Sunday, September 21, 2014

Book Review: Dirty Virgin ~ by Jessica Sitomer

Sassy, sexy, and sneakily insightful! 

That's how I would describe Jessica Sitomer's delicious read, Dirty Virgin: A Romantic Comedy Girl's Self Inflicted 12 Step Program for Finding Her Happily Ever After.

I met the author briefly at a conference in Los Angeles, and immediately fell in love with her energy and smile. Here was a woman whose life couldn't be more different than mine--and yet I felt a kindred spirit. Ladies, can't we tell when we meet someone who loves to think and wonder and take responsibility for who they are? Don't we feel a "we get each other" vibe when meeting another chickie-babe with a desire to discover herself with intention and an eye on moving forward?

Yes we do! Unless of course, we don't, but then... folks who don't aren't likely hanging out on my blog now, are they?? tee hee!

The main character in Jessica's book is the chronically hard working RCG - aka - Romantic Comedy Girl - aka - Reese Channing Gibson, and much like the movies she fashions ideas of love and romance after, her tale is a delightful romp into the very challenging world of life and romance. The road to finding our "Prince Charming" can be fraught with dragons (hurt hearts), evil step-sisters (bad habits), cruel kings (mis- communications that tear our world apart) and wart bedazzled witches (addictions we simply don't want to acknowledge as "a big deal") and Reese shares her hard truths in this adventurous tale with a big dose of fun!

Beginning with creating her very own 12 step program fashioned after the many programs that have helped countless others, but personalizing it for her own goals and her own personality. With steps as brilliant and diverse as "Make Decisions to Take Care of Your Mental and Physical Health" to "Stop Comparing Yourself to Others" and--one of my favorites!--"Embrace Embarrassment You're not Perfect". 

Okay my friends, I have to admit to being surprised by how much of me I could see in this sexy single looking-for-love lady! I fully expected to enjoy the story, but never imagined I'd totally get her! 

I've never thought about my relationships with men the way Reese does, but as you all know I'm "addicted" to breaking down, making stories of, and learning from my relationship with my sons. Who, it just so happens, are men. Huh, interesting.... but I don't want to start tangentalizing! (Read the book, you'll get it!)

The point is, we discover more about ourselves, and people in general, when we take the time to both enjoy and examine who we are and what we attract in our relationships. With friends, lovers, wives, siblings, children, teachers, yoga instructors.... who are we with them? What do we attract and encourage from them?

While we take each step with Reese, the clever and sexy and fabulous friend that is the book's heroine, we are encouraged to do a bit of fun and thoughtful introspection ourselves.

And with a drink in our hands!!

As a non-drinker Reese loves to "look like a party without having a party in her glass" and so each chapter comes with a corresponding drink and recipe. Both dirty and virgin. 

Of course, I was drinking coffee..... shhhhh! Don't tell Reese! Giggle!

Ladies, this book is for you. Married or single or somewhere in between, you'll find fun and comfort in these pages. And because most of my followers enjoy reading blogs (okay, I didn't do the research but since this is a blog and you're here, I brazenly made the assumption!) you'll appreciate the many blog posts weaved into the story. Truly, we writers can all imagine gong back to our posts and examining ourselves in much the same way Reese does!

So I say grab a glass, mix up a dirty virgin Mimosa (recipe on pg. 25 of the book) and make a few new friends in the pages of the sassy, sexy, and sneakily insightful Dirty Virgin. 

Step 1: Purchase the fun on Amazon

Book Title: Dirty Virgin: A Romantic Comedy Girl's Self Inflicted 12 Step Program For Finding Her Happily Ever After
Author: Jessica Sitomer 
Cover Design: Kathy Hoffman
Publisher: Greenlight Publishing
Number of Pages: 389
Buy the book on Amazon
Check out the Dirty Virgin Sisterhood site!

Friday, September 19, 2014

Autism Answer: Teenager-itis and Building Tools!

My sixteen year old son is dealing with a rough case of "life is hard and relationships are harder and I just want to be the boss of my own life but want everything tough to be someone else's fault and I really want a relationship but they're hard". You know, teenager-itis! 

Because he's pro-active (okay, because he's surrounded by pro-active people who bugged him into being proactive... tee hee!) he filled out a form that claimed to help folks pinpoint their struggles so they could take steps to help themselves.

Before he was quite finished, an impatient and overly curious mamma (aka me!) asked how he was enjoying the process.

"Well," he answered, adjusting his heavy glasses and putting down his number two pencil, "some of the questions are fine, but it sure asks a lot about my looks."

"What do you mean?" I was truly interested.

