Book of the Month: Marketing Mia by Ivan Jenson

Book Cover of Marketing Mia by Ivan Jenson
Marketing Mia by Ivan Jenson is my latest craze

Summer is the season of reading good books! The latest book on my side-stand is Marketing Mia. This impressive novel by accomplished artist, Ivan Jenson, came to me through referral of a friend with good taste.

I flipped over the cover of Marketing Mia and found that Jenson lives and writes from New York City. Score! This is the perfect environment for art. As I start reading I find that this novel focuses on two characters: Mia, the model, and Alex, the possible protagonist.

A hedonistic New Yorker, Alex is consumed with himself and his need for success. His dialogue flows with irritating self-talk and anxiety. The character bounces from manic to depressive, with a crazy need for attention. His roller-coaster mentality makes for an exciting storyline.

Alex reminds me of some of the promoters I met in Las Vegas—who focused their lives on being as close to the glitter as possible, because they couldn’t shine. Alex thinks he isn’t lucky yet everything falls in place.

Inside Marketing Mia: A portion of proceeds go to the Mental Health Foundation of West Michigan
Inside Marketing Mia: A portion of proceeds go to the Mental Health Foundation of West Michigan

Marketing Mia keeps you wanting to read: What will happen next? In this world past budgets and rules, anything is possible. There is a skewed sense of time present in Marketing Mia. With marketing, time is money. Things are working quickly in this novel–it is clear that Mia is 21 and needs to be a star now.

Characters are developed, flawed and possibly based on real people. I am curious about the brother, Freddy. Freddy seems stable and has a family. Alex, on the other hand, has neither stability nor family. The two brothers act as foils to one another. The former is somewhat conventional while the latter is a loose cannon who is ruled by passion.  I can’t help but wonder where the parents are for this.

Let’s not forget about the fashion! Dark—fashion is led by monochrome: lady in red, black t shirt. Plain, serious. No “frills.” Utilitarian yet sensual. Fashion always tells a great deal about a story without saying a word.

Jenson wields a traditional, post-modern American style. The writing is free from flowery impressions. Jenson favors functional writing. However dark, there is an undertone of hope and adventure throughout the novel. This book is different from the classics and romances I normally read, in a refreshing way.

Marketing Mia is a novel that is obsessed with sensuality. Not even sex, but the idea of it. From page 1 this is clear. Even the opening lines begin at a topless Starbucks daydream!

One memorable moment makes a point about movies being the closest most men get to a glimpse of a beautiful woman. Maybe this explains why movie sales are down—beautiful women are always available on the Internet.

Book Cover of Marketing Mia by Ivan Jenson
Isn’t the cover alluring?

For your own copy, find Marketing Mia by Ivan Jenson here

Small Steps: On Strangers and Family

Dale and I were together in the Florida sun. We were walking, barefoot, in small steps along the cement sidewalk. Our home was in the final stages of becoming some strangers’ home. It was a week after he had just got the new, red hammock to look at the stars and the waters from the backyard oasis, and two months since the scare with the firefighters in the dark night. Graham, our pugnacious puppy, was pulling at the leash.

We were walking. “Ah-Dale…?’ hands in hair.

“Hm?” looking straightforward.

Graham was interested in a LIZARD! along the sidewalk.

“Um, I want to…give you a hug?” looking half-at him, half-away.

He turned toward me and smiled, face looking alive for the first time since he went to the cardiologist at 3 a.m.: “Why?”

Why? Who asks why? No time to be shy, Natalie.

“Because-its-what people, do?” an anthropology expert confesses.

He opened his arms and let me rest my heavy head in embrace. And he let me hug him as I let myself be hugged.

“I don’t want this place to sell,” he reassumed the walk and began with words.

I listened to the fears he didn’t let anyone else hear, and he let me.


Step-father, step-father? What is sacred in those distant titles? No, he wasn’t my Dad, but that never meant he wasn’t still my dad. Maybe we all had My-mom in common.

We talked, we smiled, and we walked. All the way until Graham saw the front-door and bolted inside.


I always thought it was odd how strangers become family.

God Bless the USA on Memorial Day

Barefoot on a dock in Indian Harbour Beach, Florida. Felt moved to sing God Bless the USA after singing it with the choir of Our Saviour’s Parish. My father is a Marine and I was born in Okinawa, Japan. Thank you for your service.

Improving someone’s day, being the first to smile, no act of kindness is too great or too small. Sining is something that makes me happy. I hope this song brings joy to your heart.

Memorial Day holds a special place in my heart, and so do veterans. I am working toward my dream of becoming a naturopath (ND) in order to help increase mindfulness and wellbeing for conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

This is something my psychology mentor, Lening Olivera, has nurtured through research, publishings, and  the International Time Perspective Network. Anxiety has been a struggle for me in the past and I feel blessed to be here.

