Tuesday, December 30, 2008

a sex kitten worth remembering.

She was an entertainment multitasking pioneer, earning accolades in the recording, television and movie industries, as well as on Broadway, during a six-decade showbiz career. She was a mixed-race abuse survivor who pulled herself out of poverty with a feline femme fatale persona that wowed the likes of Orson Welles and sought to seduce Santa Claus. She was gritty. She was growly. And for me, she was the most purrrr-suasive Catwoman of the 1960s Batman series. (Julie Newmar? OK. But Lee Meriwether? Please.)

She was Eartha Kitt, and she finally used up her ninth life on Christmas Day at the age of 81, succumbing to colon cancer.

Eartha Mae Keith was born on a cotton plantation in South Carolina, the illegitimate child of a black Cherokee sharecropper mother and a white man Eartha never knew. She worked in the cotton fields as a child, and was raised in her aunt's home, where she claimed she was abused for being "too white." Upon her aunt's death, eight-year-old Eartha was sent to Harlem to live with Marnie Kitt, whom Eartha believed to be her biological mother. Abused there, as well, Eartha became a runaway and was a homeless teen until a friend dared her to audition for the Katherine Dunham Dance Company; Eartha was accepted, and her life changed for good.

Eartha Kitt went on to speak four languages and sing in seven as she performed her sizzling cabaret act across Europe, singing signatures such as "C'est Si Bon," "Love for Sale," and "Monotonous." Her biggest and most lasting hit came with 1954's "Santa Baby," still a holiday season staple. Eartha's stage career lasted from 1945 to 2003, and included 13 shows and two Tony nominations. Her film career included 35 movies, while her TV work garnered her an 1966 Emmy award nomination for a guest appearance on I Spy, as well as two Daytime Emmy awards within the past two years for her voicework as Yzma in the children's animated series The Emperor's New School.

While Welles publicly dubbed her "the most exciting woman alive," Eartha's other rich-and-famous romances included cosmetics magnate Charles Revson and banking heir John Barry Ryan III. She was married only once, to real-estate developer Bill McDonald, for five years. Their daughter, Kitt Shapiro, and two grandchildren survive her.

She was singular. She was a siren. And she could teach us all a little something-something about sexy. Au revoir, amazing Eartha. Rowwwrr.

And just for nostalgia's sake, here's a little vintage Kitt Catwoman-on-Batgirl action:

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

got girlfriends? must read.

My colleague and friend and amazing woman Patti DeNucci recently emailed me the YouTube video of Kelly Corrigan reading aloud her essay, Transcending, from her book, The Middle Place. It was so spectacular, I bought the book (newly released in paperback), just so I could retype and post the whole essay here. Thanks, Patti, for sharing; now, I'm spreading the word(s) - and if this doesn't make you buy the book, too, well . . . then I'll be mighty surprised:

I had one of those milestone birthdays a few months back. After the party got going, I tried to make a toast - something about friendship, something about my mother and her friends, who call themselves "The Pigeons" (a twist on The Hens) - but it was rowdy and my friend Shannon was heckling me, so I kept it short. Anyway, this what I wanted to say:

There were once a dozen Pigeons, but in the past few years, they lost two of the greats to cancer. On the Pigeons go, though, like women do, limping one minute, carrying someone the next. They started in the '60s, in suburban Philadelphia, with bridge and tennis and chardonnay (okay, vodka) and, over time, became something like a dedicated fleet, armed ships sailing together, weather be damned.

For me and women of my generation, it started with playdates, cutting carbs and meeting on Monday mornings in workout clothes to do awkward moves with large, colorful balls. And I can see exactly where it's heading.

We'll confer about jog bras and contractors and pediatricians. We'll gossip about babysitters, teachers, in-laws. We'll speculate about who had a shot of Botox, who cheats on their taxes, who cleans until midnight.

We'll celebrate each others' achievements: opening an exercise studio, a corner store, a jewelry business. We'll celebrate our kids' achievements: making the traveling team, singing in the choir, learning to knit or speak French or play the flute. We'll borrow eggs, earrings, extra chairs. We'll throw birthday parties for each other, and stain the rugs and shatter the wine glasses and mark up new counters with the odd slice of lemon. We'll worry about who seems down, who looks tired, who's drinking more and more. We'll say things we wish we hadn't, and have to find a way to regain each other's trust. Things will break - they always do. Many will be fixed.

We'll fret about our children: too shy, too angry, too needy. We'll brainstorm ways to help them become more resilient, patient, lighthearted. We'll protect them, fiercely - pulling little bodies from the deep end, double-latching windows, withholding car keys.

We'll bury our mothers and our fathers - shuttling our children off for sleepovers, jumping on red-eyes, telling each other stories that hurt to hear, about gasping, agonal breaths, hospice nurses, scars and bruises and scabs, and how skin papers shortly after a person passes. We will nod in agreement that it is as much an honor to witness a person leave this world as it is to watch a person come into it.

We'll admire each other for a fine creme brulee, a promotion, a finished marathon. We'll commiserate about commutes, layoffs, mortgage rates, the
High School Musical soundtrack. We'll confide in each other about feeling anxious or angry or uninteresting, or how many pieces of Halloween candy we accidentally ate from our kids' bags. We'll confess that we text while driving or that we should be having more sex or that we yell at our kids every day. We'll admit that we believe in God, Jesus Christ, Heaven and Hell - or that we don't.

People will drift in and out. Book clubs will swell and thin. We'll write someone off and they'll reemerge later, and we'll remember both why we loved them and why we let them slip away, but we'll be softer and we'll want them back.

We'll give up things together - caffeine, Tylenol PM, catalogs, social smoking. We'll take up things, too - morning walks, hybrids, organic dairy, saying grace. We'll persuade each other to bake, sell, fold, stuff, paint, and write checks for our favorite nonprofits.

