Thursday, December 20, 2007

twelfth & final day of Kristen-mas.

It’s true — as of this e-message, I’ve sent you a dozen days’ worth of holiday hooha (spread over the past three weeks) … I hope you’ve found at least some of what I’ve sent entertaining, interesting, informative and/or helpful … and are enjoying a healthier, greener, more balanced and meaningful holiday!!

For my final entry, we turn to my favorite spot — the beautiful islands of Hawai’i — and a website called Managing with Aloha Coaching; specifically, the Value of the Month program.
Every month, life/leadership coach Rosa Say chooses a Hawai’ian value to study, to help our professional and personal values (and actions) match up.
This month, she has opted to post a study of the Twelve Virtues of Aloha — just reading through them tunes me into the moment. See what you think:

Faith. I have some trouble with the concept of fate, but I do believe in having faith as something that empowers us to create our own destiny. There is faith in the divine and the spiritual, faith in others and in self, faith that good will always defeat evil — I choose to believe in every variety and aspect of it.

Freedom. Something we take for granted much too much. Think of all the ways you are unshackled and free to make your choices, and it becomes clear most of us know no other way to live. Within virtue, we set our hearts free.

Grace. This is one of my favorite words, and oddly, because I can’t define it well. But I don’t need to, because its goodness just is. I can only wish to feel it more, experience it more and give it more. I once heard grace called “unmerited favor” and I love that. I want to be gracious, always.

Gratitude. There may be no mightier force in our lives than learning to live in thankfulness for all we are and all we have been given. An attitude of gratitude is an attitude of aloha. The breath of life within you is meant to be shared in appreciation, thankfulness and gratitude.

Hope. Hope is such a beautiful thing. It is an attitude about the best of possibility becoming real. Hope looks at all the good that is true about the present and assumes it will ho‘omau, be perpetuated into our future — and then some.

Humor. Speaking of hearts, this comes from Proverbs 17:22: “A cheerful heart is good medicine.” Laughter fills the holidays, and no one can tell me our ability to laugh at ourselves is not character-building and virtuous.

Joy. Happiness with more than contentment. Happiness with bliss and euphoria. Silliness without self-consciousness. The holidays are so perfect for splashes of joy in color, in song, in tinsel and texture, even in the scents filling the air. But most of all, in people’s faces.

Prayer. There is so much comfort in the thought that Someone bigger than ourselves may be listening, and might care. There is comfort knowing we always have Someone to talk to about anything and everything. I do not shy from using such comforts.

Trust. We can wonder because we can trust. People tend to be kind of needy, and that’s okay. When we need others, we learn to trust and be trustworthy in our relationship-building. We learn to love more. We learn to have faith in each other. We cultivate magnetic attractions to good intention.

Vitality. There is a fire burning within us during the holidays. Give in and let it burn up any stress, replacing it with enthusiastic and eager energy. Zip. Zeal. Zest. All vitally and dynamically virtuous.

Wonder. To have an inner capacity for awe and wonder is such a blessing. To return to childlike innocence and acceptance, to be rendered speechless, and have it feel good and right, never helpless. To not have all the answers but feel it is perfectly fine not to, to just have wonder.

Peace. If we sow the seeds of virtue, we cultivate fertile ground for peace. If we seek to understand and not condemn, to take the high road versus get even, we uncover how alike we are much more than we are different. We all want peace.

Wishing you experience with all of these during the holidays and into the new year!! o<:) For more Aloha Coaching, you can click through to:

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

changing the present to change the future.

At our family Christmas, Santa fills the children’s stockings, but the grownups fill each others’ — every adult gets one little gift from every other adult. This year, I’ve discovered splendid little stocking stuffers for everyone at a single website, and I got to choose exactly how much I wanted to spend.

It’s called Changing the Present (, and the concept is giving contributions as gifts … which, granted, isn’t really a novel idea, *but* the way the site presents your options for giving is quite different.

For example, you can “shop” for gifts by cause — human rights, water, peace, women, animal welfare, environment, cancer, population, or social entrepreneurs represent just a sampling of types of causes you can support with your gift. So let’s pretend you choose “peace” as your cause; click on it, and you’re offered a list of dozens of global giving opportunities related to promoting peace — from a $14 donation for Partners for Democratic Change to help fund a soccer league for poor Mexico City youth to teach them valuable life skills, to a $5,000 donation for Seeds of Peace to send one teen leader to the Seeds of Peace International Camp in Maine for three weeks.

I simply clicked on the “stocking stuffers” category ($1 - $10), and chose contributions appropriate for the recipients:
· for my sister the second-grade teacher and ravenous reader, $5 for First Book to buy two brand-new books for children who can’t afford them otherwise;
· for my brother the chef, $5 for The Cooperative Feeding Program to buy five PB&J sandwiches for hungry kids;
· for my dad, the animal lover and treat giver, $5 for Farm Sanctuary to give treats to rescued animals; and
· for my mom, the almost-74-year-old still-working woman, $5 for Dress for Success Worldwide to provide one woman with a day at the organization’s Career Center.

I’m spending less and giving more than ever stocking-wise — and isn’t that what this season is all about??

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

party-food problems, solved.

Real Simple magazine to the rescue again, helping resolve holiday-party food dilemmas … just for giggles, take this quick party-food pop quiz and see how good you are at making the healthier choice:

1. Red or white wine?

2. Mixed nuts or olives?

3. Soft or hard cheese?

4. Cheese w/crackers or crudités w/dip?

5. Mini quiches or pigs-in-a-blanket?

6. Ham or roast beef?

7. Cocktails or champagne?

8. Gingerbread cookie or sugar cookie?

9. Cocoa or eggnog?

10. Chocolate kisses or candy cane?

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Healthier choices:

1. Red wine (antioxidants, which are anti-inflammatory, anticoagulant and anti-cholesterol).

2. Olives (high monounsaturated fats, which help lower cholesterol).

3. Soft cheese (just a little less fat and a few fewer calories).

4. Crudités w/dip (well, duh).

5. Mini quiches (of the two evils, has some calcium, protein and maybe some other nutrients from mixed-in veggies).

6. Roast beef (not as processed, half the saturated fat, three times as much iron).

7. Champagne (much lower calorie-wise).

8. Gingerbread cookie (half the calories and saturated fat).

9. Cocoa (fewer calories, less fat and antioxidants).

10. Candy cane (lasts longer, much lower calorie count, no fat, and peppermint freshens your breath and gives you a lift).

So … how’d you do on the test? and how about on the town?
Wishing you a balance between indulgence and moderation!!

Monday, December 17, 2007

last call for e-shopping.

Still grappling with gifts for a handful of hard-to-buy-for folk??
Here, courtesy of Real Simple magazine, is a list of one-of-a-kind online shops, every one full of uniquely cool offerings:

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Branch (
Eco-friendly items for the home.
Elsewares (
Gifts from independent artists and designers. (
Quirky finds for everyone on your list. (
Original (and affordable) works by emerging artists.
The Museum of Useful Things (
For those who like their household wares to be functional and beautiful. (
Gadgets and gizmos galore.
The Curiosity Shoppe (
Vintage-looking and unique gifts.
Charles & Marie (
Design-savvy products culled from around the world.
Perch! (
Handmade ceramic goodies for the house and the garden.
Greenergrassdesign (
Distinctive items for decorating your home or your outfits.
Elum (
Brightly colored letterpress stationery, journals, and gift wrap.
Exploritorium (
Puzzles and science experiments for inquisitive kids.
RavinStyle (
Jewelry, handbags, clothing, and more for any budding fashionista.
Soolip (
A paper boutique that imports unusual paper and cards from all over the world.
Velocity (
Original and limited-edition works of art, plus beautiful, modern gifts for the home.
Vitamin D(esign) (
Unique items for every room and everyone, even pets.

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Thursday, December 13, 2007

a silent night.

It’s so easy to let go of our self-care during the holidays — there are so many things to do, places to go, people to see. We’ve all got long lists, and it’s common for self-care to fall right off the bottom.

