Thursday, July 31, 2008

smile, breathe & go slowly.

Ah, the sounds-simple rules of living a Zen existence from Vietnamese Zen Buddhist monk, teacher, author, poet and peace activist Thich Nhat Hanh.

For folks who desire a little more detail and direction, one of my favorite blogs, Zen Habits, has a neat little piece titled "12 Essential Rules to Live More Like a Zen Monk" - and I don't know about you, but my crazybusymommywriter life can always use more Zen-monkedness (not to be confused with Zen-monkiness, notes my husband across the kitchen table . . . which may be even rarer, as a Zen-practicing monkey seems highly unlikely, really). But I digress . . .

Anyway, here are blogger Leo Babauta's absolute do-Zen:
1. Do one thing at a time.
2. Do it slowly and deliberately.
3. Do it completely.
4. Do less.
5. Put space between things.
6. Develop rituals.
7. Designate time for certain things.
8. Devote time to sitting.
9. Smile and serve others.
10. Make cleaning and cooking become meditations.
11. Think about what is necessary.
12. Live simply.

If your life is like mine, then you'll want to be careful not to incorporate too much simplification too quickly - not being familiar with the feeling, you might accidentally oversimplify and put yourself into a coma or something.

Just choose one rule to follow, just for today. Number one is a good first step - mash the multitasking monster and today, try doing one thing at a time. You may be surprised at how it feels - you might even remember to smile, breathe or go slowly. :)

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

sweet mother of dog.

OK, maybe not impressive in the same way as Dame Helen's physique, but a touching tale (tail?) of the healing power of maternal instinct, nonetheless.

Here's Isabella, a giving golden retriever from Caney, Kansas, who has adopted three needy tiger cubs abandoned by their birthmother.

The cubs were born Sunday at Safari Zoological Park, but their mother quit caring for them within a day. Isabella, who recently weaned her own litter of puppies, stepped in and stepped up – the adoptive mama licks, feeds and cleans the cubs just like they're her own.

Gee, I love an adoption success story. ;)

there is nothing like a dame.

I guess I should be questioning why the un-retouched image of a 62-year-old woman looking red hot in a bikini is newsworthy, but I can't overcome my overwhelming "You GO, girl!!" reaction long enough to get there from here.

Here's Oscar winner Dame Helen Mirren, coming up on 63 and holidaying with her husband in Puglia at the southern tip of Italy on July 21st.

Sure, she's never had children and it's her full-time job to look good, but she looks good. Gives one hope . . . inspiration, even, for the next quarter-century or so, doesn't it??

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

you can't drink from a styrofoam cup.

An interesting tidbit of green clarification from The Dow Chemical Company:

Dow has been making STYROFOAM brand foam for 60 years, and we’d like to set the record straight. STYROFOAM is a registered trademark of The Dow Chemical Company for its line of extruded foam products made from 100 percent pure polystyrene foam. STYROFOAM brand foam is not used in the manufacture of disposable foam products, such as cups, coolers, meat trays and packing peanuts. Blue* STYROFOAM brand insulation creates more energy-efficient homes around the world, and in North America alone, over two million homes are insulated with STYROFOAM insulation, resulting in $200 million per year in energy savings, as well as significant reduction in fossil-fuel consumption and carbon-dioxide emissions. STYROFOAM brand foam can be reused and recycled, and all production generated scrap is recycled at the point of manufacture.

Who knew??

just for today . . .

. . .
  • Do not be angry.
  • Do not worry.
  • Be grateful.
  • Work with integrity.
  • Be kind to others (and to yourself!).

    The five principles of Reiki (a Japanese spiritual practice), and "the secret method of inviting good fortune/the tonic for all disease."

    Solid advice for having a happy day, too.
    Hope you are!    :)

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

tagged, I'm it.

An ABC tag from my dear friend Stephanie, who took me out to lunch today in celebration of my recent birthday - thanks, Steph!! :)

A - Attached or single? extremely attached
B - Best friend? forced to name only one, Diana
C - Cake or pie? mmmmm, pie (chocolate cream, icebox or pecan)
D - Day of choice? Friday
E - Essential item? MacBook Pro
F - Favorite color? plum
G - Gummy bears or worms? bears
H - Hometown? Austin
I - Favorite indulgence? rice krispie treats
J - January or July? July (my birthday month)
K - Kids? 2 + puppy + fish
L - Life isn't complete without? our little fam
M - Marriage date? May 21, 1995
N - Number of brothers and sisters? 1 sister, 1 brother, 1 birth-half-sister
O - Oranges or apples? apples (fuji, one a day)
P - Phobias and fears? heights, something tragic happening to my kids
Q - Quote? "Everyday life has become my prayer." - Sarah Ban Breathnach
S - Season of choice? spring!
T - Tag 3 people? nah. :)
U - Unknown fact about me? I've never - really, never - done illegal drugs of any kind at all, ever.
V - Vegetable? asparagus
W - Worst habit? toss-up btwn. diet coke addiction & sleep deprivation (might they be connected?)
X - X-ray or ultrasound? ultrasound
Y - Your favorite food? chocolate cheesecake
Z - Zodiac sign? Cancer (the crab - go figure) ;D

Sunday, July 20, 2008

the year half-full.

