In Defense of Billy Corgan

A reader sent me a link recently to a really lame blog post. The guy claimed that Billy Corgan lost his mind because he spent several hours on his synthesizer playing to an audio book of “Siddhartha” back in February. I was pretty amazed at the moronic reactions that came of this event when it first happened – both by people who call themselves “journalists” and by the local media. Seeing this blog post just made me more frustrated by the fact that too many people are missing the point. Anyone who went to this knew it wasn’t going to be a concert where Billy would bang out “Today” to a crowd of 40.

I went to the tea house on that cold night in February. There was a long line outside when I arrived so I ducked in through the back door. I met a man from New York and a woman from L.A. who had come in just to see Billy be Billy.

“How has this experience been so far?” I asked the man.

“Really interesting,” he said. “It’s just so intimate. I love the feeling in here.”

He was right. The mood inside was as if we were hanging out in Billy’s living room. It felt like we were all getting a big warm hug.

“I don’t know what he’s doing but I love that I’m here watching it,” the woman from L.A. said.

Anyone who is an artist knows that if you do something that inspires you, it is a good thing. Even if an eight hour jam session to an audio book gets Billy one line of a future song, it’s worth it. He had been playing his synthesizers for months at home prior to bringing them into ZuZu’s. They took up a large chunk of his living room, so he figured, why not let people come into his living room, but move the living room to his tea shop?

The media ripped Billy for not letting in a reporter to cover the event. I say, if you know someone is probably going to tarnish the “good vibe” of a space by being a jerk and writing mean things, then by all means, don’t let them in your living room. Those who bashed this event before it took place, and then after it happened, are really showing their lack of understanding to the creative process.

I’ve had the pleasure of being Billy’s friend, and he’s smarter than most people I know who have several degrees. He gave some great insights for my third book and has had enough success where he really doesn’t need to write another song for the rest of his life. But he has two albums coming out in the next year, so there are likely to be more creative jam sessions at the tea house. Writers who have nothing better to do will probably take cheap shots with their columns or blog posts. My hope is that people who can think for themselves will avoid believing things written by people who bash creative types just for sport.

If you want to read a really smart, well written article on all of this, check out this piece by Mark Guarino. He sums it up quite nicely.

And if you’re in Highland Park, by all means stop by Madame ZuZu’s. Not only is the tea fantastic, but the pickle sandwich is the best I’ve ever had.


A firm grip can cause you to slip

I woke today to the feeling of complete frustration. Something I’ve been working on just isn’t working.

I know this particular thing would be good for me. My logical mind has a laundry list of reasons why it should all come together. Yet, despite my best efforts, something isn’t in alignment.  Rather than results, I’m getting resistance.

Why is this happening?

Once again, I’m reminded that I’m not in charge. I might think I have the road map to this trip but apparently, I’m using the outdated version. If my directions were correct, I would have been spiking the football by now – not wondering and waiting and wishing.

As I was sipping my morning coffee, I decided to call a friend for support. She’d just returned from a weekend yoga retreat and had that sense of “woo-woo knowingness” that only comes from sweating under a tent for several hours with complete strangers.

“You’re grasping too hard on this,” she said. “You have to release your grip.”

Knowing she was right, I hung up the phone and put in one of my yoga DVD’s. It had been a while since I twisted my body like a pretzel, and I started to think that maybe it would give me some clarity.

I’ll have what she’s having!

As I let my back rest on the floor, arms stretched to my sides, I settled into a deep breathing pattern that almost put me to sleep. And then, I let my mind wander as I saw myself sitting on the rocks by Lake Geneva – a favorite spot where I do most of my thinking. I was holding a rock in my hand. It was sparkling and sharp – presenting beauty and danger at the same time. I took that rock and threw it into the lake.

If it is meant to work out, that rock will make its way to you and this will all fall into place. Perhaps the sharp corners will be smoothed out by the waves. Let it go, and if it’s for your highest good, it will come back.

