Category Archives: self esteem

Evenings at the Argentine Club

evenings-at-the-argentine-club Victoria Torres is an Argentine American woman who still lives at home. A slightly over-weight college drop out, Victoria works at her father’s restaurant – a gathering place for the Argentine community in Burbank, California. Lacking direction in life and self esteem, she’s shocked when a fellow Argentine American boy she grew up with comes back to town and takes an interest in her. Eric is handsome, successful and they share a common history, but what is he doing back in town, will he stay, and what does he see in Victoria that she can’t see in herself?

Evenings at the Argentine Club by Julia Amante brings something unique to a genre saturated with stories of Mexicans and Cubans, (not that I don’t enjoy those stories as well!)  The first few chapters were a little slow going, but it soon becomes an unpredictable page turner as one becomes emotionally invested in Victoria and Eric’s turbulent but passionate courtship. (Some scenes are borderline Romance novel material but she pulls it off leaving the reader wanting more.)

The story of Victoria and Eric’s budding romance is contrasted by the crumbling marriage of Victoria’s parents, Victor and Jacqueline. Amante is successful at weaving the two together and demonstrates a superb ability of being able to get into each character’s heart and show us what they’re feeling – from a stubborn, overly macho father and husband, to his lonely heart-broken wife who struggles with his infidelities, empty nest syndrome, and her stifled dreams.

I found myself identifying equally with young, insecure Victoria as she falls in love as well as her wise mother Jacqueline who mourns her grown children and is frequently a victim of nostalgia and loneliness.  Emotions are so well described in this book that I will admit to shedding a few tears.

This is a really beautiful story that touches on many common themes such as sacrifice, marriage, love, confidence, family, and  independence. But what I found most interesting in Evenings at the Argentine Club were the more unique thoughts on how different people define success,  and how immigrant families with American-born children can achieve the American Dream while still remembering who they are.

Non-Spanish speakers will appreciate that Amante uses Spanish words judiciously throughout and always in a context that is easily understood, making Evenings at the Argentine Club accessible to everyone.



Filed under books, career, change, chick lit, culture, depression, dreams, family, marriage, men, opinion, romance, self esteem, Spanish, women, work

When you lie about your age, the terrorists win

lieaboutageComedian Carol Leifer shares wise and witty lessons about life in her autobiographical new book, When you Lie About Your Age, the Terrorists Win: Reflections on Looking in the Mirror.

Leifer talks about everything from sweet, loving memories of her father and growing old gracefully, to an obsession with dog adoption and a mid-life surprise team switch to lesbianism.

If you’re Jewish or have Jewish relatives, (particularly with roots in New York), you’ll especially appreciate some of the humor that seems to be part of our blood.

Leifer comes across as the real deal – a genuine person who has come to fully appreciate everything in life and is generous enough to pass on her wisdom.


Filed under books, humor, opinion, positive thinking, religion, self esteem

Get Off Your “But”

getoffbut Get Off Your “But” by Sean Stephenson is a self help book that teaches you multiple techniques to stop making excuses and start living the life you want and deserve.

What is most inspiring about this book is the fact that the author was born with a genetic disorder called Osteogenesis Imperfecta which causes the bones to be extremely brittle. Just the pressure of labor alone when he was born broke nearly every little bone in his body. The doctors didn’t think he would live, but he survived. He grew to only 3 feet tall and is confined to a wheelchair. Throughout his life he has suffered more than 200 bone fractures, (and “No,” he says, you never “get used to” the physical pain of it.)

Despite the challenges he never makes excuses for himself and instead has achieved a level of success and (more importantly) happiness most able bodied people never reach.

No matter what you’re needing motivation for, this book has it all. The life changing lessons can be applied to any and all aspects of your life from health and finances, to career and relationships and beyond.

Below is an excerpt I’ve been authorized to share.