Of course, taking care of ourselves *should* be an even higher priority than ever during this crazy, stressful season. We all know the basics: get plenty of sleep, eat a good breakfast, stick to your exercise routine, avoid overindulgence — of caffeine, alcohol and rich foods. But how about giving yourself a little piece of peace?

Here are four ways to create a sense of centeredness in your holiday:

Walk. This sounds just like sticking to your exercise routine, but a walk doesn’t have to be all about aerobics. It can be a way to reconnect with nature and calm your busy brain. Be mindful as you walk, and tune into your senses — pay attention to what you see, listen to the sounds around you, smell the winter air and feel the breeze on your cheeks.

Talk. We momentarily connect with dozens of people during the holidays, but rarely do we make the time to have a meaningful conversation with a friend. Get a cup of cocoa, snuggle into a cozy chair and call a friend for a long winter’s chat.

Breathe. I’m a lifelong breath-holder. Whenever I’m busy or stressed, I find myself breathing shallowly, quickly, and unconsciously holding my breath now and then. A little mini-meditation helps me remember, it’s important to breathe in and out: Sit down and close your eyes. Breathing through your nose, breathe in for a count of five and out for a count of five. Imagine inhaling relaxation and exhaling tension.

Be quiet. Drive without the sound of the radio once in a while. Silence helps us kick it down a notch by slowing down sensory input.

I discovered these helpful tips at, which has a wealth of wellness articles, from pampering presents to partying without putting on pounds.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

a new holiday dream.

Referring you to a really great website today:

It’s the virtual home of The Center for a New American Dream, which sounds rather murky, I realize, but I’m telling you, these folks have it together and are sharing it with the world.

The Center for a New America Dream’s mission is to help Americans consume responsibly to protect the environment, enhance quality of life and promote social justice. Just a little something they do on the side, in their spare time.

They work to fulfill this mission by helping people:

live consciously — getting more of what really matters in life, being aware of what’s going on around you, finding balance and having a little fun while you’re at it;

buy wisely — becoming a positive force in the marketplace, using your purchasing power to support business practices that are safer for the environment and better for people; and

make a difference — making sure your citizen voice is heard, being active in your community and letting policymakers know where you stand.

If you’re not yet convinced of how cool this movement is, then you’ve got to consider their motto: More Fun, Less Stuff!

Their website has a whole section on Simplifying the Holidays, including creative, inexpensive and eco-friendly gift ideas; information about alternative gift fairs; a separate section dedicated to kids & commercialism; a holiday parenting tips blog; and ways to get more of what matters (time, nature, fairness, fun).

Best of all, register at their website and you can download their FREE Simplify the Holidays booklet at Designed to help you decrease stress and increase fulfillment, the booklet includes easy tips on managing your time, stress, gifts and budget, as well as how to change your gift-giving traditions, entertain more simply, connect with your children and family elders, and be kind to the Earth this season.

I’m dreaming of a balanced Christmas … how about you?

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Target-ing shopping guilt.

I not only admit it, I embrace it — I love Target. Love love love it. Love everything about it except the fact that I can’t seem to escape it with less than $100 worth of stuff. But I love the stuff — just not the cha-ching.

*But* loving the stuff and the big-box store presents a dilemma for those of us who also want to live a little greener. Enter an awesome article from Grist environmental news and commentary — a gift guide for eco-minded shoppers headed to the big-box trifecta (Target, Wal-Mart and/or Kmart).

A couple of Grist staffers named Sarah (Van Schagen and Burkhalter) actually hit the stores to see how they do on the eco-friendly shopping scale. The best news? Target was the tree-huggiest of the trio!

Target hit the mark, with the most eco-friendly gift options, and a recent pledge to phase out PVC. Environmentally copacetic holiday stuff here included recycled-paper greeting cards, a sizeable selection of wooden toys, organic-cotton bedding and baby onesies, and (my favorite) soy candles and other green-home goods by Method.

Wal-Mart was the runner-up, with only a few eco-friendly items, but a bevy of behind-the-scenes green efforts — like reducing energy use at new stores, tracking suppliers’ energy efficiency and pushing vendors to cut down their packaging. Wal-Mart does provide reusable shopping totes at their registers, and also offers a small selection of good stuff like bamboo-blend sheets.

Kmart’s blue light ain’t turning green anytime soon; eco-pickings there were near-nil. Some plush pet toys made from EarthRite Fiber, a polyester filling made from recycled PET plastic bottles, were about it.

To read the whole article (which also contains some great eco-gift ideas), go to

Monday, December 10, 2007

stress schmess.

With two weeks left to go, are you still enjoying the season? or are you freaking?

I feel fairly well-prepared, but still find myself at the edge of overwhelm a few times a day. I dial it back a notch by breathing — full, deep breaths — and listing. I’m a lister, so getting it out of my head and onto a piece of paper provides relief.

Here are some tips from stress-relief experts that might provide you with some of the same relief:

Treat yourself. All that hustling and bustling can drain you. Psychologist Alice Domar suggests for every ten gifts you buy for others, you give yourself a little indulgence — nothing expensive, just a pick-me-up. She also recommends retaining a regular exercise regimen and carving out time for a movie date with your partner, a candlelit soak in the bath or a solitary evening of soothing music.

Eat mini-meals. The positive effects of stress-reducing foods (low- or no-fat carbohydrates) last just a handful of hours, so nutritional biochemist Judith Wurtman suggests eating several mini-meals or small snacks throughout the day rather than just a couple of big ones. But be careful to keep your total calories about the same.

Don’t break the bank. It takes an average of four months for American charge-card users to pay off stress-inducing holiday bills. Eric Brown of the nonprofit Center for a New American Dream suggests making a per-person budget before you begin buying. Put each individual’s budgeted gift amount — in cash — into an envelope with his/her name on it. When the envelope’s empty, you’re done, no exceptions.

Remember the reason for the season. Some folks find the holiday harrowing because it seems devoid of its authentic meaning. Biological sciences and neurology professor Robert Sapolsky recommends spending the time and energy to reaffirm what the spirit of the season really means to you, whether it’s about family, community or religion.

For more seasonal stress-busting tips from these experts of equilibrium, you can read the feature “Beat Holiday Stress, Survive the Frenzy” at

Thursday, December 6, 2007

a real holiday treasure.

“[The holiday experience] has long since become too busy, too expensive, too centered around acquiring that which we do not need. In fact, it’s the perfect crystallization of the American economy — the American consumer experience squeezed into a manic week, a week that people find themselves hoping will soon end so that on January 2, they can return to the mere routine hecticity of their lives.”

So writes Bill McKibben in an article titled “The Problem with Christmas,” which according to McKibben is that nobody really likes it anymore. He goes on to hypothesize that *time* — giving gifts involving time, spending time serving others or making time to savor the simpler joys of the season — may be the solution.

A sampling of his ideas:
· Give the gift of your future time: a coupon for a back rub, a homemade meal.
· Give the gift of your past time: a jar of preserves made by hand, a stack of firewood piled up neatly in the backyard.
· Give a contribution in someone’s honor: buy a dairy goat in their name for a Tanzanian family who hadn’t had milk before.
· Begin a family tradition of exchanging used books rather than more new stuff.
· Begin a family tradition of wandering through the park tossing seed so the birds can celebrate.
· Begin a family tradition of serving supper together at the Salvation Army.
· Give yourself some silence, or someone else some companionship.

To read McKibben’s whole article, click through to

o< :)

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

holiday wishes for wonderful women.

I recently received the following list of a half-dozen holiday wishes from Busy But Balanced author Mimi Doe (I subscribe to her “Spiritual Parenting” e-messages); I thought they were so lovely that I want to send them along …

Here’s what I wish for you this holiday:

· An plus-size dose of patience exactly when you need it most;

· A wave of utter contentment when you expect it least;

· An extra half-hour every day, just for you;

· A dilemma easily resolved;

· A healthy, happy family; and

· A continuous connection with spirit, woven into the rhythm of your life.

