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Leslie Morgan Steiner  is a brave woman.   It takes real courage to face choices you made and patterns you created that nearly cost you your life; it takes guts to get up in front of hundreds to be filmed admitting what you now know for media that will ultimately be seen by hundreds of thousands of people, if not millions.

Watch a clip of her Tedx Ranier ( originally found via Upworthy) :

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Her book, Crazy Love, is amazingly, brutally honest about domestic violence, about getting caught up in truly crazy love with a narcissist.

At 22, Leslie Morgan Steiner seemed to have it all: good looks, a Harvard diploma, a glamorous job in New York City. Plus a handsome, funny boyfriend who adored her. But behind her façade of success, this golden girl hid a dark secret.  She’d made a mistake shared by millions: she fell in love with the wrong person. 

 At first, Leslie and Conor seemed perfect together.   Then came the fights she tried to ignore: he pushed her down the stairs, choked her during an argument, and threatened her with a gun. Several times, he came close to making good on his threat to kill her.   With each attack, Leslie lost another piece of herself.  Why didn’t she leave?  She stayed because she loved him.  Gripping and utterly compelling, Crazy Love takes you inside the violent, devastating world of abusive love and makes you feel the power and powerlessness of abuse that can take place anywhere and to anyone.  

 

Here she shares some advice

There are a lot of jokes out there about narcissists, but the phenomena and the damage they can do is real.  I sought out her book after I saw the Upworthy video a few months ago; I recognized what had happened to me in my last relationship and why.

It wasn’t easy to accept, but now I’m that much closer to getting completely clear about why I chose to get involved with someone who put himself above all others and meant me harm.

Of course, I didn’t know he was a dangerous narcissist when we met.   In the honeymoon stage he was supportive, kind, attentive, and ever so present.   He said all the right things.  But I was missing all the red flags that were spinning towards my face.   He needed to be in control, I was never to closely question him, I was never to express anger, he slowly began isolating me, demanding that I cut off from family and friends.

But at the same time, he was loving, kind, attentive, apologetic, tender, low-key.

He was also lying continually about—-Everything.  I had something he wanted: my complete adoration.  However, I couldn’t sustain that adoration when the truth came to light bit by bit.  That’s when the violence started.

When I revealed myself to be like all the others who had their own opinions, put their children first, fought back,  had a mouth.  Then, I was not so valuable or able to meet his needs.

Suddenly like the proverbial flipped switch, he was demeaning, hypercritical,  angry, unreachable emotionally,  harsh, caustic,  belittling, defensive,  paranoid, mistrustful, at once jealous and indifferent, and violent.

In part, narcissists are attracted to caretakers, the ones who seem to have it together.  Narcissists require total control in order to deal with their anxiety.  They need to be convinced by their entourage that they really are OK.

Much like the naked Emperor in The Emperor’s New Clothes, they need the fawning voices of others to feel good about themselves.   Once the illusion is broken, all hell can break loose.

Ironically, caretakers often become caretakers in order to win the love and acceptance they so painfully need.  The convoluted logic is that if you are really good at keeping it all together for everybody, and solving everyone’s problems, maybe just maybe someone will let you know you are good enough.

The painful truth is that if you don’t believe you are good enough, based on your truth alone, nobody alive can truly make you feel good enough.

The cure is to learn to advocate for yourself, yes, love yourself, enough to recognize a poison pond and refuse to try to draw your sustenance from it.    I’m not writing this to preach; I include myself here, as a reminder.

I also found information and opportunities for action at INCITE’s web site and blog, including a campaign to support Marissa Alexander who faces 60 years in prison for attempting to defend herself against her abuser.  INCITE! is a “nation-wide network of radical feminists of color working to end violence against women, gender non-conforming, and trans people of color, and our communities. ”

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I found my way out, and if you need to, I hope and pray you do too.

If you have doubts as to whether you are experiencing abuse, take a look at this list of ways people can be abusive:

  • Telling you that you can never do anything right
  • Showing jealousy of your friends and time spent away
  • Keeping you or discouraging you from seeing friends or family members
  • Embarrassing or shaming you with put-downs
  • Controlling every penny spent in the household
  • Taking your money or refusing to give you money for expenses
  • Looking at you or acting in ways that scare you
  • Controlling who you see, where you go, or what you do
  • Preventing you from making your own decisions
  • Telling you that you are a bad parent or threatening to harm or take away your children
  • Preventing you from working or attending school
  • Destroying your property or threatening to hurt or kill your pets
  • Intimidating you with guns, knives or other weapons
  • Pressuring you to have sex when you don’t want to or do things sexually you’re not comfortable with
  • Pressuring you to use drugs or alcohol
  • Threatening to harm your children or take your children away

 

Next on my reading list:

Stop Caretaking the Borderline or Narcissist: How to End the Drama and Get on with Life

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More Information on Domestic Violence is available here. 

