Monday, June 30, 2008

this means you.

OK, here's what turned up on my grace card this week (I pull a new one every Monday morning), and I just had to share:

Step into the light.
You are a gift to the world.

Now go to your mirror every day for the next month, and repeat until you believe it enough to do it.


sounds like 'air guitar,' but much, much cooler.

Why I'm just now hearing about this, I've got no idea, but in India, the country's biggest automaker (Tata Motors, hee hee) is already manufacturing the world's first commercial compressed air-powered vehicle. The AirCar was developed by ex-Formula One engineer Guy Nègre, and uses compressed air — yes, just plain old garden-variety air — to push its engine's pistons.

Apparently, it was initially introduced about a year ago, but it seemed unlikely it might ever make it to the U.S. due to a bevy of stumbling blocks. Number one, though refueling is quick, simple and cheap (like, $2 for the whole tank — seriously), it must be done at a gas station equipped with custom air-compressor units, so there's a huge infrastructure issue. You can refuel by plugging the car into the electrical grid, but it takes about four hours to fill up, and the car's driving range is only about 125 miles — which means a road trip from, say, Austin to Dallas would entail a four-hour plug-in pit stop around Waco. Third, the car's lightweight, glued-together fiberglass construction didn't seem like a safe bet in crash tests. And finally, Americans would probably balk at a) the original model's itty-bitty size and b) its 68 mph self-imposed speed limit.

*BUT* the mother of invention is hard at work somewhere, because it now looks like the little gas-free ride that could actually will, American-style. Zero Pollution Motors expects to produce America's first air-powered car no later than 2010, aiming to manufacture about 10,000 AirCars a year. According to Popular Mechanics, ZPM wants to make the debut model a $17,800, 75-horsepower-equivalent, six-seat modified version of the original developers' CityCAT (pictured), with a dual-energy engine that will let the vehicle travel as far as 1,000 miles at up to 96 mph with every teensy-weensy fill-up of air and either traditional gasoline, ethanol or biofuel. And the family-size, four-door CityCAT is already undergoing standard safety tests a la Europe . . .

Personally, I can't wait to see what colors it comes in . . . I'm thinking maybe green??

Friday, June 27, 2008

a woman (& her legs) worth remembering.

She was born Tula Ellice Finklea in Amarillo, Texas, in 1922. She eventually became Cyd Charisse, the dancer and actress for whom ZZ Top's anthem "Legs" might have been penned — for she had legs, man, and she sure knew how to use them.

If you're into the era of the MGM musical, then you might know Cyd Charisse as the vamp seducing Gene Kelly in Singin' in the Rain's "Broadway Melody" ballet sequence (1952), or as Kelly's leading lady in Brigadoon (1954) . . . or maybe as Fred Astaire's partner in The Band Wagon (1953) or Silk Stockings (1957). Regardless, once you've seen the woman hold her own alongside one of these dance masters, it tends to leave you with a breathless "Wow."

Tula's nickname, "Sid" (the spelling later changed by MGM to "Cyd," in order to add an air of mystery), came from one of her sibling's attempts to call her "Sis." She was a sickly child who began dance lessons at six to help build up her strength from a bout of polio. Naturally gifted, she was studying ballet in Los Angeles by 12, and by age 14, was dancing with the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo.

World War II led to the breakup of the ballet company, and Cyd returned to LA, quickly being signed as the resident MGM ballet dancer. Her now-famous pairings with Astaire and Kelly followed — in her autobiography, Cyd offered her "honest comparison [of the] dance geniuses. ... I'd say they were the two greatest dancing personalities who were ever on-screen. But it's like comparing apples and oranges. They're both delicious."

Other career highlights include her Broadway debut — at age 70 — as the aging ballerina in the musical version of Grand Hotel, and her being presented in 2006 with the National Medal of Arts, the highest official U.S. honor available in the arts.

Cyd Charisse died of an apparent heart attack June 17th, at the age of 86. She left behind her husband of almost 60 years, singer Tony Martin, and two sons, Nicky Charisse and Tony Martin, Jr.

Dance in peace, Cyd.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

thankful thursday.

It seems I sort of skipped Father's Day during my recent blog break, so today, I want to offer up the top ten things I'm grateful for in the best dad I know, my sweet husband.

1. He's a fabulous father to our two children.
2. He's one of the kindest people I've ever known.
3. He's almost infinitely patient.
4. He's hilarious, and has no trouble doing what must be done for a laugh.
5. He loves words as much as and the same way as I do.
6. He has one of the most beautiful singing voices ever.
7. He loves animals as much as and the same way I do.
8. He's a yellow-dog Democrat.
9. He has an amazingly well-developed sense of fairness.
10. He has a well-developed sense of security, too.
11. He's the world's most likable guy.
12. He's way smarter than me, but never makes me feel like it.
13. He believes in me.
14. He gets me (this is *HUGE*).
15. He lets me hold the remote control.