Slowwwwww . . . Downnnnnn . . .
by Sean Stephenson,
Author of Get Off YourBut“: How to End Self-Sabotage and Stand Up for Yourself

One thing I hear over and over from clients is that they just don’t have enough time. That’s kind of funny, because our world moves fast, and we move fast — you’d think we’d have plenty of time. But moving fast makes us feel as if we can’t catch up. Rushing certainly doesn’t give us physical confidence. When we’re running at top speed all the time, we can’t relax, and others can’t relax around us.

The solution is easy: Slow. Down.Your. Movements.

I’m not talking about moving as if you were running in slow motion; I am simply suggesting that you be more aware of how your body is moving. If you want to be more comfortable with yourself and make others feel comfortable when they are around you, pay attention to the following areas:
  • Relax. Keep your entire body loose. If your fists are clenched, release them. Let go of any tension you’re harboring anywhere in your body.
  • Breathe. if you’re taking shallow breaths, begin taking slower and deeper breaths. Be sure to exhale completely! If you find yourself fidgeting (for example, dipping your hands in and out of your pockets; fiddling with any object obsessively; chewing your nails; playing with your hair; tapping your feet, hands, or fingers), take a deep breath in, smile, gently place your body in a comfortable position — and leave it there.
  • Slow down your blinking. Be aware of your blinking rate. If it’s too fast, slow it down.
  • Bring your head up. Keep your shoulders back and your head up. This will almost automatically keep your optimism up. When we look out at the world, we think about things outside ourselves. When we look down, we tend to go inward. Our mind accesses self-talk and emotions, and that can disconnect us from the present moment. Keeping your shoulders back will also open up your heart chakra and show others that you’re open to giving and receiving love.
  • Adopt good posture. Keep your body relaxed and slightly asymmetric. No sitting or standing at attention, with, shoulders squared and feet together, like a soldier. This symmetric posture conveys the message that you’re ready to attack, whereas holding your body slightly (yet consciously) off kilter conveys you have no intention to cause harm. You’re just there to relax and have a good time.
  • Use a strong tone of voice. Keep your voice under conscious control. if you listen to any good radio DJ, you’ll notice that he never speaks in a slow, boring monotone. He keeps the volume, tempo, and pitch of his voice smooth and controlled. When he takes breaths, he makes the sound intentional.
  • Smile! Please don’t force a big, scary, stiff smile that stays plastered on your face no matter what. Make it a gentle, subtle smile that comes from your open heart and feels comfortable.
  • Be peaceful. The more still and calm you are, the better. Our eyes and ears catch sudden or awkward changes in movements and sounds, and automatically register them as potential threats. The more you can keep your body still and your voice controlled and relaxed, the better equipped you’ll be to keep the peace around you and certainly within you.
Sensory Acuity

If you pay close attention to microchanges in physiology, you can tell when your feelings (or someone else’s feelings) are shifting. Our awareness of these details is referred to as sensory acuity. The following physical cues telegraph your internal emotional condition:
  • Pupil dilation: The larger the pupils, the more open and connected we feel (if not influenced by direct light or drugs, that is).
  • Flushed skin: The more red the skin (specifically in the face), the more uncomfortable, fearful, embarrassed, or sexually nervous we feel.
  • Muscle tension: The tenser the facial muscles, specifically around the eyes, the more uncomfortable we are. Neck tension is a very good indicator of feeling overwhelmed.
  • Quick breathing: The more quickly we breathe (unless we have just done some physical activity), the shallower the
    breaths we take, and the higher in the lungs our breath comes from, the more constricted we feel (and probably are) overall. If we take slow, deep, and fully belly breaths, we’re likely to be more comfortable in the moment.
  • Lip configuration: if our lips are unnaturally pursed and slightly white, we’re likely to be upset or extremely displeased. If the lips are full, smooth, and a deep shade of red, we may be feeling sexually aroused, emotionally excited, or at total peace.

