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Saturday, May 19, 2012

Childhood Memories, The Good, The Bad and The "Good" Again??

Recently I revisited my old high school to see a talent show put on by my son’s elementary school. It started with an adorable first grader singing “DoReMiFaSoLaTe”, to the fourth grader who beautifully sang Taylor Swift’s “Eyes Open” from The Hunger Games. And, of course, what kind of talent show would it be without a magic show? Walking into that school, I felt like a teenager all over again. Once I stepped foot inside the halls of my old high school every memory, good and bad, all came crashing back to me in an instant. I remember my first day as a freshman feeling so cool. After all, I was in high school now. The big time. I think it took all of two days to realize that although I was in high school, I was far from being cool. Because let’s face it, no student is officially cool until you’re a senior! All you have to do is walk in to any school from elementary to high school and smell that horrific familiar cafeteria smell to be taken right back to all those childhood memories. I remember the first time I went to check out the soon to be elementary school for Aidan, the very moment I opened that front door, I was immediately taken back to my first day of kindergarten. I remember wearing my favorite dress and my shiniest shoes. Firsts. There are so many of them; most you want to remember, some you’d like to forget. First time riding a bicycle. I remember learning to ride with my training wheels and knowing if I didn’t hear them on the ground, it meant I was actually riding on just two wheels. First time driving myself to my best friend’s house after I got my driver’s license. First love. First kiss. And not just any first kiss, the first kiss that made your palms sweat and heart pound. Who doesn’t remember daydreaming in math class “trying on” his name to see how it fits. And as soon as you’ve planned your wedding, perfected your new signature, named your kids, real life comes crashing in and you then experience your first real heartbreak. With your child, firsts are so special and you think you will never forget the day, the moment, the exact time, but you do. My son just turned 10 years old and it feels like yesterday when I swore he could end a drought by the amount of drool he was creating by cutting his first tooth. The first time he pulled himself up from a table and took his first steps. And the first time I heard him speak that one word all mothers want to hear, “Mommy”. Before I know it he’ll be going on his first date, have his first kiss, and he will have his first day as a freshman in my old high school. I am not ready for that yet! I don’t think you fully realize how quickly time flies until you have a child in your life. “I don’t remember growing older, when did they?” For now, though, I am soaking in one day at a time and enjoying what is the best time in my life. I have an amazing job, an amazing son, and I am no longer in high school! I sat in my seat in my old high school auditorium watching these talented little kids perform their hearts out. From beginning to end it was, without a doubt, one of the cutest, most entertaining things I have ever seen. What a juxtaposition to be in the same place where many years before I shed tears over having my heart broken, being made fun of by the “popular girls” who made the drill team to now shedding tears because my heart is filled with joy. For all the money in the world I would not want to be in high school again. Now that I am a mom how can I protect him from what is coming? I don’t want him to walk down the stairs and the banister is sticky with gum and there is a group of kids laughing because you feel in their trap. My heart hurts at the thought of him being devastated by something like that. How do you protect your child from what IS going to happen? Drugs, Alcohol, bullying and love and friendship heart acnes. I turned out ok despite being dumped by the most popular guy in school after he got what he wanted. He will make it too, right?

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Adventures in Speed Dating

I recently decided to enter into the foray of the Speed Dating world. I’ve been talking about it, thinking about it, and wanting to do it for ages. As a STILL single, busy mom with a hectic lifestyle, I actually like the concept of speed dating; being able to go on several “mini dates” in one evening. Let’s face it, dating is exhausting so if I can meet an array of men in one night, I’m all for it! It does have a ridiculous factor about it, but, hey, you never know whom you may meet if you don’t go out and try. I decided I needed a partner in crime in this little adventure, so I dragged…coerced…invited my friend Allie to join me after all misery loves company and two broads are better than one. We have known each other since we were 15 so we have had many adventures together. Armed with my Broadminded recording equipment, a large glass of Pinot Noir, and Allie by my side, I was ready to begin my quest to find “The One”.