                                                                                        Peace to you and yours,

 

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Hard to believe it has been two year’s since my last post for The Moxie Bee, and harder still to fathom that the last time we enjoyed one of DeeJayEric’s Mixxtapes was in September of 2012.

I’m here to remedy both situations today and in upcoming posts.  During my two year break from blogging what I kept hearing from longtime, solid fans of my site was repeated feedback that the best posts and the best-loved elements were stories from my life and DeeJayEric’s Mixx tapes.  Go figure!

I heard you and I hear you.  I will be featuring more of your favorite features and some surprises.   From time to time I will once again write reviews and host contests, but not as often as I used to showcase them.

I hope you delight in  DeeJayEric’s The Madiba Tribute: Celebration of a Life Well-lived; visit DeejayEric on Twitter, @DeejayEric2,  and on his Facebook, NEO SOUL R N B ADDICTS group.

Please leave a comment and subscribe to my RSS feed (see the sidebar on the right)  to stay in touch.

All of your likes on Facebook and Twitter are much appreciated.

***UPDATE: Here is the link to download this mixx: The Madiba Tribute Mixx Download

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You asked for it, I heard you; The Bondi Band Giveaway is back at The Moxie Bee!    We so loved The Bondi Bands we sampled for a review/giveaway last year that we asked the good folks at Bondi Bands to let us host a giveaway this year.

(Lovely Leslie models a Bondi Band while at a local recreation park in Hampton Roads.)

This year I recruited Leslie, her daughter Destiny, and Destiny’s pal Olivia to model for The Moxie Bee.

(Destiny. pretty in pink after running up Mt. Trashmore.)

(Olivia models a Bondi Band atop Mt. Trashmore in Va Beach.)

 

We spent a recent afternoon in the local sunshine walking,  hiking up Mt. Trashmore, and in the case of the  two 3rd grade girls,  running and playing almost non-stop with my son Ibrahim and Leslie’s son Royce.

All three models commented on the comfort of the Bondi Bands–no pulling, not too tight, yet it stays put.

And, as Bondi’s site brags: No Slip, No Drip.     

In addition to the Lycra bands and the “Sayings” bands,    Bondi makes wicking hats, towels, and wraps for the whole family—men, women and children.

 

The kids’ bands are only $5 and super-cute and are suitable for boys and girls.

The hats, which are made of the heavier stuff, are available in colors and styles for both men and women and run about $20.

In addition to points for fashion and function, Bondi scores by being a company with heart.   As Bondi Band puts it, their goal is to “make a great product at a great price and to build relationships one at a time.   And as much as we believe in making a tidy profit we also believe in giving back.”   

Each year Bondi Band donates 10% of pretax profits to charity.

 

Enter the giveaway  below by:

1. Leaving me a blog post comment. (Mandatory)

2. Tweet about this post

 3. ‘Like” The Moxie Bee Facebook page (Mandatory)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

***Giveaway ends on Friday, November 10th . Giveaway is open to U.S residents only.  Winner will be selected via Rafflecopter***

{Disclaimer: The Moxie Bee was not compensated for this post. I did receive a Bondi Band for the purposes of review.   All opinions expressed are my very own quirky &, yes, opinionated views.}


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Happy September! Welcome, Autumn!

Hot off the wheels of steel, here is the new September Mixx Tape from DeeJay Eric Gotobu, from Kenya.  Once again, Eric does not disappoint as he delivers the smoothest mixx of old, new, and undiscovered faves.   Enjoy here, or click the download link below.

Dee Jay Eric’s September Mixx Tape

1. Jack Herrera – What U Feel
2. Jill Scott – Family Reunion
3. Kelis ft. Raphael Saadiq – Glow
4. Ag Thomas – The 1.2
5. Derrick Dixon – Hustlin’
6. Elisha La’Verne – I May Be Single
7. Faith Evans – Again (Remix)
8. Floetry ft. Common – Supastar
9. Otis & Shugg – Fantasy
10.Remy Shand – The Way I Feel
11.Nicci Gilbert – Feels So Good
12.Faith Evans Ft.Syleena Johnson,Monifah,Keke Wyatt & Nicci Gilbert – Lovin Me
13.Rahsaan Patterson – Seperate
14.Teedra Moses – Caught Up
15.Raheem DeVaughn – Where I Stand
16.Flava ft. Mack Diamond – Crazy Thing
17.John Legend – Ordinary People (Remix)
18.Lucy Pearl – Don’t missed with my man


