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Fade To Black: Amy Winehouse Documentary Will Break Your Heart

Screen Shot 2015-11-16 at 10.37.58 PM“Life teaches you how to live, if you live long enough.” Tony Bennett in AMY

Tonight, I watched the Amy Winehouse documentary, AMY about the life and death of jazz and neo-soul singer Amy Winehouse, directed by Asif Kapadia. The two-hour-doc is pieced together using sometimes shaky and ultra-closeup archival footage shot by her ex-manager and friend, Nick Shymanksy and ex-husband Blake Fielder. There was also a lot of paparazzi footage, which feels ironic and somewhat tragic given how the media tormented her. The story chronicles relevant dates. Concert dates, party dates, holidays, drug binges, award shows. There are never-before-heard songs and Amy narrates the journey from fourteen-year-old live wire raised by a single Jewish mother in London, to a six-time Grammy-winning vocal virtuoso.

Amy Winehouse was 27 when she died, on July 23rd. My birthday. For some reason, that always feels eerie–when you hear that someone died on the day you were born. You feel inextricably linked. Well, I already loved her music, her lyrics mostly and her voice: honest, gravelly, undulating into your flesh only to wrench your soul.

Amy struggled for years with bulimia and later alcohol and drug addiction. It feels too easy to blame her family, who she told about her eating disorders early on, and did nothing. It’s striking, however, how much those around her tried to fight and save this woman they called a friend, and loved so much.

The evening Amy Winehouse won five Grammy’s, including one win announced by her idol Tony Bennett (who she later recorded Grammy-winning “Body and Soul” with for Duets II), she told her friend Juliette Ashby something that shouldn’t have shocked me, but did. She said, “Julie, this is so boring without drugs.”

Going into watching this film, I was prepared to hate her allegedly money-grabbing, fame-whoring father, Mitch Winehouse; I was prepared to hate her ex-husband Blake Fielder for turning her onto crack and heroine–even injecting her in a hospital bed between doctor’s visits; I was prepared to cry and twinge in frustration and disgust at the demise of a star.

Instead, I was reminded of paparazzi field-days resulting in emblazoned headlines in major tabloids like The Sun. I was reassured that an addict can’t stop unless they’re ready, and even if they’re ready, they can be dragged down by their addict boyfriends. And that sometimes it takes three times and sometimes, even that doesn’t work. I felt an unexpected thickness to my skin. I didn’t cry. I felt consistently sad, but also in awe of Amy’s talent, her ferocious kindness and generosity, her open heart, her knowledge of jazz, her true friendships with artists like Mos Def and Questlove and her fallibility. At 27 she said goodbye to the world, but also goodbye to the pain and misery of living a life she wasn’t holding the reins to anymore. Spiraled out of control, she died the way she lived.

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Amy Winehouse became a thing. A thing to listen to. A thing for record company CEOs to sell. A thing for managers to carry, asleep, into a car headed to an airport, only to wake on a plane to Serbia for a concert. She became a thing to her husband: a gravy train. She became a thing to gawk at, as evidenced by the bronze and wax statues of her that have been erected. And she became a thing to herself. Unable to vocalize her needs, Amy became a dispensary of alcohol and drugs. Sometimes, even when she did speak up, such as the famed failed concert in Belgrade, which she begged to get out of, nobody listened. She rarely advocated for herself and few others did either. With an absentee father growing up, she spent a decade trying to make peace with men. Her tattoo “Daddy’s Girl” rang true, especially when she tried to pacify her father, who brought reality show cameras to St. Lucia during an extended detox vacation and then reprimanded her for not wanting to pose for a fan photo.

Amy Winehouse had an indelible effect on musicians like Adele, Lady Gaga, Florence Welch, Jessie J and Ellie Goulding. Her self-referential “Back to Black” was the final CD purchased before the last Tower Records in Israel closed. There is a mural of her in Barcelona, Spain. Still, amid her last words, she told her bodyguard and friend Andrew Morris that she would give away her gift of voice to be able to walk down the street and be left alone.

