Saturday, May 30, 2009

state salutes sara.

I'm utterly thrilled to announce that the State of Texas has named my magical friend Sara Hickman [photo above by Todd Wolfson] as 2010 Texas State Musician. This is an awesome, well-deserved and well-earned honor for one of the most creative, gifted, giving and amazing women artists I've ever encountered.  YEA, SARA!!  :D

The Texas Commission on the Arts appoints the positions of state musician, state poet laureate, state three-dimensional artist and state two-dimensional artist (a poorly phrased title, from my perspective). The 81st Texas Legislature confirmed the commission's choices for 2009 and 2010 last week. Fellow Austinite Willie Nelson will hold the musical honor this year and pass it along to Sara next year.

According to the commission, appointees are selected for "the exceptional quality of their work and for their outstanding commitment to the arts in Texas." The bill validating the appointments noted that Sara "supports many social causes through her work, and regularly performs and records music for children."

“Texas is home to so many talented artists; this diverse group exemplifies the best of the best,” said Texas Commission on the Arts Executive Director Dr. Gary Gibbs. “This honor rewards these talented Texans for their outstanding artistic achievements, and we are proud to have them represent the state.”

Sara, I love you and am so very proud to call you my friend (regardless of recognition by the Great Lone Star State!)! Happy congratulations!!  :)

Thursday, May 28, 2009

the iron-nun.

Thanks to my good and appropriately named friend, Grace, for the lead on this little lady of the Lord . . .

ABC News recently ran a story about Sister Madonna Buder, a 78-year-old (79 in July) Spokane-based nun who has been racing triathlons for over 25 years.

To date, 5'7" 115-pound Sister Madonna has participated in 320 of the 17-hour swimming-running-cycling events, 40 of them Ironman-class, consisting of a 2.4-mile swim, 26-mile run and 112-mile bike ride.

Sister Madonna was 23 when she joined the Sisters for Christian Community, but didn't begin participating in triathlons until she was 52. "I train religiously," says the spandexed sister. "There are no boundaries to when and where you can commune with God. It doesn't have to be in church all the time."

Amen, Sister. Does she give all glory to God for her long and healthy life? Probably. But she also credits her own God-given persistence and perpetual motion: "Never give up, and never slow down," she counsels.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

latina law.

Well, he may not be perfect, but he's plenty for me — President Barack Obama yesterday nominated Sonia Sotomayor to the U.S. Supreme Court, choosing a woman born of immigrant parents and raised in a public housing project to become America's first Hispanic justice and third woman justice ever.

Sotomayor, 54, if confirmed by the U.S. Senate, will succeed retiring Justice David Souter, a consistently liberal member of the nation's highest court.

Here are some highlights of Judge Sotomayor's life up until now:

1. She was born and raised in the Bronx borough of New York City, close enough to Yankee Stadium to turn her into a lifelong fan. Her parents were Puerto Rican immigrants — her father, a factory worker with a third-grade education who spoke no English, and her mother, a nurse.

2. Sonia was diagnosed with Type I diabetes at the age of eight. The following year, her father died unexpectedly at the age of 42. Sonia turned to books for solace, and says her love of girl detective Nancy Drew ultimately led her into law.

4. Sonia's mother, Celina, worked tirelessly to support her children as a single mother, and strongly emphasized education, spending her hard-earned money on the only set of encyclopedias in their neighborhood.

3. Sonia graduated as valedictorian of her class at the Roman Catholic school Blessed Sacrament and at the parochial Cardinal Spellman High School. She earned a scholarship to and her A.B. from Princeton University, graduating summa cum laude, then moved on to earned her J.D. at Yale Law School, where she was an editor of the Yale Law Journal.

4. Sotomayor served as an Assistant District Attorney for New York County for five years, prosecuting robbery, police brutality, murder, child pornography and assault cases. She then practiced corporate law for seven years with the private firm Pavia & Harcourt, where she specialized in intellectual property litigation.

5. President George H. W. Bush nominated Sotomayor to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York in 1991; she was confirmed in 1992. In 1995, she saved America's favorite pastime by ending a long baseball strike with a ruling against the owners in favor of the players.