We'll diagnose each others' brown lawns, torn muscles, basement odors. We'll check each others' heads for lice, and examine new bumps and moles, and listen to lists of symptoms. We'll teach each other how to set a ring tone, make a slide show, download a movie.

We will call and say, "I heard the news," and whatever the news is, we will come running, probably with food. We'll insist on second opinions, lots of rest and the best surgeon. We will face diseases, many kinds, and will, temporarily, lose our hair, our figures and our minds.

Eventually, someone who's not supposed to die will - maybe one of us, maybe a husband, God forbid a child - and all this celebrating and sharing and confessing will make certain essential comforts possible. We'll rally around and hold each other up, and it won't be nearly enough, but it will help the time pass just a hair faster than it would have otherwise. We will wait patiently and lovingly for that first laugh after the loss. When it comes - and it will come - we will cry as we howl as we clutch as we circle. We will transcend, ladies. Because we did all this, in that worst moment, we will transcend.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

a folk music legend worth remembering.

Before Madonna, before Cher, even before Oprah, there was Odetta. A woman with a performance gift powerful enough to carry her on a single name.

Odetta was a folksinger who moved audiences and influenced fellow musicians - among them Bob Dylan, Harry Belafonte and Joan Baez - for over a half-century. She died December 2nd at the age of 77.

Quoth The New York Times, "With her booming, classically trained voice and spare guitar, Odetta gave life to the songs by workingmen and slaves, farmers and miners, washerwomen and housewives, blacks and whites.

"'What distinguished her from the start was the meticulous care with which she tried to re-create the feeling of her folk songs,' Time magazine wrote in 1960.

"'I'm not a real folksinger,' she told the Washington Post in 1983. 'I don't mind people calling me that, but I'm a musical historian. With folk music, I can do my teaching and preaching.'"

Thrice-nominated for a Grammy - the latest nom coming in 2005 for her album Gonna Let It Shine - Odetta was awarded the National Medal of the Arts in 1999 by then-President Bill Clinton. Clinton said Odetta's career showed us all "that songs have the power to change the heart and change the world."

Odetta was actively involved in the civil rights movement, singing at the March on Washington in August, 1963. "Odetta's great, full-throated voice carried almost to Capitol Hill," wrote The Times.

Despite failing health that kept her wheelchair-bound, Odetta performed 60 concerts during the last two years, singing for 90 minutes at a time. Her final big performance was October 4th at the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival in San Francisco, where she sang for tens of thousands. Her manager says she was hoping to sing at the inauguration of President-elect Barack Obama next month.

I've got a feeling she still will.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

proud mary, keep on burnin'.

How about a little birthday shout-out to our girl, Ms. Tina Turner, who celebrated her 69th birthday November 26th . . . and followed it up in true Tina style with a December 1st celebrity-crowded, tear-the-roof-off, bring-the-house-down show at New York's Madison Square Garden.

According to Billboard, "[T]his woman defies so much conventional wisdom that being in her presence for two-plus hours is a bit of a head trip. . . . it was beyond clear that she'll probably outlast us all, still glittering like the sequins sewn into her dresses."

Of course, she nevah evah does anything nice and easy . . .

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

december gratitudes.

Today, I am . . .
  • doing a fair job of balancing life & work.
  • blogging again & feeling good about it.
  • relieved to have finally completed a project I've had hanging over me since mid-November.
  • concerned about my daughter's extreme internalization.
  • loving this non-sequitur fashion tip from my son (almost six): "Black is good for nail polish if you're going to die."
  • needing some alone time.
  • worried about holiday weight gain.
  • wanting to spend some one-on-one time with my husband.
  • tired - seriously t-i-r-e-d - of seeing 3 a.m. (& later!).
  • proud of my now-traditional Christmas morning cream-cheese-pull-apart rolls.
  • already thinking about 2009 & how I want to be/what I want to do/what I want to make of it.
  • still amazed Barack Obama will be our American President within a month. Wow.
For all this & much more, I'm grateful.
Life is good. :)

Thursday, December 11, 2008

a maven of mirth worth remembering.

With a name as plain as Betty James, you'd never guess she came up with a name as world-renowned as Slinky.

Betty James named her engineer husband's toy creation 65 years ago; by Christmas 1945, the Philadelphia Gimbels department store had sold the first 400 models within 90 minutes at the price of $1 a piece.

According the Associated Press:

[James] beat the odds as a single mother in the late 1950s to become a successful executive . . .. She took over management of James Industries, Inc. 14 years after the company was founded, after her husband left her to follow a religious cult in Bolivia. Richard James died in 1974.

Initially, James would leave her six children with a caregiver from Sunday through Thursday while she oversaw operations in Philadelphia. But in 1965, she moved the company to her hometown of Hollidaysburg, [PA], where, though sold in 1998 to Michigan-based POOF Products, Inc., it remains today.

By the time of her death November 20, 2008, at the age of 90, Betty had been inducted into the Toy Industry Hall of Fame, and over 300 million Slinkys and Slinky variations had been sold in her lifetime. In a 1995 AP interview, she offered her perspective on the classic toy's spectacular success:

"I think really it's the simplicity of it," Betty explained. "There's nothing to wind up; it doesn't take batteries. I think also the price helps. More children can play with it than a $40 or $60 toy." Even now, Slinkys retail for only about $4-5.

And who can ever forget the catchy Slinky jingle? Here you go, kids of the '70s (love the carpeting):

And here's my favorite faux commercial, clearly derived straight from the Slinky original (no disrespect intended to the dedicated, ingenuous, persistent, successful and fun Ms. James - just had to share):

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

four-star first.

I may be a little late, but it's not like her final little five-pointed friend is going anywhere . . . Waaay-high feminist fives go to Ann Dunwoody, who on November 14th became the first woman in the U.S. military to hold the rank of four-star general.

Dunwoody, 55, comes from five generations of military, and though she grew up wanting only to teach physical education and raise a family, her rock-'em-sock-'em roots got the best of her during what she intended to be a two-year detour with the Army. Thirty-three years later, Dunwoody explains her change of mind: "As a soldier, you can continuously serve. It is a calling to be a soldier, and there is a great sense of pride and camaraderie in serving the greatest Army in the world."

