Category Archives: social media

How to know what kind of a person Donald Trump is


oneI’ve never been particularly interested in politics, but this year, because of what’s going on here in Brazil, and especially because of what’s going on in my birth country, the USA, I can’t help getting involved along with everyone else.

Facebook is inundated every day with posts about Trump, Obama, Hillary Clinton, and many other political figures. Some of the posts are positive, some negative. Some are true, some false.

But what interests me are the comments people make on these posts. twoThey talk about why they hate/love Trump, Hillary, Obama, and so on, and come across as certain that their views are correct. But these are just words, and to me everyone is missing a very obvious point.

It’s easy to argue back and forth about who’s good or bad, but to me, the only way to know what a person is really like, who they really are, is to look into their eyes. You may think that sounds nuts, but you’d be surprised what you can discover by doing it. You can sense a person’s character, their motives, their flaws, their virtues…their soul.

rs_634x1024-150616073901-634-donald-trump-jl-061615I am not a fan of Donald Trump. I won’t go into why, because enough has already been said about why he is NOT a good person and is NOT qualified to be president of the United States of America. Just take any photograph of this man and look into his eyes. They’re dead, flat, mean. Do the same thing with photos of Obama or Hillary and you will see something quite different. Use your intuitive senses instead of simply spouting opinions or even facts. If you do this, you’ll see right into the essence of the person. For just a minute, let that be your guide instead of what you think you believe, what you’ve been told, what you’ve heard or seen in the news, or what you’ve seen on Facebook or read on Twitter. You might be quite amazed.


Filed under politics, social media, Uncategorized

Being an introvert has become a “thing”


1797When I was a kid growing up in the 40s and 50s, it was not considered a good thing to be “shy.” The word “introvert” didn’t exist, as far as I know. In any case, I was a shy kid, a loner, and my mother worried about it.

“Why don’t you go outside and play?” She would say, as I sat at the piano practicing for hours during summer vacation. Not that going outside would put me in touch with other kids—there weren’t any, except my sister Bertie. We lived in the country, and there were very few neighbors, none of them close by. I usually liked playing with Bertie, but my favorite thing was to spend the day in the woods by myself, with some stale bread and a bottle of water, pretending I was a lost explorer.

As I grew older, even though I wasn’t fully aware of it, I still preferred being alone. I had a few friends at school, but I certainly wasn’t considered popular, and the friends I did have were thought of as somewhat “weird.”

As the years went by, I didn’t spend much time thinking about whether I might be an introvert, because the people I knew didn’t talk about things like that. It seemed to me that I was normally sociable, but looking back I can see that wasn’t quite true. I still used to sneak away early from parties, and I didn’t like hanging out in large groups of people. I preferred sitting with a close friend and talking about “life.”

Fast forward: For the past couple of decades I’ve felt an increasing need to be alone—not all the time, of course, but quite a bit of it. I think it’s partly because I’m a writer and composer, but also because it’s just my nature. It doesn’t feel odd to me. I’m comfortable being a loner.

Lately I’ve been noticing—mostly from articles and memes on Facebook—that introverts are “in.” The memes say things like, “Whew, that was close, I almost had to socialize,” “That feeling of dread that washes over you when the phone rings,” “Come, they said, it’ll be fun, they said,” “The Introvert Revolution,” and so on. It seems as though introverts have found their niche, but…

Somehow I don’t feel like waving an introvert flag. Why should I label myself? Why should anyone? We’re all different after all, sometimes in subtle ways, but we’re certainly not as classifiable as these memes and some articles I’ve read on the subject would have us believe.

I say, enjoy who you are. Explore who you are. Most of us are too busy to spend time with ourselves, but we need to make time. We’re here for a reason, and the more time we spend finding out about what it is that we’re here to do and why we are the way we are (and this is NOT selfish, I might add), the better off we’ll be. Then others can benefit from our gifts, too.


Filed under individuality, my history, social media, Uncategorized

Do I have to jog when I’m 80?

pa-170301055sFor quite some time I’ve been seeing posts and videos on Facebook celebrating old age—advanced old age, from 80 and up to 100 and beyond—and most of them seem to follow the same pattern:

The elderly person in question (usually a woman) is either a body-builder, runs races, does yoga, or engages in some other supposedly health-giving physical activities that would be daunting even to many of the young. Then Facebookers react with a “wow” or “love” emoticon.

