Friday, December 30, 2011

2011 - Growing Pains

Dedicated to those who turn towards the growth and not away from it.

On Christmas Day, I hosted seven of my friends for dinner and before we dug into the collective effort of delicious food, there was some wonder as to what we would toast to.  I, of course, already had an idea.  Passing around a ceramic bowl filled with Angel Cards, (if you don’t know what they are, click here – everyone needs a deck in their life!) I asked everyone to pick a card and wait for further instruction.

The room was abuzz with curiosity as some people had never even seen Angel Cards, let alone understood their purpose.  “Do we look at it?”  “Should we hide it from everyone else?”  I laughed at the easy discomfort amongst everyone as they all wondered what was next. 

I asked each person to take a minute, look at their card and see what came up for them.  Did the word resonate?  Did it make them feel anything?  What could they relate the card to in their life?

I worried about this as often times, at family functions – namely Thanksgiving – I recommend each person offer up – aloud - something for which they are grateful.  The suggestion was usually met with resistance and the feeling that I was bringing the mood down.  I didn’t want this for Christmas, but I felt so excited and grateful to be surrounded by such special people in my home, that I wanted to seal the deal with something that would connect us forever. 

Ironically, I drew Purpose, which I took as a sign, to stick to mine.

As we went around the table, it became clear that my friends were on the same page of reflection and reception.  There was Delight, Support, Gratitude, Truth, Tenderness, Sisterhood/Brotherhood and Faith.  Everyone boldly shared their individual thoughts ranging from the need for more gratitude in their life to being ready to welcome tenderness into their workspace once again. 

It was uplifting and as the conversation began with the group commiserating on what a crap year 2011 was, I started to see that perhaps this year and all its struggle had strong significance.

When I was nine, I remember whining to my father about the aches in my shins and feet.

“Those are growing pains,” he said, kindly, offering to massage away the pain.

“Growing pains?” I asked, happily stretching out my aching legs toward him.

“Your body is growing and sometimes, things don’t all grow at the same time.  You’re getting taller, but your legs are still used to supporting someone smaller.  Don’t worry, it will catch up at some point and the pain will go away.  You’ll see.”

Looking around the table, I saw each person, myself included, in the midst of their own growing pains.  Some needed to be more receptive in their lives.  Others needed to be more assertive in their truth and purpose.  It hadn’t been easy, but 2011 asked us all to push past our so-called limitations, create new boundaries and adapt accordingly.

I saw a lot of things change this past year – in my life and for those around me.  There was death, break-ups, job loss and a boat-load of personal growth.  As we approach the New Year, it would be naïve to think that on January 1st, everything resets, completely wiping away any trace of 2011.  Instead, we can take the year soon to be behind us and use it as a launching point.  Accept the pain that goes along with growth and don’t let it stop you.  If you do, well, then the pain was really for naught.

What was that silly saying in the 80’s? 

“No Pain No Gain.”

It’s time to focus on the gain, my friends, and as we go into 2012, be clear on what you’re leaving behind, but also know – I mean, really know – that it is just as important to recognize all the space you have in your life for possibility and potential.

As for me and my growing pains, I never went back to the shoes that no longer fit or the pants that became too short, because I grew.  I didn’t have a choice either way.  And when I finally hit full height, I forgot all about those growing pains because everything caught up.  Let the growth of 2011 catch up to you and when it does, you’ll be just fine.

Happy New Year.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Chapter 14 - HELP WANTED: Tales of a Free-Spirit Professional

A warm welcome to visitors - old and new! Please click on the right side of the page in the archives to follow this post from the beginning. It ALL starts in June 2011, so take a look and follow along. As always, thanks for reading and enjoy.

Tony and I had had a short affair.  It was typical:  guy pursues girl heavily and gets her.  Guy tells girl he’s not looking for anything serious.  Girl says okay, but secretly vows to make him love her.  Guy tires of girl always being available and tells her they need a break.

It wasn’t unique nor did it go on for very long.  In fact, I think it took me longer to get over him than the time we actually spent together.  But I learned a very important lesson -  don’t POOP where you eat.  Dating someone in my building seemed perfectly normal when things were going well, but once it ended, coming home was tortuous as I held my breath from the front door all the way to my apartment.

Tony lived on the ground floor and because of that, he never opened the window shade.  At first, I would walk my dog, passing by and wondering what was going on inside.  Oh the life I imagined that guy was leading!  Had it gone the way I’d imagined, he’d be getting laid around the clock by beautiful women taller and skinnier than me; all of whom he’d be madly in love with.

Instead, Tony was busy at work on Hunkmania.

