the 6th stream of income.
I am at that stage in life when I feel like less is more. I have so much stuff. I am tired of carrying those things around with me in life, so I am letting it go. Maybe I’m just preparing myself for the next stage in life…my new journey. Getting rid of the things that clutter up that new path is important.
In the coming months, you’ll find an updated interview with Edwin Walker. We’re also working on a few different projects together, so stay tuned. It’s fall season, so it’s horror book season for me and many others. Each week, PW will be showcasing a new title or two you should get your hands on.
I started a new series on here that the Gen Z’ers (and a few Millenials) were asking me for, and that is an Adulting 101 column. I started them off with one that has been making the rounds: starting a Sick Day Pantry.
As for the fashion portion, I’ve been going back and forth with this topic for some time. There was something Conde Nast loved from the assignments I turned in and that was BOOKS + FASHION. They loved how I styled fashion pieces with books. It even got the attention of Instagram and they emailed me and said I needed to create more posts like that. Recently, I’ve seen Marc Jacobs post something weekly on what he’s currently reading. So yes, there is an interest in these types of posts, but I can’t tell you how much time goes into creating ONE PHOTO. That’s actually why I don’t do it often. [I have a lot of things to do!]
Going through what people are actually reading on this site when it comes to fashion, I’ve found that people want to know what to buy that is fashionable and worth investing in. As in, what will withstand the test of time? I’ve been working on my wardrobe for the last 20 years. I’ve picked up on a few things about what to invest in that will withstand the test of time. Some of those items I even picked up at a thrift store and it’s still going strong (and they’re over 50+ years old). The most important thing when building your wardrobe is learning what your style is. I have different versions of myself. I have the side that goes to premieres and red carpet events. I have the fashion industry side (which demands more couture and designer pieces). I have the everyday work, at home, and film festival wardrobes. So my closet represents me and the things I do, but it also allows me enough leeway to reinvent the look, so it doesn’t get boring. Accessories will always be one of the most important items you will ever add to your closet, but it is important to buy the right things, not the items that will be out of style in a few years.
There’s also been a request that I get in front of the camera more. Going back to how much time goes into that (and I have a lot of things to do), that is yet to be seen if I will do that. But talking to some of my actor friends, you may see them on this site wearing designer clothes and holding books, instead of me. Only time will tell.
So bear with me as this site gets a revamp. Content will be continuously flowing, and this space will be continuously evolving. It’s a post-pandemic world and my new universe means following my dreams.
As you can see, I haven’t done a lot of blogging during the pandemic. I really didn’t have much to share or talk about. It’s easier using Instagram, posting up a quick pic, some language and pressing send. Blogging (or just simply spending the time to write) takes a little longer. Frankly, I was just not in the state of mind to write until now. I want to talk about making small changes. It’s what we need right now as we move out of the pandemic.
I wanted to share what I’m doing in hopes that it will inspire others who are in the same boat as me.
Over the last few months, I’ve been making small changes to my life. I started off by upgrading my life, by giving myself permission to stop living like a peasant and upgrade to a life that’s more my caliber. It is so wonderful having an actual dishwasher, garbage disposal, washer/dryer, gym, and a place for Matthew to run around in. I guess staying cooped up in your apartment for over a year can help you re-evaluate your priorities. We now live in a Maine Coon sized home and frankly, Matthew never wants to leave to go running around outside. He’s perfectly fine running around inside the apartment. There’s more than enough space and high places for him to jump around on.
But if you are like me, the pandemic may have added a few pounds to your physique. Not like we needed any more weight on our bodies, right? For me, I gained 20 pounds. Now, before anyone gets on the whole body positivity bit, I did not need an extra 5, 10 or 20 pounds on my body. Gaining weight gave me health issues. Plus, I am in peri-menopause, so with my body changing, compounded by weight related health issues, AND the fact that over 70% of people that die from Covid-19 are obese, you can’t tell me to be positive about my weight gain. This isn’t about how I look. This is about how I feel living in this body. And I feel like crap.
Ok. Maybe it is a bit about how I look, but my health concerns outweigh my shallowness.
Throughout most of the pandemic, especially after putting on the 20 pounds in the first 6 months, I’ve suffered from really bad acid reflux. My hair was thinning and falling out. A wisdom tooth actually broke off. My body got weak from lack of exercise. I was getting UTIs more and more frequently (which ended up being hormonal issues). My anxiety was at an all time high (thanks to the anti-Asian sentiment in my neighborhood). I wasn’t doing so well.