As someone in her seventh decade, I’m pretty sure that at least some of us “old folks” are thinking: “Gee, that’s amazing! I wish I could do that. I could never do that. How does she do that?!”

I for one, however, don’t have that knee-jerk reaction.

117864220I’ve never been athletic, despised gym class when I was in school, and would much rather read a book in a comfy arm chair than jog around the block. I do enjoy swimming, though, and tai chi, but never think of either as a sport (hey, I’m not training for the Olympics).

There seems to be an all-pervasive belief, especially in the US, that the human body should be kept in constant movement. A couple of guys I know even said this to me recently (of course they’re both athletes). Now I ask you: How could any human being stay in constant motion? It’s impossible.

The other biggie is that we live sedentary lives and that it’s unnatural. I especially love that one. Somehow the people who constantly bang that particular drum seem to forget (or maybe don’t know) that even in prehistoric times, people had “sedentary jobs”—food preparation, making tools, scraping animals hides, etc. Cro-Magnon man even invented the needle to sew skins together to make clothing.

I often think of my mother-in-law, who led a completely sedentary life, in addition to chain-smoking and eating lots of fried foods and chocolates—and who lived to be 100 years old. Friends have said, “Well, your mother-in-law must have had good genes.” Personally, I think this is nonsense, especially given what we now know about epigenetics, and how the mind controls the body. I like to think that it was the goodness of her heart, her unselfishness and interest in everyone and everything around her, that gave my mother-in-law her longevity.

In any case, I’d like to see some videos or read some articles about people who lived long, healthy, happy lives for reasons other than the fact that they spent every day at the gym lifting weights or preparing for the marathon. It’s not just about standing on your head at age 98 or running around the neighborhood into your 80s. Kudos to those (mostly) ladies for their efforts, but some of us just weren’t cut out for that!


Thanks to Rhonda Key Youngblood for this photo!



Filed under Aging, individuality, social media, tai chi, Uncategorized


downloadIn her book Dying To Be Me Anita Moorjani (of the famous NDE and healing of cancer) talks a lot about pursuing vs. allowing. She says that after her NDE experience, she no longer felt that she had to pursue goals, that it was more a question of allowing things to come to her…to happen naturally.

There’s a lot of wisdom in that thought. In my own life, I’ve found that even when we get the thing we think we want, often there’s no lasting satisfaction. I see people on Facebook (and I do this myself as well) busily promoting themselves, whether it’s their art, their music, their book…whatever, usually with little results. But some people do seem to make it “work”—I’ve seen several friends hold successful Kickstarter campaigns, meaning that they got the money they were asking for.

It seems that it’s a question of how we think and where were are in life that makes us either pursue or allow. I can’t sit in judgment and say one is better than the other. I believe that we do what is right for us at any given moment. It may not be right for someone else, and it may not even be right for us after some time has passed. From my own experience I’ve found that the “pushing, pulling, wishing, and wanting” approach has eventually led to frustration and limitation for me.

Last night I watched a video on YouTube by jazz pianist/educator Dave Frank entitled “How Artists and Content Creators Can Survive in the era of Free Content,” where he discussed the current trend of people downloading music for free on the internet. In his view, this new trend is more about people sharing than it is about money, so, as he said in the video, “…there is an expectation that you’ll share some stuff for free, to be part of the global conversation that’s going on.” Then he said that each one, individually, then decides how to get some payback…but…he himself simply decided to give it all away, to share it as much as possible. He said that the spiritual principle he based his choice on is: “If you serve, you will be served,” and that this principle works just like mathematics. “So what that means,” he said, “is that you put your heart and soul out there to people and try to share something that will be of benefit to them, and then what you need will come back to you.” And he wasn’t just “whistlin’ Dixie,” as they say, because he eventually began to receive compensation for his offerings.

I like his approach. To me there’s something very freeing about it. It follows Anita Moorjani’s prescription of allowing instead of pursuing, and I honestly do believe that there is a law as accurate as mathematics that governs these things.