Thank you and have a great day. Sending love!

A Fresh Start

Blogs work on a renewable issue of a web domain. My domain expires in 24 days and is up for renewal. I started thinking about where I was when this started–Las Vegas, wanting to have more of a portfolio for magazines.

Maureen, fashion guru, had just finished my interview with Vegas Seven lifestyle magazine. “Oh, you have a blog? That’s good,” she said. Writing five favorite quotes of Netflix’s Jiro Dreams of Sushi had done the job.

Fast-forward to today. Cleaning out cluttered cabinets, I found my 9th grade diary. It is crazy how many things have changed and yet how many things are still the same.

At this point, amidst another move, I revisit my 14-year-old self. Keeping a journal allows you to see the bits of yourself in a new light. It’s objective, because it is from a familiarly new perspective. In old diaries we re-read a story whose end is know. We are attached yet removed.

For instance, I see patterns in my life through the journal. I see how I use relationships to fix the broken bits of life. I see how green and happy I was at 14. How I was unapologetically in-tune with my emotions, in everything  from a friend pinching my arm in the hall between classes, a compliment in math class, and a grandparent’s passing.

In this way I clearly see and appreciate how my life was and is filled with love.

I complained nonetheless

and my mother is still sick.

And I still have amazing teachers: thank you, Mr. Bell for giving me comfort after I didn’t make the tennis team. That forgotten moment was huge at the time. “Lo siento.”

Through the journal I can see different veins and layers of life. I was trying to grow up so fast. I guess I still am.

In light of this new blog renewal, I am celebrating with a weekly sharing of poetry. This is an intimate piece of mind. Many of you may not know that I enjoy poetry. However, I’ve been awarded in competitions and festivals. I write because it is something that bubbles. It is how I best experience life. Life has shown me that sharing is scary, but it is by far less scary than not-sharing.

Thank you for reading.



Tuning an instrument creates

pleasant music. Imagine what

tuning yourself can do.

Reach up, let go.

Let’s sing.



On Health and Spirituality

Good morning,

I began the day like any other. I awoke, did the normal routines, grabbed a banana and went on the way to teach yoga class. My Wednesday night class has switched to a Saturday morning spot as I am leaving Florida for Texas to attend school for integrative medicine. That will be an integrative approach to promote health and wellness in the same ways that healed me.

Yoga was a spiritual experience. I never know exactly what will happen or which poses I will teach. There is a pool of poses to pick from, but a strict plan is never set up. Speaking with friend/teacher Alyssa, she has a similar style with her QiGong classes. We never know what is next, but the rhythm is established, free-flowing, and fully trusted with open hearts.

There were two people in my class: Oscar, a handsome middle-aged businessman, and my mother. I believe that the right people are in the right class at the right time. I feel like this was the case today. Taking a break from the hard rush of the week, we used our hour to stretch deeply and slowly. Concentration was on the breath and ankles flexed toward the floor in a moving meditation. We ended with smiles and a namaste: simply meaning the Light in me sees and recognizes the Light in you.

Yoga is a movement of respect, compassion and non-harm. It is non-denominational and, although it is associated with spirituality because of the zen-like peace it can bring, yoga is not a religion. It is open to all.

After class, I returned home. My mother used her day to go to Orlando and take care of her chores with ease. My weekends are dedicated to returning to a grounded nature and establishing in the Self. I love to read, create art, meditate, eat fruit in the hammock, and soak up the sun like a sponge.

Today I was dong just those things, in order.I can only describe what happened next as a brush with faith. I felt a calling to go to the river which flowed a few feet from the hammock. Dipping my toes, I began to pray. I prayed about what to do with school, which direction my life would take, for the health of my family, and for love in all hearts.

A few minutes went by like this as two dolphin dove by. Ten feet to my right, a pair of blow-holes spouted fresh water into the air. They sunk deep in their waved motion, and bobbed up again in a stretch of calmness. With their pass, I felt a deep appreciation and connectedness to all life.

After seeing the dolphins, I began to cry. I sunk my body toward itself and let out all my fears, desires, worries with cleansing tears. “Put your body in the water, submerge over the head,” I felt.

Knowing this feeling was ripe, I trusted. I placed my feet down the crusted steps into the river. My feet clung to the final step. The water was a thick emerald: I could not see what was below. What separated me from what was below? My feet hung to the steps as my hands clasped above, dipping my bottom in. Feeling fear, I cast it aside and dropped in.

Alive! A surge, submerged my head. Popping up again into the world like a birth, I reached for the stairs. My knees cried with fresh blood dripping down my leg from the thick barnacles. It burned and released years of pain.

I arose and went down again. This time not into the water but into the wood of the dock. I opened my heart to the sun and deeply drank in new air. More tears came down my face. The cuts stung like wasps, but I knew it would pass. “This too shall pass.”

