Thursday, September 22, 2011

What's Going On?

Dear Lovely Readers,

We just wanted to let you know that we still love you. We're still here for you. We all just kind of ran out of things to say every week, so at the moment we're on a (hopefully) temporary hiatus.

Lin and I were barely blogging at all for a couple of months in there, and although Miri's blog has continued going strong, she has taken some periodic internet fasts to regroup. We don't know why we all suddenly ran out of blog steam (especially at the same time), but we kind of did. It may have had something to do with the number of blogs we were trying to maintain.

We've been working our way back up. I've been starting to post more regularly on my blog since summer ended. Miri's written several posts as part of an amazing philosophy series on her blog. Lin is blogging some and also making amazing Star Wars knit hats for her nephews. We're all still trying to live lovely lives, and we feel pretty confident that at some point in the near future, we'll start wanting to write about them again here.

In the mean time, if you'd like to submit any stories, we'd be happy to post them. Check us out on our blogs if you just miss the melodious flow of our musings.

Stay lovely.

Friday, April 22, 2011

“The earth is what we all have in common.”

Happy Earth Day, lovely readers! 

Don't feel bad if you didn't get to do anything awesome like plant a tree or recycle your car; every day is Earth Day, and every day is your new chance! There are a million trillion ways to start taking care of the environment, and some of them are easy. (Some others aren't, it's true--but losing natural resources because we didn't take care of them isn't any easier! Just think of it that way. :) )

I didn't get to do anything epic today, either, but I did see a woman at the Barnes and Noble Starbucks getting her coffee in a mug she brought from home, and that made me pretty happy. All I did was my usual--skipping the plastic bag when I stopped at Target, picking up a little trash here and there, and putting a cardboard box in the recycle bin instead of the trash. 

Here are some great lists of really simple ways to do your part:

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Time to Rest

After creating the universe, all the stars, each grain of sand, the humpback whale and the soft-shell crab, even God tired and took a day off.
There's no argument that we humans, who at our best can only create opportunities and at our worst create havoc, need time to rest.

--Maya Angelou, 
Even the Stars Look Lonesome
People--women in particular--are sometimes pretty bad about giving themselves the breaks they need. We get caught up in all the things going on in our lives, all the responsibilities and to-do lists, and we start to think those things are more important than they are.
"I believe that should is one of the most damaging words in our language. Every time we use should, we are, in effect, saying "wrong." Either we are wrong or we were wrong or we are going to be wrong. I don't think we need more wrongs in our life."  
--Louise Hay, You Can Heal Your Life
I don't think we do, either; most of us already have plenty. I think it's important to learn to focus less on what we think we should be doing, and more on what we need. It's like we're juggling, and each aspect of life is one of the balls; we think they're all made of glass that will shatter if we drop them, but really they're made of rubber (or at least some of them are). We think there are so many things we absolutely must do, but the number of things we really actually have to do is a lot smaller.

It's okay to have to let some things slide every now and then, to take a break when we need to, and to give ourselves a little time to rest. After all, God rested; and who are we to be above his method?

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Boxes for Ishinomaki

My friend Nicole, who was featured on this blog not too long ago, has been working on a pretty awesome project lately. It is starting to get some notice in the local news, and I felt like it would be good to spread the word.

Basically, Nicole has a friend at church from Japan. Nicole and her family set a goal to get 20 boxes prepared and sent to that friend's home town. Supplies, toys, anything extra you have around your house that could help families in Ishinomaki. Well, 20 boxes has turned into hundreds of boxes being sent. It's such an amazing thing.

Here's a video of her TV interview:

Check out Nicole's blog for more information or if you would like to follow the success of the project. Nicole posts photos and updates as they come in. There's even a post about the postman who gets to deliver all the packages, which must be an experience in and of itself. You can add a button to your blog or follow her Flickr page for updates and maybe even send a box yourself. What a fantastic (and easy) way to help people who really need it.

If you would like to send a box and would like more information, please leave a comment with us and I will do what I can to get the information to you. Also, see Nicole's blog, The Sleepy Time Gal, for information and links. She also has a Facebook page that she updates regularly, including lists of supplies that are needed in Ishinomaki.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Parents, don't dress your girls like tramps

I just read this article at about sexy clothes for little girls, specifically about Abercrombie and Fitch selling push-up bras for girls who should be too young to have anything to push up. Here's an excerpt:
What kind of PowerPoint presentation was shown to the Abercrombie executives that persuaded them to green light such a product?