AMY has become the highest grossing British documentary film of all time, as it opened with a box office of £3 million on its first weekend.

Amy Jade Winehouse Born 14 September 1983  Died 23 July 2011 (aged 27)

Amy Jade Winehouse
Born 14 September 1983
Died 23 July 2011 (aged 27)

Are you a fan of Amy Winehouse? What legacy did she leave in your eyes? Share your thoughts in the comments.

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Thanks for reading.

Darrah x

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Why You Need a Health Coach Now!

This week, returning guest blogger Jennifer Sawyer schools us on what a health coach is and why they just may be the genie you’ve been waiting for in your weight loss journey!

by Jennifer Sawyer


While it may seem as if modern society is overflowing with diet trends and hastily offered advice about nutrition, the truth is that we know more about these topics with each passing year. Certainly, there’s a great deal of debate surrounding individual foods or food groups. For example, some believe everybody would be better off going gluten free while others see this as a necessary step only for those with a gluten intolerance or sensitivity; there are always arguments over the pros and cons of regular dairy in a diet; and even professional nutritionists will disagree on occasion about how to incorporate healthy fats in a diet. Issues like these may cause disagreement, but don’t let that convince you that health and nutrition experts don’t know what they’re doing.

Unfortunately, we now live in a world where it’s easier to find processed foods and cheap junk items than natural ingredients and wholesome meals. For that reason, even those of us who feel fairly healthy and try to practice sound nutrition could stand to make a few changes. This is where a personal health coach can come in extraordinarily handy. If this idea appeals to you on any level, here are some specific benefits that coaching can offer:

For starters, a health coach provides individualized attention and accountability that you just can’t find on your own, or with any number of health and fitness apps. The important thing to realize is that using a health coach is not a sign that you can’t motivate yourself! Yes, there’s a certain sense of pride involved with going it alone. But really, even the most disciplined and focused individuals can benefit from training, scheduling, and general accountability. This is the sort of structure that you can gain working with a professional health coach, and it can absolutely help you to improve your nutrition habits, as well as your fitness. And that brings me to my next point…

health-coachIt’s not just about nutrition, at least if you go with a total health coach as opposed to strictly a nutritionist. A good professional health coach will develop a program designed to focus on your whole being, using nutrition strategies, exercise techniques, and even lifestyle changes to help you become the healthiest version of yourself. And again, this doesn’t mean you couldn’t do a perfectly adequate job on your own. But having an experienced professional develop a multi-faceted program designed to suit your body, emotions, and health needs is an unrivaled advantage.

If it feels like health and wellness are somewhat trendy in modern society, it’s largely due to the rise of professional health and nutrition coaches—and many of them started out just like you! Sometimes figuring out what works for you through your own health coach’s recommendations and a shifting approach over time can give you a true passion for the process. Many find that they feel so great after taking steps toward better overall health that they want to help others do the same, and thus new coaches are developed. This isn’t to say you have to ultimately become a health coach, but it’s a common benefit of the process.

By the way, many health coaches direct their clients to take regular health assessments at various intervals, to discover or confirm what may or may not be working. This type of accountability and one-on-one attention will make being conscious of your health, a more natural part of your regimen.

You can almost always do something to improve your total wellness, and it’s a lot easier and more effective when someone’s showing you the way!

sporty woman with scale, apple and measuring tapeJennifer Sawyer is a full-time student studying Public Health, and residing in Boston. She fills every free moment she has consuming coffee, writing to-do lists, and reading up on holistic health. Follow her on Twitter.

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Exit a Toxic Friendship in 5 Easy Steps!

