Disaster

battery-park-hurricane-sandyThere is a loud noise. The building sways in the wind.

In the candle light, taking a sip of red wine, I’m taping this out against the glow of my iPad. How romantic! I’m in the company of one of my closest friends. Forever more, we can say, “Remember when?”

“How lucky I am! Safe and warm while the former ex marine turned photographer, cranks up his man powered emergency flashlight-radio gadget to hear the news.

When was the last time you listened to the news in the dark? I feel like I’m living in a black and white film.

What of the world outside? Every other scratchy syllable spells out emergencies and disasters. I am almost cut off from the world. The loud noise turns out to be from an explosion one block away at ConEd which explains why we are in the dark.

My friend lights his cigarette. I reach for my phone in it’s amber glow. I have no signal.  No phone. No internet. Now I feel cut off. I take another sip to calm my nerves.  “Well, I guess there’s no school tomorrow either.” I say to my friend.

We watch a movie with the remaining power of one of our laptops.
There is nothing to do but listen to the angry night and stay calm.

But I’m thinking of all the homeless, animals, children, elderly and handicapped.
The people who have no where to go, people who at that moment might be losing everything. How grateful I am to be safe and dry.

We are semi awake all night as the radio crackles on. Dawn breaks. The only noise, sirens and renegade taxis getting their hustle on.

We still have running water and gas. We boil water and make coffee.

What do we do? Stay put? Go offer our man power to help out? But, who, where and how? We decide to play it safe for now.

I say to my friend, “Thank god we are in NY city, home of the Stock Market. You know if we were in some poor, third world fishing village, we would be really screwed. We are in Manhattan, they’re going to fix it. We are so lucky. I wish there was something I could do to help. Yet, I am almost helpless! Since I live next to Battery Park, I had to evacuate and as I write this, unable to return home.

New Yorkers seem to really shine amidst severe disasters. My friend, who is Colombian says, “Even in Bogota we don’t go through this shit. The capital of the world has shut down.” Will we rise to the occasion?  Why is it that it takes crisis for us to be humane to one another? Can we learn from this? Will we? How long will it take to get back to a new normal? Is my apartment still in one piece? I have no way of finding out or getting down there at the moment.

How will we emerge from the raging water, and wind?  It’s up to us. My heart goes out to this city and region that I love.  Another chance to show the world what we’re made of. That Manhattan is as close to a utopian society as there is to be found. For our ability to come together, re build, be kind to one another, humanitarian, almost polite is amazing. Knowing that the world will look on, to see what we do, and how we do it. This is our chance to be our best.

There is a loud noise. The building sways in the wind.

In the candle light, taking a sip of red wine, I’m taping this out against the glow of my iPad. How romantic! I’m in the company of one of my closest friends. Forever more, we can say, “Remember when?”

“How lucky I am! Safe and warm while the former ex marine turned photographer, cranks up his man powered emergency flashlight-radio gadget to hear the news.

When was the last time you listened to the news in the dark? I feel like I’m living in a black and white film.

What of the world outside? Every other scratchy syllable spells out emergencies and disasters. I am almost cut off from the world. The loud noise turns out to be from an explosion one block away at ConEd which explains why we are in the dark.

My friend lights his cigarette. I reach for my phone in it’s amber glow. I have no signal.  No phone. No internet. Now I feel cut off. I take another sip to calm my nerves.  “Well, I guess there’s no school tomorrow either.” I say to my friend.

We watch a movie with the remaining power of one of our laptops.
There is nothing to do but listen to the angry night and stay calm.

But I’m thinking of all the homeless, animals, children, elderly and handicapped.
The people who have no where to go, people who at that moment might be losing everything. How grateful I am to be safe and dry.

We are semi awake all night as the radio crackles on. Dawn breaks. The only noise, sirens and renegade taxis getting their hustle on.

We still have running water and gas. We boil water and make coffee.

What do we do? Stay put? Go offer our man power to help out? But, who, where and how? We decide to play it safe for now.