"It keeps asking if I'm happy with my appearance, if I ever wish I was bigger or smaller, if I feel good about my looks, if I worry about how my peers think I look.... that kind of thing. I don't really worry about my looks, but it's like they think I'm supposed to!"

I gave an upbeat giggle and then rubbed his back as he picked the pencil up and looked at the last few questions. Just as I was about to say something he interjected,"And now it's asking if my peers are uncomfortable around me! I don't know, THEY have to answer that question! This is a funny form, mom."

It was awesome! My son identified immediately the possible power of questions and how they can plant ideas. He announced confidently that he can't know what his peers feel, only they can. And, we chatted for quite a while about the questions he would suggest for such a form!

The next few days were more comfortable for both him and me. He had identified a few things about himself--for himself. And he'd identified them for me too. So I was a little less nervous about not being able to help him.

Of course, he's still sixteen, and an unusual sixteen at that! So his teenager-itis isn't cured. But it is healing and headed in a comfortable direction. Will there be flare ups and back slides? Of course! But every day we're given opportunities to discover and practice with tools that'll help us build something beautiful out of the mess.

And every day we try our darnedest to get comfortable and familiar with those tools. We aren't exactly sure what we're building, but it'll be unique.

And we'll love it in all of it's stages!!

Hugs, smiles, and love!!!

Autism Answers with Tsara Shelton (Facebook)

                                            Enjoy this trailer for the international reality series: 
on The Autism Channel. 

AUTHOR'S NOTE: When your mom is THE BRAIN BROAD, you find answers and inspiration and fun everywhere. Please help her spread that fun and those answers with us by contributing to her IndieGoGo Campaign: FIX IT IN FIVE with THE BRAIN BROAD--Next stop: Israel! Please share, contribute, and take absolute advantage of the kick-ass awesome perks!! Every episode of FIX IT IN FIVE offers us a lot of awesome, so become a FIX IT IN FIVER by giving your time, money, shares, tweets, likes, or ideas to this fantastic campaign!! Hugs!!!

Monday, September 15, 2014

Autism Answer: Video Game Passions and PewDiePie

When I'm passionate about something I love seeing all the benefits it offers. Coffee helps your brain and your colon, an open mind allows me to love freely and choose wisely, reading novels is a doorway to other worlds that travels comfortably in my purse, etc. etc. 

Video games, well, they bore me. They look like a time waster, a responsibility avoid-er, an exercise eraser. But for my youngest son they are so much more than that!

He feels the stories the way I feel the books I read. He generates ideas and opinions based on attempts, failures, and wins the way I generate ideas when writing and reading articles. He problem solves and reaches for help the way I do when I'm parenting or creating a campaign.

Also, he avoids social challenges, the way I do when I'm reading books. He blows the importance of the problems to be solved out of proportion, the way I do when I'm parenting or creating a campaign. Also, he proves his business by pointing to ideas and opinions generated as a way to procrastinate, the way I do when I'm writing and reading articles.

The other day I saw an article claiming that PewDiePie had the #1 Rated YouTube channel, by terms of SlateScore. I wasn't surprised. PewDiePie is a Swedish video game commentator. Basically, he plays video games and talks about them on video, and people watch. Lots of people!

My son has been a fan of his for years now, and I'll be honest. I used to find it perplexing! Why the heck would he want to spend hours watching someone play video games?? I mean, I wouldn't sit and watch someone read a book. Not even my favorite book!

Though, I sure would love to sit and chat about it passionately when they're through....

And that's the thing. My son is passionate about video games. They're both his abler and enabler. So watching someone else be passionate (which is usually fun, regardless) about something that's a passion of his--well, I kinda get it!

PewDiePie sees things my son doesn't see while playing, and points them out. PewDiePie sees things my son does see, and talks about it alongside him. It's exciting!

As much as I think it would be a "better" world if Lynette Louise aka The Brain Broad had the most popular YouTube channel, well... that's selfish and even prejudiced of me. Passion is passion, and judging another person's path to finding themselves and their values is NOT what I hope to teach, or believe!

So I will continue to help my son keep his passions healthy, and insist on keeping an eye on my own so that they also remain healthy. And when we dabble in the procrastination or avoidance zone--we'll laugh and smile and change and totally get each other!

My books are nice. 

His games are nice.
Our passions are us.

And they're equally valuable!

Hugs, smiles, and love!!

Autism Answers with Tsara Shelton (Facebook)

Playing at his Passion!!!

Monday, September 8, 2014

Autism Answer: Job Interviews & Hickies!

My eighteen year old son and his girlfriend just got their own apartment and spent the weekend packing and preparing for the three hour drive to their new place. They moved in yesterday. I got a call from my son last night. 

SON: Mom, I have a problem.

ME: Okay, I'll see what I can do! 

