Wednesday, April 30, 2008


Amazing tune and video by Austin songstress Kat Edmonson — "Be the Change" — came from my college buddy, Kevin Tuerff. Believe me, here's the best, most thought-provoking, uplifting three-and-a-half minutes you'll spend online today:

So, what would you write on your piece of cardboard??

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

tuesday morning.

It's Tuesday, and I am ...

... still debating whether I want to work part-time at an office.
... worried about my workload.
... revamping my to-do list for the week.
... dying for some downtime.
... appalled by our current presidential administration.
... looking forward to spending Saturday, National Scrapbooking Day, with my girlfriends at a marathon scrapbooking session.
... 162.6 pounds, and counting down.
... focusing in on feeling full and centered.
... sending positive vibes to my nine-year-old daughter, a reader who's taking the math TAKS test today.
... blogging.
... sleepy.
... grateful for my health, my husband and kids, our puppy dog (just turned two), our home, one last cool front, caffeine-free diet coke, nice people.

So, what are you today?? Comment, please. :)

Thursday, April 24, 2008

feminism is ...

... the radical notion that women are people.

OK, first the bad news: Two days ago, April 22nd, was Equal Pay Day (as well as Earth Day ... is it pure coincidence Mother Nature is its mascot?), the day when U.S. women's average earnings finally catch up with the amount men earned on average in 2007. In other words, we're paid so much less than our male counterparts that we had to work an extra 113 days just to match their earning power from last year.

In 1966, women who worked full-time, year-round were paid an average of only 58 cents for every dollar paid to men. Currently, women are paid 77 cents per the average man's dollar — a less-than-20-cent improvement over more than 40 years, and a number which seems to have hit an invisible wall since about the mid-90s.

OK, now a little bit better news: Though women are still outrageously underpaid and severely underrepresented within our government, we're still marking plenty of political milestones, from both sides of the aisle. Just since 2005:

  • Dr. Condoleezza Rice became the first Republican woman and the first African-American woman to serve as U.S. Secretary of State.

  • Washington state became the first state to have both a woman governor (Christine Gregoire-D) and two women serving in the U.S. Senate (Patty Murray-D and Maria Cantwell-D).

  • U.S. Representative Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) became the first woman to serve as Speaker of the U.S. House.

  • Three U.S. congresswomen became the first women of color to chair congressional committees: Representative Juanita Millender-McDonald (D-CA), Committee on House Administration; Representative Stephanie Tubbs Jones (D-OH), Committee on Ethics; and Representative Nydia Velasquez (D-NY), Committee on Small Business.

  • U.S. Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY) became the first woman to win a major party's presidential primary for the purposes of delegate selection — in New Hampshire on January 8th.

  • So we've got some serious leadership happening; now maybe if we can get more women into more positions of political power, we can begin to knock through that irritating invisible wall keeping us from making the money we deserve.

    Tuesday, April 22, 2008

    happy earth day.

    Wow — Earth Day's profile has never been higher than it seems to be this year. Every time I turn around, it's Save This, Reduce Reuse Recycle That, Change a Light Bulb, Change the Climate, Change the World. Heck, even HSN dedicated much of its programming today to environmental-type items (so much for reducing ... ).

    To all of which I ever-so-eloquently respond, WOO HOO!!

    Preserving our planet is serious business, folks, without a doubt — there's plenty of doom and gloom to go around (melting icecap, anyone?). But there's also plenty of hope tucked in among the nooks of global warming and the crannies of carbon footprints.

    Here's one of the best Earth Day pieces I came across while perusing my favorite green sites today — I like it because of its positive-reinforcement approach: Yahoo! Green's "We've Come a Long Way, Baby" outlines the top five signs we're doing something right, as well as the top five things we've got to keep working on.

    And here, for your browsing pleasure, are my top five favorite green sites:
    • Yahoo! Green (chock full o' enviro news & info)
    • Method (household cleaners & personal care)
    • Origins (skin care & cosmetics)
    • Zen Habits (all about the simplify, simplify)
    • iGo Green (iVillage's enviro section w/good info, great blogs)
    Have you got an environmentally friendly website to share? Please do!