That there was a demand to make little girls hot?

I mean, that is the purpose of a push-up bra, right? To enhance sex appeal by lifting up, pushing together and basically showcasing the wearer's breasts. Now, thanks to AF Kids, girls don't have to wait until high school to feel self-conscious about their, uhm, girls. They can start almost as soon as they're potty trained. Maybe this fall the retailer should consider keeping a plastic surgeon on site for free consultations.
It goes on to talk about the fact that Abercrombie would never make such a product if they didn't think someone would buy it - and little girls don't have cars or jobs or money.
I guess I've been out-of-the-loop and didn't realize there's been an ongoing stampede of 10-year-old girls driving to the mall with their tiny fists full of cash demanding sexier apparel.

What's that you say? Ten-year-olds can't drive? They don't have money, either? Well, how else are they getting ahold of these push-up bras and whore-friendly panties?

Their parents?

Noooo, couldn't be.

What adult who wants a daughter to grow up with high self-esteem would even consider purchasing such items? What parent is looking at their sweet, little girl thinking, "She would be perfect if she just had a little bit more up top."
The whole article is fantastic and sad and very necessary - especially in light of the study he quotes about the results of early sexualization of girls, "linking early sexualization with three of the most common mental-health problems of girls and women: eating disorders, low self-esteem and depression." Read it. Share it with your friends. And let your little girls know they are more than sex symbols.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Guest Post: Mommy, If I Were You . . .

Today we have another guest post from Julie! Thanks for keeping us going even when we're slacking!

My daughter gets her hair in to everything. You see, she has low vision and so in order to see she keeps her head close to the task at hand. If she is eating, her hair falls into her food becoming sticky. If she is cutting paper with scissors, her hair often falls in the path of the shears!

My solution to this problem is to keep her hair up and out of the way. I love to sculpt masterpieces atop her head with her lovely golden locks. But ohhh, does she hate getting her hair done. It takes her away from playing. It takes too long. It is soo annoying to be hunted down by Mom every morning! She puts up a good fight.

This morning as I was tying a simple knot on her head, she told me, “Mommy, if I were you I would just do a ponytail.”

What aspect of life is more difficult and time consuming than it needs to be? What is stressing you out? Does it need to be the deluxe-do or can it simply be changed to the classic pony tail?

I think I may just take her advice today.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

A New Perspective on Motherhood

I've been terrible about contributing to our tribute to women this month, and I will tell you why: I've been mothering a sick hedgehog.

A few weeks ago, my husband and I brought this little darlin'  home.  She was very sweet and quite tame (not too prickly) and we were just in love.

Then, one night our little gal sneezed all night long. Her breathing sounded wet and snuffly, and everything I saw in the literature about hedgehog care (I know, right?) said that it was probably an upper respiratory infection from the pine bedding the pet shop sold us (and swore was all right for her)  - an infection that could quickly turn to pneumonia and be fatal for our hedgehog. And the worst of it was that we just didn't know what to do for her because she was so new to us. Who knows what a hedgehog's eating and breathing and playing should look like?

I spent the next few days constantly checking to make sure she was breathing, tensing up whenever she started to sneeze, counting her kibble to see if she was eating (she wasn't) and worrying, worrying, worrying. After a few days, I couldn't stand it anymore and took her to the vet, where they gave her some medicine and told me I was on the right track and she would be fine, that it hadn't gone to her lungs and antibiotics would clear up the rest. After thinking she might die because she was so lethargic and sniffly, it was a huge relief. It was an even bigger relief when, after a couple of days of working a medicine dropper into her mouth (while she threw her head back and forth and clenched her teeth like a little kid), she finally started to eat regularly, drink normally, and (I'm sorry) poop non-green poop.
I've always had a great respect for mothers - for the work they do to keep their babies happy and healthy as often as possible, for the worrying they go through when their babies are sick or sad or in trouble. However, I'd never understood things like the relief that comes when a baby starts eating right, the concern over weird-looking stuff in the diaper, the need to just watch the baby breathe. It may sound silly, but my concern for a spiny little rodent gave me a glimpse into the lives of new mothers - women who want so badly for their child to be healthy and normal and okay. I finally understood why someone would obsess over the color or frequency of baby poop - because any sign of normalcy is a huge comfort, another sigh of relief, another night when you don't lie awake listening for any sound that might be a bad sign.

