Saturday, November 9, 2013

i'm baack!!


it's been six months since my last post.
which i just noticed was about maternity leave.
which has nothing to do with my absence from bloglandia.

well, i did birth a baby of sorts at the beginning of september –
my at-long-last professional website,
only almost-eleven years in the making.

& i'm mighty proud of it; it is a beautiful baby.

but, to tell the truth, i'm not sure why i took a break from the blog.
i guess i needed to. maybe i needed to see whether i missed it.
maybe i needed to see whether it missed me.

& you know what? it didn't.
i'm not sure whether anyone at all even noticed my six-month hiatus.
except me. i missed the blogosphere, even if the feeling wasn't mutual.

wed almost 19 years, & i'm still in an unrequited relationship.

oh, well. i'm happy to be back,
even if i'm the only one who knows it.

coming soon: more, more, more stories told for my own fun + fulfillment. :)

image source: sacred source nutrition.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

yahoo! maternity leave.

two months ago, yahoo! ceo marissa mayer
banned telecommuting at her company,
a move broadly perceived as anti-family,
as it eliminated much of the scheduling flexibility
that helps working parents — especially moms, of course –
succeed at both working & parenting.

today, ms. mayer has extended her company's maternity policy
to offer new moms 16 weeks of paid leave & new dads 8 weeks,
a move being touted as pro-family [fair enough] & which just about doubles
the amount of leave yahoo! employees have been getting.

the new yahoo! policy still isn't up to snuff with other silicon-valley competitors,
like facebook, which offers new moms four months of paid maternity leave
plus a $4k baby bonus [yahoo! provides $500 of baby money for 5+-year workers],
& google, which offers new moms 22 weeks of paid maternity leave.
& both offer the same benefits to same-sex couples.

on the other hand, microsoft gives new moms only 10 weeks of paid maternity leave,
& all of these firms waaay outpace most american companies,
which are mandated by the federal family & medical leave act to give only
17 weeks of UNpaid leave – & naturally, many new parents can't afford to take that.

america's lack of universal paid leave for new mothers
makes us one of only three countries not to offer it –
while 178 nations worldwide offer new moms paid maternity leave,
only swaziland, papua-new guinea & the u.s. don't.

according to working mother, only about half of all american first-time moms
get any paid leave at all. only about 20% of working moms get any leave with full pay.
& from 1998 to 2008, the percent of u.s. companies offering fully paid
maternity leave fell from 27% to 16%. so, it's getting worse, not better.

working mother is partnering with the national partnership for women & families
to make paid parental–maternity & paternity–leave universally available to u.s. workers
by 2015. click here to sign their online petition.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

no girls allowed. [yet.]

someone has created a great blog called boys clubs,
which is working to shine a light into the
"corners of the world where women have yet to tread."

just begun april 14th, the blog has already
noted some rather fascinating 100%-men groups & categories.
a sampling:

:: the fbi's ten most wanted, everyone wanted for terrorism,
crimes against children & cyber crimes.
:: everybody in charge of guantanamo bay.
:: current leaders of the national rifle association.

[sort of surprising]
:: all executive leadership at apple, inc.
:: all contributors to the freakonomics blog.
:: all committee chairs for this year's clio awards for advertising.
:: everyone to lead the international olympic committee ever.
:: everyone to play new york comedy festival.
:: the 2012-13 officers, board of governors & dog show committee
of the westminster kennel club.
:: every u.s. senate majority leader, minority leader,
majority whip & minority whip ever.
:: every person on a u.s. banknote ever.
:: groupon's senior management team.

:: the papal conclave [not to be confused with the paypal mafia,
also all-male].
:: the leadership of the mormon church.
:: the world’s 40 richest jews, according to forbes israel.
:: all incarnations of the Dalai Lama ever.

image source:

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

a storyteller worth remembering.

e.l. konigsburg
was the author of one of my all-time favorite childhood books,
from the mixed-up files of mrs. basil e. frankweiler.

i tried reading it aloud to my daughter
when she was younger, but she wasn't into it
[much to my disappointment].
luckily, her younger brother was;
i just finished reading it to him a week ago.

& now e.l. konigsburg is gone.

the children's author & illustrator,
the only author to have won the american library association's
john newbery medal for distinguished children's literature
& been the runner-up the same year [1968],
died friday, april 19th, due to complications from a stroke.

she was 83yo.

elaine lobl [which is what e.l. stood for]
was born in 1930 in manhattan, the second of three children
in a modest, hard-working, blue-collar family.
elaine graduated as valedictorian of her pennsylvania high-school class,
& began working to save toward her eventual college studies.

while working as a bookkeeper in a local meatpacking plant,
elaine met david konigsburg, the owner's brother.
they married in 1952. elaine earned her chemistry degree
at carnegie institute of technology [the first person
in her family to do so], david completed his doctorate
in psychology at the university of pittsburgh, &
the couple moved to jacksonville, florida to start their family.

once her children, paul, laurie & ross, went to school,
elaine lobl konigsburg began writing.

her first book, jennifer, hecate, macbeth, william mckinley
and me, elizabeth
, earned the 1968 newbery honors as the runner-up to
her second book, from the mixed-up files.
from the mixed-up files was inspired by her children's gripes
about a picnic with abundant amenities of home; e.l. inferred
if the children ever ran away, they would never consider
going anywhere less elegant than the metropolitan museum of art.

e.l. won the newbery medal again 29 years later, in 1997,
for the view from saturday, making her one of only five authors
to win two newberys, & the author with the longest period between awards.

