Thursday, March 29, 2012

crrrrageous women.

earlier in the month, marking international women's day, the u.s. state department presented
this year's international women of courage awards to ten women from around the world
who have shown leadership, courage, resourcefulness & willingness
to sacrifice for others, especially for the improvement of women's rights.

"these women ... have taken very different journeys to this moment,"
remarked first lady michelle obama at the event.
"but they are all here today because somewhere along the line,
they decided they could no longer accept the world as it is.

"and they committed themselves to fighting for the world as they know it should be.

"they saw corruption, & they worked to expose it.
they saw oppression, & they worked to end it.
they saw violence, poverty, discrimination & inequality —
& they decided to use their voices & risk their lives to do something about it."

go on — pick an inspiration, any inspiration:

aneesa ahmed, maldives.
aneesa ahmed is a vocal advocate for ending gender-based violence.
while serving as maldives' deputy minister of women's affairs,
ahmed raised the taboo topic of domestic violence.
she founded hope for women, an organization working to educate
students, police & other workers about gender-based violence,
& has been a public voice against female genital mutilation/cutting.

zin mar aung, burma.
zin mar aung was imprisoned for eleven years for her political activism.
once released, aung created & leads a self-help association for female ex-political prisoners,
& a political science school in rangoon. she co-founded a women's empowerment group,
& is currently launching an organization to raise awareness of issues
affecting ethnic minorities in conflict areas.

pricilla de oliveira azevedo, brazil.
major pricilla de oliveira azevedo joined the rio de janeiro police 13 years ago,
working in police battalions & street repressions operations.
she arrested a gang of criminals who had kidnapped & tortured her,
& was chosen to lead the fort police pacification unit in the slum of santa marta.
major azevedo has shut down drug-dealing operations, improved garbage collection
& health care, & broadened education & technical training opportunities.

samar badawi, saudi arabia.
samar badawi is powerful voice for women's suffrage & against the guardian system,
under which women can't marry, work or travel without a male guardian's permission.
badawi was the first woman to sue her father for abuse of the system,
& the first woman to sue the government for the right to vote, urging other
women to follow [law]suit. thanks to hers & like efforts, the government issued
a royal decree letting women vote & run for municipal office.

shad begum, pakistan.
shad begum is a human rights activist & leader in an extremely conservative area.
as founder & executive director of the association for behavior & knowledge transformation,
begum provides political training, microcredit, education & health services for women
in the most conservative areas of her country. she also ran & won local seats in
elections against conservatives who tried to ban female participation.

honorable maryam durani, afghanistan.
honorable maryam durani is a member of kandahar's provincial council,
& a voice for the rights of afghan women & girls. durani is also director
of the khadija kubra women's association for culture, & owner/operator
of the only local, female-focused radio station. she has survived multiple
assassination attempts & continues to face regular threats, but remains
dedicated to advocating for basic civil rights for all afghans.

hana el hebshi, libya.
hana el hebshi is a 27yo artchitect who has become a symbol of solidarity for many.
working under the pseudonym "numidia [new media]," el hebshi contributed greatly to proper
documentation of the violence of the libyan revolution, & shared with international media
the grave realities of living under the gaddafi regime, despite serious risk.

jineth bedoya lima, colombia.
jineth bedoya lima is an investigative journalist who continues to pursue
dangerous assignments in the interest of justice, particularly as it concerns
crimes of sexual & gender-based violence. lima herself was kidnapped in 2000
as she arrived at a prison for an interview with a key paramilitary member.
she was driven several hours & repeatedly gang-raped as "a message to the colombian press."
today, she serves as a spokesperson for an oxfam campaign against rape & other violence.

safak pavey, turkey.
safak pavey is the first disabled woman elected to the turkish parliament.
pavey has worked with the united nations high commission on refugees in the middle east,
south asia & africa, helped launch the un's interagency support group for
the convention on the rights of persons with disabilities, & continues to give voice
to disabled persons, women & minority populations in her home country.

hawa abdallah mohammed salih, sudan.
hawa abdallah mohammed salih was forced to flee with her family from their village
due to fighting between darfuri rebels & government forces, & grew up in an
internally displaced persons [idp] camp. today, salih is a prominent voice for idp's —
so much so that she has bee persecuted & detained many times by the sudan government,
& was finally forced to leave the country last year. she hopes to return to her homeland
to continue fighting for the rights of darfuris, especially women & children.

image source: u.s. state department.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

wrrrrld records.

it's women's history month,
& american women are undoubtedly under attack —
by presidential candidates, media moguls, local lawmakers.

but what you pay attention to grows.
so i don't want to dwell too deeply upon the current
he-man woman-haters club members invading our lady-space lately.

i just want to quickly clarify two points:
1) women's history month does NOT mean it's the month to make women history, fellas; &
2) contrary to popular "our gang" beliefs, girls are NOT the bunk. :p

now, moving along to more uplifting women-centric items . . .
how about five world records recently set by women??