The above is an excerpt from the book Get Off YourBut“: How to End Self-Sabotage and Stand Up for Yourself by Sean Stephenson. The above excerpt is a digitally scanned reproduction of text from print. Although this excerpt has been proofread, occasional errors may appear due to the scanning process. Please refer to the finished book for accuracy.

Excerpted from Get Off YourBut by Sean Stephenson. Copyright © 2009 by Sean Stephenson. Reprinted with permission of the publisher, John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Author Bio
Sean Clinch Stephenson, author of Get Off YourBut“: How to End Self-Sabotage and Stand Up for Yourself, is one of the leading authorities on the deconstruction of self-sabotage (what he calls getting people off their BUTs). A psychotherapist and internationally known professional speaker, he publishes the international men’s online magazine and has a private psychotherapy practice.

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Filed under books, change, health, opinion, positive thinking, self esteem

B as in Beauty GIVEAWAY!


Our five random winners are:


Congratulations! Each of you will be receiving a copy of “B as in Beauty” by Alberto Ferreras, courtesy of Hachette Book Group.

Thanks to all who entered. Stay tuned for more giveaways!


beauty Good news! Hachette Book Group is allowing me to host a giveaway. Five lucky winners will get a copy of B as in Beauty by Alberto Ferreras!


1. One entry per household. You may enter even if you have won a giveaway on Curious Villager before.

2. U.S. and Canada residents only. No P.O. Boxes will be accepted for prize shipment.

3. Just leave a comment about something that has helped boost your self esteem on this post and make sure to give an accurate E-mail address in the E-mail address field so that if you win, I will be able to contact you.

4. Contest closes at 11:59 pm EST on May 10th, 2009. Five winners will be announced on this blog post and contacted via E-mail on May 11th, 2009. Your shipping information will be given to Hachette Book Group so they can send your prize directly.

5. Good luck! :)


Filed under books, contest, self esteem

B as in Beauty

beauty B as in Beauty by Alberto Ferreras is about a young woman named Beauty, (yes, that’s her name, but she goes by “B”), who, despite her name, has never felt very confident about her looks.

When I first picked up this book I worried that it was another Chick-Lit book about a fat girl who discovers she’s beautiful, and while it is that, it manages to be a lot more. The character, B is Cuban American so this is aimed at a Latina audience, but anyone can enjoy it. The story is told by B herself and it is hard to believe the book was written by a male. The voice is so authentic you’ll feel that you’re being told this whole tale by your new BFF from the office over lunch break at a hip coffee shop. The character is likable and relatable, and the book itself is engaging. (I read it in about 3 sittings.) The author also did a fantastic job of making the reader squirm during awkward moments. I could really feel how uncomfortable B was in her own skin and in certain situations. (I’m sure it didn’t hurt that I have been there myself.)

If you’re very conservative this book may not be for you. B does not mince words so there’s some colorful language, not to mention that besides B’s day job at an advertising agency, part of her transformation involves meeting Madame Natasha Sokolov who introduces her to a new side job in the evenings as an escort. (As the book mentions though, escorts are not paid for sex but for their time.) It’s kind of like Ugly Betty meets Pretty Woman. (Who would have ever expected that combo?)

What I liked best about this book is that when I finished I found that along with B, I too had picked up some self esteem from the lessons she had learned about loving herself. (Thank you Mr. Ferreras for being my Madame Natasha Sokolov.)


Filed under books, opinion, self esteem

Free to be… you and me

marlo-bookxFree to be… You and Me by Marlo Thomas originally came out before I was even born. Now there is a new anniversary edition with new illustrations for today’s kids but with all the reassuring goodness of the original. The book also comes with a CD. (Sing it with me! … “It’s alright to cry, crying gets the sad out of you, it’s alright to cry, it might make you feel better…”)

This is a great book for reading together with your kids. You can flip around to your favorite parts and the messages in the book are sure to boost self confidence for a lifetime.

Here is an excerpt from the forward of the book from the author, Marlo Thomas.

Dear You,
Well, hello! How marvelous to see you (again).