Fortunately, there were more men than women. Those are the kinds of odds I can work with! The women were seated on a couch while the men were on a bench and, after each conversation, the men would move down the row. It was just like a conveyor belt, which was fitting since Allie and I felt like Lucy and Ethel, but instead of delicious gourmet chocolates speeding past us, we had Milk Duds. I’ve had my radio show for over six years and can talk to anybody, or so I thought. We had 90 seconds for each conversation. In some cases 90 seconds felt like three, but in most cases, 90 seconds felt like an eternity.

First up, I had “Mr. 189” from Chicago who couldn’t wait to tell me he was a lawyer. While that may impress some women in Chicago, here in DC where there are more lawyers than cherry blossoms, I was not impressed. And it started to go down hill so fast from there I thought I’d get motion sickness. After the lawyer was a dating coach who said he was there for “research”, and Allie swears she met Chaz Bono. There was “Mr. 107” who was so infatuated with the girl next to me he didn’t want anything to do with me, and then there was the guy who couldn’t pronounce my name. Please don’t ever call me Christi!

But then, just when I thought the night would only provide enough fodder for Monday morning’s round-table segment, in walks (or rather slides down the bench), “Mr. 1420”. Cute…. check. Tall…. check. Personable…. check. Cute…. check (did I say that already?). Ok “Mr. 1420” you don’t know this (yet), but you are my knight in shining armor this evening. He has a 16-year-old son who is, as he put it, “the light of my life.” I don’t know if he’s “the one”, but he’s definitely a great possibility. We spoke for a while after the whole speed dating part was over so we’ll see where it goes from here. Who knows, maybe 50 years from now, when we’re on our porch swing looking out on our sprawling farm we can tell our grandchildren how we met. Too much?? Oh well, a girl can dream.

All in all, it was an entertaining evening. On a scale of 1-10, I’d put it around a 7, maybe 7.5. Would I do this again? Absolutely! Now that I have the hang of it and realize how not-ridiculous it really is. Though I will make sure the Pinot Noir is never out of reach.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

From The 29 Year Old Upstart To The 83 Year Old Legend, What A Wonderful Women’s History Month!

I have a great job. Being a host on Broadminded for the last six years has allowed me the good fortune to meet and speak with some of my lifelong idols; it has also introduced me to some remarkable people from all walks of life that I may otherwise have never met. During this year’s Women’s History Month we had so many extraordinary women on the show it was difficult to narrow it down to just a few.

The Trailblazer: Thanks to Rush Limbaugh and his incendiary comments about Sandra Fluke and women’s sexuality and contraception, March started off on a rather controversial note. It only seemed fitting, then, that our first interview to kick off Women’s History Month was the illustrious Dr. Ruth Westheimer. I truly believe we, as women, would not be able to speak as openly about our sexuality had it not been for Dr. Ruth paving the way. Because Broadminded is on satellite radio we can, and often do, talk about anything, including our sex lives (or lack thereof), so being able to speak with Dr. Ruth freely was entertaining and enlightening. And at 83 years young, she is still going strong!

The Legends: There are only a handful of people who have won the “Grand Slam” of show business, the EGOT – Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony. And only one of those recipients is Hispanic. I’m referring, of course, to the incomparable Rita Moreno. Throughout her amazing career she has been paving the way for other Latino entertainers by proving talent and perseverance always wins! I was so thrilled when I spoke with Valerie Harper. Talk about a lifelong idol! Who didn’t love “Rhoda Morgenstern” on The Mary Tyler Moore Show? In the 1970’s the show was groundbreaking by proving that a single woman in her 30’s can have her own career and live alone and it didn’t mean she was destined to be an old maid. Speaking with Valerie was like speaking with one of my best friends. And when she realized I’m a sexual assault survivor, she made it a point of telling me how proud she was of me for not allowing it to define my life. Moments like that are when I feel so blessed to have this job. You can listen to my interview with Valerie here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JDTiILiiIk0

