Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Bathing suit or Lingerie?

Photo courtesy of Eco Swim

Growing up on unspoiled beach, a virgin to commercial development, I was fortunate to spend many Sundays building sand castles, surfing and collecting sea shells until my parents had to drag me back to the car at sunset. I never wanted those days to end. I was sure that with time, I would naturally transform into a mermaid.

As an adult reality set in and never forgetting my childhood of ocean breezes, clean beaches and passing dolphins, I found the next best solution. After several years living in suburbs of Maryland, I returned to my homestate of Florida and settled in bikini kingdom--Miami. I would spend one day a week in a bathing suit and relax by the beach or pool, welcoming the serenity after a long work week.

This past week was Swim Week in Miami and I felt like a kid in a candy store— a dazzling patchwork of bikinis and one-pieces, breezy caftans and see through tunics, peek-a-boo pants and skirts, exotic prints and the occasional cape for drama and protection from the sun.

Two drawers in my chest are a treasure of assorted bikinis.  Which loin cloth and bosom lifter would be my lucky choice for 2011?

Staying in shape becomes increasingly difficult with age. There's nothing to love about waist handles. So I'm actually considering a one piece that cinches the waist without making me look matronly. What about the one at top of this posting? Looks like a teddy lingerie.  It's a consideration.What do you think?

Or I go could go in opposite direction--flirtatious, sexy, a tease...Below is a video of the Beach Bunny swimwear line.

To view videos of other top swim brands and the sexy models, click here.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Homer's Odyssey, a book review

Homer's Odyssey is by far the best book I have ever read about an animal, in this case a cat. Not just any cat, a special needs cat. A black blind cat! This book taught me so much about the strength and courage of animals with special needs. Their preternatural abilities, they're almost superhuman.

In reading other reviews many readers indicated they had reservations. Usually the ending is tearfully sad and the pet dies. Not Homer. He will exceed your expectations.

Before I continue with my review, since I'm all too familiar with the misconceptions surrounding cats, I want to take out of turn my recommendation as to who should read this book. This books is NOT for cat people.

I encourage this book be read by:

- Anyone who says they're not a cat person. Believe me I used to say the same!
- Anyone who's hesitant about adopting more than two cats. Three's a lucky charm.
- Any woman or man who worries about the effect of cat ownership on one's dating life and relationships. This book offers excellent examples.
- If for no other reason than to learn about the incredible strength and spirit of a blind animal. This cat had no fear, not even of jumping into unknown depths!
As the chairperson of the inaugural Black cat gala by The Cat Network, to turn around the misperceptions of black cats and save them from epidemic rates of euthanization, I had heard about this book and the author even donated a few books for our event. Finally after finishing Dewey (another book about a famous library cat), I finally reached this book on my reading list.

This book jolted me immediately for a number of reasons. First, I identified with the author, Gwen Cooper who had two cats and lived in Miami. Moreso her rollercoaster career, the highs and lows was a copycat of my own career struggles. Marketing and Public Relations are finicky careers in the Miami market. All of my colleagues have shared the expected job layoff every three years like clockwork.

At the age of 27,  Gwen received a call from her vet, about a special case, a stray kitten. In this case a black BLIND  kitten. Would she take him? That vet, Dr. Patty Khuly, surgically removed Homer's eyes to rid of the infection and gave him a fighting chance to live. The question was, would a human see past his looks? This altruistic soul, is now a well-known veterinarian in South Miami, a writer for Miami Herald pet column and blogger. I encourage you to follow her on The Daily Vet.

In the foreword, Dr. Khuly writes:

The kitten had bounded back to life after surgery...How could I help but be smitten with his scraggly little blackness, his tiny sucken sockets, his insatiable appetite for feedings, pettings, cuddlings, and play sessions? Yes, he even romped like a normal kitten, despite his eyelessness. In short he was eminently lovable at least by all standards except the one with which most humans preoccupied themselves with: his appearance.

