Monday, December 14, 2009

one of O's favorite things: empowering women.

I heart Oprah. No big surprise there.

Her famous "Favorite Things" lists are hit-or-miss for me. Some of the stuff she/her staff suggests is adorable and affordable, some not, some OMG sooo not.

Regardless, at the beginning of December - the start of stuff season - Ms. O dedicated her show to dramatically disenfranchised women worldwide. Women beaten for trying to go to school, girls sold into sex slavery, mothers dying as a product of pregnancy. Women for whom the term "women's rights" is just an imaginary figment, a cruel joke.

Naturally, Oprah also profiled people who are helping. Secretary of State Hilary Clinton pledging women's rights will be one of her signature issues and a higher-than-ever American diplomacy priority. Husband-wife Pulitzer Prize winners Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn talking about their new book, Half the Sky: Turning Oppression in to Opportunity for Women Worldwide, and the movement it has created.

So here's the bottom line: It's the season of giving. Please give to empower women and girls globally.

Here's how:
  • Buy the above-mentioned book. It's "a passionate call to arms, from two of our most fiercely moral voices, against our era’s most pervasive human rights violation."
  • Give to Mercy Corps, which facilitates microloans to poor women to launch their own businesses, support their families and boost their economies.

Still iffy? Consider this: While American women earn 80 cents on the male dollar [unfair, for sure], more girls in developing countries have been killed in the last fifty years- just because they were girls - than men were killed in all the wars of the 20th century.

Help a girl stay above-ground today. Give to empower women.

Monday, December 7, 2009

believe.

december ... when it is the holiday spirit of the heart that puts the holiday spirit in the air ...

believe in yourself.

believe in the magic of Christmas.

believe that it's better to give than to receive.

believe in enough.

believe in the goodness within all people.

believe that it will be OK.

believe the Universe will deliver.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

celebrate the everyday - december.


It's December, 2009. How will you celebrate being a woman?

December 15Cat Herders Day
December 18Underdog Day
December 21Winter Solstice, Humbug Day & National Haiku Poetry Day
December 31Blue moon [December's first full moon was the Cold Moon], World Peace Meditation Day & Universal Hour of Peace

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.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Day 10 gratitude.


Technology -
my laptop, the worldwidenets, social networking &
yes, an occasional day off from it all. :)

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Day 9 gratitude.


"When you arise in the morning, think of
what a precious privilege it is to be alive -
to breathe, to think, to enjoy, to love."

- Marcus Aurelius Antonius -


Life is good!! :)

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Day 7 gratitude.


Sunday at the park with fam.

Zilker. Bird-feeding & playscape-climbing.
No philosophizing. Such fun.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Day 5 gratitude.


All the non-monetary ways my life is
rich beyond belief
with health, family, friends, work, play,
creativity, spirituality, connection, freedom.

Happy Friday!!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Day 4 gratitude.


Falling asleep to the blustery ruckus of a thunderstorm.

Bonus: It's over by morning, & has delivered
a beautiful snap of autumnal weather. True story.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Day 3 gratitude.


My girlfriends -
generous, funny, smart, understanding &
sooo there for me.

Love you, grrlz!!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Day 2 gratitude.


My husband -
sweet, hilarious, brilliant, giving &
OMG, *patient.*

Love you, Honey.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Twelve-ish Days of Thanksgiving: Day 1 gratitude.

My very own money in my very own bank account.

[OK, not as much as above, but
the feeling of relief is similar.
Taxing October.]

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

monday midnight gratitudes.

1. the paychecks which will, without doubt, show up so, so soon.

2. the inheritance which will, with hope, show up sometime soon.

3. an awesome weekend full of good food, good shopping, the best company & utter hilarity.

4. doing good work for genuinely great clients.

5. a financial advisor who gets me.

6. healthy family, healthy me.

7. autumnal weather, as long as it lasts.

8. a few upcoming free weekends.

9. forty years of Sesame Street.

10. a whole month all about giving thanks.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

give.

november ... when we Central Texans finally experience our weeklong autumn ...

"... its tone is mellower, its colours are richer, and it is tinged with a little sorrow.
Its golden richness speaks not of the innocence of spring, nor the power of summer,
but of the mellowness and kindly wisdom of approaching age.
It knows the limitations of life and is content."
- Lin Yutang -


give a little.

give of yourself.

give an hour of undivided attention to your child.

give unconditional love.

give something old to someone new.

give laughter.

give it a rest.

give something homemade to someone who can use a lift.

give without expecting anything back.

give your heart to someone.

give yourself a break.

give a lot.

give thanks.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

calling all souls.

Well, I'm a little late for All Souls' Day, but I feel fairly sure they don't mind. They meaning the souls I love who no longer have companion bodies in which to wander about, holding hands, giving hugs, sharing meals, talking, laughing, connecting. The souls whose earthly presence I deeply miss, but whose ethereal presence I believe continues.

Call them what you like - ghosts, angels, spirits. Again, I don't think they care. They no longer sweat the small stuff, even if they were world-class small-stuff-sweat-ers during their lives. I envision them as the ultimate big-picture people now - seeing, knowing, understanding it all at last, they watch, they listen, they support, they soothe, they offer guidance as they can.

My birthmom, Pat, who reminds me to be generous, to love animals, to laugh - and that I'm enough.

My Grandma Nelson, who reminds me to nurture, to converse, to whistle while I work - and that I'm special.

My Mamie, who reminds me to look good in order to feel better, to create for others - and that I can make a difference with even my smallest gestures.