DOWNLOAD LINK—-> http://deejayeric04.podomatic.com/entry/2012-09-04T08_04_48-07_00

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Yesterday, while waiting for my son’s favorite barber to shear his grown-out curls at Kwality Kutz,  I read the NY Times on my smart-phone and stumbled across How To Burn Dinner, an article by Sam Sifton about a recipe for burnt pork butt and peaches created by South American chef Francis Mallmann.
Mallmann,  South America’s most famous chef, is also a TV star and owner of several restaurants in Argentina and Uruguay.
With Peter Kaminsky,  he wrote what Sifton describes as a “tremendous” cookbook called “Seven Fires: Grilling the Argentine Way”.
Chef Mallmann is renowned for practicing a primal, wood-fired culinary technique described as ” the edge of burnt”.
 
Here Sifton illuminates the technique for the uninitiated:
 Kaminsky calls this style of cooking Maillardian, for the early-20th-century chemist Louis-Camille Maillard, who first described the chemical reaction created as the sugars and amino acids on the surface of food combine in the presence of high heat.    
The reaction creates all sorts of new and delicious flavor profiles that were not previously present. (Science! It is why we prefer charred steak to boiled.)   Mallmann’s burned food, Kaminsky says, simply takes the Maillard reaction further than most and creates a welcome dissonance between the crust of the meat and the peaches and their soft, gentle interiors.  
If Mallmann’s cooking were music, it would be very loud.    
It is not grilling, not really. Mallmann cooks this dish on an Argentine chapa, a piece of cast iron on legs set above an open fire. ”
 
Tonight,  my mother and I,   possibly under the unknown influence of powerful hallucinogenics, decided to cook this meal—together–in her Lilliputan kitchen, which at the best of times resembles a cross between a MASH unit mess tent and a Médecins Sans Frontières operating theater.
From the recipe:
 ‎” Those with powerful venting systems in their kitchens might try to cook the dish indoors, but the threat of the smoke alarm will loom. There is little poetry to that. For this recipe, endeavor to cook outside, under the sky.” 
 
We were living on the edge tonight, having neither a powerful venting system, nor the means to cook under the open skies,  like gauchos on the pampas.
From the recipe: “….season it aggressively with kosher salt and freshly ground pepper. “ 
Bolding mine.
Aggressively.   Did you note that?
I’m not one-hundred percent certain, but I do not believe that as Chef Mallmann assaults his pork butt with salt and the freshest of ground peppers, he is loudly harangued by a diminutive septuagenarian with shouts of “Watch it with the SALT Maura!!! High Blood Pressure!  HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE!!!”.
 From the recipe:  “Make a paste of olive oil and a great deal of minced garlic and minced rosemary *needles*, then apply this to the two sides of the meat, mashing it onto the flesh with your hands or the side of a knife.” 
The asterisks are mine.
In an effort to keep her away from my side,  I requested that my mother mince the fresh rosemary leaves; rosemary has soothing properties and I hoped that perhaps some sort of aroma-therapeutic transference might take place as she minced the required rosemary needles.
In layman’s terms–I hoped the herbs would chill my mom’s ass out.
She was nearly beside herself with the high salt to foodstuffs ratio and the use of irrationally high temperatures to create what Sam Sifton of the New York Times described as   “…a plate of thick, luscious pork with a deep, burnished crust, redolent of garlic and rosemary, and a sunset of soft, smoky peaches nutty with brown butter.” 
Alas, the rosemary haze was not to be.   My mother decided that what the recipe lacked was fiber; she elected to mince not just the rosemary *needles* (asterisks mine) but the woody branches as well.
My objections were met with a fierce: That’s what Rachel Ray does with rosemary.”
I thought of a few other things Rachel Ray could do with rosemary, but I kept them to myself.
At this point my 9 year old son, Ibrahim,  came dancing (literally) into the kitchen to exclaim in horror:  ”Oh my Lord! Are you cooking pig?”
Here’s the thing….I almost never–never–eat pork.
But at certain stressful moments in life, it’s the only thing I can think to cook. But I don’t really know how, other than frying the evil bacon, so I seek recipes.
Hence, ‘Burning Dinner” via the NY Times.
The peaches were prepared without much incident except, due to a lack of a second appropriate frying pan, we had to do bake/broil them in the oven.
I am willing to get creative in the kitchen, especially when seeking the therapeutic benefits of cooking.   But, I do not own, nor I was about to forge my own steel ‘chapa‘,  to authentically grill like the esteemed Chef Mallmann.
The above-stove exhaust fan whined away for about 25 minutes as somehow my mother and I indeed created  ”luscious pork with a deep, burnished crust, redolent of garlic and rosemary, and a sunset of soft, smoky peaches nutty with brown butter.”
Nerves were frayed,  songs were sung (mostly by my son); mercifully no blood was spilled, nor were fire extinguishers employed.
Tender reader,  we served the miraculously transformed pork and peaches with greens, fresh bread, with  ice cream for dessert; ‘t’was yummy.
Yes, I said t’was.  Yes, I said yummy.