e.l. also wrote two finalists for the national book award
in children's categories: in 1974, the historical novel
a proud taste for scarlet and miniver; & in 1980,
the short-story collection throwing shadows.
in the 1990s, she authored & illustrated three picture books
featuring her own grandchildren.

e.l. konigsburg's writing was known for its wit,
outsider perspective, & plotlines venturing fearlessly into
unfamiliar epochs, fantastic scenarios & nightmarish situations.

children's books, she once said, are "the key to
the accumulated wisdom, wit , gossip, truth,
myth, history, philosophy, & recipes for salting potatoes
during the past 6,000 years of civilization."

e.l. lost her husband in 2001, so she leaves behind
her three children & five grandchildren,
& many generations of grateful young readers.

claire mysko wrote a lovely posthumous piece celebrating
e.l. konigsburg & my favorite book of hers:
"10 life lessons from the book
from the mixed-up files of mrs. basil e. frankweiler
my favorite life lesson:

yes, you are brilliant. take the compliment.
it always struck me that claudia
totally got what made her amazing.
she owned it.
the girl really, truly liked herself.
& that made me really, truly like her.
at a time when so many of us agonize over insecurities
& shy away from taking credit for our abilities,
claudia's self-assurance is a reminder that
we should all step up & claim our bragging rights.

thank you, e.l. konigsburg, for stepping up
& owning your potential, & creating wonderful ways
to urge us to do the same.

image source:

Friday, April 19, 2013

what's your story?

spoiler alert: i love oprah.

ok, i know you knew that.
but the fact is, she inspires me.

she makes me think. she makes me feel.
she truly gives me those epiphanic aha! moments
all. the. time.
she shifts my perspective.
she moves my spirit.
she taps into my heart-center.
she lifts me to higher ground.

so, i keep on watching own,
keep on listening to oprah radio,
keep on reading o magazine,
keep on clicking around

& i keep on learning. about me.

all of which i mention because
this post is about my latest aha!
provided courtesy of ms. o.

i'm not religious, i disagree with him a lot,
& i can barely tolerate his southern charismatic
preacher persona, accent & barbie wife.
but watching joel osteen & oprah talk about his
"i am" sermon & book, i declare, struck a genuine chord with me.

if you read this blog regularly [as regularly as i write it, anyhow],
then you understand that during the past year or two,
i've been struggling more & succeeding less than i'm used to.
i've been struggling with money & work, weight & hormones,
with my devolving relationship with my aging parents.

& while i'm a natural optimist, & i believe the struggles
aren't forever, they're just for now, & they will get better,
i also find myself, from time to time, blaming, shaming &
doomsday dialoguing with


why do i make the same sort of mistakes again & again?
how will i ever climb out of the giant hole i've gotten myself into?
why don't i show greater self-control? why don't i learn? why don't i change?
what am i, stupid? a strident inner voice shrieks.

& often, the answer comes back, quiet & dispirited: yes.

i beat myself up. i beat myself down.
& yet, i expect whatever the situation is to improve.

here are some of the notes i wrote down from
oprah's i am: life is how you see it lifeclass with joel osteen:

:: whatever follows 'i am' is going to come looking for you.

:: you become what you believe.

:: whatever you feed will grow.

:: your words become your destiny.

:: don't say the negative words out loud; don't give them life.

:: change the recording in your mind.

:: you have the power to become the hero of your own life.

:: you have a purpose; as long as you have breath, you have what someone else needs.

:: be confident in who god made you to be.

:: nobody can be better at being you than you.

:: bring honor to god by being passionate about who you are.

:: be who god made you to be. you don't need other people's approval.
be you — be gratefully, joyfully, fully full-on you. & god will smile.

as another inspiration & oprah-phile, dr. brene brown, notes,
authenticity is a practice. it's a thousand everyday choices, every. day.

& it begins with your thoughts, the story you're telling yourself.

if you don't like the story you're telling yourself [or others]
about you & your life, if your story isn't working for you,

choose a new & improved story.
& whenever the old recording begins looping in your mind,
press 'stop.' & put on your new story.

it begins with "i am ... ."

i am blessed.
i am living in abundance.
i am healthy.
i am fit.
i am strong.
i am solid.
i am secure.
i am a thoughtful spender.
i am a mindful saver.
i am taking care of myself.
i am beautiful.
i am calm.
i am confident.
i am creative.
i am productive.
i am energized.
i am flowing.
i am shining.
i am worthy.
i am lovable.
i am a child of god.
i am grateful.
i am joyful.
i am in peace.
i am in power.

i am not just enough . . .
i am plenty.

& i am passionately ME.

so, what's your story?

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

maddie the coonhound.

it's the classic story:
boy meets girl. girl dumps boy. boy's grandfather dies.
boy adopts a coonhound from petfinder.
boy + dog hit the road to visit all 50 states within 365 days.
boy discovers dog has charming, odd talent.
boy begins photographing dog balancing atop unusual things.
boy posts photos. boy gets book deal.
boy + dog hit the road on book tour.

ok, maybe not the classic story. but still a good one
about photographer theron humphrey & his dog maddie.

theron, having lost his girl & his grandfather,
quit his day job & decided to go cross-country,
documenting the stories of people he met along the way.

but just before he left, he adopted a canine companion. maddie the coonhound.
& as they began their journey together,
theron realized maddie was a good poser & a great balancer.

so he began putting her atop things. many, many things.
& he posted the photos up on instagram. & they went viral.
so, at the end of their 65k+ -mile road trip, they got a book deal.

the book, maddie on things:
a super serious project about dogs & physics
, was published april 1st.
but theron + maddie's book tour began march 8th, at austin's south by southwest festival.