Sometimes the only thing we can control is the way we react to what we can’t control…

Thank you, Universe, for showing me the next steps for my highest good and the highest good of all involved. No matter how it shows up – help me trust it and listen…




Alone for the holidays

Just got an email from a reader-

Happy Holidays Jennifer:

I am a regular reader of your “Love Notes” column and have seen you on WGN TV midday news. It’s always an inspiration when you read about those lasting relationships and how they came together.

I’m facing another Blue Christmas without a significant other after a long marriage that ended six years ago. I’ve done everything I could to reclaim my life and set a new course for the future. But frankly, it’s hard starting over. It’s even harder to find a companion as I’m way beyond the bar scene. I guess I’m wondering if maybe you could offer some advice in your column for those of us facing the dating minefield.

My curse is being a hopeless Romantic and searching for that magic feeling again. Unfortunately, I think many women have been so damaged by failed relationships and lack of trust that they are reluctant to venture forth. I pride myself on being a good father and devout Christian. I would appreciate any recommendations on how and where to meet mature women (over 40).

Thank you, and please continue to give all of us that hope for a better future.


Dear Bernie-

While I’m no expert, my latest theory is that we can’t think we “need” another person to make our lives complete, such as your comment that you are having a “Blue Christmas” without a significant other. I think the moment you feel filled up with yourself, your friends, family and life, is the moment you will find someone- (if that is meant to be the case.) I personally have found that many men think they have to be in a “couple” to be complete and that, in and of itself, is a turn off to mature women nowadays.

So the most important relationship we can have is with ourselves. And that needs to be nurtured before we can give to another person. The “romantic” in you wants a happy ending like in the movies- but we crave that because it’s a high, which is really no different than getting high from drugs or booze or a food addiction. The real “high” is from your own love within yourself.

So be good to yourself and stop seeking a romance to make you whole.

Then whatever comes might be a surprise…but you won’t be looking for it.

Have a wonderful holiday-





The end of the world….as we know it.

I know a lot of folks are getting their undies in a bunch about this Mayan calendar thing on 12/21/12. What spiritual teachers have been saying for months now, is this isn’t the end of the world. It’s the end of the world as we know it. It means we can’t go on as we’ve been going on. Something has to change…the tragedies in the last week alone are proof of this.

So how is this big shift affecting you? Just about everyone I know has had slight inconveniences. One friend got in two car accidents in one week. Another has appliances breaking in her house left and right. I broke my thumb slamming it in the car door. Then I got my car towed, bumped into a sparkling wine display at Walgreens crashing a bottle to the floor, and realized my wallet was in the car. Thankfully, these are what I call “princess problems” compared to the big picture and those tragedies in Connecticut. But there’s something in the air and that’s for sure. It’s a shift. And it’s a big one.

Tom Kenyon who is a psychotherapist, sound healer and author, said:

As we view it, this cosmic alignment does not sound the end of your world, but it does herald a new beginning. How each of you deals with these catalytic evolutionary energies is a personal choice.

Indeed many individuals might experience these intense energies as an irritant. If you are not prepared mentally, emotionally and energetically to jump to higher levels within yourself, these energies can make you feel like you’re losing your mind. If, however, you are aligned with the movement upward you will be carried by these energies. They can open extraordinary vistas for you if you are open to them.

So center yourself and remember to trust that you are part of something bigger than you can imagine. Put up the boundaries so the toxic people in your life don’t drag you into their chaos. And remember that this too shall pass- and a whole new world of possibility awaits.



Trust your gut

I’m sorry to drop off the planet. Parenting, work and life got in the way. But today I’m back with a tale about following your intuition. I believe our intuition is our best defense… that is when we actually listen to it. It’s the first sensor to go off, yet our mind often shuts it down because logic tells us otherwise.

How many times have you gotten a “feeling” about something, and then your mind gets in the way and says “But that’s nuts. Everything’s fine with that baby sitter.” Then when you get home you find them plowing through your liquor cabinet or something?