For more from Mimi, visit her website at

o< :)

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

a green tree for the big apple.

It’s a (good) sign of the (better) times: New York City’s iconic Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center has gone green.

For the first time, the giant Norway Spruce is using 30,000 energy-efficient LEDs (light-emitting diodes), strung on five miles of wire and powered by solar panels — saving a much electricity in a day as a family in a 2,000-square-foot home uses in a month!

Additionally, the tree was cut down by handsaw to minimize pollution, and once it’s done its time towering over ice skaters, will be cut into lumber to be used by Habitat for Humanity.

Want to make sure your Christmas tree is ever-green? Click through to for tips on the most eco-friendly way to enjoy your Yule tree.

o< :)

Monday, December 3, 2007

raise your elf-esteem.

This is so much fun, it’s just perfect for December’s first Monday …
check out our fa-la-la-la foursome, then go elf yourself!

o< :)

Sunday, November 11, 2007

random beauty.

Two months ago — September 11th — I had the opportunity to be part of something random. And remarkable.

An awesome Austin-based advertising agency owned by a college comrade of mine, EnviroMedia Social Marketing, honors this day each year by deliberately "paying it forward" — armed with $100 (from the firm's coffers), employee teams spend the morning of 9.11 performing random acts of kindness all over our community.

For example, this year, EnviroMedians helped pay daycare tuitions and cover veterinary bills; bought gift cards and doughnuts for schoolteachers, groceries for elderly shoppers, monthly bus passes for waiting passengers and reuseable water bottles for recycling-center volunteers; sent new toys to the children's hospital and totes full of toiletries to SafePlace; and surprised drivers with free fill-ups at a gas station, and one lucky waitress with a $100 tip.

I had the privilege of joining an EnviroMedia team, and we agreed to simply go to a downtown Starbuck's and pay for about 20 unsuspecting customers' morning caffeine fix. We sat at a table to the side of the counter, anonymously sipping our drinks and silently observing each patron's reaction as the barrista explained their tab had been covered and handed every one a business card, reading:

Smile — You're the recipient of a random act of kindness. It's part of Pay It Forward 9/11 Day, in honor of the victims and heroes of 9/11. Now it's your turn to do something nice for someone else.

Most folks sort of smiled and shrugged, a few shared it with the people they came with. Every person kept the card.

I can't express how ridiculously rewarding it was to feel we had made a difference for people that day. For some, it was likely just a notable event, a "Guess what happened to me today?" thing. For others, it might have been the saving grace of an otherwise cursed morning, the turning point between "Today is going to suck" and "Today might be okay after all." For all of them, I hope it served as an inspiration to follow the card's instructions and find a way to pay it forward — pass along a little kindness and keep this daisy chain of generosity going.

9.11 was a tragedy of taking — it took American lives, our sense of security and, at the moment, an unhealthy dose of our national spirit. To choose to remember such an event through a day of giving is brilliant, healing and, apparently, contagious. According to the Christian Science Monitor ("In 9/11 remembrance, a turning to good deeds"), making 9.11 into a day of kindness and good deeds is a movement sweeping across our country.

"The goal is to ensure that future generations remember not just the horror of the [terrorist] attacks, but also the extraordinary outpouring of humanity during the days, weeks and months that followed," writes CSM staffer Alexandra Marks.

Indeed, EnviroMedia principal (and my pal) Kevin Tuerff launched the Austin-based effort because he happened to be aboard a plane from Europe to the U.S. when the Twin Towers fell. His flight was diverted to Gander, Newfoundland, a small town that happily received and cared for almost 7,000 stranded passengers over several days. Tuerff's Pay It Forward 9/11 Day concept is a reflection of gratitude for the Newfoundlanders' nurturing and support during some of America's darkest days.

Now, is spreading the word as far as the Internet will reach. The organization managed to persuade the President this year to include, for the first time, a call for volunteering within his annual 9/11 proclamation, while over 250,000 visitors to the website pledged to do something good that day.

As the CSM article reports, "Studies at Harvard's Saguaro Seminar on Civic Engagement in America found that in as few as five months after 9/11, most Americans had gone back to their daily lives and were not more engaged as they said they'd hoped to be. Part of the goal of turning 9/11 into a national day of service is to remind Americans of the inherent joy of giving, and to hopefully spur volunteering and charitable acts throughout the year."

Tuerff concurs, "We hope that this can be a regular activity, that people can try to make a difference and restore faith in humanity."

Amen, my friend. Amen.

So here we are, sandwiched smack-dab between 9.11 and the holidays ... what can you do today to pay it forward? [Hint hint: Read through to the close of this post for a list of great ideas and resources.]

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Managing Your Energy.

In every issue of "Skirting," thanks to the gracious generosity of Austin author and life coach Renée Trudeau, I include a little morsel about or from her wonderful book, The Mother's Guide to Self-Renewal: How to Reclaim, Rejuvenate and Re-Balance Your Life. The book is available at Renée's website, at, or locally at Book Woman, Book People or The Crossings.

Who or what receives the majority of your attention, time and energy?

We each have a finite amount of energy, time and resources. Most of us waste our energy every day without even realizing it — through lengthy, sometimes unnecessary phone conversations; endless time plugged into email, the Web or watching TV; tolerating disorganized spaces; going to social gatherings or volunteer events we don't want to attend, but feel we should attend; and on and on.

Not only are those activities unfulfilling — and often draining — but they are also zapping our precious energy and resources, and keeping us from spending time on things that fuel us — like being with friends, connecting with our partners, enjoying our children or spending time outdoors.

Think about key areas of your life: your relationship with your partner or other family members; your role as a parent; your friendships; your emotional and physical health; your spiritual well-being; your financial state; your household; your career or community work.

What are your top life priorities, and does the way you allocate your time and energy reflect these choices?

Complete the following sentence:
My top three life priorities based upon how I currently allocate my energy and resources are ...

Reflect on this list, and create a new list based upon how you want to direct your energy over the next three months. What in your life is calling for your attention right now?

My new top three life priorities for the next 90 days are ...

You always have a choice, and when you're an active person with a busy life, you must be cautious before committing to activities not included on your Top Life Priorities List.

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Katrina kindnesses.

Two years and two months post-Katrina, and the news from New Orleans still ain't-a good news — media coverage is chock full o' shocking and shameful stories of what's not happening to reconstruct the Gulf Coast.

But, according to's Lynn Harris, there are some tales of progress to be told, and women are weaving them. The Ms. Foundation for Women's Katrina Women's Response Fund is offering support to organizations doing wonderful women's work — groups like Coastal Women for Change, the United Houma Nation Relief Fund, the Southern Rural Black Women's Initiative, and the Women's Foundation for a Greater Memphis.

"If nothing else, Katrina and her ravages have given us an opportunity to shift the status quo in a new direction," wrote Sara Gould, president and CEO of the Ms. Foundation for Women, and Cynthia Schmae, COO of the Women's Funding Network, in Women's eNews. "A direction in which the needs of women and families fall at the center — not the margins — of policy agendas. [S]ervices and policy-making processes that put women first have the capacity to lift families and whole communities out of misery."

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

'Tweens: tots or trollops?

OK, I officially hate the term "tweens." It's clearly a category completely fabricated by advertisers/marketers — sort of like how Hallmark just continues to create occasions to send the very best (Congratulations on this month's last heavy-flow day!).

According to Wikipedia, a tween is defined as a "preteen, a child between middle childhood and adolescence, generally in the age range of 8 to 12 years old" (or a hobbit between the ages of 20 and 32). So really, an 8-year-old is now considered a preteen (as the mother of a 9-year-old, this alarms me)?? How can we legitimately call someone 5 years away from teenhood a "preteen" when they're still only 8 years away from newborn? How absurd would it be to call a 5-year-old a "post-infant"?