In April, my landlord decided to evict everyone living in the building. This wasn’t a surprise. The building was slated to be demolished to make way for the new gentrified neighborhood. But contracts were held up and he decided to move to phase 2, renovating the building since he could no longer demolish it. I was given a year and a half notice, so it wasn’t any surprise. My landlord did ask me to return or move into the new luxury property when it opens. But after I heard what the town said about keeping the neighborhood white, I’m going to not move back there, since a lot of my anxiety stemmed from the anti-Asian sentiment I received after the lockdown happened in March 2020.
Since moving overseas was still not an option due to the pandemic, I decided to sign a lease for an apartment in a luxury building that caters to celebrities and athletes. I don’t regret this decision at all, because the whole premise behind upgrading my life was about changing my life one small step at a time…to give myself permission to live the life I’ve been wanting for such a long time, but was unwilling to give that life to myself.
The first change in this journey to upgrade my life was to move out of the place I lived in for 15 years and upgrade to something better. Upending my entire life helped to kick me out of that miserable pandemic funk and think about starting a whole new and better life. Next, I started decluttering my life and getting rid of the things that I no longer wanted to carry with me in life. I upgraded my wardrobe and my things. But still, I wasn’t completely happy.
So I targeted those unhappy parts of my life: 1. I wasn’t happy because I wasn’t writing. 2. This extra weight on my body doesn’t make me feel like I am me. I don’t recognize this person anymore.
So I decided to change that.
I am a big believer in taking a problem and putting it in a box. In one corner, you put the problem. At the opposite corner, you put the end result that you want. You throw the tools into the box and tell yourself, “Fix it.” So that’s what I started doing. I started fixing myself, one small step at a time.
Rebecca Roanhorse, author of “Black Sun,” shared her writing method on how she outlines using Scrivener. I’m not a fan of the Scrivener program, but I liked her concept. So I took how she outlines her books before writing the entire book out, and decided to do something similar, but on paper.
I love paper, so the idea of prettying up my work and using paper to outline my story helped me tremendously. Binders and note cards were ordered so I could start writing out scenes, because I think in scenes. I focus on one character and write out all of their scenes, put the note cards in a plastic sleeve, and organize the scenes in the binder that way. It’s been a tremendous help, especially since I feel like the beginning is going on forever in the book. Readers don’t like beginnings that go on forever. They want to get to the juicy bits quickly.
I will say that the strange thing about my universe is that I tend to call things into my life that I totally did not expect, but it’s really magical. When I write, I cast the character. In this case, I casted an actor that I believed embodied what I was looking for in this character, based on the roles I’ve seen him portray. So while my head is stuck in my book, writing out the scenes, what I wasn’t prepared to find was said actor sitting in our courtyard when I took Matthew outside to eat grass. I honestly do not know what to do with that knowledge. I’m just going to keep on writing, because that’s like the universe saying, “You’re doing exactly what you are supposed to be doing in your life. Keep going.”
I can honestly say that I have ideas and hopes of what my future will look like with these changes, but I’m always up for things going better than I planned, because in dreams, we cannot dictate what will happen in them. Crazy things happen all of the time within our dreams. So when you start living your dreams, crazy things will happen…like finding out the actor you’re currently writing scenes for lives in your building! Did not see that coming at all.
Mission Attainable: One Pound a Week
So now we are on to part two of my unhappiness and how I am changing that. I gained 20 pounds this pandemic and I honestly hate how I look. But what I hate more is how I feel. The crazy thing though is that I was vaccinated with Moderna. A side effect of Moderna is that it cures a lot of your health issues. I’ve experienced it and I’ve heard a number of people tell me the same thing. I haven’t had acid reflux since I received both doses of the vaccine.
I saw my doctor a month after my second dose. She performed every test there was, because we are looking for the second tumor in my parathyroid (we did find it, but it isn’t doing anything that requires removal). The blood tests came back saying there is absolutely nothing wrong with me. I just needed to lose the weight I gained during the pandemic and that was it. So Moderna fixed all of my ailments I was experiencing throughout the pandemic. It’s crazy. It even kind of offset the peri-menopause a little bit, which is really weird.
So now that I am vaccinated and have the all clear from the doctor, I can focus on weight loss. I will admit that I didn’t start right away. At first, we were going to go the medicinal route with weight loss. That ended up being a no go from the insurance company. So my doctor sent me a diet plan outlining my new way of life.
This diet is the same boring old diet that doctors have been recommending for decades. Whole grains, fruits, vegetables, fish 2x a week, etc. Most people would just roll their eyes and then do whatever the latest fad diet is out there. BUT over the last 4-5 years, people who believe in science say to trust science. Trust doctors. Trust scientists. So this is where I say, it’s time to trust the doctors on this one. They’ve been using this same food model for decades. It must work, right?