To the mothers out there: I'm certainly not saying I understand everything you've gone through now that I've mothered a hedgehog. Cute as she is, the fear that little Stickybun wouldn't recover has nothing on the feelings a mother has for her child's wellbeing. But I do understand a little better the feelings of investment that come with trying to keep something tiny and helpless alive. I both dread and look forward to the day when I will be crazy with worry for my own child.

Until then, if you want to tell me about the color of your baby's poop, I will listen.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011


Too many women in too many countries
speak the same language of silence.
My grandmother was always silent, always aggrieved
Only her husband had the cosmic right (or so it was said)
to speak and be heard.
They say it is different now.
(After all, I am always vocal and my grandmother
thinks I talk too much)
But sometimes I wonder.
When a woman shares her thoughts, as some women do,
graciously, it is allowed.
When a woman fights for power, as all women would like
to, quietly or loudly, it is questioned.
And yet, there must be freedom — if we are to speak
And yes, there must be power — if we are to be heard.
And when we have both (freedom and power) let us now be
We seek only to give words to those who cannot speak
(too many women in too many countries)
I seek to forget the sorrows of my grandmother's silence.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Geraldine Ferraro (1935-2011)

In 1984, Geraldine Ferraro was the first woman to run for vice president on a major party ticket. 
"I can look back and say that really was an important thing to have happen because, you know, people did see a woman running for national office. But I also have to say something to you: It's not only—it wasn't only the campaign. It wasn't only the election. Since then, I have to tell you the number of women who have come up to me and said to me, thank you for doing that. And I say, well, I appreciate it. And they say, well, no, no. You don't understand. Because if you hadn't done it, I would not have... And I cannot tell you the number of things they attach to the end of that word—have."

Friday, March 25, 2011

Elizabeth Taylor (1932-2011)

I feel very adventurous.

There are so many doors to be opened, and I'm not afraid to look behind them.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011


"My children are now all grown. Some are in their 60s. But when they call and I answer the phone, they say, “How are you?” And before I can answer, they ask, “Is Mother there?”

She has been their strength all of their lives. Since they were babies they have looked to her, and she has always responded with affection, guidance, teaching, blessing their lives in every way.

Now we have granddaughters who are mothers. They visit us, and I marvel at their patience, at their capacity to calm their children, to stop them from crying, and it seems to me to do a thousand other things.
They drive cars, they run computers, they attend the activities of their children, they cook and sew, they teach classes, and they speak in church.
I see their husbands, and I feel like saying to them: “Wake up. Carry your share of the load. Do you really appreciate your wife? Do you know how much she does? Do you ever compliment her? Do you ever say thanks to her?”
Well, you dear women, I say thanks to you. Thank you for being the kind of people you are and doing the things you do. May the blessings of heaven rest upon you. May your prayers be answered and your hopes and dreams become realities."

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Sakena Yacoobi

Sakena Yacoobi is the executive director of the Afghan Institute of Learning, an NGO that she founded in 1995 to help improve the lives of Afghan women. AIL operates Educational Learning Centers and health centers in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and most of its employees are women. 

Just over a week ago, Dr. Yacoobi was inducted into the Enterprising Women's Hall of Fame at the ninth annual Enterprising Women of the Year Awards Celebration in Boca Raton, Florida. Dr. Terry Neese, founder of The Institute for Economic Empowerment of Women and the woman who nominated Dr. Yacoobi, explained her choice: "Her organization was the first to offer human rights and leadership training to Afghan women in the 1990s. She is an inspiration to Afghan and American women. Her visionary work is an example to everyone that women can persevere through the most challenging times to help build their country and educate their people."

Monday, March 21, 2011

Anna Sewell

"There is no religion without love, and people may talk as much as they like about their religion, but if it does not teach them to be good and kind to man and beast, it is all a sham."

Anna Sewell is the author of the lovely Black Beauty, which so many of us adored as children. Her compassion and love of all living creatures is evident in her writing.

