Monday, 30 December 2013

Quote of the Week - Pasquesi

"Improvisation is itself an exercise of faith.  In faith of improvisation. That if I do the next tiny thing, all will be fine." 
~ David Pasquesi

Sometimes I think too much.  Sometimes I think that I need to make big, bold maneuvers, when actually, sometimes it is enough to think in the direction of a goal, or move slightly, shift energy in a direction that seems good.  The thing that's easy to forget is that it's always a series of small actions that create events.  It's good to have a larger plan, or a focus, but you can't usually get there in one huge leap.

Yes, this quote is about acting, but the deeper I go into things, the more I realize, being good at anything, including life, operates within the same principles. In tennis they teach you to keep moving your feet, be on balance, to make tiny adjustments that let you align with the ball.  Waiting to see where the ball is going to go means you are late to meet it and are often on the back foot.  Your power is behind you, not behind the ball. Small steps keep you ready to respond - you don't have to think about moving - you're already moving - you just have to hit the ball.

It's often when I remember to take the tiny step that I find myself in alignment, when there is momentum instead of friction, when my force is multiplied by circumstance and when I don't fall exhausted in a heap from all the grand gesturing.

I'm going to try to remember this one every day.

And now I'm off to do tiny things.

Saturday, 28 December 2013

Year End Giving 2013

I know you.  You like to give.  You don't have the most money, but you like to share.  You contribute to your friends' Kickstarter and IndieGoGo campaigns.  You volunteer at the holidays.

Downtown Women's Center

Shelter and positive support for women.


Best radio station in the world?  Maybe.  You know you listen.  Time to donate?

No Kid Hungry

Meals for kids.  There's a handy button on the right of this page if you want to click and give.

Playa Summer Lake 

Support artists in residence at this oasis of quiet and beauty.

Union of Concerned Scientists 

Science in service of sustainability!

You can also support the Zestyverse.

By subscribing or by making a one-time donation.  There are some handy buttons on the right ------>

We appreciate your readership and your support and look forward to being even zestier in 2014!

Thursday, 26 December 2013

And another ten books….

Yeah - I can't stop doing this!  Hopefully, I won't accidentally repeat.  This week's list had 13 on it, so I already know there's a next week coming!

I'm completely resisting commenting on the books.  If you pick them up, then pick them up with no expectations, or as few as possible!

Ten more books that stay with me are:

1. On Writing - Stephen King

2. Religion for Atheists - Alain de Botton

3. Bill Graham Presents - Bill Graham

4. A Good Man is Hard to Find - Flannery O'Connor

5. Just an Ordinary Day - Shirley Jackson

6. Enormous Changes at the Last Minute - Grace Paley

7. Shambhala - The Sacred Path of the Warrior - Chogyam Trungpa

8. The Hobbit - J.R.R. Tolkien

9. Siddhartha - Hermann Hesse

10. Atlas Shrugged - Ayn Rand

Monday, 23 December 2013

Quote of the Week - Anderson

"Dare to be strong and courageous. That is the road. Venture anything."

This is a good reminder going into a new year!

Have you ever had a year of yes?  Maybe 2014 is your year!

Say yes to whatever people ask you to do.  You'd be surprised where you might end up.  It's a good way to shake up old patterns, try new things, and in some cases, reaffirm who you are.  (No - I was not very happy having said yes to going to the New Age Megachurch.  Not much.  But then there was midnight swimming with some stand up comics at some pool at some house in NoHo, so you know...)

Maybe this week, you can test it out.  When someone asks you to do something or go somewhere, just say yes, before even deciding.  Good things might happen1  Go ahead and leave your adventures in the comments if you like!

One more day to get your free download of 5: Poems and Images from Morocco for Kindle!

Happy Holidays from the Zestyverse!

Saturday, 21 December 2013

Happy Holidays from Zesty!

Wow - 2013 was a tough one!  But here we are on the solstice with the days about to get longer and a new year almost here!

Thank you for all the support, encouragement and inspiration along the path this year!  Thanks to all the amazing contributors to the Zestyverse!