I'm slowing down my blogging a little this week for some self-reflection (is that redundant?) around three July events: 1) the midway mark of the year, which happened July 1st; 2) the midway mark of the summer, which happened last Wednesday, July 16th; and 3) what I hope is not quite the midway mark of my life, but my birthday nonetheless, yesterday, July 19th.

Something I try to do every summer (with limited success) is go on a retreat all on my own. I go out to a little guesthouse in Fredericksburg and just be with me, myself and I. I spend only about three days total, so I think long and hard about how I want to spend it. This year, I intend to sleep, read, exercise a little, shop a little, eat healthily (not too much time at the brewpub!), hang at the pool, scrapbook, and work at organizing my itunes and photo files. I also want to do some journaling - inspired by life coach Cheryl Richardson - about my 2008 to date.

Here are some of the questions I'll be pondering, with Cheryl's directive in mind to focus on what's worked rather than on what still needs to change - how my cup is filling up rather than how much it might still lack.

How have you taken better care of your body, your mind, your heart or your spirit?
What positive changes have you made to your home or office?
Are you fulfilling your creative needs? How?
What changes have you made to better honor your integrity?
Are you letting things be easy?

And here's Cheryl's related 'action challenge:'

Make a list of five (or more) positive changes you've made this year. Open up a new computer file right now labeled "My Success List" and put the five items on the list. It's extremely important to put this list in writing, sending a message to yourself that you're worth the effort. And as your self-worth rises, the world responds accordingly; you become a magnet, attracting better life experiences.

Share your achievements with a friend or family member. Then, buy yourself a gift, spend an afternoon at the beach, go to the movies, share a good meal with a friend. Don't just move on to the next to-do item or goal. Pause and reward yourself for all your hard work!

Upon my return, I'll post my answers to all ten questions, as well as my five positive changes . . . meanwhile, think it over - what are your five accomplishments for the first half of the year?

Thursday, July 17, 2008

today, you . . .

Will, today you . . .

. . . were tormented about Silly Hair Day at camp, torn between not participating and getting laughed at (though we tried to explain laughter is natural and not personal at a purposely silly event) . . .
. . . ate blueberries and a piece of toast with peach honey butter, along with "red juice" (cranapple) for breakfast . . .
. . . still had a gunky nose, though you still seem to feel fine . . .
. . . went to camp with six Scooby Doo bandaids and two Barbie bandaids along your right shin, to cover up the scrape you got yesterday from the side of the sandbox . . .
. . . spent the afternoon with Mommy out on a "date" - to BookPeople (bought a Barbie Mermaidia coloring book with sparkly stickers), Whole Foods Market for a treat (picked a cup of raspberry mousse), and up to WFM's playscape, which unfortunately is outside and unshaded; we both agreed it was way too hot to play there, so we picked up a little lemonade, stopped by Randall's for some mid-week groceries and came home to watch Noggin . . .
. . . stretched up on your tippy toes to smooch me sweetly while we waited at the pharmacy counter . . .
. . . were the only one to remember the fried green beans we forgot to order as our regular appetizer at Friday's . . .
. . . mentioned for the first time Clifford's "love spots," the ever-growing places where his fur has been worn off by constant loving.

Rachel, today you . . .

. . . remembered to put on your swimsuit underneath your clothes for camp, but forgot to put your swimshirt into your bag . . .
. . . ate your breakfast not as slowly as you have the past few days, much to your mommy's relief . . .
. . . wanted little pigtails for Silly Hair Day, though they're really just darling, not silly . . .
. . . chatted incessantly about your master plan for an Animal "Club" you want to create, complete with a clubhouse out in a vacant lot close to our house, and a broad spectrum of homeless pets you want to care for there until you can find good homes for them . . .
. . . politely requested no more cheese & ham tacos for lunch . . .
. . . wore a huge, floppy, pink patchwork hat to supper at Friday's . . .
. . . spoke of your love for chocolate mousse . . .
. . . practiced the piano and sounded rather good at it . . .
. . . bestowed upon me a big, long hug at bedtime, when I told you the truth - you are such a special girl.

Monday, July 14, 2008

for you, wonderful women of my life.

I've got five days of forty left.

And as I approach my next birthday - officially and firmly planting both feet into my forties (!) - I can't help but think of last year at this time, when a group of my wonderful women friends came to Austin for a girls' weekend, wrapping me up in the best-ever blanket of celebration, appreciation and love.

It was an amazing event for me. But even more amazing for me is their very presence in my life, day in, day out.
You girls - and you know who you are - you bless me. And I love you for it, and for you.

So here's a little something that made the e-rounds a while ago (I've eliminated the mismatched clipart and cloying cherubs for your protection), that brings you all to mind - and heart.

Life happens. Time passes. Distance separates.
Jobs come and go. Colleagues forget favors. Careers end.
Children grow up. Parents die.
Love waxes and wanes. Hearts break.

But sisters are there, no matter how how many years or miles come between you.
A girlfriend is never farther away than needing her.