My Pops, who reminds me to take lifelong learning seriously, but not so much myself - and that I'm embraced by love.

My dear friend Martha, who reminds me to be grateful for my family, to be there for my friends - and that I'm brilliant and beautiful, too.

They can't hold my actual hand anymore. But they hold my thoughts, my best self, and a piece of my heart forever.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

celebrate the everyday - november.

It's November, 2009. How will you celebrate being a woman?

November 2 - Full moon [the Beaver Moon]
November 7 - Sadie Hawkins Day
November 13 - World Kindness Day
November 15 - I Love to Write Day, America Recycles Day
November 20 - Universal Children's Day
November 21 - National Adoption Day, World Hello Day
November 24 - Celebrate Your Unique Talent Day
November 25 - International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women
November 27 - National Day of Listening

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.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

for today.

prompts courtesy of The Simple Woman's Daybook via Ali Edwards . . .

FOR TODAY
October 15, 2009

Outside my window . . . sunshine, breeze, hundreds of migrating butterflies.

I am thinking . . . about my daughter's birthday, money & family.

I am thankful for . . . my good life. Weather changes (well, some). Our tidy little bookend dogs. The new superhero my son thought up. Getting things done. Reminders from the Universe.

From the kitchen . . . a banana & takeout.

I am wearing . . . a navy scoop tee, dark gray yoga pants, my fall/winter seasonal specs.

I am creating . . . a kickass kittycat party for my girl, a baby book for my boy.

I am going . . . to pick up the kids once I'm done with this post.

I am reading . . . I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou. Very, very s-l-o-w-l-y.

I am hoping . . . we all stay healthy & flu-free.

I am hearing . . . silence at this moment (wow).

Around the house . . . Hank is showering, the dogs are wrestling, the wind chimes are busy.

One of my favorite things . . . rice krispie treats. Mmmm.

A few plans for the rest of the week . . . party prep, cleaning, groceries, sister visit, twosome time, vacuum, wrapping, favors, lists, cupcakes.

A picture to share . . . my almost 11yo all summerfied a la August [see above]. Love all her freckles. Love her tangled hair. Love her skewy eyeglasses. Love her & all her in-betweeness. :)

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

austin hearts leslie.

If you're not from Austin, then you might not get our community's genuine affection for our local "Keep Austin Weird" mascot, a homeless-by-choice, cross-dressing, former mayoral candidate named Leslie.

But Austin loves Leslie - in large part because Leslie loveslovesloves Austin.

Which is why I've found myself praying daily for his complete recovery. Albert "Leslie" Cochran, 58, suffered serious head trauma about two weeks ago (EMS was called when he fell down in front of a taxi, and while the news coverage is clear about head injury, I've read that he had a brain aneurysm which caused him to fall and that he hit his head when he fell, so the nature of the trauma is unclear), had brain surgery to relieve cranial swelling, and for several days was not expected to survive.

Now, he has been upgraded to "fair" condition, but is apparently rather vegetative, with limited hope of full recovery. His sister, Alice Cochran Masterson, says Leslie will likely require assisted living arrangements for the rest of his life, and probably won't ever be able to return to his home out on the streets again.

Which is a huge loss for downtown Austin, where Leslie hung out - both on the street and from his infamous thongs. He was smart, irreverent, hilarious, as eccentric as they come, big-hearted and, in his way, inspirational. Who among us can honestly claim to be as authentically ourselves as Leslie was 24/7/365?

So please say a little prayer for Austin's Queen of Weird-Ass Soul. Our sidewalks will be dimmer without him.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

today.

Today . . .

. . . I'm a little frustrated with the schizophrenic weather here in Austin, Texas.

. . . I'm struggling to really get really inspired about something. Anything. Really.

. . . I'm wondering how to make everyone at my house [including me] a happier camper in the morning.

. . . I'm procrastinating - dr.'s appointment, tax stuff, work.

. . . I'm happy to be helping my sweet husband write lyrics again.

. . . I will go to two fifth-grade choir performances & be duly impressed with our choir director, again.

. . . I'm worried we'll be at a different elementary school next year.

. . . I'm wishing I had scrapbooked and/or folded laundry last night while watching Mad Men.

. . . I'm fretting about money, as ever.

. . . I'm ordering birthday gifts for my daughter anyway.

. . . I'm excited to go see author Elizabeth Gilbert speak tomorrow.

. . . I'm searching for a groove.

. . . I'm digging this quotation from Ali Edwards' blog:

Normal day, let me be aware of the treasure you are.
Let me learn from you, love you,
bless you before you depart.
Let me not pass you by in quest of
some rare and perfect tomorrow.
Let me hold you while I may,
for it may not always be so.
One day I shall dig my nails into the earth, or
bury my face in the pillow, or
stretch myself taut, or
raise my hands to the sky and
want, more than all the world,
your return.

- Mary Jean Iron -

Happy normal day. :)

Thursday, October 1, 2009

collect.

oh, october. somewhere, it's harvest season . . . a time to reap, to gather, to collect . . .

collect yourself with a deep breath.

collect your thoughts & turn them loose.

collect funny things your kids say day-to-day.

collect something quirky [chicken pitchers are my weakness].

collect leaves.

collect lists.

collect memorabilia.

collect inspirational quotations.

collect garbage along the roadside.

collect friends old & new for an autumnal feast [remember the gourds!].

celebrate the everyday - october.

It's October, 2009. How will you celebrate being a woman?

October 2 - National Diversity Day & World Smile Day
October 4 - Full moon [the Harvest Moon]
October 5 - Improve Your Office Day
October 10 - Universal Music Day
October 16 - Mammography Day
October 18 - World Menopause Day
October 23 - iPod Day
October 24 - Make 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.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

get happy: a women's prescription.

