December 30, 2013

A Reminder To Be Grateful In Just Under Four Minutes...

For those of us who are healthy and thankfully able to navigate our way through the day with little difficulty, we still fall into the trap of critically examining the reflection that greets us each day as we look into the mirror.  By no means would I ever consider gazing at my image with carefree exuberance. Although, after taking the time to watch this four minute vignette, I will definitely look in the mirror with a little more kindness and appreciation for the simple things that we take for granted as we buzz through our busy lives.  I hope you will be as enchanted as I was while watching the moments of sheer happiness during an otherwise difficult time.

December 21, 2013

Who Wouldn't Love To Get A Farm Animal For Christmas...

As Christmas Day draws near, the pressure of gift giving continues to cause many to stalk websites and the local mall for last minute thrills and deals that will bring their loved ones joy and happiness.  Although, if you're like me, you probably could do without another blue sweater that will likely find its way to the back of the closet.

Well have no fear, your own personal Christmas elf is here.  For years, we have incorporated the gift of farm animals under our Christmas tree.  There are many non~profit organizations that would love to see your tax deductible donation fund their efforts to improve the lives of animals and communities.  If a combo gift is to your liking, you could always make a donation, and couple it with a small gift that represents the animal you are giving or adopting.  For example, one year we adopted for our niece Cueball the seal from the Marine Mammal Center in Sausalito.  An organization that rescues and rehabilitates our struggling water friends.  With it we sent along a book about a seal.  A perfect surprise for the kiddo in your life, who will be able to enjoy your gift with a nice reminder that part it went to save the life of a seal.

If land mammals are more up your alley, there are farms throughout the U.S. that offer up the same gift giving options.  And then there is, of course, the international rockstar Heifer International.  After quickly perusing the site, you can purchase an animal (or a portion of an animal) that will be donated to individuals in third world communities to generate income to sustain their families.  But more importantly, the end result of Heifer International has been proven to change the dynamics of underdeveloped countries, provides woman and girls professional opportunities, and gives communities the pride of learning new ways of utilizing an animal as the ultimate catalyst for independence.

If you would like to visit a few sites for your last minute holiday gifts, I have linked my top three favorites below.  Wishing you a lovely holiday and a super 2015.

December 16, 2013

How Big Is Your Brave...

Last week when I picked my daughter up at her friend's house after another epic stay awake-over, the conversation in the house surrounded the impending college tour for the older sis of my daughter's BFF.  For those of you with teenagers, you probably would agree that the discussion of post-high decisions come much sooner and with more frequency than they did 20 years ago.  With an eye roll, my daughter's friend offered up her annoyance with the choices that face her in the coming years.  I smiled while simultaneously asking her what she wanted to do.  "I like to stay inside and sit", she replied.  It was at that moment that I realized I was asking the wrong question.  So I said,"okay, tell me what you love."  Her whole demeanor changed as she told me how much she loves to cook. I took the opportunity to point out to her that coupled with her uber sassy, highly cerebral, wickedly hilarious personality, she might just have something special to "cook up" as a life goal.  I didn't want to harp on it, but I did leave her with this thought. "The world is your oyster, sweetie.  Don't forget to tap into the things you love, and then it won't seem as daunting."

I couldn't help but think, are we asking our kiddos the wrong questions?  After all, why should a teenager be expected to have any clue what they want to do?  Their brains haven't fully formed so why do we expect them to make decisions in the same way an adult would?  Maybe we, as a society, should be more concerned with cultivating what our children intrinsically love rather than what they should do.

Last month MORE Magazine featured an article about the art of failure. Something that we have been taught to avoid at all cost.  I say that we should fail occasionally, and encourage our kids not to fear failure.  Why?  Because if you're not failing, you're not learning and growing.  I took the liberty of tearing out a list of what they call "The Failure Hall of Fame."  A list of distinctive individuals, who have publicly failed.  Going on later to achieve great accomplishments.  After scanning the list, it made me consider how sad it would be if the failures of those on the list would have caused them to abandon their dreams.  So, without further ado, here's the list with #mycomments...

1919 Walt Disney is fired from his newspaper job for "lacking imagination." (#magical  #beyondhistime)

1926 Lucille Ball is told by her acting coach that "she's wasting her time and ours." (#myhero #funniestwomanofalltime #beyondhertime)

1936 John F. Kennedy runs for president of the freshman class at Harvard~and loses. (#heshowedfancypantsHarvard #beyondhistime)

1960 Steven Spielberg is rejected by the film school at the University of Southern California. (#USCmadeabigmistake #beyondhistime)

1962 The Beatles are turned down by Decca Records. (#deccarecordsmissedout #beyondtheirtime)

1968 Vera Wang doesn't make the U.S. Olympic Figure Skating Team. (#hadbiggerfishtofry #beyondhertime)

1973 Hillary Clinton fails the D.C. bar exam. (#FLOTUS #Senator #SecretaryofState #President 2016? #beyondhertime)

1975 Anna Wintour is fired from Harper's Bazaar because her shoots are too edgy. (#Voguerulesfashion #beyondhertime)

1977 Oprah Winfrey is fired from her news-hosting job for getting too emotionally invested in her stories. (#sheshowedthem #beyondhertime)

1980 Bill Clinton loses re-election as governor of Arkansas. (#comebackkid #beyondhistime)

1981 Michael Bloomberg is fired by investment bank Salomon Brothers. (#philanthropist #MayorofNYC #beyondhistime)

1985 Steve Jobs is fired from the Macintosh division of Apple. (#brilliant #changedourviewofmusicandtechnology #beyondhistime)

1996 J.K. Rowling is turned down 12 times for her Harry Potter manuscript. (#bestseriesofalltime #inspiredkidstoread #beyondhertime)

1990's Sara Blakely (future founder of Spanks) bombs her LSAT's~twice. (#makesthedimplesonmyassdisappearunderapencilskirt #beyondhertime)

After my unexpected encounter today, I will never again ask someone what they want to do.  Instead, I will always ask," What do you love to do?"  In the wise words of the amazing Sara Bareilles, "Show me how big your brave is..."

December 8, 2013

A Challenging Christmas Moment Can Make For Funny Future Memories...

In honor of "challenging holiday moments", I am reposting one of my blogs from last year.  I received lots of comments and emails from readers about their own funny stories.  Honestly, I feel for parents of little ones, who spend every waking moment from Thanksgiving to Christmas Eve in search of the "it gift" of the year. In the event that you come away empty handed, please know that you will one day laugh about it...    

                                                               ~ ~ ~

This morning I was working on a project in my kitchen while listening to the adorable Kelly Ripa talking in the background about the must have toy of the season. I immediately went to December 2007 when my daughter desperately wanted that year's coveted toy. We are happily beyond that phase, but I remember all too well the pressure that a parent feels when you go from store to store only to find that dreaded empty shelf.

Not knowing what to do when I realized that I had exhausted all of my resources, I decided I only had one option. A handwritten note from Santa with a valid explanation about why it was he could not produce the requested gift. After all, I was fairly confident that my bright nine-year-old daughter could assimilate the issue of supply and demand. Sadly, the note was not received well. You should know there were tears coupled with a long discussion about what was believed to be the magical abilities of Santa and why it was that he had failed. We managed to salvage the day, as there were family festivities that luckily overshadowed the disappointment of the morning.

I have taken the liberty of sharing with you the poem that greeted Kate as she woke up on a chilly December 25, 2007. You should also know that Kate is now a teenager and has forgiven the events of that day.

The story begins with a girl they call Kate. She was smart and funny and all around great!

Her parents once adorned her with a dress and a bow. Until one day she said, with her head hanging low,"I don't like dresses and big fancy bows! I am my own person, if you really must know."

Her parents stood shocked and said, with great interest, "What else do you want~for next month is Christmas." The girl they call Kate said, "Let me see...the item I really want is a Nintendo Wii."

The investigation ensued and Santa was called, for this game they call a Wii was nowhere to be found. The elves were amused that Santa would request a Wii so late in the season. You surely must jest! They thought and they thought and they thought a little more. But it still was no use. They were sad to the core.

"Christmas must go on", Santa said with great zeal! "Perhaps if you wait, you will get a better deal." So off to the mall Santa directed the elves. Although it was tough with the dwindling shelves. They stood in line for what seemed like days. When at last it was time. They had conquered the maze. The elves promptly told the story of Kate. And the man, half-listening, said, "Sorry, too late." But he did have an idea, which didn't seem hard. "What about giving her a Best Buy card?"

While it's fun to play on Christmas Day, there is simply no possible way. But it won't be hard to use the card when December rolls away. The Wii will be in stock and then you can flock to the nearest Best Buy Store. Until then we respectfully suggest that you play on the one next door...