Filed under art, creativity, individuality, jazz, music, NDE, social media, spiritual, work

Brazil, the world…and us

As everyone knows by now, Brazil, “the sleeping giant,” is in a state of popular revolt. Surely this revolt has been simmering for a long time, and like a faulty pressure cooker, has finally exploded.

It seemed to have started with an increase in public transportation fares, but really that was just the proverbial tip of the iceberg. Once public frustration about the fares started to push the escape valve, the whole thing blew up quickly and powerfully.

Downtown Rio

Downtown Rio

The streets of many of Brazil’s major cities are packed with demonstrators—most of them orderly, with the exception of a few vandals. The word on the street is that some of these vandals are being paid in order to shed a bad light on the protestors. I don’t know whether that’s true or not, but what I do know is that the Brazilian population overall has had it up to “here” with political corruption, poor health care, faulty education, and now the excessive spending to host the World Cup—for which Brazil is ill-prepared. Many people feel that since the country is in a state of transition, it just isn’t ready to tackle an event of this size.

Facebook is loaded with photos of huge crowds filling the downtown areas of major cities like São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, and Recife. Everyone has an opinion, but overall there seems to be a strong sense of solidarity—the time has come, we’re ready, this is IT.

Well, I’ve been watching all of this activity in the news and the social media, and I think what’s going on in Brazil reveals to a great extent what’s going on in the rest of the world. There’s nothing unique about it. After all, what is the source of global problems? When you get right down to it, it’s human selfishness, lack of compassion, egotism, greed, fanaticism, fear, and so on. These are the same traits responsible for global warming, famine, and everything else that’s wrong in the world. Where do these things start? With individual human beings, in their thinking. And thinking leads to actions.

So in all fairness, I can’t help but ask myself: Am I contributing to any of these problems with my own thinking and/or behavior? Am I? Are we?


Filed under Rio de Janeiro, social media, Uncategorized

The Popinator

Have you seen the Popinator? Check it out:

A few days ago my friend Mary posted this on Facebook. I was, well, kind of underwhelmed about this exciting new invention. Our conversation about it follows:

Me: ONE piece at a time? No way! I have to stuff a whole handful in! The guys who invented this have waaaay too much time on their hands!

Mary: Yeah, but if you’re typing, you won’t get your fingers all greasy. Save the handful for the movie theater. 🙂

Me: I could never catch them…they’d probably end up in my ear or up my nose!

Mary: Hahaha! That’s what I was thinking, too! It’d be nice to have at the desk, but that’s the only place.

Me: I couldn’t possibly type and concentrate if I had to be yelling “pop” every two seconds!

Mary: Sure you could! And, wait a min…earlier today you posted something about cooking lunch and something else…you are indeed a multi-tasker. “Pop!”

Me: True, but I still can’t see myself typing, yelling “pop” and trying to pick popcorn kernels out of my nose and ears all at the same time!

Mary: LOL!LOL! No…b/c you’ll be catching those popping kernels with your teeth!

Me: I think that would take a certain amount of practice…like YEARS! 😀

Mary: It looked pretty effortless in the video.

Me: Amy Duncan Yes, I noticed that! Ha! I’ve tried catching peanuts in my mouth before, and I never caught even one!

Mary: Practice makes perfect!

Me: Yes, and I really think I should set aside all my work and unimportant stuff like that so I can learn how to grab popcorn kernels in the air with my teeth! Sounds like a plan to me!


So….will you be ordering your very own Popinator soon?

OK, enough silliness for today…  😀


Filed under food, social media, Uncategorized

Little Facebook miracles

Every time I hear someone say something negative about Facebook, I have to control myself not to bristle. I’ve been a “Facebooker” for quite a few years and the vast majority of my experiences there have been more than just positive — they’ve been enlightening, moving, touching, encouraging, happy, fun, funny, joyful, helpful, and inspiring. Am I just lucky? I don’t think so.

Just last week my Facebook friend Michelle, who lives in Paris, posted that she had a lovely baby grand piano in her former home in New Jersey that she needed to give away — quickly. She had a deadline of just a few days. I jokingly asked her if she could fax the piano to Brazil, but since she thought that might not be practical, I posted to a couple of other friends who live in New Jersey and New York about Michelle’s piano and asked them to spread the word.