Marcus Buckingham - bestselling author and leading expert in personal strengths - has been blogging over at the Huffington Post about his upcoming book, Find Your Strongest Life: What the Happiest and Most Successful Women Do Differently, and I've been blogging about Buck's blogs.

Here's the down-and-dirty to date: Studies show that over the past forty years [just about my lifetime ... hmmm], women's happiness has decreased while men's has increased - this despite gradual growth in women's power and prosperity. Adding insult to injury, we're unhappier younger and we become even sadder as we age.

Wow. Debbie Downer moment, everyone.

OK, so what Buckingham did with all this bad news was to do a little research of his own to try to discover the upside: he talked with hundreds of women who claim to be happy and successful to try to determine what it is they all share.

First, he offered five quick questions to assess women's satisfaction with their lives:
1. How often do you get to do things you really like to do?
2. How often do you find yourself actively looking forward to the day ahead?
3. How often do you get so involved in what you're doing you lose track of time?
4. How often do you feel invigorated at the end of a long, busy day?
5. How often do you feel an emotional high in your life?

Second, he did in-depth interviews with all women who answered "every day" to four of the five questions.

Third, he found the common threads.

1. These women at some level simply chose to pursue happiness.

2. These women focus on moments rather than dreams, goals or plans. Not just any moments at all, but what Buckingham calls "strong-moments" - moments in your life that create in you strongly positive emotions, that you easily recall in vivid detail, that as you think about them, you feel yourself change. Buckingham says these strong-moments and the emotions they evoke represent your truth, your authentic self.

When you commit your life to being true to yourself, ... you are committing to the truth embodied in this specific moment which, for no rational reason, energizes you.

3. These women accept what they find. You might not like the strong-moments you find. But your life will get better once you accept the reality of which moments energize you and which don't. Says Buckingham:

[A]ccepting which moments strengthen you and which don't reveals to you exactly how you can live your dreams .... It means not only being comfortable in your own skin, but also being creative in your own skin.

4. These women strive for imbalance. OK, completely counterintuitive for me. But apparently these happy, successful women felt that not only is "balance" almost impossible to achieve [agreed], but also not necessarily fulfilling. Buckingham's recommendation:

Pinpoint the strong-moments in each part of your life, and gradually target or tilt your life toward them. [Be] as deliberate as you can about making them happen ... investigate them when they do happen, look at them from new perspectives, celebrate them. Give them the power of your attention.

5. These women say "Yes." Buckingham bucks common counsel by advising: Learn to say 'Yes.' Yes to the strong-moments ... Yes to the people who help you create these moments. Yes to your feelings as these moments happen. Say 'Yes' with enough focus and force, and yours will not be a balanced life, but it will be a full life.

Wow. Interesting if true, yes??

Finally, Buckingham offers the Strong Life Test - a quickie quiz to help you identify your "lead role," the role you return to again and again, a role you and the people closest to you see as the core of who you are. Knowing this role, according to Buckingham, will help you know where to look for your strong-moments, where to begin in order to infuse your life with greater happiness.

Just FYI, my Lead Role came up as Advisor, my Supporting Role as Equalizer. And you??

ten tips for lifelong connection.

A list to print and tuck into your wallet from the Slow Family Living blog. Co-blogger Bernadette Noll outlines the big life lesson she learned from her mom - how to make pausing and connecting more than a great idea, how to take it beyond the theoretical:

It is possible, if we put the pieces in place now: the rituals, the practices, the conversations, the pauses, the all-important SEEING of each other - it is possible to build a sustainable connection. Quite possible indeed.

Here are a few of the very tangible things [my 84-year-old mom] did and continues to do in the name of connection:

1. Write letters, send postcards every chance you get. Keep stamps in your wallet so that whenever you think of someone, you can jot them a quick note.

2. Talk it through.

3. Say sorry. Even when you’re not really sure what you’re sorry for. Be sorry there was strife. In the name of peace and love.

4. Forgive. And forget. And move on.

5. Give people a second chance. More if they’re family. And if they’re your children, give them endless chances.

6. Ask people questions about themselves. Your family and friends, and also people you meet on the street. Whether you’re at the grocery counter or the bank or the gas station, talk to people about their life.

7. Listen to the answers.

8. Make the connection when you think of making the connection. When you think of calling someone, call them right then.

9. Have extra beds for guests. Or cots. Or sleeping bags. And lots and lots of blankets.

10. If you have to choose between order and quiet or mess and noise, go for the mess and noise. It might make you a little crazy, but there’s plenty of time for order and quiet when you get old.

Monday, September 28, 2009

women & happiness: what we know for sure.

OK, so when I wrote I would post "tomorrow," I apparently meant I would post the next working day. Sue me.

*So,* continuing the "women-are-unhappier-than-they-were-forty-years-ago-and-get-sadder-as-they-get-older" thread, I promised to reveal what bestselling author and leading expert on personal strengths Marcus Buckingham knows to be true about women's happiness, or the lack thereof.

Fact #1: The unhappiness of women is a growing trend - and it's affecting us at younger and younger ages. According the the U.S. General Social Survey, women begin their lives more fulfilled than men, then become less satisfied with all aspects of their lives as they age. But today, women don't even reach adulthood before they're significantly unhappier than men.