I’ve been slowly changing my way of life, because my main concern now that my body is changing, is what exactly am I supposed to be doing? What am I supposed to be feeding myself? As my brother says, we can no longer procrastinate with our health. We have to do it now.
Where does one start in this battle to lose weight? Start small.
I believe that when it comes to losing weight, so many of us sabotage our own efforts right from the beginning. We think of the end game, the magic size or number and work like crazy to get to that number, but when it doesn’t happen fast enough, we lose hope and give up. Anyone can lose 10 pounds in 2 weeks. I’ve done it many times. But it doesn’t last.
So I decided to set a realistic goal for myself. Over the next 52 weeks (i.e. one year), I am setting a goal to lose one pound every single week. Not two pounds. ONE POUND.
You’re probably thinking that anyone can do that. That’s the point. It’s a realistic goal. It’s very different than saying, “I’m going to lose 50 pounds this year.” One pound a week is a more realistic goal, because it appears simple and easy. Fifty pounds is a lot of work. It’s a huge number. But one pound is attainable. The 50 pounds mentality is where we sabotage ourselves into thinking of how much work we have to do over the course of one year just to get to that goal. It sets us up for failure.
But one pound in one week? Sure. Anyone can do that. It’s easy to put in the work to do what it takes to reach that goal every single week. After a year, guess what? If you accomplish that weekly goal every single week, that’s over 50 pounds in one year. It’s the same goal, but realistically attainable. And you put in the work to get there without even realizing it.
Do you see how you can trick your brain?
So that’s my goal and plan over the next year. My aim is to lose one pound every week by doing whatever it takes to reach that goal. That means changing my health for the better by making small changes every week. So far, this plan is working.
Changes I’ve made to help me lose one pound every week:
Started going into the office 2x a week. After being sedentary for the last year an a half, all of the walking and the countless stairs are helping me to get some exercise 2x a week. Next month, it becomes 3x a week.
I started taking Matthew on walks in his stroller 1-2x a week. Thanks to the pandemic, people have been more accepting of animals coming into their businesses. Matthew loves when we go shopping, especially the Hallmark store that has his itty bittys.
Eat fish 2x a week.
Switch to whole grains.
Eat more fruits/vegetables.
Drink 8-9 glasses of water.
Stop ordering takeout.
Each week, I plan on making one positive change for my health that will not only contribute to helping me lose one pound a week, but will also help with my overall well-being.
A friend mentioned that eating out and delivery helped contribute to her pandemic weight gain and breaking from the eating out cycle is really hard, because it’s become the norm. I used to allow myself takeout on Fridays, but I always ordered a bunch of food and it ended up lasting until the next takeout Friday. Since I always keep a stocked fridge, all of the groceries were going to waste.
So I decided to make a change. I started budgeting my groceries to $100 every two weeks. Whatever I order, I have to use up during those two weeks. This is my way of consciously focusing on ending food waste in my own home. Since I’m focusing on choosing organic and pasture raised food, that means the food I have to consume is healthy and will help me towards my goal of losing one pound a week. I’m also saving money. I never budgeted before. A trip to the grocery store usually ended up being $300-$600, and then $50-$125 every Friday for takeout. Forcing myself to budget will save money in the long run…money that can go towards our new future.
This is where I go back and mention that problem box. In one corner is LOSE WEIGHT. In the opposite corner is WEIGHT LOST. What I’m showing you are all of the tools in that box being used to reach the end result. It’s not just about diet and exercise. There’s more to this than just that. There are a lot of facets involved in our unhealthy to healthy habits. This is about changing our lives for the better so that we can reach the end result.
The next small change I am going to make is to continue to declutter my new apartment and finish organizing everything. There’s so much stuff. I honestly do not know where to put everything. I also don’t like how this clutter is taking away from the luxury part of living. It’s time to let go of the old, so I can embrace the new. This falls under the mental health aspect of weight loss. I find that the way we live and what we surround ourselves in is indicative of the state of our mental health. To me, having a bunch of ‘stuff’ around us, not knowing what to do with it, is just like having a bunch of extra weight surrounding us and we don’t know what to do with it, yet all we keep thinking is…I WANT TO GET RID OF THIS!
So that’s what I plan on doing next. Decluttering and organizing. Getting rid of the things I no longer wish to carry with me in life, because I’ve changed my life for the better.
Stay tuned over the next year. I’ll be sharing my small steps and progress towards accomplishing my weekly goals. If you want more up to date information, follow me on Instagram: @michellekennethpw. You can find inspiration and ideas there, as well as a lot of books.