Monday, September 29, 2008

feeling grateful.

I'm thankful this Monday afternoon for:

1. real summertime-respite weather - *gorgeous.*

2. a real weekend sans work, hanging with the fam & getting stuff done around the house.

3. good clients. :)

4. playtime at the pool.

5. the change of seasons & the refocusing that comes with it.

6. the completion of giant projects & the time to do it.

7. my many reminders, big & little, to breathe, to see, to connect, to give as much attention, approval, appreciation & affection as I can, to live rather than just exist.

8. dogs.

9. fun stuff to look forward to.

10. everybody I love safe & well for today (knock knock knock on wood).

Sunday, September 28, 2008

i'm girl-crushin' on tina fey.

No sooner do I put up my Palin post - complete with the eeriest side-by-side photo comparison ever of Tina Fey and Alaska's governor - than Saturday Night Live kicks off another show with Fey's amazing impression of said guv (imitation the sincerest form of flattery? think again!), this time with a way-pregnant Amy Poehler as Katie Couric (who is not way-pregnant, fyi)  ... here it is, for your viewing amusement (go straight to 2:56 for the best guffaw):

Saturday, September 27, 2008

spoiler alert: railin' on palin.

I've been doing my darnedest not to be all hatin' on Sarah Palin, honest I have. No "Daily Im-Palin" here (luckily, the women of's Broadsheet blog have got it covered). And despite myself, I do like her 'do.

But it sure seems the more we hear about her, the less we hear from her, and vice versa. I'm actually approaching a point at which I'm newly maddened at the McCain camp for its stunningly sexist treatment of its own veep candidate. The way they've had her gagged in front of the media is downright disgraceful - I mean, if she's that much of a lingual liability, then they probably should have selected someone else for the position. So mistakes - or one massive one, anyway - were made. Just man up already and OWN IT.

Of course, I understand her handlers' trepidation when they let Palin loose last week with poor, pained Katie Couric, and some of the governor's responses came out sounding strangely familiar:

Hilarious, and yet scarily serious, folks.

So, if you're feeling the need for a little relief from Palin Meltdown Syndrome (the new PMS - all the dread and ten times the nausea!), here's a handful of nuggets to get you through to next Thursday's VP debate:

The Alaskan Women Reject Palin rally, held a couple of weeks ago to coincide with the governor's return to her homestate following her nomination acceptance, drew a crowd close to 1,500 - which, according to one Anchorage blogger, is HUGE: "In Anchorage, if you can get 25 people to show up at an event, then it's a success ... Never have I seen anything like it in my 17+ years of living here." Read the whole post here - it includes dozens of photos of the protest, which featured homemade signage such as "Jesus was a Community Organizer," "Candidate to Nowhere," "Voted for her Once - Never Again!!" and "Hockey Mama for Obama." My favorite, though, is the woman dressed up in a polar bear costume, holding a sign that says "Polar Bear Moms Say: No Palin."

Women Against Sarah Palin is a neat little blog - well-written, resource-ful, not too rabid - complete with inspirational quotations, live links to other worthwhile anti-Palin action/information websites, and an online petition to "say NO to Sarah Palin." I must confess, I'm not sure I could say it better than they have in said petition: "Sarah Palin's record is anti-woman. Feminism is not about simply achieving the power and status typically held by men. It's about protecting and supporting the rights of women of all classes, races, cultures and beliefs. Palin's record and beliefs do not align with this. She was chosen by John McCain specifically because he believes American women will vote for any female candidate, regardless of her qualifications. He is wrong." Sign up for some of that here.

Finally, a spectacular suggestion from the cerebral skirts over at Broadsheet: Go to the Planned Parenthood website and contribute in honor of Sarah. Just $5 will help this vital organization provide necessary services to women, men and families across America. And if you fill in her mailing address (Governor's Office, P.O. Box 110001, Juneau, AK, 99811-0001), then Planned Parenthood will send her a nice card letting her know about your generous gift.   ;)

Feeling better yet? Not quite? Well, keep the faith, rock the vote, and hope against hope we'll all be feeling much, much better come November 5th.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

final feel-good post o' the week.