A Virginia native, Dunwoody has, over the course of her career, served in: Fort Sill, OK; Kaiserslautern, Germany; Fort Bragg, NC; Fort Drum, NY; Alexandria, VA; and Fort Lee, VA. She deployed to Saudi Arabia for Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm in 1991, and to Uzbekistan for Operation Enduring Freedom I in 2001.

Dunwoody's military decorations include three Legion of Merit awards, two Distinguished Service Medals and a Defense Superior Service Medal. Among her notable firsts, she was: the first woman to command a battalion in the 82nd Airborne Division in 1992; the first woman general officer at Fort Bragg in 2000; and the first woman to command the Combined Arms Support Command at Fort Lee in 2004.

In June, Dunwoody was nominated by President George W. Bush for promotion to four-star rank, and her nomination was confirmed by the U.S. Senate in July. The promotion is particularly impressive since, by law, women are excluded from combat jobs, the typical military path to four-star rank.

Present at Dunwoody's pinning ceremony was her 89-year-old father, Harold Dunwoody, a retired U.S. Army Brigadier General and highly decorated three-war veteran, and her husband of 18 years, retired U.S. Air Force Colonel Craig Brotchie.

"No one is more surprised [by this honor] than I - except, of course, my husband," Dunwoody quipped. "You know what they say: 'Behind every successful woman is an astonished man.'"

Astonishing? To some, maybe. But definitely amazing for us all.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008


One-hundred-and-two years later, Xerox is still proving itself a leader - and a corporate patriot.

The Let's Say Thanks project - created and sponsored by Xerox, the copy company - gives everybody with Internet access a free and easy way to make sure American troops overseas have an inkling about how grateful we are for their service and sacrifice.

Just visit www.letssaythanks.com, choose one of the postcard designs (selected from a pool of entries from children nationwide), pick an already written message or write a note of your own, and click "send." Xerox does the rest, printing your postcard and mailing it with others in care packages sent by the military support group Give2TheTroops.

No, you can't dictate which soldier receives your postcard, but who cares? Regardless of how you feel about our country's current military actions, I don't know one person who doesn't wholeheartedly support and greatly appreciate our servicewomen and men, and the hard job they do to help keep our country safe and free.

All you need is about 30 seconds - please go to www.letssaythanks.com today, and express your gratitude to fellow Americans who earn it every day.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

buying for a better world.

For those of us still traveling the evolutionary continuum from giving presents to giving presence for the holidays - in other words, everyone for whom it still 'tis the season to buy stuff - here's a wonderful new website for acquisition: worldofgood.ebay.com.

World of Good by eBay is an online superstore hybrid of, well, eBay and World of Good, a fair trade wholesale business. Essentially, the partnership is trying to do for the mothers of Africa, Asia, India and Latin America what eBay did for their U.S. counterparts, promising to sell more fair-trade goods than have ever been sold in one spot before.

At the website, you can search for products benefiting a particular cause, read artisans' bios and check third-party verifiers for specific items. The site also links to articles, blogs and bulletin boards - it even has its own Facebook group.

From cause-positive coffee to eco-friendly earrings to a serious selection of sustainable stocking stuffers, World of Good is worth a good look.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

give presence.

I'm no Jesus freak. A Christian, yes. But much to my Lutheran parents' chagrin, no longer a church-goer. I've essentially reached the conclusion that the church is a good venue for people to affirm their faith and to build community, but isn't necessary for nurturing a relationship with God. I sort of think of church like Weight Watchers - you go to the meetings for introspection, inspiration, rededication and a sense of not being alone on your path.

Still, I'm intrigued and inspired by Advent Conspiracy. This movement, launched two years ago by five pastors, was originated as a resource for churches to more fully engage in authentic worship and giving at Christmas. It's about bringing Christmas back to basics. Quoth the homepage:

The story of Christ's birth is a story of promise, hope and revolutionary love.

So, what happened? What was once a time to celebrate the birth of a savior has somehow turned into a season of stress, traffic jams and shopping lists.

What if Christmas became a world-changing event again? Welcome to Advent Conspiracy.

So, while I'm no Jesus freak, I definitely believe in what Jesus was all about, which was peace, love, giving and treating each other like you want to be treated. So I love the simple concept behind Advent Conspiracy: Worship Fully. Spend Less (money). Give More (time). Love All.

This year, they say, Give Presence.

You don't need to be a Jesus freak to see that's the meaning of Christmas.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

get gratitude.

I believe gratitude is a miraculous force. So does Zen Habits blogger Leo Babauta, which is why he penned a post about ways to incorporate gratitude into your life. Some samples:

Have a morning gratitude session. Make it a daily ritual to take one minute in the morning to think of the people who have done something nice for you or to think of as many things as you can in your life you're grateful for.

Having a hard day? Create a gratitude list.

Don't get mad; get grateful. Whenever you find yourself ticked off at someone, pause, do a little deep breathing, and try to think of reasons you're grateful for him or her.

Show gratitude to your significant other, rather than criticizing.

Show gratitude for your children, rather than kvetching about them.

Facing a life challenge? Try to see it as an opportunity for learning, growth and improvement. There's always something good to be found within the difficult or tragic.

Concludes Leo: "There's no doubt in my mind the simple act of [regular] gratitude . . . will change anyone's life, positively and immediately."

Monday, December 1, 2008

hello, december.

Just past Thanksgiving.
Diving into the holidays.
Feeling blessed by & grateful for ...

1. the beach.

2. our little familial quartet.

3. my laptop.

4. Christmas music.

5. Christmas movies.

6. successful science projects.

7. our menagerie - currently two dogs, a beta fish & ten painted lady butterflies.

8. antibiotics.

9. sleep.

10. an abundance of work (which spurs even greater appreciation for #9).