Beware energy vampires! We’re onto you!

toxic-friendToxic friends are the worst. They drain you dry, talk endlessly about their drama and always have the most annoying boyfriends. If you’re all but done being a severed ear to a selfish friend, this list is for you! How do you shake these backstabbing creatures from your iPhone contacts list? Here are 5 steps to get to the “delete” button and get rid of a toxic friend!

  1. Decide whether the bad feelings outweigh the good: If they do, be strong in your decision to end the friendship and stick with it.
  2. Take responsibility and be a decent person: Call her up or Sit her down and explain why you are no longer happy in the friendship. *Don’t text her and don’t ignore her. If you prefer to write it out, consider an email, but know that it could be misconstrued and start a bitter back and forth.
  3. Use “I” statements: “I used to love talking with you, but now there’s no give and take.” “I don’t have the space I need to share my feelings because I don’t feel heard by you.” It sounds corny, but it works.
  4. Show Gratitude: Thank her for the good times and the instances she was there for you.
  5. Get closure: Write a goodbye letter (you don’t need to send it to her, but you can). In it, document the good times and your gratitude for the beginning—and the end—of your toxic friendship.


You may feel great after you let go of a toxic friend, or you may feel guilty. This is the time to do some internal work and reach into your spiritual toolkit to find forgiveness. It may take some time. Try not to overthink all of the nasty things your friend did. Instead, work on manifesting a better friendship compass! Write down what you want in a friend, and then make an effort to find them!

~Best of luck on your journey to fabulous, fulfilling friendships!~

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Rules of Engagement

Five ways to make your engagement matter.

You’re not single anymore and you’re not somebody’s girlfriend or boyfriend. You are engaged! It’s an exhilarating feeling. I’ve been engaged now for almost one year. Both my fiancée and I knew we wanted a long engagement. We’ve been together three years total and plan to marry sometime next year. We’re not in a rush to, and in fact, have really enjoyed being engaged! Here are five ways that we’ve made our engagement a special time—distinct from anything else.

  1. Your engagement is not a test-run for marriage. It’s a special time to celebrate the new commitment you and your partner have made to each other. Whether short or long, it is it’s own thing. Treat it as a gift and an opportunity to deepen your commitment and plan your wedding.

  2. Remember that it’s not about the ring; it’s about the person.

  3. Enjoy the many opportunities you’ll be presented with to say “fiancée” and don’t rush into wanting to be a bride or groom. You will (hopefully) have your whole life to be that!

  4. Breathe a sigh of relief that nobody is asking when you are finally tying the knot. You’re engaged! It shuts people up… for awhile, anyway. ;)

  5. Whether you live with your partner or not, commit to spending a certain number of nights together undistracted by Internet or other media. This will encourage intimacy—both physical and emotional, and train you both to make one another a priority, even when you’re busy.

  6. *Bonus tip: Consider adopting a rescue companion! This is a great way to begin “parenting” together and it inevitably prepares you and your partner for human babies, if you choose to have them!

Soon enough, you will be married. You’ll be happy that you cherished the time you spent while engaged, and hopefully, continue prioritizing each other, by spending designated time together, focusing on just the both of you!


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The Red Pill – A new documentary explores the Men’s Rights Movement

Cassie Jaye - The Red Pill

Cannes award-winning documentary filmmaker Cassie Jaye (Daddy I Do) has traveled the country documenting members of the controversial, mostly online, group The Men’s Rights Movement or MRAs for her feature documentary The Red Pill.

Heralding Alice’s fall down the “rabbit hole”, the feminist filmmaker follows the MRAs to protests, sits with them in their homes and delves into issues such as circumcision, abortion, incarceration, suicide, father’s rights and birth control, to name a few. She also interviews leading feminists for the other side’s take on gender politics.The journey makes Jaye question her own beliefs.

Cassie says, “I’m very excited to start sharing my third feature documentary “The Red Pill” with the world, but we still need to raise finishing funds. I hope you’ll support our Kickstarter campaign and help spread the word!”