Friday, March 18, 2011

My Gram

I've been thinking a lot lately about my family, specifically the women in my family. We are all very close, something I wouldn't change for anything in the world. I could write forever about how awesome they are and how much I love them and I could get sappy and lame, but I'm going to try to keep it together and talk about my grandmother.

Matilda, my mom's mom, has always insisted on being called Grandmother. When we all got older and started calling her "Gram," she would ignore us until we finally gave up and called her Grandmother. She's gotten better about this over the years, but I'm pretty sure it's only because she can't hear us as well.

My grandmother and grandad met when they were teenagers attending school in a one-room schoolhouse in Pennsylvania... they've been together ever since. I find that incredibly romantic. Even more romantic is how she still talks about how great my grandad is - how he used to ride his bike up a giant hill to visit her; how they used to go out for ice cream sundaes; how he got along with all of her siblings and how they spent hours playing cards. She's 87 years old and she's still smitten with her high school sweetheart.

My grandparents (on the left) on their wedding day with my grandmother's twin sister and her husband.

My grandmother taught us all how to behave properly. We learned how to set a proper place setting, which utensils to use and when, how to twirl our spaghetti on a spoon so the bites were manageable and non-slurpy. She helped teach us manners and how to treat people with respect. She taught us how to cook and how to shop (seriously, she could shop). She always took so much pride in her appearance, which hasn't necessarily rubbed off on me but I blame society for that one.

We all have amazing women in our lives, we had to learn it from somewhere. Mothers, sisters, grandmothers, aunts, cousins, neighbors - someone out there influenced you to such an extent that you carry them with you where ever you go. All of these things that I learned from my own Grandmother are things I will be able to teach my daughters someday and that is amazing to me.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Anne Frank

"How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world."

Few people inspire me more than Anne Frank. She was so young, and yet she set such a beautiful example of the best there is in human nature. In circumstances that would have tried the most enlightened adults, she was thoughtful and hopeful and utterly lovely. "It's really a wonder that I haven't dropped all my ideals," she said, "because they seem so absurd and impossible to carry out. Yet I keep them, because in spite of everything I still believe that people are really good at heart."

*I have looked everywhere trying to find the actual origin of that first quote and I couldn't, so if anyone can tell me the source, I will gladly name my first-born child after you. It's driving me crazy. I assumed it was from her diary, but I searched the text of the diary on Google Books and it didn't come up... I'm at a loss.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Television's Greatest Women?

Today I came across a list of TV's 25 Greatest Women, and I thought it would be a fun contribution to our celebration of women this month. 

To be honest, I am not a big TV-watcher, and I have never seen most of the shows on this list. I don't really know how to approach it, since I don't know most of the characters--are these the women who contributed the most to television? Who had the biggest audiences? Whose characters exemplify all the best qualities of women? What do you think?

If you don't see some of your favorites, check out the links to the rest of the list--this top 25 is just the final installment of a top 100. Like I said, I don't know most of the characters in this list, but these I do know (and love):

Lorelai Gilmore, Gilmore Girls57. Lorelai Gilmore
'Gilmore Girls' (2000-07) | Played By: Lauren Graham
She didn't focus on the challenges of being a single teen mom, and instead made sure daughter Rory's life was filled with love, laughter, a deep appreciation and knowledge of pop culture, and the assurance that Lorelai would always be there as her mom and her fast-talkin' BFF.

Liz Lemon 30 Rock14. Liz Lemon
'30 Rock' (2006-present) | Played By: Tina Fey
She's the heroine of every bespectacled, sweats-wearing, junk-food-noshing, boy-chasing, pop-culture-loving, smart-girl nerd everywhere.

Lucy Ricardo, I Love Lucy3. Lucy Ricardo
'I Love Lucy' (1951-60) | Played By: Lucille Ball
The meddling redhead couldn't stay out of trouble, but it was only because she wouldn't let anyone, even beloved hubby Ricky or BFF Ethel, keep her in the kitchen and out of the spotlight she craved to be in.

Who would be on your list?