Fact #2: Women are harder on themselves than men. We all know this anecdotally, but now there are statistics to prove it. Nationally representative polls of women and men ask the question, "Which do you think will help you be most successful in life - building on your strengths or fixing your weaknesses?" Men's answers split 50-50, while almost three of four women say they would focus on fixing their weaknesses.

Fact #3: Returning women to their 40-years-ago status as primary homemakers and caregivers won't make most women happier. Substantial research consistently reveals that women with no kids are essentially happier than women with kids. It's true - having children might give our lives meaning and purpose and trajectory, but the bottom line is, kids are stressful, and therefore not founts overflowing with happy juice.

Fact #4: Men are getting happier because of growing prosperity. Over the past four decades, the Gross Domestic Product of the U.S. has risen 3.1% annually, and growth in GDP correlates to increases in national levels of happiness. But if the tide of prosperity raises everybody's spirits, then why are women's continuing to sink?

That remains the question.

Buckingham approaches it from another angle - finding the happiest women, the ones who have become more fulfilled as they age, who have somehow bucked this disheartening trend, and seeing what it is that they share. I'll post about his findings tomorrow [yes, really tomorrow].

And if you want to read Marcus Buckingham's blog, then click here to go to his page at the Huffington Post.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

save money. save tatas.

Wait!! Don't recycle Sunday's newspaper yet!!

Today, a special edition of the P&G brandSAVER coupon booklet was distributed in newspapers nationwide. For every brandSAVER coupon you use from the booklet, a two-cent donation will be given to the National Breast Cancer Foundation.

Each booklet is worth over $100 in savings, and the donation from P&G is limited only by the number of coupons redeemed.

Get a little. Give a little. Save the girls.

For more information about the P&G program and other National Breast Cancer Foundation activities,
click here.

Friday, September 25, 2009

mama ain't happy ... but why??

Earlier in the week, my dear friend Judy [hi, Judy!] emailed me a link to Maureen Dowd's Sunday column, "Blue is the New Black," thinking [correctly] it might interest me - it was about women and happiness, in particular the fact that women are getting unhappier.

Later in the week, the ladies of The View talked about this topic, too. Over the past couple of years, six major happiness studies have been released and every single one has come up with the same result: Since 1972, regardless of their lot in life, women's overall level of happiness has fallen.

The single exception is African-American women, who are slightly happier today than they were in 1972, but are still less happy than African-American men.

No matter how old they are, how healthy they are, what job they work at, how much money they make, what their relationship status is, whether they have kids or how many kids they have, women have become less happy with their lives than they were 37 years ago.

And to add insult to injury, research also shows that as women get older, they get sadder. Women begin their lives more fulfilled than men, but as they age, they go down the satisfaction scale, while men go up.

Information from the World Health Organization supports this research - according to WHO's latest analysis, depression is the second-most debilitating disease for women [heart disease is first], while it ranks #10 for men.

Depressed yet? Don't be. These are data trends - they don't mean all women are sad sacks or that this pessimistic life perspective must be yours.

But they definitely do force the question WHY??

As Marcus Buckingham - bestselling author and leading expert on personal strengths - says in his Huffington Post blog, "The advances of the last forty years were supposed to have changed things for the better, and not just for womankind, but for each individual woman. The hard-won rights, opportunities and advantages were supposed to have netted women more than just another burdensome role to play - "you at work." They were supposed to have fostered in each woman feelings of fulfillment and happiness, and even, for the special few, the sustained thrill of living an authentic life. This hasn't happened. Over the last forty years or so, life is not trending toward more fulfillment for women; life is, in most ways we can measure, becoming more draining instead."

Buckingham goes on to prove that these trends are not being caused by women working longer hours than men [turns out women and men work the same number of hours in a day], nor by gender-based stereotyping [turns out the same amount of men and women believe men should be the breadwinners while women should be the breadbakers], nor by women bearing a heavier burden of the workload at home - "second-shift syndrome" [turns out while women still do more home-work than men, the numbers are narrowing, trending toward greater parity, which logically should be leading to greater happiness for women].

So if it's not the work hours, the inequality or the second shift, then what the heckinahandbasket is happening here?

Buckingham has some clues. I'll outline them for you in tomorrow's post. :)

Thursday, September 24, 2009

capturing me here now: ten things.

1. I believe more and more in Something Bigger - God, The Universe & Everything [hats off to you, Douglas Adams] - every day.

2. Kelly Rae Roberts' work ["She found freedom in possibilities," above, is hers] is speaking loudly and clearly to my heart nowadays. I've been feeling something tugging at my metaphysical sleeve for the past few months, and while it's easier to ignore it and keep walking the same path, Kelly's work serves as a continual reminder for me to rest and listen.

3. I rescued a pair of dogs out on a highway spree this week, and their owner finally connected with us this evening. We're sooo very relieved and grateful to return them to their own home and family. I couldn't let myself feel good about the beginning-saving part of the story until I saw it would have a happy ending.

4. I'm struggling with my weight once again, having a difficult time getting serious about losing the extra LBs I put on over 2009's Summer of Stress. Just can't seem to fit a weekly Weight Watchers meeting into my routine, even though I managed to do so for over a year. I wonder what this issue is all about.

5. I'm wondering how many pairs of eyeglasses is too many? I've got two with the correct prescription, but have become quite obsessed with a pair of Catherine Deneuve specs I spied at Eyemasters ... So, is three pairs too many for a girl who wears glasses 99.9% of her life?

6. I'm reading The Red Room Riddle: A Ghost Story by Scott Corbett to my kids every evening. As a kid, I used to check it out from the library and reread it every autumn - classic Hallowe'en book!