OK, so maybe there are many more than ten . . . which is a good thing, especially considering we've been married for 13 years and counting! I'll stop counting my spousal blessings at 15 today, and just count myself as one lucky wife! :)

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

self-care: living large.

The Universe is hinting at me today to offer a little morsel from the wonderful book, The Mother's Guide to Self-Renewal: How to Reclaim, Rejuvenate and Re-Balance Your Life, by Austin author and life coach Renée Trudeau. The book is available at Renée's website, at, or locally at Book Woman, Book People or The Crossings.

The following is from chapter eight, Outrageous Living: Reclaiming Adventure in Your Life.

Experiencing and embracing our adventurous selves is a great way to t reconnect with and nurture our essence. Often, when we have kids, we think we should "act parental," and squelch our desire to try new things. Where did that come from?! Pushing ourselves a little beyond our comfort zones can be healthy, energizing and inspiring, and can:
  • make you feel alive;
  • give you a new perspective;
  • open up your mind to what is possible;
  • breathe new life into relationships;
  • remind you of who you really are;
  • inspire your children and friends to try living beyond their comfort zones.
What is the one thing you've always wanted to try, but never have? Take a solo trip, learn to play a musical instrument, learn to speak a new language, go back to school, complete a triathlon, grow a vegetable garden, write a children's book, go skinny-dipping under a full moon??

I challenge you to explore and reconnect with your essence by spreading your wings and trying something new. Spend a few minutes thinking of two ways you want to inject a sense of adventure into your life over the next three months. Get a girlfriend to do the same, share your ideas and help one another follow through.

I'll be thinking of mine, and will share them within the next week or so . . . how about you?

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

the power of two: eat right, do right.

From the ABC World News Tonight series "The Power of Two" . . .

Two powerful things you can do to eat healthier:

(1) Eat more "slow" food
(as opposed to fast food; prepare, sit down for and savor your meals); and
(2) Eat more local food.

Here's the video story:

Here's further information about the slow food movement:

And here's where to find farmers' markets, family farms and other sources of sustainably grown food where you live:

Two powerful things you can do to fight hunger:

(1) Add one extra item to your cart every time you go to the grocery store, collect the items and donate them to a food bank; and
(2) Give $5 annually to international relief agencies that give a hand up to the poor.

Here's the video story:

Here's more information about America's national food bank network:

And here are two agencies working to help the world's poor through self-reliance resources:
CARE International:
Heifer International:

Small changes can lead to big differences!!

Monday, June 23, 2008

how to be happy, lesson #8.

Get a hobby.

Surveys of thousands of adults show that people who have a hobby are 6% more likely to rate their lives favorably. (Mookherjee, 1997)

Hobbies are a steady source of interest and provide two essential ingredients in life: consistency and fun.

Personally, I scrapbook. I'm an utter scrapbooking geek. I might qualify as a scrapbooking addict of sorts.

So what is it that I love about scrapbooking? Ah, let me count the ways . . . I love the creativity — taking disparate things (photos, words, paper, embellishments) and making something beautiful and whole and meaningful from them. I love the camaraderie (shout out to my scrappy sisters!). I love the collecting (i.e., shopping). And I love doing it all so our family's memories may be preserved for my children, as well as for generations I'll never know, but who might feel like they know me a little through my pages.

So, got hobby? What do you love about it? How does it move you?

P.S. The above layout isn't mine; it belongs to scrapbooking hero/life artist Ali Edwards, from whom 
I recently took an amazing all-day class. Thanks for being such an incredible inspiration, Ali!! 

by David Niven, Ph.D.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

happy summer.

So for the past ten days, I've taken an unexpected blogging break — I'm chalking it up to a combination of Mercury's last gasps in retrograde (which, according to, "sends communications, travel, appointments, mail and the www into a general snarlup!") and the long-awaited longest day of the year, the Summer Solstice.

Still, the world didn't stop turning during my absence — blogfodder is piling up all around us (remind me to soapbox about the newest addition over at the Spears' trailer, will you?) . . . but for today, I'll ease back into the cyber-saddle with a couple of summer-oriented items I'm feeling the need to share.

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

What's your summer going to be about? Renée Trudeau planted this seed with me a few weeks ago: If you were to choose a personal theme for summer '08, what would it be? If you were putting on a t-shirt this summer that said, "Summer of ..." how would you complete it?