Friday, March 4, 2011

A Call For Posts

Hey ladies (and also gentlemen, because we know you're out there too, and some of you even know how to write),

Because we love the idea of Women's History month, we'd love it if we could get a special batch of guest posts for March. It's a time when we can honor the women who have inspired us: the teacher who helped us love a subject, the writer or artist who opened our eyes to something beautiful and true, the scientist who gave us a sense of our own potential, the suffragette who gave us a voice, the mothers, grandmothers, sisters, aunts or friends who made us who we are today.

We want posts celebrating the women who are important to you, whether you know them personally or not, and we want to know how they've affected the person you've become or the way you see yourself. We want to hear about them even if your post is just a paragraph. If you have quotes that you feel match the spirit of the month, we'd love to be able to share those with everyone who reads the blog. (And we promise we'll be participating as well.)

Don't forget to email all guest posts to beinglovelyblog at gmail dot com.
What say you, lovelies? Are you with us?


"Our daughters' daughters will adore us and they'll sing in grateful chorus..."

(Just to get you in the spirit.)

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Women's History Month 2011

The White House
Office of the Press Secretary

Presidential Proclamation--Women's History Month, 2011

During Women's History Month, we reflect on the extraordinary accomplishments of women and honor their role in shaping the course of our Nation's history.  Today, women have reached heights their mothers and grandmothers might only have imagined.  Women now comprise nearly half of our workforce and the majority of students in our colleges and universities.  They scale the skies as astronauts, expand our economy as entrepreneurs and business leaders, and serve our country at the highest levels of government and our Armed Forces.  In honor of the pioneering women who came before us, and in recognition of those who will come after us, this month, we recommit to erasing the remaining inequities facing women in our day.
This year, we commemorate the 100th anniversary of International Women's Day, a global celebration of the economic, political, and social achievements of women past, present, and future.  International Women's Day is a chance to pay tribute to ordinary women throughout the world and is rooted in women's centuries-old struggle to participate in society on an equal footing with men.  This day reminds us that, while enormous progress has been made, there is still work to be done before women achieve true parity.
My Administration has elevated the rights of women and girls abroad as a critical aspect of our foreign and national security policy.  Empowering women across the globe is not simply the right thing to do, it is also smart foreign policy.  This knowledge is reflected in the National Security Strategy of the United States, which recognizes that countries are more peaceful and prosperous when their female citizens enjoy equal rights, equal voices, and equal opportunities.  Today, we are integrating a focus on women and girls in all our diplomatic efforts, and incorporating gender considerations in every aspect of our development assistance.  We are working to build the participation of women into all aspects of conflict prevention and resolution, and we are continuing to lead in combating the scourge of conflict related sexual violence, both bilaterally and at the United Nations.
In America, we must lead by example in protecting women's rights and supporting their empowerment.  Despite our progress, too many women continue to be paid less than male workers, and women are significantly underrepresented in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields.  By tapping into the potential and talents of all our citizens, we can utilize an enormous source of economic growth and prosperity.  The White House Council on Women and Girls has continued to remove obstacles to achievement by addressing the rate of violence against women, supporting female entrepreneurs, and prioritizing the economic security of women.  American families depend largely on the financial stability of women, and my Administration continues to prioritize policies that promote workplace flexibility, access to affordable, quality health care and child care, support for family caregivers, and the enforcement of equal pay laws.  I have also called on every agency in the Federal Government to be part of the solution to ending violence against women, and they have responded with unprecedented cooperation to protect victims of domestic and sexual violence and enable survivors to break the cycle of abuse.
As we reflect on the triumphs of the past, we must also look to the limitless potential that lies ahead.  To win the future, we must equip the young women of today with the knowledge, skills, and equal access to reach for the promise of tomorrow.  My Administration is making unprecedented investments in education and is working to expand opportunities for women and girls in the STEM fields critical for growth in the 21st century economy.
As we prepare to write the next chapter of women's history, let us resolve to build on the progress won by the trailblazers of the past.  We must carry forward the work of the women who came before us and ensure our daughters have no limits on their dreams, no obstacles to their achievements, and no remaining ceilings to shatter.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim March 2011 as Women's History Month.  I call upon all Americans to observe this month and to celebrate International Women's Day on March 8, 2011 with appropriate programs, ceremonies, and activities that honor the history, accomplishments, and contributions of American women.  I also invite all Americans to visit to learn more about the generations of women who have shaped our history.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this twenty-eighth day of February, in the year of our Lord two thousand eleven, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-fifth.


Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Our History is Our Strength

If we were more on top of things, I think we would have liked to do something to celebrate Black History Month in February, and I wish we had. But for once I happened to think of something the night before it happens, so in March we are going to celebrate the women who have brought us to where we are today. Happy Women's History Month!

Monday, February 28, 2011

Love and Courage

We must replace fear and chauvinism, hate, timidity and apathy, which flow in our national spinal column, with courage, sensitivity, perseverance, and, I even dare say, "love." And by "love" I mean that condition in the human spirit so profound it encourages us to develop courage. It is said that courage is the most important of all the virtues, because without courage you can't practice any other virtue with consistency. 

--Maya Angelou, Even the Stars Look Lonely

I read the news a lot, and I try to keep up on what's happening in the world. Sometimes this is a pretty depressing thing to do--in fact, as a teenager, that was my reason for refusing to read or watch the news. So much of what goes on in the world seems to be motivated by hate, and it can be hard to hear about.

But I have learned that most often, what looks like hate is actually fear or insecurity. No person is born bad, and people do not become "bad" without having a lot of painful things happen to them. In fact, pretty much no one goes through life without having painful things happen to them; where people make a mistake is in taking out their pain on others. 

In many ways our society is a comparatively enlightened one, but we have a lot of failings as well. One of these is our tendency to discriminate based on all kinds of things--race, gender, wealth, physical appearance, sexual orientation, nationality, political affiliation, age, religion--and I think discrimination is the single most obvious example of a hateful behavior that stems from fear. Discrimination is often lashing out against people who are different because we are afraid of them, or because deep down we are unsure of ourselves. When we discriminate against others, we take out our fears on people who have done nothing to hurt us, people who have fears and pain of their own, and who deserve to live their lives without antagonism from others who are different.

Life is too precious to spend our time dwelling in negativity. Instead of letting fear and insecurity control our actions, we need to learn to respond to people with sensitivity and love--and with the courage and perseverance to continue even when it would be easier to stop.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

It's gonna take patience and time...

Maybe I just wrote that title so you would all get this song stuck in your head:

I'm evil, but that's a good song so I don't feel too bad.

Now on to business.

Remember how I wrote about improvement? That's my theme of the year. I'm going to take what I have and I'm going to improve. But, you know what? That is going to require patience and time...two things I don't feel I have a lot of right now. Of course, improving on the time part is easy - I just have to "prioritize" and "make" time for the things I should be doing. That doesn't mean I want to do that. What I want to do is catch up on my Hulu and Netflix queues.

The patience part is what I'm really struggling with. How do you stay motivated when it seems to take so long to see results? This is with everything in my life right now...finances, work, dieting, my social life (or lack thereof), even in my relationships with friends and family. All those things that I want to improve on are some of the most difficult things to improve on because I am not a patient woman. I need feedback to keep me going! Validate me!

So, I reiterate my question and hope to get answers from you...How do YOU stay motivated when you really feel a little insane for even trying in the first place?

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Guest Post, Lis: No Quick Fixes

Another lovely guest post from Miri's sister-in-law, Lis:

We made a goal a couple weeks ago (I made it and my husband went along with it) to have a home-cooked meal every night and to exercise at least three times that week. We actually do this quite frequently, but strangely enough, it was harder when I made a goal to do it than when we just do it.

It seems like a goal is harder to keep up with than a habit. It's starting to become a habit for me to go to the gym a couple times a week, and we were already cooking at home a lot; but when I forced myself to do it, I found that I kind of pushed back against myself.

I think goals are harder because they're a change from the normal, and people generally are very resistant to change and to having to do something new. When it's just a normal habit, it's a lot easier. When someone (even ourselves) makes us do something, we don't want to. We want to do things when we want to.

So I decided I need to be careful about my goals in the future--just decide I want to do them, but not set too specific boundaries. That way I won't be forcing myself against my own will and won't be disappointed if I don't accomplish the goal. It sounds counter-intuitive, but it makes for a much less stressful week.

I think the word "goal" is like the word "diet"--it now has a slightly negative connotation (as in people don't want to think about the stress of reaching their goals). We need to have a lifestyle change, not a one-time fix. The trick is getting from goal to habit. Thoughts are very powerful, and if I want to change, I need to think about it and decide to be the person I want to be, not just do the actions.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day

All, everything that I understand, I understand only because I love.