While VERY pregnant, I was interviewed for The Red Pill, representing the “feminist” half of this groundbreaking new film. Hearing some of the unique perspectives of men I’d never met, and engaging in an hours-long conversation with Jaye made me reexamine a lot of my own longstanding feminist beliefs, and further embrace my life’s mission statement: to attain unity with men and more compassion for all beings. It raised questions I still don’t have answers to, and personally — I can’t wait to see the film in its entirety!

PLEASE share this on your Facebook and Twitter, pin it to your Pinterest and of course, donate to RED PILL’s Kickstarter page!            Every $ counts! ;) Thanks for your support! XOX

Sound intriguing? Follow Red Pill on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.


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Taylor Swift Gives Dating Advice LIVE (VIDEO)

Screen Shot 2015-08-23 at 1.20.18 AM

Last night, my man and I shamelessly ventured downtown to the Staples Center to rock out with a bunch of parents and their six to sixteen-year-old children during the Los Angeles debut of Taylor Swift’s 1989 World Tour.  OK, OK, you’re right, there were plenty of twenty-somethings there too. Most fans wore glowing Christmas lights tied around their waists, while groups of girls were bedecked with lit signs that, when pieced together, spelled out the name of either their song request, their nickname for Taylor (Baelor was one; a combo of bae and Taylor) or simply an 8×10 of Calvin Harris, Swift’s current beau.

Kicking off the first of five sold-out shows at the Staples Center this week, the leggy blonde with perfect features and pouty, signature red lips opened the two-hour long show with a bang, singing “Welcome To New York,” her anthem to the city that never sleeps and her new home with whom she was endlessly inspired to write her first full-length pop album, 1989. One of the two guest appearances of the evening included Ryan Tedder, of OneRepublic, a co-producer and co-writer on the album. They sang his hit “Counting Stars,” her only duet of the evening. The five-time platinum album, 1989, consists of drum programming, synthesizers, pulsating bass, processed backing vocals, and guitars — an important departure from her country roots.

The 25-year old powerhouse, who has graced magazine’s top whatever lists, also brought Apple to its knees earlier this year by gracefully yet succinctly insisting that they pay their artists for Apple Music’s free three-month trial period. The streaming service agreed within 18 hours of her Tumblr post.

Now a pop diva filling 15,000 seat stadiums, her show included twelve costume changes, bracelets and lights sold to audience members that were all synchronized and flashed color and white at the same time, a beast of a T-bone stage that both levitated, lit up and traveled all directions while she and her mob of shirtless male back up dancers were tied to it by poles. She lip-syncs some of the time, which is forgivable because she’s moving, dancing, and posturing so much. There are a lot of pre-recorded backing vocals that she adds verses to, and while her vocals are sometimes stunning, they are often quite mediocre. Again, forgivable, due to the fact that she is such an incredible performer, songwriter, producer and all-around interesting self-sustained human. Plus, she is delightful to gaze at, and she struts the stage like a catwalk.

Swift intercepts the flow of songs with pre-recorded videos of her girl squad (think opening act Haim, V.S. model Lily Aldridge, B.F.F. Karlie Kloss, Paper Towns actress Cara Delevingne, and Girls star Lena Dunham) with P.S.A.-type, highly edited footage of them discussing everything from Baelor’s cats, their affinity for eating (which feels contrived, given how thin all of these women are), and how women should have each other’s backs — which I secretly wished would be followed by the Katy Perry dis track “Bad Blood.” An impossibly young looking Selena Gomez hammered home how hard dating is when you’re Taylor Swift and famous and stuff.

Before the show, Swift’s mom surfed the crowd seeking out die-hard Swifties to take back to “Loft 89″ after the show for a meet and greet with her daughter. True to her brand, Taylor using her family to lasso fans — or friends, as she calls us — brings warmth to your heart, and bruises to your feet as those aforementioned girls with lights tied around their bodies like butterflies caught in net, trample your feet for a photo with Andrea Swift.