    And here's wishing you and yours a happy earth day, with the wish that our earth sees happier days — sooner rather than later.

    Sunday, April 20, 2008

    how to be happy, lesson #2.

    How to Be Happy, Lesson #2:
    Cultivate Friendships.

    Surveys show close relationships — more than personal satisfaction or one's view of the world as a whole — are the most meaningful factors in happiness. If you feel close to other people, you are 4x more likely to feel good about yourself than if you don't feel close to anyone. (Magen, Birenbaum & Pery, 1996)

    Rekindle past relationships, and seize opportunities at work with colleagues or at home with neighbors to expand your friendship base.

    I didn't write that, but I can tell you this: My two closest friends today used to be "just" my boss and an unknown neighbor (love you girls!!). :)

    Friday, April 18, 2008

    mid-month tgif.

    Thank you, God, today for . . .
    1. a PC miracle worker who found and restored all my email (bless him!).
    2. the anticipation of being an Apple owner (was waiting to see whether I might get my email back; I've got an appointment to purchase Monday afternoon).
    3. evocative songs (for me, life is just one big mix-tape/iPod playlist).
    4. requited love.
    5. my middle-age liberal crushes — Jon Stewart, Keith Oberman & Barack Obama.
    6. the pause button.
    7. real mail.
    8. adding a new sitter to the list.
    9. being too exhausted to get too stressed about anything at all.
    10. the flip side — sleep, blessed sleep (coming soon to a blogger near you).
    And I missed it, but yesterday was officially Blah Blah Blah day . . . I hope yours wasn't! Have a wonderful weekend, everyone! :)

    Wednesday, April 16, 2008

    i heart organic girl.

    Found it — the official website for organic girl good clean greens and good fresh veggies:

    It looks like here in Austin, Randall's is organic girl's exclusive grocery retailer (if you're somewhere else, then give the site's store locator mechanism a spin); but even if you're not a regular Randall's shopper, I feel it's well worth a special trip to try and snag a sustainable renewable clamshell container of either the pomodoro italian (my favorite, pictured), or the berries & balsamic.

    Believe me, if I'm raving about a salad mix, it must be super spectacular. Here's hoping Randall's expands their line of organic girl products — here's to organic girl gone wild!! :)

    Tuesday, April 15, 2008

    self-care: changing relationships & staying connected.

    It's been a while, but as I try to get back into my blogging groove, I want to return to thoughts from Austin author and life coach Renée Trudeau's 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.

    The following is from chapter nine, Changing Relationships: Staying Connected.

    Often, after having children, couples find they begin to feel disconnected. This feeling is usually more intense when your kids are young, but it can continue as they get older as well. The physical, emotional, mental and spiritual stress of parenting can be extremely exhausting.

    Here are some things you can do to help foster and nurture the connection between you and your partner:

    Nurture yourself first, so you feel like giving to your partner. If neither of you is making your self-care a priority, you won’t feel like nurturing the relationship. Schedule alone time for self-renewal just like you would schedule a doctor’s appointment. Then you’ll be able to fully enjoy and be more present during your time together.

    Touch each other every day. Hugs and kisses in the morning and at the end of the day, quick neck or shoulder massages, gentle arm touches and holding hands are all thoughtful and easy ways to stay physically and emotionally connected to your partner.

    Get your financial house in order. The top two reasons couples fight stem from issues around money and communication. Make a commitment to have monthly discussions about finances, create a budget, address your debt, decide who will pay bills each month, meet with a financial planner or coach, or find a way to come to peace with your money issues. Everyone has them. Decide how and when you and your partner are going to address yours in a way that best supports your relationship.

    Get support, sooner rather than later. Don’t wait until things get really bad to get the support of a therapist or relationship coach. Visit to find an Imago therapist near you (a really effective dialogue-based therapy model), ask friends for referrals, or if your partner is unwilling to go to marriage counseling, go by yourself. Author Wayne Dyer says, “When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.”