Santa and the Elves

December 2, 2013

Bend The World To Your Vision...

I have not been shy about blogging about my admiration for Robin Sharma.  He is a writer and speaker, but more than anything, he is simply inspirational.  To me, anyway.  I receive periodic emails and Facebook posts, but I stumbled upon a video that he made a few months ago.  Nothing flashy, just words of wisdom from his hotel room one day.  I got to thinking, though.  What if every pre-tween to post-teen in America saw this video and, as a result, were inspired to find their own extreme achievement formula?  The results would be extraordinary!  Just think of all those kiddos out there, who are missing one important element~the courage to bend the world to meet their vision.  So, I say to all you tweenybops*, find your passion, seek out people who inspire and support you, and then conquer your dreams.

*tweenybop is a made up word, which includes children of all ages.

November 26, 2013


As Thanksgiving draws near, I am reminded of the many things I am grateful for. I have been reading the daily tidbits of thanks this month on the Facebook pages of my friends.  Some funny, some heartfelt, and some just right on the dot.

The following is my own collection on this 2013 Thanksgiving ...

~Thank you to my parents, who both modeled a good work ethic.  Even if the job was icky and not fun.  A quote from my mother, "If work was always fun, they would call it going to fun~not going to work."

~Thank you to my husband, who has put up with my very strong (yet lovable) personality for two decades.  He continues to be a guiding force with his strength of character and drive.  But also a person, who is a shining example of integrity and kindness.

~Thank you to my teenage daughter.  There are indeed days that you challenge me.  Overall, you continue to be a tower of strength.  Enduring the physical challenges of a weak spine coupled with our family's vagabond lifestyle of moving you all over the country, you are always a source of inspiration.  A ray of sunlight on a cloudy day.

~Thank you to my adorable nieces and nephew.  Three kiddos, who have lovingly been sibling equivalents for Kate.

~Thank you to my sister, who gave me some good advice that opened my eyes a few years ago.

~Thank you to my mother-in-law for her counsel during one of the toughest choices I have ever had to make.

~Thank you to my brother-in-law, who always amuses me with is pithy humor, as well as his ability to compose the written word with perfection.

~Thank you for my two sisters-in-law.  One, who persists each day through life's continued challenges.  And the other, who balances the demands of a working single mother with tireless patience and grace.

~Thank you to my friends (some old, some really old, and some new).  A network of great friendships and confidants is a lovely gift.

~Thank you to my daughter's pediatrician, who called me "grandma" simply because I made the choice to rock silver locks.  A dark day, for sure.  But it later inspired an article, a blog, and hopefully the conclusion of my first book in 2014.

~Thank you for the smell and sound of the ocean (I gleaned this from my friend Calvin's Facebook page on his Day 13 thing to be grateful for)  Being in the Midwest, I especially miss the Oregon Coast.

~Thank you to my dog, Vivian.  A loyal and hilarious companion.  Next year, my hope is to be thankful that Vivian no longer counter surfs while I am cooking.

~Thank you for websites like Vitacost and  Middle America doesn't always have the stuff that I have grown dependent on, and free shipping with purchases over $49.00 makes me especially thankful.

~Thank you for the adorable children, who make my day when I volunteer at their school.   They have no idea how full my heart is when I leave.

~Thank you to those who continue to be leaders in our communities and govern our country.  Not the self serving ones, but the ones who still value the privilege of representing their constituents and fighting for those without a voice (or health care).

~Thank you to companies like Starbucks, TOMS, and Project 7.  My hope is that others will take notice and emulate your philanthropy.

~Thank you to Eckhart Tolle.  One book that changed my way of thinking forever.

~Thank you to the woman who makes the most amazing raw vegan desserts at the Naturally Yours Grocery near my house.

~Thank you to Robin Sharma, who always has an inspirational thought to share.

~Thank you for the continued addition of spandex in clothing.

~Thank you for the small bits of wisdom that come with age.

~Thank you for the smile lines on my face that have emerged after years and years or laughter and happiness.

~Thank you for waking up each morning with the opportunity to do the right thing.


November 23, 2013

Dare To Compete, Mrs. Clinton. Dare To Compete...

For the better part of a decade I have carried in my wallet an article.  I can't say exactly why, other than it resonated with me.  It has nothing do with politics or the ideology of Republicans or Democrats.  It has nothing to do with working women or stay-at-home mothers.  It has more to do with the drive that separates women as leaders and followers.

In March 2006, I vaguely recall tearing a one page article out of a magazine after it inspired me to think.  I have no idea from what publication it came, as the only identifying mark, which shows through a yellowing fold on the thin glossy paper, reflects that it came from page 214 of the March 2006 edition.  There is a sizable photo of Hillary Clinton surrounded by her own words chronicling the day a young high school basketball star threw her for a loop and gave her the final nudge to run for office.  The article talks about the fact that there had been much speculation about an impending New York Senate run for Mrs. Clinton.  Turns out, though, that everyone except the soon-to-be candidate was convinced that she had the chops to take on an opponent as something other than a supportive wife.

The day was organized to celebrate a documentary that was being released about Title IX and young women in sports.  In attendance was the great Billie Jean King, as well as many young women, who had participated in high school and college sports.  Mrs. Clinton stood under the banner that read "DARE TO COMPETE", which was the name of the documentary, while a young basketball star by the name of Sofia Totti introduced her.  I cannot imagine being a young woman with the task to introduce the former First Lady, and muster the confidence to do what she did next.  As she approached the podium, Sofia grabbed her hand and whispered into her ear: "Dare to compete, Mrs. Clinton, dare to compete."

Was the young female athlete the voice that finally convinced Hillary Clinton to find her inner strength and courage to to forge ahead in the political arena?  We'll never know for sure, but it was a short time later that she officially threw her proverbial hat into the ring.  Ultimately prevailing and distinguishing herself as a impressive member of the U.S. Senate.  Followed by an even more successful stint as Secretary of State.

This writer chooses to believe that long before she was FLOTUS, this hard working, wickedly brilliant, tireless advocate knew deep down that her marital counterpart would surely shine as one of this country's great political leaders.  So I ask, did it take the words of another woman to give her the final push to find her own voice and confidence to emerge as a political player?  A voice that continues to elicit energy, controversy, and discussion from both sides of the aisle.  

I think we can all agree that her impending bid for the 2016 Presidential election is only a matter of time.  But I would be remiss if I did not put forth my own two cents.  Dare to compete, Secretary Clinton, dare to compete...    

November 18, 2013

Arianna Huffington Wants Women To Sleep Their Way to The Top (But Not In The Way You Are Thinking)...

Sleep is a funny thing.  I can honestly say, I don't recall the last time someone said," I am just getting too much sleep!"  Yet, all the studies show that with a few more hours of shut-eye every night, we would be smarter, more effective, healthier, and generally more emotionally balanced during the course of each day.

Arianna Huffington gave a terrific TED Talk a while back.  If you are unfamiliar with, they are short presentations from a variety of people discussing almost any topic you can imagine.  Basically, the threshold of TED is to give any idea worth spreading, an audience. The video I posted below appropriately discusses the benefits of sleep, and the day Huffington literally smacked her head because she was not putting her Z's at the top of her lengthy to do list.

November 11, 2013

Starbucks Steps Up Again...

Last year our country's coffee giant did the unthinkable.  They brought the production of one of their coffee mug lines back to the good old USA.  You may recall my blog of January 8th where I hail CEO Howard Schultz as a rock star for forging the way.

If you haven't heard, the powers that be have done it again.  Starbucks recently announced plans to hire 10,000 military veterans and family members over the course of the next five years.  A public announcement that I hope will inspire others to emulate.

This time Howard Schultz is not the only one getting an attaboy from me.  Robert Gates, who served as Defense Secretary under President George W. Bush and President Obama, seems to be the brains behind the decision to actively support our nation's heroes as they return to the workforce after years of military commitment and personal sacrifice.  Turns out that Gates took a seat at the table of the Starbucks Board of Directors over a year ago.  A great collaborative decision melding business and political heavy hitters together, ultimately producing a successful contribution to the economy.  According to Gates, his goal is to utilize the communication and problem solving expertise that is so prevalent among our military leaders in the business setting of Starbucks.

Bravo, Secretary Gates and other latte aficionados!  Hopefully, others will take notice of your decision to invest in our veterans and follow in your footsteps.

November 4, 2013

Dear Mrs. Obama...

For the past six years, our First Lady had espoused the importance of eating healthy and physical exercise.  Two issues that are near and dear to my heart. Here's the problem.  There are millions in this country who will never have access to either because of their zip code.  So, I ask this question~ why do corn farmers continue to receive HUGE subsidies from the government. Yet, organic fruits and vegetables continue to be available only to wealthier Americans?  I will even go as far as to say that inner city communities are set up to fail!