If you are a grown-up who first read this book 34 years ago — and are now opening to this page, possibly with your own child snuggled on your lap — welcome back! You look fabulous.

And if you are a child cracking open Free to Be . . . You and Me for the very first time, I’ll tell you what I told those original readers: I want you to make a wreck of this book. Bend back the corners on the pages you like best. Write your name on the inside cover or any other place you like. Maybe even put a few stickers on the back. A year from now I want to know that you’ve touched this book — lived it, loved it, cared for it, and shared it — the way I hope it touches you.

Free to Be . . . You and Me first began with my niece, Dionne, when she was only five years old. Dionne had asked me to read her a bedtime story, and going though her book shelf I was shocked to discover that most of her storybooks were written to do just that: put her — and her mind — to sleep!

What also surprised me about Dionne’s storybooks was that all of the characters in them were so . . . perfect. They talked alike and acted alike, and practically all of the girls married a prince and the boys slayed a dragon and, of course, lived happily ever after.

But what I was most shocked to see was that all of the books talked about what girls and boys should be, instead of what they could be. That’s never a good thing. “Should” is a small and bossy word. “Could” is as big and beautiful as the sky.

So my friends and I got together to create a different kind of book — “a party of a book,” we called it — for all of the Dionnes in the world, and all the Donnys, too. We wanted a book that would show every child how special they are. And we wanted to let them know that each of their Happily Ever Afters could and would be different.

And exciting.

And their own.

As you’ll soon discover (or rediscover), each of the stories and songs and poems in this book is a little adventure — and the adventure is yours. You can stop and start them whenever you want, or replay them a million times. Sort of like the DVD in your house — only it doesn’t plug in. And the best thing is, even when you’re not holding the book, you can still play it in your head.

You’ll also notice that, even though the characters in this book have names that are different from yours, they’re really all about you. That’s right — each story, each sentence, each word in Free to Be . . . You and Me was written to remind you that you’re the hero of your own life adventure, and that you can write your story any way that you dream it can be.

I often hear from grown ups who were children when they first read Free to Be, and, to my delight, they tell me that they now share this book with their own kids (including Dionne who now has two little Free to Be boys of her own!). Which brings me to the one thing we have changed in this new edition: the look of the book. Don’t get me wrong — we liked the illustrations plenty in the original version, but back then we didn’t have things like laptops and Photoshop and 3-D animation — and the only thing you could do with a “mouse” was run away from it and scream.

So my friends and I thought it was time to make the book look a little more like the world you live in today. We contacted some of the best artists in the world — maybe even a few who have illustrated some of your favorite books — and asked them to retell the stories and poems in their own special way, using their favorite colored pencils and paint brushes and drawing programs. And, just like you, they all had their very own ideas of what a story is all about.

We’re thrilled with the images they came up with, and we know you will be, too.

OK, so enough talking. Let’s go inside the book — and we’ll do it the same way we did it the first time around. Ready? Alright . . . Take a giant step.

May I?

Yes, you may.

Yes, we certainly hope you will.

Lots of Love,
Me (Marlo Thomas)

P.S. Now it’s you and me.

The above is an excerpt from the book Free to Be . . . You and Me
by Marlo Thomas and Friends
Copyright © 2008 Marlo Thomas

Author Bio
Marlo Thomas is an award-winning actress, author, and activist whose varied body of work continues to have an impact on American entertainment and culture. She burst onto the scene in That Girl, the landmark TV series that broke new round for young, independent women, which she also conceived and produced. Her pioneering spirit continued with her creation of Free to Be . . . You and Me, which became a platinum album, a bestselling book, an Emmy® Award-winning television special, and a stage show. She has been a constant presence on television (Ugly Betty and Friends) and on and off Broadway. Marlo is the creator of five bestselling books, Free to Be . . . You and Me, Free to Be . . . a Family, The Right Words at the Right Time (Volumes 1 and 2), and Thanks and Giving: All Year Long, the latter of which also became a CD version that earned her the Grammy® Award for Best Spoken Word Album For Children. She has also won four Emmy Awards, a Golden Globe®, the Peabody Award, and has been inducted into the Broadcasting Hall of Fame. Marlo is the National Outreach Director for St. Jude Children’s Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee, which was founded by her father, Danny Thomas, in 1962. She lives in New York with her husband, Phil Donahue. For more information, please visit