Before long, I got a message from my friend Jerry, a guitarist-singer-entertainer-author, saying that he lived very close to the town where the piano was and that he’d love to have it. I’d forgotten that Jerry lived in New Jersey, so I was really happy about this. He said he was dying to learn to play the piano and also that he needed a baby grand piano for his upcoming video shoot. How perfect!

I got back to Michelle right away, even though it was the middle of the night in Paris. I kept my fingers crossed for both of them until the next day, when I got the good news from Jerry that everything had worked out and the piano was his!

I thought, wow, without Facebook would something like this have worked out so seamlessly, so effortlessly? Maybe, but I tend to think Facebook made it even easier.

Another time, I received a payment for a contest I’d won. Unfortunately the only way they could pay me was by a check issued in the USA, which I couldn’t cash in Brazil. I do have a bank account in the USA, but I needed someone to mail the check to and have them deposit it in my bank account. Right away I thought of Facebook. I put up a message asking if anyone could help me. Within an hour or less I got a message from Lorena, a Brazilian Facebook friend living in Connecticut, who said she’d be happy to do it. So I had the check sent to her address and she deposited it in my bank account. Just like that. No hesitation. I was more touched by this than she’ll ever know, and especially by the fact that she was so happy to do it and said it was just a natural thing to do.

I have also received gifts from two Facebook friends. One was a beautiful Italian charm bracelet with charms very carefully chosen to match my personality and interests, from my California friend Paula, whom I’d actually first met online before Facebook, and the other a lovely silver ball necklace from sweet Patricia from Chicago — the ball is actually a little chime that makes a delicate, ethereal sound when you shake it.

These are just a few examples. Other friends have generously offered to send me “care packages” of food items from the USA that can’t be found here in Brazil, for instance. And of course it works both ways. Whenever I see a friend with a need on Facebook, I do what I can to meet it, if possible, and I’m always touched by how quickly people respond when someone posts that a love one has passed on or that they are in some kind of trouble.

I have never met any of these people in person. They are all “virtual” friends. So for those who say that online friendships aren’t “real life” I have to ask: what’s “real?” To me, the virtual “handshakes” extended on Facebook are just as real as the physical variety, and equally satisfying. Have you had any serendipitous experiences on Facebook or other social networks?


Filed under social media

High-heeled shoes!

It might just be my impression, but it seems to me there’s a lot of “shoe talk” happening on Facebook lately. People posting videos about shoes, pictures of shoes, making comments about shoes, and so on.

Some of the talk is about shoes vs. no shoes (i.e. some of us love going barefoot), some about flip-flops (aren’t they going to sell Havaianas in the Brazilian shop at Macy’s?), but most of all, there seems to be a plethora of photos of high-heeled shoes. Very high-heeled shoes.

I like looking at pictures of high-heeled shoes the same way I like looking at the fashions in runway shows. To me they’re an art form, lovely to contemplate, certainly never to wear. At least that’s the way I feel these days.

I got my first pair of high-heeled shoes when I was just starting high school. I was going to be singing in a show with an all-girl trio and I wanted to look grown up. I’d gotten past the lipstick and nylons thing with my mother, and now I was pushing for the shoes. She finally gave in and bought me a pair of wide-heeled, rather dumpy patent leather spectators. I thought they were divine. And they weren’t even hard to walk in.

Later on, in college, I had a very tall boyfriend. I’m very short, so I decided to get some spike heels. I bought a pair of shoes with 4-inch heels and bravely tried to walk around in them. I managed to put up with the blisters, the lordosis curve and tripping and losing my balance in the street for about a month and then I put them away in the closet — forever.

From that day to this I’ve had very few pairs of high-heeled shoes. And it’s been so long that I don’t remember any of them. These days I’m a sneaker/flip-flop/sandal girl, that is when I’m not barefoot.

I think the super duper high high high heel craze came back when “Sex in the City” was popular. I used to watch in amazement as Carrie, Miranda, Samantha and Charlotte blithely tripped through the streets of Manhattan in their stilettos with nary a stumble. I have to admit, though, that I felt a certain sinister satisfaction when Carrie tripped and fell flat on her face on the runway when she was invited to participate in a fashion show — in ridiculously high heels.