& yes, they are road-tripping it all around america again.
& yes, they are working on a new project, called "why we rescue."
here's why theron says he rescued maddie:

"maddie taught me that i should wake up every morning & be grateful.
she taught me that committing to something & sticking to it is how we grow.
most of all, she taught me that standing on things, everyday objects, can be incredible.

she's my best friend."

this time around, theron is snapping shots of maddie doing things
rather than "just" standing atop stuff.
here's a sampling of both types of maddie photos ... full of awesome.

Monday, April 15, 2013

gettin' grateful.

another monday, another post-lift,
from simple mom's tsh oxenreider.

full of remarkable reminders:
:: new + shiny doesn't = happy.
:: all things are gifts.
:: be present with kids.
:: it's okay to cry.
:: gratitude = joy.

i've got great gratitude for inspirational bloggers like simple mom:

as you start this week, remember
as you watch the other parents in your co-op
or the carpool line who seem to have their act together
that they, too, have their own little human insecurities.
when your old oven misbehaves,
or the butt in your jeans is just a little too tight,
remember that new & shiny doesn’t equal happy.

when you’re tempted to wish your house was on a quieter street,
or a few bedrooms larger,
or basked in more afternoon sunlight,
remember that your home —
no matter if it’s a farmhouse in the country
or a efficiency in a crowded complex —
is a gift.
all things in our lives are gifts.

& remember that when your kids are using their outside voices in
& then smearing their fingerprints on the doors,
that these things are reminders that the ones you’re rearing
are living, breathing, changing, soul-filled beings
who will not remember the streak-free windows
as much as the late-night storytimes
& the shared conversations while you chop the salad for dinner.

& if life’s just not going how you want at all —
the car has broken down again,
your in-laws hurt your feelings,
you got another negative pregnancy test —
that it’s okay to cry.
& be frustrated.
& not understand.

but remember, too, that there is always, ALWAYS something to be grateful for.
take a scratch of paper & a pen,
& scribble down one thing for which you’re grateful.
& then two. & then maybe three.
& display it somewhere obvious today.

be reminded.

image source: iris @ the natural gardener, 4.13.13, by me.

Friday, April 12, 2013

a pineapple princess worth remembering.

she was the most appealing mouseketeer,
a slightly spicy beach babe,
a loving wife & a devoted mother.
but annette funicello's most lasting legacy may be
in her role as a champion for people suffering with
multiple sclerosis, the devastating disease
she lived with for more than a quarter-century,
& which ultimately took her life.

annette joanne funicello was born on october 22, 1942
in utica, ny, a natural musical talent almost from the get-go.

at 2yo, she knew all the words to every song on the hit parade;
her favorite, unsurprisingly, was "ac-cent-tchu-ate the positive."
at 4yo, her parents moved to southern california,
living in a trailer park until her father, a mechanic, found work.
annette learned to dance & play the drums &, at 9yo,
was named miss willow lake at a poolside beauty contest.
she did some modeling, & was discovered by walt disney himself
at a ballet recital of "swan lake." she was 12yo.

annette was the last of the 24 original mouseketeers to be selected
for tv's "the mickey mouse club" when it began in 1955.
girls wanted to befriend this charming girl-next-door,
boys wanted to get beneath her well-fit sweater.
in 1958, when the series was coming to an end,
annette was the only mouseketeer offered a studio contract by disney.

her first movie role was in disney's first live-action comedy, "the shaggy dog."
she went on to play parts in tv's "zorro" & "make room for daddy,"
& had two top-ten singles, "tall paul" & "o dio mio."
she was youngest member of dick clark's caravan of stars tour
along with lavern baker, the coasters, the drifters, bobby rydell
& her onetime boyfriend paul anka, who wrote the song
"puppy love" for annette in her parent's living room.
meanwhile, she earned straight a's through high school.

in 1963, she starred in "beach party" alongside frankie avalon,
& a franchise was born. "muscle beach party," "bikini beach,"
"beach blanket bingo" & "how to stuff a wild bikini" followed.

in 1965, annette married her agent, jack gilardi.
she did a few more films during the 1960s, but mostly focused on
being a mom to her children, gina, jack jr. & jason michael.
aside from some skippy commercials during the 70s & 80s,
annette seemed happy being an actress-turned-homemaker.

but annette & jack divorced in 1981, & five years later,
she married horse breeder glen holt.

she & frankie reunited in 1987 for the self-mocking revival
"back to the beach." the same year, annette discovered she had ms,
but she kept it a secret for five years. once she revealed her illness,
she established the annette funicello research fund for neurological diseases
& underwent brain surgery in 1999 to try to control her tremors.

annette was inducted as a disney legend in 1992.
in 1994, she dictated & published her autobiography, "a dream is a wish
your heart makes: my story
," which was made into a tv movie the following year
that featured annette herself in a finale cameo appearance.
but by 1997, she had left the public stage almost entirely.
she lost her ability to walk in 2004, her ability to talk in 2009,
& required round-the-clock care to survive by last year.

annette funicello died monday at the age of 70 of complications due to ms.

in addition to her husband & three children, annette leaves behind
four stepchildren, twelve grandchildren, & four great-grandchildren,
as well as innumerable admirers around the world.
she took with her an age of american innocence we'll likely not see again.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

an iron lady worth remembering.

margaret hilda roberts thatcher,
baroness thatcher, lg, om, pc, frs
was her full & official moniker.

but millions worldwide knew her as maggie,
the british conservative party politician
who, from 1979 to 1990, served as the
first & only woman prime minister of the united kingdom,
the longest-serving british pm of the 20th century,
& the first woman to lead a modern western power.