Amidst the topsy turvy career of a young woman already loaded with two other cats, there is the unplanned adoption of a third stray kitten, barely two weeks old and blind. Gwen Cooper is chronically living on the edge and now caring for a special needs animal. Does she become the crazy cat lady?

The book continues with Homer's odyssey from kittenhood into adulthood, moving multiple times from house to condo and to an even smaller apartment, from Miami to New York City. It is that odyssey of antics and adventures alongside the growing pains of a young woman in relationships and career that Gwen is the one who learns about love and life's lessons-- from a blind cat.   Homer steals the show.  I found myself as amazed as the author as she learns that Homer is not only unencumbered by his blindness but is actually more capable in other areas because of it. The episode wherein the author discovers Homer's ability to catch flies in mid-air is worth noting.

His courage of climbing a seven foot tall book case and taking a "blind leap" to depths unknown was more than pure courage it was symbolic.  This cat embraces life and enjoys it to the fullest. His gallant unswerving, and fierce loyalty even saved Gwen from an intruder in the middle of the night. That story alone and what he trained himself to do at the senior age of 11,  is worth reading the book.

But Homer looms larger than life in my imagination...He's Daredeveil, the famed marvel Comics superhero who list his sight in an accident while saving a blind man, but who gained superhuman use of all his other senses. Like Daredevil, Homer's senses of hearing and smell, his ability to map and negotiate all obstacles in an unfamiliar room simply walking through it once, border on the preternatural...He's a cat who can spring straight up five feet into the air and catch a buzzing fly in midflight. Every leap from a tabletop is taken on faith, a potential leap into the abyss...My other cats can see out the windows of our home, and so they know the boundaries of the world they inhabit. But Homer's world is boundless...and therefore infinite.

The chapters about her dating life and relationships initially had me nervous and before I knew it I was laughing. Nowadays having three cats does not carry stereotypical weight as let's say five cats? More comical, it turns out the guys were more interested in Wonder Cat than in Gwen and they would ask if they could still visit Homer "as friends" after breaking up with Gwen. Can you believe that?

Homer initially came into my home because nobody else wanted to take him. So it never fails to amaze me how fascinated people are --even people who aren't particularly interested in cats--when they meet him or even just hear about him. He's the ultimate conversation starter...
Gwens' writing style was refreshing, never monotone or mundane, lively and created a three dimensional nonstop mental motion picture.

I can already envision the movie, the actors, but who would play Homer? Hmm maybe a black cat audition! Between the casting cat call and the movie, black cats would have better chance of survival! Oh I'm getting too excited over a fantasy. Back to reality.

If you claim to love animals, open your mind and you'll thoroughly enjoy this book. It's great for a summer or vacation read--Humorous, enlightening, moving and inspirational!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Dating with Pets

As a single female in Miami with pets, I love to read other stories and blogs about women in a similar situation. It makes me smile and laugh! Is it so hard for a single woman with multiple pets to date? Is it harder or the same as a single mother with kids? What do you think?

Here's one story about a veterinarian, Dr. Justine Lee. After the loss of her dog JP, she decided to fill the void and start online dating. She posted photos of her and her dog in the profile section. One JERK actually responded with an insult! And he still had the gall to suggest she call him! Can you believe that?!?! What do you think?

Naturally we develop first impressions. But if you want to meet someone, shouldn't one use honey to attract bees and not insect repellant? Hence, Justine reciprocated in a straighforward and honest reply by saying "Buzz Off".

The last guy I met, a young, successful dentist (I say young because I knew he was in his 30's--just following Demi Moore's example) seemed genuinely interested in dating moi. I gave him my business card with cell phone number and personal email address. A few days later I received a polite follow up email indicating he enjoyed meeting me at this unisex baby shower for a common friend, and suggested he would call soon. ONE POINT.  True to his word, he phoned the next day and proposed we go see Cirque du Soleil if he didn't go on a trip to west coast. TWO POINTS. An event like Cirque du Soleil is no cheap date. I was impressed and agreeable.  Sure enough he called the next day to say he was heading off on a last minute trip to Costa Rica. What happened to San Francisco? Must be nice!