I am a firm believer that if you make it lucrative, people will sit up and take notice. So, make organic farming as lucrative as farming corn, for example.  You know what will happen?  Existing local farmers, as well as brilliant and motivated agriculture college graduates will realize their dream of farming organic produce and vegetables.  Subsequently, making access to organic food mainstream, and not something that requires a six figure annual salary.

I am sincerely at a loss when it comes to the issue of safety in our urban cities. Although, it certainly does not help to eliminate physical education in the schools. If that is the only safe place for kids to exercise, then how can our public school system see that as a reasonable subject to eliminate from the curriculum?

I am not the only one who believes this.  If you want to learn more, take a few minutes to view the video that I posted below.  It is a real view from an impressive man, who sees the resulting damage of food and the lack of fresh air and exercise on a daily basis.  He also serves up an analogy that might make you think differently about this issue.

October 28, 2013

The Iowa Supreme Court Gets It Wrong~AGAIN...

On February 22, 2013 I wrote a blog entitled Can You Be Fired If You Are Too Attractive.  It chronicled a woman who was fired because her boss became increasingly attracted to her after nearly ten years of employment, expressed his attraction by sending her unprofessional text messages (to which she did not respond), got caught by his wife, and then kicked the employee to the curb in order to salvage his marriage and "remove" the distraction.

The case found its way to the Iowa Supreme Court where an all male panel determined that, while not fair, the employer's actions did not constitute an unlawful termination on the part of the employer.

You may recall a follow-up in July to my original blog discussing the fact that the Iowa Supreme Court announced that they intended to reopen and reconsider their original decision. Well, in case you were wondering, they reconsidered the case, and came to the same stupid decision that they arrived at in February.

A bad bad decision on the part of all women.  Shame on you Supreme Court of Iowa!  You got it wrong~AGAIN...

October 21, 2013

A Glowing Review For A Gal Who Glows...

I am writing today about a fellow blogger, who has changed my life!  Okay, slightly dramatic.  Allow me to explain.  A few months back I was searching for a steel cut oatmeal recipe that I could make in huge batches and freeze.  As you may or may not know, steel cut oats take a good 30 minutes to prepare, and not many of us want to commit to that during the week.  Anyway, I stumbled upon a site that caught my eye.  Next thing I know, I am not just making oatmeal, but I am pouring through her website to see what else one Ms. Angela Liddon has to offer up.

Now, before you hit the delete button and move on, here me out.  Her site is vegan.  Or as I like to call it~veganly delicious!  Super simple ingredients on their own, when combined together are healthy and full of flavor.  Don't get me wrong, I am not a full-on vegan.  I have no problem pulling down a nice fillet or grilled salmon.  But on a day to day basis, I have learned that a plant based diet is really the way to go.

I have posted a few yummy recipes that I have made over and over.  If you like what you see, you can receive direct emails from this creative chef with her newest vegan concoctions!  By the way, Angela has a cookbook coming out next spring so keep your eye out!


October 13, 2013

What The Frack...

This is another rerun, as I have been working tirelessly to complete a writing project that has been consuming much of my time. If you missed this blog last year, it discusses fracking. An incredibly important issue that continues to plague our country. Thoughts?

Fracking is a term that has been increasingly spoken and written about in the news in the last few years. Yet, many of us just sort of understand what the concept means. Basically, it is a method to extract natural gas from the earth. Depending on which expert you are listening to, it is either a strategy that will make the United States completely energy independent or it will be the ultimate demise of every community that happens to be situated near a rich fracking site.

Ironically, I received my monthly subscription of O Magazine and stumbled upon the video that I posted below on the same day. Both provide their own perspective on the issue of fracking. The video is excellent. It reminds me a bit of Schoolhouse Rock! For everyone over the age of 40, remember the Saturday morning catchy vignettes that taught us about grammar, spelling, and the proper way a bill passes through Congress? Well, this video gives a similar tutorial on the issue of fracking.

As for the article in Oprah's monthly bible of goodness, she offers up a more personal perspective from a community in Wyoming, who sadly have endured the collateral damage of fracking.

So I ask, if the USA is actually a nation made up of some of the most intelligent and well-educated minds in the world, why can't we seek out other options that will not sacrifice entire communities for the sake of the greater good?
(You should know that it pained me to remain somewhat cerebral and not include my own fracking terminology like frackers, frack off, go frack yourself, and motherfracker)...

October 7, 2013

A Little Black Dress In The Back Of A Little Blue Truck...

Say what you want about the Millennials.  You know, the 20 to 30-year-olds, who have grown up in a petri dish of an over-texting, over-sexting, selfie-obsessed existence.  Oh, and throw in a trophy for merely showing up.  I remember the good old days of gleaning awards for hard work, determination, and the art of competition and sportsmanship.

While we as a nation have sadly created a generation of "what's in it for me", there are still a HUGE number of Millennials who are standing tall with good old-fashioned work ethic and drive.

Last summer we moved from the East Coast to the Midwest.  We had a few days before our belongings arrived at our new destination so we took the liberty of enjoying a few states that we had never before visited.  Only because it was in our path, we stopped in Columbus, Ohio.  Initially, I  didn't give it much respect, but left this terrific town with a feeling of unexpected happiness.  As we pulled up to our hotel in the historic district of Columbus, there was a quaint street fair going on.  Through the sea of handmade scarves and jewelry, a little blue truck caught my eye.  It was a vintage looking Tiffany Blue delivery truck that had been turned into a mobile dress shop.  I made a mental note to check it out once we were settled.

As we finished a beautiful dinner at an outdoor cafe, I told my husband that I was going to take a quick lap around the little blue truck.  Not surprised by my request, he happily allowed his wife the pleasure of vehicular shopping.  And charming it was!  As I stepped into this pristinely transformed boutique, I was mesmerized.  The adorable gal perched against the back wall smiled and welcomed me in as if she had invited me into her home.  A proud Catherine Shadeed introduced herself as the owner of The Boutique Truck.  Did I mention that she holds a full time job while embarking on her life long dream of owning a clothing boutique?  I was impressed by this young woman, and equally impressed with the clever idea of her completely transformed mobile dress shop.

Here's how it works, she sets up a schedule so shoppers know where she will be during the month.  She is also available for private parties in the Columbus area. Now, how fun is that?  Her newfound business can also be found at  I am sure she would much appreciate it if you liked her on Facebook or followed her on Twitter!

So, on behalf of those of us who grew up with phones attached to the wall, and relegated to the card catalog at the library to fulfill academic assignments, I can happily report that there is a nice contingent of Millennials who are digging deep to succeed!  Well done, Catherine.

September 30, 2013

The Sandy Hook Promise And OPI Are Going Green...

The residents of Sandy Hook are continuing the march on behalf of those who lost their lives far too soon.  The members of the Sandy Hook Promise ( have teamed up with OPI, concocting the perfect color of green nail polish as a way to show support, as well as generate donations for their community.

I have attached the information below, but don't wait too long!  It's first come first serve, and the color is a limited edition.  My very own bottle of OPI Sandy Hook Green is in the mail as I write this.  Who knows, I may just paint the nails of all the kids in the neighborhood.  Might even spark a discussion about having the confidence to speak up when something doesn't seem quite right.

September 23, 2013

Some Things Are Not As They Appear...

Initially, I saw this video and thought it was a planned performance similar to one of those seemingly spontaneous flash mobs that pop up in malls and other public venues. You know, one rogue person begins dancing, and then all of a sudden more and more join in as the performance continues.  Ultimately, gleaning cheers and applause from those who were lucky enough to be passing by.

Turns out, it's nothing like that.  Several months ago I wrote a blog on the issue of human trafficking. Sadly, it is an issue that is prevalent internationally, and falls under the radar due to the nature of the crime.  Young women and men are beckoned into the smarmy underworld under the false pretense of opportunity. While this video takes place in Europe, it is an epidemic that has found its way close to home.

If you want to read more about the issue of human trafficking, you can reference my January 9, 2013 post.  In the meantime, take a look at this video.  It is a powerful reminder that some things are not as they appear, and it is our job to be vigilant if something doesn't seem right.

September 16, 2013

Embracing Age And Everything That Goes Along With It...

A few years ago I met the most amazing woman through a bizarre set of circumstances after reading an article about her the year before in the Style section of the San Francisco Chronicle.  Her name is Cindy Joseph, and she is the founder of Boom! by Cindy Joseph.  A small but powerful line of makeup and moisturizing lotion that packs a punch for women of all ages.  If you read my article on last year, you may recall that I referenced Cindy's personal story, which includes being discovered as a model at the age of 49 by Dolce and Gabbana on the streets of New York City.  Later forging a path as one of the few female public figures, who takes pride in rocking her silver locks, and actively resists the demands of a society that views aging as a curse.