 

Ibrahim, my mother, and I all agreed; for that fact alone it was worth the trouble.

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This month’s Mixx Tape from Dee Jay Eric features Eric Roberson, Jazmine Sullivan, Donnell Jones, Raheem Devaughn, Steve Wallace, Elle Verner, and more. Efforts were made to get this one out earlier in the month than last time. Enjoy! And follow @djeric04 and @MoxieB on Twitter.

 

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Part 2 of my list of three books which had an early influence in my life as a reader and writer brings me to a classic Young Adult novel first published in 1943.

I read the 1968 edition of  A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith, with its cover featuring a young girl dressed in the style of 1900 Brooklyn, NY where the story takes place.  (Post Image Credit” Molly G. @ The Bumble Blog)

There’s a tree that grows in Brooklyn.
Some people call it the Tree of Heaven. No matter where its seed falls, it makes a tree which struggles to reach the sky. It grows in boarded-up lots and out of neglected rubbish heaps. It grows up out of cellar gratings. It is the only tree that grows out of cement. It grows lushly…survives without sun, water and seemingly without earth. It would be considered beautiful except that there are too many of it.  

 

 

This novel was the first fiction that entirely captivated me on several levels at once.   There had been other books which fascinated me.

I had fallen in love with Little Women, which I read with my mother on icy Buffalo nights when I was five, the two of us cozied up under layers of comforters and quilts in her big high bed.

I had read several of the All of A Kind Family books, and I loved getting lost in Bronte’s Wuthering Heights and Dickens’ Great Expectations.

But Betty Smith’s A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, which my mother gave me when I was eight years old, was the first “young adult” book I’d read and owned.

I was immediately pulled in by the author’s rich powers of description and complex characterization; I entered another time and place, which though vaguely familiar from my maternal grandparents’ stories of immigrating to America, was largely and deliciously foreign to me.

I whole-heartedly loved it and read the 403 page book in one big gulp.

Though she lived in a different time, Francie Nolan, the book’s narrator, was a lot like me—a reader who found solace, peace, and a way to be her true self through books.

Through hardships, heart-aches, hunger, poverty, and pain the gift of reading saved her.   Reading moved her to cultivate her imagination and reach for more than the circumstances to which she’d been born.

“From that time on, the world was hers for the reading. She would never be lonely again, never miss the lack of intimate friends. Books became her friends and there was one for every mood.”

That her family, with a well-meaning but alcoholic father, and a disappointed hard-working mother, was far from picture-perfect was an unusual comfort to me.

When I compared my family to those of my classmates I was used to feeling outside the norm.   As I read about Francie’s life, it felt good to recognize another family bound by love and trouble.

“Part of her life was made from the tree growing rankly in the yard. She was the bitter quarrels she had with her brother whom she loved dearly. She was Katie’s secret, despairing weeping. She was the shame of her father staggering home drunk …She was all of these things and of something more.”

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn was the first book that awoke my desire to grow up to be a writer and also the first book that caused me sorrow when its pages came to an end.

I wanted to go on and on living with the characters.    In an attempt to recreate A Tree’s magical spell, I read other books by Betty Smith, but none adequately satisfied.

I was also fascinated with the author’s prefacing note which gave her address as Chapel Hill, NC.    It seemed such a poetically named place might be the proper home for a writer.

I decided I would like to live there one day, and while I never achieved that dream, I did visit the town much later in life.

I’ll close with some words from Francie’s world:

“In the future, when something comes up, you tell exactly how it happened but write down for yourself the way you think it should have happened. Tell the truth and write the story. Then you won’t get mixed up. It was the best advice Francie every got.”

I thought so, too.

 


Up next: Part 3– a book of historical non-fiction that changed my life.