:: longest distance solo swim: penny palfrey.
last summer, 48yo australian grandmother penny palfrey broke the world record for
longest unassisted solo swim, crossing the 67 miles
from grand cayman to little cayman in 40 hours, 41 minutes.
she wore only a swimsuit & goggles, & contended with sharks & jellyfish
along the way, but never left the water.

:: biggest worldwide jumping-jacks organizer: michelle obama.
last fall, u.s. first lady michelle obama led 450 kids
on the south lawn of the white house — & other organized events nationwide,
totaling 300,625 americans — in simultaneous jumping jacks,
leaving the prior record of just 20,000 jumpers lamely lacking.

:: fastest appalachian trail hiker: jennifer pharr davis.
[& i don't mean the appalachian trail hiking used as a euphemism
by former sc governor mark sanford for an argentinian booty call.
last summer, 28yo writer jennifer pharr davis hiked up to 47 miles & 16 hours a day
to cover the 2,175-mile backwoods trail from maine to georgia
in just under 47 days. it was davis' third time hiking the appalachian trail,
but not her first serious athletic achievement; she has also summited mount kilimanjaro,
completed an ironman & set a women's record for the long trail.

:: longest distance on a treadmill: sharon gayter.
last winter, 48yo british endurance runner sharon gayter jogged an average of
74 miles & 18 hours a day to complete 517.33 miles on a treadmill in 7 days.
no novice to athletic accomplishment, gayter has run over 22k miles
in over 1,000 races, over 300 marathons & over 100 ultras around the world.

::most academy award nominations: meryl streep.
2012's best actress oscar winner has been nominated 17 times, won thrice.
her closest competitors for this record are katherine hepburn & jack nicholson,
who tie for the runner-up honor with a paltry dozen noms a piece.
at 62yo, the magnificent ms. streep has also earned eight golden globes, two emmys
& myriad other honors, not to mention her degree from the yale school of drama.

image sources: poorly noted. :}

Sunday, March 25, 2012

grrrrl scouts.

original girl scout emblem, designed by founder juliette gordon low.

just about two weeks ago, girl scouts of the usa
celebrated its centennial anniversary.

& while for many of us, girls scouts = good cookies,
this organization is — & ever has been — about much more
than the girlish sugar-&-spice stereotype.

juliette gordon, also known as daisy, was born & raised in savannah, ga,
by a spanish-american & civil war veteran & a yankee socialite.
juliette was educated via excellent boarding schools & a french finishing school.
at 26, she married wealthy british cotton merchant william mackay low.

unfortunately, low was an adulterous lowlife,
who eventually moved his mistress into his home while juliette was traveling.
juliette was forced into the servants' quarters & into divorce proceedings.
william died prior to the finalization of the divorce.

girls scouts of the usa founder "daisy."

juliette gordon low embarked upon the rare-for-her-era lifestyle of an independent woman,
traveling alone & creating friendships with men which didn't lead to marriage.
one such friendship was with sir robert baden-powell, british founder of
the boy scouts & their auxiliary group, the girl guides.

juliette decided to create a girls' organization of her own,
but with an american angle: rather than focusing on domestic labor & feminine arts,
her organization would center on more boy-scout-like activities, like camping & athletics,
& would carry the more proactive name of girl scouts.

& so the girls scouts launched its first troop on march 12, 1912, in savannah, ga.

nine other fascinating facts about gsusa:

:: nationwide, there are 2.3 million scouts & 880,000 adult members & volunteers.

:: as of 2005, almost 72% of women u.s. senators &
over 67% of women u.s. representatives were girl scout alumnae.

:: the scouts recently revamped badge options, adding modern badges like
geocaching, netiquette & science of happiness
to the classic naturalist or citizen options girls can earn.