War and Peace, 
Leo Tolstoy

Thursday, February 10, 2011


I rambled a bit about this subject on my personal blog and felt inspired to share a word or two here as well.

A lot has changed in my life over the past few months, mostly (thank goodness) for the better (it was about time). For the last two years, things had basically shut down. I didn't have a job, I didn't have money, I was not happy, I was stressed all the time and, when I wasn't looking for a job or doing whatever I could to earn some money, I loafed. My mind and my soul were overloaded with stress and fear and doubt and worry; there was no room for progression or forward thinking. I lived in the moment, day by day, doing the best I could.

But now that's different. That was how I coped so I could keep on keeping on and it worked when it needed to work, but now I get to cope with good things. The stress and worry are still there to some extent (I have a lot of bills to catch up on, people, those never go away), but I am so much happier. Not only was I lucky enough to find a job, it's a job I actually like and I'm good at it and I work with people I like and choose to spend time with outside of work. That's a huge deal. My finances, social life and career all took a turn for the better with one little job.

So. This time last year, I was telling myself that "everything is going to be alright" and now that things are alright (or headed that way), I'm focused on improvement. It's time to start progressing! Onward and upward! Keep moving forward! *Insert your favorite catchy, motivating slogan here*!

I'm choosing to go to the gym and diet (because it's about time). I've never been one to go to the gym (sweat. ugh.), but it's never too late to start. Since I'm going to the gym and dieting, I am also going to be saving the money I would spend on new clothes and eating out (and also pretty books and frivolous things) to pay off some of the debt one tends to acquire while unemployed. Once my credit cards are cleaner and my waist line is smaller, then I can shop (because hopefully I will NEED to shop for pants that don't fall off). So the library and the gym will be my new best friends.

These are lofty goals, I know, but it feels so good to have made them. I'm not a resolution kind of girl, but mostly because I think the term is equated with failure (who EVER keeps a New Years resolution? Who?!), so these will be my improvements for the year. I don't expect to be a size 2 with zero debt by Christmas 2011, but I do expect to see some improvement from month to month and I know it will relieve some of the stress and worry in my life.

So what will you be improving on this year?

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

What the World Needs Now...

I read a lovely little story the other day. It's in Hillary Rodham Clinton's biography, Living History, and she quotes her husband giving the eulogy at her father's funeral.

"In 1974 when I made my first political race," he said, "I ran in a congressional district where there were a lot of Republicans from the Middle West. And my future father-in-law came down in a Cadillac with an Illinois license plate; never told a living soul I was in love with his daughter, just went up to people and said, 'I know that you're a Republican and so am I. I think Democrats are just one step short of communism, but this kid's all right.' "

This warmed my heart, and I don't think it happened because of anything special about Bill Clinton; I believe it was something special about Hugh Rodham. His daughter described him as a staunch Republican who "started out in life inheriting every prejudice imaginable in his working-class, Protestant family--against Democrats, Catholics, Jews, and blacks--and anyone else considered outside the tribe."

The truth is that most of our negative ideas about people who are different from us aren't really true, and deep down, I think most of us already know that. But it takes incredible maturity and humility to be able to overcome long-standing, deep-seated prejudices; to realize that what you believe, maybe even what your parents and grandparents believed, just isn't true; to understand that a person can be a truly good person and still have beliefs, traditions, and a culture that are completely opposite of yours. 

Human beings are infinitely complex creatures, and yet for some reason we like to try and simplify each other. The fact is that you can't know someone based on their religious affiliation, their political convictions, their hobbies, their race, their job, where they live, or the emails they forward. These are all external factors, motivated by something deeper (or sometimes just circumstantial), and we can't know what that motivation is without getting to know a lot more about the person.

I wonder if there any differences that couldn't be overcome if we could learn to treat everyone like a member of our family whom we have to love, even if we disagree with them. As a very lovely man said, "Love is the only force that can erase the differences between people or bridge the chasms of bitterness." It takes a lot of strength to become this kind of person--but imagine what the world would be like if we all tried.

Monday, February 7, 2011

"An error does not become truth by reason of multiplied propagation, nor does truth become error because nobody sees it." 