My friends thought I was crazy to get involved in anything Tony, but I felt differently.  Sometimes, it’s best to get close to the very thing you need to get past.  Being back in Tony’s life took the mystique out of walking by his apartment and wondering what he was up to.  My newfound freedom from the corporate life had me feeling good about myself and I was ready to face Tony and make a little money at the same time.

Money.  My new obsession.  I guessed this was how retired people felt as they watched their savings dwindle with no promise of income on the horizon.  I, of course, wasn’t retired, but being on unemployment had its drawbacks.  I could only get a job that paid cash or “under the table.”  If I got paid in a check, I’d have to report the income to unemployment and once they saw I was making money, bye, bye unemployment.

The extra money from Hunk was decent, but I was also getting bored.  Arthur, a guy I knew through Tony, bartended in my neighborhood at a small restaurant called The Cove.  He was a sweetheart and everyone loved him.  I’d stop by once in awhile to see him for a drink or two.

“Ya ever think about bartending?” he asked one night when I popped in for a glass of wine.

The bar at The Cove was small with just six seats.  The décor looked like something out of south Florida with grey tones and pink accents.  The owners were Asian with three other restaurants in the neighborhood – one Chinese and two Japanese.  The Cove was supposed to be their attempt at upscale, but it ended up looking more cheesy than elegant with fake potted palm trees lurking in the corner and mediocre food.

Despite all that, the energy was always good with Albert behind the bar as people who lived in the neighborhood would stop in for a few drinks and a bite to eat before retiring to their respective apartments.

“I’ve thought about it,” I said.  “But it’s practically impossible to get a good bar gig without any experience.”

“You could learn here.”

And so it went.  I came in on the nights Albert worked, for two weeks and he taught me how to bartend.  He was a great teacher – patient and knowledgeable.  And I was a good student, studying the flashcards I’d made with every drink recipe imaginable.

I liked being behind the bar.  That was immediate.  It felt like a stage and being a performer afraid of actually performing, the bar was a perfect place to get my stage on.  When the two weeks were up, Albert announced he was giving up Sundays and the owners okay’d my taking his place.

And just like that, I was bartender!  I was so excited at the notion of my very own bartending gig, not to mention the fact that there was a shift pay and tips, of course.  Life was providing everything I needed to be happy and make the rent.

“There’s just one condition,” Albert said after I practically tackled him gratitude.  “If I let you bartend here, you have to promise to do something about the singing.”

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Chapter 13 - HELP WANTED: Tales of a Free-Spirit Professional

A warm welcome to visitors - old and new! Please click on the right side of the page in the archives to follow this post from the beginning. It ALL starts in June 2011, so take a look and follow along. As always, thanks for reading and enjoy.

I WILL be posting through the Holidays!

Photo courtesy of
I tried to keep in touch with my friends from the Madsen Group, but as my father wisely put it, “Work friends are because of work.  Once you lose that common thread, there’s not much else left.”

Harsh words from a normally gentle man, but he was right.  Two months after my departure, I’d only stayed close with two people; one of whom had left the company shortly after me.  My other friends all had jobs so my life of freedom and leisure slowly turned into a monotonous routine of, “What will I do to fill up my day today?”

Music wasn’t really happening.  I think I was better at dreaming about being a famous singer than actually becoming one.  I had a lot of ideas, but I was too afraid to try any of them.  Plus, I was slightly disappointed that Puff Daddy (I refuse to call him that other nonsense) and Clive Davis weren’t waiting for me in the lobby the day I quit my job.  Hadn’t they heard I was ready to take the music industry by storm?

I was a rock star in my head and keeping the dream alive inside, meant it would never die.  It also meant it would never thrive.  I couldn’t think about that, because If I did, I’d have to do something and it was just plain safer to sit on my couch.

Plus, I had money to worry about.  A convenient distraction and harsh reality as my finances were starting to tighten.  And while I was still getting unemployment, I needed to come up with something else to do for cash.

Enter Hunkmania.

One morning, as I sat in the car doing my usual street cleaning/writing thing, I ran into Tony.  Tony was an entrepreneur in every sense of the word with several different businesses going at once.  One venture, Hunkmaina, was a male strip show for women he had launched eight months ago.  It was doing well and he was taking things to the next level by going into full advertisement mode.

“I’ve got these postcards that need to be mailed out,” he told me as he leaned his large frame against my car.  A former male stripper himself, Tony had arms like an orangutan and the presence of sleeping giant.  He was a guy from Queens who had a head for business and a thirst for a good party.  “I need someone to put labels and stamps on the cards and send them out,” he continued.

“How many are we talking?” I asked, sitting up in my seat and resting my chin on the open window.