This summer Cindy did something that she has been working toward since announcing her commitment to a "Pro-Age Revolution!"  The first of many gatherings uniting women from all over the country.  And her first stop took place in beautiful San Francisco, California.  Congregating in the heart of the city, Cindy shared with her audience the message of acceptance, finding happiness in your own skin, and rejecting the notion that age is a bad thing in a society that continues to seek youth at all cost!  Sadly, I was unable to attend, but I was so inspired by the speech that she gave under the summer sky on Union Square.  I hope you will find her words as inspirational as I did.  She is a lovely woman inside and out, and definitely someone to emulate as we continue our journey through life.

If you want to hear more from Cindy, she posts a terrific vlog (video+blog=vlog) on Facebook and Google+ every Saturday.  It's like sitting down with a gal pal, and coming away with a nice nugget of information and inspiration for the week.

Thank you, Cindy! xo


Welcome to the the first public gathering of the Pro-Age Revolution!

It's about women, it's about beauty, and it's about time.

For centuries women were only valued for childbearing. And we still carry the belief that we are only valuable and worthy of attention if we are either in our childbearing years, or look like we are!

Look at all these stores around us. They sell millions of gallons of anti-wrinkle creams, anti-aging serums, Botox, hair dyes and more; all in the name of women holding onto their youthful appearance. Millions of women purchase anything they can in an attempt to conceal the signs aging. Billions of dollars are spent daily for products and techniques claiming to stave off the visual effects of time.

Ageism has hit an all-time high in American society.

Women claimed the vote over 100 years ago. We liberated ourselves almost 45 years ago. Yet, we still hold tight to this archaic notion that we lose value as we show signs of aging!

I am here to remind you that we do not become less of who we are as time passes; we become more.

We are gathered here today to demonstrate that ageful women are as attractive, vital, smart, sensual, wise, confident, and beautiful as we ever were. We are here to demonstrate that each decade of life brings a new kind of beautiful.

The Pro-Age revolution is about women across America coming together in the realization that aging is simply another word for living. Life continues to bring us adventure, challenges, and fun. The Pro-Age Revolution is about women wearing the visual evidence of our age openly and proudly, and celebrating the years we have lived. It is about stepping into our 40s, 50s, 60s 70s 80s and beyond with joy and enthusiasm. Pro-age is about valuing ourselves, just as Mother Nature created us.

The Pro-Age Revolution gives women permission and inspiration to take pleasure in our age rather than fear it. Pro-aging is about recognizing the unique beauty we develop at every stage of our lives. Pro-age is sharing our positive viewpoints on aging with our daughters, sisters, nieces, mothers, grandmothers, granddaughters and friends.

We are the Pro-Age Revolutionaries. We wear our silver hair with style and pride. We wear our wrinkles and age spots as medals of honor. This is a very new phenomenon in this country and it is making a positive impact on everyone. Pro-age is now the subject of talk shows, newsrooms, blogs, magazines and documentaries.

Everyone wants to know that life gets better as time goes by.

Age has had a bad rap long enough!

It is now time for us to stop committing agism against ourselves!

When we start acknowledging ourselves as sensual, thriving, vital, valuable creatures, at every stage of life, agism will dissipate. And it is entirely up to us. It will take each one of us to make that happen. Once we value ourselves, others will follow suit.

And that may not be easy. None of us are immune to societal judgments.

We are led to believe so many negative viewpoints about aging, starting with the concept that we only have two choices: We can either do what it takes to keep up a youthful appearance for as long as possible, or "let ourselves go".

-We are taught that our "currency" is in "youthful beauty", leading us to believe we will lose our value as we age.

-We are continually offered yet another product, diet, exercise or treatment, promising to recreate some visual replica of our younger selves.

-Our hair dressers discourage us.

-Our girlfriends warn us of the tragedy of looking old.

Women who are post-menopausal are considered "decrepit, old maids, spinsters, lost their looks, old hags, once beauties, tired, feeble, crotchety, washed up and over the hill."

Where were our mothers, grandmothers and elders, where were our guides and mentors when we needed help navigating through this maze of shaming messages?

Do you know where they were? They were in the beauty salon getting their hair dyed and face lifted!

So, we have been left to find our own way.

Everyone would like to hear that aging can feel and look good as life continues. Everyone wants to know that they retain their value and can even gain value as they age.

I encourage all of you to consider what agism is, how you live with it, how it effects your life and your family and friends. Consider the possibility of creating and living in a Pro-Age society and how it would impact the way you live your life.

The pro-age revolution has begun!

Today, we tell the world! Today we make history!


September 10, 2013

An Unsung American Hero...

The following is a re-post from last year. This day will always bring sadness and memories that forever changed this country. It was also a day that brought out the very best in Americans, causing political and social lines to blur as one. I hope you enjoy this story because it is one of courage and bravery.


September 11th carries with it painful memories for America. It was the first time for many that we experienced terrorism on our own soil. Families were shattered, communities mourned the premature loss of lives, and children were left behind with questions that we still struggle to answer.

Soon after the towers fell, the Pentagon received a direct hit. As the employees evacuated the building so well known for housing our country's highest levels of military defense, flames and jet fuel filled the walls of the Pentagon, causing an immediate wall of thick black smoke to funnel through the hallways. Rather than instinctively running away from the scene, one brave man ran toward the gaping hole where American Airlines Flight 77 rested in an inferno. He is the husband of a very dear friend of mine, and is the kind of guy who should be forever revered for his heroism, but would never be caught boasting about his moment of greatness. In fact, he would probably roll his eyes and shake his head if he knew I was writing about him on this 12th anniversary of September 11th.

Here's how it went down. Plane hits the Pentagon. All employees filtered outside as a direct order from the powers that be. Navy Commander Dave Tarantino, who has a medical degree and many years of international military experience, believed he could be of assistance to those impacted by the crash. Rather than evacuating with the rest of his colleagues, he put a wet rag over his face and found his way to the outermost ring of the building. Jet fuel and metal rained from above and smoke made it nearly impossible to navigate his way to the scene. As he yelled for survivors, he heard a voice. It was the voice of  Jerry Henson, a retired naval aviator leading a team of seven at the Pentagon, coordinating emergency relief efforts for the Navy. After the initial impact, he was pinned under his desk by a mountain of rubble, and was falling in and out of consciousness due to the heavy smoke. Knowing that they had only a few minutes at the most, Dave laid down on his back, managed to push the wall of debris with his legs, allowing just enough room for Henson to free himself. They both miraculously escaped the scene with few physical injuries. Although, it was soon after that the entire area collapsed behind them.

There were numerous stories of heroic efforts on that horrible September day. Another reminder that when the chips are down, American citizens find a way to rise to the occasion and help their brothers and sisters in need. A reminder to all as we navigate our way through each day that it shouldn't take a catastrophic event to reach out to someone in need.

Thank you, Dave. For your heroism and for your service to this country. You're also just a super nice guy.

September 4, 2013

I Found My Way To Oz And I Didn't Want To Leave...

This summer I spent a lazy week in Cape Cod.  It was just as I expected; quaint sleepy towns with a sea of shingled bungalows, lobster rolls that did not disappoint, and quirky shops that you just can't find at your local mall.  As we checked into our shabby chic cottage in the heart of Barnstable, the proprietor of the inn gave me the 411 on a new boutique that had just opened down the street. The designer of a clothing line called Cupcake, which is a collection of high end clothing and accessories normally found in boutiques, is a local resident and recently opened a shop offering her line of clever designs at very reasonable wholesale prices!

I finally had some time on day three and decided to take a lap around Oz, leaving my husband and Labradoodle camped out in an Adirondack on the front porch. As I entered, it was like walking into my own little Oz experience.  The energy was fantastic, as the perfect balance of color, design, and fashion greeted me with open arms.  I knew it was going to be a special experience and I was right.  The designer of the avant-garde collection breezed by with a personal greeting, inviting me to enjoy and try anything and everything.

I took some photos of my special shopping adventure, as well as one with the eclectic designer, Brenda Lee.  It was a lovely experience, and I would highly recommend a visit if you ever find yourself in this beautiful part of the country.

August 27, 2013

Reusable Bags Are Saving Lives And Building Community Spirit...

Toting a reusable bag to the grocery store or pharmacy has become more commonplace in the past few years.  In some communities, plastic bags have even been banned from some markets to strong-arm patrons into the habit of bringing their own bags to the market.