Well Mr. Dentist Jet Setter said he would call on his return. I never heard from him again. Was he kidnapped by jungle monkeys? Was he in a coma induced by bananas falling on his head?  OR...maybe he saw my website on the business card--the CAT website.  I'm proud of the work I do with outdoor homeless cats. But just maybe he assumed I'm a crazy cat lady.  It's possible.

Well I didn't lose any sleep over it.  Nor am I searching for Mr. Right. My philosphy to meeting my perfect mate is the same as clothes shopping. Men = clothes? Yes it's true.

Whenever I'm looking for a specific apparel item and set out mall hopping, I never find it.  Only when I least expect it, will that brown skirt with the slit appear and on sale!  That's exactly what happened.

So as not to scare off any potential suitor, I decided not to hand out my kitty cat business card, although I just ordered my vanity license plate, "Sexy Cat Lady" with graphic image of sexy black cat. Now I'm working on creating a personal business card. 

What do you think about the dating degree of difficulty for single persons with multiple pets?  Share your stories and opinions by clicking on comment below!

Monday, July 11, 2011

I'm Featured in Brickell Magazine!

Christopher R. Coppola, Otto the Biker Cat and Christine Michaels
 on a Harley at the EPIC hotel in downtown Miami (a pet friendly, 5 star hotel)

How exciting! I received a call this weekend from my mother who picked up the latest issue of Brickell magazine. Her voice quivered with excitement and pride.  "Honey you are featured in the magazine!"

That evening she brought the issue and I also ran to my computer to check for a digital version.

Under the "Entrepreneur" section, the title was "Kitty Care".  The article spoke about the conception and the event called Le Chat Noir, the Cat Network's inaugural Black Cat Gala, to raise awareness about uniqueness of black cats, reduce euthanization rate while increasing their adoption rate.

Here is the link: http://www.brickellmag.com/digital/BM/7_11/files/44.html
To magnify the page, just click on the article. Below are the captions for each photo featured in the article.

Except there was a misstatement in the article that I need to correct here.  It was NOT the state of Maryland that mandated not to send black kittens. It was the shelter in Bowie that made the call.
(Note: Please know the article was the draft the reporter wrote and I had corrected it but the reporter is no longer with the magazine. I had sent several emails to the reporter and editor with corrections but this was earlier in the year. )

Susan Sonson holds India, another black cat model

Swimsuit model and black cat model practicing the cat walk

Gypsy--Black Cat model

Christopher Coppolo holds celebrity guest, Otto the Biker Cat
at entrance of Wolfgang Roth Partners Fineart gallery

This event was pulled off by a few volunteers.  Amazing! But we definitely need more help for the next one.  I especially want to thank my personal friends, who came through for me and the cause when I needed help. You are true Friends!!!

Thanks to Nikki Hawkins (professional model), Algeria Bridges (another model) who drove all the way from Miramar, Adrienne dAnnunzio (who should be a model), my mother Elizabeth who's always there to support me, and most of all Jennifer Angel, international astrology celebrity who undertook many responsibilities that made this event shine!

If you are interested in adopting a black cat, I have the perfect pair. Introducing Johnny Walker and Audrey Tiffany Hepburn.   CLICK HERE to view more photos and learn about their unique personalities. If you adopt JW and Tiffany you will also receive a lovely gift basket worth over $75 for free! It's a great starter kit. PLUS you'll also receive a bottle of COPPOLA wine personally donated by Christopher Coppola. Instead of cigars, wine is healthier to celebrate your new family members! Cheers!!!

Johnny Walker

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Brickell Magazine is a high end magazine focusing on the Brickell area which is downtown Miami. Brickell is often referred to as the "Manhattan of the South" but obviously on a smaller scale. It includes both upscale,  high rise condominiums south of 15th Street, and bank buildings north of 15th and an increasing number of moderate to high end restaurants.