I say to my friend, “Thank god we are in NY city, home of the Stock Market. You know if we were in some poor, third world fishing village, we would be really screwed. We are in Manhattan, they’re going to fix it. We are so lucky. I wish there was something I could do to help. Yet, I am almost helpless! Since I live next to Battery Park, I had to evacuate and as I write this, unable to return home.

New Yorkers seem to really shine amidst severe disasters. My friend, who is Colombian says, “Even in Bogota we don’t go through this shit. The capital of the world has shut down.” Will we rise to the occasion?
Why is it that it takes crisis for us to be humane to one another? Can we learn from this? Will we? How long will it take to get back to a new normal? Is my apartment still in one piece? I have no way of finding out or getting down there at the moment.

How will we emerge from the raging water, and wind?

It’s up to us. My heart goes out to this city and region that I love.

Another chance to show the world what we’re made of. That Manhattan is as close to a utopian society as there is to be found. For our ability to come together, re build, be kind to one another, humanitarian, almost polite is amazing. Knowing that the world will look on, to see what we do, and how we do it. This is our chance to be our best.

Update: December 1st, 2012

As of today I am still not in my building.  I am displaced to friends’ couches.  The world has forgotten that downtown Manhattan has been damaged.  FEMA workers offer nothing that can help.  We are left to fend for ourselves.  The only consolation is we have our health, and faith that soon everything will be normal.

The Last 20Lbs – Back from the Dead

Last spring I started writing a chronicle called the “Last 20 Lbs.”  to encourage women to gain  self empowerment by losing weight and getting fit.  Candidly, with a send of humor, sharing my own struggle, through a weekly installment.   It was about taking off twenty pounds of post divorce weight, getting in shape for television and turning a triumphant new chapter in my life now that I’m over the age of 3o something.
The column ran a couple of months and I lost twelve pounds.  I then had a knee injury and a couple of surgeries which required putting the column on pause.  I am now healed up and ready to go again.
Everything was going well, SENSA was keeping me magic powder to sprinkle on my food, and I was training with Scott Bittermen from Emerge Athletics and taking an early morning AM Fittness Groove boot camp class with Ajia and doing a little jogging in between.

I lost 12 pounds, was nearing my goal and feeling good.

Then, a series of disasters happened, including a near death experience.  I injured my knees, really badly, it was actually a re-injury to both knees that were already fragile from ten years of dancing professionally.  As if that was not bad enough, I had an umbilical hernia from a past surgery which needed mending.  The Orthopedist told me to just give myself a rest and try to not do too much, not walk around too much.  Hard to do as a New Yorker on the go.  So I decided to have the surgery on my hernia while I was resting my knees so that everything could heal at once.  I gained all the weight back.  Not being a quitter, the very first day I was cleared for exercise, I went for a jog.

Ten minutes in, I felt a throbbing pain in my left arm. Not a sharp shooting pain, just a fatigued feeling , similar to after working out arms.  My heart was pounding in my throat.  I slowed down and it went away, so I figured it was just from being out of shape from two months of not exercising.

Two days later, I went to my dentist Dr. Goldberg and the palpitations started again.  I told him, he took a listen to my heart and said he could not hear anything wrong but he wanted me to see someone immediately.  That helped save my life.

To make a long story short, four doctors and five days later, (This says volumes about our health care system!) on my birthday, I was finally in for an angiogram.  My EKG, fitness level, young age and female gender had yielded results that were inconclusive.  Even Dr. Coppola at NYU, who I owe my life to, was pretty sure he was going to send me home with some Plavix and call it a day. He told me he was going to give me a local anesthesia and I could watch everything that was happening on the monitor.  “No way!” I exclaimed.  “Please, it’s my birthday, I’m frightened, squeamish and I don’t want to know a thing!  Please, tell your bartender to juice me up and put me out!” Thank G-d for that, because when I woke up Dr. Coppola said, “You had us all fooled.  Your heart is amazing.  Two of your arteries were completely blocked. You’ve been operating on 50% of your heart.  I had to put three stent in.”  Talk about a game changer!  So, for my birthday I received the gift of a new lease on life and hopefully another 40 years to do great things, with my newly detailed heart.  In my case, this was hereditary.  Even at a young age, size 6, strong, reasonably fit and female, heart problems can happen.

