Do You Believe in Mind Over Medicine? (You Should...)

Mind over Matter.

Is the glass half-full or half-empty?

Do you focus on the cellulite and stretch marks or celebrate your body and the blessings it has brought you?

Will you look for the silver lining or just bitch about the rain pouring down from the clouds above?

It isn't easy. Too often, we overlook the fact that how our perceptions have a very real effect on our realities. If you're convinced you can't do something, chances are you won't. Change the perception and shift to the positive, and suddenly we find ourselves making like The Little Engine that Could. We stop self-defeating and start self-motivating and suddenly the glass is half-full, we love ourselves as we are, and find ourselves dancing in the rain. Because we opened our minds to the power of positivity.

Not many question our ability to choose happiness. We tell our children they need only believe to achieve and then marvel as we watch them learn to ride a bike, blossoming as their confidence grows. That's how powerful our minds are.

Or maybe that's just the beginning. What if our minds hold not only the power to change our perceptions, but also heal our bodies? It might sound like Crazy Talk, but you can't argue the conclusive research presented by my friend Lissa Rankin in her new book, Mind Over Medicine: Scientific Proof That You Can Heal Yourself. Lissa's book launches on May 7 with Hay House, and it's an incredible read already making major waves. Major waves, people. As in PBS is Producing a Special on Lissa's Work major.

Mind over Medicine is the culmination of three year's of research in which Lissa shows us how our thoughts, beliefs, and feelings get translated into the physiology of the cells of every organ in the body. Diet, exercise, adequate sleep, and vitamins are all important, but they play a small role when compared to the physiological effects of health poisons like fear, loneliness, work stress, anxiety, and depression. Our bodies can and do heal themselves every day. The problem is that the current health care model in place, accepted both by mainstream medicine and patients alike, flat out ignores anything that can't be fixed with a pill.

In Mind over Medicine, Lissa shows us that our minds can heal our bodies simply by turning on our relaxation responses with mediation, creative expression, having lots of sex, being optimistic, and having lots of sex. Which I probably already mentioned, but it seems like a pretty important point.

Lissa is on a mission to change our own thinking, help us become empowered self-advocates of change and healing while encouraging healthcare practitioners to embrace what what our bodies already know.

It's Mind over Medicine. We have the power to heal ourselves. We only need to be open to the possibility.

Because I truly believe Lissa is a change-agent who has created a book you need to read, I'm doing everything I can to support her in the Mind Over Medicine launch. I've pre-ordered a few copies of the book, available tomorrow on all major retailers, for giveaways here and on Girl Body Pride. I've got three copies coming my way, people. That's three chances to win a free copy of Mind Over Medicine. Bonus? Buy your own copy of Lissa's book and I'll throw in a free download coupon for Girl Body Pride's Strong Life Butterflyanthology (which happens to feature one of Lissa's essays!). Simply email me a copy of your receipt!

To enter to win ONE COPY of Mind Over Medicine here on Aspiring Mama, simply leave a comment on this post.

For an extra entry, copy and paste the following and tweet, tweet, y'all:

Do you believe in Mind Over Medicine? Win 1 copy of 's  from  here!

Entries will be accepted until midnight, EST, on Monday, May 13.

Interview with a CHICKtionary

n: Lefler, Anna: 1. Award-winning writer with nationally syndicated essays whose work has appeared online at, McSweeny's, The Big Jewel, and Funny Not Slutty. 2. Wife (see also: domestic partner and Queen of Your Heart) 3. Comedian (see also: Hilarious and Can I Be Your Biffle?) 4. Mother (see also: Superwoman) 5. Social Media Maven who is waiting to be cyber-stalked on her popular humor blog Life Just Keeps Getting Weirder and and on twitter (@AnnaLefler). 6) Author of The CHICKtionary: From A-line to Z-snap, the Words Every Woman Should Know (see also: LOL funny, My New Bible, and Can You Be on my Team When We Play Dirty Minds?)

She's fun, funny, and it seems, funnier with every page. Trust me on this. Grab yourself a copy of The CHICKTionary, flip to a random page, and laugh out loud while you wish you had though to say what she just said first. And then do it again. And again. doesn't get old.