So the other day I was going to get a new pair of running shoes. I would usually go to a place like Target or Famous Footwear so I don’t have to pay $100 bucks, but I somehow found myself wandering into an independent shoe store in a mall. I’ve always loved helping the underdog- I learned that from my Dad. He would literally try to keep a restaurant in business by bringing everyone he knew to the place on weekends. Didn’t matter if the food was any good, mind you, he just wanted to help people keep a business alive.

As I walked into this shoe store, I got a feeling in my stomach that something wasn’t right. My “gut check” was in full swing. But I decided to ignore it to see what kind of shoes they had to offer.

Right away I’m drawn to a pair of Nike’s. I’m not a fan of all these neon colored shoes but managed to find a pair that wasn’t too offensive.

“Can I help you?” Someone said before I had to time to look for assistance. A man missing most of his teeth was standing right next to me.

“How much are these?” I asked, noticing there was no price tag on the shoes.

He grabbed the shoe, looked it over and said.

“I’ll work something out with you. What’s your size?”

Work something out with me? I don’t even know if I want the damn shoe!!

I told him my size and he disappeared into the back. I tried to find a place to sit down and managed to lean on a clothing rack. Everything in this store looked dirty. The whole place had a sort of film over it. I wanted to leave, but waited for the salesman to return with the shoes regardless.

“These should work,” he said.

I put them on, and they fit fine.

“How much?” I asked.

“$150” he said.

That might be a normal price for shoes these days but my gut was saying “GET THE HELL OUT OF HERE!”

Yet, I stood there.

“This is the first pair I’ve tried, so I think I’m going to keep looking,” I said.

Immediately, my toothless friend tried to keep the negotiations going.

“OK, you know what, I’ll give them to you for $125,” he said, as if that would make me feel better.

“I don’t know,” I groaned, my radar still screaming for me to evacuate.

“How about $115?” He begged.

If he can go from $150 to $115 so easily, how much are these things really worth?

I sat there looking at him.

He must really need this sale. I better do my part…

“Well, I guess that’s better than $150,” I said, caving in.

As I paid the man for his shoes, I left feeling like I needed a shower. Not just from the dingy store residue all over my body, but from the smarmy business deal.

I pulled out the shoes when I got to my car, and noticed the size said 5 and a half. I wear a size 7 and a half, yet these shoes fit me.

He gave me a child’s shoe!

I looked across the parking lot and saw a Famous Footwear. I decided to go inside and see what they had to offer.

If they have shoes under 100 bucks, I’m going to be so pissed!

Sure enough- some really great Nike’s were there for 80 bucks. (Grown up sized too.)


My gut was right. I should have left the other store when my internal alarm started to sound, but NOOOOOOOOOOO… I had to save the world.

So do yourself a favor. Listen to your “gut-check” when it goes off the first time. You might save yourself $35 bucks, dammit!



Be yourself, dammit!

I meet a lot of people when I do talks who tell me they are frustrated that their kids aren’t “behaving” or “going with the plan” that they have in mind for their future.

“It’s for their own good!” They will insist. “They just don’t listen.”

Often times, I think these parents are trying to force their kids into activities that they don’t enjoy because a part of them wishes they could be doing it themselves. Whether it’s through sports or God forbid one of those child pageants, it’s usually not the kids idea. It’s mom or dad living out some life-long dream by making their kids get up at 7am to go to hockey practice.

I came across a story about a man named Shaun Sperling who is now a litigation attorney in Chicago. When he was 13 back in 1992, he was obsessed with Madonna, so he asked his mom if he could have a Madonna themed bar mitzvah.  She agreed and they had Madonna busts all over the reception, posters, t-shirts, you name it.  He learned the entire “Vogue” routine and performed it in a video that was posted in August and has now gone viral. He practiced everyday for his sister and his dance moves are very fun to watch.

