Help a Reporter Out


No, I’m not talking about me. (Although I appreciate any offers of help. Especially those involving the ingestion of lots of rich, dark chocolate, or even the disposal of lots of rich, green money.)

Peter Shankman is a high-energy PR guy based in NYC whose pet project, Help a Reporter Out (HARO), has become the go-to place for journalists looking for sources and experts/ordinary people wanting to become sources. Are you doing an article for Cosmopolitan about the most popular sex toys in use among, uhm, fundamentalist Christian couples? (What? I’m just flying by the seat of my pants here. Cut me some slack.) Post a request on HARO, and he’ll get you in touch with tons of potential interviewees out there.

You can also participate by signing up and offering to be a source. All you have to do is submit your name and email address, and a couple of times a day you’ll get a list of HARO requests from reporters and freelance writers all over the country. You don’t have to be an expert in anything esoteric (although they welcome that, too); you can just be Joe Schmoe wanting to — say it with me, folks — Help a Reporter Out. This morning’s list, for example, a request from a reporter doing an article for Bloomberg for anyone looking to buy a used or new Toyota Prius, and another one asking respondents what they would love to see in their game room for the 2008 holiday season.

So that’s your good deed for the day. I don’t know Peter personally, but check out his Web site/blog/Facebook/Twitter account sometime. Seriously, the man doesn’t sleep. Or at least he doesn’t appear to. He’s a very strange but seemingly friendly man. And that’s good enough for me. 🙂

Oh, and don’t forget about my cool giveaway of Robert W. Bly’s Getting Started as a Freelance Writer Expanded and Revised Edition! The deadline is Tuesday, July 22nd, so make sure you post your comment to enter the contest!

Fixed Feed problems


I finally got a handle on why my feeds haven’t been working. So very sorry for the mishap. In my defense, this blog’s only been up for, uhm, two years. I’m just sayin’.

Anyhoo, all should be well now. If anyone else still has a problem, I’d very much appreciate a heads-up, either via email or in the comments section, so that I can tweak it again. Muchas!

How to Beat Stress Without Really Trying


These are what I should do when I’m stressed:

  • Meditate, even for just 5 minutes. Even better, meditate daily, once in the morning and once in the evening, preferably for at least 15 minutes each time.
  • Take deep, cleansing breaths. Practice Dr. Weil’s 4-7-8 breathing cycle, which takes 2-3 minutes, tops.
  • Exercise. Running never fails to put me in a much better, more energized and hopeful mood, one that can often last all day.
  • Eat healthy, regular meals with 1/4 protein, 1/4 carbs and 1/2 colorful veggies.
  • Snack on fruit and avoid caffeine and alcohol.
  • Get at least 9 hours of sleep (minimum my body requires).
  • Take a 30-minute Epsom salt bath. Add a few drops of lavender oil for extra relaxation.
  • Adopt an attitude of gratitude: be thankful for all the blessings in my life, including having the best husband in the world, a roof over my head, a full pantry, and a relatively healthy body.
  • Write my thoughts in a journal, practicing meditative, free thinking.
  • Read a thoughtful/spiritual book like The Tao of Pooh.
  • Drink lots of water, at least 8 glasses a day, preferably sparkling mineral water.
  • Drink soothing herbal teas like lavender and/or chamomile.

Alas, these are what I actually do when I’m stressed:

  • Engage in such intense thoughts about the situation/problem in question that I end up breathing like a boxer in the 12th-round of a match, i.e., very, very shallow breaths.
  • Lie on the couch and watch movies. Some of my favorites: The Devil Wears Prada, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, How Stella Got Her Groove Back.
  • Lie on the couch and watch TV. Some of my favorites: Friends, Three’s Company (if I can find it), Reba, King of Queens, The Nanny. Basically, any TV show on Lifetime, the so-called cat lady network.
  • Lie on the couch and read fluff magazines like InStyle, Lucky and MarieClaire, each of which will end up making me feel bad about myself and how fat and ugly I am. (Stress increases dramatically at that point.)
  • Lie on the couch.
  • Eat bags of M&M’s (regular), Cheetos and/or Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, preferably the Big Cup.
  • Spend half the night tossing in bed, then eventually get up and do any of the above elsewhere in the house.
  • Complain to best husband in the world about the sad state of my life. Cue whining.
  • Read more fluff magazines, maybe Harper’s Bazaar or the European editions of InStyle and MarieClaire, at the chain bookstore.
  • Eat more bags of M&M’s.



Not too long before B. and I started dating seriously, I was dating another guy who was both a millionaire and a really nice man. (Not always synonymous with each other.) One of our last conversations involved a very sleepy night, jet lag and the desire to reach out to someone when the entire world (or at least, my little corner of it) was asleep.

I’d only been back home after a four-month backpacking trip through 4 continents for about a week or so, and I could not get to sleep. I knew that he often stayed up late, so I chanced it and called him up at his hotel. (His home base was North Carolina but stayed for long periods in Dallas, where he owned a very successful business.) Sometime during that midnight conversation, we ended up chatting at length about the difference between the words accurate and precise. Seriously. Must’ve spent at least 15-20 minutes on it. Parsed the nuances of meaning of each word, weighing them against the other word, using them in different sentences, arguing their appropriateness in a particular sentence, that sort of thing.

Yeah, I’m such a Word Nerd.

And he loved it. I guess that’s why we got along so well.

As for B., well, one of the things I love love love about him is his happy willingness to spend entire afternoons at Barnes & Noble or Borders, sitting in the cafe and leafing through piles of magazines (that we don’t buy) while sipping our coffees and munching on sweet treats (which we do). Any guy who would share that time with me is my hero.

Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America – Take Steps Walk


Okay, anyone who’s read this blog from the beginning (hi, Mom!) will know that I have ulcerative colitis. Diagnosed in August of 2002, I don’t have the most glamorous disease in the world, but then again, it’s not like I had a choice in the matter, right?

In any case, I’ve been volunteering with the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America, first with the Dallas chapter and now with the Denver chapter. We’re holding our first annual Grand Junction walk on May 3, 2008, to raise awareness of Crohn’s and colitis, and I’ve got a team set up of exactly two people: me and B. What can I say? We’re not the best at recruiting walkers, but I dare say we’ll do better with asking for financial support for a very worthy cause. CCFA is the premier advocacy and research organization in the United States devoted to finding a cause and cure for Crohn’s and colitis. They’ve been phenomenal with their educational seminars, lobbying efforts, and patient and medical outreach. I’m helping them put together a support group here in Grand Junction as well.

If you want to be part of my team, fantastic! Just drop me an email, and we can chat. Or if you’re unable to walk but would like to support CCFA, you can submit your donation here. And yeah, that’s the name of my team: Mabuhay, which roughly translates to “Long Live” in Tagalog.

Thank you!