In what is part of an ongoing parade of various guest appearances by girls from her squad and some randoms like Julia Roberts and Joan Baez, on Friday night, during “Style,” her ode to a short-lived relationship with Harry Styles of One Direction, Swift was accompanied onstage by Lakers star Kobe Bryant. He surprised her by revealing a banner commemorating her sixteen full-capacity performances at Staples Center, which is more than any other performer has done in the history of Staples Center. The banner will forever hang alongside the Lakers’.

An all-around enjoyable evening and electric spectacle filled with fun, movement, joy, screaming super fans, and general wholesomeness, Swift paused the pop magic to thank her “friends” profusely for making her so popular, and to give a bit of dating advice. SEE VIDEO BELOW.

Vance Joy and Haim opened.

Taylor Swift will be performing at the Staples Center through Wednesday, August 26th. 



For super fans, here is Taylor’s set list from the show:

  • Welcome to New York
  • New Romantics
  • Blank Space
  • I Knew You Were Trouble
  • I Wish You Would
  • How You Get the Girl
  • I Know Places
  • All You Had to Do Was Stay
  • You Are in Love
  • Clean
  • Love Story
  • Style
  • This Love
  • Bad Blood
  • We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together
  • Enchanted/Wildest Dreams
  • Out of the Woods
  • Shake It Off
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Backstage With Jake Gyllenhaal and the rest of my crazy summer!

It’s been ages since I blogged, but I assure you that I have a good excuse! This summer has been magical — and crazy! We travelled like mad! Overcoming a fear of traveling to a foreign country, I just returned from Tokyo, where I saw Tim Burton‘s NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS LIVE and enjoyed temple crawls and authentic sushi meals! The plane ride was totally bearable, especially since my honey and I got bumped from business to first class for free on the way home!

We also spent the Fourth of July in NYC and Rhode Island at an AMAZING hotel called Ocean House. It’s two doors down from Taylor Swift’s insane mansion (yes, Tay, that was me with the binoculars). We enjoyed a top-notch, classy discovery called Cracker Barrel (and had to dine there — can it even be called “dining”?? three times in one week). We had a brilliant photo shoot in San Antonio at America’s oldest kiddie park and kicking it all off was a fabulous trip to Maui and Kauai! (My babysitter spied John Mayer in the fitness room of our hotel.)

The fangirl in me just about died hanging out with Will Chase… of “Nashville” fame to Angelenos, and broadway fame to New Yorkers. His girlfriend, Ingrid Michaelson was even more adorkable in person.

At the after party for the MINIONS premiere, I met fucking Jon Hamm.

Most of all, I am feeling grateful for the whirlwind of summer, the love of my family, and the soulful experience of being a mother. What are you feeling grateful for? Have you had a good summer?

Much love!!

Darrah xoxox

Steven Boyer, star of Broadway's Tony-winning musical HAND TO GOD

Steven Boyer, star of Broadway’s Tony-winning musical HAND TO GOD




Adorable Cosplayer personifying Jack Skellington

Adorable Cosplayer personifying Jack Skellington in Tokyo, Japan


With Danny Elfman and Sandy Cameron

With Danny Elfman and Sandy Cameron


We look like sisters! :) Vanessa Bayer from SNL

We look like sisters! :) Vanessa Bayer from SNL



Jon Hamm (and rye) MINIONS PREMIERE

Jon Hamm (and rye) MINIONS PREMIERE



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Short Hair, Don’t Care

So many changes! Spring is here ~ and as we continue decorating and putting our stamp on the new house, my lil family and I are making strides to keep our lives enthusiastic, gracious and loving. Last night, my partner and I had a very enriching conversation about what changes need to be made. I specifically had major concerns. When you commit to being in a relationship – especially a long-term one, and one that involves a child, the possibility of getting complacent, falling into certain patterns (read: ruts!) and going through the motions on auto-pilot are very possible. All of which I really don’t like. I have a tendency to put up with a certain amount of B.S. for longer than most people, and suddenly realize – after some warnings to my partner, mind you – that I can no longer take it! So, basically that’s where I was at yesterday. We had a major talk, and I think he had some major epiphanies.