“A lot.”

“A lot” turned out to be over 5,000 and at ten cents per card, I’d found my much-needed extra income.

It was a decent gig in that I didn’t have to get up early and I never had to leave my apartment building (Tony lived downstairs.)  It didn’t really help my loneliness, though it gave me something new to talk about.  Since that common thread of work was gone, I’d have to come up with things to talk about with my friends from the Madsen Group.  

They were counting on me, after all!  You don’t know how many people wished me well and patted my back with envy as they admitted they didn’t have the balls to do what I was doing.  It was a lot of pressure to show those people that I would succeed.

“You’re pursuing your DREAM, Liz,” my friend, Marla had said when I’d called my first week out to complain about being lonely.  “You don’t get to be lonely!  Get out there, girl!  DO it!”

I was doing it alright – exchanging numbers with my new parking buddies and working for the guy who broke my heart a little over a year ago.

Oh yeah, did I mention that I used to be in love with Tony?

Friday, December 16, 2011

Chapter 12 - HELP WANTED: Tales of a Free-Spirit Professional

photo courtesy of

Part 2 - Free at Last

I loved being out of work; especially the mornings where I could wake up when I wanted; no alarm; no mad dash to the subway.  I’d never been a late sleeper, so it wasn’t like I was getting up at or anything; it was just more civilized waking up naturally. 

I fell into a routine rather quickly which consisted of walking the dog, grabbing an iced coffee and dealing with alternate side of the street parking.  Now that the Madsen Group was behind me (along with the hefty paycheck), I decided to cancel the garage and park my car on the street.  Who cared about being a slave to Daily Street Cleaning?  I had all the time in the world!

At first, I liked sitting in my car for an hour and a half on some days, with the windows and sunroof open, driver’s seat slightly reclined, writing in my journal.  I especially enjoyed watching people as they hurried to get to work as I sat there thinking how lucky I was not to have anywhere to go. 

I made friends with the other parking people and quickly realized that they were a close-knit bunch, always looking out for one another.

My first week in, I met the entire cast of characters.  There was Sayjil – a software programmer who worked from home and took care of his young daughter.  Carmella was a retired crossing guard and had lived in the neighborhood for years; and then there was Al who scared me a little at first with his gruff ways and unexpressive tendencies.

“You new?” he asked one morning, when I pulled into a prime Tue/Fri spot in front of my building.

“I’m sorry,” I said, not quite sure what he meant or if he was even talking to me since he pretty much looked over my shoulder when he talked.

“Haven’t seen you before,” he said giving me the once over.  “I’ve been parking my car here for years and you don’t look familiar.”

His demeanor unnerved me and I fought the urge to apologize and ask if it was okay to park there.  Instead, I chatted away, pretending like I didn’t notice his lack of warmth or manners for that matter.

Eventually, Al warmed up and asked for my number.  Not for a date, though.  No…..Al was in his seventies and more interested in not having to move his car.

“Gimme your number,” he grumbled one day – though it was a warm grumble; I’d started to notice the difference.  “If I get a good spot, I’ll call you and let you know.”

Besides my alternate side of the street parking friends, life was a little light on the social front.  I never realized how much I relied on work to feed that part of my life.  Working in an office, there were always people to talk to.  Whether you wanted to chat or not, it didn’t matter – you could if you wanted to.  I missed people.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Brady's December 2011

This past Sunday, I had the pleasure of sitting in with the talented boys from NO CALL NO SHOW at Brady's on the Upper East Side.  Check out some of the pics courtesy of Rodrigo Nardoni.

And....don't forget to check out my latest article, "Straighten Up!" on!

 Frank Gabbianelli - vocals, Frank Nardi - percussion, 
Johnny Keys - pretty much everything else!

A little help from Shawn Matzke

My loyal fans from near and far

Daph and Matty

Rodrgio Nardoni sitting in for a few tunes

What a great crowd!
Hoolia with her lens

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Aaaaand....we're BACK!

photo courtesy of

It's hard to believe that it's been over TWO months since I last posted.  I've been busier than ever with lots of exciting stuff and I thank you for all your inquiries as to when Help Wanted would be back.   I'm happy to say that Help Wanted - Tales of a Free-Spirt Professional will be back on Friday.  Be sure to read the last post here so you'll be up to speed.

WHILE you're eagerly awaiting its return, please check out my latest article on - it will blow you away! 

Come on back tomorrow afternoon and check out the photos from a fun night with my favorite band No Call No Show.

Phew! It's been quite a ride!!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

STAY tuned...........

Help Wanted will be back very soon!  

In the meantime, check out some of my oldies but goodies:

The Fat White Guy