The Spokeswomen: I have always admired celebrities who have chosen to use their fame in positive ways. Fran Drescher will forever been known as “The Nanny”, but thanks to her “Cancer Schmancer” organization she is bringing cancer awareness to the forefront of people’s consciousness and is no doubt saving lives by doing so. Actress Maria Bello is a cofounder of We Advance, an organization that was developed after the 2010 Haiti earthquake which is empowering Haitian women to collaborate towards making healthcare a priority and putting an end to gender based violence within their communities. I can’t think of a better way to use your fame than by bringing awareness to much needed causes.

The Humanitarians: This year’s theme for Women’s History Month was “Women’s Education – Women’s Empowerment”. We were honored to speak with two amazing women who have dedicated their lives to helping other women around the globe. Zainab Salbi is the Founder of Women for Women International. It is a grassroots humanitarian and development organization helping women survivors of wars rebuild their lives. Hibaaq Osman is the Founder and CEO of Karama, which launched in 2005 and is an initiative fueled by a coalition of partners as constituencies to build a movement to end violence against women in the Middle East and North Africa.

The Upstart: At just 29 years old, Lara Setrakian is a Dubai based reporter for Bloomberg Television. Prior to joining Bloomberg, Lara was a reporter for ABC News in New York. This young remarkable woman has accomplished more in her 29 years than most people accomplish in two lifetimes. What an amazing role model this young woman is!

Power Women: To wrap up Women’s History Month I attended the Radical Women's Conference in DC. The conference, founded by Doreen Rainey, has expert speakers who are armed with their experiences, successes, failures, and life lessons to keep you growing into the life you deserve. This year I had the opportunity to interview three powerhouses: Ali Brown, who started a multi-million dollar business with just $20 dollars in her pocket; Jillian Michaels, “America’s Toughest Trainer”; and financial guru Suze Orman. All three of these incredible, self-made women started from nothing, created their own brand and are now household names, yet their goal now is to share their knowledge and empower and encourage other women to be the very best they can be!

Who says there aren’t any good role models for girls anymore?!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Adventures in Speed Dating

St. Patrick’s Day 2012, aka the day I entered into the foray of the Speed Dating world. I’ve been talking about it, thinking it, and wanting to do it for a while. So armed with my Broadminded recording equipment, I dragged/coerced/invited my friend Alie to join me on this little adventure because misery loves company and two broads are better than one! And, remarkably, it wasn’t quite as ridiculous as I thought it could be. How’s that for a ringing endorsement?

Fortunately, there were more men than women. Those are the kinds of odds I can work with! The women were seated in the same spot for the evening while the men were on a bench and would move down the row. Just like a conveyor belt, which was fitting since Alie and I felt like Lucy and Ethel, but instead of delicious gourmet chocolates speeding past us, we had Milk Duds. We had 90 seconds for each conversation. In some cases 90 seconds felt like 3 and in other/most cases, 90 seconds felt like an eternity.

First up, I had “Mr. 189” from Chicago who couldn’t wait to tell me he was a lawyer. While that may impress the women in Chicago, here in DC where there are more lawyers than Starbucks, I was not impressed. And it started to go down hill so fast from there I thought I’d get motion sickness. After the lawyer, I got a dating coach who said he was there for “research”, Alie said she met Chaz Bono, “Mr. 107” who was so infatuated with the girl next to me he didn’t want anything to do with me, and then there was the guy who couldn’t pronounce my name! Please don't ever call me Christi!!

But then, just when I thought the night would only provide enough fodder for Monday’s show, in walks (or rather slides down the bench), “Mr. 1420”. Cute….check. Tall….check. Personable….check. Cute….check (did I say that already?). And he has a 16-year-old son who is, as he put it, “the light of my life.” Ok “Mr. 1420” you don’t know this (yet), but you are my knight in shining armor tonight! I don’t know if he’s “the one”, but he’s definitely a great possibility. We spoke for a while after the whole speed dating part was over so we’ll see where it goes from here. Who knows, maybe 50 years from now, when we’re on our porch swing on our farm we can tell our grandchildren how we met. Too much?? Oh well, a girl can dream.