she was maggie, & she didn't settle.

maggie roberts was born in grantham, lincolnshire, on october 13, 1925.
she & her older sister muriel grew up in a cold-water flat
above one of the two grocery stores owned & operated by her father.
alf the grocer was also a methodist preacher & ambitious politician.
following the tenets of his religion — hard work, personal responsibility & traditional values —
alf became mayor of grantham in 1945-46, & was a local alderman until 1952.

as a youth, maggie learned plenty about those methodist
tenets & about politics from her father. she also
played piano & field hockey, & enjoyed poetry & swimming.

in 1943, maggie went to oxford on scholarship.
she wanted to join the oxford union debating society,
but the organization didn't accept women until twenty years later,
so maggie joined the the oxford university conservative association,
of which she became president in 1946.
in 1947, she graduated with second-class honours
in the four-year chemistry bachelor of science degree,
& became a research chemist.

in 1949, maggie met denis thatcher, a divorcée ten years her senior.
he was also a conservative activist, a decorated artillery officer,
& a millionaire businessman. they wed in 1951, & in 1953,
maggie gave birth to twins, mark & carol [pictured above].

maggie decided to study law, & became a barrister
specializing in tax law. but politics was always her real calling.
she began running for various offices in 1948, but didn't succeed
until she was elected member of parliament [mp] for finchley in 1959.
in 1970, prime minister edward heath appointed her
secretary of state for education & science.
but heath was ousted in 1974, & the following year, maggie
defeated heath & several other male contenders
to become leader of the opposition that took over the conservative party,
becoming the first woman to lead a major british political party.

just a year later, it was the soviet press who provided her enduring epithet,
the iron lady. maggie embraced it as a badge of honor.

meanwhile, britain was being called the sick old man of europe, plagued by
the economic ills of severe inflation, budget deficits & industrial unrest.

so it was no surprise when a special vote was called for may 1979,
the conservative party, with maggie as their leader, displaced the ruling labour party,
& margaret thatcher was elected prime minister of the united kingdom.

maggie's leadership had turned the conservative party,
the historical champion of the status quo, into the party of reform,
& thatcherism had been born:
the belief that economic freedom & individual liberty are interdependent,
that personal responsibility & hard work are the only ways to national prosperity,
& that the free-market democracies must stand staunchly against aggression.

with uncompromising politics & leadership style,
maggie pushed an agenda that stressed strengthening business
via deregulation & privatization of state-owned companies,
& weakening unions. her first few years were grim,
but eventually, her policies rescued the british economy,
revitalizing business,spurring growth & expanding the middle class.

during her eleven years at the helm,
maggie also led great britain to victory in the ten-week
falklands war against invading argentina in 1982,
helped guide the united states & the soviet union through the cold war's final years,
helped repel saddam hussein's invasion of kuwait,
& negotiated the end of gb's lease over hong kong.

but, by the time she was re-elected a second time in 1987,
maggie's successful reign had peaked, & storm clouds were gathering.
the recession had returned, her community charge [a sort of poll tax]
was unpopular, & her refusal to integrate the uk with
the rest of the european community ultimately caused her
cabinet members to mutiny. maggie resigned as prime minister in 1990.

two years later, she retired from the house of commons
upon receiving life peerage as baroness thatcher
of kesteven in the county of lincolnshire,
which permitted her to sit in the house of lords.

maggie spent her post-pm years consulting, speaking & writing her memoirs. among other honors,
she was awarded the presidential medal of freedom, the highest civilian honor given by the u.s.
she suffered a series of strokes in 2002 that exacerbated looming dementia;
in 2003, her dear husband denis died of pancreatic cancer, & she stopped speaking publicly.

margaret thatcher died monday of a stroke at the age of 87.

carry on, iron lady. & we will do the same.

Monday, April 8, 2013

for every monday ever.

this is a post-lift, plain & pure,
from one of my favorite blogs, simple mom.

blog-mistress & key voice tsh oxenreider
penned this one, & it's just such a
remarkable reminder, it's well worth repeating.


as you start this new week,
may you find a sliver of inspiration in an unexpected place —
your preschooler’s scribble on the back of your grocery list,
the first daffodil in your backyard,
a harebrained story retold by your child as you chop the onions,
a lovely shade of nail polish on sale.

may you remember to stop & really listen to
those little bits of inspiration gifted to you.
during the carpool line & the costco shopping,
may you tune in your ears & eyes just so,
so that you stop & remark on the loveliness of that yellow bell pepper.
may you find that song on the radio
that makes you want to crank up the volume,
sing along, & maybe roll down the windows.

& when things are hard this week —
& there will be hard times this week —
may you remember the good parts of your day, too,
so that you resist labeling the whole day “horrible.”
& if your day truly is a train wreck,
may you find solid sleep,
so that you can wake up again,
ready to roll up your sleeves
& start over.

every new day is a gift. remember that this week.

image source: iris @ the natural gardener, 4.13.13, by me.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

secret no more.

a week ago, an infamously thick glass ceiling was shattered
with president obama's selection of veteran agent julia pierson
as director of the u.s. secret service.

pierson is the agency's 23rd director & its first woman leader.
the key responsibilities of the secret service are protecting the president,
& investigating counterfeiting & fraud.

a native of orlando, pierson was an explorer with
the boy [yes, boy] scouts of america,
in a post chartered by the orlando police department
specializing in law enforcement.

she earned her degree in criminal justice
at the university of central florida,
& became one of the first women to serve
as an opd patrol officer.

pierson joined the u.s. secret service in 1983 as a special agent
& has steadily climbed the ranks of the agency,
serving on the presidential protective details of
both presidents bush, as well as president bill clinton.

