Stonyfield Preached and I Was the Choir


Yesterday I went to lunch at the Soho House in West Hollywood. Hint, if you want me to leave my house to listen to you talk about dumb things get yourself a membership to Soho House and invite me there. I’ll never join because it’s impractical but I’ll show up at your whatever to eat good food, have great service and no attitude. I’ve never been to the NYC Soho House but the LA version is pleasingly down to Earth.

This luncheon was decidedly not down to Earth in the loveliest way. Everyone was looking their best and since 95% of the room was women we’d clearly all dressed for each other. There was hair everywhere, dresses, heels, bright colors (lipstick included), tons of vintage Chanel and warm smiles abounded. It wasn’t so much a collection of random women as it was a collection of concerned women walking the same path.

Once seated there were speakers. There’s a lady named Barbara from Right To Know that was clearly nervous but also impassioned and gave a talk about finding allergies in her youngest child who was dining on Eggos, Go-Squeeze and some other frankenfood. She did her research and became an activist. There’s a compelling Ted Talk she gave, I’ll try and find it for you just as soon as I figure out who everyone is. To be perfectly fair I was sitting in front of a white peach and burrata salad dressed with balsamic reduction. Although I felt miserable later (not part of Previlean) I wasn’t really looking up much. A girl’s gotta eat.

One speaker was riveting. Gary Hirshberg is the co-founder and CEO of Stonyfield. He gave a compelling talk about the dangers of GMOs but what was much more interesting was that his business was built on a combination of altruism and capitalism. By employing organic farmers he created wealth, by providing Americans with organic food he created health and wealth (it’s expensive to be sick) and the environments around his farmers’ lands were dramatically improved in a few short years.

Gary and Stonyfield are proof that doing good things is a sound business model.

I’m sure you’ve heard me talk about prop 37 and the import of it passing here in California. It’s a simple proposition that will cost almost nothing. All it asks is that packaged foods that contain GMOs are labeled as such. It’s similar to adding a calorie and sodium count. Eat all the crap you want, I don’t care (well, actually I do hope you’ll love your kids enough to give them real food) prop 37 simply asks that your food is labeled so you can make a decision about what you’re going to ingest.

I’d like to encourage my out of state friends to look at Prop 37 and offer it some cyber support, certainly you have facebook friends who are California voters and your influence just might matter more than you can imagine. If Coca Cola is forced to label their drinks as containing GMOs (corn is their big ingredient) in California do you think they’ll have separate bottling/cannning for the other 49 states? I don’t either.

It’s one line of ink. It’s easy.

Cotton is one of the big GMO crops and though I’ve been very mindful of the foods I feed my family I’ve not been mindful of the cotton we use.  Recently Live Good sent me a swatch of the sateen they use in their bedding. It feels like heaven and I’m wondering why I don’t spend my money there? It’s no more expensive than anything at the department stores and buying organic cotton means a few tons less pesticides are being used.

Every time I buy something organic it supports an economy that supports my children’s futures.

Which brings me back to some of what Stonyfield Gary had spoken about… apparently some of the agent orange chemicals are now being sprayed on GMO crops… I’ll need to get confirmation on this one but we’ve got a whole lot to be worried about with modern industrial agriculture.

The luncheon was lovely and there were only two bloggers there, Leah and I. Leah always wants to take pictures and I really only want to take pictures when I’m ready to take pictures because although I adore my friends I don’t need 892734893 pictures of us and I’m a 42 year old woman who could use a little lipstick before you shove a camera in my face.

If you’ve ever tried saying no to Leah you’ll realize it’s a fruitless endeavor. So here we are she’s happy to be taking a picture I’m trying to be happy for her. Oh, and there’s a sunglasses story coming up soon.





The Gift of Presence


I boarded the Amtrak Surfliner just before 9am to arrive in San Diego just after noon. From the train I could have taken a taxi but to save $40 or so on cab fare I hopped onto a bus that took me most of the way to the camp where Jane had spent the prior two weeks. Rather than taking a second bus and then walking a mile I tried my luck with a taxi and found myself chatting with an African man who spoke like he was singing and told me that he too had a daughter. She would be four in two days. She lived in Africa and he was trying to bring her here.