Sidebar: Let me interject on my own little gush-fest with my not so small print: While Anna was kind enough to offer me the opportunity to review her book on my blog, sent me a copy that I did not pay for, and has been kind enough not to issue a restraining order on me (see also: yet and cyber stalker), I like to stick to the Rule of Thumper, which pretty much dictates I pretend I never received the book and that all of Anna's emails went to spam when she asks why I haven't reviewed her book yet if I couldn't think of anything nice to say. But as I'm sure you can now guess, I actually thought of plenty....and then I realized Anna is much funnier than I am and decided to let her tell you just how she manages to be so much cooler than us and still make us love her at the same time.

Told you she was talented.

Aspiring Mama: Name. Rank. And serial number. Go!

Anna Lefler: Hmmm, I'm not sure about rank and serial number...but the name is Anna. Lefler, that is. (It helps to imagine the "Beverly Hillbillies" theme behind this. "Beverly. Hills, that is.")

AM: I see from your Chicktionary bio that you also go by MOOOOOOOM and Mrs.

Please tell Aspiring Mama readers a bit about what makes the Lefler clan click. Or, more specifically, do they take for granted how funny you actually are?

AL: I think we are pretty weird for a "normal" family, and I like it that way. I am fortunate in that my husband, daughter and son really get my humor and they are very supportive of my creative dreams. This is a gift for which I am grateful every day. They also think I'm a few doughnuts shy of a box, and they may be on to something with that. Now that the children are a little older - in middle school - the three of us can present a united front against my husband, who is by far the most grown-up person in the house. One of our favorite family activities is to embarrass him in public by, say, doing a spontaneous clog-dance in the lobby of IHOP. He's disavowed his connection to us on many occasions, but he's going to have to try harder than that if he wants out of this little cult.

AM: So we share the same philosophy on family. *Fist Pumps* Tell me, do these creative dreams include taking this little clog dancing act on the road? Or do you have other fun and interesting ways to not have any free time?

AL: Oh, you know me - I've always got something cooking. (I'm not referring to actual food, of course. I never have real food cooking. My family will back me up on this.) I'm polishing up a novel right now and I'm very excited about that. I've also got a couple of creative ideas that fall outside the writing world, but they're still in the planning stages. When I need some occupational therapy (or to ruminate on something), I make jewelry. Necklaces with semiprecious stones, mostly. I love working with my hands - it's good for my noggin.

AM: A novel in progress, a stand-up comedy career, and jewelry making. I think you just gave me a complex. Wait. No. That already happened while reading The CHICKtionary. What moment of genius spawned a book written in dictionary form for women ?

AL: I wish I could take credit for the idea! The notion of a funny women's dictionary came from the publisher, Adams Media. They saw some humorous pieces of mine on various websites and thought my voice would be a good match for the project, so they contacted me through my blog. Which is why, by the way, I tell people always to check their spam filter! You never know what you might find in there among the Viagra ads.

Anna has graciously offered a signed copy of The CHICKtionary: From A-Line to Z-snap, The Words Every Woman Should Know with one Aspiring Mama reader. To enter, simply do one of the following (or more for extra entries!)* Leave a comment for Anna on this blog post.

* Tweet, Facebook, Google +, or include a link to this post on your own blog. Each counts for it's own entry, so be sure to leave me one comment letting me know what you did so I can add up points!

* Comments will be accepted through midnight, EST, on Monday, February 8.

* One winner will be selected via and will be announced here on Aspiring Mama shortly thereafter.


I'd like to thank Anna Lefler for offering me the chance to share her book with all of you. And the not minding the fan-girl squee thing I've got going on right now. Yeah...especially that.


UPDATE: Because I'm obviously a dumbass in need of a calendar tattooed to my forehead, I've decided to extend the giveaway period for a chance at Anna's book. And no, this has nothing to do with Heather pointing out that I had the day AND date wrong in her comment. Nope. I figured this all out by myself. And that's a total lie. So come forth and comment. According to my calendar, you've now got until Sunday, February 12.