--Mahatma Gandhi

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

A Theory

I've been trying to figure out what the deal is with human beings and our obsession with appearances. My current philosophy is that looks are completely unimportant, and I have been doing a lot of work to make myself believe it. It's been great--I've actually lost weight, and when people ask me what I've been doing my only answer is, "I stopped caring about losing weight." I really love being able to say that and have it be true.

Yet our reliance on appearances seems to be such a natural part of us that it makes me wonder. For the most part, our natural instincts are there to keep us safe: Physical pain warns us away from something that can hurt us, the gag reflex helps expel harmful things from our stomachs. The instinct to judge based on looks seems to be innate--so does this mean that it isn't wrong? Is this instinct actually something we should use?

I will be honest here--I really don't want to believe that. First impressions of people are often completely wrong, especially when those impressions are based only on physical appearance. Thousands of years of evolution aside, the fact is that human beings are rotten at understanding people based on a look. (For reference, please see every movie ever made about a tough guy--or girl--who looks mean but turns out to be sensitive and emotional because their hard exterior is just a defense mechanism .)

Anyway. I don't know the answer to this question, but I have one theory. 

My family's holistic doctor, Dr. Einsohn, tells us that we should be grateful for the most awful, difficult people in our lives because without them, we couldn't grow in whatever specific way they will force us to grow. Maybe this obsession with appearances is like that--a great obstacle that is part of our test, and we're meant to learn to overcome it. 

What do you think? Any other theories?

Monday, January 17, 2011

Be Welcoming

Well friends, after a long absence, I'm back, and writing to you from the southern tip of Texas.

I wasn't very excited to move down here. My new husband is working for the Teach for America Corps, and he was assigned to the Rio Grande Valley mere days before we started dating. It's not really where I would have picked, although I suppose with 70 degree weather in January and a half hour to the beach, it isn't all bad. (However, I'm still not a big fan of Mexican food. I'm sorry.)

The day after we got here, we went to church, and several people came and introduced themselves. We even got a dinner invite from this amazing family (which was great, because the only food we had in the house was some spaghetti that came with a wedding gift, and all of our cooking supplies were still in boxes).

I'm always taken aback by how welcoming some people can be. I have a hard time reaching out to people because I feel shy, but so many wonderful people just scooped us up into their circle immediately, and I felt about a thousand times better about being here, despite the number of tarantula stories we got over dinner. No matter how many concerts make it down here or how far we have to go for sushi, there are wonderful, kind people around me and they have willingly allowed me into their homes and opened their hearts to me without knowing me at all. How can I complain about that?

So this week, there was another new family. I made a point to introduce myself after the meetings. "I was new last week," I said with a big smile. "Welcome. You're going to love it."

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Guest Post, Emily: Bucket List

Here's another great guest post we got while we were on our break, from Emily. Check out her fantastic personal blog at

I recently graduated from college and entered the adult world of full-time work. The transition was much harder on me than I expected it to be. Suddenly I didn't have papers to write or exams to study for, and I felt that I had free time coming out my ears.

All my life, all I'd known was school. First my main goals revolved around doing well in school, so I could get into college; then the main goal became finishing college, so I could get my bachelor's degree. I got stuck when I didn't know what I was working toward anymore.

I wasn't finding much fulfillment from my supposedly "dream" job, and I didn't want to spend all my life either working or watching Netflix. That's when I realized I needed to make some goals. Life goals.

I decided to make a bucket list.

I thought long and hard about what I wanted on my bucket list. What is it that I want to do before I die? What do I want my life to be about? What are my priorities?

Some things on my bucket list are silly (like learning how to milk a cow). Many involve traveling (like taking a road trip across the country or walking along the Great Wall of China). Some things I have control over (like reading all of Shakespeare's plays and running a half marathon), while others...not so much (like having kids). But that's okay! Because now, I feel like I have things to work on and things to look forward to. Things that I can do now, and things that need to wait 'til later.

What I've realized through all of this is how important it is for me to be setting goals and working toward them. My happiness is largely dependent on my productivity.

I want to have a lovely life. I'm trying my best to enjoy the small moments of everyday life, but when I'm feeling down, it's so nice to pull out my bucket list and think about the lovely moments that are waiting.