All in all, it was an entertaining evening. On a scale of 1-10, I’d put it around a 7, maybe 7.5. Would I do this again? Sure! Now that I have the hang of it and realize how not-ridiculous it really is.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Happy Women's History Month

What started out as a small-town school event in Sonoma, California to raise consciousness to achieve equity goals in the classroom has since blossomed into a celebration of women throughout history. A celebration of women who have made contributions to society, politics, culture, and women’s rights. In March, to honor Women’s History Month, Broadminded is featuring extraordinary women who have broken ground with their ongoing achievements and contributions.

The theme for this year’s History Month is “Women’s Education – Women’s Empowerment”. Since 1981, women have become 50 percent of college graduates in the United States and women now outnumber men in American colleges nationwide. They have slowly and steadily earned their way into “male-dominated” fields and have moved up the corporate ladder. Girls now have women like Sheryl Sandberg, Marissa Mayer, and Arianna Huffington as role models. Because nobody ever told them “you can’t” simply because they were a girl, or perhaps it was because someone did say “no” to them and they had the drive to prove them wrong, these amazing women all started from the bottom and created their own highly rewarding careers. There may still be a glass ceiling, but we’re finally starting to not just break through it, but shatter it!

It’s because of the trailblazing determination of Oprah Winfrey that I was even able to pitch Broadminded to XM Radio back in 2005. If it weren’t for Oprah paving the way for me, there would never have been an interest for a radio show created by and hosted by women, for women. Being a single mother to a nine-year old son, I’d like to think I’m a role model for him by demonstrating that a woman can be independent and create her own career.

I think it’s important for successful women to share their knowledge and experiences with young girls; it’s essential for them to realize they can be, and should be, whatever they choose to be, whether that’s a wife and mother, the CEO of a global company or even the President of the United States. There are no boundaries. Randy Pausch had a wonderful quote from “The Last Lecture”; he said, “The brick walls are not there to keep us out. The brick walls are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something.” Regardless of the brick walls, with determination and dedication there are no limits to what one can achieve.

Throughout history, women have been held back and not allowed to get an education. It was believed that women were either incapable of intellectual development equal to men, or that they would be harmed by striving for it. With this year’s theme for Women’s History Month, it’s important to honor those women who struggled for education equality and an equal opportunity for everyone to learn.

I’m very fortunate to have such an incredible job which allows me the opportunity to speak with so many people from all walks of life. We discuss a wide range of topics on our show, but the conversations we have with extraordinary women who have risen above adversity have truly been some of my favorite moments. I love when we hear from a listener who has been empowered due to a guest we’ve had on or a topic we’ve discussed, and now realizes that she, too, can do and be whatever she wants. I can only hope that in some way, through Broadminded, I’ve been able to open doors and am paving the way for the next generation of empowered women.

“Knowledge itself is power.”

A Matter of Perception

When we were told we’d have Kate Gosselin sitting in as a third co-host for the full two hours of Broadminded, I wasn’t sure what to think. I was anxious? Excited? Ambivalent? Quite honestly, I didn’t really know what to expect or how to feel. At the end of the two hours, however, I realized my perception of Kate was, for the most part, incorrect. Our listeners, on the other hand, were very outspoken and had a lot of thoughts – good, bad, outraged. In fact, many said they wouldn’t listen because we had Kate on the show.

Let’s be honest, when it comes to reality shows like The Bachelor/Bachelorette, Real Housewives of [any county], Kate Plus 8, etc., what do we truly know about the lives of these people? The producers edit down a week’s worth of filming into one or two hours. Granted, they can’t make up what isn’t there, but they can edit in a way to make someone look better or worse for publicity and to boost ratings. In other words, we see what the producers want us to see.