SON: Well, my girlfriend had to go back and see her mom so I'll be alone here for a little over a week. I had big plans to get a job, introduce myself to the local fire station and offer to volunteer, and check out the local community college to find EMT courses.

ME: That sounds like a proactive plan my dear! What's the problem?

SON: My girlfriend gave me three really big hickies on my neck. How can I look for work or go the fire station with those things? I don't look professional!

ME: (stifling a laugh) That is a bit of a problem. Welcome to the challenges of living with someone! Go to the store and get concealer, it's in the makeup section. I think, I haven't been in the makeup section since I was fourteen.

SON: I tried that last time this happened. It didn't work. It just drew more attention to the area.

ME: Hmmmmm.... I know! Wear a long scarf and act important. No one will see your neck, and they'll feel compelled to invite you into their crowd because you seem so important!

SON: Very funny! Oh, wait.... that's my girlfriend calling on the other line. Gotta go!

I said goodbye to my rug rat and marveled at motherhood for a moment. Though it's true that my advice was silly, it's also true that even if I wasn't being silly, if I'd have been brilliantly weaving answers that got him money, fame, happiness, and disappearing hickies, he still would have said goodbye to me when his girlfriend called. She's the one he lives with now. She's the one he's working to impress and protect now. She's the one he snuggles now.

But still, I'm the one he called for advice.

And that's the role that's most important to me anyway! The one who is trusted to come up with ideas, to not judge the problem, and to be there when he needs exactly that.

Our kids might move out but they don't have to move away.

I wonder what color scarf he's wearing today?

tee hee!

Hugs, smiles, and love!!!!

Autism Answers with Tsara Shelton (Facebook)

My son and his lovely lady!!

Friday, September 5, 2014

Autism Answer: The Genius of Comedy and a Comedy Genius~Joan Rivers

Joan Rivers, she will be missed!

Her humor was raw and crude. When her jokes (and the jokes of comedians like her) don't offend us, we laugh. When we agree with the callused and comical observations, we laugh harder. When a refusal to be politically correct or even kind hits us where we are tender or easily hurt, we tell our friends and teach our kids what not to joke about. 

Today when entertainers cross a line that irks us and our personal sensibilities we tweet or post or write long winded explanations and complaints with headlines meant to trigger clicks, shares, and conversation.

Comedians like Joan Rivers help us see ourselves and our incongruity. They help us know what we think is appropriate or inappropriate and remind us: A joke too far in your mind isn't more right or important than a joke to far in the mind of the next guy or gal. 

Comedians like Joan Rivers let us see ourselves and our culture while laughing, or while absolutely not laughing. That is a beautiful gift!

Can we talk?
A comedian who uses satire and commentary to say things he or she sees in the world, and to say it without pillows or apology while rarely saying it only for easy laughs, is a kind of hero. It's easy to say mean things that are funny-- "Went on a blind date, because I figured blind people can't read so I'm probably smarter and I like being the smart one, but when I got there and he was a fat old guy in a diaper I wished I was blind, not the date. Then I found out he wasn't even blind, just gross! I didn't stick around, but I'm betting I still would have been the smart one." and it's easy to stay away from controversial topics (aka anything worthwhile... wait, actually pretty much anything!) and be funny--"The difference between men and women is simple: Men don't like talking about their feelings and women's feelings are that they don't like men!" or "Have you tried one of those online dating sites? It's a great way to be rejected multiple times without even leaving the house!" or "Gas prices are so high I started hitchhiking. It's great because I've actually met some of my 70,000 social media friends in real life! You know, they're kinda losers." But to craft and deliver jokes that are fearless and true (to the person who crafts and delivers them) takes guts and a passion for making people laugh.
Joan Rivers had that passion during all of her years, she never grew tired or bored of us and our need for funny.

Joan Rivers and funny people like her are brave, and put themselves out there for our benefit--because we are healthier, happier, stronger and more connected when we laugh. And we should laugh often and loud!

My heart goes out to her family and I make a promise to laugh extra honestly this weekend.

Hugs, smiles, and love!
Autism Answers with Tsara Shelton (Facebook)

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Autism Answer: My Texas Body and My California Body~Different but Equal!

Author's Note: This piece was originally published on Yahoo Voices, but Yahoo Voices no longer exists. Which means we writers were given back rights to our articles. Sooooo.... I'm sharing this one here with you!!!! Happy reading! And feel free to love your body too!! xoxo ~~

I live in two states. Texas and California. Softer and harder. I find it's healthy to discover a love of both.