 

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 I’m the kind of reader, who once engrossed in a book, does not fully hear voices, music, or anything else which may be transpiring in the same room unless startled out of my literature-induced reverie.

Often the ambient noise is muffled, but when I’m truly and completely engrossed in reading it’s as though my hearing has snapped off.

This ability, though useful as a graduate student, and expedient while avoiding random intrusive freaks on public transit, has caused consternation,  jealousy, and ire in my parents, siblings, teachers, former spouses, and lovers.

It doesn’t bother my son; for most of his early childhood, like many new mothers with a literary bent, I confined the bulk of my reading to his nap-times and my pre-slumber.

I read to him and with him, as my mother had done for me.   In my efforts to share and nurture a love of reading, I also made sure he saw me enjoying books and magazines.

Then, when he was old enough to understand, I explained my powers of literary concentration and taught him how to gently interrupt me by placing his hand on my arm.

God bless him, he has inherited my gift; I must rouse him from his concentrated sessions of reading, drawing, and play-acting dramas of his own design in the same way.

While recently indulging in filling my virtual bookshelves at Goodreads.com, I pushed myself to remember and seek out my favorite childhood books.

Considering that my Goodreads account includes over 1200 books and is yet by no means complete, this was a fairly daunting task.

There were periods of my turbulent childhood, and often arduous young adulthood, when I read over 50 books a month.   A mighty fortress was my library, both shielding and enriching me.  I couldn’t even hazard a guess as to how many books I’ve reads to date.  The list grows apace.

Around the same time, I was tasked by a prospective employer to pick and discuss the three books which had most influenced my life.  The job fell through—for good or ill remains to be seen.

Not wanting to waste any of my literary labors, I’ve fleshed out my brief initial essay to share here.

Perhaps, you, my readers, will be inspired to mull over your own three choices.  Perhaps you will be moved to read or re-read mine.

 

1.    The Big Golden Book of Poetry: 85 Childhood Favorites by Jane Werner, Illustrated by Gertrude Elliott. 

 

My mother, who worked the graveyard shift as an RN for most of my early childhood,  in addition to teaching college-level nursing,  somehow found the time to teach me to read by age two.

The Big Golden Book of Poetry is one of the first books we read together and which I read on my own.

It features such timeless gems as Eugene Fields’ The Sugar Plum Tree, James Whitcomb Riley’s Little Orphant Annie, and The Raggedy Man, Christina Rossetti’s Colors, Laura E. Riley’s The Baby Goes to Boston, Rachel Fields’ Gypsies, The Animal Store and The General Store, and Mildred Plew Meigs Moon Song and If I Were a One-Legged Pirate.

There was a time when I could recite most of these poems from memory; my mother recorded the dates for each poem I mastered, along with her anecdotes and observations.

My cherished copy was stolen by an improbably jealous college room-mate, an unhappy person, seemingly hell-bent on acquiring my identity.

All she got for her trouble were a few catch-phrases she tried to pass off as her own, and my favorite childhood book (lovingly annotated by my mother), the loss of which still stings.

I’m still on the lookout for a copy that costs less than $200.  Apparently, The Big Golden Book of Poetry has become much sought after by nostalgic adults like me.

(If you are out there, dear ex-roomie—please, send me the book.  All will be forgiven.)

This humble book of poems planted seeds that deeply took root in my imagination, my ear, and my sense of the wide world.

It created a lifelong need to write and create with language, sounds and dreams.

I am ever grateful to my no-doubt exhausted mother for teaching me to read so early, and  allowing me to go to the library as often as I liked, often with my god-mother Annie, a children’s librarian.

My mother often gave me books, encouraging me to read above my grade level as time went on.

She also took the time to listen to and write down my stories and poems before I could write them myself.   Later she made sure I had a desk, a chair and all the paper and pens I needed.

By making space in our lives for my reading and writing, she let me know that what I loved and felt called to do was important.

Thinking about this first beloved book brings all this back to me.

 

Next time:  A beloved novel and a classic book of  historical non-fiction.

 

 

 

 

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Our much loved friend and favorite DJ is once again feeling fine, healthy, and back on the grind, jetting ’round the globe to share his particularly tasty brand of mixology. My apologies for not sharing this month’s mixxtape sooner! Enjoy!

Follow Eric on Twitter:  @djeric04

 

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Congrats to Kristen M. who was chosen by Random.org via Rafflecopter.com! Kristen will soon receive her copy of The God Box by Mary Lou Quinlan. Thank you to those who entered, to Mary Lou Quinlan and to The God Box Project.

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