since 2008, she has served as the secret service's chief of staff &
assistant director of the office of human resources & training —
already the agency's highest-ranking woman.

president obama chose pierson as the woman for the job
following criticism that his second-term picks for high-level posts
have not been diverse enough, & criticism that the secret service's
notoriously male-dominant culture has gotten out of hand.

a year ago, the agency's reputation was sullied when
several secret-service agents took prostitutes to their hotel rooms
during preparation for the president's visit to cartagena, colombia.
in all, 13 agents & officers were caught up in the scandal.

pierson — who as a high-schooler worked at disney world
as a parking & watercraft attendant, as well as in costume
in park parades — is now tasked with turning
her agency's fratboy image around.

it's no secret that this woman — whom her colleagues call
smart, experienced & even-keeled — is up for the job.

image source:

Monday, April 1, 2013

no-foolin' gratitude.

authenticity is easy
when you're showing your light side.
your good side, your up side,
your i've-got-it-together side.

but it's not so easy to be the real deal
when your shadow side is showing.

when you're down, depressed, stressed.

when you're struggling with something, or several things,
you feel like you should be handling handily.

when you're making mistakes you've made many times,
errors that with repetition turn your embarrassment
to shame.

when your typical self is bright & happy & helpful,
& you desperately don't want to be a debbie downer.

because you don't want people to know you're failing falling.

so, in the spirit of true authenticity, i'll own it here & now:
i am. struggling. making mistakes. falling. down.

i have shadows. i am imperfect. i am human.
i err. i do it again. i am trying. & it is ok.
[& if i repeat that to myself enough times, maybe it really will be.]

so, according to amazing shame expert brené brown,
joy + gratitude are inextricably connected, & not the way we might think.
it's not joyful happenings that lead to gratitude;
it's a gratitude practice that leads to joy.

quoth dr. brown: "without exception, every person i interviewed
who described living a joyful life or who described themselves as joyful
actively practiced gratitude & attributed
their joyfulness to their gratitude practice."

so rather than listing what's wrong with my life at the moment
[a horrific habit i use to try to justify my negative mood,
but which actually serves only to worsen it],
i'm trying to practice gratitude.

[again, easy to do when things are going swell,
not so much when things are going not-as-well.]

so i've stuck a postit onto my bedside dresser & it says 'thank you.',
to remind me to say "thank you for this day & all it holds"
as soon as i open up my eyes in the morning.

& now, here's my list of gratitudes for today:

:: my talents as a writer.
:: my partnership with karen barry.
:: my new auxiliary biz as a petsitter [creature comforts pet care - austin].
:: my stable of sweet, solid clients.
:: my sweet, patient, understanding husband.
:: my dear, supportive, listening friends.
:: our terrific kids, good dogs, beautiful home & happymobile.
:: the rain.
:: the internet.
:: jazzercise, zumba & hula.
:: oprah, water & sleep.

joy will come.
hope it's soon.

image source: me!

Friday, March 22, 2013

hey, saint francis . . .

ok, so yesterday, i blogged about america's worst-paying cities for women.
today, i'm blogging about our country's healthiest cities for women.

from women's health magazine — partnering with men's health magazine —
comes their fifth annual survey of the top 100 healthiest cities nationwide,
ranked according to 41 different categories, like
nutrition, cancer rates and cost-of-living.

#1? well, it turns out if you leave your heart in san francisco,
it will likely be in great shape once you retrieve it.

& here's the rest of the top-ten best:

2. salt lake city, utah. [#1 & #2 worst-paying were utah cities]
3. san jose, california.
4. boise city, idaho.
5. burlington, vermont.
6. minneapolis, minnesota.
7. seattle, washington. [#10 worst-paying]
8. austin, texas. [holler!]
9. st. paul, minnesota.
10. portland, maine.

thrilled but not stunned my hometown, the atx, is among the healthiest;
ten texas cities are included in the top 100,
with lubbock bringing the bottom with a ranking of #67.

& the least-healthiest of the top 100? birmingham, alabama,
where southern comfort food is king ... apparently, for the queen.

image source:

Thursday, March 21, 2013

hey, pope francis . . .

i'm not catholic [thank god].

but i love the concept of patron saints,
good guys [+ gals!] turned super-specific guardian angels,
available at a prayer's notice to help a believer out
with anything from girl scouts to lumbago.

lately, my work flow has been awfully, painfully s . l . o . w.
like, leech-like-money-bleed slow.
& candidly, i'm just about drained dry.

so, today i'm calling upon a sainted trifecta:
nicholas [patron saint of money problems];
cajetan [patron saint of job seekers]; &
john the baptist [patron saint of prosperity],
to send mama some good money-making opportunity.

& while i wait for my prayers to be answered,
i'll send up one more prayer, one of gratitude
that i don't live in one of the ten worst-paying u.s. cities for women.

for the past five years, the u.s. pay gap has remained
essentially unchanged: women earn not quite 79% of what men earn on average,
which comes out to an annual difference of about $10,000 less.

based upon a review of america's 100 most populous metro areas,
24/7 wall st. has identified the top ten worst-paying cities for women.

24/7 wall st. compared the median earnings for the past 12 months
of both men & women working full-time, year-round in the country's
100 largest metropolitan statistical areas, based on u.s. census bureau data.