Today, reflecting on his experience with Headline News, he writes,

Even today, as an attorney at a law firm in Chicago, I am still just me — flamboyant, outgoing, ridiculous me. I am thrilled that the video is all over the place making people smile and laugh. I hope that as people watch the video, they can see that being authentic and true to one’s self — no matter how outside the box — is the only real path to success and happiness. 

So if you are a parent- encourage your kids to be who they are- not who you want them to be. Even if it goes outside of your belief system. Change comes from inspiration, not imposition. The more you force your kid to be something they are not, the bigger the wedge you will create between you and your child.

Because whether they are dancing or running or singing or reading, they are incredible human beings. And every child deserves the right to be authentic in order to succeed.


Why do bad things happen to good people?

I got a call from my old friend Rachel the other day. We were buddies in college and roommates in our 20’s. While arranging a time to grab lunch, she said,

“You heard about Marla, right?”

Marla was another friend of ours from college.

“No? What about her?”

There was this long pause and my heart just sank.

“She died,” she said. “She was hit by a truck after dropping her daughters off at school. She was killed instantly.”


I stopped in my tracks and just stood on Wabash with my phone at my ear.

“What?! What?!”

I hadn’t talked to Marla in years. The last time I saw her I remember she and her husband came over for dinner, along with Rachel and her husband,  and we all cooked pesto pizza and watched “The Long Kiss Goodnight” with Geena Davis and Samuel L. Jackson.

“I can’t believe this happened,” I said to Rachel. “How could this happen?!”

Marla and her husband Dave lived in Valparaiso with their two daughters. Marla had just dropped off cupcakes to her daughters’ school before a truck ran a red light and killed her.

I write a lot about spirituality, and “you are where you’re supposed to be in every moment,” blah blah blah… but I just can’t imagine Marla was supposed to be killed by a truck. 

This is bullshit, God!

So why do bad things happen to good people? I posed this question recently to a woman who not only died in a kayaking accident and came back to life to talk about it, but she also had to bury her son when he was just 19. Dr. Mary Neal is an orthopedic surgeon who was dead for fourteen minutes and says she was literally “kicked out” of Heaven. Apparently God told her she had to come back and tell her story. She was in town for a talk at Evanston Hospital in April and I tried to pitch her for a column. There was no interest in print so I interviewed her for WGN radio instead.

Since then she’s been on The Today Show and Fox News talking about her brush with death and her book “To Heaven and Back”.

“I’m a pragmatist!” She told me. “I couldn’t make this stuff up if someone put a gun to my head.”

And then she said something I will never forget:

“I can’t tell you how many times over the last 13 years where something terrible has happened where someone says ‘Isn’t that terrible about that boating accident?’ and I think ‘No actually, it was a great gift.’”

“A tragedy is a great gift?” I asked.

 “If you think about ‘bad’ things- think about Jesus- he was betrayed, he was arrested, he was beaten, humiliated, and he was killed. That’s bad. By all accounts we should look at that and say ‘That’s the most horrible thing you can imagine.’ But look what came of it. For more than 2000 years people are remembering his story and using it to heal and love. So can you look at that and say it was horrible, but I look at the affect it had on the last 2000 years and it’s incredible. He brought a covenant of love. You can look at every bad thing that happened and almost always there are incredibly good things that come of it. You know change doesn’t happen when things are easy. Change happens when things aren’t easy and when you are pushed. So I would say there is no such thing as good and bad. It just is. And we may not understand it.”

I definitely don’t understand it. But I will hope that a gift can come out of this.. somehow. While reading this blog post written by Marla’s husband Dave, I was reminded of Marla’s big heart. Her talent. Her artwork. 

This is so unfair!

So tell those you love how much you love them while you still can. And try to find the blessings in the chaos, I guess. Even when it’s hard.

And today, it’s really fucking hard, dammit!  



Is your EGO running the show?

I just received an email from an author asking for help. He wants me to share his book with my contact list. “One of my lifelong dreams is to hit the NY Times Bestseller list,” he wrote.

