Friday, November 28, 2008

I give & I give & I give & yet . . .

And now it's the day after Thanksgiving, and to be honest, while I've fulfilled my 29-Day Giving Challenge, I'm not going to fulfill my daily gives postings. Rather, I want to share the "aha!!" this experience has given me.

Here it is: I give - sometimes more, sometimes less, but definitely never enough to *me.*

OK, it's a little "Hey, lady, you, lady - I've been to paradise, but I've never been to me" (whatever happened to Charlene, anyway?). And frankly, it's not a wholly new and different epiphany. Apparently, it's just a lesson I'm destined to learn again and again and again . . . until I finally really get it. Or die trying, I guess.

I believe I'm better than I used to be at taking care of myself (physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually). But I'm also not as young as I used to be. How are these related? inquire the readers under 40. Well, when I don't practice diligent self-care, my body, my brain and my mood swings all let me know about it - bigtime. Where I used to get away with all sorts of self-neglect without ill effect, I now suffer the consequences, and they aren't pretty.

As mentioned, such ugly consequences have taught me a few good self-care habits along the way: regular exercise has become a must-do; my eating habits, while still quite imperfect, are much improved; I almost always drink plenty of water. Likewise, I treat myself to a monthly massage, I go to a fabulous chiropractor and I continue to visit my longtime counselor. And if the paychecks are coming regular, then Mama also gets her toes done once a month. I do my best to stay connected to girlfriends near and far. I've learned to say 'no' now and then. I occasionally remember to breathe two counts in through my nose, four counts out through my mouth.

See? I'm doing pretty well, huh?

On the other hand, I drink about six diet cokes a day and hold the dubious honor of being the most sleep-deprived mom in the neighborhood (and that's saying something - something bad). I don't scrapbook enough. I don't read enough. (Enough to fulfill me personally, not to fulfill expectations of some sort.) I don't have enough sex (not sure what my neighborhood ranking is there . . . ). I don't say 'no' often enough. I'm not as connected with the people I care about as I wish I were. And I still forget to breathe - a lot.

These are things I need. These are things I need to give myself: less stimulants, more rest; time to scrapbook, time to read; nookie; permission to disappoint or displease others; prioritization of people over productivity; breathing lessons.

And I need to go to the dang doctor before my common cold turns into walking pneumonia. Twice.

And whoomp - there it is: AHA!!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

get-real gratitudes.

I'm typically unmoved by viral email messages, but this one provided some profound perspective. Bon appetit.

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

I am thankful . . .

. . . for the wife who says it's pizza again tonight - because she is home with me and not out with someone else;

. . . for the husband who is on the sofa being a couch potato - because he is home with me and not out at the bars;

. . . for the teenager who is complaining about doing dishes - 
because it means she is at home, not out on the streets;

. . . for the taxes I pay - because it means I have a job;

. . . for the clothes that fit a little too snug - because it means I’ve got plenty to eat;

. . . for a lawn that needs mowing, windows that need cleaning and gutters that need fixing - because it means I have a home;

. . . for my huge power bill - because it means I am warm and safe;

. . . for the perpetual pile of laundry - 
because it means I have clothes to wear;

. . . for the parking spot I find at the farthest point of the parking lot - because it means I have transportation and can walk;

. . . for all the griping around me about the government - because it means we have freedom of speech;

. . . for my own exhaustion and aching body at the close of the day - because it means I’m capable of hard work; and

. . . for the alarm ringing to wake me too early - because it means I am alive.

Wishing you all a Thanksgiving full of abundance, connection and gratitude. :)

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

keep on giving . . .

And now it's Thanksgiving eve, and I'm still behind on my 29-Day Giving Challenge posting . . . sometimes, life just doesn't work out the way you expect or intend or want. As my dear friend, Diana, says, I am not in charge (no matter how much I like to think I am!)!

And as my journalistic heroine, Linda Ellerbee, says, and so it goes . . .

Day 15: Myself a vacation. A girlfriends weekend- the best.

Day 16: An old friend a big (and happy, luckily) surprise. Such fun. :)

Day 17: A toast to 30 years (!!) of friendship.

Day 18: My silence to my spouse (believe me, it was a gift).

Day 19: An etiquette lesson to my daughter. I'm a big believer in the handwritten thank-you note, and I'm doing my best not to let it become a lost art of appreciation.

Day 20: Gifts to my oldest friend, Audrey, and her darling twins.

Day 21: Five lawn bags full of clothes to Goodwill. And a clean closet is a gift to yourself.

Day 22: Thanks/Thanksgiving cards to a few friends and my birth-stepfather.

To be continued . . . still . . . 

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

what I've been giving for the past two weeks(!!).

You're right, you're right, I know you're right.

I've been all blog-gone for the past two weeks, smack-dab in the middle of my 29-Day Giving Challenge ... poor form. But the truth is, I've been in poor form - walking around with just a smidge of fluid in my lungs since before Hallowe'en - and needed to let go of something in order to keep the rest of everything going.