It seems to me, the important word within this definition is child. What's happening with our culture that we insist upon forcing our children into adulthood at a younger and younger age? What's wrong with calling a child a child, and letting our children have full-blown, 12-year-long childhoods? And am I the only one who believes this uber-creepy trend is feeding the sickness of the hundreds of thousands of pedophiles walking around luring in their prey with Bratz dolls? (Here's a it's-not-paranoia-if-it's-real statistic for you: There are more than 400,000 registered sex offenders in the U.S. — not all pedophiles, granted, but that number reflects only the pervs who've been caught, convicted and registered.)

Two articles regarding this rising sexualization of girls recently caught my attention. First, "Lolita's Closet," written by Slate's Emily Yoffe, who along with her 11-year-old daughter sought the elusive middle-ground between trendy and trampy while shopping for back-to-school wear. The worst offender? Padded, push-up bras for tweens-in-waiting at Limited, Too.

Second, a New York Times piece about Nair's new campaign aiming at 10- to 15-year-olds — or, as the industry refers to them, "first-time hair removers" What hair?!?!? — with its new Nair Pretty depilatory product. Running in teen-targeted pubs like CosmoGirl and Seventeen, the campaign markets directly to middle-schoolers, and (maybe even more weirdly) their mothers, with additional ads in Redbook ("Introducing our first hair remover made for your daughter’s young skin, skin that’s prone to cuts and nicks"). The most disturbing facet of this manufactured fashion? Hair-removal slumber parties. Whatever happened to good clean fun like freezing each others' brassieres and practicing the occult (remember "stiff as a feather, light as a board"?)?

The glimmer of good news is, someone official is paying attention to — and condemning — our society's tendency to turn our darling daughters into hairless hussies. The American Psychological Association Task Force on the Sexualization of Girls studied and issued a report on this vital feminine issue earlier this year; click through to read the report, or click through for the APA's list of what parents — and other influential adults! — can do to help teach girls to value themselves for who they are, rather than how "hot" they look.

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Hybrid is hip.

U.S. News and World Report recently ran a cover story all about a presumably new breed of mommy: the mompreneur. Funny thing is, if you google it, you find this term already widespread over the worldwide web. Funnier thing is, I discovered this term over five years ago with a book actually titled Mompreneurs (A Mother's Practical Step-by-Step Guide to Work-at-Home Success), by Patricia Cobe and Ellen Parlapiano — the original mompreneurs, I believe, since the book was originally published over decade ago. Today, you can explore a veritable cornucopia of mompreneur-related resources out there in cyberspace, including The Mompreneur magazine, the Mompreneur Center at, the Mompreneur Club, many, many mompreneur-related blogs, and Mompreneurs Online, from the original dual-life-balancing duo of Cobe and Parlapiano.

So maybe the entrepreneurial mama concept isn't quite as news-breaking as U.S. N&WR would like its readers to buy into, but it's definitely still new relative to women in the workplace and especially to the workplace in general. And as such, new angles are revealing themselves all the time. One of the newest is the creation of a new magazine called Hybrid Mom (tagline: We've evolved.). Published by Moms-for-Profit, a managing and consulting company dedicated to empowering — you guessed it — mompreneurs (or in the company's words, 'women who want to keep one foot in the workplace and the other playing Hokey Pokey' — love that!), Hybrid Mom caters to "a generation of moms who embrace their multiple identities."

So, what, exactly is a hybrid mom? You've gotta love this: An adult female who has discarded outdated and unrealistic conceptions of motherhood. She is parent, wife, volunteer and sometimes entrepreneur, all in one. Known for her strength, sense of humor and flexibility, a hybrid mom is actually a fusion of roles that suit her own individuality.

Who among us doesn't want to be her (even you kid-free gals, once you omit the parental references) when we grow up — er, evolve?

Like today's emerging environmentally friendly vehicles, let's hope the hip of hybrid carries over to the hybrids with hips!

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *


15 more ways to practice random acts of kindness today.
from Body & Soul magazine, 9.2007

1. Donate blood.
2. Hold the door.
3. Smile at a stranger.
4. Look cashiers in the eye and thank them.
5. Raise money for a cause you believe in.
6. Choose to be an organ donor.
7. Next time you're ready to honk at another car, don't.
8. Help a fellow traveler with her luggage.
9. Buy a meal for someone who's hungry.
10. Spend time with an elderly person.
11. Participate in a race to benefit a charity.
12. Invite someone who's not in your inner circle to a friendly gathering.
13. Contact a friend you haven't heard from for a while.
14. Stay calm during a stressful time.
15. Teach your children about giving.

For myriad more ways to be kind today and every day, visit

If we all share what we've been blessed with,
then we bless others with our sharing,
& so it goes.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Celebrate the everyday.

  • November 13th — World Kindness Day

  • November 21st — World Hello Day

  • November 25th — International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women

  • Remember, where there is connection, there is power.
    Where there is power, there is hope for change.
    For ourselves, and for our world.

    We are all connected. We are all powerful.
    Until my next post, be well, be happy & be hopeful.

    Please feel free to send along comments, questions, ideas, suggestions, or requests to be unsubscribed.
    I honor them all, just as I honor you.

    * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

    Saturday, August 25, 2007

    the trap.

    OK, I give. Let's talk about Lindsay Lohan.

    I, like much of America, have been trying to pretend I don't care about the abject antics of La Lohan and her partners in pathos — Britney, Paris and their wispy little wannabe sidekick, Nicole — and I certainly don't want to admit to following their every maniacal move via the girls-gone-wild-saturated media.

    Still, this trio of trainwrecks make it awfully hard not to rubberneck. From the Hollywood-garden-variety run-ins and rerun-ins with the law, to the head-shaving, Brazilian waxing and repetitive rehab-dabbling, it's hard to keep up with the number of rings at this cirque de so-lame. And I think many more of us than care to cop to it have fairly severe cases of figurative whiplash from all the gaping, gawking and glaring we've been doing at these young, beautiful, unholy messes, as they teeter up on the highwire, sans net.

    But of the three, it's Lindsay who saddens me most. The Brit-Wit and Paris the Heiress are both easy to pigeonhole: the redneck whitetrash and the blueblood celebutante, one who came from too little to cope with fame and fortune, one who came from too much to handle real life and its limitations. Somehow, a twisted remake of the now-retro TV sitcom "Green Acres" comes to mind ... but I digress.

    Lindsay, though ... Lindsay was an upper-middle-class girl from the Bronx. A darling auburn-haired, freckle-faced girl, she was too embarrassed to tell her middle-school friends about her big break starring in Disney's remake of The Parent Trap; when she returned home following eight months of filming, she told everyone her family had gone on a long vacation. It wasn't until the movie was released that she conceded, "Oh, yeah. I also did this movie." That was ten years ago.

    The other simple, yet apparently rare quality Lindsay possesses that paints a sadder portrait for me is talent. The girl's got a gift — she is, quite clearly, an actor. And by almost all accounts, an actor already respected by other, much more seasoned actors. That is, until her off-screen shenanigans sloshed over into her day job.

    For all of us People-magazine-buying, Entertainment Tonight-watching judgers out here, there's plenty of fault to go around for Lindsay's unspooling: her felonious father, her eye-on-the-Hollywood-prize mother, the Disney Slut Machine [as I lovingly refer to it], the recklessly indifferent entourage, the perpetually present paparazzi. And of course, Lindsay herself can't be held completely blameless; she is, as of July 2nd, a full-fledged adult, presumably capable of making her own choices about what and who goes into her body, and who gets to witness and/or record it.

    Yes, it's preposterously painless for us to sit on our living-room couches or stand around our water coolers and shake our heads and waggle our fingers and condemn those responsible for Lindsay losing it. But before we all pitch the big ol' stones we're holding at that particular glass house, let us pause for a moment and reflect upon past lessons in lost wonders, and whether we've really learned them.