    Schedule and keep regular dates. Ideally, have a “date” with your partner at least every two weeks. Three to four hours of time for the two of you to connect, talk and just be alone together. You can have some of your dates at home in the evening if you can’t get a sitter, but I recommend you ban any conversation having to do with the kids or money. Also, save movie-watching for another night, since it keeps you from engaging in conversation.

    Now, for folks paying attention, the information I promised concerning doing date night right . . . According to a recent article from The New York Times, "Reinventing Date Night for Long-Married Couples," (2.12.08) brain and behavior researchers — using real-world experiments, lab studies and brain-stem data — now claim many couples' approach to date night is all wrong.

    The bad news? The decline of romantic love over time is inevitable. And just spending quality time together is probably not enough to stop a relationship from going stale.

    The good news? All you need is a little date-night revamp to rekindle the romantic love that originally got you two together.

    Brain scientists suggest couples should center their date nights around new and different activities they both enjoy, trying to find ways to continually inject novelty into the relationship. The activity can be as simple as going to a new restaurant, or something more unusual or thrilling, like taking an art class or visiting an amusement park together.

    Apparently, new experiences activate the brain's reward system, flooding it with dopamine and norepinephrine — the same brain circuits sparked during the early romantic love era, that wild-ride time of exhilaration and obsessive thoughts about a new love. Several experiments show that novelty — just doing something new together as a couple — might help bring back the butterflies by recreating the chemistry of courtship.

    Researchers warn that novelty alone isn't enough to salvage a marriage in crisis, but for solid partnerships in a dullness ditch, novelty may be just the ticket out.

    So . . . got a unique date-night idea? Share with the rest of the class, please!

    Saturday, April 12, 2008

    don't buy this computer.

    So I guess I just jinxed my fixed computer by blogging about how happy I was it was fixed . . . because it was not as fixed as one (the one being me) might hope.

    Not to get into too many gory details, but ten days, about eight hours on the phone with people in India, and one system recovery (which means sacrificing all your files in order to reset your computer to its original store-bought status) later, my HP Pavilion notebook computer is operational, but still acting quirky.

    So I'm going to buy a MacBook Pro.

    Yes, I'm switching sides. Because every single person I know (married ones, too) who has a Mac is an absolute fanatic about it. Because there are apparently almost no compatibility issues between PCs and Macs anymore. And because the idea of being able to walk into a storefront at the mall with my glitchy (or worse) computer and physically hand it over to a real, live person who will do all the diagnostics right there and then tell me what the trouble is and how it may be resolved . . . well, folks — that idea makes all the difference.

    So I'm hoping to visit the Apple Store asap and spend a couple thousands clams for a little peace of mind. Can't wait.

    Meantime, let me see whether I can jinx something else by blogging about how grateful I am for it . . . here's my week's top ten:
    1. a brief return to springlike weather, until the heat kicks it up a notch.
    2. a 320gb external hard drive that's giving me temporary peace of mind.
    3. offering support and sympathy to a friend who has provided you with the same.
    4. connecting with your friends' children.
    5. dear friends, period.
    6. organic girl salads (can't id a url for them, but Randall's has them, and yum!!).
    7. boden.
    8. garnet hill's state fair quilt (currently 20% off, and Di — it looks like the backing is the dark brown small print fabric — perfect, yes?!).
    9. a good and happy life overall, despite a difficult beginning of the year.
    10. kids with new shoes and fresh haircuts — simply the best. :)

    Blessings, everyone!!

    Post tease: Are you and your spouse doing date night right? Check back tomorrow to see!

    Friday, April 4, 2008

    how to be happy.

    I recently bought this great little book, titled 100 Simple Secrets of Happy People: What Scientists Have Learned and How You Can Use It by David Niven, Ph.D., and I've just got to share some of the ones that really struck a chord with me. So once a week or so, I'll offer up a morsel. Indulge.