He went to the doctor yesterday because I noticed that his hearing has been declining, especially since he got over a cold some months ago. The doctor noticed water behind his ear drum. The doctor also mentioned that usually people have hearing problems and don’t even know it. Until they get into a relationship, that is. The other person brings it to their attention.

I suppose that’s what all of our faults, patterns, flaws, lies, immaturities and so on are. Invisible or tolerable to us, until we get into a partnership and have this giant (hopefully gentle) mirror placed in our path.

I am grateful he received my concerns and today I feel hopeful, sexy and a bit lighter now. It’s a process though, and while he is enthusiastic today, I told him that I need him to stay current with me and I will try to be as honest as I can, because when the newness of a person, or a project, or a goal fades, we still need to recognize it as a process that deserves our time and energy to be maintained and to thrive.

OK, so why the blog title, “Short Hair, Don’t Care”? You’ll see… ;) Below is my new do.

Ladies, looking for a new style and feeling indecisive? Try

Happy Spring, my friends! XOXO


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Women and HIV/AIDS: Reality & Hope

New contributor Jennifer Sawyer shares information with us about the current state of HIV/AIDS as it affects women in America. 


Tuesday, March 10, 2015 is National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day. Founded in 2006, National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day was created with the intent to bring awareness to women and girls fighting HIV/AIDS all over the world. In partnering with volunteers, the foundation strives to educate the public on two aspects: Prevention methods and the plight of those suffering from the disease.

What You Need to Know

The spread of HIV/AIDS is still prevalent in today’s society, and many women aren’t getting the care they need. As noted by the Center for Disease Control, even though one in four of those suffering from HIV are women, many of those diagnosed will go on suffering without proper treatment.

“Although most (88%) of women living with HIV in 2011 were aware of their infection, less than half of them (45%) were engaged in medical care,” the CDC reported.


Reasons for the lack of treatment can vary. In some of the less developed parts of the world, the complex medications and skilled care required to fight the disease simply aren’t available. Sometimes, even when medicine and care are available, many patients cannot afford the hefty price tag that comes with them.

Perhaps just as heartbreaking, some women actually make the conscious decision to obtain from treatment, even when help is available and affordable. According to, “Even when they know their status, about 1 in 4 women postpone medical care because of barriers such as family, depression, or threat of partner violence.”

National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day helps give these women a voice, especially the ones who can’t speak for themselves.


How You Can Protect Yourself

Avoid becoming another statistic, and diligently practice preventative methods. No matter your age, race, gender, or sexual orientation, if you’re sexually active, you can contract HIV/AIDS and other STIs. When engaging in any kind of sexually activity, it’s critical that you use protection.

As explained in the Safer Sex
Guide from
, practicing abstinence is the only way to be 100 percent safe. However, using latex condoms significantly decreases the likelihood of the disease transmitting between partners, making it a relatively “low-risk” activity. They advise that condoms should be used during oral, vaginal, and anal intercourse. Always use the appropriate protection during each activity (male or female prophylactics) and use a fresh prophylactic during each intimate act with every partner.

The only way to know for sure that you do or do not have HIV/AIDS is to get tested. If you’re sexually active, see your doctor, and get tested regularly. Visit today for more information, and see what you can do to spread awareness and support the cause!

Editor’s Note: One of’s favorite sex education and conversation sites is Scarleteen: Sex Education for the Real World

Jennifer Sawyer is a full-time student studying Public Health, and residing in Boston. She fills every free moment she has consuming coffee, writing to-do lists, and promoting sexual health in all ages, genders, and sexual orientations. Follow her on Twitter.

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