7. At long last, I'm scrapbooking my son's baby photos [he's six - yes, years]. I've been prepared to do it for some time, materials- and organization-wise, but had some fear about launching into such a big, important project. I finally just held my breath and leapt, and the water's just fine!

8. So much good telly to watch with the fall season debut - Dancing With the Stars [go, Donny!], Big Bang Theory [how did we miss seasons 1 & 2?], Glee [yeah, I'm "gleeking" out] ... and working our way through the first few seasons of Mad Men - scintillating and ohso stylish. Not to mention fresh episodes of The View, with Hasselbeck on hiatus [more maternity leave for Liz, please].

9. I lovelovelove the rain ... but sort of wish it would come only during the night.

10. I heart this song/video - dare you to click through and not smile: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DeuqQ1aipTYv. :)

Thursday, September 17, 2009

a generation's voice worth remembering.

She was the tall, blonde sex symbol of the folk-music revival who, along with a couple of goateed guitarists, were the "beat" artists who became the mainstream voice of the 1960s political protest movement.

Mary Allin Travers of the folk group Peter, Paul and Mary was born in Louisville, Kentucky on November 9, 1936. Her parents, both writers, moved her to New York City's Greenwich Village when Mary was just two; she grew up with the folk-music revival developing all around her.

Despite her proximity to the music scene, an honest, earnest voice, and a handful of gigs backing up Pete Seeger, Mary never intended to sing professionally; she apparently was extremely shy and suffered some stage fright. Nevertheless, when struggling folk singer Peter Yarrow showed up at her apartment door - referred by his agent, who was trying to create an updated version of the Weavers with crossover appeal for baby boomers - Mary agreed to join him and suggested Noel Stookey [who adopted his middle name, Paul, for the band's namesake] to complete the trio.

Peter, Paul and Mary rehearsed for months before performing live for the first time. The next year [1962], they released their self-titled first album, which skyrocketed to number one. They soared through the 60s, with hits like "If I Had a Hammer," Dylan's "Blowin' in the Wind," and "Puff, the Magic Dragon." The group collected five Grammy Awards while staying true to their beliefs - they were outspoken in their support of the civil-rights and antiwar movements, performing at the 1963 March on Washington and in the voting-rights marches from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, in 1965.

The band broke up in 1970 and Mary subsequently released five solo albums, but none came close to the success of her collaboration with Yarrow and Sookey. So, eventually, the trio drifted back together, reuniting several times over the years for special celebrations and benefits.

Mary was married and divorced three times before marrying Ethan Robbins 18 years ago. He survives her, as do two daughters, a sister, a half-brother and two grandchildren. Mary was diagnosed with leukemia four years ago, and though a bone-marrow transplant seemed to have beat the disease, she died Wednesday of complications from chemotherapy. She was 72.

Here she is, flanked by her two dear friends and musical colleagues - as well as singer John Denver - as they perform PP&M's last #1 hit, "Leaving On a Jet Plane," [which Denver wrote, incidentally] in the year it was released, 1969.

Turns out, she didn't need a jet plane to leave us - just wings to fly away.


Wednesday, September 16, 2009

tennis, anyone?

Let's forget about Serena Williams and her obscene throat-stuffing threats over imaginary faulty footing for the moment. Let's talk about powerful pink shoes and champion moms.

It was her first time at the U.S. Open, and what a opening performance it was for 17-year-old Melanie Oudin (pronounced oh-DAN) from Marietta, Georgia. Along with her refreshingly wide-eyed exuberance, Oudin brought courage, determination and perseverance to the women's event, reigning over three high-profile Russians, including former champion Maria Sharapova.

Already dubbed America's next tennis princess, this Cinderella-story subject has the shoe situation under control: Oudin's customized adidas sneakers were the buzz of Arthur Ashe stadium. She selected an eye-popping pink and yellow color scheme, and rather than put her name on the heel of the shoe, as originally designed, Oudin put the word BELIEVE - apparently the inspiration came from her 15-year-old boyfriend [who apparently has 'keeper' potential, as in he may be one].

Oudin finally fell at the quarterfinals to Denmark's Caroline Wozniacki, but a week later, she's already circling the talk show circuit. We'll likely be seeing plenty of her for years to come. I hope she keeps the cool shoes [not to be confused with cruel shoes] coming.

The woman who won over Wozniacki to earn the 2009 women's title was 26-year-old Kim Clijsters (pronounced CLY-sters) of Belgium. It was Clijsters' second U.S. Open triumph - she won in 2005, too - but her first as a mom [pictured above with her 18-month-old daughter, Jada - oh yeah, and her titanic trophy]. Clijsters' victory marks the first time a mom has won a major tennis tournament since 1980, and newly de-retired, she's also the first unseeded woman to win the U.S. Open ever.

Here's to the tennis "skirts," everyone! :)

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

love me some beyonce.

If there's one universal truth to be reinforced from the spate of spiteful outbursts we've witnessed within the past week, then it must be this: bad behavior = good publicity.

Joe Wilson. Serena Williams. Kanye West. We've all seen the videos, listened to the media mashup. It's practically inescapable.

And I, like many others, am fairly appalled by their outrageous self-entitlement and bullying (though to be fair, it does seem Serena was simply caught publicly having a horrible terrible no good very bad day - such temper tantrums are not a recurring theme with her).

But what has genuinely moved me - literally to tears - is a moment of healing and grace between two women, one giving, both receiving.

Beyonce was visibly flabbergasted when Kanye West interrupted Taylor Swift's acceptance speech for MTV's Video Music Award for Best Female Video to take the microphone and assert that Beyonce's also-nominated "Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)" video should have won the category.