You're welcome


Happy Chaos and Punky Power

I grew up with jelly bracelets, bright neons, Rainbow Brite, My Little Pony, and everybody's favorite 80's kid, Punky Brewster. Surprisingly, I've never had the chance to name a dog Brandon. I'll have to remedy that. For now, I'll just focus on the fact that my childhood hero has grown up with me into a a powerhouse of a mom with two adorable little girls, her popular site, over a million twitter followers, an eco-friendly clothing line called The Little Seed, and her role as Target's Mommy Ambassador. Now, I'll be the first to admit that I'm not one to run out and buy the latest celebrity memoir, but when I was offered the chance to read and review Soleil's new parenting book, Happy Chaos: From Punky to Parenting and my Perfectly Imperfect Adventures In Between, I decided my childhood dream of becoming Punky's best friend was just a blog post away from coming true. I'll keep you posted on how that works out, y'all.

Happy Chaos shares stories from Soleil's childhood (she once had Johnny Depp show up as a surprise guest to a birthday party), precious moments with her children, and perhaps most importantly,  brings us non-celebrity moms right there with Soleil when she shares how she's learning to accept that the mom she thought she was going to be is not the mom she became once her children were born. The beauty of it all is in the journey of discovery with our children.

And while not every mom can relate to a roster of celebrity BFFs or boast about directing her first film at the age of 18, reading Happy Chaos reads more like a chat over a cup of coffee with a girlfriend than anything else. Part memoir and part parenting manual, Happy Chaos reminds us to embrace the crazy that motherhood brings while taking a moment to celebrate the magic of cutting an apple sideways just to show our children the star inside.



Soleil has graciously offered a signed copy of Happy Chaos: From Punky to Parenting and My Perfectly Imperfect Adventures in Between with one Aspiring Mama reader. To enter, simply do one of the following (or more for extra entries!)

* Leave a comment for Soleil on this blog post.

* Tweet, Facebook, Google +, or include a link to this post on your own blog. Each counts for it's own entry, so be sure to leave me one comment letting me know what you did so I can add up points!

* Comments will be accepted through midnight, EST, on Monday, January 16.

* One winner will be selected via and will be announced here on Aspiring Mama shortly thereafter.


I'd like to thank Soleil Moon Frye for offering me the chance to share her book with all of you.


My thoughts on Room

There are books you read and put down. And there are the stories that stay with you long after you have turned the last page.

The characters get into your head. The story so beautifully narrated that you almost feel like a voyeur, watching the scenes unfold before your very eyes. The book is your window into that world.

Catcher in the Rye

Taking Care of Terrific

Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing

To Kill a Mockingbird

Fahrenheit 451


Anna Karenina

Atlas of The Human Heart

Flowers for Algernon

The Hatchet

Are You There God? It's Me, Marget

Mother Tongue

Mexican Enough

An eclectic list, to be sure. But these are the stories that have stayed with me.

And now I add Room to that list.

I'm not a book reviewer. Just a writer sharing my thoughts on the stories I love.

Room is magnificent.

Read it. And be thankful for the strength of human spirit.

Waiting to (be Read)

A guide to writing query letters. The Life of Pi. The entire collection of Roald Dahl. Steering the Craft. And a My Head Hurts list of other titles I have shoved in this little cubicle.
They are all waiting To Be Read.
I've purchased or been given these books withing the last 18 months or so and have yet to open one of them (well, except for the Roald Dahl collection. I got that just because I wanted to re-read them. Because I'm so totally available for that, right?) The first 12 months don't count because I was writing a book and was lucky if I had time to read a menu. And the last six I've had my nose stuck in queries, research, and when I had the time to indulge, my nook. It wasn't until I emptied and reorganized the bookshelf that I realized I was still sitting on a goldmine of good reading...and that was after I carted two box loads out to the mini van for donating.
I won't lie. I almost donated most of these, too.
"I don't have time."
"I'll never read them."
But I didn't. I'm a writer. I can't throw away words.I might not have time, but I will get through this To Be Read cubicle of mine. And not to point out the obvious or the fact that I had this book before I started querying month ago but didn't bother to look at my own bookshelf, but I'm thinking I might start with that query letters guide. You know, just in case I ever plan to give that a try, maybe, someday.