    How to Be Happy, Lesson #1:
    Use a Strategy for Happiness.

    Surveys show happy and unhappy people tend to have had very similar life experiences. The difference is that the average unhappy person spends more than twice as much time thinking about unpleasant events in their lives, while happy people tend to focus and depend on information that brightens their personal outlook on life. (Lyubomirsky, 1994)

    Both happy and unhappy people do things that create and reinforce their moods: Happy people let themselves be happy; unhappy people continually do things that upset them.

    The Strategic Management Center, a business consulting firm, says the best indicator of a healthy business is a healthy business plan. They believe every business must define its purpose and then develop a strategy to accomplish it.

    The same approach can be used by people. Define what you want, then create a plan to get it. Think about what makes you happy and what makes you unhappy, and use it to help you get what you desire from life.


    I intended to post my weekly list of gratitudes yesterday, but my notebook opted to spend the day another way — namely, refusing to boot up and frustrating me beyond belief. But, thanks to the extremely polite, rather insistent (and frequently difficult to understand) Indian technical support at Hewlett-Packard, we seem to be up and running again today, none the worse for wear and tear (the tear part being my hair, thanks everso).

    So, without further ado, here's my top ten list of things I'm thankful for, April first-edition:
    1. a working computer (can I get an 'Amen!'?).
    2. to date in '08, completing a scrapbook layout/week. (!!)
    3. getting back to blogging.
    4. getting back "on-program" with Weight Watchers.
    5. change ... for without it, there is no improvement (thanks to Susan Morrow for that little nugget).
    6. cleared clutter.
    7. lack of humidity.
    8. a healthy, happy little dog named Daisy, who's about to turn two.
    9. Rachel feeling happier, doing better @ school ... and her *perfect* score on the TAKS reading test!
    10. I can't resist — thank God it's Friday. :)

    So ... what are you grateful for? Do tell.

    Wednesday, April 2, 2008

    the kristen card.

    I just love Google Alerts.

    You complete a four-blank form, and Google will email you the latest relevant results for whatever you said you wanted to search for. For example, you can use Google Alerts to follow a developing news story as it happens, dish the daily scoop on your favorite (or not) celebrity, or keep up on what's happening in your industry or with a competitor.

    Or, if you're a little more self-obsessed (comme moi), then you can watch wherever your name happens to pop up on the wwweb weekly.

    So today, I received my once-a-week Google Alerts e-message, and this darling item showed up: the Kristen Card, handmade by Bending Peak and available to buy by Etsy (another awesome website — an e-marketplace for buying and selling all things handmade; it's easy breezy to spend hours browsing around here!) for a paltry $2.00 + $2.00 s&h.

    I don't know about you, but it makes me smile. :)

    So ... whereabouts do you show up on the Internet? Do share.

    Posting P.S.: Thursday morning, Google Alerts sent me an e-message about this posting. Ha!!

    go green, save green.

    Just passing along a link I received from Oprah (my personal friend ... ok, one of my personal inspirations) ... calls itself "the consumer's guide to the green revolution," and offers environmental news, tips & advice, and information about green homes, green cuisine and living green, as well as something called the weird weather watch (not as fun as it sounds; it's a photoblog of climate change). Interesting and informative to just click around this website.

    But — bonus!! — this month, in honor of Earth Day on the 22nd, is featuring 30 days of green products coupons, deals and discounts, good for all of April. Click through for some good opportunities to add more green to your life while using less green.

    Tuesday, April 1, 2008

    better late.

    As a person with some lateness issues, I love this "Nugget of Goodness" from Carrie Contey, Ph.D., & Bernadette Noll, Mother of Four:

    Better late than never, the saying goes.
    Because it's never too late for ...
    • notes of thanks.
    • expressions of love.
    • self-care.
    • words of gratitude.
    • connecting with family.
    • getting more rest.
    • saying you're sorry.
    Wow. How liberating, inspiring and true is that??

    celebrate the everday — april.

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

    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.