He reminded me of me when I released my first book “Stay Tuned”. I thought “If I could just get this in Oprah’s hands, I’d be OK.” I checked its status on Amazon daily. I was so proud of it, but that wasn’t enough. I wanted others to be proud of it too. I figured that praise from a list or from a celebrity would make me whole and that I would be better somehow with mass approval.

What I didn’t realize was that I needed to do more work on myself. I was letting the outside world determine if I was OK.  

We live in a society that is so addicted to the approval of others. If this other author makes it to that list, will he be content? It could be a fabulous book, I don’t know because I haven’t read it yet. If he sells a ton of them, it might put some money in his pocket, sure. It’s great to be celebrated and respected, so being on the bestseller list would probably feel wonderful. Until that high wears off and then it’s time to get on the top of another list.

In the last 15 years I’ve interviewed many gurus and authors who’ve had bestsellers. The ones who really stood out weren’t spreading their messages to be famous. They were spreading their words of wisdom because they wanted to help people first. Their fame and money came from their authentic need to help the world, not from their desire to be on the top of the list.

If you are doing ANYTHING because your motivation is to be on a list, or win an award, or get kudos from famous people, then your EGO is running the show. Period.

I love the acronym Edging God Out that Wayne Dyer uses with EGO.

Now don’t get me wrong- I get that having goals is a good thing. It’s important to “reach for the stars” as my tagline says for my second book “I’m Spiritual, Dammit!” But don’t let your happiness be determined by your accomplishments. That is like standing on quicksand. Your happiness needs to come from your relationships with others, but more importantly, your relationship with yourself.

You better still like you regardless of how many books you sell. Regardless of how many medals you win. You are enough, even if you are sitting on your couch doing nothing.


We grind our gears thinking goals will fill the hole and make us whole, and guess what….It just creates more need to succeed. You never stop chasing your tail. You are Edging God Out.

When you come from your heart, you will create life long success. 

So ask yourself as you go through your day, “Is this serving my head (ego) or my heart?”

The heart will always win in the end.



How lazy have we become?

I was looking through my email at work and found a pitch from a person promoting a company called Fiverr, which is a website where people can post their “micro-services.” These  services include everything from video production to turning your home into a temporary hotel and the prices on the site range from $5-$150.

At first, I thought, “how cool!”

Then I saw this post:

I will meditate on your financial abundance for 5 minutes straight. Every 1-2 days, I do this for all new orders. WELCOME income, shifts, insights, new energy & joyful support! Note: There’s no promise of a specific result. Each person gets *unique* benefits. See testimonials below! ☺ Windfalls are not uncommon: Bonuses, promotions, new jobs, cash prizes, unexpected income… I invite a 3-10% tip on your new income, via my tip gig. This keeps the energy moving & brings more good to you! ♥ORDER NOW♥

So now, we can’t even meditate for our own success, we have to pay someone to do it FOR US???!! Are we THAT lazy?

Shit yeah!

I’m not really upset with the woman for listing the micro-service, because after all, she’s just taking advantage of the sloth we’ve become as a species.

But what I am hoping you gleam from taking 2 minutes to read this post is:

THE POWER IS WITHIN YOU. You want to create abundance in your life, or bring on that “windfall”, work on yourself.

Rather than pay a stranger 5 bucks to meditate for your well-being, how about meditating for yourself instead? How about establishing real relationships and a purpose rather than hoping your mom, your spouse, your boss or some stranger on Fiverr will make it better?

Make it better on your own. You can do it. I believe in you.

And if you want someone to sing “Happy Birthday” like Marilyn Monroe, let me know. I may just be posting that service on Fiverr. (That is, unless someone else has thought of it first, dammit!)


Hearts are everywhere

My friend Kathy’s magical blackberry is at it again..everywhere she turns, hearts follow. Start looking for the good in life, and it will be everywhere.

Here is the proof.