He might have been lying to me but I tipped him too much anyhow and asked him to please come back to the camp at 3 so that he could drive us back to the Amtrak station. He gave me his phone number and I went to pick my daughter up.

I love kids at camp. There’s a swagger that’s been earned. Jane thrives with independence and giving her tasks that are difficult but ultimately achievable are the greatest gifts she can receive. She was glued to her friend Kate that she’d attended with and I met two more girls that were there for the two weeks.

The girls ran and changed into wetsuits and then I got to watch them surf but only for a few minutes. Jane’s popping up smoothly now and she’s having fun when she’s riding a wave. Last year she was fighting the ocean this year she’s harnessing it’s power. I was standing in the water enjoying watching my daughter when I noticed Kate’s mom had arrived. I went to say hello to her and she was fighting back tears while talking about how perfect her daughter is. I must have looked confused and then Kate’s Mom went on to tell me that she has a friend who is fighting for her life. I have a little experience with that. I hugged her. I didn’t have anything to say because sometimes there really is nothing to say. Some parts of our lives are painful and because we are gifted life and friendship and people to love we will hurt and nothing is capable of taking that hurt away.

Tom Petty was blaring while our girls were surfing. When the girls have struggles in their 30’s, 40’s and 50’s maybe Jane and Kate will be on a beach with a summer song providing a score that is testament to their love, triumphs and struggles all at once. Hopefully in everyone’s struggles there will be moments of perfection that penetrate like sunlight fighting through the sides of a drawn curtain. Surely we all have struggles it’s the ability to recognize those sweet slivers of sunlight that gets us through.

At 2.30 I had to get Jane out of the water so we could get everything together and head back to the train station. I walked next to her and listened while she talked. We checked out of camp as she told me about all the other kids. She continued to chatter for half an hour while we careened up the 5 freeway toward the Amtrak. I felt sad for the cab driver who must have been missing his own daughter and I tipped him too much money. The train was 45 minutes late and while we waited to board Jane continued to provide detail. There were kids from Santa Monica, Peru, Panama, Chula Vista, San Diego and Imperial Beach. Some of them were sooooo spoiled and some of them were sooooo smart and the only children weren’t as socially adept in Jane’s eyes. There were kind words for everyone except the two girls who refused to help clean the cabin. She struggled there.

I heard about surfing, kayaking, friendships, volleyball, dancing, whispering, walking and crushes. I heard about food, sunscreen, little kids, counselors, games, school and sand. We spent the train ride back looking at pictures from camp. I just listened. Listening to my kids may be one of my favorite activities. I’m not sure I could recount all the stories but I have a good general sense of how the two weeks were for my daughter.

I could have bought her a train ticket home and the camp would have sent her back on her own. Jane would have liked that too. She loves to travel solo, but then I would have missed the chatter. The chatter is the best part.

PreviLean Update: Slow to Learn


PreviLean has been a bit of a miracle for me. I gave up all the foods I am sensitive to and haven’t had indigestion since day three. For the past few years I’ve taken a Prevacid a day, I’d (incorrectly) assumed the heartburn was because of the many medications I take for RA. I’ve also lost four pounds without eating less.

So I’m establishing the fact the PreviLean has been good to me. The test seems to have been quite accurate, the counseling sessions with a nutritionist are amazing and she sends me pages of recipes that include only foods I can eat.

Nothing could be easier, right?

Well, my son had a birthday and he wanted a chocolate hazelnut cake. Why? Because he has great taste, that’s why. I did what any reasonable woman would do. I went on Google Plus and asked for recipes. Anirban Banerjee said he’d just tried a recipe from a BBC website and directed me to it. It looked simple enough and the ingredients were spot on so I gave it a go.

After a few hours of roasting hazelnuts, separating eggs and melting chocolate I had a flour-less chocolate and hazelnut cake that smelled like heaven. You could practically hear an angels harp when you stood over it. I made Alexander’s other favorites for dinner: ribs, tri tip, baked potatoes and corn. Of course none of this is any good unless you add my homemade BBQ sauce. I assure you that you don’t want to know how BBQ sauce is made, it’s sugar, honey and sugary things with a little ginger and garlic.

So we have a favorite dinner that has a few options for me that don’t include sugar and a dessert that a smart woman would skip. I’m not smart.