:: the girl scouts' motto is the same as the boy scouts': be prepared;
the two groups also share their slogan: do a good turn daily.

:: each year, the country's #1 cookie brand during the first quarter is girl scouts;
during all other quarters, it's oreo.

:: during wwii, due to sugar, butter & flour rations,
the scouts sold calendars rather than cookies.

:: to celebrate the centennial, the scouts added a new cookie named for its birthplace:
savannah smiles are lemon-wedge cookies covered with powdered sugar.

:: thin mints are the scouts' best-selling cookie [25% of sales] . . .
& the least-healthy one. [boo.]

:: in earlier days, the girl scouts rather unpopularly reached out to poor girls & ethnic girls;
recently, the scouts have courageously embraced tolerance for atheist & glbt members.

& finally, just in case you may be searching for a code to live by,
you might want to consider the girl scout law — it rules:

i will do my best to be
honest & fair,
friendly & helpful,
considerate & caring,
courageous & strong, and
responsible for what i say & do,
& to
respect myself & others,
respect authority,
use resources wisely,
make the world a better place, &
be a sister to every girl scout.

you go, girl scouts.
happy, happy 100th birthday, & many, many more!!

image sources:, house divided.

Friday, March 23, 2012

national puppy day!!

woohoo & woofwoof! it's national puppy day!

according to the official website, national puppy day was launched in 2006
to not only celebrate the magic of puppies, but also
to help save puppies in peril around the world,
to educate the public about the horrors of puppy mills,
& to work toward an America of puppy-free pet stores.

which is all extremely noble & worthy.

but just for licks, er, kicks,
i'm celebrating puppy day by promoting my top ten products
featuring my latest favorite puppy, the french bulldog [fbd],
offered by the artists of my favorite handmade e-marketplace,

fbd text art
8x10" stretched canvas print
by rescue love

fbd silver silhouette necklace
sterling, 16" chain
by an original jewelry

fbd silver silhouette earrings
by creative dexterity

letterpress fbd in love cards
6 - 3.5x5" w/envelopes
by fat bunny press

fbd blank notecards
5 - 4.25x5.5" w/envelopes
by the painted peep show

frenchy the fbd
4.5x6.5" print
by leftpaw

fbd handpainted burlap pillow
14x14", insert included
by courtnees creations

fbd onesie
sizes available newborn-12mos
by MaddiesMomE baby boutique

fbd amigurumi keychain
by twisty creations

the french bulldog
8x10" print
by schlueter art works handdrawn pencil sketches

now, go pet a puppy!!

image source: bubba the french bulldog, 8x10" print, by church key jewelry & accessories, $11.99.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

life is short.

happy, happy ice cream for breakfast day!!

actually, it was officially yesterday, but considering the origins of the occasion,
i'm fairly sure any day at all is appropriate for this specific celebration.

you see, 3.21.2012 was the first eat ice cream for breakfast day ever,
& we've got bruce rosenberg of rock hill, sc, to thank for it.

when bruce was diagnosed with cancer on march 21st, 2011,
he chose not to wallow in grief, but to celebrate life.

he invited everyone he knew, & everybody they knew —
& it eventually made its way on to facebook — to celebrate with him
by eating ice cream for breakfast every year on march 21st.

bruce was his neighborhood's jewish champion of christmas lights,
called his cancer "humperdink," & embraced a flatulent unicorn
as his mascot & humperdink's nemesis. he was clearly something special.

sadly, bruce died just nine days prior to the inaugural celebration
of the holiday he created. he was 41, & leaves his wife, julie,
& two young daughters — lucy & ella — to carry on his joie de vivre.

& now, we can help — & honor all who have been touched by cancer —
just by enjoying an indulgence once a year.

life is short, people. eat ice cream — early & often.

as an aside, an educational fund has been established for bruce's daughters.
you can contribute by mailing a check made payable to either ella or lucy rosenberg
to po box 38101, rock hill, sc, 29732.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

the tutu project.

there is a man who is a professional photographer who lives in new york city.
his name is bob carrey.
he is married to linda.

the carreys used to live in phoenix. while there, ballet arizona asked bob
to contribute an original image for a media campaign.
bob chose to snap a shot of himself in a pink tutu.

a few months later, in 2003, the carreys moved across the country from phoenix to nyc.
bob thought he might begin a series of himself in the tutu,
so he kept it close at hand as they drove across the country.

the first tutu self-portrait happened in santa fe.

in bob's words,
"i began to realize that a bit of pink tulle can change the
context of an environment & people's reaction to it."

six months later, linda was diagnosed with breast cancer.
she beat it, but a few years later, in 2006, it recurred.
she has been undergoing chemo ever since.

again, bob's words:
"oddly enough, [linda's] cancer has taught us that life is good,
dealing with it can be hard, & sometimes the very best thing —
no, the only thing — we can do to face another day is
to laugh at ourselves, & share a laugh with others."