It looked like all involved were humiliated - except West, who was no doubt downing the dregs of the big bottle of booze he had been guzzling out on the red carpet. But while he still hasn't had the gonads or good manners to apologize to Swift personally, Beyonce decided then and there to do her part to heal the hurt West had done.

Later on in the show, when she won Video of the Year, Beyonce promptly sacrificed the spotlight and invited Swift to return to the stage and properly "have her moment."

It was a gesture and a moment of kindness, generosity, beauty and, above all, grace between two young women who share a gift for song and little else.

Beyonce, being a girl with an plentiful posterior myself, I've always loved you for embracing your bootylicious badonkadonk (sp?) and working it for all the world to enjoy. But today, I also love you for embracing a sister and taking her with you as you rise above.

You are a woman of substance, inspiration, grace and empowerment, and my newest hero.

Plus, damn, girl - check you out on stage doing your thing! Amazing.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

she.

The ultimate epitaph ...

She must be something special. She is. Celebrate her.

She loved life and it loved her right back.

She was kind, loving and patient ... with herself.

She discovered she was the one she'd been waiting for.

She woke up one day and threw away all her excuses.

She discovered her real measurements had nothing to do with numbers or statistics.

She realized she was missing a great deal by being sensible.

She went out on a limb, had it break off behind her and discovered she could fly.

She took the leap and built her wings on the way down.

She pursued big dreams rather than small realities.

She turned her can'ts into cans and her dreams into plans.

She ignored people who said it couldn't be done.

She said bye-bye to unhealthy relationships.

She walked in when everyone else walked out.

She decided to enjoy more and endure less.

She had a way of turning obstacles into opportunities.

She saw every ending as a new beginning.

She not only saw a light at the end of the tunnel, she became that light for others.

She ran ahead where there were no paths.

She colored her thoughts with only the brightest hues.

She just had this way of brightening the day.

She added so much beauty to being human.

She made the whole world feel like home.

She decided to start living the life she'd imagined.

She held her head high and looked the world straight in the eye.

She crossed borders recklessly, refusing to recognize limits, saying bonjour and buon giorno as though she owned both France and Italy and the day itself.

She was an artist, and her life was her canvas.

She designed a life she loved.

She listened to her heart above all other voices.

She remained true to herself.

She made the world a better place.


excerpted from She, written by Kobi Yamada, published by Compendium, Inc.
Click here to buy an amazing book for a woman who inspires you.

Monday, September 7, 2009

working woman = redundancy.

Happy Labor Day!

We not only can do it, we do do it - every day, all day long!
So here's to us, women of the world!! :)

Thursday, September 3, 2009

tell.

A couple of months ago, I suggested you ask - now I'm suggesting September may be a time to tell . . .

tell your story.

tell someone you love them every day.

tell everyone you encounter something you like about them.

tell your kids how awesome they are.

tell somebody you're grateful for/to them.

tell a joke. [My recent favorite: What's brown & sticky? A stick.]

tell them how you really feel.

tell a secret you've been holding for too long.

tell the people in your life how they inspire you.

tell your girlfriend what's amazing about her.

tell the truth.

tell your truth.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

midweek gratitudes.

Gliding over "hump day" with gratitude for:

1. my birthmom's original choice to put me up for adoption, as well as the opportunity to know & love her [& be loved by her] for the last 15 years of her life.

2. well-developed intuition.

3. my sweet husband.

4. our first date night for three weeks [woot!].

5. being past the pms [*phew!*].

6. a much smoother week for my fifth-grade girl.

7. close-to-cool mornings [almost down to 70 degrees].

8. our bird feeders & the birdies they help feed [especially the titmice, above].

9. girlfriend time.

10. getting all creative up in here.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

celebrate the everyday - september.

It's September, 2009. How will you celebrate being a woman?

September 4 - Full moon [the Full Corn Moon]
September 7Labor Day [remember, "working woman" is a redundancy!!]
September 13International Chocolate Day, National Grandparents' Day [give your meemaw a bonbon!]
September 18National Respect Day [R-E-S-P-E-C-T, find out what it means to me!]
September 20Women's Friendship Day
September 21International Peace Day
September 22Autumnal Equinox, American Business Women's Day, International Day of Radiant Peace
September 24Punctuation Day
September 27World Heart Day
September 28Family Day [a day to eat dinner with your family]
September 30National Women's Health & Fitness 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.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

today.

Today . . .

. . . I'm feeling discouraged about my daughter's two-day turnaround regarding fifth grade. Funny, the downhills are typically my favorite part of a roller-coaster.

. . . I braved an Austin August morning to go running around the park.

. . . I wish we would just break the dang days-over-100-degrees record already [five more scorchers to go!].

. . . I wish thirtysomething would come out on DVD already.

. . . I'm cooking Picante Crockpot Chicken for supper.

. . . I feel like something is calling me, but I don't know what yet. No, it is not the Crockpot Chicken.

. . . I'm grieving for my birthmom, whose birthday is tomorrow.

. . . I'm mourning the final passing of the greatest generation of Kennedys [Robert, Edward & John pictured above].

. . . I don't want to perform a three-month analysis of my spending.

. . . I should probably go get my new driver's license while my hair is cooperating.

. . . I'm a little hormonal, I reckon.

. . . I've got my health, my creativity, my family & hope, among many, many other wonderful things.

. . . I may be grumpy, but I'm still grateful. :]

Friday, August 21, 2009

global girl power.

Forbes' annual list of the world's Power Women isn't about fame or fortune - it's about influence. And yes, gals, size matters.