So, what are you feeling good about right now??

celebrate the everyday - december.

It's December, 2008. How will you celebrate being a woman?

December 12 - Full moon [the Oak Moon]
December 15 - National Cat Herders Day
December 19 - Underdog Day
December 21 - Winter Solstice/World Peace 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.

Friday, November 28, 2008

I give & I give & I give & yet . . .

And now it's the day after Thanksgiving, and to be honest, while I've fulfilled my 29-Day Giving Challenge, I'm not going to fulfill my daily gives postings. Rather, I want to share the "aha!!" this experience has given me.

Here it is: I give - sometimes more, sometimes less, but definitely never enough to *me.*

OK, it's a little "Hey, lady, you, lady - I've been to paradise, but I've never been to me" (whatever happened to Charlene, anyway?). And frankly, it's not a wholly new and different epiphany. Apparently, it's just a lesson I'm destined to learn again and again and again . . . until I finally really get it. Or die trying, I guess.

I believe I'm better than I used to be at taking care of myself (physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually). But I'm also not as young as I used to be. How are these related? inquire the readers under 40. Well, when I don't practice diligent self-care, my body, my brain and my mood swings all let me know about it - bigtime. Where I used to get away with all sorts of self-neglect without ill effect, I now suffer the consequences, and they aren't pretty.

As mentioned, such ugly consequences have taught me a few good self-care habits along the way: regular exercise has become a must-do; my eating habits, while still quite imperfect, are much improved; I almost always drink plenty of water. Likewise, I treat myself to a monthly massage, I go to a fabulous chiropractor and I continue to visit my longtime counselor. And if the paychecks are coming regular, then Mama also gets her toes done once a month. I do my best to stay connected to girlfriends near and far. I've learned to say 'no' now and then. I occasionally remember to breathe two counts in through my nose, four counts out through my mouth.

See? I'm doing pretty well, huh?

On the other hand, I drink about six diet cokes a day and hold the dubious honor of being the most sleep-deprived mom in the neighborhood (and that's saying something - something bad). I don't scrapbook enough. I don't read enough. (Enough to fulfill me personally, not to fulfill expectations of some sort.) I don't have enough sex (not sure what my neighborhood ranking is there . . . ). I don't say 'no' often enough. I'm not as connected with the people I care about as I wish I were. And I still forget to breathe - a lot.

These are things I need. These are things I need to give myself: less stimulants, more rest; time to scrapbook, time to read; nookie; permission to disappoint or displease others; prioritization of people over productivity; breathing lessons.

And I need to go to the dang doctor before my common cold turns into walking pneumonia. Twice.

And whoomp - there it is: AHA!!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

get-real gratitudes.

I'm typically unmoved by viral email messages, but this one provided some profound perspective. Bon appetit.

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

I am thankful . . .

. . . for the wife who says it's pizza again tonight - because she is home with me and not out with someone else;

. . . for the husband who is on the sofa being a couch potato - because he is home with me and not out at the bars;

. . . for the teenager who is complaining about doing dishes - 
because it means she is at home, not out on the streets;

. . . for the taxes I pay - because it means I have a job;

. . . for the clothes that fit a little too snug - because it means I’ve got plenty to eat;

. . . for a lawn that needs mowing, windows that need cleaning and gutters that need fixing - because it means I have a home;

. . . for my huge power bill - because it means I am warm and safe;

. . . for the perpetual pile of laundry - 
because it means I have clothes to wear;

. . . for the parking spot I find at the farthest point of the parking lot - because it means I have transportation and can walk;

. . . for all the griping around me about the government - because it means we have freedom of speech;

. . . for my own exhaustion and aching body at the close of the day - because it means I’m capable of hard work; and

. . . for the alarm ringing to wake me too early - because it means I am alive.

Wishing you all a Thanksgiving full of abundance, connection and gratitude. :)

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

keep on giving . . .

And now it's Thanksgiving eve, and I'm still behind on my 29-Day Giving Challenge posting . . . sometimes, life just doesn't work out the way you expect or intend or want. As my dear friend, Diana, says, I am not in charge (no matter how much I like to think I am!)!

And as my journalistic heroine, Linda Ellerbee, says, and so it goes . . .

Day 15: Myself a vacation. A girlfriends weekend- the best.

Day 16: An old friend a big (and happy, luckily) surprise. Such fun. :)

Day 17: A toast to 30 years (!!) of friendship.

Day 18: My silence to my spouse (believe me, it was a gift).

Day 19: An etiquette lesson to my daughter. I'm a big believer in the handwritten thank-you note, and I'm doing my best not to let it become a lost art of appreciation.

Day 20: Gifts to my oldest friend, Audrey, and her darling twins.

Day 21: Five lawn bags full of clothes to Goodwill. And a clean closet is a gift to yourself.

Day 22: Thanks/Thanksgiving cards to a few friends and my birth-stepfather.

To be continued . . . still . . . 

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

what I've been giving for the past two weeks(!!).

You're right, you're right, I know you're right.

I've been all blog-gone for the past two weeks, smack-dab in the middle of my 29-Day Giving Challenge ... poor form. But the truth is, I've been in poor form - walking around with just a smidge of fluid in my lungs since before Hallowe'en - and needed to let go of something in order to keep the rest of everything going.

So I let go of my frequent-posting duties. But I kept on giving ... sometimes to others, sometimes to myself (it seemed like the time to do so).

So now it's time for me to do some serious catchup, for Thanksgiving is coming quick!!

Day 7: Smiles to everyone, all day long. It was the day after The Election (still smiling, by the way). :D

Day 8: I gave up and went to the doctor. Ten days of down-with-the-crud time, and I was way-ready for pharmaceuticals.

Day 9: Myself a break and a little down- (not working, not momming) time.

Day 10: Necessary boundaries. All my crabby kids needed to turn their collective frown upside-down was a couple of jars and two bowls of marbles.