I am in a fun and unique position to learn love for my body. As with many women I've struggled to see myself as sexy or cute or beautiful. There have been times when it was easy; not because I was well proportioned physically so much as because I was well balanced emotionally. And there have been times when it was horribly hard; not because I was overly disgusting to look at but because I was uncomfortably sensitive and looking for outside approval.
However, the past ten years have offered me the perfect storm of opportunities to just go ahead and love my body. And I've (mostly) taken advantage of these offerings to see that beauty!
The seed was planted when my husband consistently ignored my attempts at fishing for compliments, or even bit the bait with unromantic, unflattering responses. "Well, I don't want no skinny woman," is one example. My husband instead completely voiced a love of me. Who I was, not how I appeared.
But a belief in my body's beauty didn't truly blossom until I moved out of our Texas home to California for two years, in order to help my mom begin building her new business. Which, interestingly enough, is called Brain and Body.
My lifestyle in California was vastly different from my Texas one. In Texas our home hides deep in the woods, surrounded by nature and quiet growth. We hike, read, watch the world, think, write, and sit by the fire. But in California our home was in a suburb where I could walk to a nearby club to go dancing, hurry to the park to play tag, speed up beside the running neighbors who'd smile and sweat with constant movement and joy. The California me was active and toned. Initially I lost enough weight to make my oldest son worry that I might have cancer!
I learned that I didn't really love my California body more than my Texas body, just different. And each state gave me plenty of takeaways that made the way I lived in the other even healthier!
Today I live in both states, travelling back and forth depending on where I'm most useful and comfortable in the moment, and always my body shifts with me.
I choose to eat healthy and think healthy regardless of where I live, but I also truly enjoy both lifestyles. My softer, fluffier Texas body and my tighter, thinner California body.

The trick is to first love who you are in all of your states, not how you look. My hubby taught me that. Appreciation for the rest happens almost naturally, as a byproduct of caring for and loving you.
Hugs, smiles, and love!!

Me, in one of my states!

Friday, August 29, 2014

Autism Answer: When Your Mom is THE BRAIN BROAD

When your mom is THE BRAIN BROAD, you are lucky indeed!

Lynette Louise aka THE BRAIN BROAD (aka my mom!)
Pictured here playing with one of her many lucky grandchildren!

She loved us with action and understanding, always. She knew things about us and our behaviors that we were afraid to know alone, but were blessed in knowing with her by our side. She encouraged us to always step up and step forward; to learn and to grow and to take responsibility for ourselves. Okay, she did more than encourage... she insisted!!! It was a rule in our home, and consequences were creative but always pertinent when we didn't learn or step up!

So now, as we eight kids have become eight adults, when mom works so hard and with such passion to teach and share and give what she knows, we, too, try and give back as much as we can! We share our stories and tell the world about her amazing shows, outreaches, and writing

We also pretend we aren't afraid when she travels to dangerous places. She almost died in India (from a mosquito bite) and created a stir in Uganda. She traveled with an addict and spent every moment with him for weeks--when he was desperate and possibly dangerous--and she waltzes brazenly--and lovingly-- into homes filled with fear and abuse and large violent folks. 

"You can't walk gingerly. You have to step in and say I am going to love you robustly, and we are going to get to the end of this!" ~Lynette Louise aka THE BRAIN BROAD 

When your mom is THE BRAIN BROAD you work tirelessly to tell the world and help gather funds for projects that make a difference. *Including an upcoming outreach for her reality series FIX IT IN FIVE with LYNETTE LOUISE aka THE BRAIN BROAD (on The Autism Channel) for a family living in Israel, where wars are raged. You do it because you know she can help the family. You don't hope or think... you know.

When your mom is THE BRAIN BROAD there is no room for fear or worry. There is no place for not stepping up or moving forward, because the consequences are just too great. She can help, and we know. 

When your mom is THE BRAIN BROAD, you forever have support and love that is action oriented and consistently offered. And you never stop learning to grow up!!! 

When your mom is THE BRAIN BROAD, you are lucky indeed!!!!

Hugs, smiles, and love!!!!

Autism Answers with Tsara Shelton (Facebook)

Enjoy this video of Lynette Louise aka THE BRAIN BROAD working/playing with a lovely little girl and her mom in Kampala, Uganda. I love this fantastic footage from the first of five families in the international series FIX IT IN FIVE with LYNETTE LOUISE aka THE BRAIN BROAD

PLEASE visit our campaign and become a FIX IT IN FIVER! You're gonna love the perks!!! 

*Once it's published I promise to include and share a link to the upcoming Indiegogo Campaign where we'll be gathering funds and connections for her trip to Israel. Check out our last one HERE. We're coming up with some pretty neat perk ideas (you get different perks with each contribution) and having a blast noticing how far we've come already in the series!! It's such a huge endeavor, but we're beginning to see the truth of it's possibilities!!