I have written before about Whole Foods and their global initiatives that provide financial assistance to third world countries.  Well, they also dole out a helping hand close to home, too.  Every couple of months they offer two or three local charities for their Whole Foods shoppers to select from.  Here's how it works.  You have the option of taking a ten cent per bag credit toward your grocery bill or you can select from that month's preselected groups, and give your credit directly to a worthwhile organization.

After months of handing my credits off to cancer funds, animal rescues, and our local food pantry, it occurred to me that Target and other grocery stores were offering a similar credit, but not the option to donate to a local cause.  Can you imagine how much money could be easily filtered into our own communities if Trader Joe's, Target, and other local grocery stores put forth a program similar to Whole Foods?

I am going to make the effort to drop my idea into the suggestion boxes of my favorite stores that already give reusable bag credits, and hopefully they will jump on the philanthropic bandwagon.  While five and ten cents may not seem like much, it is the collective efforts of a community that make a significant difference to the recipients of our local non-profit organizations.

Pass this along to friends, family, and your Facebook and Twitter followers.  Let's see how many of our favorite businesses we can influence to implement a similar program!

August 21, 2013

Nicely Said, Christopher Ashton Kutcher...

Born Christopher Ashton Kutcher in the middle of America, we now know this heavy hitting fancy pants actor simply as Ashton Kutcher.  We loved him in Punk'd, we loved it when he hooked up with the foxy Demi Moore, and we have happily followed his television and movie career for nearly two decades.

Last week, Kutcher received a Teen Choice Award.  He began his acceptance speech by joking about being the old dude in the room.  He then did something that this writer thought was pretty frickin' cool.  He imparted some wisdom upon his youthful audience that we rarely see from our Hollywood celebs.  He conveyed the importance of hard work, the idea that smart is sexy, and empowered his onlookers to create their destiny rather than exist in the proverbial box that has been set forth for them by others.

The speech was, by far, among the most brilliant I have heard in a very long time. I would encourage you to pass it along to any teen or young adult in your life.  I am aware that the wisdom of life experience is oftentimes not received by our youth in the well-intentioned manner that parents intend. Occasionally causing friction, inaudible comments, and rampant eye rolling.  Somehow, Kutcher managed with his cool guy swagger to soften the message, and hit a home run as someone to emulate in a world where a healthy work ethic and smarts are not always seen as sexy.

Well done, Chris...

July 22, 2013

Another Kickstarter Success Story...

In a matter of eight days, the Kickstarter project I blogged about last week has reached its goal of $80,000.  A job well done by Bay Area filmmaker, Jennifer Siebel Newsom.  Newsom has completed her newest film, and this one is going to be a flick that makes us all reconsider the way in which we raise and interact with our young men.  If you missed my blog last week, be sure to take a look at it and watch the trailer.

We go above and beyond to make sure our girls are feeling secure and confident about their place in this world.  Naturally encouraging our young women to remain competitive in all areas of the academic and professional arenas.  Are our boys being left behind, so to speak?  The Mask You Live In is set to be released in 2014, and will visit the issues that our young males are facing on a daily basis.

July 12, 2013

The Second Lady Of California Has Something To Say To Your Boys...

While Jennifer Siebel Newsom juggles the demands of mother of three and wife to California Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom, this extraordinary woman has some lofty goals of her own, and she doesn't seem to be slowing down anytime soon.  Jen attended Stanford, nabbing an under graduate and master's degree from the uber impressive West Coast university.  She entered the post-collegiate world as a budding actor, and found herself with a handful of roles in various flicks, as well as a smattering of television appearances.

After becoming somewhat disillusioned by the smoke and mirrors world of Hollywood and the limited choices that faced her as a woman, this gal has taken a proverbial bowl of lemons and made a gigantic pitcher of lemonade by seeking out a most courageous niche for herself.  Still with her hand in the world of entertainment, but more importantly taking a stand on the issues that continue to muddy the waters in America.

A few years ago she wrote, directed, and produced a documentary film called Miss Representation.  It found its way to the prestigious Sundance Film Festival, and Ms. Oprah Winfrey recognized its importance, wisely adding it to her collection of films that are frequently shown on the OWN Network.  It tells the story of girls and young women in America, and how they are being influenced by the visual images that inundate this country on a daily basis.  It is a smart and telling portrayal of our future women, and left me with more questions than answers as I continue to help my own daughter navigate her way through her formative years.

More recently, Jennifer was one of the executive producers on a film that has literally changed government policy.  If you read my blog or follow me on Twitter, you will know of this film because I have talked about it on many occasions.  It is called The Invisible War and it should go down in history as one of the single most important films ever made.  It chronicles the rampant sexual abuse in our military system, and sheds light on the blatant failure to hold the perpetrators responsible for their crimes.  Since releasing the film, there has been an about-face by our government officials, implementing new procedures to protect the victims of sexual abuse within the military.  The film received the Spirit Award for Best Documentary Feature, also enjoying an Oscar nod for is brave portrayal of the dirty little secrets that have gone unpunished for far too long.

In 2014, Jen has plans to release yet another film called The Mask You Live In, and this time she's focusing on the boys.  I have seen the trailer, and I am confident that this is going to be another home run for the smart Bay Area filmmaker.  Like Miss Representation, this film focuses on the intentional and unintentional influences that our boys are peppered with on a daily basis.  These influences, whether from mass media, social media, or the dinner table are shaping our children.  This film discusses the emotional toll that is being taken on our boys and young men.  The same young men who we will be looking to in the future to be among the leaders in this country, the husbands to our girls, and the fathers of tomorrow.

So, here's where you come in.  The film is currently in post-production, with plans to be released in 2014, and is utilizing the clever funding of the hip website Kickstarter.  (I also wrote a blog about this site if it sounds vaguely familiar to you)  Here's how it works.  Click on the link below and you will be able to glean from Jennifer herself an explanation of the film and its intent.  If the presentation is in any way inspiring, you can have the distinct privilege of owning a piece of the pie, so to speak.  By making a small (or HUGE) contribution, you can see to it that this film finds its way to completion.  In exchange for your donation, you will have the pride of knowing you had a small part in the release of a special and important project.  But there's more!  You also will receive certain benefits based on the amount you contribute.  The whole thing is on the link below and it will make better sense if you take a few minutes to check it out!

July 8, 2013

Does the USA Really Want To Be Known For Droning Others...

NYU grad student Josh Begley asks the question," How do you kill your way out of a complex problem?"  Turns out the United States began its first covert drone program in 2002.  Yemen was the recipient of the first series of drone attacks killing non-intended targets in its wake.  Since 2002 there have been nearly 500 strikes and approximately 5000 people impacted by our country's choice to scour out the bad guys while inadvertently eliminating the innocent.

While I intellectually understand that there is an argument to be made for drone missions, I continue to struggle with the concept.  The following video might make you think twice, too ...

July 1, 2013

Will There Be An About-Face From The Iowa Supreme Court...

Four months ago, I posted a blog about a dental assistant, who was suddenly fired after ten years.  If you missed it you can check it out in my February 23rd blog.  It is called Can You Be Fired If You Are Too Attractive...

It described a decision made by the Iowa Supreme Court last December upholding a verdict that came from the lower courts in Iowa, which allowed the termination of a female dental assistant simply because she was "an irresistible attraction."

Last week it was widely reported that the court is reconsidering the 7-0 decision. An unprecedented move that has left all eyes on the sudden about-face.  Is it one member of the panel or all seven?  I guess time will tell.

According to the Des Moines Register, Iowa Chief Justice Mark Cady signed an order for reconsideration by the court.  It appears from the order that there is no new evidence.  Only a change of heart from one or more members.

It will be interesting to follow, as there have only been five reconsiderations in the past ten years according to the spokesperson for the Iowa Supreme Court.

I'll keep you posted...

June 24, 2013

Everyone Knows...

It has been six months since the community of Newtown endured the nightmare that ensued after a troubled young man entered an elementary school and destroyed the lives of its families.  In an effort to empathize with their unthinkable tragedy, we sent condolence cards, checks to aid in financial support, and spoke out about out country's controversial gun laws.

Regardless of your personal beliefs regarding guns, there is no question in this writer's mind that our system needs to be revamped making common sense changes that will allow our second amendment rights to be preserved while keeping guns out of the reach of those with the intent to commit senseless crimes.

I would encourage you to watch this video.  It was made recently by those who lost children at Sandy Hook Elementary School in December.  If you are so inclined, you can follow the site to remain up to date on the work that is being done to fight the fight on gun reform.

In addition, I would also encourage you to contact your legislators to voice your opinion regarding this issue.  Our congressional leaders can be contacted via Facebook, Twitter, e-mail, as well as the good old snail mail.  We are their constituents, which gives us the right to influence our legislators to vote on our behalf.