& i'm seriously relieved to reveal texas has no cities in the top bottom ten.
can i get a yeehaw, y'all?!?

the winner biggest loser [spoiler alert!] was provo-orem, utah,
where being a homeschooling mom apparently pays better than professional employment.
women there earn not quite 62% of what men earn,
which calculates to just about $20k less a year.


here's the rest of the list of cities not to go to for a self-value lift, ladies:

2. ogden-clearfield, utah [women earn 65 cents for each dollar men earn]
3. lancaster, pennsylvania [almost 69 cents]
4. baton rouge, louisiana [69 cents]
5. palm bay-melbourne-titusville, florida [almost 70 cents]
6. colorado springs, colorado [70.5 cents]
7. wichita, kansas [almost 72 cents]
8. bridgeport-stamford, connecticut [72 cents]
9. tulsa, oklahoma [almost 73 cents]
10. seattle-tacoma-bellevue, washington [73 cents]

& again, i'm pleasantly puzzled by the scarcity of southern states represented here.

now i'm wondering how "we" get a patron saint of women's rights named? hmmmm . . .

image source: mary's prayers @

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

celebrate a woman.

what happens on a mama blog
when international women's day
happens during spring break . . .

we honor! we celebrate! we sing! just a dozen days later.

a pair of iwd items i must share,
both courtesy of the huffington post:

she's the reason:

a call to honor the unsung women who have helped shape us,
the ones who changed our life path in some essential way,
who made an important difference for us with their
presence, words, works, kindness or example, but might not know it.

huffpost requested readers to submit their "she's the reason"
stories via email & twitter for future publication up on the website.

but i'm going to go much more personal with mine.
this month, i will write a personal note to three such women in my life
to let them know they're the reason for something i cherish . . . & thank them for it.

wouldn't it be amazing to receive a letter like that? i think so, too.

one woman, y'all:

25 songstresses from 20 countries around the world
come together to sing a song of solidarity.
"one woman" was written for un women,
the international organization for women's rights.

it's beautiful & moving & available for download internationally:

image source: brazilian artiste bebel gilberto.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

hooray, renée!

my dear friend renée trudeau
— life coach, author & balance facilitator —
has done it again.

her newly released book, nurturing the soul of your family:
10 ways to reconnect & find peace in everyday life
clearly lights ten paths to experiencing greater ease,
flow & harmony amidst the daily navigation of
stressful commutes, homework squabbles, hurried mealtimes &
other challenges so many of us face as modern parents.

tomorrow, in conjunction with & celebration of
the first day of spring, renée is hosting a
book-release party like none other, a
"rejuvenating, joyful & connective evening of self-renewal,
storytelling, exercises & creative play"
based upon the book's themes.

here are the deets:
wednesday, march 20th, 6-9p
mercury hall @ 615 cardinal lane
austin, texas
tix will be $45 at the door

for the price of admission, participants get:
:: a two-hour self-renewal retreat led by renée;
:: wine + bevs with culinary delights by spoon & co. catering;
:: a private house concert by austin singer-songwriter tricia mitchell; &
:: an autographed copy of renée's new book.

a portion of the event's profits will go to benefit
the children in nature collaborative of austin.

for more info about the event —
which is sure to be both amazing & inspirational,
just like my dear friend renée —
click here.

image source: belief network.

Friday, March 1, 2013

atx: keeping pets alive!

a day late & a short shoutout
to austin pets alive!,
a key force behind my hometown's
no-kill badge of honor . . .

february marked austin's second anniversary
of being a no-kill city,
continuing our run of being
the biggest no-kill city in the u.s.

apa! alone saved over 6,000
dogs & cats just last year.

atx: keeping it weird, keeping pets alive
& keeping me proud to be an austinite!

image source: nicole mlakar photography.

Thursday, February 28, 2013


american women need no longer wait to exhale.

the violence against women act [vawa] has finally been approved by congress
& is off to the president for his stamp of approval.

first passed in 1994
& readily renewed in 200 & 2005,
congress has failed to reauthorize the law
since it expired in october 2011.

so, following 500 days of delay,
the u.s. house of representatives finally voted 286 to 138
to pass the bipartisan senate version of the bill.
all house democrats & 87 house republicans voted 'yea.'

the approving vote immediately followed a rejecting vote
by the house of its own republican version of the measure.
the house bill was voted down 166 to 257,
with no democrats & 60 republicans voting 'nay.'

which is a good thing.

because the proposed house bill would have
stripped protections for lgbt survivors of abuse,
not granted tribal courts new authority in some domestic violence cases,
& added new visa eligibility restrictions for abused immigrant women.

it also omitted two separate measures attached to the act: the safer act,
which helps law enforcement deal with a backlog of untested rape kits;
& the trafficking victims protection reauthorization act,
which targets human trafficking.

now, vawa will be reauthorized for another five years,
& $659 million will be provided for programs related to domestic violence.

president obama said he'll sign vawa back into law as soon as possible:
"today's vote will go even further by
continuing to reduce domestic violence,
improving how we treat victims of rape,
& extending protections to native american women &
members of the lgbt community."

amen, brother — & sisters. amen!

image source:

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

boy-girl parties & tea-party parents.

i honestly didn't expect it,
but middle-age is hitting me kind of hard.

since turning 45yo last summer,
i've begun both peri-menopause & antidepressants,
i'm preparing for my oldest to begin high school [whaaaaaaaaaaaaa???],
& now, my youngest is ending his single-digit years.

yep. big boy's turning ten.

it's bringing me down, man. bumming me out, dude.
making me nostalgic, somewhat melancholy & a little weepy.
& i don't think it's the hormones. this time.

i am sad about the looming finiteness of our four-family togetherness.
i am sad about the loss of actual children around our house.
i'm worried about what the tween/teen years hold for both of our kids.