6. In 1997, President Bill Clinton nominated Sotomayor to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit; she was confirmed in 1998, becoming the first Latina to serve in one of the most demanding circuits nationwide. She has since participated in over 3,000 panel decisions and authored about 400 opinions.

7. Sotomayor has a younger brother, Juan, who is now a Syracuse doctor. She was married once, to Kevin Edward Noonan; they divorced after seven years and had no children.

8. During her remarks in reaction to her Supreme-Court nomination, Sotomayor cited "one extraordinary person who is my life aspiration" — her mother, Celina [mother & daughter are pictured above]. Said Sonia, "My mother has devoted her life to my brother and me ... I have often said that I am all I am because of her. And I am only half the woman she is."

Salut y buena suerte, Juez Sotomayor!!

Monday, May 25, 2009

may: where mothers & memorials meet.

Arise then . . . women of this day!
Arise, all women who have hearts!
Whether your baptism be of water or of tears!
Say firmly:
"We will not have questions answered by irrelevant agencies,
Our husbands will not come to us, reeking with carnage,
For caresses and applause.
Our sons shall not be taken from us to unlearn
All that we have been able to teach them of charity, mercy and patience.
We, the women of one country,
Will be too tender of those of another country
To allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs."

From the bosom of a devastated Earth a voice goes up with
Our own. It says: "Disarm! Disarm!
The sword of murder is not the balance of justice."
Blood does not wipe out dishonor,
Nor violence indicate possession.
As men have often forsaken the plough and the anvil
At the summons of war,
Let women now leave all that may be left of home
For a great and earnest day of counsel.
Let them meet first, as women, to bewail and commemorate the dead.
Let them solemnly take counsel with each other as to the means
Whereby the great human family can live in peace . . . 
Each bearing after his own time the sacred impress, not of Caesar,
But of God —

In the name of womanhood and humanity, I earnestly ask
That a general congress of women, without limit of nationality,
May be appointed and held at someplace deemed most convenient
And the earliest period consistent with its objects,
To promote the alliance of the different nationalities,
The amicable settlement of international questions,
The great and general interests of peace.

original Mother's Day proclamation by Julia Ward Howe, 1870. [JWH also wrote the words for The Battle Hymn of the Republic.]

Sunday, May 24, 2009

do nice things.

Four years ago, Debbie Tenzer began doing one nice thing every week to battle her Monday blues. According to Tenzer, she found being nice habit-forming, and today, she is the self-confessed "nice-o-holic" leading an international Do One Nice Thing movement via her website and her new book.

The concept is beautifully simple: Do one nice thing for someone else once a week. It can be as simple as telling a friend a joke, bringing someone coffee, collecting empty paper towel and toilet paper rolls for pets. The D1NT website is full of great ideas.

In honor of Memorial Day, D1NT is helping deliver thank-you notes to military families. You write the letter letting a military family know how greatly you appreciate their strength and sacrifice, send it in to D1NT, and they — in conjunction with Military One Source — pass it along to a military family.

So, anyone interested in joining me for a new Austin-based movement — Do Two Nice Things Tuesdays? Everything's bigger in Texas, right?  ;)

Saturday, May 23, 2009

xerox ain't no copycat.

Xerox Corporation has announced that Ursula Burns, currently the company's president, will take over as CEO as of July 1st, accepting the eight-year-reign reins from Anne Mulcahy, who will continue with Xerox as chairman.

Burns will be the first black woman CEO of a Fortune 500 company, and her promotion will mark the first woman-to-woman transition of leadership, according to Fortune.

Mulcahy, 56, named Burns, 50, as president of the world's largest high-speed color-printer maker two years ago, almost three decades after Burns joined Xerox as a summer intern. She will be one of about 15 women leading Fortune 500 companies and, at the helm of a $17.6-billion business, the most powerful black woman in the corporate world.

Friday, May 22, 2009

slowing down kindergarten.

Confession time: My name is Kristen, I've got a son about to graduate from kindergarten, and [gasp!!] he can't read yet.

Knows his letters, knows their sounds, but is just beginning to put it all together. I'm not particularly alarmed about this situation — after all, he just turned six three months ago, just lost his first tooth last week. My daughter didn't really read until the back half of first grade, and now she feeds voraciously upon books, an almost-fifth-grader reading at a tenth-grade level.