And there, in the sun I began to sing.

Yoga of Singing

Hindu goddess Ganesha on lotus with blue background
“I’m just a soul who’s intentions are good Oh lord, please don’t let me be misunderstood” ~Nina Simone.  Lotus asana, or yoga pose, supports straight posture. 

Can you sing with bad posture? With the best posture, you get the best voice. Vocal quality is directly affected by breath control. Breath is accessed when your body is relaxed and aligned for free energy flow. Free energy flow happens when the body is at rest. Rest is achieved in balanced position—straight line of laying down, an equilibrium of balance.

We know from physics that curves and kinks create unequal weight distribution. Contrary, straight line is balanced and accessible, in union with itself. When we feel sick, our voice takes on a murky quality. Our voice also changes according to whom we speak: to a grandmother, lover and child. The inflections are completely different according to the situation and mood. 

Therefore, through physics and natural observation, the voice is a natural indicator of how balanced oneself is. The balanced state fluctuates through life events, constantly reflecting the nature and nurture of the moment revealed. 

The Jungle Book Review

Disney's The Jungle Book 2016
Disney’s The Jungle Book 2016

The movie poster of The Jungle Book was plastered to the side of the cinema. A tropical scene boasting waterfalls, green trees, and lush wildlife filled the rectangular frame. It stuck out among the crowd of action-packed sci-fi adventures. Would this modern movie stand out from original, animated version? My grandmother and I bet two tickets and a Sunday afternoon that it would!

We were seven minutes into the deep pit of the theater. Previews of fun films we would probably never see flashed by the screen. Then the music started: horns and brass flared! Directed by Jon Favreau, best-known for Iron Man,  the Jungle Book began as an epic.

First, Neel Sethi as Mogli was adorable!! A native New Yorker, this was his breakout role. He had impish expressions and tons of energy. It could be a challenge for any actor to bring to life a scene of computer co-star talking wolves, and he nailed it with Disney-finesse. I can’t wait to see what else this young actor achieves.

Into the story, I have a totally different perspective of The Jungle Book now than I did when I was little. Then, it was more about singing animals and adventure. Those qualities are definitely still there! But now, I am more aware of the overarching themes that underly the plot like Kaa in the thick trees.

For example, there is a stark contrast between fun-loving Baloo and serious Bagheera.

Baloo lives in the present. This big bear bends the perception of the truth into what will best fit his needs. He does this manipulate Mogli into climbing to a stinging beehive. This fits the stereotype of “no work, all play.” What a trickster!

Baloo doesn’t seem to have remorse about his behavior and sees no problem being alone with the “bare necessities,” until he falls into friendship. By the end of the movie, he asserts his place in the Wolf Pack society and repeats the “propaganda” that he once was separate from. Baloo goes from being apart from the pack to being a part of it.

On the other hand, Bagheera, a majestic panther with an English accent, represents lawful order. He cares about the past, and focuses on the future while trying to uphold tradition. Not always perfect, he guides Mogli out of the jungle back to the man-village. (Don’t get me started on the Village vs Jungle theme! It is a gorgeous allusion to Society vs Nature, respectively. For more on this classic pairing, investigate Shakespeare’s A Mid Summer Night’s Dream.)

In the context of geography, this character symbolizes India’s Colonization by the British. The original book drawings anthropomorphize Bagheera by giving him a spectacle. This regional accessory give him an English air.

We can then extend the rhetoric so that Bagheera represents the British as a whole.  Then we see the taming of the wild jungle, fire as knowledge, and Elephant-respect as overarching themes.

We see this criticism further through the valueless yet prized collection of the Monkey-king who “wants to be like you, you, you” a la Ariel. This is a subtle way of mocking society and hierarchy in general.

Mogli’s two mentors provide him different styles of teaching to fit his changing needs as he develops as a character and man. The self-fulfilling sense of destiny Mogli encounters stays true to Disney style. Events are predicted, fought against, and ultimately fulfilled.

Ultimately, this movie left me feeling fulfilled. The action sequences were top-notch, the characters were endearing, and I even teared up a few times. I feel like The Jungle Book did justice to a childhood memory.

Bonus goes to Scarlet Jo-hot-sson for her VO skills as Kaa the anaconda! This goes to her for balancing the public’s fear of snakes with an engaging, relatable character. Kaa would have been too scary if the same voice as the aggressive tiger had been used.  Instead, I wanted to note her hypnotic, sultry lullaby.

Pi and Ice Cream Day

Ben & Jerry Non-Dairy Ice Cream? Ooh Yes!
Ben & Jerry Non-Dairy Ice Cream? Ooh Yes!