Here's to raising awareness and making a difference!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

The Last Launch, a closure of my childhood

Tomorrow Friday is the last scheduled launch of the space shuttle program, the Atlantis is the protracted finale. This will be the 33rd flight for Atlantis and the 135th shuttle mission overall.

This sad news weighs heavily on my heart and marketing mind.

Growing up with the space program since the first shuttle launch brings back fond memories of my childhood intertwined with the race to space. It was a time of pride where our country continued to pioneer new territory, new technologies. A "race" to be the first, to be the best, to beat the Russians.  It was also during the Cold War.  My visit to communist Poland and Czechoslovakia are forever engrained from the age of 12.

Titusville, Florida (my hometown) sits across the Indian River from Kennedy Space Center. The city is laid back, very laid back.  The heat, slow tempo, and the location, made it too easy for many residents to continue in slow motion, with little motivation to pursue lofty career or life goals. At a 20 year reunion of my grade school, most classmates continue to reside in Titusville as PE coach, hairdresser, and a nail technician. I wonder if the abrupt hiatus of the space program after the explosion of the Challenger launch in 1986 dampered or halted a person's aspirations.

Thanks to my parents, the nuns of St Theresa school, and the space program, their confluence pushed me to study and work hard.  I learned "anything is possible".  Thankfully we moved to the suburbs of Washington DC,  a beltway of fast movers, thinkers and the need to succeed.

And so I studied hard and earned mostly straight A's from grade school to my MBA. I discovered my passion for marketing and its transforming powers in uplifting lives, starting or saving a business, even saving lives.

Then I ask, "What will happen to the Kennedy Space Center? Will the fire of the space program endure and still draw tourists or will remnant flickers fade in time?   Why does it feel like I'm about to lose my childhood friend from next door? Is it more than the predicted 7,000 job losses? I think so. I continue to ask, "After the Cold War, did we lose our competitive spirit?" Looking at advances in telephone technology such as the iPhone and iPads and the revolution in social media such as Facebook and Twitter, clearly not.  Then why the flickering flames?

Could it be that collectively, with younger, nonbaby boomer generations, the space program can not compete with the attraction or sizzle of technologies that impact our quotidian needs? Look at generations X and Y and tweens leading the use of Facebook and texting and tweeting. It's about our daily uses. The iPod, iPhone and now the pervasive iPad. How about an iShuttle? There's a thought! A more efficient way to transport humans and cargo to the space station?  Do we dare think it?

Aaah but US companies such as Blue Origin, Boeing, Space X and Sierra Nevada Corp. are bankrolled by the space agency to develop new spacecraft to ferry astronauts and payloads into orbit. However, none of these companies have home bases in Florida. Experts say we're still three years away from shooting humans into orbit. In the meantime,  plans call for NASA to pay Russia to deliver Americans to the International Space Station at $50 million a seat. 

Technologies evolve and they are also getting smaller and faster. The cell phones and laptops are prime examples. Each space shuttle launch cost a hefty $1 billion plus.  But the shuttle was designed in the 1970's long before cellphones existed and Internet reached mainstream.

Having witnessed the economic devastation from the avalanche effect of the two shuttle explosions my immediate concern remains. Will the Kennedy Space Center still survive as a  tourist destination? According to the Space Coast office of Tourism, the shuttle launches represented about 5 percent of the destination’s tourism business.  So there is hope the current attractions of the bus tour through the KSC, the guided tour which gets you closer to the launch pad for amazing photo opps, the IMAX films, the Astronaut Encounter, the new interactive multimedia Space Exploration, and the Astronaut Hall of Fame will continue to pique young engineering minds, inspire a nation and visitors and preserve a chapter in American space history.

Thankfully Titusville has another secret treasure. An unspoiled national seashore and wildlife refuge that boasts the nation's largest birding festival and a new 260-mile St. John's River biking-hiking trail.
Ecotourism is their new pot of tourism gold.

I encourage anyone reading this post, to visit the SpaceCoast. There is something for everyone and makes for an ideal family vacation. I will rediscover my own hometown and make new inner-child memories.

Kennedy Space Center
The Space Coast