I bring it up not because of my concern or lack thereof, but because of how intensely learning to read in kindergarten seems to be stressed (and that is the proper word for it) by the school system. When I was graduating from kindergarten, the readiness "exam" they gave me was having me recite the alphabet and count to a hundred. Period. Kindergarten was much more about learning how to act appropriately in social situations, like a classroom or a playground, than it was about college prep. Which is not to imply we didn't learn stuff, but what we learned was mostly through human interaction, and especially play.

The times, they have a'changed. But, the question is, for the better?

Recently, Peggy Orenstein of The New York Times authored an article ("Kindergarten Cram," 5.3.09) questioning the wisdom of accelerated kindergarten. Based upon "Crisis in the Kindergarten," a newly released report from the nonprofit research and advocacy group Alliance for Childhood, Orenstein cites some very interesting findings. Some samplings:
  • A survey showed kindergarteners spend an average of two to three hours a day being instructed and tested in reading and math, while they spent less than 30 minutes playing.
  • Play is how kids develop higher-level thinking, improve their language and social skills, cultivate empathy and reduce stress.
  • Any early advantage observed from accelerating kindergarten fades by fourth grade.
  • In Finland, where students consistently come out on top in international assessments, they don't begin formal reading instruction until age 7.
  • Homework confers no benefit — it doesn't enhance either retention or study habits — until middle school.
  • Literacy assessments neither predict nor improve young children's educational outcomes.
I must concur with Orenstein's hope — that "[m]aybe the current economic retrenchment will trigger a new perspective on early education, something similar to the movement toward local, sustainable, organic food. Call it Slow Schools. After all, part of what got us into this mess was valuing achievement, speed and results over ethics, thoughtfulness and responsibility."

Peggy's pegged it. When it comes to our itty bitties, let's put off productivity and bring on the play.

Thursday, May 21, 2009


Wow . . . it looks like I haven't done a "today" post for about three months. I guess it's about time!

Today . . .

. . . my sweet husband and I unbelievingly celebrated our 14th wedding anniversary. :)

. . . I felt much more rested, but my eyes are still angry.

. . . I ran around Lady Bird Lake, reveling in the sixty-degree morning, in the lush late-spring greenery, in Austin itself.

. . . I swear I saw Prince Harry (or maybe his doppelganger), and I wasn't even playing celebrity look-alike.

. . . I feel like my relationship with my 'tween girl is experiencing an upswing.

. . . I sang Ingrid Michaelson's "The Way I Am" on and off all day — sometimes in my head, sometimes out loud.

. . . I got The Game of Life.

. . . I got some stuff done, but not as much as I had hoped (no, nothing new).

. . . I remain scandalized by the flagrant robbing of Gilles Marini of the coveted mirrorball trophy.

. . . I discovered American Idol winner Kris Allen's aunt & uncle live within our little pocket neighborhood — who knew??

. . . I debuted my new reality tv obsession for the summer — my Jillian as The Bachelorette.

. . . I thoroughly enjoyed a leisurely, luxury supper with my sweet husband of 14 years — cheers to us!

. . . I missed Hawai'i (I want to go back to my little grass shack in Kealakekua, Hawai'i, where the humuhumunukunukuâpua`a go swimming by . . . ).

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

happy belated mother's day to mama duck.

*Amazing* story of a banker-cum-angel who spent Monday making way for a dozen little ducklings and their mama to go home. It's not often the evening news brings tears to my eyes — well, not over the goodness and kindness of humanity, anyway.

Make your day — click here for two minutes of heart-warming little-baby-duck-osity:

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

happy mother's day to me.

The important thing about my mom is that 
she's nice to everyone.
She loves me & my brother,
& is a lot of fun.
She takes us to the park,
but is very careful sometimes.
She also runs most of the house
& loves the dogs.
But the most important thing about my mom is that
she's nice to everyone.

- R. Card -
Mother's Day

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

money for mama.