& so the tutu project continued,
spreading its rare tincture of silliness & beauty
one pirouette at a time.

soon, bob will self-publish ballerina, the book,
a collection of his tutu images & some humorous stories
about the adventures of a man & his pink tulle.

all proceeds from the sale of the book will go directly
to breast-cancer organizations.
the carreys' goal is to raise $75,000.

you can purchase prints of tutu photos or preorder the book here.
you can visit & like the tutu project's facebook page here.
& you can enjoy just a taste of bob's terrific tutu self-portraiture here:

Monday, March 12, 2012

they do it. why can't we??

meet bff's kate & pippin.
kate, the great dane, & pippin, the young deer.
they're adoptive mother & daughter, & best friends.

pippin was just a newborn fawn in june 2008 when her birthmother abandoned her,
frightened by some neighbor dogs. pippin wandered around isobel springett's property
for three days until isobel finally rescued her.

isobel's dog kate adopted the tiny fawn almost immediately.
the two became inseparable as kate — who had never mothered & was spayed —
cleaned pippin, tried to nurse her and slept beside her.

eventually, pippin grew into an independent deer,
who lives out in the woods with her fellow deer, but
who comes for daily visits & playtime with her adoptive mother.

isobel, a photographer, documented their rare relationship,
& with her brother martin's words telling the amazing tale,
has just published kate & pippin: an unlikely love story.

they've also got their own youtube channel,
where you can enjoy moments like this:

there's something uniquely uplifting about animal odd couples like kate & pippin.
i think it's that they prove without doubt the power of love —
that love can override even something as ingrained as animal instinct.

happily, unusual animal friendships can be found all over the interwebs:

:: 9 unusual animal relationships, a huffington post.

:: dozens of photos of unusual animal friendships @ kikiriki pics.

:: a whole blog dedicated to photos of unusual animal friendships @ let's be friends.

:: unlikely friends: why we love odd animal pairs, an analysis.

:: unlikely friendships, a book by jennifer holland.

:: friends: true stories of extraordinary animal friendships, a book by catherine thimmesh.

:: & the classic animal pals story of tarra the elephant & bella the dog:
:::: there's the book, tarra & bella: the elephant & dog who became fast friends by carol buckley;
:::: & here's the cbs tv feature that i believe got the two on oprah:

ah, wise, wonderful animals — proving once again
the power to "reason" is highly overrated
& no match at all for the power of compassionate kindness & love.

Friday, March 9, 2012

celebrating no-kill, year one.

technically, teen girl & i have been volunteering
with the amazing rescue organization austin pets alive!
for almost a year.

[realistically, seventh grade has dramatically diminished our capacity
for putting in volunteer hours, but we occasionally help out
the apa! adoption counselors at our friendly neighborhood petsmart.]

regardless, thanks in large part to apa!, austin just hit
the one-year mark of being a no-kill city for homeless pets.

[no-kill is defined as a minimum of 90% of homeless pets
coming into the city shelter leaving alive to forever homes.]

the austin city council declared yesterday as no-kill day
in austin to honor the occasion.
austin is also currently america's biggest no-kill city.

in 2011, the austin animal center — with the help of apa!, the austin humane society,
& dozens of other volunteer rescue & foster groups — had an average
91% save rate, with a total of 5,541 dogs & cats avoiding euthanasia, including:
3,224 dogs, 2,317 cats,
1,032 bottle babies [animals too young to be weaned],
256 parvo puppies & 132 barn cats.

so let us raise a glass — or a tail, as the case may be —
in celebration of austin, texas, the music capital of the world,
& the best place on earth to be a helpless, hopeful critter.