Time for Zesty to give back with a few gifts and specials!

FREE download of 5: Poems and Images from Morocco by E. Amato with translations by Catherine Webster, Ph.D. until December 25th!  

Kindle edition of Swimming Through Amber only $2.99 - save $2.00!

50% off Script Consultations through December 31st!
(You can even book now and use it later!)

Don't forget to check our IndieStyle Gift Guide and Zesty Pubs for gift ideas!

We are looking forward to a great, productive and eventful 2014 for everyone!

Carry peace throughout the season!

Friday, 20 December 2013

Ten Books More!!!!!!

Okay - I was charged with that whole "ten books that stayed with you" thing, but as a reader and a writer, that's kind of an insult to books.   Ten?  I'm going for ten a week!


1. Without Lying Down - Cari Beauchamp

2. An Empire of Their Own - Neal Gabler

3. The Golden Notebook - Doris Lessing

4. Nine Stories - J.D. Salinger

5. The Tipping Point - Malcolm Gladwell

6. Winesburg, Ohio - Sherwood Anderson

7. It's Not How Good You Are, It's How Good You Want to Be - Paul Arden

8. Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen

9. Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte

10. Miles - Miles David/Quincy Troupe

See you next week.  The list is already waiting...

Monday, 16 December 2013

Quote of the Week - bell hooks

“I think we have to remember constantly that shaming is one of the deepest tools of Imperialist White Supremacist Capitalist patriarchy because shame produces trauma and trauma often produces paralysis.”

Really, I want to quote this whole video at you!  This conversation, beautiful dialogue between Melissa Harris-Perry and bell hooks is filled with clear thinking, precise articulation, reasoned argument, and the heartfulness that comes from living life in service to your gifts.  I'm so grateful that this happened!

I just found out about Melissa Harris-Perry - she's so amazing!  If you don't know about bell hooks, you might want to find out!

I chose this quote, because the moment was particularly moving and thoughtful and because lately my thoughts have been turning more and more to the idea that we are all a series of accumulated traumas walking around bumping into other people's traumatized selves.  I don't want to think this way, but even scientific research seems to be supporting the idea.

If we can pass our traumas on to subsequent generations, and we never resolve them ourselves, it seems like life will evolve to be a very frenetic event for future humans.

We might need to change the ways we are changing.

Time to meditate!

Saturday, 14 December 2013

Only Ten Books?

Oh, I finally got tagged in that whole "ten books that stayed with you" thing. Truly for someone who loves books and writing so much this is just cruel. But with a modicum of consideration, I think the following books are so close to my heart or psyche as to be inseparable.

1. Their Eyes Were Watching God - Zora Neale Hurston 2. The Gift - Hafiz (Daniel Ladinsky trans.) 3. Blood Memory - Martha Graham 4. Family - J. California Cooper 5. Rap on Race - James Baldwin and Margaret Mead 6. The Little Prince - Antoine de Saint-Exupery 7. The Lonely Doll - Dare Wright 8. Jazz - Toni Morrison 9. Queen of the Desert - Georgina Howell 10. Snow Crash - Neal Stephenson

Needless to say, on a different day a different list. And at least half of those authors could have alternate books listed.

Oh F*&^K! How could I leave out The Great Gatsby, which I re-read constantly and write poems to? And Jean Nathan's amazing biography of Dare Wright? And The Autobiography of Malcolm X? And What We Talk About When We Talk About Love?

And Alice Walker just slightly off list with either The Temple of My Familiar or Possessing the Secret of Joy.

Can I make a new top ten every week?

Thursday, 12 December 2013

Let's Talk About: Microaggressions - Guest Blogger Laura Bernstein

Let's Talk About:

by Laura Bernstein

A month ago, I didn’t even know what a microaggression was.

Applying for grad school, I wrote in my  personal history what it was like to move in 8th grade from rural NY to Santa Monica, CA. Once there, I had to confront exactly what it meant to be adopted from Bogota, Colombia, when I was 6 months old.

I went to a feedback event where a multicultural education doctoral student read my essay and said, 

"Hey! You experienced microagressions! Have you ever heard about that?" 

