Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Food for Thought

I am loving this post by Kelly Rae Roberts on naming what you really want.

I am also loving this post by Kaileen Elise on defining success.

I am feeling like I need an entire day parked in an oversized chair with an oversized mug of tea and my journal. Right now there are so many thoughts to work through and so little time.

I am also behind on my post on risk for The Joy Diet book club. I'll get there, I promise!

{Photo credit: alicepopkorn}

Thursday, October 22, 2009


A few things making me happy right this moment:

1. The Phillies are going to the World Series! Yay!!! They were totally awful at playing baseball during my entire childhood so it is great to see them do so well.

2. This post from wishstudio by Jen Lee on having many passions. I've been agonizing over how to fit so many interests into one lifetime and debating which ones would need to be sacrificed. It was such a relief to hear someone say that I don't have to sacrifice anything.

3. The fact that I have a ticket to the Margaret Atwood reading at Lisner Auditorium next Friday. I love, love, love her and have been waiting for years to see her in person. I also have a ticket to hear Al Gore speak at the same location in a few weeks.

Friday, October 16, 2009

The Joy Diet: Creativity

I admit that when I saw that this week's menu item from The Joy Diet was creativity, I had thoughts of coloring, stickers, glue and modge podge.  I was a little disappointed when I saw what Martha Beck really had in mind.

I tried to think of at least ten innovative solutions to problems I had or decisions I had to make.  And then ten more after that.  The problem for indecisive people like myself is that the more options you think of, the harder it is to pick one.

Then I moved on to "perservate on your enemy", or, in human speak, thinking of things you dislike about your enemy and seeing if it might be a quality you either need or already have.  I have very few enemies but I sincerely hope I do not have the qualities of the people I dislike.  This exercise did not sit well with me, which I realize was precisely the point, but I kept moving along to the others.

Another interesting exercise was to "unify false dichotomies", or to think of things you believe you can't possibly do or be at the same time and see if there is a way to bring them together.  This was one of those things where I know it is useful but I think the results need more than a week to manifest.                

The odd thing is that the easiest one--to do one thing differently--was the one I did not attempt this week.  

My favorite part of this week?  When Beck said, "Uncomfortable truth #1: You are always responsible for creating your life, whether you like it or not."

I think this week taught me to be easy on myself and to let some of Beck's ideas simmer.  I can't expect answers in seven days.

{Photo credit: laffy4k}                                                                                                                        

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Revelry Review: Half the Sky

I just finished a book that I have to tell you all about: Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide by Nicholas Kristof and Sherly WuDunn.

The book takes a look at several issues affecting women and girls in developing nations: rape, maternal mortality, lack of an education, lack of nutrition and prostitution. Instead of burying the reader in statistics, of which there are admittedly a few, the authors use individual stories to show how these women are affected.

Never before have I felt such a call to arms as I did while reading this book. I was a women's studies minor in college and I still did not learn everything that there was to learn from this book. I was particularly disturbed by the issue of fistulas, or injuries that women sustain during the birthing process that can give them permanent incontinence (which can lead them to be ostracized from their communities), the inability to walk, or even death. This injury is particularly common in young women and girls due to the smaller size of their pelvis. Additionally, the number of young women being trafficked as prostitutes and their inability to get out of the vicious cycle surrounding it was heartbreaking.

But this is not a book that wants to mire you in tragedy. Instead, the authors want you to learn what you can do to make the difference in the lives of women and children in some of the poorest places in the world. And they want you to know that women are the key to economic and social progress.

Kristof and WuDunn write, "The tide of history is turning women from beasts of burden and sexual playthings into full-fledged human beings. The economic advantages of empowering women are so vast as to persuade nations to move in that direction. Before long, we will consider sex slavery, honor killings, and acid attacks as unfathomable as foot-binding. The question is now how long that transformation will take and how many girls will be kidnapped into brothers before it is complete--and whether each of us will be part of that historical movement, or a bystander."

You can read more about the Half the Sky Movement here. Nicholas Kristof has a twitter account here and a facebook page here. Oprah covered this book here.

And here are a few organizations that the authors suggest getting involved with or donating to if you would like to help women and girls worldwide:

-Kiva (full disclosure: I used to be a volunteer translator for them and I have supported 8 women-owned businesses in Latin America through microloans. I think they're wonderful and you will too!)

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Opting Out.

A friend of mine recently sent me the link to this blog post, titled "The Choice Myth", by Judith Warner of the New York Times.  In the post, Ms. Warner discusses the how the choice to either work or be a mother, or the choice to do both, is not a choice at all.  She aims to dispel "the opt-out myth", that the most educated and richest women are leaving the workforce to be mothers.  She argues that women respond to objective constraints of their families and the "all-or-nothing non-choices of our workplaces".

The post itself was a response to a Washington Post article on stay-at-home moms and the census, which says that stay-at-home moms are likely to be young, less educated and have less income than is conventionally believed.  They are also more likely to be Hispanic or foreign-born.  These women don't "opt-out".  They rarely have a choice.

My Mom stayed at home with us for the first five years of my life.  There were a wide variety of reasons for that decision and I am not entirely sure that the choice was all my mother's.  As I get closer to the age of having a family, I sometimes consider how I could handle it all.  I know I am who I am because I had involved parents that were around all the time.  I also know that in my line of work you cannot have a good career and not be traveling all the time.  As much as I would love to be home with my kids, I know I also need personal fulfillment in the form of work outside the home.  Additionally, in today's world it would be very difficult to raise a family on a single salary.  I am fortunate to come from a place where such decisions can even be pondered.  But how do you strike a balance? The sad truth is that I have yet to meet a woman that has done it successfully, though I am sure that they are out there somewhere.