& i am sad about the growing gap between me & my parents.

how are these things related, as it were?

well, our boy is special. every child is special, of course,
but our boy likes girl stuff. always has. & always will, i reckon.

he prefers imaginative play over physical play.
he befriends mostly girls, & all of his very best friends have been girls.
he prefers girl characters, girl names, & toys & books marketed for girls.
& all of this has been true since he was a toddler.

at this point, we don't know what this means for his identity.
it might mean he's gay. it might mean he's transgender.
it might mean he's a straight boy who likes girl stuff.

but in our current culture, one thing it will surely mean is
he's going to get shit because of it. maybe a little, maybe a whole goddamn lot,
but he will be questioned & mocked & probably humiliated
& hurt emotionally & maybe even physically because of it.

so, as his mama, my mantra is: this house, this family must always be
where he can come & be utterly himself & be wholly accepted
& completely loved. period. no qualifications. no ifs, ands, buts, etc.

so, we threw him a dora-themed birthday party
when he turned three & again when he turned four.
we bought him the ariel nightgown he loved so much at disney world.
we sent him to fashion camp the past two summers.

we also get him plenty of building toys & puzzles &
animal-themed things, because he likes them, too.
we facilitate playdates with his close friends, boys & girls alike.
we talk about how different people like different things,
& how that's ok, because everybody's different.

last year, we threw him a monster high-themed birthday
party, & we're doing it again this year.
but in our family, ten is the magical age at which
you're permitted to have a slumber party.
so naturally, he wants to have one.

with five of his very best friends. who all happen to be girls.

he has been talking about it excitedly since october.
& i've been fretting about it slightly since october.

i fretted about the appropriateness of a 9-10yo boy-girl sleepover.
but then i realized that was my conservative upbringing talking,
that i knew there was exactly 0% inappropriate about our boy
& his girl friends & their feelings/intentions toward each other.

so then i fretted nobody would show, no other parents would
permit their girls to come for fear of inappropriateness.
& i fretted about the heartbreaking disappointment our boy
would experience if that happened.

but i can't control how other people parent their children,
only how i choose to parent mine.

so i sent an invitation via email to the moms
of the five girls. & toward the bottom, i noted
that ours will be the only boy at the party,
that the kids will be sleeping in an open playroom
next to our master bedroom, & that parental eyes & ears
will be alert to them at all times.

& all five moms have rsvp'd with an enthusiastic yes!
[one girl might not spend the night, as she's wary of sleeping away from home,
but she's coming to the evening portion of the party.]

no questions, no concerns, no worries.
because they know us, & more importantly, they know our son,
& their daughters love him, so they do, too.

my mother, on the other hand, was appalled
we're hosting such a mixed-company soiree.
not that i really expected a different reaction.
hoped for, maybe, but not expected.

these are the same grandparents who won't give him
the gifts he wants most for christmas or birthdays
if they're marketed for girls. i must identify
clearly gender-neutral items for them to buy.

they are the same grandparents who think
homosexuality is a choice made against god &
who actively oppose equal rights for the lgbt community.

& they are the same grandparents who believe
our children are already going to hell because
we didn't have them baptized in the church.

none of which is to imply they don't love our kids.
they act extremely lovingly toward them,
they're generous & kind & playful,
& the kids love spending time with them.

& from their perspective, i'm sure their negative judgment
of our parenting choices comes from a place of love,
of wanting what's best for teen girl & big boy . . .
& of not feeling what we're doing is that.

hence, the growing gap between us.

when you're making choices as a mom, & you had good parents yourself,
it's only natural to go to them for their thoughts,
to talk situations through with them, & gather their
experience & wisdom as you weigh your options.

more & more, i feel like i can't do that with my parents.

likewise, it's only natural to want their thumbs-up,
their good-parenting seal of approval
on the choices you make as a mom, especially the hard ones,
to let you know they're behind you & believe in you as a good mom.

more & more, i feel like i won't get that from them.

what they don't understand is that their disapproval won't deter me
from doing what i know in my mama-heart is right for my children.
all it does is make me not want to share it with them.

& that makes me sad.

the last thing i want during their final years [dad's 80yo; mom's 79yo]
is for us to grow further apart, rather than closer together.

i've got a friend who wonders why i tell them about stuff
they're sure to react negatively to? just don't say anything, she advises.

but if i can't be who i am & my son can't be who he is
in order to keep the peace, as it were,
then that makes me sad, too. & inauthentic, which is
the exact opposite of what i want to model for my son.

& there's the aha moment, the lesson i'm learning from my sweet boy daily:

how to keep giving him unconditional love, acceptance & support
as i struggle with not getting the same from my parents
now that i've been brave enough to show them who i really am.

an open-hearted, open-minded, unapologetic yellow-dog-liberal feminist,
working to become my best self, to choose love over fear, to nurture connection,
who believes we are all children of god & should treat each other as such.