These days people have really turned high-heeled shoes into an art form. They resemble everything from revolvers to birthday cakes and are decorated with fur, skulls, studs, fringe and mirrors. They should be in a gallery, not on someone’s feet, or at least not on mine.

With that said, I have to confess I have a certain admiration for you ladies (and gents!) who manage to march around on super stilettos as if it were the easiest thing in the world. More power to ya!


Filed under art, social media, Uncategorized

I heart Facebook, part 5 – the hoax

Some time ago, while perusing my Facebook page, I was extremely surprised to receive a friend request from João Gilberto. For those of you who may not know, JG is probably Brazil’s most famous musician, a national and international treasure, often referred to as the creator of bossa nova, and associated with famous songs like “The Girl From Ipanema” and “Quiet Nights.” Why would JG friend me? Why would he friend anybody? Why would he even be on Facebook? His well-known reputation is that of an inveterate, now octogenarian recluse who rarely goes out and spends his days playing his guitar…in his pajamas.   Out of curiosity, I accepted the “friendship” and as soon as I got on his wall I saw several messages saying that it was a fake profile and others that it was really the master himself. I was skeptical, so I cancelled. A few days later I got another request from the same João Gilberto. Hmmm. I accepted, and thought well maybe it really is him…who knows? I’d heard that he liked to talk for hours on the phone with his friends, so maybe this was his new way of making contact without having to leave his apartment. I was curious. Really, really curious. And so it began. Next thing I knew, JG had thousands of friends, including some famous people from the music world, and every time he showed up, a bunch of us would gather around the great Brazilian master to hear his pearls of wisdom, listen to the wonderful music he posted, and look at the fun pictures he put up. After awhile, some of us got to know each other and started friending each other. Good relationships were developed, all because of João Gilberto, so we thought. I had read several books about him, and it seemed to me that the Facebook João must be the real thing, because his personality and character seemed to match, almost uncannily, the person I had read about. I put any lingering doubts away, and just enjoyed myself on the long, long “conversations” we had every few evenings with our favorite musician. But then things started getting weird. JG seemed to have abrupt personality changes, as if he were someone else. He started accusing people of being “fakes.” We all started to wonder. This went on, back and forth for quite some time. But through it all, I was learning more about bossa nova and Brazilian music than I had ever known before, so I didn’t give it much thought. I was having too much fun. Then one day it all came crashing down, after more than a year of exchanging ideas, opinions, jokes, arguments, etc., with JG and all my new friends. João Gilberto’s son, who lives in the USA, got wind of his father’s supposed Facebook profile and exposed it as a lie and a fraud. He even managed to ferret out the perp…a handsome young plastic surgeon living in Brazil. But even after this exposure and the closing down of the profile, this guy tried to start it up again…!!?? My first thought after all this happened was why would anyone take so much precious time out of his life to mastermind such a thing? I still can’t answer that question. The only one who can is the perp himself. One thing is clear though: he knows a lot about João Gilberto, either that or he had someone else helping him who knows a lot about João Gilberto. But the fact is that even though some of us felt emotionally cheated, angry, and chagrined that we had fallen for this scam, hook, line and sinker, we were really happy and grateful that we’d met a whole bunch of interesting, intelligent friends as a result of it, and these friendships continue to grow on Facebook. We’ll never hang out with João Gilberto, but at least we have each other!


Filed under social media

I heart Facebook, part 4

I have learned more since I’ve been on Facebook than I think I did the whole time I went to school…seriously! People post the most interesting things. They keep me up on vital news items about what’s going on in the world, they post loads of videos that range from enlightening to entertaining to hilarious, and they shower me with beautiful pictures of nature and cute pictures of baby animals that I otherwise might never see.

And the best is, of course, that I can pick and choose. I can take people off my news feed (if what they’re posting doesn’t interest me) or “take turns” by alternating people in my news feed, which works really well if you have loads of friends so you won’t have to spend hours every day reading all their posts…who has time for that? And you can also pop in from time to time and check out the timelines of those folks who have a tendency to post waaaaaaay too much stuff, like 50 photos/videos a day.

I probably learned the most and made some of my best friends from a situation on Facebook that turned out to be a total hoax…but I’ll leave that for next time!


Filed under social media