From a favorite blog, Gretchen Rubin's The Happiness Project, six ways to do good in under five minutes:

1. Be friendly. Not hostile, rude, neutral or just polite. Give people a smile and a few kind words - it will cheer and energize you both.

2. Say "yes." If you can and you should, then do.

3. Say "no." If your answer is going to be no, then don't put it off. Put the other person out of his or her misery and just say it.

4. Sign up on the national organ donor registry. One minute that might literally save lives.

5. Lead others not into temptation. Encourage people trying to be true to their resolutions; don't urge them to eat the dessert, drink the martini, skip the workout or buy the two-paycheck pair of shoes.

6. Do someone else's chore. Fold a load of laundry or clean the coffeepot. It shows appreciation and thoughtfulness. And remember, what goes around, comes around.


Monday, September 22, 2008

be giving. live longer.

Now this from the research realm: According to a recent study of 2,000 people at the Buck Institute for Age Research, folks who volunteered for two or more organizations were 44% less likely to die compared with folks who didn't. Volunteering walloped exercising four times a week (30%) and going to religious services (29%) as ways to help yourself live longer. Another study showed that giving is second only to quitting smoking in the best ways to improve your health.

The reasons behind the giver-receiver relationship aren't completely clear, but recent research published in Molecular Psychiatry suggests nurturing others might feel good because it's rewarded by spikes of dopamine, the neurotransmitter linked to pleasure and cravings.

Researchers urge us to perform small, consistent acts of giving every day, with consciousness and intention; they say a daily practice of generosity will help you align your actions with your values (live with personal integrity), become more spiritually grounded and deepen your relationships with the people around you.

So, in the timeless wisdom of Supertramp ...
give a little bit, give a little bit of your love to me
I'll give a little bit, give a little bit of my love to you
there's so much we need to share, so send a smile and show you care ...


Friday, September 19, 2008

be grateful. be healthier.

According to a recent body + soul article, expressing gratitude does more than just make you feel happier - it can actually help you be healthier.

Researchers have discovered the regular practice of gratitude can have a huge affect on your health - including helping you sleep more restfully, experience fewer symptoms due to physical sickness, and spend more time exercising (just 'cause you feel like it!).

Other amazing side-effects recently confirmed via research ... gratitude can:
  • make life more enjoyable, more fulfilling and more deeply peaceful;
  • help you live in the moment;
  • make you feel better about your life overall;
  • make you feel more optimistic about your expectations for the future;
  • help you progress toward your goals;
  • reduce materialistic strivings;
  • help you strengthen relationships; and
  • inspire you to share, return a favor, and offer emotional support and help to others.
And one suggestion for boosting your gratitude practice:
Build a gratitude wall. Whenever you're moved by the spirit of gratitude, write down the source of your inspiration on a Post-it note and stick it up on the wall. Gradually, you'll create a mosaic of gratitude, with plenty to remind you of what makes your life special.

And, if you're really talented, then you can turn your gratitude Post-its into a mosaic of The King, as shown above.  :)

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

oh, how I miss a good ol' Texasism ...

... from Governor Ann Richards, especially during this particular political season.
Her dear friend and fellow Texan, Liz Smith, reminded me just how much I miss She of the White 'Do's Texas-flavored turns of phrase, in Smith's column last week:

"The roosters might crow, but the hens deliver."
That was the late, great former governor of Texas Ann Richards. This will go down in history as the first presidential campaign dominated by women - women who ran, women who lost, women who had greatness cynically thrust upon them, women who voted and didn't vote, women who made their voices heard.

According to Smith, Richards is also the politician - not surprisingly - who originated the whole swines-in-lipliner fad:

"Well, you can put lipstick on a hog and call it Monique, but it's still a pig."
Are you getting tired of this one? I just want to remind you that this is the exact quote made back in 1994 by the governor of Texas, Ann Richards (Ann was talking about how hard it was to elect women on the basis of "heart, ability and intellect," and she added that those things don't count without money to get women elected).

Leave it to Richards to leave her ever-hilarious mark on this historic election - even from beyond the grave.  :D

monday midnight gratitudes.