The Vagina Dialogues

Coochie. Hoohah. JJ. Vajayjay. Beaver. Muff. Kitty cat. Beaver. Bajingo. Precious Lady. Passion Flower.

Down There.

Whatever you call it, make sure the censors don't hear you say Vagina.

(Cue the porn bots.)

No, I haven't fallen off my rocker. What I have done is finished reading the sweet and fabulous Dr. Lissa Rankin's What's Up Down There? and honestly, I have vagina on the brain. And I'm wondering if it's wrong to wish she was my gyno and my BFF? (Don't answer that.)

That's the premise of Lissa's book, whose tag line reads "Questions You'd Only Ask Your Gynecologist if She Was Your Best Friend." And let me tell you, this reads like a conversation with, well, your gyno BFF after three too many cocktails. It's informative, empowering, hilariously brilliant and drives home the point that we as women need to embrace every single part of who we are that makes us beautiful, including our hoohas.

And What's Up Down There is a hit. Lissa, founder and owner of Owning Pink, is on a whirlwind book tour to publicize the book. It all sounds good and dandy until the fact that at nearly every turn, she has been asked to, you know, not call Down There a Vagina. (Side note: I'll drop an F bomb on the blog without hesitation. But a V Bomb? This one took some nerve...which only further emphasizes the fact that we need to man up and own our pink.)

That's right. A respected Doctor of Gynecology who has written a book which candidly speaks about everything every woman every wanted to know about the being asked to not use the word vagina. (Because Passion Flower is so much more professional.)

Excuse me? It hurts my head just to think about it.

So let's focus on something that doesn't make my brain hurt. I'm thinking What's Up Down There needs a Precious Lady in its corner. A Champion of the Elusive Passion Flower. Someone who isn't afraid to vajazzle her vajayjay and sing it's pretty disco ball praises on national media outlets. A woman who isn't ashamed to accessorize her crotch with her dress and look demure while discussing it. Because, really? I'm betting if Jennifer Love Hewitt can bling out her coochie, dedicate a chapter on the subject in her book, and still be the little media darling that she is, I'm thinking she can say Vagina and make the medical term the new slang, which is what probably needs to happen for the term to become socially acceptable.

But until Jennifer signs on as Official Vagina Dialogues Spokesperson for What's Up Down There on behalf of Dr. Lissa Rankin, we have to take matters into our own hands. Let's grow up, shall we? Let's call down there what it really is without blushing like 8-year-olds learning how babies really don't come from cabbage patches.

Say it with me now...

Vagina. Vagina. Vagina.

Mother Tongue: A review

" Some women fallin love in advance of knowing a man because it is much easier to love a mystery." -- Mother Tongue by Demetria Martinez.

I haven't read for myself, not regularly, anyway, in years. These days, I can recite The Cat in the Hat and Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?" by memory. But until recently, I couldn't tell you the title of the last book I read that hadn't been checked out or purchased for the  pre-K age group.

Then I signed up for The National Latino Writer's Conference. And as the days brought me closer to my first conference, I decided to read as a way to calm my nerves. It would get my mind off the butterflies. And help me prep for meeting published faculty face to face.

Mother Tongue was one of my pre-conference frenzy reads. It's a novel written as a memoir, a love story where you know he leaves in the end, yet can't be mad at him because it was for the very best of reasons. I've oversimplified the plot almost to the point of sin, but I'm afraid to say too much; afraid I'll spoil the beauty of the language on the page and the images contained within.

Demetria uses this book as the basis for teaching workshops on both fiction and non-fiction and I had the great honor of sitting in on a memoir writing session at the conference. I felt confident raising my hand and contributing to the discussion because earlier that day, I had already made an ass out of myself.

I had walked into the lunch session just a few minutes late and grabbed the first available seat I saw, ducking down as to not draw attention to myself and away from our speaker. I paid no attention to the dark-haired woman sitting in the seat next me. At our round table, the woman's back was to me as she focused on the lunch time presenter. I did the same.