So the question is, does this make you feel a) gratified, because your work is worth so much, or b) despondent, because it's all theoretical anyway??, in honor(?) of mothers on Mother's Day, released its 9th annual mom salary survey this week. The group calculates this unreal remuneration by selecting ten jobs that closely match the multiple tasks moms typically do as moms (chief executive officer, computer operator, cook, daycare provider, driver, facilities manager, housekeeper, janitor, laundry service, psychologist), and surveying over 12,000 American moms to quantify their normal hours worked within each role every week.

For 2009, a stay-at-home mom does the work equivalent of a $122,732 salary, up 5% since last year, while a works-elsewhere-fulltime-mom does the work equivalent of a $76,184 second-job salary, up 11% since 2008.

The (fake) salaries rose from a year ago due to the fact that all moms are outsourcing less of the around-the-house jobs, therefore putting in much more "overtime" on their own. The survey says stay-at-homes work about 56 hours of overtime a week (a 96-hour workweek), while the work-elsewhere-fulltimes put in about 17 hours of overtime a week, in addition to their full-time hours as both employees and moms (a 97-hour workweek).


So, on a scale of 1 to 10 — 10 being you feel pleased as punch with all you achieve, 1 being you feel like lying down, preferably for two weeks under the covers — how do these calculations affect you and your self-image as a working (because clearly, we're all working!) mom??

Sunday, May 10, 2009

between youngest daughters.

My grandmother, Mamie, with her youngest daughter, my Mom. June 1956.

Happy Mother's Day, Mom.
Thanks for everything [really — everything].

love love,
your youngest daughter, 

free tees go to good homes.

Happy congratulations go to weekend commenters Martha & Suzanne, who get a cute, cool, live inside-out tee, and my thanks for following and responding!!

And a happy, happy Mother's Day to Suzanne, Martha, and all my mama friends and followers . . . Remember, self-care isn't about indulgence; it's about preservation — wishing you some preservational pauses today!!

Saturday, May 9, 2009

*f*r*e*e* tees, last chance.

Wow. I had guessed I have an intimate group following me here on my blessed blog. But since I posted four days ago offering a *FREE*, cute, cool, Live Inside-Out tee for a lucky commenter, I've gotten zero response.

No commenters. Not even for a free tee. Discouraging.

So here's me giving it a go one final time. I've actually got **2 FREE TEES** to offer — all you've got to do is leave a comment here on your favorite way to nurture yourself.

And meanwhile, don't miss your opportunity — now underway — to download a *FREE* copy of Renée Trudeau's award-winning book, The Mother's Guide to Self-Renewal: How to Reclaim, Rejuvenate and Re-Balance Your Life.

Click here to download. You've got until tomorrow (Sunday, Mother's Day) afternoon @ 5p CDT to do so.

Beautiful. Inspiring. Powerful. Uplifting. Amazing.

And did I mention **FREE**??

Thursday, May 7, 2009

341 years later . . .

The Brits have finally named a bint [slang for woman] as their national bard.

The writer Carol Ann Duffy has been appointed as Britain's first woman poet laureate, following in the footfalls of men such as Alfred Lord Tennyson and William Wordsworth.

The Glasgow native, 53, has been publishing poetry since she was 16. Today, Duffy is regarded as both popular and profound, and according to the New York Times, "is known for using a deceptively simple style to produce accessible, often mischevious poems dealing with the darkest turmoil and the lightest minutiae of everyday life."

Duffy defines herself as "a poet and a mother (to 13-year-old Ella)," and accepted the ten-year position "purely because they hadn't had a woman."

A sampling of her work for your poetic pleasure:

Elvis' Twin Sister

Are you lonesome tonight? Do you miss me tonight?
Elvis is alive and she's female: Madonna

In the convent, y'all,
I tend the gardens,
watch things grow,
pray for the immortal soul
of rock 'n' roll.

They call me
Sister Presley here,
The Reverend Mother
digs the way I move my hips
just like my brother.

Gregorian chant
drifts out across the herbs
Pascha nostrum immolatus est ...
I wear a simple habit,
darkish hues,

a wimple with a novice-sewn
lace band, a rosary,
a chain of keys,
a pair of good and sturdy
blue suede shoes.

I think of it
as Graceland here,
a land of grace.
It puts my trademark slow lopsided smile
back on my face.