I let this question bounce around up in my noggin for a while, and the answer I kept coming back to was The Summer of Summer.

Yes, this summer, I'm having a summer. Not a summer off (since it's not showing signs of becoming the Summer of Independent Wealth), but a real summer. A summer with trips to the neighborhood pool at minimum once a week, with occasional afternoons earmarked exclusively for reading, with a personal retreat to Fredericksburg to celebrate and contemplate my 41st birthday.

So that the close of August doesn't hit me upside with head with, What did I do this summer?, I made a checklist of what I want to do this summer — excluding serious stuff like hit my goal weight and finish organizing my office, and including fun stuff like the above examples, plus:
  • Go to the movies on my own on a weekday afternoon.
  • Go to the Oasis with my husband for a sunset supper.
  • Go to the bead store with my daughter and make a new anklet (beach-y,sea-washed colors, I'm thinking).
  • Go with my family to see the Round Rock Express play (we've already got tix for August).
  • Go with my family to Sea World San Antonio.
  • Go to San Antonio another time on my own to visit my dear friend, Nicki.
  • Surprise the kids and take them for ice cream after they've already gone to bed.
  • Take my kids to the library (we tend to be bookstore folks, though some of my fondest childhood memories are library-oriented).
  • At their request, take my kids to the bookstore, the dinosaur store (Whole Earth Provision Co.), the Austin Zoo, Pump It Up & Volente Beach.
  • Take our puppy to the dog park.
It's a longish list, I realize, and I'm approaching it with a do-as-much-as-I-can-without-it-creating-stress attitude.

So, what's your summer tee say, and what's your list look like?

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

I clipped the following from body+soul magazine recently because it spoke to me; maybe it applies to you and where you are, too:

Let Yourself Grow
Somewhere between the life you have and the life you want lies the quiet seed of potential. With each new thing you do — the friend you make, the garden you plant, the risks you take — it begins to open up. ... But like all tender young things, it requires enough attention, enough rest, enough sustenance to thrive. For now, give yourself plenty of what you need — maybe even a little extra. Get more sleep. Take a chance. Taste something new. And watch things grow.

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

By the way, we can all rest easier as of July 4th, when the final traces of retrograded Mercury disappear and we return to our regularly scheduled astrological programming . :)

Thursday, June 12, 2008

good stress, good. fire, bad.

My dear friend and balance mentor Renée Trudeau and her book, The Mother's Guide to Self-Renewal, were part of a June 5th U.S. News & World Report article about the silver lining of stress. Interesting piece, especially for we who have accepted — nay, embraced — stress as an essential element of life. Some highlights:

— In normal doses, adrenaline and other 'fight or flight' hormones improve performance and seem to even protect health. They increase alertness and motivate you to get things done by quickening the heartbeat, improving blood flow to the brain, and enhancing vision and hearing. And in small amounts, studies suggest, they boost the immune system and may protect against age-related memory loss by keeping brain cells alive. University of Texas researchers recently found that those engaged in challenging and creative work enjoy better health — the equivalent to being nearly seven years younger.

— The problem with overwhelming stress? In the short term, the rush of stress hormones can make people less productive, even mentally paralyzed. Think writer's block. When the overload becomes chronic, heart disease, depression and an impaired immune system can result.

— The ultimate goal is to hit a stress response appropriate for a given situation: You want to be in low gear when you're, say, watching TV, medium when you're doing carpool, and high — but not overdrive — when you're under a deadline crunch.

— Biology undoubtedly plays a role in how easily you hit the target .... But modifiable beliefs and expectations factor in, too. ... 'Buddhists have this idea that every time we breathe, the world changes,' Robert Rosen [author of Just Enough Anxiety] says. A philosophy of acceptance allows them to make peace with what they can't control — like an earthquake, inflation or an oppressive political regime.

— Successfully striking a balance between acceptance and that need for control is what most separates the healthfully stimulated from the stress-crazed. The former feel like captains of their own ship, while the latter feel like passengers. ... It's all about being proactive rather than placing blame — as much as we'd like to put it on our parents — or sitting back and feeling helpless.

Click here for the whole article, including tips on how to achieve balance aboard the stress see-saw . . .

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

happiness is a cute shoe.

I wear a size 11 shoe, so I'm no Carrie Bradshaw when it comes to footwear. Sure, I try to find the cutest shoes I can, but being a size above and beyond the "norm" severely limits the selection. Though nowadays, I must confess, it seems more and more shoemakers are beginning to provide sizes for the double-digit girls like me . . .