Someone who has a bigger personality is going to lift ratings. Kate, whether earned or not, has developed a reputation ranging from everything of being a bad mother, a bad wife, to someone who pimps out her kids for fame and fortune. And yet, for every person that has something negative to say about her, there is someone defending her for being able to raise eight(!!!) pretty well adjusted kids. When you’re blessed with a large family and you’re not sure how to make ends meet and a producer approaches you with a contract with what could potentially be your children’s college funds, I’m not sure many people would turn it down. It’s easy for us to sit on the sidelines and judge, but when placed in someone else’s shoes, can we be so sure we wouldn’t do the same thing? If that opportunity were presented to me, I’m not so sure I would say no. However, if at any time my son was unhappy and didn’t want to do it anymore, I would pull the plug immediately regardless of the consequences of contract.

Unfortunately, fame, specifically reality show fame, is not always what one expects it to be. How can anybody be fully prepared for instant fame, recognition and the ridicule that follows? Nobody is prepared for cameras in their face 24/7 and nobody is perfect every moment of every day. We all have our opinions of the people on these shows, but I dare say I’m not sure many of us would fair much better. We may think we would, but we’ll probably never have the opportunity to prove that theory wrong.

When we announced that Kate Gosselin was going to sit in with us for the full two hours, our Facebook page blew up. The way some reacted you would have thought we were having an amalgamation of Ann Coulter and Rush Limbaugh! As it turned out, Kate was pleasant and, although at times guarded, was open and honest. She was entertaining and personable. I also think that if we close our minds to people because of what our perceptions of them may be, we also close our minds to the possibility of who they really are. We need to think to ourselves whether we’re seeing people for who they truly are, or for what we perceive them to be by the makings of creative editing.

I think the world would be a much happier and peaceful place if we weren’t all so quick to judge. When we’re born, we’re very trusting because we don’t know any better. Children are honest and the best judges of character. Too bad we can’t hold on to that innocence as we get older. Once I opened my mind to the possibilities of who Kate Gosselin could be, I found her to be very pleasant and fun. Hopefully, those of you that listened to the show felt the same. Now I can’t say this new found open mindedness of mine is here to stay, but for now I can say I was wrong to judge.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Chris Brown

Seeing Chris Brown perform, not once, but twice, on the Grammys the other night infuriated me. In case anybody has forgotten (and it seems the music industry has), Chris Brown and Rihanna were both scheduled to perform at the 2009 Grammy awards; neither did. Rihanna didn’t because the night before the show, she had been beaten up so badly by her then boyfriend that her face was swollen beyond recognition, in fact, she could barely open her eyes for the police photos. Chris Brown didn’t perform because he was the boyfriend whose fists so brutally and viciously beat Rihanna that evening. I know we’re taught to forgive, and people do deserve a second chance, but forgiveness is not and should not simply be handed out, it’s a reward and it needs to be earned.

Chris Brown did plead guilty to the charge of assault and he was sentenced to five years of probation and six months of community labor. He also has undergone domestic violence counseling. But does that mean he now gets to be completely exonerated? At the end of this blog is a link to the police report from that night. And when you read it, remember that Chris Brown was never imprisoned. Rihanna will have the physical and emotional scars for the rest of her life, but Chris Brown never spent a day in prison. Not a single day.

Several years ago, after college as I was walking home from work a man came out of nowhere and attacked me. I know first hand what it's like to be assaulted. Rihanna no more deserved to be beaten than I was. The only difference is that she personally knew her attacker; mine has never been caught. As a direct result of my attack, I founded The Duffy House, a non-profit safe house for women and their families who are survivors of domestic abuse and sexual assault. By allowing Chris Brown to perform at the Grammys and for the music industry to welcome him with open arms is like another attack on those of us who know what it's like to be on the receiving end of a fist. It belittles the incident and it’s like being violated all over again.