At first, I was simply grateful to be alive, but as the adrenaline and pain killers wore off, I just felt sad and mad.  Sad, that my heart is forever changed along with my whole life.  That from now on, I will bruise like a tomato from all the meds I have to now take, wondering if I’ll ever be able to wear a skirt or dress again without people asking me if i’m being abused.  I bruise so easily  now.  I feel like I look like a dalmatian.  Sad and mad over all the stress and challenges that have taken such a tole on me.  Mad and determined to put myself back together again.  I have things I want to do with my life and need feel and look good while doing them.

In my journey, I am being sponsored by different trainers, classes, supplements and healthy snack companies.
Current Sponsors:
Gennaro  Ferra, former Mr. Australia
AM fitness Groove with Ajia as a group  class
SENSA
Escape Water
Ugi Fittness
I will start by taking a photo of me “before” and end with a number of pounds lost, and an “after” photo.
 So I’m back in the ring, getting back  in shape, down to fighting weight.  Fit, firm and fabulous. Nothing else will do.
To help me do this…
SENSA, I am going back to sprinkling!  Thank you SENSA!
Escape 9.2 alkaline water from A virgin source in the Caribbean.  Our bodies are mostly water, so obviously the better quality water you drink, the better quality your health will be.   Thank you Escape!
Ugi, which is a new piece of exercise equipment, nutrition plan, and video series allowing a person to get a full body workout without needing slots of space or fancy gym equipment.  Thank you Ugi!
Former Mr Australia, Gennaro Ferra, has offered some of his time to train me along with other fitness experts who are taking interest in my project and are getting ready to come on board.  Thank you Gennaro!
So far, after cutting out wheat, carbs, sugar getting on the elliptical, taking walks and drinking plenty of water I have already started to see a difference.  Three pounds in two weeks, without starving or living in the gym, just making small changes and easing back in to a steady exercise routine.

I will highlight my experience with each expert who steps in with their expertise, equipment, time, water, health food, supplement etc.  To all of you, from the bottom of my heart, thank you!

This new reinstatement of “The Last 20 Lbs” is because I wanted to share with my readers my challenges, which hopefully are relatable.  The quest for health and fitness is on going, even when there are setbacks.  The healthier we are, the better our quality of life.  But the bottom line is you can’t quit.

 

Etiquette Equals Kindness

Etiquette provides us with a code of conduct that has its roots in hospitality, respect and graciousness. The purpose of etiquette is to make everyone feel included. An example could be offering a visitor a glass of water. How about being cognizant of other people’s time through punctuality. At a multilingual table the protocol is to speak in a common language, or at minimum to translate parts of the conversation so that no one feels excluded.
Dress codes exist to also facilitate inclusion, whether it’s a school uniform or a black tie event (all men look great in tuxedos). In wearing a uniform, all are included, if only for a few hours: whether a banker, student or construction worker, they become equal.

Table manners are esthetic.  Sometimes inclusion is about not sticking out and being pleasant company warranting inclusion. Adhering to the code grants inclusion.  In fact, it is the hostess’ duty to make sure that everyone feels at ease and included around her table.  To that extent, if a guest happens to drink from the finger bowl she must duplicate the mistake to save the guest from embarrassment. This is when etiquette becomes kindness.  On a grander scale, I have also heard (even though I haven’t been able to find supporting documentation) that at the royal court of Spain, when one Infanta was limping the ladies in waiting would also limp. This too is an act of kindness.

The subtlety of etiquette from the old world is non-existent in the new world of cyber space.  It’s the preverbal Wild West: a tongue-lashing, video posting, lawless place where people can hide behind their screen from a safe distance and hurl insults and slander at people they do not know, on subjects they know nothing about.  People need to feel they are being heard, so they spew venom from their keyboards without stopping to think what they are doing, or if they have all their facts straight.