I'm alive and well.
Long time since I walked
down Lonely Street
toward Heartbreak Hotel.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009


we're at the cusp, where spring & summer connect.
just for may . . .

connect with others.
connect with yourself.
connect with your favorite mama.
connect with your body.
connect with music.
connect with your mind.
connect with a child as an individual.
connect with your feelings.
connect with your creativity.
connect with your spirit.
connect with nature.
connect with your pause button.
connect with the moment.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

four days to freebies.

This is, simply put, a series of don't-miss opportunities.

From this Friday, May 8th @ 5p CDT to Sunday, May 10th @ 5p CDT, you will be able to download a *FREE* copy of the amazing Renée Trudeau's award-winning book, The Mother's Guide to Self-Renewal: How to Reclaim, Rejuvenate and Re-Balance Your Life.

The book — beautiful, powerful & seriously inspirational — retails in hard-copy form for $20. I've personally given copies of this essential guide to maternal sanity to all of my favorite moms. It can help you reconnect with who you are, learn to nurture yourself, manage your energy and tap into the transformative power of self-care.

Sign up here now, and Renée's team will email you a link to your FREE book download this weekend.

You can taste a sampling of one of Renée's Personal Renewal Groups via a *FREE* teleclass, scheduled for Thursday, June 11th, from 7 - 9p CDT. You can just listen in or get involved in exercises and dialogue on the Transformative Power of Self-Care, led by Renée her own self.

Sign up here now, and the event details will be emailed to you.

I'll be giving away a *FREE* Live Inside-Out tee [design above] — & matching bumper sticker! — this Sunday, Mother's Day, here on my blog.

Here's what to do to enter in the drawing for the free tee: Comment here, letting me know your favorite way to nurture yourself (can be physical, mental, emotional or spiritual). I'll draw a random number, and whoever's comment is the number I draw wins!!

You've got until Saturday, May 9th @ 11:59p CDT to leave your comment (one comment per person, please).

Please sign up for the book & teleclass today, and comment here now to qualify for my free tee drawing!! :)

Monday, May 4, 2009

running to my senses.

I confess, I struggle with being present.

I've been blessed with one of those Type A brains that just goes a mile a minute, frequently either in fast-forward or rewind mode, but with an iffy pause button — sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't, and it's often difficult to locate, probably from lack of use during its developmental stage.

So though the concept of being present, being here now, makes perfect sense and seems right to me, practicing at it is about the best I can do.

I've discovered (through the wisdom of many others) one sure-fire way to make myself tune in to the moment: take stock of my senses — what am I seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, feeling??

I went for a run this morning, trying to absorb the cool, dry, spring air before the early Texas heat rears its hot and humid head for the duration (or December, whichever comes last), and found myself tuning in to my fab five:

sight: The late bloomers of the wildflower crowd — black-eyed susans, pretty pink primroses, mexican hat, indian blanket, vibrantly violet verbena — plus two redbirds swooping across my path.

sound: A slice of my "so much happy" ipod mix — "Back in Love Again" by L.T.D., "Graceland" by Paul Simon, "Somebody to Love" by Queen, "Stomp" by The Hit Crew, "Love Shack" by the B-52s, "It's Raining Men" by The Weather Girls, "If I Had $1,000,000" by Barenaked Ladies.

smell: Freshly mown grass (spied the safety-vested riding mower man three times).

taste: Cotton mouth — I was way ready for my liter bottle of cold water once I got home. Gulpgulpgulp, ahhhhhhhh.

touch: Sweaty, sure, but mostly the slight breeze blowing its subtle magic to cool me down.

So, how does your here-and-now sense look/sound/smell/taste/feel??

Saturday, May 2, 2009

celebrate the everyday - may.

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

May 1 - Lei Day & No Pants Day [related? you be the judge!]
May 6 - International No Diet Day
May 7 - National Day of Prayer
May 9 - Full moon [the Flower Moon] & Birthmother's Day & Mother Ocean Day
May 10 - Mother's Day
May 15 - International Day of Families
May 20 - Turn Beauty Inside-Out Day
May 23 - Tiara Day
May 25 - Memorial Day & Prayer for Peace 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.