So imagine my joy when I went to to try to order this darling dotty number in an 11, and they actually had it! I had seen these shoes in a couple of different catalogues and a couple of different stores around town, but never in an 11. So I wasn't sure the manufacturer offered them, but they do, and I did, and now they're mine!

The icing on this tasty little cake? They're made from all environmentally friendly materials -- hemp, organic cotton, water-based glues and ortholite/recycled car tire pedbeds (yes, the outsole used to be an actual tire on an actual car). Cool, huh? and they're keeping me looking cool this summer, too . . . :)

Monday, June 9, 2008


They say what people remember best about others they come into contact with is their first impression, and their last.

So let's hope what we -- and posterity -- remember best about Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign is the last impression she left: one of grace, unity and amazing historical import.

Last month, as Senator Clinton's campaign was beginning to show signs of genuine distress, one of her most vocal naysayers, editorialist extraordinaire Arianna Huffington, wrote a wonderful piece about how, even though defeated for the Democratic nomination and ultimately the presidency, Clinton's campaign was a true victory for women.

Writes Huffington:

"But the greatest triumph of Clinton's campaign -- a complete triumph -- is the example she has set for the next generation. And not just for young women; her dedication, perseverance, and indefatigable drive make her a role model for young men as well.

"Much has been made of the generational divide in the Clinton-Obama battle, with older women rallying to Clinton and younger women drawn to Obama. But the impact of her candidacy transcends this division. I've seen this very clearly in the reaction of my oldest daughter.

"She voted for the first time in this year's California primary, casting her ballot for Obama. Yet hardly a day passes without her speaking with admiration, almost awe, about Hillary Clinton -- how she manages to get up every morning, no matter how hard things get for her, and keep following her dream.

"I've written a lot about fear and fearlessness, and how fearlessness is not the absence of fear -- it's the mastery of fear. It's all about getting up one more time than we fall down. Has any public figure embodied this more powerfully and compellingly than Hillary Clinton?"

If nothing else -- and honestly, there's plenty of something else -- Hillary never let the bastards get her down. And that represents true inspiration for us all.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

laughter is the best.

OK, I've been trying to organize my blog postings a little so as not to repeat the same features too often, and to try to present a balanced mix of information about being connected with happiness, healthiness, gratitude, other women, other moms and the environment, plus whatever else might come up.

So Tuesdays are loosely scheduled as my day to post about women's health topics . . . so I loosely offer the following, which has nothing to do with health other than it cracked me up (as The Onion almost always does), and laughter is really the best tonic for whatever ails you, isn't it?

Click through to read "Report: Women Increasingly Choosing Dead-End Careers Over Dead-End Relationships," from just over a week ago. Here's an excerpt, too close to the truth not to be hilarious:

"Avoiding dying alone at all costs is no longer the primary goal for many of today's women," Detweiller said. "Every year, millions of educated females discover that they can be just as underappreciated and ignored in the workplace as they can while doting on loutish and inattentive boyfriends."

And here, to get you through midweek, is a sampling of other women-oriented stories from The Onion:


Monday, June 2, 2008

how to be happy, lesson #7.

Be positive.

Studies show that the beliefs and attitudes a person maintains are a much, much better indicator of happiness than the number of good or bad events the person has experienced. (Chen, 1996)

Wherever you are, be the person who exudes optimism, and you'll find it reflected backatcha.

If you're facing a challenge - whether it's completing a put-off project at work or scaling Machu Picchu - what sort of people do you want around you? Debbie Downers who remind you why you're likely to fail, or Pollyannas who remind you of the reasons you'll probably succeed? I know, I know - Pollyannas and their perpetual perkiness can be pesky (say that three times fast!), but think about the people you like to be around, the people who are a joy to be around. What common characteristic do they share? Do they continually expect the worst? Afraid not. We're all attracted to people who approach life with sunny expectations.

Living a satisfied life is itself a defining challenge within our own lives - and it's a challenge best faced with optimism.

by David Niven, Ph.D.

Which reminds me of a recent blog posting by my dear friend and mystical sister, Sister Mystic Susan Morrow, regarding the current daily drone of economic bad news and how it's a self-fulfilling prophecy . . . click through to "Talk of Recession Harmful to the Economy" and consider an economic attitude adjustment today!! :)

Sunday, June 1, 2008

celebrate the everyday - june.

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

June, maybe because it holds the official start of summer, also has several (non-)work-related holidays, including:

  • June 2 - Leave the Office Early Day
  • June 19 - Recess at Work Day
  • June 20 - Take Your Dog to Work Day
  • June 30 - Please Take My Children to Work Day
And, just in case you're searching for something to celebrate besides getting off of work . . .
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.