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: mormondialogue.org.

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: metmuseum.org.

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 oprah.com.

& 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: www.heavy.com.

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!