Then she pulled out her phone and made me watch this entire video:

8th grade. Noticing my strong New York accent, my new peers were curious, and  asked me where I was from or where I was born. When those two questions had two different answers, there were more hurtful, ignorant, and even intrusive questions to answer. 

“Were your parents drug dealers, is that why you had to be adopted?” 

 “Why don’t you speak Spanish, then?” 

These stuck with me and echoed in my head when I got home from school.

Last month, in this “bootcamp” for grad school, I kept thinking: 

I’m still afraid to tell people I’m from Colombia because I know there is going to be some comment about drug mafias. (This still happens all the time as an adult!)

Wow. In high school I really would have benefitted from knowing about microagressions. Wait?  What?! I don’t just have to accept that as a woman I’m supposed to be monogamous and really, really private about my sexual desires?! (As an adult I find that no one cares –but it was a nightmare in high school.)

Ever since I was little, the men in my home said that I was too sensitive on a weekly basis. The women didn’t disagree but didn’t jump in to validate my feelings either.  I grew up determined to be less sensitive and more “tough.” Sometimes at home I got upset about seemingly meaningless things because I had to put up with this crap all day long from my peers. 

As an adult I am still being told that I’m too sensitive. Probably true. But it's one of the things that makes me a damn good educator of adolescents. 

If I’d known as a teen that the way I’ve been emotionally poked and prodded had a name --- I might have not then turned dangerously back in on myself … feeling guilty for caring what other people thought, feeling guilty for having an unusual history that confused people, feeling so ‘outside’ that I didn’t know where I belonged. 

If you want to learn some more, visit The Microaggressions Project - they are helping to create dialogue around these issues.

Laura Bernstein is a musician, gardener and educator from Colombia/NY/LA/Chicago and now lives in Seattle. A former middle school mathematics and sciences teacher, she is most proud of her work coaching a First Lego League Robotics Team to the Illinois State Tournament. Since moving to Seattle she has performed backing vocals and played bass guitar in Fern Cove and Doseywallips. She is happiest at home collaborating with b l burns. Their music sometimes ends up in interesting places, like Palace Living. Find her on Twitter and Scoop It!.

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Giving IndieStyle - Holiday Gift Guide 2013

Hello Hello!

Let's do this again!  

Put your dollars into great and fun gifts for friends, family, or even yourself while supporting independent artists, projects and businesses!

This year we are spotlighting these:

Kcymaerxthaere - Please Don't Connect the Dots

What if I told you I knew someone who had an alternate universe?  Right here, inside our own universe?  And that he's manifesting that universe as we speak?  Well, I do! And the latest manifestation is the Please Don't Connect the Dots activity book!  Yes, this is an IndieGoGo campaign, so technically it's a donation, but check out the awesome perks - and they should all be delivered on time for Christmas!  

Just HURRY - the campaign ends on December 17th!  

Chris Faroe

Chris Faroe is a talented artist and super cool person!  On his website you can listen and download his music, and also check out the amazing gifts he is offering like a 6-month art postcard subscription sent directly to you or your giftee.  You've got amazing mail!

K. Anderson

One of our favorites - K. Anderson has put out a new EP this year.  I love the songs on this - one of them has even inspired a screenplay!  She's also got some amazing merch with illustrations by Joanna Layla!  

Paisley Sockwear

It's no secret I have a thing for socks - I've got friends with great sock collections who won't leave me alone with their sock drawer! - but, seriously, who doesn't like socks?

These are my current favorite --  Paisley Sockwear designs are so fun you won't want to hide them under your pants!  They'd probably make the most amazing sock puppets, too!


Not enough ideas?  Can't find that perfect gift?  Check out the 2012 guide, too!  And the "Partners, friends and community" links on the right have lots of indie businesses, like the Brat Store, Reciprocity, Breathe Bodyworks and more - many of them have amazing stuff!

Our friends at The Conscience Collective have put out quite a dazzling gift guide, as well!

If you're going to any parties (of course you are!) or giving any, check out our posts on being a great guest and Top 10 Tips for Hosting!