June 17, 2013

A Brave Young Woman...

In 2007, Kainet Soomro was an eighth-grader in Pakistan.  She was from a well-educated family, who owned their own home, cars, and had their own business. One day on her way home from school, she stopped at a local grocery store where she was abducted by four men.  She escaped three days later after being drugged and gang raped, believing the worst was over.  That was until her country failed her.

This is a story of the personal strength of a girl, but also the collective fight by her family.  A family that stood by her in a world where others would have discarded her without a thought.

June 10, 2013

A Teenage Boy Changing The Vernacular...

The young men in this country have been plagued with a sea of identities ranging from unrealistically judging our young women to demanding perfection at all cost. Honestly, I think men get a bad rap sometimes.  Are they really guilty of seeking out Barbie or is it the media using them as the unfortunate puppets in our smoke and mirrors culture?

Regardless, the young man in the attached video has a response.  Now, I am going to warn you, if you can't deal with the F-bomb, you might not like it.  I would encourage you to look past it because this teen is changing the conversation!

June 3, 2013

Vegetarian Schmegetarian~A Book That Might Change Your Mind...

If you haven't heard of Mary McCartney, she's the eldest daughter of Paul McCartney.  A lifelong vegetarian and prominent photographer, Ms. McCartney and her three siblings have a myriad of uber creative attributes that were passed down from their celebrity mom and dad.  Like their boy band father and photog mother, each member of the McCartney brood has successfully found a place in the world of art, fashion, photography, music, and now Food, which is the title of Mary McCartney's new book.

Every day we hear of a new cookbook or website that contains recipes that will change your life, and provide your family with yummy options that even the kiddos will smile about.  Well, this book is the real deal.  It is beautifully organized, and the recipes are made from simple and healthy ingredients that come out as visually pleasing as they are delicious.

I highly recommend giving this book a whirl.  In an effort to entice, I have added below one of the book's offerings, which was incredibly easy and quick.  I personally served it with a heaping salad, and it was a lovely dinner.   Enjoy!

                                                           Corn Fritters

1 cup spelt flour or all-purpose flour (I used spelt)
1/2 tsp baking powder
2 eggs, beaten
1/3 cup milk (Any type of milk is fine.  I used hemp, but don't tell my family)
2 cups corn
1 clove garlic, chopped
2 scallions, chopped
1 TBSP flat leaf parsley, chopped a bit
1 red chili, seeded and chopped
salt and pepper to taste
2 TBSP olive oil for frying (I used chili infused olive oil to give it even more flavor)

Dipping Sauce: Combine 1 cup plain yogurt ( I used goat yogurt), 1/2 red chili, seeded and chopped, 1 TBSP flat leaf parsley, the juice and zest of one lemon, and 1 TBSP chili sauce.

Mix the flour and baking powder.  Gradually stir in milk and eggs and mix until smooth.  Add garlic, scallions, corn, chili pepper, parsley, salt, and pepper.

Heat oil in a pan and drop a heaping tablespoon of the mixture into the pan.  Pat down a bit and cook 2 minutes on each side.  Warm the fritters in the oven while you finish the batch.

Serve with the dipping sauce and a big green salad.  The perfect supper!

May 28, 2013

Is Thin Privilege Real...

Melissa Fabello has piqued my interest.  I just happened to catch her newest video, and it has continued to make me think.  Is there something to the concept of thin privilege?  I would say unequivocally, yes.      

With the birth of social media, we are all a tweet away from sending or receiving our innermost opinions relating to anything and everything.  It is common to hear how thin someone is, but you would never hear the morning shows discuss how bright and articulate young Hollywood has become.  Why?  Because all we seem to care about is the exterior.  The best hair, nails, clothes, makeup, diet, abs, blah, blah, blah....

I genuinely like what Ms. Fabello has to say.  She's right.  There is definitely thin privilege in this country, and the issue doesn't seem to be going away any time soon.


May 20, 2013

The Ireland Baldwin Generation Has A Great Opportunity...

A few weeks ago, the daughter of Alec Baldwin and Kim Basinger posted a retort to the less than favorable comments that some of her not so kind fans added to the Twittersphere regarding her weight.  Let's recap.  Ireland Baldwin is 17~years~old, 6' 2", and a stunningly beautiful and healthy looking young woman. She has chosen to pursue a modeling career, which has sadly generated a slew of ugly comments from the public.  I was pleased to read her response, though. While she said that she once suffered from an eating disorder, she has dedicated her efforts to a healthy lifestyle by incorporating sensible food choices and exercise.

Much has been reported in the last several years by many in the public eye about the issue of food and the self-loathing that comes from eating that extra slice of pizza or not feeling adequate because you do not fit into size 2 skinny jeans.  It doesn't help matters when clothing peddlers like that guy from Abercrombie and Fitch go on the record dictating that he only wants the skinny cool kids representing his brand.  Granted, he has every right to do that, but shame on him! Adults have a tremendous responsibility to be good examples to our youth, and encourage excellence by lifting them up.  Sadly, exclusionary comments will almost always destroy a spirit, and cause those navigating their way through their formative years to question their abilities.

The Huffington Post ran a story calling our teens "Generation Z" and depicted them lazy and apathetic.  I think that's crap!  By giving thousands of teens a box marked lazy, how will they find their way to the path of strong, determined, and remarkable?

My hope is that Ms. Baldwin and the rest of her generation take the opportunity to change the conversation.  We need Generation Z!  We need you to represent our interests in Congress, lead our companies, find cures for diseases, and use technology to seek new and innovative ways to remain competitive in a very internationally competitive world.  And if our young men and women are spinning out of control trying to be visually perfect in the eyes of some lame guy from a store at the mall, how will they find the confidence to pursue greatness?

So, here's the deal Generation your bliss, master it well, find happiness in your own skin, ignore the haters, and embrace those who resonate with you. Because every successful person you see around you did exactly that.

May 13, 2013

One Of Those Special Teachers...

I love!  I have posted vignettes in previous blogs from speakers who have resonated with me on a variety of topics.  Last week was teacher appreciation week across the country.  Frankly, I think every week should be teacher appreciation week.  After all, they are overworked, underpaid, rarely appreciated, and oftentimes supplement their curriculum with their own funds.

I have added a link below to a Ted Talk, which spotlights a teacher by the name of Rita Pierson.  She's the kind of teacher who likely has hundreds of students who fondly remember her long after they have moved on from her classroom.  Why? Because she totally gets it.  She has spent forty years connecting with the children in her classes.

Thank you, Ms. Pierson.  You have reminded me that every kid needs a champion. I have always believed that you never know when you will inspire a child while simply going about your day.  It could be someone in your child's school or a neighbor who may need a little extra attention.  I remember several adults and teachers during my childhood who have no idea how instrumental they were as they unknowingly gave me guidance in my formative years.  I hope you will take a few minutes to be inspired by Rita Pierson, too!

May 6, 2013

How Reliable Is The Gut...

A gut feeling can propel you forward or send you running scared.  So, what's the difference between intuition and fear?  The word intuition comes from the Latin word intueri, which means knowledge from within.  Basically, we are made up of a right brain, which is our emotional, creative, innovative characteristics.  Then we have the left brain, which give us our mathematical and factual qualities.  Most people have a propensity for one or the other.  Although, there are those special people out there who have the gift of being blessed with an equally strong right and left brain.

We hear about a woman's intuition, yet it almost seems like a myth that somehow made its way through the years as truth.  So, I ask you, myth or fact?  Turns out it's a fact.  We all (men and women) inherently have an internal mechanism that causes us to be alerted before our cognitive brain can assess and reason a situation.  According to Dr. Alexandre Linhares, who is a leading expert in the study of intuition, if you have the propensity to have more knowledge with people and relationships, your instincts will be more acute with people. Although, if you are a people person with so-so financial expertise, then your gut may not be as spot on with your 401K, for example.

I know you have all had that initial introduction to someone, and you walk away knowing immediately that you could be friends or, unfortunately, the opposite.  I have an example.  I have often talked about moving all over the country.  We have had the privilege of living in some of the loveliest neighborhoods, but there was one person (who shall remain nameless), and I immediately  knew there was something off during our first interaction.  It was not her words or her actions.  In fact, I eventually thought it was me because I could never quite put my finger on it.  Until one day!  I was at the market, and she was there with another woman. We spoke briefly.  It was a pleasant, how's it going, conversation.  We parted ways and I pushed my cart to the checkout line, only to realize that I had forgotten something.  She, on the other hand, wrapped around thinking that I was long gone.  As I grabbed my forgotten item, she unknowingly was standing in the next aisle and had no idea I was a tower of cereal away from her.  I stood paralyzed as I heard her tell her friend how much she loved annoying me by purposely walking her dog by my house because it caused my dog to descend into a barking frenzy. That, my friends, is intuition.  And I knew it within the first two minutes of our first conversation.  As a result, I have honored that gut feeling ever since that day in the market.