    Consider this, as I have been, from's Rebecca Traister:
    "It's easy to wistfully romanticize the demise of talented and beautiful women like Marilyn Monroe and Judy Garland, who we now understand got so sick because of the pressures they faced to be what their audiences wanted: pretty and energetic and sexy and available to everyone. But we lack that perspective on the objects of our contemporary obsessions, whom we likewise pressure to perform for us, by dancing on tables or leading torrid public love lives we can follow like weekly serials, until they finally wear out and collapse, sometimes taking other people with them."

    Put into that sobering perspective, let's hope Lindsay and all of these young women get the help, support and maturity they need to abandon their death-defying feats high above us, put on some big-girl panties, and save their own lives by climbing down to Earth.

    * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *


    Self-care is not about self-indulgence;
    it is about self-preservation.

    — Audre Lord —

    As little ones return to school, I'm thinking especially of my sister mothers, simultaneously grateful and just a little grieving at this bittersweet time of year. So here's to you, from Austin author and life coach Renée Trudeau's book, The Mother's Guide to Self-Renewal: How to Reclaim, Rejuvenate and Re-Balance Your Life, some thoughts about taking care of Mama:

    Self-care is about nurturing yourself on all levels — physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually — so you can live, love and parent optimally.

    Most of us would never imagine denying our children of sleep or nourishment, being judgmental of them or allowing them to ignore their emotional needs. Yet, as mothers, we do this to ourselves on a daily basis.

    Here are several examples of how you can begin nurturing yourself and start making self-renewal part of your everyday life:

    Physical Care
    — Eat healthy and energizing foods that make you feel good.
    — Exercise for energy and less stress.
    — Get enough sleep and drink plenty of water.

    Mental Care
    — Read a good book or watch an intellectually stimulating movie.
    — Learn something new, like a skill or hobby.
    — Sign up for a class or workshop on something interesting to you.

    Emotional Care
    — Have a heart-to-heart talk with a close friend or mentor.
    — Journal — write down your thoughts and feelings.
    — Go out on a fun date with your partner or the girls.

    Spiritual Care
    — Meditate, pray or reflect on your gratitudes.
    — Do something creative — write/sing/dance/paint.
    — Take a walk out in nature.

    The book is available at Renée's website, at, or locally at Book Woman, Book People or The Crossings.

    * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

    A gentle reminder.

    Be gentle with yourself.
    You are a child of the universe,
    no less than the trees and the stars.
    In the noisy confusion of life,
    keep peace in your soul.

    — Max Ehrmann, Indiana attorney and prose poet —

    * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

    Give yourself a break.

    Another fine reminder to be gentle with yourself and your kids during these days of transition:

    My daughter is learning to read. She doesn't read perfectly, and it's OK. Isn't it? You don't expect a child to be perfect when they're just beginning to learn, do you? Well, why are you so easy on them, yet so hard on yourself? Somewhere between learning to read and now, have you come to expect yourself to get things right, right from the get-go? Just watch a child learn to do anything — walk, talk, read, write — and you'll see that true success comes from many attempts of getting it not quite right. Give yourself the same freedom. Create change imperfectly.

    from Aby Garvey's Simplify 101 Newsletter
    [click here to subscribe]

    * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

    Because if Mama ain't happy . . .

    Here's news of the DUH: Being the mom of a young child is rich and rewarding, but also a significant strain on your mood. Golly, really?

    Seriously — according to a University of Michigan study, moms ranked taking care of their child(ren) lower than watching TV, eating or exercising, and only slightly higher than working, housework or commuting in terms of activities that make them happy. Of course, psychologists are quick to clarify that while children don't necessarily enhance daily enjoyment, they do deliver transcendent moments, which can overcome day-to-day frustrations.

    Further good news for moms is this: You can teach yourself to accentuate the positive, and learn to make it a practice in your everyday life. Click through to the article, which features tips on how moms can create such a choose-happiness habit; suggestions vary from the overtly obvious (get enough sleep) to the mildly profound(actively notice things, play to your strengths).

    * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

    Happy teenagers — isn't that an oxymoron?

    What makes 13- to 24-year-olds happy? Baffling question, with a stunning answer: Spending time with family. Again, seriously — the Associated Press and MTV recently conducted a survey of young people, inquiring open-endedly into what makes them happy, and hangin' with the fam was their top response. Additionally, almost 75% of them said their relationship with their parents makes them happy.

    And the hits just keep on coming: Most young students like school, and over 90% say they believe marriage will make them happy and want to be married someday; most also want to be parents themselves eventually.

    OK, I know what you're thinking — what about sex? Well, among 13- to 17-year-olds, being sexually active actually leads to less happiness, and for 18- to 24-year-olds, sex might lead to happiness for the moment, but not overall (oooh, I remember those days — zoinks).

    The downside of the survey: It showed a clear racial divide, with whites being happier than blacks and Hispanics, regardless of economics. Not surprisingly, many young people feel stress, especially middle-class kids and — sadly — females more than males.

    A final note for a happy ending: Asked to name their heroes, almost half of the youngsters answered with one or both parents . . . and just a tad more often, Mom.

    * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *


    15 ways to give today.
    from Body & Soul magazine, 9.2007

    1. Make a donation, whatever you can afford, to your favorite charity.
    2. Send a thank-you card to someone who's been kind to you.
    3. Put yourself in another person's shoes.
    4. Confront a friend who needs confronting.
    5. Let your spouse sleep late.
    6. Applaud a great performance.
    7. Rescue an animal from a shelter.
    8. Laugh.
    9. Reduce, reuse, recycle.
    10. Give your full attention.
    11. When you see trash, pick it up.
    12. Give a compliment.
    13. Let go of an old grudge.
    14. Write a letter to a person who's made a difference in your life.
    15. Tell your mom you love her.

    If we all share what we've been blessed with,
    then we bless others with our sharing,
    & so it goes.

    * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

    Celebrate the everyday.

  • September 13th — International Chocolate Day

  • September 15th — Wife Appreciation Day

  • September 16th — Women's Friendship Day

  • Remember, where there is connection, there is power.
    Where there is power, there is hope for change.
    For ourselves, and for our world.

    We are all connected. We are all powerful.
    Until my next post, be well, be happy & be hopeful.

    Please feel free to send along comments, questions, ideas, suggestions, or requests to be unsubscribed.
    I honor them all, just as I honor you.

    * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

    Monday, July 23, 2007

    the summer of 40-love.

    It's true. I was born in the Summer of Love.

    Which means I was conceived in the Autumn of Lust, but that's another story.

    Ah, 1967.

    A Texan was President.

    Thurgood Marshall became the first black U.S. Supreme Court justice.

    Congress created PBS.

    Rolling Stone debuted. So did the Chick-Fil-A sandwich.

    The Green Bay Packers won the Super Bowl. (My folks are from Wisconsin.)

    The St. Louis Cardinals won the World Series. (They're also known as The Cards.)

    Miss Oklahoma, Jane Anne Jayroe, won Miss America. (My husband's from Oklahoma, though we don't mention it much.)

    Cabaret won the Tony for Best Musical.

    The Beatles came out with Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Heart's Club Band. But Album of the Year was Sinatra: A Man and His Music.

    A first-class stamp cost 5 cents. And a gallon of gas cost 33 cents.

    And now, as a woman just days past my 40th birthday, I find myself filling my gas tank at just over $3 a gallon during the Summer of Floods, and thinking, 'Well, at least the average life expectancy has gone from 70.5 to 78 years.'

    OK, I confess — I'm not really all that cynical about this big ol' birthday of mine. In fact, I'm feeling fairly groovy about it all. Maybe it's because it's the middle of summer, or maybe it's just because my life is good. I mean, my life is seriously good. Which means I don't feel the need to be too serious about a birthday, for goodness' sake. There's plenty around to be serious about — this is a celebration!

    So, in the spirit of the season, I urge you to do what I have begun doing every summer to make sure I actually have a summer (something that can be difficult to do as a full-time working adult!): Make a list of fun stuff to do, activities you've been wanting to do but never seem to find time for, or just summertime things you'd like to get around to. Some suggestions:

    • spend a long lunch hour at the pool

    • take an afternoon off and go to a movie

    • go to a Round Rock Express baseball game

    • learn to rollerblade

    • watch the bats fly from under the Congress Avenue Bridge

    • visit an amusement or water park

    Once you've got a good list going, schedule several of these activities on your calendar immediately. If you leave the fun stuff up to chance, then chances are, it'll get bumped by something scheduled. So make your summer fun a priority — life is just too darn short not to!

    * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

    Personal Renewal & Growth, anyone?

    Well, I’ve been touting Austin-based life balance coach Reneé Trudeau’s amazing book, The Mother’s Guide to Self-Renewal: How to Reclaim, Rejuvenate and Re-Balance Your Life, to anyone and everyone I know for months, including each month in this space. Now, I’m happyhappyhappy to announce that I’m just about to launch my own Personal Renewal Group for Moms – essentially a once-monthly meeting group which follows a “curriculum” based upon the book.

    I can actually still accept a few more women into the group if you or someone you know may be interested. Here are the details:

    Personal Renewal Group for Moms — Southwest Austin
    Begins Sunday, July 29th, 3 – 5:30 p.m.
    and meets the last Sunday afternoon of every month
    at the Oak Hill Jazzercise Center, 6130 Highway 290 West

    It’s a six-month program (July – December), and has been created especially for moms to explore and learn 1) how to reconnect with who you are, 2) strategies for making self-care and nurturing a priority, so you can live, love and parent optimally, and 3) how to experience greater life balance.

    To register or for further details, just contact me, Kristen Card, at or 512.394.1802.

    This program has been an amazing experience for me, and I’m genuinely thrilled to have the opportunity to share the same sort of experience with other moms – join us!!

    * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

    Remembering you.

    You already know this. I just need to remind you. Think back. Think back to first grade, when you could still hear the sound of your own voice in your head, when you were too young, too unformed, too fantastic to understand that you were supposed to take on the protective coloration of the expectations of those around you. Think of what the writer Catherine Drinker Bowen once wrote, more than half a century ago: “Many a man who has known himself at ten forgets himself utterly between ten and thirty.”

    Many a woman, too.

    You are not alone in this. We parents have forgotten our way sometimes, too. When you were first born, each of you, our great glory was in thinking you absolutely distinct from every baby who had ever been born before. You were a miracle of singularity, and we knew it in every fiber of our being. You shouted “Dog.” You lurched across the playground. You put a scrawl of red paint next to a squiggle of green and we put it on the fridge and said, Ohmigod, ohmigod, you are a painter a poet a prodigy a genius.

    But we are only human, and being a parent is a very difficult job, more difficult than any other, because it is twenty-four/seven, because it is unpaid and unrewarded much of the time, because it requires the shaping of other people, which is an act of extraordinary hubris. And over the years, we learned to want for you things that you did not necessarily want for yourself. We learned to want the lead in the play, the acceptance into our own college, the straight and narrow path that sometimes leads absolutely nowhere. We learned to suspect, even fear your differences, not to celebrate them. Sometimes, we were convinced conformity would make life better, or at least easier for you. Sometimes, we had a hard time figuring out where you ended and we began.

    Guide us back to where we started. Help us not to make mistakes out of fear or out of love. Teach us as gently as we once taught you about who you really are and who you intend to become. Learn not to listen to us when we are wrong. Whether you are twenty-four or fifty-four, begin today to say NO to the Greek chorus that think it knows the parameters of a happy life when all it knows is the homogenization of human experience.

    — excerpted from Anna Quindlen’s commencement speech,
    “Oh, Godot,” published in Loud and Clear

    * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

    Older than Title IX?

    Yes, apparently I am. Title IX, the 37-word statute that banned sex discrimination in federally funded education programs, just turned – ahem – 35. But I’m not bitter. How can I be? Title IX revolutionized high-school and college sports for girls and young women, and the result has bled into the professional sports arena (see? Nixon did something good . . . ).

    According to the San Francisco Chronicle, prior to Title IX, 290,000 girls participated in high-school athletics; today, more than 2.9 million girls get their game on. And the number of women participating in intercollegiate sports has risen from fewer than 32,000 to 180,000. If the numbers don’t bring it home for you, then consider this: when tennis legend Billie Jean King was ranked 4th in the nation, she couldn’t get a college athletic scholarship because such a thing didn’t exist.

    But the real beauty of Title IX and all it has achieved in its three-and-a-half decades comes across in John Diaz’s papa's perspective editorial, as he warns his teenage daughter he’ll be mentioning her in his piece about Title IX and her response is, “What’s Title IX?” As Diaz concludes, “Perhaps that’s the ultimate measure of Title IX’s progress, 35 years later. It's no longer a huge controversy. Young women assume they have a right to athletic opportunities.”

    As they should. Here’s to you, Title IX. And many more.

    * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

    No (horn)dogs allowed.

    Here’s another spot to add to your Italian itinerary: at the resort at Riccione, along the Adriatic coast, Italy has opened up its first women-only beach. Beach 134, also known as the “Pink Beach,” is closed to children and to those notoriously space-invading Italian men. Dogs are allowed, but only the four-legged, tail-wagging variety (and no leg-humping is tolerated, I feel sure).

    The businessman who came up with the idea, Fausto Ravaglia, says it’s not a lesbian beach, but simply “for women to be themselves.”

    According to Cinzia Donati, a 43-year-old housewife from Milan (quoted in a story in The [London] Times), it was “wonderful to relax, read or doze without hearing some child shouting, ‘Mama, Mama’ six-hundred times, and without men ogling you all the time. Men think they are indispensable, but they are not.” (Vada, Cinzia!)

    In addition to the lack of testosterone and whining (redundant?), the beach offers beauty tips, fitness classes, cooking lessons, manicures and pedicures, “ladies lunches” at the beach café and a DJ. Okay, maybe not the most progressive offerings, but still fun . . . do you think there are any shoes for sale?

    * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *


    The environment is where we all meet, where all have a mutual interest. It is the one thing all of us share. It is not only a mirror of ourselves, but a focusing lens on what we can become.

    — Claudia Alta "Lady Bird" Johnson
    American environmentalist, former First Lady
    12.22.1912 - 7.11.2007

    If we all share what we've been blessed with,
    then we bless others with our sharing,
    & so it goes.

    * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

    Celebrate the everyday.

  • July 25th — One Voice Day
  • August 1st — Girlfriends' Day
  • August 5thSisters' Day
  • August 8thDay to Create

  • Remember, where there is connection, there is power.
    Where there is power, there is hope for change.
    For ourselves, and for our world.

    We are all connected. We are all powerful.
    Until my next post, be well, be happy & be hopeful.

    Please feel free to send along comments, questions, ideas, suggestions, or requests to be unsubscribed. I honor them all, just as I honor you.

    * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

    Monday, May 21, 2007

    yes, you may.

    This is Molly.

    And for those who don't know who she was, well, dang, you missed a fine one. Her Wikipedia entry humdrumly describes her as an "American newspaper columnist, political commentator and best-selling author," but good Lord, that doesn't even glance the surface of the mighty deep, mighty full, mighty tumultuous well of ass-kickin', name-takin', word-masterin', righteously scathing hilarity that was Miss Molly Ivins. And she wasn't just an American, by God; she was a Texan through and through, if ever there was one.

    Long considered (and by many conservatives, long feared) to be ultimately unsinkable, Molly — following seven years of battle — was finally and sadly sunk by breast cancer about four months ago. The Texas Observer, for which Molly wrote from 1970-76 and to which she seemed to be wedded in many ways until her death, has a fabulous tribute to Molly available online, as well as a printed tribute issue available to order.

    An amazing array of famous folks have contributed their two cents about Molly Ivins as a force of nature and the inspirational swath she left in her wake: from former Texas Ag Commish Jim Hightower to former CBS anchorman Dan Rather, from singing satirist Mark Russell to public radio's Garrison Keillor, from author Anne Lamott to journalist Bill Moyers. And you've got to love a six-foot-tall white woman from Texas whose death garners original poetry from acclaimed African-American poetesses Naomi Shihab Nye and Maya Angelou. I mean, she must have been doing something right.