Today is Pi Day! March 14th, or 3.14, is the livable version of pi. Pi is the Greek letter given to represent the ratio of circle’s circumference to its diameter. One of the fun things about pi is that it is never-ending–like one of Wonka’s amazing never-ending gobstoppers!

While gobstoppers are most likely not vegan, this Almond ice cream by Ben & Jerry most likely is. The non-dairy dessert flaunts chunks of cookies with a thick swirl of peanut butter. It was sweet, creamy, and daringly decadent.

This desert may be non-dairy, but that doesn’t necessarily make it healthy or good for you! Foods high in sugar and fat are best done sparingly. But nothing goes as well as ice cream on Pi Day!

The Art of War and Physics

You may remember your physics class in high school. Physics is one of those classes you either love or hate. Like a page of Yelp reviews for a popular restaurant, we hear a vocal audience of sad-sighs or enthusiastic squeals about physics.

I did not like physics in high school.  The math was abstract and the teacher was a pompous jerk.

People do change. After learning about balancing health and well-being, I now appreciate physics and chemistry as ruling modes of life. It is a shame that physics has even been removed from the GMAT, western medical school entrance exam. Thousands of students will no longer need it to meet their goals, and the truths of physics will be phased out from the American curriculum.

American physics is attributed to Newton. This division gives it the name Newtonian physics. Newtonian physics can be broken down to three familiar laws:

  1. Every object in a state of uniform motion tends to remain in that state of motion unless an external force is applied to it.

  2. The relationship between an object’s mass m, its acceleration a and the applied force F is F=ma. Acceleration and force are vectors (as indicated by their symbols being displayed in slant bold font); in this law the direction of the force vector is the same as the direction of the acceleration vector.

  3. For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.

We also know that energy, E, can not be destroyed or created. This is mirrored by the fact that Newton’s principles are inspired by many who came before him. Read, The Art of War by Sun Tzu. Tzu, in a chapter called Energy, philosophizes:

22. When he utilizes combined energy, his fighting men become as it were like unto rolling logs or stones. For it is the nature of a log or stone to remain motionless on level ground, and to move when on a slope; if four-cornered, to come to a standstill, but if round-shaped, to go rolling down.

23. Thus the energy developed by good fighting men is as the momentum of a round stone rolled down a mountain thousands of feet in height. So much on the subject of energy.

De-ja-vu plus or minus a few thousand years/miles. My guess is that Newton studied Tzu and applied his principles to meet his own needs. Both Tzu and Newton are regarded as philosophers.

One of the cool things about physics is that its lessons are relevant to life. When you learn about physics, you learn about people. After all, what is physics but a science derived from life by people?

Meeting Dr. Morse

Dr. Robert Morse's Herbal Health Club Iridology Clinic in Punta Gorda, FLorida
Meeting my health-hero, Dr. Morse ND!

What is a ND?

ND is short for doctor of naturopathy. This is a form of alternative medicine.

As a doctor of naturopathy, or naturopathist, and doctor of biochemistry, Dr. Morse is the world’s leading specialist in revitalizing and regenerating tissues of the body. His International School of Detoxifacation in Punta Gorda, FL focuses on detoxification of cells and fluids, i.e. lymph.

Last week, the school held a 3-day iridology intensive.  Iridology is the middle-eastern science of which areas of the eye correlate to which areas of the body as glands and organs.

Over 75 eager students from across the country spent hours learning every minutiae of the eye.I loved getting to know other students, and I even had the chance to meet Dr. Morse in person!

Dr. Morse’s healing methods can be learned through his private, members only Herbal Health Club. As a private club, it maintains and protects its legal rights when dealing with matters of health.

From Advanced Healing Therapies, “Robert Morse, ND, DSC, ID, MH, is the founder of God’s Herbs in Port Charlotte, Florida. He has lectured and taught in the natural health sciences throughout the world for the past 42  years and has authored many books on health and spirituality. He has appeared on numerous television news programs and international documentaries presenting, case studies, and education on detoxification and cellular regeneration.”

Dr. Morse is one of my health-heroes! Along with Dr. Mimi Wong, Dr. Alyssa Wampole and David Burke, I look up to professionals in the health field who truly make a difference in quality of life. To me, that is someone who teaches others how to improve well-being and connect spiritually.

Personally, my life been improved through nutrition, exercise and mindfulness. For example, I am grateful that my personal dis-ease symptoms like scoliosis, acne, and anxiety have gone from degenerative to acute! These annoyances no longer take away from my quality of life.

Now, I am spiritual and have reconnected with creativity. I play violin in the music ministry at Our Savior’s Church, have sold a painting on Etsy, and have been cast in Sugar! the Musical at Cocoa Village Playhouse.

In my opinion, life is best lived vibrantly: with vibrant health, and with a vibrant smile!

Learn more about Dr. Morse’s Herbal Health club, the International School of Detoxification, and iridology by watching his YouTube channel here.