So I let go of my frequent-posting duties. But I kept on giving ... sometimes to others, sometimes to myself (it seemed like the time to do so).

So now it's time for me to do some serious catchup, for Thanksgiving is coming quick!!

Day 7: Smiles to everyone, all day long. It was the day after The Election (still smiling, by the way). :D

Day 8: I gave up and went to the doctor. Ten days of down-with-the-crud time, and I was way-ready for pharmaceuticals.

Day 9: Myself a break and a little down- (not working, not momming) time.

Day 10: Necessary boundaries. All my crabby kids needed to turn their collective frown upside-down was a couple of jars and two bowls of marbles.

Day 11: My dear friend the opportunity to give to me. My, but it's lovely to be taken care of now and then, especially by someone who a) does it up right, and b) gets how difficult it is for you to let yourself be taken care of.

Day 12: I gave in to keep my word. I had promised a fun activity in exchange for lack of marbles in above-mentioned jars, but thought our schedule for the day was too full for such frivolity. My daughter called me out on it, and I ponied up. She was right, I was weaseling, and Madagascar 2 was well worth the effort.

Day 13: Compliments to the singers at our school's Veterans' Day program.

Day 14: A power bar and $5 to our favorite homeless corner-guy.

Stay tuned for my Days 15 - 22 . . . and you? how's your giving going?

Thursday, November 6, 2008

& hey - *you* did, too, girls.

Women played a giant and vital role in this week's electrifying elections, according to the Dallas Morning News.

Women, who make up more than half of all American voters, broke for Barack by 56% - confirming ourselves as a key demographic for candidates to consider and court.

Despite a difficult and divisive primary season for women, we emerged unified and energized. Holla!!

Feministing says it beautifully:
"I'm grateful to the Hillary Clinton supporters who were able to heal and get behind Barack Obama. And I'm infinitely grateful for the women voters who were able to look at Sarah Palin with the sobriety and critical perspective necessary to see through the 'hockey mom' folksiness. She didn't deserve our vote, and ... she didn't get it."

In fact, only about 10% of Hillary supporters crossed over to McCain's ticket.

Other voting verities we women can be proud of:
  • Unmarried women gave Obama a victory margin of over 12 million votes (who's got a crush on Obama?).
  • 96% of African-American women and 70% of Latinas voted for Obama.
  • Even here, in big ol' red state Texas, 52% of women voted for Barack Obama.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

yes, we did, too, girls.

When the 111th Congress convenes in January, 2009, more women than ever before will serve in the U.S. Congress - 17 women in the U.S. Senate (13 Democrat, 4 Republican) and at least 74 women in the U.S. House of Representatives (57 Democrat, 17 Republican).

According to the Center for American Women and Politics, even though the number of women candidates wasn't at an all-time high for this year's elections, women were clearly positioned for success.

The breakdown (or rampup) looks like this:

Senate - 17 women today, prior record was 16
  • 4 women won Senate elections (13 incumbents didn't face re-election)
  • 3 Democrats, 1 Republican
  • 2 incumbents, 2 challengers
  • representing Louisiana, Maine, North Carolina, New Hampshire

House - 74 (with two races still pending) women today, prior record was 71
  • 10 new women and 64 incumbents won House elections
among the newcomers ...
  • 8 Democrats, 2 Republicans
  • 5 won open seats, 5 won against incumbents
  • representing AZ, CO, FL, IL, KS, ME, NV, OH, PA, WY
  • 12 African-Americans, 7 Latinas and 2 Asian-Americans

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

what I gave today.

Day 6: Easy ... today, around 10p Central time, I gave thanks to God, the Universe and Everything. Today is a good day.

We, the people, in order to 
form a more perfect union,
establish justice,
ensure domestic tranquility,
provide for the common defense,
promote the general welfare,
and secure the blessings of liberty
to ourselves and our posterity,
do ordain and establish this Constitution
for the United States of America.

& so it ends ... & begins ... & goes.

It's evening, and the polls are slowly shutting down with a darkening wave from east to west across America.

What we can do for now, we've done.
All we can do now is hope.

Monday, November 3, 2008

a woman worth remembering.

Madelyn Lee Payne Dunham, who raised her grandson Barack Obama from age 10 to adulthood, died quietly in her Honolulu home on Sunday, November 2nd, at the age of 86.

Madelyn was born in Peru, Kansas, and grew up in Augusta, Kansas, the daughter of strict Methodist parents. She was one of the best students in her high-school graduating class of 1940 - the same year she wed Stanley Dunham, a Baptist boy from the proverbial "wrong side of the tracks" (a furniture salesman, it was rumored he could charm the legs off of a sofa), against her parents' wishes. The couple was married over 50 years, until Stanley's death in 1992.