Day 11: My dear friend the opportunity to give to me. My, but it's lovely to be taken care of now and then, especially by someone who a) does it up right, and b) gets how difficult it is for you to let yourself be taken care of.

Day 12: I gave in to keep my word. I had promised a fun activity in exchange for lack of marbles in above-mentioned jars, but thought our schedule for the day was too full for such frivolity. My daughter called me out on it, and I ponied up. She was right, I was weaseling, and Madagascar 2 was well worth the effort.

Day 13: Compliments to the singers at our school's Veterans' Day program.

Day 14: A power bar and $5 to our favorite homeless corner-guy.

Stay tuned for my Days 15 - 22 . . . and you? how's your giving going?

Thursday, November 6, 2008

& hey - *you* did, too, girls.

Women played a giant and vital role in this week's electrifying elections, according to the Dallas Morning News.

Women, who make up more than half of all American voters, broke for Barack by 56% - confirming ourselves as a key demographic for candidates to consider and court.

Despite a difficult and divisive primary season for women, we emerged unified and energized. Holla!!

Feministing says it beautifully:
"I'm grateful to the Hillary Clinton supporters who were able to heal and get behind Barack Obama. And I'm infinitely grateful for the women voters who were able to look at Sarah Palin with the sobriety and critical perspective necessary to see through the 'hockey mom' folksiness. She didn't deserve our vote, and ... she didn't get it."

In fact, only about 10% of Hillary supporters crossed over to McCain's ticket.

Other voting verities we women can be proud of:
  • Unmarried women gave Obama a victory margin of over 12 million votes (who's got a crush on Obama?).
  • 96% of African-American women and 70% of Latinas voted for Obama.
  • Even here, in big ol' red state Texas, 52% of women voted for Barack Obama.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

yes, we did, too, girls.

When the 111th Congress convenes in January, 2009, more women than ever before will serve in the U.S. Congress - 17 women in the U.S. Senate (13 Democrat, 4 Republican) and at least 74 women in the U.S. House of Representatives (57 Democrat, 17 Republican).

According to the Center for American Women and Politics, even though the number of women candidates wasn't at an all-time high for this year's elections, women were clearly positioned for success.

The breakdown (or rampup) looks like this:

Senate - 17 women today, prior record was 16
  • 4 women won Senate elections (13 incumbents didn't face re-election)
  • 3 Democrats, 1 Republican
  • 2 incumbents, 2 challengers
  • representing Louisiana, Maine, North Carolina, New Hampshire

House - 74 (with two races still pending) women today, prior record was 71
  • 10 new women and 64 incumbents won House elections
among the newcomers ...
  • 8 Democrats, 2 Republicans
  • 5 won open seats, 5 won against incumbents
  • representing AZ, CO, FL, IL, KS, ME, NV, OH, PA, WY
  • 12 African-Americans, 7 Latinas and 2 Asian-Americans

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

what I gave today.

Day 6: Easy ... today, around 10p Central time, I gave thanks to God, the Universe and Everything. Today is a good day.

We, the people, in order to 
form a more perfect union,
establish justice,
ensure domestic tranquility,
provide for the common defense,
promote the general welfare,
and secure the blessings of liberty
to ourselves and our posterity,
do ordain and establish this Constitution
for the United States of America.

& so it ends ... & begins ... & goes.

It's evening, and the polls are slowly shutting down with a darkening wave from east to west across America.

What we can do for now, we've done.
All we can do now is hope.

Monday, November 3, 2008

a woman worth remembering.

Madelyn Lee Payne Dunham, who raised her grandson Barack Obama from age 10 to adulthood, died quietly in her Honolulu home on Sunday, November 2nd, at the age of 86.

Madelyn was born in Peru, Kansas, and grew up in Augusta, Kansas, the daughter of strict Methodist parents. She was one of the best students in her high-school graduating class of 1940 - the same year she wed Stanley Dunham, a Baptist boy from the proverbial "wrong side of the tracks" (a furniture salesman, it was rumored he could charm the legs off of a sofa), against her parents' wishes. The couple was married over 50 years, until Stanley's death in 1992.

During World War II, Stanley enlisted in the Army, while Madelyn worked on a Wichita-based Boeing B-29 assembly line. In 1970, she became one of America's first female bank vice presidents.

In-between, Madelyn gave birth to her only child, a daughter called Anne. Both of Anne's parents were dismayed by her marriage to a Kenyan graduate student, but accepted it - just as they embraced their half-white grandchildren, Barack Obama [above, with his grandparents] and Maya Soetoro (a younger daughter by a second marriage). While Anne and her second husband had to live overseas, Madelyn and Stanley welcomed Barack into their Hawai'ian home. And while Anne was dying of ovarian cancer in 1995, Madelyn cared for her in the same home during her final months.

Barack and Maya call her "Toot," an abbreviation of "tutu," the Hawai'ian word for grandmother. Here's what the Democratic Presidential nominee said about Toot on the Late Show with David Letterman in September:

"She has been the rock of our family, and she is sharp as a tack ... she just follows everything. But she has a very subdued, sort of Midwestern attitude about these things. So when I got nominated, she called and said, 'That's nice, Barry. That's nice.'"

Wishing the Obamas comfort and strength during this amazingly emotional time for their family ...

what I gave today two-fer number two.

Day 4: The promise of a new day.

Our little boy is experiencing what I call a stage of disequilibrium - some sort of transition period that's making him difficult to deal with (a sizable understatement). Way too much whining and too many tears, sometimes off and on all day long - like Sunday. Naturally, the time change didn't help, either, but by bedtime, he was essentially a pool of melted five-year-old lying in the middle of the living room, alternately blubbering and muttering, unwilling (or maybe unable, really) to do anything we asked as we tried desperately just to get him into his pajamas and off to bed.

