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


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


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.