During World War II, Stanley enlisted in the Army, while Madelyn worked on a Wichita-based Boeing B-29 assembly line. In 1970, she became one of America's first female bank vice presidents.

In-between, Madelyn gave birth to her only child, a daughter called Anne. Both of Anne's parents were dismayed by her marriage to a Kenyan graduate student, but accepted it - just as they embraced their half-white grandchildren, Barack Obama [above, with his grandparents] and Maya Soetoro (a younger daughter by a second marriage). While Anne and her second husband had to live overseas, Madelyn and Stanley welcomed Barack into their Hawai'ian home. And while Anne was dying of ovarian cancer in 1995, Madelyn cared for her in the same home during her final months.

Barack and Maya call her "Toot," an abbreviation of "tutu," the Hawai'ian word for grandmother. Here's what the Democratic Presidential nominee said about Toot on the Late Show with David Letterman in September:

"She has been the rock of our family, and she is sharp as a tack ... she just follows everything. But she has a very subdued, sort of Midwestern attitude about these things. So when I got nominated, she called and said, 'That's nice, Barry. That's nice.'"

Wishing the Obamas comfort and strength during this amazingly emotional time for their family ...

what I gave today two-fer number two.

Day 4: The promise of a new day.

Our little boy is experiencing what I call a stage of disequilibrium - some sort of transition period that's making him difficult to deal with (a sizable understatement). Way too much whining and too many tears, sometimes off and on all day long - like Sunday. Naturally, the time change didn't help, either, but by bedtime, he was essentially a pool of melted five-year-old lying in the middle of the living room, alternately blubbering and muttering, unwilling (or maybe unable, really) to do anything we asked as we tried desperately just to get him into his pajamas and off to bed.

I confess - I did lose it fairly bigtime once during that longest of days, but by the time he was a babbling mess on the living room carpet, I just felt bad for the poor little guy. I mean, I've got limited coping skills as a 41-year-old adult, so his coping mechanisms must be few and frequently far beyond his grasp, y'know? So eventually, with gentle coaxing and plentiful hugs, we got him all tucked in, still on the verge of tears, but somewhat functioning once again. "Tomorrow, we'll have a better day, I promise, buddy," I cooed into his ear, channeling Scarlett O'hara as I kissed him goodnight.

And he seemed a little calmer.

Day 5: A red flag for a client.

I don't want to disclose too much information about a professional situation, but here's the skinny: I had contributed, along with others, to a list of statistics for the client to present to the media. Today, I was reviewing the final list, and noticed two of the stats regarding the same subject, when you compared the math between them, substantially contradicted one another. I quickly called the client, who was greatly appreciative for the heads-up. Yea - brownie points!! :)

Saturday, November 1, 2008

celebrate the everyday - november.

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

November 4Election Day/National Chicken Lady Day
November 6National Men Make Dinner Day
November 13World Kindness Day
November 15I Love to Write Day
November 21World Hello Day
November 25International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women

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.

what I gave today two-fer.

Day 2: My inhibitions for my family and neighbors' amusement. :D

Our family has coordinated Hallowe'en costumes for four years - we went as Wizard of Oz characters one year ... well, actually, we tried; my son was just about 18 months, and absolutely hated his Lion costume ... but we really earned a reputation around the 'hood three years ago, when we went as The Incredibles (seriously, people still talk about it). Then, last year, the kids had individual ideas about what they wanted to dress up as, so we coordinated along boy/girl lines - mother and daughter were woodland fairies, father and son were dalmatians.

Same deal this year - daughter wanted to be a "glamour" (sequined and fringed) cowgirl, and son wanted to be something yellow (he picked Pikachu over a banana), so ... while my husband got to be Ash Ketchum, Pokemon trainer, I was a Hallowe'en Holstein, complete with udder front-and-center (well, a little lower than center, really ... but hey - I'm not as young as I used to be!). I totally owned it, if I do say so myself, and enjoyed an udder-ly fun Hallowe'en evening!!

Day 3: Some time alone together for my daughter & her daddy.

We all went to Zilker Park today to feed goldfish (crackers) to the fish, count the turtles and seek swan sightings. Then, my sweet husband let me run around Ladybird Lake while he and the kids went to the playscape. While we were talking about our plans for the rest of the afternoon, I invited the kids to go with me to Target while hubby got a little alone time to go for a walk close to home. The girl said she wanted to go walking with Daddy "like we used to do;" but of course, as soon as she said it, little brother said he wanted to tag along (even though he'd been whining for an hour about how his legs hurt and he was tired). Since this now sounds like the least-relaxing walk ever, both parents begin shutting down the idea altogether. The girl is visibly crushed. So, thinking quickly, I offer little brother a bribe to accompany me to Target ... he accepts and everybody gets what they want - especially the kids, who spent the evening watching the new TinkerBell DVD. :)

So, what were your Day 2 & 3 gives? Please share!