When you must walk that lonesome valley, and you must walk it alone,
the women in your life will line the valley's rim,
cheering you on, praying for you, pulling for you, helping push you along,
and waiting for you with open arms at the other side.
Sometimes, they will break the rules and walk beside you, or come in and carry you out.

Girlfriends, sisters,
daughters, mothers, granddaughters, grandmothers,
sisters-in-law, daughters-in-law, mothers-in-law,
aunts, nieces, cousins
and all "family," no matter how extended or extensive,
bless our lives.

When we wandered into this adventure called "womanhood,"
there was no way we could have known the amazing joys or incredible sorrows ahead,
nor did we know how much we would need each other.
Every day, we need each other still.

I'm happy to need and be needed by you. Life is good. :)

Sunday, July 13, 2008

gunn's a-blazing.

OK, just had to send a shout-out to Project Runway's FAB-ulous fashion guru, Tim Gunn, who's spotlighted in Time's "Ten Questions" feature. The question is, First Lady fashion-wise, Michelle Obama or Cindy McCain? Tim's answer is as fabulous as he is:

"No contest. From a fashion viewpoint, Michelle Obama looks so comfortable and relaxed in her style and her fashion, and she exudes that. She has a presence that gives you confidence in her. Cindy McCain looks like someone has twisted her ponytail into a knot and tried to give her a facelift."

This is exactly what I've been saying about Cindy McCain for months - ha!
Just FYI, Project Runway Season 5 premieres this Wednesday, July 16th, 8p Central, on Bravo.  :D

Thursday, July 10, 2008

two sides of the same dang coin.

I just completed reading the brilliant, hilarious, progressively Presbyterian Anne Lamott's third book of thoughts on faith, Grace (Eventually), and dog-earred a pair of passages I want to preserve by posting them.

The first is an excerpt from an essay titled "Chirren," about her relationship with her newborn son:

I loved him intimately, sight unseen. Yet when he lay on my chest for the first time, part of me felt as if someone had given me a Martian baby to raise, or a Martian puppy. And I had no owner's manual, no energy, no clue as to what I was supposed to do.

The other part of me felt as though I were holding my own soul.

The second is an excerpt from an essay titled "The Born," about how one can believe in God and the right to choose without being a hypocrite:

Most women like me would much rather use our time and energy fighting to make the world safe and just for the children we do have and do love, not to mention the children of New Orleans and Darfur.

... [A]s a Christian and a feminist, the most important message I can carry and fight for is the sacredness of each human life, and reproductive rights for all women are a crucial part of that. It is a moral necessity that we not be forced to bring children into the world for whom we cannot be responsible and adoring and present. We must not inflict life on children who will be resented; we must not inflict unwanted children on society.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

today, i . . .

. . . got a great new writing project.
. . . got a yelled-across-the-play-yard "Mommy! I love you!" from my sweet son.
. . . didn't lose my patience with my daughter while she dramaticized over having her eyes dilated.
. . . created a new beachy-colored beaded anklet I love.
. . . made a healthy supper of tuna, brown rice and seasoned peas for my family.
. . . got complimented on my new shirt (twice), new specs (twice - see photo) and overall style (wow).
. . . laughed with my husband about how when we're both working at our laptops at the kitchen table, we look just like we're playing Battleship.
. . . didn't do my neighborhood watch block captain duties (I'm a week late!).
. . . ate a little too much.
. . . thought about how all families are mixed bags.
. . . thought about how lucky - and grateful - I am, especially for the family I've got.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

the power of two: manage your money.

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

Two powerful things you can do to make the most of your money:

(1) Pay yourself first - pay your savings before paying your bills; and
(2) Pay in cash rather than credit.

Here's the video story:

Here's how paying yourself first may be the number-one secret to being rich:

And here's a sixty-second guide to de-debting yourself:

Small changes can lead to big differences!!

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

c'mon, get happy.

Here’s a little something to hold onto until November (or until we actually reach Hell in this handbasket we’re clinging to, whichever comes first) . . . a new survey says the world is getting happier.

Really. Researchers have been asking the same two questions of about 350,000 people in 52 countries for the past 17 years: 1) All things considered, would you say you’re very happy, rather happy, not very happy or not at all happy? 2) How satisfied are you with your life as a whole these days?

And amazingly, the “Happiness Index” created from the responses went up for 40 of the countries, going down for only 12 of them.

Scientists are surprised, since until now, they believed no matter what happens or what we do, basic happiness levels are stable and don’t really change.

Why do they think so many people are getting happier? Their theories are three-fold: 1) Poor countries like China and India are experiencing economic booms; 2) dozens of medium-income countries have been democratized; and 3) there has been a remarkable rise in gender equality, and tolerance of minorities in developed societies.

The study clearly shows the world’s happiest societies are the ones in which people have the freedom to choose how to live their lives.

Denmark is the happiest country, according to the research, and Zimbabwe the unhappiest. The U.S. ranks 16th – maybe because, as a public opinion poll last April revealed, 81% of Americans say they believe the country is on “the wrong track” (the most negative response pollsters have gotten in the 25 years they’ve been conducting the poll).

So here’s to November!! :)

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

celebrate the everyday - july.

It's July, 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.