Putting together this year's list of the top 100 most powerful women worldwide, Forbes considered two qualities: how many media mentions the women got; and how big of an organization or country the women lead.

Number one for the fourth consecutive year is German Chancellor Angela Merkel [above], leader of the world's fourth-largest economy. Runner-up at number two is Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation Chair Sheila Bair, who has overseen the orderly takeover of 77 banks to date this year, while fighting big boys like Fed Chair Ben Bernanke and U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner for more power for her agency.

The list is largely corporate, with numbers 3, 4 and 6-10 all big-business CEOS - Indra Nooyi of PepsiCo, Cynthia Carroll of Anglo American, Irene Rosenfeld of Kraft Foods, Ellen Kullman of DuPont, Angela Braly of WellPoint, Anne Lauvergeon of France's Areva, and Lynn Elsenhans of Sunoco. Number 5 is Singapore's Ho Ching, who leads Tamasek, the city-state's sovereign wealth fund.

At number 36, Hillary Rodham Clinton is the highest-ranking woman U.S. government leader, followed by First Lady Michelle Obama at number 40, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano (#51), newly sworn Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor (#54) and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius (#56). Poor 16-year Supreme Court veteran Ruth Bader Ginsberg didn't make it into the top 100 this year [time to work that publicist, Justice G!].

Of course you're now wondering, as I did, but what about Oprah?? Well, Forbes opted to give women media figures their own list this year, based upon how much money they earn, how many media mentions they receive, how big of an audience they reach [size still matters!] and how many Facebook/Twitter followers they've got. Topping the Most Influential Women in Media list by a landslide is, naturally, Lady O, followed by ABC's 63-year-old Diane Sawyer and 79-year-old (!) Barbara Walters.

Rounding out the top twelve of a list of 30: talk-show hostesses Ellen Degeneres and Tyra Banks [#5 - really?!?], NBC's Meredith Vieira and Ann Curry, CBS Evening News anchor Katie Couric, domestic goddess Martha Stewart [#9, and Tyra's #5 - something's gone terribly awry!], spunky chef Rachael Ray, The Ladies of The View, and blogging post-mistress Arianna Huffington. MSNBC's Rachel Maddow [to whom I'm offering a special shoutout, because I love her] ranked midway at 15th.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

thankful thursday.

Top ten things I'm thankful for today:

1. air-conditioning.

2. feeling more balanced following a decidedly less-balanced period.

3. summertime's looseness.

4. back-to-school time's structure.

5. silly jokes between friends that make you laugh aloud later just thinking about them.

6. clean, folded, put-away linen laundry [the sort of laundry I find most vexing].

7. our darling dogs and the little daily routine we've got going.

8. our neighbor's willow tree that gives our driveway afternoon shade from the searing sun [example of a willow above, but with a much more verdant environment].

9. warranties, insurance and helpful service people.

10. lists - I love 'em!!

Hopeful bonus gratitude:
11. rain [well, I would be really, really grateful for it, if it would just come . . . ]

So, what are you thankful for this Thursday??

Saturday, August 15, 2009

trust. gratitude. inspiration. blog.

I heart this notion from Brené Brown's Ordinary Courage blog: weekly tgif - trust|gratitude|inspiration|friday - postings, where she asks and answers the questions:

Who/what are you trusting today?

Who/what are you grateful for today?

Who/what is inspiring you today?

Plus, her whole "twinkle lights of joy" theory [above] is amazing.

Today, I am trusting more work will come along.

Today, I am grateful for a little less work and a little more life [and sleep].

Today, I am inspired by this blog!!

Friday, August 14, 2009

a champion worth remembering.

Say what you like about the Kennedys - they've been called everything from American royalty to murderers - but the upside of their legacy for America can't be denied.

Eunice Kennedy Shriver - sister of JFK, Bobby and Ted, and mother of California first lady Maria [pictured above with her mother a few years ago] - died Tuesday at the age of 88, leaving behind her husband, five children, 19 grandchildren, her brother Ted and her sister Jean. And the Special Olympics.

Eunice was a social worker, activist and celebrity - all roles she played to the hilt to help transform our country's view of the intellectually disabled from institutionalized freaks to friends, neighbors and athletes.

Or, for Eunice, sister. Her older sister, Rosemary, was mentally retarded, underwent a lobotomy at 23, and spent the remainder of her life in an institution. She died just four years ago at age 86. Rosemary was somewhat of a Kennedy family secret until Eunice revealed her condition to the nation in a 1962 article she wrote for the Saturday Evening Post.

In 1968, Eunice organized the first Special Olympics. Held in Chicago, the two-day event drew more than 1,000 participants from 26 states and Canada. Today, Special Olympics is the world's largest athletic competition for mentally disabled children and adults, with more than 1 million athletes from over 160 countries participating each year.

Commonly regarded as the most intellectual and politically minded of the Kennedy women, Eunice also worked to help solve the growing problem of juvenile delinquency. She began her career as a social worker at a West Virginia women's prison, worked with Chicago's juvenile court and led the Joseph P. Kennedy Foundation (named for her oldest brother, killed in combat during WWII), created to improve treatment of the mentally disabled.

Eunice was born the fifth of nine children to Joseph P. Kennedy and Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy. She married R. Sargent Shriver, the first director of the Peace Corps, head of LBJ's War on Poverty, George McGovern's vice-presidential running mate in 1972 and a presidential contender four years later. Sargent was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease six years ago.