1. blissfully not-hot weather - alleluia & amen!!

2. spending the weekend with my family, perfectly safe & mostly dry, up in Dallas.

3. scrapbooking with my sister.

4. small-town Texas homemade pie (mmmm, pie).

5. 15 (!!) fuzzy little yellow-as-springtime ducklings widdle-waddling around the lakes close to my folks' house.

6. brilliant, hilarious women.

7. new business.

8. a successful bout of boundary-setting.

9. being appreciated.

10. reconnecting with me - physically, intellectually, emotionally, spiritually.

Monday, September 15, 2008

& now for something completely different ...

If you happened to miss the opening skit of this weekend's Saturday Night Live, then here it is - a positively hilarious bipartisan skewering of two amazing women by two amazing women for all women (guys, too) - the show at its very best. I recommend watching it once to marvel at Tina Fey's spot-on impression, and a second time just for Amy Poehler's reactive facial expressions.

**Brilliant.**  ;D

Thursday, September 11, 2008

remember. do better. feel better.

As we once again grieve as a nation for the thousands of Americans lost seven years ago today, I'm reminded of words I heard recently that rang ever so true:

Nothing heals grief like service.

So today, I urge you to conciously do something good for someone else - it'll make both of you feel good. Some ideas to get you going:

Hold a door.
Donate blood.
Send a thank-you note.
Compliment a stranger.
Leave a big tip.
Let a car merge in front of you.
Pay for the drive-thru order of the person behind you.
Make a charitable contribution.
Cancel a meeting (nobody likes them).
Listen to your kids with your full attention.
Call your mom.
Smile. All day. At everybody.
Be the change you wish to see in the world.

So, how will you bless someone today? Please share your great idea.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

on women online.

Interesting article a few weeks ago in the intrepid New York Times ... I found the info both empowering and disappointing.

The article, Woman to Woman, Online, written by Claire Cain Miller, is about the booming presence of women's websites and blogs, and how advertisers are wisely jumping aboard the broad-bandwagon to market to America's best little shoppers (that's us!).

According to the article, sites targeting women - from mommy blogs to fashion sites - grew 35% last year, faster than every other category except politics. This July, women's sites had 84 million visitors, 27% more than last July. Following suit (or skirt, as the case may be), advertisers this May placed 4.4 billion (yes, with a *b*) display ads on women's sites.

They've figured out what we've known for generations: Moms are the household decision-makers as far as purchasing power - we represent over half of the population and almost all of the buying.

So what about men? We all know how they need their screen time, right? But, according to the article, though men are heavy Web users, they don't tend to visit man-centric sites. For example, AOL's Living channel for women had 16.1 million unique visitors this June, while its Asylum website for men (gotta love just the name polarization - Living vs. Asylum! Well, at least they're not pigeonholing us, right, girls?) had a mere 3.3 million.

The pundits hypothesize that women are attracted to women's sites because - newsflash - we love to share, connect and chat. Men, not so much.

But advertisers aren't flocking to just any online gaggles; they want tried-and-true shallow-end topics like beauty, celebrities and love life. Why? Because, ladies, those are apparently the topics we trend toward, too. Sadly, women's sites concentrated on deeper issues like politics can't glean enough of an audience to garner ad attention.

Yahoo's girly section, Shine, for example, originally vowed to cover current events and avoid the stereotypical sex and diet tips fare ... but since its debut just six months ago, Shine has already had to refocus its content in order to stay afloat. Today, among its five most popular stories is "Top 5 Hollywood Mom Countdown" and "Can you be married to a wonderful man and still cheat?"

Are women finally being acknowledged as powerful, only to use our power to get the latest on Botox and Britney??

Just call them women's web*SIGH*ts.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

vote for alice.

Women's Equality Day was two weeks ago, August 26th, the 88th anniversary of the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. But it was a forwarded e-message I received from a girlfriend yesterday (thank you, Di!) that prompted me to explore the history of how American women gained the right to vote.

And I'm writing about that story today because there has never been a more important time for women to exercise their right to vote than the upcoming historic-no-matter-which-way-you-slice-it Presidential election.