    But from my perspective, one of the best quotations among the many tribute pieces written about Molly comes from Molly herself, as Adam Hochschild, one of the co-founders of Mother Jones magazine, quotes the close of a column Ivins wrote for the mag a whopping 14 years ago:

    So keep fightin' for freedom and justice, beloveds, but don't you forget to have fun doin' it. Lord, let your laughter ring forth. Be outrageous ... rejoice in all the oddities that freedom can produce. And when you get through kickin' ass and celebratin' the sheer joy of a good fight, be sure to tell those who come after you how much fun it was.

    Rest in peace, Molly.
    May your laughter forever ring forth in our ears so that we don't rest until our fightin's done.

    * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

    Personal Power.

    In every issue of "Skirting," thanks to the gracious generosity of Austin author and life coach Renée Trudeau, I'll include a little morsel from her wonderful book, The Mother's Guide to Self-Renewal: How to Reclaim, Rejuvenate and Re-Balance Your Life. The book is available at Renée's website, at, or locally at Book Woman, Book People or The Crossings.

    Personal power is about living your truth, aligning with your life purpose and expressing your authentic self. It's fully expressing your potential and being all that you were meant to be.

    Here are some ways you can practice standing in your personal power:

    • Find your voice. Sometimes we remain quiet when we disagree with what is being presented. Speak your mind and express how you really feel. Don't overexplain or justify your position. Find your voice and use it!

    • Make your self-care a priority. This is one of the best and clearest ways to validate your self-worth and send a message to yourself that your are worth this investment. Nurture yourself physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually.

    • Stop caring what others think. (You'll be working on this your whole life.) Imagine who you would be or what you would do if you didn't care what others thought of you.

    • Practice being more direct and more assertive in your communication with others. Notice how people respond to the way you communicate. Do you feel good about how you state your needs and desires and communicate with others?

    • Let your light shine. Most of us are more afraid of our own light than of our own shadow. Take a risk, let others see your talents and gifts. Express yourself! Don't hold back.

    • Become financially savvy. Creating your own nest egg, managing a household or business budget, or co-creating a financial plan with your partner can be very empowering. Most people find getting their financial house in order to be very liberating!

    • Stop settling. What do you want? Pause. What do you really, really want? Stop settling. The more comfortable you become at owning your power, the clearer you'll become on what you truly desire. Then you can start living the life you want.

    * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

    Money — that's what I want.

    I ask you, what says "We're equals" better than the cha-ching of an egalitarian paycheck?
    Unfortunately, we still wouldn't know, girls.

    According to new research released by the American Association of University Women Educational Foundation, even just one year following college graduation, full-time working women already earn 20% less than their male colleagues — and the pay gap only broadens over time. At ten years post-graduation, women earn only 69% of what mean earn, and are less likely to be involved in hiring and firing, supervising others and setting pay.

    Even after controlling for occupation, hours, parenthood and other factors known to affect earnings, the research indicates 25% of the pay gap remains unexplained and is likely due to sex discrimination. Gosh, y'think?

    ABC News covered this story, and put together a follow-up piece about how to successfully negotiate your salary . . . which I think is helpful, but something that struck me about it is how some of the tips are really about how to negotiate your salary like a man (e.g., remove emotion, do it as if it's for someone else, etc.) — something apparently still synonymous with success in the business world.

    We've come a long way, yes, but we've still got a long way to go.

    * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

    Isn't 'working mother' a redundancy anyway?

    Good news: estimates the annual value of a full-time mom at $138,095, up 3% from last year, and the added value of a second-shift mom (who mothers in addition to another job) at $85,939.

    Not so good news: Being a mom will cost you out in the workplace. Big time.

    According to columnist Ellen Goodman in the Contra Costa Times, a study recently published by Shelley Correll in the American Journal of Sociology found that a motherhood penalty indeed exists, to the extent that much of the time, mothers need not apply.

    In the study, when two equally qualified candidates — save for a single résumé mention of being an officer for a parent-teacher association — applied for the same job, the mother was 100% less likely to be hired.

    Moms were considered to be less competent, less committed, and were offered $11,000 less in starting pay than childless women. Just for giggles, they were also judged more harshly for tardiness.

    As Goodman concludes, "Here in 2007, there is still a deep-seated bias that puts the image of a 'good mother' at odds with that of an 'ideal worker.' Until we wrestle down the beliefs and the rules of the workplace, our annual homage to the family-values keeper will be as sentimental as this year's $138,095 paycheck."

    * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

    A dove for inner peace.

    You've probably seen their print ads and tv spots, but if you've not visited the Dove Campaign for Real Beauty website, then you really should.

    This groundbreaking campaign/company is addressing the fundamental yet complex issues of women's beauty, body image and self-worth at every age and size, from our daughters to our grandmothers, uber-petites to Lane Bryant regulars, and all of us in-between. It's all positive and it's all powerful. A click-through sampling:

    • Dove's amazing "pro-age" commercial — too full of nude women of a certain age to actually air on real television — should fill some of us with pride, offers many of us hope and empowers all of us, regardless of whether you buy into the related niche-marketing product line.

    • At the other end of the age spectrum is Dove's latest commercial, featuring images of radiant young girls with revealing confessions of self-loathing alongside them. It also mentions the Dove Self-Esteem Fund, which has been created "as an agent of change to educate and inspire girls on a wider definition of beauty." Worthwhile, yes?

    • Spend a half-minute watching the film "Evolution," which documents how the modeling industry takes a quite average-looking woman and turns her into a billboard beauty (Photoshopping notwithstanding — the neck-lengthening was the most eye-opening element for me!).
    Sure, Dove belongs to Unilever, one of the world's giants in packaged consumer goods manufacturing — their domain also includes Axe, Ben & Jerry's and Slim-Fast of all things — but you've got to applaud their approach. I mean, when was the last time somebody trying to sell you something left you feeling respected?

    * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *


    Think in terms of sharing rather than giving.
    It's possible to give until you have nothing left.

    With sharing, you draw from what you have.
    Replenishing your reserves and refilling your coffers allow the sharing to continue.

    This is how a generous spirit begets an abundant life.

    body + soul magazine, 12.06

    If we all share what we've been blessed with,
    then we bless others with our sharing,
    & so it goes.

    * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

    Celebrate the everyday.

    Remember, where there is connection, there is power.
    Where there is power, there is hope for change.
    For ourselves, and for our world.

    We are all connected. We are all powerful.
    Until my next post, be well, be happy & be hopeful.

    Please feel free to send along comments, questions, ideas, suggestions, or requests to be unsubscribed. I honor them all, just as I honor you.

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    Wednesday, May 9, 2007


    Smile . . .

    Because this wasn't you.

    At the sheer shock & awe value of such a photo.

    Because now you know a little secret about this photo: I'm smiling only because the swarthy, rather harsh trapeze instructor barked from the ground as one of his monosyllabic orders, "Smile!!" But it does make for a happy picture, doesn't it?

    It was, for me, a two-hour lesson in embracing imperfection, the union of my own physical capabilities and limitations, and being present — none of which I mastered, by the way. But hey, it was a lesson, right?

    And it was a hoot. A once-in-a-lifetime hoot.

    Own your magnificence.
    The world needs your brilliance & grace.

    Happy Mother's Day.

    Thursday, April 19, 2007

    spring 2007.


    I'm launching this public blog because I'm a woman — and honestly, I sort of forgot that for a while.

    See, when I was a co-ed at UT Austin, I was a young woman just beginning to come into her own. And I was influenced and inspired by several incredible women — many of them strong-personalitied, good-humored, loud-mouthed Texas women, like me. I read them and listened to them and watched them and just fundamentally idolized them across the board.