I confess - I did lose it fairly bigtime once during that longest of days, but by the time he was a babbling mess on the living room carpet, I just felt bad for the poor little guy. I mean, I've got limited coping skills as a 41-year-old adult, so his coping mechanisms must be few and frequently far beyond his grasp, y'know? So eventually, with gentle coaxing and plentiful hugs, we got him all tucked in, still on the verge of tears, but somewhat functioning once again. "Tomorrow, we'll have a better day, I promise, buddy," I cooed into his ear, channeling Scarlett O'hara as I kissed him goodnight.

And he seemed a little calmer.

Day 5: A red flag for a client.

I don't want to disclose too much information about a professional situation, but here's the skinny: I had contributed, along with others, to a list of statistics for the client to present to the media. Today, I was reviewing the final list, and noticed two of the stats regarding the same subject, when you compared the math between them, substantially contradicted one another. I quickly called the client, who was greatly appreciative for the heads-up. Yea - brownie points!! :)

Saturday, November 1, 2008

celebrate the everyday - november.

It's November, 2008. How will you celebrate being a woman?

November 4Election Day/National Chicken Lady Day
November 6National Men Make Dinner Day
November 13World Kindness Day
November 15I Love to Write Day
November 21World Hello Day
November 25International 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.

what I gave today two-fer.

Day 2: My inhibitions for my family and neighbors' amusement. :D

Our family has coordinated Hallowe'en costumes for four years - we went as Wizard of Oz characters one year ... well, actually, we tried; my son was just about 18 months, and absolutely hated his Lion costume ... but we really earned a reputation around the 'hood three years ago, when we went as The Incredibles (seriously, people still talk about it). Then, last year, the kids had individual ideas about what they wanted to dress up as, so we coordinated along boy/girl lines - mother and daughter were woodland fairies, father and son were dalmatians.

Same deal this year - daughter wanted to be a "glamour" (sequined and fringed) cowgirl, and son wanted to be something yellow (he picked Pikachu over a banana), so ... while my husband got to be Ash Ketchum, Pokemon trainer, I was a Hallowe'en Holstein, complete with udder front-and-center (well, a little lower than center, really ... but hey - I'm not as young as I used to be!). I totally owned it, if I do say so myself, and enjoyed an udder-ly fun Hallowe'en evening!!

Day 3: Some time alone together for my daughter & her daddy.

We all went to Zilker Park today to feed goldfish (crackers) to the fish, count the turtles and seek swan sightings. Then, my sweet husband let me run around Ladybird Lake while he and the kids went to the playscape. While we were talking about our plans for the rest of the afternoon, I invited the kids to go with me to Target while hubby got a little alone time to go for a walk close to home. The girl said she wanted to go walking with Daddy "like we used to do;" but of course, as soon as she said it, little brother said he wanted to tag along (even though he'd been whining for an hour about how his legs hurt and he was tired). Since this now sounds like the least-relaxing walk ever, both parents begin shutting down the idea altogether. The girl is visibly crushed. So, thinking quickly, I offer little brother a bribe to accompany me to Target ... he accepts and everybody gets what they want - especially the kids, who spent the evening watching the new TinkerBell DVD. :)

So, what were your Day 2 & 3 gives? Please share!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

what did you give today?

Welcome to Day 1 of my 29-Day Giving Challenge [click here to read all about it]!!

I'm all about holidays and traditions, so since it's the day before Hallowe'en, I put together some little spook-alicious surprises in my kids' gift bins (I reuse these pink and blue foam containers throughout the year to hold treats for special occasions, like the first day of summer vacation, the first day of school, awesome report cards, etc.) - a book for mood evocation, some stickers for dressup decoration, a packet of orange cocoa for post-trick-or-treating reflection, and a baggie of chocolate "eyeballs" just for the bonus sugar.

I'm also going to give them both showers tonight, so they're clean and shiny going into tomorrow's stick-fest!!

Day 1: Hallowe'en Eve treats for my little tricksters.

So, what did you give today? Please share! :)

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

two days from today.

Two days from today - October 30th - I launch my 29-Day Giving Challenge.

Click here to read my original post about this great idea . . . and join me in a 29-day give, beginning this Thursday and ending the day before Thanksgiving (Wednesday, November 26th)! We're going to give a little every day to make a big difference in the world.

C'mon - give it up! :)

Monday, October 27, 2008

A couple of slices of wisdom pie to share from two other amazing women - remarkable reminders, both:

Eunice Kennedy Shriver, on being "superwoman:"
Life is a marathon. You can have and be all the things you want to be and have. Just do it over a lifetime. Don't try to do them all at once, because you can't. If you try to, then everyone around you will suffer- most of all, you.

Anne Lamott, on the zen approach to writing and life:
My older brother, who was ten years old at the time, was trying to get a report on birds written that he'd had three months to write, which was due the next day. We were out at our family cabin in Bolinas, and he was at the kitchen table close to tears, surrounded by binder paper and pencils and unopened books on birds, immobilized by the hugeness of the task ahead. Then my father sat down beside him, put his arm around my brother's shoulder and said, "Bird by bird, buddy. Just take it bird by bird."

busy but balanced (trying, anyway) . . .

The economy may be down (waaay down), but business is up for me. As an independent business and marketing writer (otherwise known as a freelancer), I'm lucky in that whenever financial times ebb, outsourcing seems to flow. And so I'm busy (waaay busy), and have been knee-deep in the sense of overwhelm such business busyness seems to tote along with it.

Overwhelmed not so much with the professional, but how to coordinate it with all the personal that still must be done, day to day, minute to minute ... meals, laundry, housework, homework, piano practice, piano lessons, car repair (mine recently became the parking lot victim of an overly exuberant Yukon), new puppy care (!!), birthday parties, Hallowe'en, Christmas shopping, allergies, exercise, water, and - oh, yeah - a little occasional luxury called sleep. Not to mention another week of election stress.

Ah, the balance conundrum rears it's pretty little unattainable head once again. I've determined that balance, like so much of life, is all about the journey rather than the destination. Balance is something to be sought, not caught. Maybe for a moment, an hour, a day here or there, you can achieve a feeling of "ahhh," balance. But ultimately, life is a perpetual shape-shifter, so to keep your balance means continuous adjustment.

