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.

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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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