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.