Because of its anonymity, people participate in debates to voice their opinion just to be heard in a public forum.  They vent freely in the most aggressive way.  Even during political debates, candidates vehemently opposed to one another can have the courtesy to look each other in the eye and challenge each other through discourse.  In a public debate people can take turns and offer rebuttals in real time, verbally; not in black and white text masquerading as a document with credence, stuck out there in space forever traceable on search engines.

Bullying has terrible and dangerous consequences, whether taking place in a schoolyard or on the Internet.  The rise in stories we hear about bullies is proof of this.  Children are bullies because they learned this attitude from adults around them; it’s not coincidental.
People vent without questioning, and opinions of dubious importance on subjects they have a shallow knowledge of are vomited onto the Internet without concern or consequence. Because it is anonymous, people forget their manners and think they can be atrociously rude because they do not have to face the person, nor do they take the time to question.

Jennifer Livingston at CBS affiliate channel 8 WKBT in Wisconsin, received a nasty e-mail from a man, Kenneth W. Krause, condemning her for being obese, telling her she was “a bad example for young people, young girls in particular.  Obesity is one of the worst decisions a person can make.” This is a super successful career woman who delivers the news to thousands of people each night, runs 5k races, is happily married with a family and is a great role model who happens to suffer from a thyroid condition.  Upon being confronted for his attack with the full story, and invited to come on the show to speak with Mrs. Livingston and the public face to face, he declined to go on air.  He still made no apology but released a statement standing his ground.

I have been on the receiving end of garbage being hurled by ill-informed masses. It can be hurtful unless, of course, one is reminded they are ill-informed masses that will say anything to be heard, even when they have nothing to say.  They are bullies and cowards who use the screen as their shield because they would never have the guts to inquire directly at the source to make sure they had their facts straight, synthesize that information and then, if still unsatisfied, question before arguing.
Etiquette is also kindness. Hopefully, legality and etiquette will have a closer relationship as protocols are set in place for how people behave on the Internet. I am one hundred percent behind freedom of speech and access to information. But I also know, that unless it is written in black and white, not to shout into your cell phone in a restaurant, theater or quiet car on a train, people will.

All new technologies take a little getting used to before protocols are put forth; the Internet unfortunately seams no different. The cyber world is the last frontier of our society, but soon there will be controls for privacy, intellectual property and international laws. These are some of the regulations being proposed. As a person in the media, this breaks my heart. Given the choice, I would vote to veto this legislation, but the problem is that people just don’t seem to be able to play nice in the sand box.

CELEBRITY BEAUTY SECRETS: STYLE YOUR GUY Philip Garbarino’s Hair Makeover!

PHIL_03

We know that girls have a hard time parting with their long locks. But what happens when your man needs a major trim?

That was the case for Philip Garbarino. The author of The Devil Repents and A Bronx Tale star hadn’t cut his hair in years and was due for a new look. The DivaGals turned to New York City’s Eiji Salon for some serious hair-aphy.

Our Image Gal Samantha von Sperling had a consultation with salon owner Eiji, who explained to complement Philip’s naturally curly locks, it should be cut to a midneck length in layers so he could keep that just rolled out of bed look.

Philip didn’t cry, though we knew he was nervous. Master stylist Kenjiro was charged with the task, and he meticously cut Philip’s strands to perfection.

Samantha used Rusk WIRED Flexible Styling Crèmeto coax Philip’s natural waves into place… The final verdict? Fabulous! Let us know what you think, below!

 

photo credits: MC Deyte Productions, Jeffrey Neira

GAL APPROVED: Model Kitchen!

ModelKitchenColombia

It’s DivaGals’ third and final installment of Model Kitchen!

Our first digital web series, shot in a $7.5 million dollar loft on Park Avenue in New York City, features our own Image Gal Samantha von Sperling and our special guest, model agency owner Karem Belalcazar (KB Models), as they whip up some incredible Colombian dishes.

Be sure to watch our two other episodes featuring Gossip Girl’Zuzanna Szadkowski and America’s Next Top Model alum Aminat Ayinde.

Want to know about about our location? Check out our exclusive video inside the amazing duplex!