Together, the couple had five children: Maria Shriver, wife of California Governor Arnold Schwarznegger; Robert, a Santa Monica city council member; Timothy, who chairs the Special Olympics; Mark, a Save the Children executive; and Anthony, founder and chair of Best Buddies International, a volunteer organization for the mentally disabled.

Talk about a lasting legacy. Though almost all of the first-generation Kennedy children are gone - U.S. Senator Ted Kennedy, 77, is suffering from brain cancer; Jean appears to be healthy at 81 - the second generation seems to be carrying forth with the credo so deeply held by their grandparents: Much is expected of those to whom much has been given.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

a role model worth remembering.

Confession time: I had never heard of Naomi Sims until she was already gone.

I might say it was because she hit her professional-profile peak about the time I was an infant. But the truth is, I strongly suspect I had never heard of Naomi Sims because I'm not a black woman.

Which is not an excuse. She was dubbed the first black supermodel, before Beverly Johnson and way before Tyra Banks or that other notorious Naomi.

But fascinatingly, Naomi Sims - having spent the late 1960s and early '70s modeling the haute-est couture, gracing the covers of mainstream publications like Life, the New York Times fashion supplement and Ladies' Home Journal, and appearing in a national TV campaign for AT&T - retired from her model life after only five years.

"There is nothing sadder than an old, broke model," she told the Times in 1969. "And there are many models who have nothing at the end of their career." Sims made sure her career was just beginning as she left modeling behind.

In 1973, she launched her own business. As a model, she had found that many studio assistants knew next to nothing about doing black women's makeup and that almost all wigs were designed for Caucasian hair. Sims began experimenting on her own, baking synthetic hairs in her home oven to try to create the right texture to look like straightened black hair.

Within five years, her designs were being produced by the Metropa Company, with annual sales of $5 million. During the '80s, the Naomi Sims Collection extended into cosmetics and fragrance, even opening boutique salons. Meanwhile, Sims also authored five books about modeling, beauty and success. Sims was married for 18 years to Manhattan art dealer Michael Findlay. Their son, Bob, survives her, as does Sims' granddaughter and one of her two older sisters, Betty Sims.

The product line she originated survives her as well, still going strong over 30 years later, a household name among black women.

One of which I'm not. And though I had not heard of Naomi Sims until she died last Saturday at the age of 61 from cancer, I'm happy to know about her now.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

salut sotomayor!!

Just in case you've been buried under sand or otherwise piled up on (as I have been for about a month), let us now seize the moment to celebrate Sonia Sotomayor, who has been officially sworn in as the first Hispanic Supreme Court justice ever and just the third woman in the court's 220-year history.

Sotomayor took her public oath of office last Saturday from Chief Justice John Roberts, with her left hand resting upon a Bible held by her mother, Celina, and Sonia's only sibling, her brother Juan, standing beside her as a witness.

The Senate vote almost a week ago to confirm Sotomayor as the court's 111th justice was 68-31. America's longest-serving senator, 91-year-old Robert Byrd (D-WV), despite his tenuous condition following a lengthy hospitalization, was brought in in a wheelchair to vote for Sotomayor. The only senator absent from the floor was Edward Kennedy (D-MA), who is currently suffering from brain cancer.

President Obama applauded the Senate's favorable vote on his first Supreme Court nominee as "breaking another barrier and moving us yet another step closer to a more perfect union."

Today, at a White House celebration held in her honor, Sotomayor echoed the President's sentiments, saying, "It is our nation's faith in a more perfect union that allows a Puerto Rican girl from the Bronx to stand here now. I am struck again today by the wonder of my own life and the life we in America are so privileged to lead."

The court is scheduled to hear arguments September 9th in a campaign finance case. The whole court will convene the day prior for a formal welcoming ceremony for Sotomayor.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

you are beautiful.

You are beautiful. What is it about those three little words that makes it almost impossible for us to accept them graciously?

At best, we squirm uncomfortably. At worst, we not only disbelieve it on the inside, but we reject it on the outside, too.

Oh, no. I'm not. My sister, now she's beautiful. Or Christie Brinkley, she's super beautiful. Or Meryl Streep, she's got a certain je ne sais quoi beauty about her. But me? No, no. I'm OK, I guess. But I wouldn't say I'm beautiful.

Luckily, plenty of other people would.

Enter Operation Beautiful.

Around the beginning of the summer, Caitlin Boyle, a 25-year-old urban planner from Orlando, FL, stuck a yellow Post-It note up on the mirror of her doctor's office women's restroom. It read, 'You are beautiful.'

Caitlin photographed it and blogged about it, requesting her readers to do the same thing. Post-It. Mirror. Beautiful.

Two days later, based upon the dozens of photographs of Post-Its she was already receiving, Caitlin launched OperationBeautiful.com, where she posts the photographs of notes women send her.

They read 'You are beautiful,' 'You're amazing, just the way you are,' 'You are enough,' 'Smile - you are more than your weight, or 'Your butt looks terrific in that outfit.'

They're being posted on diet books, food and drug products in stores, on gym lockers, under windshield wipers, and on doctors' scales.

Boyle says she is dumbfounded by the huge response Operation Beautiful has gotten.

"To me, it's crazy," she says. "but when people participate, they realize they're not just helping a stranger feel better; they feel better, too."

So, what will your note say today, and where will you put it??

Friday, August 7, 2009

hughes? hughes?

"Life moves pretty fast.
If you don't stop and look around once in a while,
you could miss it."

Matthew Broderick as Ferris Bueller,
written & directed by John Hughes

Well, Mr. Hughes didn't miss a thing.
But he will be missed. Godspeed, righteous dude.