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Filed under books, kids, music, opinion, positive thinking, self esteem

KPC … Keeping Parents Clueless

I just finished reading this book, Generation MySpace: Helping Your Teen Survive Online Adolescence by Candice M. Kelsey, and I’m nearly speechless. My kids are still quite young so the whole myspace phenomenon may be old news by the time they’re teenagers, so why did I read it?

I read it because, first of all, I figured I’m partially part of this “Generation Myspace”. These kids like to say they’re the first to grow up with the internet their whole lives. I hate to break it to them but *wrong* … While maybe it’s not common for those in my age group (I’m 28 years old), computers have been part of my life since I was a pre-schooler. And we were the first family amongst my friends that had internet. (Prodigy!)

Perhaps the internet was somewhat lame compared to what it is now. We didn’t have myspace, but we had BB’s (Bulletin Boards).

Anyway, I picked up this book because I thought it would be a good chuckle. I thought, “This’ll be funny. Some old fuddy duddy has written about myspace and teenagers and the evilness of it all.” … Because truth be told, before reading this, I identified with “Generation Myspace” just as much as my own “MTV Generation ” … How I feel after reading it is a whole different story.

While reading this book I felt as if I was reliving some of my own teenage angst from some of the situations described. The chapter on what girls face sexually was downright frightening. While I also went through years of seeking male attention in inappropriate ways, I also did not have the platform that these girls have. Teenagers today have the ability to post personal and graphic photos and videos of themselves and too often, they do. The worst part of it is that they are so incredibly desensitized that they see nothing wrong with it. I’m not saying I was a saint, because I’d be struck by lightening, but I had a very clear moral compass of right and wrong. When I did something that was wrong, I knew it. These kids have no idea.

Like I said, I haven’t raised teenagers, so I don’t know how much a parent can protect them. It becomes difficult as teens naturally start to pull away from the family unit and come to respect the opinions of their peers more than any one else. But it seems to me that a lot of what is going on is simply a result of neglectful parenting. Many of the parents quoted in the book say idiotic things like, “I trust my daughter on the Internet. She’s a good kid.” … No! Bad parent! We do not trust our teens on the internet with their own computer in their bedroom with the door locked! It is our responsibility and our duty to protect them. Ignorance is not bliss in this case.

There is one chapter devoted to chat and text messaging style “lingo”. At first I scoffed. I mean, who doesn’t know what BFF (Best Fried Forever), ASL (Age, Sex, Location), LOL (Laughing out loud), and the like mean? How out of touch are these parents?

But then I read down the list and was shocked at the lingo I didn’t know. Here are a few (warning strong language):

CD9 – Code 9 (or Parents Are Around)
BOHICA – Bend Over, Here It Comes
GNOC – Get Naked On Cam (webcam)
GYPO – Get Your Pants Off
IDK – I don’t know
MOS – Mom Over Shoulder
TDTM – Talk Dirty To Me
PIR – Parents In Room
PAW – Parents Are Watching
KPC – Keeping Parents Clueless

If you’re surprised, this is mild compared to the rest of the book. I also found out that while kids have easy access to all kinds of illegal drugs via myspace, they also get high off of things around the house such as nutmeg, banana peels and peanut shells.

If you’ve got a teen, or even a young child, read this book. Prepare yourself and educate yourself so that you can protect your kids. We can’t put them in a big plastic bubble and keep them safe from everything out there, but just because something is a “normal” or “common” part of a culture or generation does not mean your child must participate. You’re the parent, so act like it. (And good luck.)


Filed under About me, books, culture, internet, kids, opinion, self esteem