While our gut may guide us forward, what's the difference between intuition and fear?  They are very different, but it is entirely possible to misinterpret fear for intuition.  Say, for example, you are in a dark alley at midnight.  Chances are you have a gut feeling that you are unsafe.  Why?  Because we all intellectually know that nothing good can come from walking in a dark alley at midnight.  Essentially, the difference is that intuition is that split second feeling that comes before we give the situation any further consideration.  So, the dark alley is quite possibly fear more than true intuition.

A recent study asked half of the participants to make an immediate choice prior to rationalizing or explaining their selection.  The other half were given the opportunity to think through their decision.   A month later they were asked again about their choices, and those who made the split second decision were consistently happier with their choice than their counterparts who were given the opportunity to consider their decision.

I am, by no means, suggesting that we all fly by the seat of our pants, but I do think there is something to be said for the gut.  So, the next time your intuition taps you on the shoulder, go with it...

April 29, 2013

This Would Make My Great-Grandfather Roll Over In His Grave...

My mother's side of the family is from the Midwest.  Well, they actually came from Norway in the late 1800's and settled in Minnesota.  According to my mom, my great-grandfather was a stately gentleman, who had 12 children with his lovely bride.  Can you even imagine raising 12 children?  Anyway, they ultimately settled in Pine City, Minnesota and owned several Coca-Cola Franchises throughout Minnesota and Wisconsin.  They were a well-known family in their community, as "pop" was quite a luxury in those days.  So, the family that produced and distributed the sugary beverage had celebrity status in their Midwestern neck of the woods.

My mom tells stories about lazy summers in her grandparent's home town with scads of cousins playing in and around the Coke Distribution Plant and participating in parades and festivals throughout July and August.  The grandchildren had any and all flavors of Coke products available to them at all times.  I recall one particular story my mom tells about the time she and her cousin snuck down to the corner market and purchased small packages of sugary crystals similar to Kool-aid.  When her grandfather discovered it, he was furious because he fully believed that Coke products were the one and only beverage, and immediately made the girls wash their treat down the drain.

Now fast forward decades later and we have come to find that pop, as we still call it in our home, is a beverage that is causing all sorts of problems due to this country's high consumption rate.  I can't even recall the last time I drank pop. Frankly, I just can't justify drinking calories that do not come from a bottle that reads Pinot Noir.

I stumbled upon this fictitious ad for Coke and got a kick out of it.  I am sure Coca-Cola would not approve, and I'm fairly certain that my great-grandfather would be equally shocked and dismayed since he lived and breathed everything Coke.  For that matter, he would probably take one look at my 64 ounce daily water intake and my morning kale~spinach smoothie and wonder where it all went wrong...

April 23, 2013

I Want To Introduce You To A Great Man By The Name Of Frosty Westering...

Pacific Lutheran University is a small but well-respected college located in the state of Washington.  I know this because I am a PLU grad.  When I think back to my college years, I am reminded of the outstanding people, a campus buzzing with great energy, and football.  You see, PLU was known for their successful football program that consistently reached greatness at the helm of one man.

His name is Frosty Westering and he died last week.  Frosty was not a grand-stander, wasn't motivated by accolades, and never sought out rock star status like many of his big university counterparts.  He found his calling by showing those around him how to find inner drive, compete with excellence, and strive for personal accomplishment through perseverance and team work.

You may read this and think, what coach doesn't try to instill these values and principles in their players?  Well, Frosty was special.  While he was a football aficionado, he was so much more.  On occasion, he would stop practice and remind his players to simply take a moment to admire the stunningly exquisite Mount Rainier that sat just beyond the campus.  When most coaches would be focused on a new football season, he expected his players to take time to help newbie freshmen move their belongings into their respective dorms.  And to calm and focus his team, he encouraged them to sing without embarrassment.  He believed that singing calmed nerves and raised a person's state of consciousness. In fact, it was not uncommon to find the team singing on the sidelines prior to a big game.

You may be wondering how this translated to wins and losses.  After all, he was a football coach, and at the end of the day it is about the success of the game.  Well, in 32 seasons, he never had a losing season.  Additionally, he led his team to four national championships and four runner up finishes.

While winning seasons are great and obviously the goal, I inherently believe that coaches have the potential to influence and mold the lives of their teams.  Just recently we saw in the news a coach who tried to inspire his players by yelling and throwing balls at them.  While that tactic may have initially gleaned an immediate reaction from the players, he gave away the opportunity to teach life lessons.  The same life lessons that Frosty Westering brought to his players every day for 32 seasons.  Lessons like mutual respect, inspiration through demonstration, and the pride of hard work even when it comes without the final prize of victory in the end.  While a tangible trophy is often a physical reminder of excellence, I personally know many who came away from their years under Frosty's tutelage with the prize of personal and philosophical integrity that has carried them into adulthood.

The mark of a great man is what is said during and after his life.  Frosty will certainly go down in history as one of the greats, and those who had the privilege of knowing him should count themselves lucky.

April 15, 2013

Some Things Are Just Meant To Be Together...

I was scanning an article in Men's Health Magazine.  Okay, I admit that I may have initially opened the glossy mag under the false pretense of a cute boy on the front cover.  Eventually, I did find my way to an article that was full of solid information.

According to a bunch of smarty pants researchers, there is something to be said for pairing certain foods with each other for an added burst of nutritional value. So, here's what they did.  They looked at the practices of the United States, as well as other countries, and noticed that certain foods consumed together seemed to pack a greater punch, while simultaneously lowering the risk of cancer, high cholesterol levels, and diabetes. But they also took a look at scouring out the arteries and basic brain power, too!  They took their findings to the lab, tested it out on a willing group from the rodent family, and came up with a list of winners. I'm not going to go into the specifics because it's kind of boring and, like you, I usually want to cut to the chase.  So, here it is...

~ Tomatoes and Avocados
~ Oatmeal and Orange Juice
~ Broccoli and Tomatoes
~ Lemon and Kale
~ Apples and Chocolate
~ Blueberries and Grapes
~ Soy and Salmon
~ Peanuts and Whole Wheat
~ Red Meat and Rosemary
~ Garlic and Fish
~ Eggs and Cantaloupe
~ Almonds and Yogurt
~ Turmeric and Black Pepper

You probably scanned the list and likely combine many of these foods together already.  A side note on turmeric~some people shy away from it because of its bright color and pungent flavor.  I discovered a recipe years ago that I have prepared over and over.  Combine firm tofu (don't judge~stay with me) in a hot pan with a little olive oil, veggies of your choice, and sprinkle some turmeric and black pepper over it.  You can add Parmesan cheese or a little goat cheese and it is yummy and healthy.

April 8, 2013

An Unconventional Family That Will Warm Your Heart ...

Mommy, daddy, and baby have historically given us those moments of  "aww, that's so sweet."  But times, they are a-changin'...

I came across this inspirational video of a young man, who courageously stood in front of a sizable audience, and displayed a lovely and raw account of his life, his fears, and his family.

According to Mr. Webster, the definition of family is (1) parents and their children (2) relatives (3) lineage (4) a group of related things.

When watching this special teen, I was reminded that regardless of the family dynamic, we all just want to feel that we are part of a family unit.

I hope the following video will be as powerful for you as it was for me.

April 1, 2013

Top Ten Reasons Why You Shouldn't Snub Secondhand and Vintage...

I come from a long line of women who love fashion.  I am talking about everything from clothes to shoes to the perfect accessory that ties it all together.  I have photos of my grandmother and her sisters from the roaring twenties where they are decked out in the most beautiful dresses, hats, and full length fur coats. (don't judge~it was long before PETA came into the picture)

At the age of 16, with my brand new work permit in hand, I made an appointment with the Nordstrom HR Department.  Every time I walked into the familiar surroundings of any Nordstrom, it was as if the mothership had called me home. Sadly, they did not initially share a mutual admiration for my keen vision of what I knew I could bring to the Nordstrom family.  It became clear to me that I was going to have to go to Plan B.  I basically became relentless and made it my mission to convince the powers that be that they were missing out if they did not nab me as their newest protege.  And I am proud to say that I ultimately wore them down and happily worked at Nordstrom throughout high school and college. Looking back, it was probably one of the best working and learning environments I had as a young woman.  The philosophy of the company, the high expectations of the employees, and the overwhelming number one rule that customer service was always top priority.  Simply, the honor and privilege that came from working at the creme de la creme of clothing stores.      

