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.

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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.

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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.

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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."

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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?

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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.

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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.