I could’ve eaten the tri tip and skipped the sugared ribs but I didn’t because ribs are delicious. After having strayed from my PreviLean plan with ribs (sugar is something I’m to avoid) I figured I’d have a slice of cake. It tasted better than it smelled which is something I’d never dreamed would be possible.

The next morning we packed the kids up (plus a friend for Alexander) and took off to have two days on the beach in Ventura. I packed tons of snacks for myself knowing that restaurant eating can be challenging on a good day. Well, when I had a 2pm bloody mary on Saturday good judgement went out the window. Dinner was a PreviLean disaster. It had never dawned on me that anyone would grill swordfish in butter (I’m off dairy). So now my food plan (it’s not a diet) is ruined two days in a row and when the kids want to order room service for dessert I’m feeling defeated anyhow and I order carrot cake that doesn’t even taste that great but I eat anyhow.

Sunday I wake up with a headache and no sense of what I can attribute it to. I’m not hung over, I’ve hardly had a drink. I’m thinking the butter, flour, sugar combo has packed a whallop so I add some Advil into the mix of pills I take every morning. The Advil does nothing to ease the pain so I go off the rails and eat a few bites of my daughter’s burger, bun and all.

I can’t say with certainty that the wheat is what made my head feel like it was exploding but I’m not going to be eating wheat again anytime soon. My headache lasted the whole day Sunday and I’m dutifully back to eating from the green column today.

The big bummer is that four pounds I’d lost. Guess what? I found two of them this weekend.

Withdrawing Back to Real Life


One of the problems with writing is that it’s a solitary event. I bring the kids to school, work out, shower, write a blog post, delete 300 emails and read a dozen that are actually important. This is what I do every single day.

It’s not a satisfactory way for me to spend my life. I need more people around me, but I’ve become so accustomed to the quiet that I find I don’t actually want people around, I just think I do.

The folks who understand my work life are the easiest to talk to and certainly I could be out and about every night of the week if I wanted to. The problem is that these aren’t my friends, these are people who would like me to talk about their products. They may enjoy my company and I may enjoy their company but we aren’t co-workers, they’re marketers on a mission to connect with people who read blogs.

I was at an event the other night and ran into one of them. Apparently their new company isn’t all that interested in bloggers and now that marketer isn’t all that interested in me. It felt lonely in the oddest way. Sort of like a retroactive loneliness where a light bulb went on and I recognized that they never really cared about me. To be fair I never really cared about them so I’m guilty of wasting everyone’s most precious resources, time and energy.

I’m trying to unplug a little more and nurture my offline friendships. The women who don’t blog and who have no idea what a Klout score is. I don’t know if I’m still reacting to the Women’s Media Grifter or if this is something that every blogger experiences.

I’m a little anxious about BlogWorld Expo. There’s a facebook group for speakers and everyone seems so excited to get together, to see old friends… I just have this horrible feeling that it will be a room full of people who want to get face time with bloggers with big platforms and there are only two possible outcomes. The first outcome is that I will be ignored, which is actually the most palatable of the two. The second possible outcome is that people will want to talk to me about blogging, which means that I’m back to square one, glad-handing with people who don’t really like me when I could (perhaps should) be spending time with people who actually like me.

I’ve got to figure this thing out.

The Day After the Purge


Yesterday I spent the day purging my office of unneeded papers. Yesterday was also the day I filed my 2010 taxes. If you look up “Procrastinator” in the dictionary you will see this.

Jessica Gottlleib

My office is amazing. I had boxes from 1998 and the purchase of our first home. Shredding those papers was a fabulous way to spend the day.

Naturally I like to be totally out of control of my time so when I got  a midday phone call asking me if I could go on air with HLN at 3.30 I was all yeah.

The reality is that if CNN calls I’ll show up for three reasons: CNN, Judy and Michelle. CNN is CNN and they’re amazing so of course you want to say you’ve been on air with them, Judy is the hair stylist at CNN in Hollywood, and Michelle is the makeup artist. Those women are magicians and I’d follow them anywhere.

Here I am the day after the purge. My office is clear. I can see table tops and I’m in heaven. There is no dust, papers don’t need shredding, everything might be on time for 2012.

The thing is that even though the weight of all that crap has been lifted, I’m still feeling strange in my office, like something is missing. Maybe I miss the chaos?