It wasn't until she turned around to introduce herself that I realized who she was.

"Hi, I'm Demetria Martinez."

She said it like I would say, " Hi, my name is Pauline Campos," or "The sky is blue." Because to her, being who she is is not the same as hearing the name of the woman who wrote one of the most beautiful works ever written while the hand of that very woman is being extended in greeting.

For a moment, I was dignified.  I shook her hand. I told her it was an honor to meet her and reminded her that I had submitted a sample of my work for her to read. She nodded again.

Then I gushed.

"I'm reading Mother Tongue right now. It's amazing! Every time I think you've stolen my breath for the last time, you do it again on the very next page."

And Demetria? Bless her heart. She was humble. She was gracious. She joked that it was lovely to know her words were not just gathering dust.

"Dust?" I balked. "Of course not. They're being treasured."

And she waited for me to file through my memories until I was able to recite one of the most memorable lines in Mother Tongue...and there are many.

"He asks, have you kissed a man whose name you did not know?

I say, I knew the name but not the man."


Maybe it's mommy-brain. Or more specifically, the hit my brain cells took in the memory retention department after having a child. See, I used to be an avid reader. I'm not exaggerating when I say I could finish a full Nancy Drew novel in less than a few hours when I was eight.

And I read all through high school and even college. Most of the latter was required, but I still count it because the loans I just paid off totally give me the right to do so.

Then I had a baby. And ever since she came along, I've become just as versed in Dr. Suess, Olivia, Miss Spider, and anything else that rhymes, is cute, or based on a cartoon as I was about Nancy, Bess, George, and Ned before I had responsibilities.

Books for adults just intimidate me now. They are so, well, big! (Hello gutter...insert mind.)

Really, how am i supposed to sit down with a 200 page anything and not feel obligated to tell the dishes or laundry to kiss my ass while I spend some quality me-time so I can finish said masterpiece before moving on to the next?

But as I writer, I know I'm supposed to be reading to fuel my creativity. I just need it in smaller chunks.

So I got a nook.

nook jonathan adler puncuation It was love at first download.

Here I am, able to choose a book in my library, read a few pages, and walk run away to catch Buttercup as she tries diving off the couch because she thinks she can fly before starting dinner, eating, cleaning up, and sitting back down to read and happily find that my nook is super-smart with that whole book-marking thang.

I can even pick up and keep reading on the blackberry. Or my computer. Or lend a book to The Husband. All with free down-loadable e-reader software.

It's like little pieces of manageable heaven for the parentally-inclined.


Of course, I had to get a kickin' case for it. And after agonizing for way longer than is considered normal, I chose the Jonathan Adler Punctuation cover on the B&N site. It's black (read: Pauline-proof for staining), has a nifty business-card holder and places to stuff crap I'll wonder why I stuffed there later, and if you flip it from front to back fast enough...plenty of attitude, too.

I'll give you a minute to figure that one out. For the stragglers, just think really hard. It'll come to you.

The best part was being able to take all six of my new books with me to my writer's conference because I couldn't decide which one to pack. I only had time to read one, but the Indecisive Idiot in me was calmed to the core knowing I wouldn't have to decide until the Moment of Truth was actually upon me.

Mama likes.

And that's my review.

nook jonathan adler puncuation

*Disclosure: We didn't get jack-squat for free. But I am adding this bad boy to my tax-write off list for 2010. So there.

True (and other amusing) stories

IMG00634-20100321-0032 Success breeds success, right?

So if I surround myself with successful people, albeit virtually, then I can only become successful as well, correct?

(Sure. It's my blog, and I can be delusional if I want to.)

I recently learned that my Twitter Boyfriend (a.k.a) @beltonwriter, has officially been immortalized on wikipedia with his very own page.  And holy wow, is it am impressive list.

Even more impressive is that Mr. Belton (*snickering) has confirmed that the page is 100% correct in presenting the holy-shit-is-he-successful-and-why-is-he-wasting-time-tweeting-me-and-reading-my-work-unless-that-thimble-full-of-fermented-grape-juice-has-really-gone-to-his-head list.