Everyone here is donating their time, talent and taste - if you want to contribute to keep the Zestyverse going, there's a handy little donate button on the top right!  Thanks!

Wishing you a warm, lovely, prosperous and healthy 2014!

P.S.  If you're trying to get your script in shape before the clock strikes midnight on NYE - there's a special on script consultations through December 31st - book before the year ends and you get 50% off!  Just check out the Coaching/Consulting page for details!

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

The Greatest Human So Far?

I've been mentally preparing for this for a while now.  Nevermind.  The day is here and I am completely without breath.  Kicked in the gut, winded, tear-streaked and awe-inspired.

The thought began formulating itself and has been unraveling slowly over the last year or so as reports of illness spread: there has never been anyone on earth with the insight, force, skill, power and love of this man.  We are blessed to witness his life in real time.  We will not witness another such life in ours. I kept wondering if he could live forever.

This is why I prepared myself - or thought I did, for his death. Turns out, there was no preparing.

If I am activist, it is completely because of Mandela and apartheid.  I think I was 11 when I first learned about the segregated state of South Africa.  It was beyond absurd to me, but if it was real, and it appeared it was, I knew it was injustice on the grandest scale. It represented something I had thought of as belonging to other humans, those in the past, like the holocaust or civil rights marches.  That this could be happening while I was on the planet was unfathomable to me.  It had to be stopped.

My first protests were for divestment from South Africa.  Let me tell you - we didn't have a prayer.  We didn't think anyone would divest, and if they did, we didn't think it would have an impact, and we all believed Mandela would die in prison - probably very soon, in fact, given the conditions.  Still we sat, we marched, we spoke, we organized (well, I followed), we obstructed normalcy, we got rained on and got handed cups of soup, and every few hours, someone put on Free Nelson Mandela and we danced.

On the radio, some months later, I heard we'd achieved divestment.  I was driving, and I pulled over, turned up the radio and I cried.  It was a small victory, but now I can see it was a tide turning.  It was a quiet victory, but I learned early to celebrate all the victories, because the defeats will come fast and furious.

When Mandela stepped out of prison, my world changed.  I was now living in a world where Nelson Mandela would not die on a cold cement floor in a prison on a bleak island.  I was living in a world with hope for humanity.  I never thought I would be; it made me change.

Then he became president.

Then he did what no one in our world had ever done - he created forgiveness.  He created vast oceans of forgiveness so that his people, and his country, could move on in positivity, without cultivating bitterness.

Then he steered his country into a new world.

He showed the world what change looked like, what integrity looked like, what justice could look like if we didn't so confuse it with vengeance. He stayed true to his principles and ideals, while always evolving in thought, policy, and implementation.  He led with heart, humor and intellect.  He possessed a warmth and humility I had never seen in other world leaders.

He didn't die.  Not when he should have, not when he was supposed to, and thankfully not until he had given the world almost a century of his grace.  He didn't fight his fate - he lived the life he was given, true in each moment.  He moved forward even when that meant standing still.  He did not give in to any of the temptations we succumb to so easily every day - self doubt, fear, loathing, depression - not even when his spirit and body were sorely tested.

He was a hero.  Not the Homeric kind.  He wasn't going to be waylaid by glamour or take his vanity into battle with him.  A new kind of hero.

I am so grateful for his life and his example.  There really are no excuses, are there?


Monday, 9 December 2013

Quote of the Week - Conaway

"Am I living what I know?"

So wow!

Lately I've been feeling like I'm living in a time bubble between what was before and what is to come.  (Sure - we're always in this bubble - it's called the present, but that's not exactly what I'm going for here.)

There was someone who was me, did a bunch of things and learned a bunch of things.  There's someone who is me who wants to do a bunch of things, stop doing a bunch of things, has been a bunch of places, but wants to be different places…in between is now.  It's uncomfortable, but has the potential to move toward a perfect fit.  When I read this article and saw this question, I knew that it was articulating the ignition of what I was feeling.