For counsel about the best ways to adjust for balanced living, I've found no better resource than my dear friend Renée Trudeau. Whenever I'm feeling waaay tilted, I simple refer to her amazing book, The Mother's Guide to Self-Renewal, to remind myself how to return to a relatively even keel.

Here are four keys of balanced living - which I'm trying to use to help guide my life today - according to the wise Renée:

1) Priorities and energy management - What's most important to me, and to what am I paying the most attention (hint hint: they should match)?

2) Self-renewal - What am I doing to take care of myself physically? mentally? emotionally? spiritually?

3) Support system - What am I willing to accept help with, and who am I willing to ask for that help?

4) Presence - As my husband once suggested, Eat the lunch. Focus in on what you're doing at this moment, do it, then move on to the next thing.

So, what do you do to bring yourself back from the teetering edge to a place called balance??

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

no fat talk, ever.

Well, I'm embarrassed to confess it, but I missed it. Last week was, apparently, Delta Delta Delta's Fat Talk Free Week, a "body activism event" intended to raise awareness about the dangers of "fat talk" and the effect it has upon women's confidence.

Yes, you read it right - a women's empowerment effort sponsored by a sorority. My, but the times, they are a'changin' from my back-in-the-days avoiding West Campus (UT Austin's Greek ghetto) like the plague. And that's not all - Fat Talk Free Week also coincided with the official launch of a whole Tri Delta body-image education and eating disorders prevention program called Reflections.

During Fat Talk Free Week, women and girls of all ages pledged to not "fat talk," and to do one thing daily to support positive body image, like:
  • talk with a friend or family member about one thing you like about yourselves;
  • write a list of all the good things your body lets you do (e.g., sleep well, wake up rested, walk the lake, etc.);
  • pick a friend and make a pact with to avoid negative body talk;
  • pledge to quit complaining about your body, and whenever you catch yourself doing this, balance it by saying something positive about the same body part, such as, “I'm happy my strong legs let me run a mile yesterday;"
  • the next time someone gives you a compliment, rather than objecting, take a deep breath and just say “thank you.”
Of course, these are terrific suggestions to promote positive body image any time at all, not just during Fat Talk Free Week ... because it's always true that Barbie's body proportions are not only unattainable, but also unhealthy ... that fashion models are thinner than 98% of U.S. women ... that 90% of high-school-age girls believe they're overweight ... and that over half of American girls age 18 - 25 would rather be hit by a truck than be fat.

Fat Talk Free Life, anyone??

once in love with amy ...

It's a Tuesday Two-for - I just can't seem to get enough of Amy Poehler, especially now that I've discovered her next big debut project: Smart Girls at the Party.

This month, ON Networks will launch the new original series, created by and starring Poehler and two gal pals: Meredith Walker, former head of talent for Saturday Night Live and senior producer for Nickelodeon's Nick News; and Amy Miles, performer, recording artist and host of PBS children's show LOMAX: Hound of Music.

Smart Girls, according to media materials, "celebrates young girls who are changing the world by being themselves" (how utterly amazing is just that notion??). The show aims to help girls discover confidence in their own hopes and gifts. In every episode, Poehler interviews a girl with a unique talent, community interest or perspective.

All episodes will be available to watch or download exclusively through ON's partners, including iTunes and Adobe Media Player.

Cheer along with the *awesome* trailer here:

Here's to the girls who are different!!

Monday, October 20, 2008

"a" my name is amy & i rap about alaska.

RE: Sarah Palin's Saturday Night Live gig, I wasn't too impressed with the opening skit (my heroine Tina Fey was still the funniest portion by a landslide - and I had to laugh at the split-second when Fey and Palin crossed paths), but the Weekend Update Alaska Rap by Amy Poehler was hilarious (you've got to watch it a few times just to catch all the lyrics), and I give kudos to the VP nominee for the GOP just for sharing the stage.

Early voting began here in Austin today - tomorrow, I'm taking my kids with me to the booth! Have a good week! :D

Thursday, October 16, 2008

ask & you will receive [sometimes].

At the other end of the spectrum from the 29-Day Giving Challenge, we find The Daily Asker - a woman calling herself "LaRoxy" who's trying to ask for something every day for a year.

Initially, it might sound a little selfish. But the fact is, women tend to not ask or negotiate for good things - even when they deserve them, like a well-earned promotion or raise.

LaRoxy's yearlong project was apparently prompted by the book Women Don't Ask, about how women's reluctance to negotiate costs every one of us millions of dollars over our lifetime.

Discounts. Perks. 2 for 1. Application of an expired coupon. Lower interest rate. Food prepared the way it was ordered. Just imagine how lovely life could be if only we asked a little more often for what we really want!!

According to LaRoxy, the point of her asking experiment is not to get free stuff, but "to simplify my life by and boost my financial situation by asking ... to try to benefit from the type of situation where 'it can't hurt to ask' ... to begin thinking about asking in the first place ... to become a better asker over time: identify opportunities, identify my needs and desires, develop strategies, maximize savings and earnings. The point is to use asking as a springboard for becoming a negotiator who can be cutthroat or cajoling, as necessary."

Today is Day 108, and just this month, she's asked a police officer for a ride on his Segway (uh, no), a coffee shop worker for free cookies (sure), and a bank agent to help fix her credit report (still waiting for results). She also put a posting up on Craig's List in four of America's biggest cities asking whether anyone will let her name their baby (with their consultation, of course); no takers yet, but one Chicagoan did let LaRoxy name her kitten (Daffodil).

I, for one, am inspired by LaRoxy's endeavor. More often than I care to confess, I settle for what's offered to me because I'm too inhibited to ask for more.

So I just asked my husband to pick up supper for the kids on his way home tonight ... what will you ask for today??

two weeks from today.

Two weeks from today will be October 30th - the day I launch my 29 days of giving.