For some inexplicable reason our society seems to elevate people to hero status too easily, too quickly, and for the wrong reasons. We get so wrapped up in the lives of celebrities that we seem to forgive and forget their actions simply because they can sing, dance, swing a golf club, or throw a football. Where is the accountability? What are the consequences of their actions? What is to keep this generation from emulating someone like Chris Brown when they see him get up on what is arguably the biggest stage in music and receive adoration, accolades, and awards? They see someone who has beaten up his girlfriend, didn’t spend any time in prison, and is earning millions of dollars. Where is the teachable moment in that?!

The night of the Grammys, Chris used Twitter to express his thoughts on those who didn’t think he deserved a second chance: "HATE ALL U WANT BECUZ I GOT A GRAMMY Now! That's the ultimate F**K OFF!" Does that sound like someone who’s remorseful for his actions? Does that sound like someone who’s been rehabilitated? Most importantly, does that sound like someone who deserves and has earned our forgiveness?

In a word: No.

The police report:
http://www.mtv.com/news/articles/1606481/chris-brown-police-report-provides-details-altercation.jhtml?fb_ref=fblike_web&fb_source=profile_oneline

Monday, February 6, 2012

What if...

What if, at your fingertips, you had all the information that could tell you all you needed to know about every disease and/or illness you may contract for the rest of your life? What if that knowledge could tell you how your future generations would be effected? What if you could have your children tested? What if you could possibly change the course of your life? What if….you could essentially play God?

No, I’m not talking about a new science fiction movie. This could all be a very real possibility in the near future. When I was 29 years old I was part of a study that eventually diagnosed me with primary ovarian insufficiency (POI). Currently they are in the planning phase of a study to conduct whole exome sequencing on about 550 women with POI. This is all cutting edge science and the field has not yet come to a consensus on how best to handle the ethical, social, and legal implications of having huge amounts of ambiguous genetic data on individuals.

Truth of the matter is, no disease has ever been discovered or cured without research. There’s no argument that scientific and medical research has to be done continuously. However, when they informed me about this study, my gut wrenched and my mind was racing with a string of questions. This study would be able to tell you pretty precisely not only about your health history, but your future health as well.

What if I could possibly have all the information about every potential disease or illness I could contract for the rest of my life? How could or would this affect Aidan’s life? Would I tell him or get him tested? How would I feel if they were to tell me that something I did in my past (drugs, alcohol, prescription medication, etc.) altered my health and by doing so I caused one disease or another? They say information is knowledge, but is it safe to have that much knowledge when it comes to the course of your life?

Would insurance companies be privy to all this information as well? If so, could they choose not to insure someone for what is essentially then a pre-existing condition if their future says they could develop an illness?

Then again, science isn’t perfect. What if this study tells me that I’m going to get an incurable disease in 10 years and then it never happens? Not only that, but with ongoing medical research, how can they possibly know the disease would be incurable 10 years down the road? Are they then responsible if it turns out that something they told me is inaccurate? With great power comes great responsibility and, truthfully, I think the psychological and emotional implications of having the information of one’s future health could have a worse effect on a person if that information is incorrect.

In short, just because you have some “facts” does not necessarily mean you’re informed, or that the “facts” are useful, or worse, that they’re completely accurate.

I know this blog has posed a lot of questions; unfortunately, I don’t have a lot of answers. Science is fascinating, but nobody has a crystal ball into what our future holds. There are choices we make along the way that could alter the course of our lives, but whatever your faith may be, believe you’ve made the right choices and to be at peace with God, whatever you may conceive Him to be. My only advice would be to live life to the fullest with integrity and no regrets. Be happy, take risks, and don’t ever put off telling someone you love them.

Data is not information;
Information is not knowledge;
Knowledge is not understanding;
Understanding is not wisdom.
~ Cliff Stoll & Gary Schubert


What would you do?