We learn a lot, but sometimes we don't stop to process it or implement it.  So we keep making choices based on who we were and what we knew before.  Sometimes, we fling our lives in the direction of things we once wanted, but are no longer desirable to us in any way.  We just get caught up in the momentum of having wanted them.  Somewhere we know that what we we are doing is based on what we used to know and who we used to be, but we just won't tell ourselves that.

Being who we are now and acting on what we know now not only demands throwing over a whole lot of automated responses, it requires real courage and force of character.  But it will no doubt bring you a better life - the one you actually want.

Leave space for it.

Are you living what you know?

I think that's a good prompt for a Monday!

This whole article on The Good Men Project is worth a read and consideration.

And here's a happy Monday moment:

Friday, 6 December 2013

My Science Crush

Oh…I have to say, I have a huge science crush.  Well, I have a lot.  But at the moment, I'm re-crushing hard on Dr. Jacob Bronowski.  I've just watched the final episode in his Ascent of Man series (you can pretty much get them all on YouTube) and I want to walk around in his brain for a good long while!

Episode 13 is something everyone should watch.  Truly.  It's prophetic - filmed in 1973 (yeah - filmed) and it lays it out the changes we need to see, the ways we need to modify behaviour, the relationship of science to government (climate change, censorship and privacy concerns, anyone?), and the need to democratize intellect.  I want to quote the whole show!


Here's an earlier post on Bronowski, too.

Photo of petroglyphs in Central Oregon by E. Amato

Thursday, 5 December 2013

Radiant Orchid for 2014

Pantone has named it's color of the year for next year and it's….


Radiant orchid to be more exact.

Is orchid a color?  Apparently so - it is sort of a lilac-lavender purple color and apparently we welcome it this year into our wardrobes and hearts. I'm feeling…skeptical.  I was on board with orange, teal, and definitely the emerald green, but orchid?

It's supposed to be creative and artistic.  But not too big a change.

I don't know.  How does it make you feel?

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

I Might Be (Becoming) His Biggest Fan

Hard to believe, but Russell Brand keeps winning me over.  First, it was his down to earth piece about Amy Winehouse where he breaks down addiction:

"All addicts, regardless of the substance or their social status share a consistent and obvious symptom; they're not quite present when you talk to them. They communicate to you through a barely discernible but unignorable veil. Whether a homeless smack head troubling you for 50p for a cup of tea or a coked-up, pinstriped exec foaming off about his speedboat, there is a toxic aura that prevents connection. They have about them the air of elsewhere, that they're looking through you to somewhere else they'd rather be. And of course they are. The priority of any addict is to anaesthetise the pain of living to ease the passage of the day with some purchased relief."

And now this:

Speaking truth to power is necessary.  Sometimes we need someone with access to do it for us.

But I'm still clear that Arthur was kind of a mistake.

Monday, 2 December 2013

Quote of the Week - Questlove

"How can you say what’s important in a life, really? Could you sum up a whole life in twenty chapters? Or would it take twenty-one? And why is the person who lived the life the only one talking? Could you pass the mic, let someone else talk, and just shut the hell up for a minute and let them call you on your inevitable bullshit? I don’t know exactly what would work, but experimenting is more interesting than just telling the story straight through from A to Z."

I love this.  So far so good - feel like this is a mad quotable book.

It is time to pass the mic.  In a global sense.  We all know there isn't one story - ever.  We've all done enough work to realize that we are made up of the tens, hundreds, thousands of stories that create communities.  This whole "project of me" not only is never done - it's completely beside the point.  The point is people.  How we live together is a good bit about how we live with ourselves, but nobody lives by themselves, no matter how great their effort to do so.

Another of my favorite books about people I admire or maybe wanted to be - Bill Graham Presents - does exactly this - it is just a cut and paste of the stories told by him and others about his life.  Even within those pages, there is no truth.  But what great stories.

We are made up of stories, inspired by stories, we all have them and we all need to find voice.

But there's no correct answer.  It's not a multiple choice test, or, if it is, all the answers might be right.

Pass the mic.  It's a talking stick.  Or to quote some friends, from back in the day at Karma Coffeehouse:

What you see before you is an open mic…