It all began with a little Quaker girl named Alice. Well, actually, it began well before her, way back in 1869, when another Quaker, Susan B. Anthony, created the National Women's Suffrage Association (which eventually became the National American Woman Suffrage Association, or NAWSA) with friend Elizabeth Cady Stanton. But it was Alice Paul (above, at age 16), born in Mount Laurel, New Jersey, in 1885, who eventually led the charge that won us the right to vote.

Devoted Quakers, Alice's parents raised her with a belief in gender equality and the necessity of working to improve society. Her mother, Tacie, was a NAWSA member and often toted young Alice along to meetings. Alice's faith not only provided her with her belief in equality, but also gave her a rich legacy of activism and service to country.

Alice graduated first in her class from the Moorestown Friends School, and eventually earned
six (!!) college degrees: a Bachelor's degree in Biology at Swarthmore College (1905); a Master's in Sociology (1907) and a Doctorate in Economics (1912) at the University of Pennsylvania; a law degree at Washington College of Law (1922); and two advanced law degrees at American University (1927, 1928).

But it was a 1908 trip to England that really determined Alice's life direction - there, she met fellow American
Lucy Burns, and the two became involved in a militant faction of suffragists whose motto was "Deeds, not words." Their deeds were rather dastardly, like throwing rocks and smashing windows (Alice reportedly smashed dozens herself), fully intended to garner media coverage and public attention. Alice's antics got her arrested and imprisoned several times, where they protested with hunger strikes and were brutally force-fed.

But the abuse only steeled Alice's determination to reshape and re-energize the American campaign for women's empowerment. In 1912, Alice and Lucy joined NAWSA, which was putting almost all of its suffrage efforts into a state-by-state campaign. The pair took over the organization's federal suffrage amendment efforts, putting together a show-stopping publicity event - a massive parade of women marching up Pennsylvania Avenue, coinciding with Woodrow Wilson's Presidential inauguration. The parade definitely got media coverage - mostly because scores of male onlookers attacked the suffragists, both verbally and physically, while police looked on.

By 1916, Alice and Lucy had left NAWSA - which endorsed President Wilson - and created their own political party, the
National Woman's Party (NWP). The NWP organized "Silent Sentinels," women who stood out in front of the White House holding anti-Wilson banners. When the U.S. entered World War I in 1917, the women's Presidential protests were deemed unpatriotic; they were regularly attacked by angry mobs, and eventually jailed for "obstructing sidewalk traffic."

The convicted suffragists were incarcerated at Occoquan Workhouse, a Virginia prison. The women insisted they be treated as political prisoners, and staged a hunger strike. They were beaten and tossed into cells with the worst conditions imaginable. Alice and several other hunger strikers were repeatedly force-fed raw eggs through a tube until they vomited. Prison officials tried to have Alice declared insane and committed to an asylum.

But the women's strength and courage paid off. When the prison abuse of the suffragists was brought to light, the press, the public and some politicians began calling for not only their freedom, but also their right to vote. Woodrow Wilson reversed his position, too, announcing women's suffrage was urgently needed as a "war measure." Within two years, both the House and Senate passed the 19th Amendment.

Three-fourths of the states had to ratify the amendment in order to enact it; amazingly, it all came down to the vote of one man, 24-year-old Harry Burn, the youngest member of the Tennessee state assembly. Burn originally intended to vote against ratification, but changed his mind after receiving a telegram from his mother, urging his support of women's suffrage.

Alice's father, William, summed up his eldest daughter succinctly while she was still a teenager, saying, "Well, when there is a job to be done, I bank on Alice."

What might Alice and the brave women she led think of the way we use - or don't use - our right to vote? Regardless of whether you've got carpool duties or you've got to get to work or it's raining, regardless of whom you're voting for, honor these women, their sacrifices, their suffering, and this hard-fought battle. VOTE.

Alice Paul died, at the age of 92, in 1977 - I was just about to turn ten, which illustrates exactly how recently these awe-inspiring events happened. I wonder whether she ever got to see the Schoolhouse Rock gem, "Sufferin' 'til Suffrage" - my first exposure to the story of how American women fought for and got the right to vote? Enjoy.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

thankful thursday.