You might think the greatest gift I received from Nordstrom was a 20% discount. While that was lovely, it was more basic.  It was learning the nitty-gritty of fashion.  You know, the thrill of meshing together articles of clothing that alone are nice, but together make a statement.  Don't get me wrong, there have been plenty of fashion don'ts throughout the years, even some fashion yikes!!  But I paid attention to anyone who I thought had that special talent for merchandising, and all of those nuggets I picked up along the way have continued to serve me well as an adult.

While I still love the chill that goes up my spine when I walk into Nordstrom, I have learned to use the basic art of dressing in the polar opposite surroundings of secondhand stores.  What???  In the course of several years, you may have noticed that consignment stores, vintage shops, and online sites like eBay have become all the rage.  I am not a personal fan of buying used clothing online because it is difficult to see the item, and once you purchase it, you typically own it.  But a nice consignment store in a really good part of town is hard to beat.

I am often asked why I would ever be caught dead in a "used clothing store." Funny thing is that I have purchased many many items with tags on or shoes with not one scuff on the sole at such a HUGE markdown, it would make your head spin.  Out of all of my clothing conquests, I would say that my very favorite is a knee-length wool Escada sweater that likely retailed for $1000.  I just happened to be in Whidbey Island, Washington celebrating my anniversary a few years ago, and happened upon it in the most adorable consignment shop that could have easily been mistaken for a high-end boutique.  It was $80.00 and I never looked back.  Another time I found the most pristine vintage swing coat on a sale rack for $30.00.  You just never know what sweet little gem you're going to find.          

I have put together my top ten list to remember when consignment store shopping because there can be some pitfalls when shopping secondhand.

1~ The first thing to remember is that you typically cannot return it so don't get too excited by the prices and purchase items you really don't need and probably won't wear.

2~ Be sure to examine the item well. That means look for hidden repairs, damage, and stains.  The best shops are sticklers so try to shop at consignment stores that are in more affluent communities and have a boutique feel.

3~ Don't buy a shirt, for example, that originally came from Target or a lower end store.  You might as well just go to Target and buy it new.  It's not going to be discounted enough to make it worth buying it second-hand.

4~ Be careful buying handbags.  There are a lot of knockoff bags out there.  If you don't know your stuff, you could end up with a cheap wannabe designer bag.  If you do know your stuff, you can get a great deal on a Louis Vuitton or Gucci bag. Again, definitely go to a high-end consignment store.  They pride themselves on selling the real designer bags.

5~ If you need a fancy dress, it's the best place to shop.  Chances are the dress was only worn once.

6~ Accessories like leather belts, jewelry, and scarves can be very expensive and can be found for significantly less at a consignment shop.

7~Leather is another item that is very expensive when purchased new.  If you are seeking a leather skirt or pants, this is definitely the way to go.

8~The dressing rooms are typically small and not well-lighted.  Be sure to check yourself out in the common area, as they all usually have full length or three-way mirrors somewhere in the store.  Okay~ this may sound weird but I always take a small compact in case they don't have a three-way mirror.  If doesn't look good from behind, don't buy it.

9~Be willing to walk away empty handed.  Remember, it can be hit or miss because it's not a store with multiple sizes.  You may see the perfect skirt but it's one size too small.  Don't, and I repeat don't say to yourself I am going to buy it and lose 10 pounds.   Just walk away.  Remember rule #1~you can't return it if you change your mind or fail to lose those pesky 10 pounds.

10~If you do find the perfect item, don't, and I repeat don't walk away because someone else will know rule number 10 and they will snag it.  Trust me, I have hesitated before and missed out.  And it still pains me to this day.  Sigh...

March 25, 2013

I Thought I Had An Idea. Turns Out I Had No Clue...

Fox News tells us one thing, MSNBC another, and CNN gives us yet a third explanation about how money is dispersed in this country.  The economy is up one day when the stock market hits record highs, yet those who continue to struggle with the rampant loss of jobs would not agree that our country has made a come back quite yet.

So, who are the people making the money contributing to our country's economic recovery?  More importantly, what percentage of the population hold the majority of the assets in this country?  We know they're out there, but where are they? Come to think of it, what percentage of Americans make up this lucky group?  Is it five percent?  Maybe ten?

This video clarified it for me, and I suspect it will do the same for you.

March 21, 2013

Whole Foods Gets An A+...

Whole Foods is known for being the grocery store where the elite shop for their fancy specialty items like organic kale and grass fed beef.  The environment, the beautiful produce, the expansive bakery and deli departments.  It makes for such a pleasant shopping experience.

Until recently I always donated my reusable bag credit to my local food bank.  And then this super cute cashier told me about the Whole Planet Foundation.  With toes tapping in frustration behind me in line, I got the skinny so I could pass it along to you.

The mission of  the Whole Planet Foundation is simple.  They provide loans, primarily to women, in the impoverished countries that supply products to Whole Foods Markets.  The loans are nominal by our standards, and are then used by the recipients to begin or expand a business.  The average "microcredit" is $162.00 and requires no formal contract and no collateral. And guess what?  The average repayment rate is 96%.   Thus far 236,000 loans have been extended, and it is estimated that over $22 million have been disbursed.

I have read many times that an important path out of world poverty is to empower the women in developing countries.  By seizing business opportunities, women glean more respect from those in their communities.  As a result, they naturally pass their legacy on to their daughters and other impressionable girls.

For the month of March, Whole Foods is having a fundraising campaign in support of this very important foundation.  You can participate in your local store or go online and contribute with any amount.

Nice job, Whole Foods!  I always like to see our country's leaders give back.

March 18, 2013

Five Easy Ways To Have Healthy Glowing Skin...

We all sit up and take notice when the newest moisturizer hits the market or a celebrity generously recommends their secret to youthful dewy skin.  Personally, I think it has to do with daily sunscreen, limited sun exposure, lots of water, less sugar, fewer preservatives, and lots of fruit and veggies.

I recently read an article that recommends five easy additions to our daily food intake that will help sustain healthy radiant skin as we get older.

~Tomatoes:  Tomatoes aid in the protection of harmful UV rays and boost collagen.  Collagen improves the elasticity of the skin.  The tomato is also an excellent source of lycopene, which is said to reduce the chance of certain cancers. So, what is lycopene?  It's an antioxidant compound that gives veggies their bright color, which is why Dr. Oz is always telling us to eat the most colorful fruits and veggies. The more vibrant the color, the better it is for us!

~Romaine Lettuce:  Just six leaves of romaine lettuce will give you 100% of your daily recommended allowance of vitamin A.  Vitamin A improves the renewal of cell function.  Romaine lettuce is also an excellent source of vitamin C, which again, helps with collagen.  The potassium in romaine lettuce will improve circulation, which gives you that youthful glow.

~Spinach: Spinach contains flavonoids, which have anticancer properties.  A flavonoid is a plant based compound that is an excellent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory.  It also provides an excellent source of vitamin B and this little gem gives us the firmness we like to see when we look in the mirror.

~Beans and Legumes:  Beans and legumes are readily available in any market and come in lots of different forms.  They are biotin rich, which promotes youthful skin.  It also helps with dry hair, skin, and nails.

~Omega-3 Fatty Acids:  Fish, especially tuna and salmon are excellent options. In addition to glowing skin, it also gives us a natural protection to harmful UV rays and improves the elasticity of the skin.

A while back I wrote a blog called My gift to you...  At the end I gave you my cherished recipe for my famous chocolate chip cookies.  Well, today I am giving you another little treat.  It is my recipe for Tomato Coulis.  Sounds fancy but it's basically tomato sauce.  I never use tomato sauce from a jar because there is just too much salt.  I make it in a HUGE batch and freeze it so I can easily grab what I need for pasta, lasagna, meatloaf, and chili.  One of these days, I will write a blog about all the different ways I have morphed this sauce into countless dinner options.  For today, try it over a little whole wheat pasta and a sprinkle of parmesan cheese, and you will be in heaven!  

                                                       Tomato Coulis

2 Cans whole tomatoes (unsalted 28 oz can)
1 large yellow onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 TBSP olive oil
1 TBSP kosher salt
2 tsp black pepper
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried oregano

Sauté olive oil and onions in a stock pot until translucent.  Add garlic and cook for a few more minutes.  Add tomatoes spices, salt, and pepper.  Simmer over medium heat for 45 minutes.  Puree mixture in a blender or you can use a hand blender, which I highly recommend.  It is very quick and much easier than blending batches of sauce.  If you do use a blender, cool the sauce first.  You can refrigerate or freeze this sauce.  I always quadruple the recipe and freeze.  Enjoy!