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, 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

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

notes from the universe.

I believe the universe sends us messages. And if we're open to it, eyes and ears alert, we can see or hear whatever it may be. Sometimes, the message comes as a massive, life-changing event or revelation. But more often, I feel it comes in the most mundane little one-liners, lacking fanfare or even envelopes, easy to miss if you're not paying attention.

But boy, was I ever as I read through a weekly e-newsletter, and laughed aloud. See whether this "Marketing Minute" (from "Master Marketer" Marcia Yudkin) rings a bell for you, too:

In Deep Survival, author Laurence Gonzales writes about a U.S. Air Force Survival School instructor who pushed a group of pilots too hard out on a strenuous winter hike. Exhausted, the group suddenly lost the will to continue and sat down in a snowfield. As darkness approached, the instructor realized the pilots could die of hypothermia. Deeply fatigued himself, he managed to get a fire going, which awakened the group from its apathetic stupor.

"A survival situation is a ticking clock: You have only so much stored energy, and every time you exert yourself, you're using it up," writes Gonzales. "You should operate at about 60% of your normal level of activity, and rest and rehydrate frequently. The trick is to become extremely stingy with your scarce resources, balancing risk and reward, investing only in efforts that offer the biggest return."

That's a profound statement about stamina, that applies to any sort of long slog in business, too. When you're working hard at something day after day after day, don't push yourself to the limit. Creative, high-quality work requires resting and keeping some energy in reserve.

Seriously - sixty percent?? And to think, I've spent my Type A life trying to give the proverbial 110%!! No wonder I feel like I'm barely holding on sometimes - I'm not giving myself the necessary resources to survive.

Is this an epiphany moment for anyone else, or is it just me?

Friday, October 3, 2008

two nice girls.

OK, shame on me for such a misleading heading. Yes, they are two, but they're not "nice," and they're definitely not girls. Two brilliant, passionate, heroic women, one alive and kicking, one dead and sorely missed (both redheads, incidentally), is more like it. Here's a taste of writer Anne Lamott grieving the absence of larger-than-life liberal journalistic legend Molly Ivins (pictured) in this historical, hysterical campaign:

[Molly] would have had such a ball with Sarah Palin -- the trooper scandal, her love of moose (between buns), the flamboyantly botched television interviews, the bravery of people who hunt wolves for sport, from the air. Even though Molly was a Texan -- who would have been on guard for the sneering tone of liberal criticism toward anyone with a gun or a double-wide -- she still would have obliterated Palin as a faux populist wingnut with a tanning bed instead of a heart. She would have made great hay with the capacity of certain politicians to reinvent themselves in entirely new realities, as newfound populist Brotherman McCain has done, and his desperate, icky laugh of contempt might have raised some worries for her.

She would have known all along that this election was going to be as tight as a tick. She would have had the sense to be afraid, but to not let her fear hurt her. She would have done one constructive thing after another: Sent money to swing states, offered her car to volunteers from out of town, let young campaign workers sleep on her couch.

I swear, she might be the only person who can help get me through these last 33 nerve-wracking days. She would not have taken Sarah Palin lying down. She would laugh her ass off, and do something every day to defeat McCain. She would eat with beloved friends, put people together who simply had to know one another, who might together be able to throw a wrench in McCain's Rube Goldberg machine. She makes me want to move around on the floor with her one more time, standing on her shoes like I used to with my father when I was a little girl, and he was teaching me how to waltz

To read the rest of the remarkable "What's missing from this election? Molly Ivins," click here.

And remember, today is World Smile Day - give one up for Molly, Anne or your favorite funny redhead.    :)

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

celebrate the everyday - october.

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

October 3World Smile Day :)
October 10National Depression Screening Day
October 14 - full moon (Hunter's Moon ... see Diana Cazadora, the beautiful Mexico City statue of Diana, the Roman goddess of the hunt, above)
October 17Mammography Day
October 18World Menopause Day
October 25Make a Difference 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.