29-Day Giving Challenge is a great idea from the creative mind of Cami Walker, who decided to try to change her life and others' by giving something away every day for 29 days. The Challenge is intended to be a sacred ritual — it's an opportunity to cultivate a mindful practice of stepping outside your own story for a few moments every day by serving others.

You can read all about it at
the 29 Gifts website . . . then, won't you join me in a 29-day give, beginning Thursday, October 30th, and ending the day before Thanksgiving (Wednesday, November 26th)? What better way to honor and show thankfulness for all we've been given than to give to others?

I'll be posting regularly about my many giveaways - and believe me, I'll be following Cami's counsel about going for the "simple give" much of the time ... stuff like notes of gratitude, words of kindness, smiles with strangers. But I also plan to try to give away something I thought I could not go without . . . though I'm not sure exactly what it will be just yet.

Join me October 30th on this journey of giving, and let's discover together the magical and miraculous shifts we can experience in our energy for life!

Get ready to give!!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

volunteer for the army of pink.

Breast cancer research is looking for a few good women.

OK, actually, they're looking for a million good-hearted, well-intentioned women who are worn down from watching their sisters being forced to become survivors - or not.

Join the
Army of Women - an innovative initiative to recruit one million healthy women of all ages and ethnicities, including breast cancer survivors and women at high risk for the disease, to participate in research to identify and eradicate the cause(s) of breast cancer.

Clearly, finding a cure is critical. But the Army of Women seeks to go beyond a cure to find a way to
prevent this devastating disease from claiming any more of us.

How it works: You register on the Army of Women website, and staff will notify you by email about research study opportunities. If you fit the criteria for a study and you're ok with what's involved in it, then you reply via email to volunteer to participate. Staff will respond with what you should do to take part.

You're in control: The whole thing is completely voluntary. You never have to volunteer for a study if you decide you don't want to.

What it takes: Every study's different - some might require you to complete a questionnaire, others might require a sample of blood, urine, saliva, or breast fluid or breast tissue, still others may be clinical trials for a new detection marker or drug. You choose which studies you feel comfortable with.

Why it's vital: Today, most research is being done using either animals or women who already have breast cancer. But what's learned from animals doesn't necessarily translate to humans, and what's gleaned from tissue from women with breast cancer might not help pinpoint the cause of the cancer. The Army of Women will give researchers the chance to study how breast cancer begins and how to stop it.

Further information about the project can be found at the
Army of Women website. You can register here - I'm already there.

The saints are marching in, and the saints are us. Don't you want to be in that number?
Please join the Army of Women today.

blog action for women in poverty.

Women make up:
70% of the poorest and most vulnerable people on earth;
70% of the world's hungry;
two-thirds of the illiterate worldwide;
only 1% of farmland owners globally; and
500,000 deaths each year from preventable pregnancy complications.

This is Blog Action Day - today, thousands of bloggers around the world unite to address a single issue in order to raise awareness and initiate action. Today, that issue is poverty.

So today, I want to tell you about an organization launched earlier this year, the Women, Faith and Development Alliance (WFDA). With global-leader rock stars like former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, Queen Noor of Jordan and Nobel Peace Prize winner Desmond Tutu supporting it, the WFDA is a unique partnership of international faith, development and women's organizations, dedicated to igniting a global increase in investment in women and girls.

Essentially, WFDA is a global campaign seeking to end poverty and to empower women and girls. It's involving leaders and innovators from around the world dedicated to launching programs to support women and girls on issues like gender equity, economic empowerment, financial independence, maternal mortality, female genital mutilation and other violence against women.

Sound good? Add your voice:
  • Spread the word. Copy and paste this post into an email message and send it to all the women in your address book, or post a piece about WFDA on your own blog (feel free to link to this one). Click here for information, statistics and more.
  • Ask for more. Wherever you go to see and hear interesting speakers (professional meetings, community gatherings, church services, entertainment venues), request a presentation dedicated to the advancement of women and girls.
  • Invest in women and girls yourself. Contribute to the four WFDA co-founders to help keep the campaign moving forward. Or give to a WFDA member organization working on an issue you're interested in - like women's economic opportunity, women's literacy, maternal health, girls' education or women's leadership.
You read the blog. Now take the action. And have a great day. :)

Thursday, October 9, 2008

nice girl.

OK, this time, the girl really is nice - just one girl, but she seems very, very nice.

Her name is Melissa Morris Ivone, and she's a graphic designer/crafter/blogger extraordinaire from New Jersey. She's got a minimum of four websites currently up and running (I'm exhausted and arthritic just thinking about it), but the one that captured my attention is Operation NICE.

Melissa created Operation NICE July 15th (just four days before my birthday! irrelevant ... ) to remind folks that a little nice goes a long way. Essentially, Operation NICE urges people to be proactively, well, nice. The website features NICE testimonials, NICE stuff (like the tee Melissa's wearing above, as well as NICE downloads she designed, like gratitude notes, postcards and signage), and NICE assignments ("consider volunteering," "thank someone," "relax!"), among other niceties.

Visit this connoisseuse of congeniality ... then go out into the world and BE NICE. :)

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

green your life.

I've been meaning to get around to spreading the word about this remarkable, responsible resource for a while, but between Dara Torres, Alice Paul and Tina Fey, I guess I've been occupied otherwise.

But now, let me introduce you to GreenYour.com, Your Guide to Green Anything!!

GreenYour was created by some environmental experts, writers and researchers seeking to make environmental progress practical for everyone.

Want to "green" your baby's bedroom? dry cleaning? catering? swimming pool? shoes? funeral? GreenYour's got what you need to know.

The website is separated into three sections: Facts, Products and Tips. Over 150 subject areas have been developed to date, with more than 700 green tips and 2,500 green products, as well as a terrific list of green blogs and other like-minded Internet resources for folks seeking environmental friendliness.

I poked around for a "Green Your President" page, but turned up nothing . . . yet . . . maybe next month??  ;D