& who will do whatever's necessary to make sure my children have
whatever they need from me to realize their potential & fulfill their purpose,
as that is definitely part of mine.

period. no qualifications. end of story.

image source: me & big boy, ca. 2003.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

anti-valentine's? you've got options.

i, for one, love valentine's day.

much like hamilton wright mabie & christmas,
i believe a season which engages the world
in a conspiracy of love can't be all bad.

yet i understand the anti-val sentiment out there.

i come from a place of more love = more good,
but i get the bitter bad that can come from
a painful brush with the ugly underbelly of the beast.

this year, i came across some alternatives for
the luv sux crowd that are a sort of love redirection . . .
other options to consider for coming feb fourteenths:

v-day | one billion rising.

v-day is a global activist movement to end violence against women & girls worldwide.

through v-day campaigns, creative events raise
awareness & money to help stop
rape, battery, incest, female genital mutilation & sex slavery.

for its 15th anniversary, v-day launched one billion rising,
a campaign to get one-billion women & their loved ones
to walk out, dance, rise up & demand an end to such violence.

why one billion?
1 of 3 women worldwide will experience violence in her lifetime.
that's over one-billion women impacted by violence.

that's atrocious. that's unacceptable.

i don't know whether one-billion rising will continue,
but v-day definitely will, & being a part of it
is a great way to show some love to the women in your life.

click here to like v-day over at facebook.

generosity day.

generosity day was launched five years ago by sasha dichter to redirect valentine's day.

it's one day of sharing love with everyone,
being generous to everyone, practicing saying yes.
it's about love, action + human connection.

the goal is to spend february 14th
cultivating your practice of generosity through simple acts of kindness,
creating more generosity out in the world & becoming a more open person along the way.

click here to like generosity day over at facebook.

occupy valentine's day.

& finally, this much more casual-yet-fabulous notion
from brilliant writer anne lamott,
via a couple of facebook status posts:

"we are all so pumped about valentine's day.
you could cut the excitement around here with a knife.

my first plan was to celebrate by giving the kitty a flea dip & overeating,
but i think i've come up with a better idea.

. . . let's start an occupy valentine's day movement.

let's begin with the premise that another word for valentine's day is thursday.
& on thursday, as an act of radical self-care, we will celebrate the miracle
that a few people love us so much, that we can go on, & bear up, no matter what;
that even though they know the darkest, most human & intimate & disgusting stuff about us,
they still love us. in fact, they love us more and more through the years.
this is so wild, & is really my only hope. it is what salvation looks like.

let's celebrate that all you need is love; & that god is love & love is god; that love will heal all,
although unfortunately, maybe not on our time, i.e., by wednesday, right after lunch.
but it will. when all is said & done, love is sovereign on this earth.

so let's go crazy with love on thursday.
if we want to be filled with loving feelings, all it takes is to
do a bunch of loving things for others & ourselves. that's all it takes!
you take the action, & the insight will follow: that all you need is love. crazy.

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

it's wednesday. i'm so happy just thinking about having stolen tomorrow
back from the maws of commerce & exploitation. we did it.
we get to have free time tomorrow, like in elementary school when
miraculously, you got a free 45 minutes to paint or read or simply catch-up.
tomorrow, we get to practice living as fully as we are able,
without having to eat chocolates that we begged people not to give us.
& at the same time, we can eat all the chocolate we want, because tomorrow is
our day. it's occupy valentine's day.

let the rumpus begin, the rumpus of radical self-care,
of eating what we want, when we want it;
of wearing the clothes we feel comfortable and most ourselves in,
instead of the clothes that somebody else loves to see us wear
because it makes them have better self-esteem.

tomorrow, instead of holding our breath to see if somebody remembered, or produced,
or honored our stated hope that we just receive a sweet card,
instead of sweets that we don't want or need,
we get to be love-crazy with everyone god or life puts in our path to love."

image sources:, v-day, generosity day, see jane work.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

i {heart} hearts.

sharing a collection of hearts
found amidst nature, from a broad spectrum
of unknown sources [mea culpa] . . .

to wish you a naturally & delightfully
happy valentine's day!

coral heart.

blowhole heart.

knothole heart.

tree heart.

island heart, argentina.

island heart, croatia.

cloudy heart.

mars heart.

snowy heart.

sweet heart.

hope today finds you with a happy heart & someone special to share it with!!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

one million hearts.

tomorrow is valentine's day.
it's also the two-month anniversary of the tragic shooting /
mass murder at connecticut's sandy hook elementary.

a group called sandy hook promise
wants all americans to keep the community of newtown
on our minds & in our hearts.

& to let them know we've got them
by sending them one million hearts,
via sharing a valentine ala interwebs.

click here to choose & share your heart with newtown now.

sandy hook promise is a nonprofit organization
created by newtown community members
in response to the senseless gunning down of
20 children, 4 classroom teachers & 2 school administrators.

the group's mission is to support the victims' families, the survivors,
first responders, school teachers & staff, & the whole community of newtown
by providing financial & service support & help however possible,
for as long as it takes for each individual to heal.

"we are committed to making newtown be remembered
as the place where we came together, both as a community & as a nation,
& decided we must do everything we can to prevent
tragedies like this from happening again."

you can help by signing the sandy hook promise here:

i promise to honor the 26 lives lost at sandy hook elementary school,
& do everything i can to encourage & support commonsense solutions
that make our community & country safer from similar acts of violence.

& liking the sandy hook promise facebook page here.

but if nothing else, then please, just share a heart today.
let them know our hearts are still with them.

image source: share 1million hearts.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

malala goes on.

last october, a taliban terrorist
boarded 15yo malala yousafzai's pakistani schoolbus
& shot her in the head
because she spoke publicly about
the right of all children — girls
included — to an education.

malala survived.

& now, she is following through with
her project to create an organization
to get girls worldwide out of domestic labor & into school.

the malala fund has been established
on behalf of malala & her family, &
is working together with supporters —
including the united nations foundation
to realize malala's vision of education & empowerment
for all girls everywhere.

here's malala her own amazing self, talking about it:

the first grant of the malala fund will provide
a safe educational space for pakistani girls,
resources for a positive learning environment
& an incentive program for families.
following a needs evaluation & final design,
the project is expected to be up & running this spring.

malala survives, she thrives & she continues to give.
you want to give like malala? no gunshot headwound necessary.
just click here.

image source: the malala fund.