image source: our own apa! adoptee, skipper inkspots,
with bone & duckie, on the recent occasion of his first birthday,
without whom our pack would be incomplete &
merely 5,540 austin-area pets would have been saved last year.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

top five regrets of the dying.

australian writer & songwriter bronnie ware
spent several years caring for dying people
who had gone home to spend their final weeks of life.

bronnie questioned them about any regrets they had or
anything they would have done differently, & within their answers,
she discovered common themes emerging again and again.

bronnie's memoir chronicling how these regrets helped
change her life will be published march 20th.

here, from the top five regrets of the dying:
a life transformed by the dearly departing
, are
the five most common life regrets:

1. i wish i'd had the courage to live a life true to myself,
not the life others expected of me.

the most common regret of all.
make choices that honor your dreams.
from the moment you lose your health, it's too late.
health offers a freedom frequently unappreciated until it's gone.

2. i wish i didn't work so hard.
every male patient had this regret,
& as more & more women become breadwinners,
i sadly suspect they will share it.
simplify your lifestyle & create more space in your life.

3. i wish i'd had the courage to express my feelings.
many people quashed their feelings in order to keep peace with others.
consequently, they settled for a mediocre existence,
& held onto lifelong resentment over it.
speak honestly, & it will either
make your relationship healthier or
release the unhealthy relationship from your life.

4. i wish i had stayed in touch with my friends.
many people had let golden friendships slip through the cracks
while they were caught up in their own busy lifestyles.
give friendships the time & energy they deserve.
at the end of life, all that remains is love & relationships.

5. i wish i had let myself be happier.
many people don't realize happiness is a choice.
they stay stuck in old patterns and habits,
pretending they're content because they're afraid of change.
don't let fear or familiarity hold you down.
this may well be your one & only opportunity to live a happy life.

concludes bronnie ware:
life is a choice.
it is your life.
choose consciously, choose wisely, choose honestly.
choose happiness.

image source: windows7 wallpapers.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

10 of marc & angel's best life hacks.

i guess i'm way behind the self-improvement-blog curve,
but i just discovered marc & angel,
a too-cute california couple blogging with the maybe-overinflated,
yet-aspirational mission: "to inspire."

marc & angel hack life is a self-described
"personal development" blog featuring posts on,
well, lifehacks, as well as productivity, health, wealth,
technology & overall happiness.

what captured my attention is the quintessential
blog-post-title format marc & angel invariably use;
i think you'll see what i mean once you peruse
my personal picks for a marc & angel sampler:

:: 30 things to start doing for yourself
:: 30 things to stop doing to yourself
:: 40 extraordinary things happening right now
:: 50 questions that will free your mind
:: 30 challenges for 30 days of growth
:: 60 ways to make life simple again
:: 12 things happy people do differently
:: 10 simple truths smart people forget
:: 10 commandments for a good life
:: the 30 most satisfying simple pleasures life has to offer

thanks, angel & marc [give that girl a little top billing!] –
extremely inspirational!

image source: tara winona @

Friday, March 2, 2012

desperately seeking: my groove.

do you ever feel all askew?

lately, it's like i can't get into a groove.

i can't sort things through.
i can't get stuff done.
i can't organize my thoughts or my stacks or my time.

despite all that, i also can't seem to get
enough sleep or enough produce or enough exercise.
i can't get around to my work projects or my creative practices.

i can't bring myself to bring up difficult issues,
even though it will help ease them.

i often feel overwhelmed . . .
& overcome with the fantasy of napping for a solid week.
i rarely feel impassioned or inspired to action
[i.e., so inspired that i must act].

is this depression? i'm already doing antidepressants.
is this hormones? i'm ten days late & not pregnant.
is this midlife? longtime marriage + motherhood = bleh??

i feel like i've got a crowd of elephants
just milling about me all the time,
shuffling their giant-toenailed feet & vaguely swinging their trunks.

following me from room to room,
from school to grocery store to doctor's appointment to client meeting,
some connected tail-to-trunk, but others just free-roaming.

sometimes, i can coax two or three of them into some sort of orderly position,
but as soon as i begin to move the next one over to its spot,
one of them wanders off again, & soon i'm once again surrounded by
the world's most aimless, lumbering & pungent cocktail-party participants.

& so, i am askew. off-center. off-track.
& not sure how to get to "flow" again.

mama wants her groove back.

ideas? please, share 'em if you've got 'em.

image source: eadweard muybridge.