My top ten things to give thanks for today:

1. A peaceful approach to life, the universe & everything.

2. How moving my body moves my spirit, consistently & without fail.

3. Spending time in my kids' classrooms.

4. Rachel putting down Elvis Presley as her favorite actor on a school questionnaire, because "he thought of his family, friends & fans first."

5. Our little pocket neighborhood - love it here.

6. Great neighbors.

7. Will spelling his name "WYLL" for the first week of kindergarten (a little overzealous letter-learning).

8. Reading aloud nightly to my kids (Harry Potter & the Sorcerer's Stone currently).

9. People caring for my kids who "get" them & appreciate their specialness.

10. Finally completing some huge home & self projects - hello, home office!! :)

And you??

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

celebrate the everyday - september.

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

September 7National Grandparents' Day
September 13International Chocolate Day
September 16Hurricane Katrina National Day of Prayer & Remembrance
September 20Wife Appreciation Day
September 21Women's Friendship Day
September 22Family Day
September 24National Women's Health & Fitness Day
September 27Family Health & Fitness Day USA
September 28World Heart 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.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

the presidency - history? or hers?

The thing is, there seems to be much to like about GOP VP nominee Sarah Palin.

Never mind the fascinatingly diverse roster of roles she's played - high-school basketball point guard ("Sarah Barracuda"), beauty queen (Miss Congeniality, no less), sportscaster, hockey mom of five (one a child with Down Syndrome), lifetime member of the National Rifle Association, Blackberry juggler, small-town mayor, head of the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, government whistle-blower, political hero ("Saint Sarah"), Pentecostalist, Vogue model [see above], gettin'-after-the-good-ol'-boys governor. Palin is also, by most accounts, extremely likable, fairly fearless, genuine, practical and unflappable.

She's smart. She's scrappy. She's sassy. She's a straight-shooter, both figuratively and literally. She's not afraid to call a spade a spade, and quick to pick up the shovel herself to toss the bad ones out. She sold the governor's jet on eBay, for goodness' sake. And she looks like Tina Fey.

What's not to like? Ah, let me count the ways ...

She is for oil drilling within the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
She is against listing polar bears as an endangered species, is against protection for salmon from mining contamination, and is for the aerial shooting of wolves to raise moose populations for hunters (the girl loves a mooseburger, incidentally).
She does not believe global warming is caused by humans.
She is against same-sex marriage, and the extension of spousal benefits to same-sex partners.
She is against stem-cell research.
She has no national policy experience, and no foreign policy experience, except to have referred to the war in Iraq as "a task from God."

Most unfortunately and ironically, Palen says she is "as pro-life as any candidate can be." She is against abortion for incest and rape victims, but does support it in cases where the mother's life is in danger. She is a member of Feminists for Life, which is not against the use of contraception, but she is against sex ed.

Which is too bad for her 17-year-old daughter, Bristol, who is currently five months pregnant and unmarried (though presumably betrothed).

Which, let's face it, happens - in all sorts of families with all sorts of belief and value systems. Teenagers are teenagers, and nearly none are known for their consistently stellar decision-making capabilities.

But what gets me is the way the news was presented by the McCain-Palin campaign. "We're proud of Bristol's decision to have her baby," said Sarah and Todd Palin's statement. Proud of her decision to have her baby. You mean, she has a choice about whether to have her baby or not? Ohhhhhh, yeaaaah - that's why they call it "pro-choice."

Likewise, Palin herself was commended by anti-abortion groups on her decision to have her youngest son, despite his in-utero diagnosis of Down Syndrome. Again, Palin exercised her own right to choose, yet is fiercely opposed to extending that right to other women. She may be as right-wing as they come, but there's nothing right about that kind of hypocrisy.

No matter which party par-tays into the White House next January, it will be an awesome first: America will be led by either its first black President or its first woman Vice President. It's just a shame this historic step forward for U.S. women - the first woman on a Republican ticket, the second woman ever on a Presidential ticket - has been entrusted to someone so committed to holding women back.