I have started many conversations with The Husband with the words, "My famous writer-friend in Japan..." And because The Husband is sweet and likes to amuse me, he usually pretends to be interested. Which is nice.

When my copy of Isolation (by Christopher Belton, of course) arrived from Amazon a few months ago, I was excited for two reasons. #1) I had a real, bound, BOOK in my hands. Written by someone I KNOW. (Don't go jumping on the "only in my tweets" point, thank you very much.) Sure, it was published in 2003 and is only one of a few books available in English by @beltonwriter, but it was mine to read and let me tell you how famous-by-osmosis I felt when I was reading it and being perfectly surprised by the ending! and #2) I snagged it for $3.

True story.

For those who like to keep score

Guess how much I love you. It's a game almost every parent plays with their child. scan0001

"I love you more than..." Fill in the blank. It's fun, creative, and best of all, free entertainment.

Buttercup and I are playing this a lot lately, thanks to a new board book her Nana sent as a Valentine's Day present. It's titled, of course, "Guess How Much I Love You." And it's brilliant.

I won't ruin the book for you and your little ones. I'll just say that you'll smile each and every time you read it, finishing in a dramatic whisper...because in this version, the parent wins every time.

When truth reads like fiction

atlasofthehumanheartIt's a funny thing; Before embarking on my journey to becoming a famous writer before I'm dead, I read books like Ariel Gore's Atlas of the Human Heart without any real thought to the writer behind the story. But reading it with the eyes of a writer made me want to crawl into the pages and hug Gore for her honesty, high-five her for her bravery, and beg her to share a cup of coffee with me just so I know...bask. She could have lied. She could have called it a novel. But she didn't. And for that, Gore kicks ass.

I want to write a story like Gore's. I might not be able to compete; I have no world-traveler at the age of 15, smuggling, squatting, wise-beyond-my-years, teen- mom-leaves-abusive- boyfriend true tales to add to my own life story. What I do have is my own story and a new appreciation for memoir writing.

I just want to be able to turn off the noise in my head and the fear I've been letting masquerade as writer's block so I  can finally sit down and just write, already. Gore is my inspiration; and her Atlas is my guide.

They talk. You listen.

writers cup I mentioned a while back that I had gone on an Amazon shopping spree in my quest to read as many books on writing as I could afford to get my hands on (which was about 15 less than I actually purchased, by the way). And while I may have gone a bit overboard, A Cup of Comfort for Writers is definitely one I'm glad to have on my bookshelf.

It's a writer's group with others who've faced a blank page. An intimate chat over coffee (or a nice bottle of red) with a close friend who understands. And a gentle kick in the pants to Just.Write.Already.

Got a writer friend who needs inspiration? (I won't tell if you look in the mirror before answering that question.) Pick up A Cup of Comfort, kick back, and listen. Because the writers in this anthology are talking to you.

Why I have a girl-crush on Ariel Gore

I just finished reading Ariel Gore's  How to Become a Famous Writer Before You're Dead: Your Words in Print and Your Name in Lights. This bookFamousCoverSM, well, it just kicks ass. From start to finish, it grabs you, speaks to you, and makes you feel like your sitting in a smoke-filled coffee house sipping a latte with Ariel sitting right across the uneven table from you as she shares her tips for not dying before you become famous.

She's got interviews with other still-very-much-alive famous authors, writing exercises up the ying-yang, and a tell-it-like-it-is style that I totally heart.

Since reading this Hip Mama's super-awesome book, I've purchased nearly every book mentioned or recommended within, signed up and subscribed to hip Mama (she's the founding editor) and played around with the idea of starting my own zine, and found countless writing/author web sites she says are worth checking out.

And seeing as how Ariel Gore is already famous and still not dead, I'm gonna pretend this is my new bible and follow it even more religiously than the one I was supposed to have actually read already, seeing as how I am Catholic.

Besides, how can I not like a book by another mom writer who uses the word "fuck" as much as I do?