    Then, I began working, met a sweet man, got married and had two beautiful children, and I identified myself has a mom, a wife and a writer. They were titles I had dreamed of holding for many years, and finally being able to call them mine has made me wonderfully happy. But somehow "woman" — just woman, beyond the context of the workplace or marriage or motherhood — sort of fell off the list. Now, I'm not one of those who feels she relinquished or lost herself completely in family or work, but I do believe it's almost impossible not to let little pieces of you slip beneath the surface as you bring new and energy-consuming experiences — like kids and careers — into your life.

    Skip a little to the present-day, and I find myself with a 12-year-old marriage, an 8-year-old daughter, a 4-year-old son, an almost-5-year-old freelance writing business, and the big four-oh staring me down come summertime. And within the past eight months, several things have happened that, together, are proving to be what Oprah might call a big "Aha!" Moment for me. Honestly, I'm still putting all the pieces together, but today, here's what I know for sure (another Oprah-ism):

    {a} We as women hold power — an immense amount of power, both within ourselves and within our world. Much of it remains untapped. Why? Your guess is as good as mine. Maybe because we're not familiar with it, we've never exercised it, it's scary. We don't know what to do with it, we're not even sure we believe in it. Maybe just because we're so dang busy taking care of everything (and I mean everything) we take care of, we just never see it.

    {b} When we as women connect — genuinely connect at our cores (i.e., not through idle chatter, gossip, bitch sessions or potty-training note comparisons), it taps into our power individually and collectively. It puts us past our fears, sends our energy soaring and reveals what we're really capable of. It is literally awesome.

    So this blog is a piece of my journey, one little offering from me to help other women remember who they are at their heart center, and to help connect us to each other and to the issues that affect us all out in the world (talk about scary).

    Where there is connection, there is power.
    Where there is power, there is hope for change.
    For ourselves, and for our world.

    Next issue: How the Oprah-nomenon is proof
    of the power of women's circles . . .

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    Our worst fear is not that we are inadequate; our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.

    We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be so brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous?’ Actually, who are we not to be?

    You are a child of God.

    Your playing small doesn’t serve the world. There is nothing enlightening about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you.

    We were born to make manifest the glory of God within us. It is not just in some of us; it is in everyone.

    And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.

    — Marianne Williamson
    Return to Love

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    Consider this a personal invitation from me to you to what is bound to be an amazing and inspiring Austin event . . .

    Reclaim, Rejuvenate, Re-Balance: An Evening of Self-Renewal for Mothers is happening Wednesday, May 9th, from 6:30 - 9:30 p.m. @ Mercury Hall.

    This self-renewal soirée will celebrate mothers with culinary delights, decadent desserts, wonderful wines/beverages, self-care treats and a private performance by award-winning artist Sara Hickman, featuring songs from her latest album, Motherlode.

    The event will also mark the national launch of the new book The Mother's Guide to Self-Renewal: How to Relaim, Rejuvenate and Re-Balance Your Life, by Austin-based life-balance coach Renée Trudeau, as well as the Personal Renewal Group for Moms coaching program based upon the book.

    A personal note: I've been a member of Renée's Personal Renewal Group for Moms since last September, and it has been a life-changing experience for me. The groups are designed specifically for women to explore and learn how to reconnect with who they are, strategies for making self-care/nurturing a priority and how to experience greater life balance. It's meaningful, powerful work.

    Your ticket for An Evening of Self-Renewal covers all food, drink and a copy of Renée's book (a $20 value). You can buy tickets in advance online for $30 {click here}, or at the door for $35. Or you can get more event info. {click here}

    I hope to see you there then!!

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    Blessings to Blacksburg.

    This week, as I've joined the rest of America, stricken and sickened, watching the tragedy and grief unfurl at Virginia Tech University, I was reminded of an essay I recently read by Anna Quindlen. The piece is about what parents face every day, all day long, from the miraculous moment their first child appears until . . . well, maybe until eternity. More accurately, the essay is about what we don't face, what we can't face every day, all day long, because if we did, then we would break into little pieces.

    My heart is with all the parents of all the children involved in this devastating event, whose lives will never be the same, will always feel slightly incomplete, and will eventually and inevitably center around a bevy of seemingly impossible tasks like forgiveness and acceptance. And my heart goes especially to one mother and father who must live out their days haunted by the knowledge that their child was so hollowed out by hopelessness, so filled with deep, dark questions that this was his answer.

    excerpted from "Fall From the Nest," June 1994:

    Now I know that much of parenthood is watching and waiting for the chick to fall into harm's way, watching and waiting for the cats and the cold nights. The joyous enterprise has an undercurrent of terror. Part of the reason for the palpable happiness of commencement season is the great relief of knowing that some danger point is past, whether in high school in South Central L.A. or college in Cambridge. Some times and some places are far more perilous than others. But having children is always a perilous undertaking.

    It's the randomness of it that is so awful, as we clutch close our little constructions of family and home and school, an artful web of twigs. Children step in front of cars and fall into pools; teenagers take the wrong drugs, drive too fast, dip too deep into some well of despair. Some get stuck in the tar of the bad spots, and some do not. Some grow up strong with bad upbringings, and some falter with good ones.

    In front of me, stuck in the corner of a picture frame, is a black-and-white photograph. In the doorway of a dining room with dark patterned wallpaper is a young woman holding an infant. Behind her, the table is set for dinner. In the mirror over the sideboard is reflected a man in the living room beyond, a young man in khakis and a white shirt. The man is the woman's husband, the baby's father. The baby is me.

    In profile, her head dipped down over the infant's, my mother looks as if she is speaking in the picture, and sometimes I think she is telling me a secret, and that if only I can read her lips, I will know how she intends to keep me safe. But the secret is that there is no secret. There is no formula, much as I once looked for one in the pages of Spock and Penelope Leach, believeing that chid-rearing was algebra and that if I studied hard enough, I would succeed.

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    Friend or foe? A woman knows.

    Whatever our variety of views about what's happening in Iraq, we can all agree it's important for the United States to know who can be trusted in the Middle East. According to policy analyst Matthew Mainen, examining how women are treated is a solid sign of like ideologies, and therefore, indicative of who our allies really should be. Here's why we should pal up with Pakistan and say "so long!" to Saudi Arabia.

    * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

    M is for Madam Speaker.

    "Far be it from me to reduce Nancy Pelosi to merely the sum of the carpool miles she drove, but it took an extraordinary woman to do that and move on to become Speaker of the House.

    To object to Pelosi's inclusion of children in politics is to presume that an erstwhile stay-at-home mom brings nothing with her to public life from that experience, that she gained nothing from it, that child-rearing is mere baby-sitting, only keeping children alive until they can take care of themselves.

    In fact, it is an art and a science, and it changes you. It grows you up. At a minimum, it teaches you just how many supposed grown-ups need only a good, long nap to be decent neighbors and co-workers."

    — Debra J. Dickerson, 1.8.07

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    Eight great girl getaways.

    Travel often opens the eyes, sometimes opens the mind, occasionally opens the heart, and is always good for the soul. Whether you're seeking enlightenment, celebrating powerful women and their places in history, or just want to have some fun, author Stephanie Elizondo Griest's latest book, 100 Places Every Woman Should Go, will fill the bill. Here's a sampling of eight of her favorite spots for womanly wanderers — and one of them, perfect for womanly affirmation, is right here in Austin!!

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    This is your life.
    It's the only one you get. So no excuses & no do-overs.

    If you make a mistake or fail at something,
    then you learn from it, you get over it, & you move on.

    Your job is to be the very best person you can be &
    to never settle for anything less.

    — Lily Adams
    summarizing what she learned about life
    from her grandmother, Ann Richards

    If we all share what we've been blessed with,
    then we bless others with our sharing,
    & so it goes.

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    Celebrate the everyday.

    I hope you've found this inaugural issue of "Skirting" interesting and maybe a little inspiring.

    Above all, I hope it helped remind you that you're connected to a powerful community, and the more connected we are, the more powerful we are.

    Please feel free to send along comments, questions, ideas, suggestions, or requests to be unsubscribed. I honor them all.

    Until my next post, be well & happy.

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