Would or have you chosen to stay at home with your kids?  Why or why not?

As Warner writes, "When mothers can choose, they choose self-empowerment. Because they know that there is no true difference between their advancement and the advancement of their children. Why do we so enduringly deny them the dignity of choice?"

{Photo credit: rahego}

Monday, October 12, 2009

Long Weekend!

Hello lovelies...How was your weekend?  Mine was amazing!  It included:

-A trip to Maine and a road trip to Cape Cod
-The beautiful fall foliage of New England
-Attending a breathtaking wedding on the beach of that had lots of dancing, great food, good people, and ended with a bonfire, s'mores and mulled cider
-A fun Sunday night double date with Jesse and his parents:  Thai food and "Couples' Retreat"
-Getting reading done both for fun and for school in the airport and on the plane
-Catching up on the television I missed in the past two weeks: "The Office", "Grey's Anatomy" and "Biggest Loser"
-A little quality time with my Planner Pad to sort out all of the things that need to get done

Friday, October 9, 2009

The Joy Diet: Desire

It's week four of the Next Chapter Book Club's journey with The Joy Diet by Martha Beck. This week's focus is desire.

I'm going to just throw this out there: I hated this week. Hated, hated, hated it. And here's why: I don't know what I want. Beck suggests you ask yourself what you want and then ask, "And then what?" until you get into the thick of it. But what if you can't even answer it the first time? What if you keep asking and asking and nothing comes up? Or things come up that just aren't realistic?

I am really hoping that my Mondo Beyondo journey can help clarify things for me. I am still unsure if it is that I don't know what I want or that I don't want to allow myself to want it and get disappointed or that I feel like I don't deserve it. One thing from the book that I keep repeating to myself: "To put it briefly, false desires taste of fear; true desires taste of love."

Overall I am still glad I decided to join the Next Chapter Book Club's journey because reading only one chapter a week gives me time to think about it and try to implement it, even if it is sometimes frustrating.

{Photo credit: oddsock}

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Attitude of Gratitude.

Things I am thankful for right now:

1. Feeling rested.  Things are hectic and busy right now but I feel the calm in the middle of the storm.

2. A beautiful giant bouquet of Peruvian lillies from my boyfriend.

3. New friends from Mondo Beyondo!

4. Going back to Maine this upcoming weekend.

5. Reminders this week that life is short, the amount of time you have here is not certain and every moment should be cherished.  

6. Stash Pumpkin Spice tea.  Really, pumpkin anything.

7. Learning that arguments don't have to automatically equal the end of a relationship and in fact can serve to make the relationship even stronger.

8.  Perfect scarf-wearing weather.

9.  A great grade on my first paper of the semester.

10. Being back in a place where I feel like I am taking care of myself and my body.

{Photo credit: (+~)Luis Barreto}

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Mondo Beyondo!

This week I started an e-course, Mondo Beyondo. The course, in the words of its founders, Jen Lemen and Andrea Scher: "This five week online class complete with inspiring lessons, real life stories, secret missions, audio interviews and hands-on activities will help you take your dreams from the realm of wishing into everyday motion. Supported by Andrea and Jen as your able guides and exclusive access to a community of dreamers, you'll find yourself equipped with the perfect tools and the just right atmosphere to take the risks you've always dreamed of."

There are daily lessons that are posted to the Mondo Beyondo online forum. It has already become quite an amazing community. I have a feeling that this course will be amazing fodder for my journal. Additionally, many of you know that as of late I have felt like I need a new path. I want to shake it up a bit and live a life that makes me happy, proud and fulfilled. I am not sure where those feelings will take me but I have a sneaking suspicion that Mondo Beyondo will get me at least a little bit closer to finding out.
I cannot wait to dream big and explore risk-taking with my fellow Mondo Beyondo-ers!
{Photo credit: D Sharon Pruitt}

Tuesday, October 6, 2009


How do you make decisions?  The big, giant, life-changing scary ones?

Do you talk it out with others?



I'm curious because for me, I usually either avoid the big decision altogether or let someone else steer me in the right direction.  I know--horrible habits I am trying to break.  I'm looking for ideas on how to listen to my intuition and develop the skill of following my own heart.

{Photo credit: Idontmakeartanymore}

Friday, October 2, 2009

Words to Grow By.

"Keeping your body healthy is an expression of gratitude to the whole cosmos--the trees, the clouds, everything."
~Thich Nhat Hanh

{Photo credit: lululemon}

The Joy Diet: Week 2, Truth.

It's week two of reading The Joy Diet by Martha Beck with The Next Chapter Book Club.  This week's ingredient for a joyful life is truth.  There are so many juicy morsels in this week's ingredient that I hardly know where to start.  So I'll start with the truth.

The truth is that this week's ingredient challenged me in many ways, much more so than last week's "nothing".   And, if we are being honest, I didn't explore this chapter as fully as I might have liked, mostly due to a lack of time to get quiet and get introspective.  But here is what I know:  I've spent the past two years--in other ways, the past five--excavating my truth.  And it feels good.  Really good.  But it is a marathon and not a sprint and sometimes it is really challenging.

Beck includes a few useful questions for experiencing truth:  What am I feeling?  What hurts?  What is the painful story I am telling? Can I be sure that my painful story is true?  Is my painful story working? Can I think of another story that might work better?  And, my favorite of the questions and one that Beck labels an "action criterion", of the options available to me, which one brings the most love into the world?

Admittedly some days I got stuck at "what am I feeling?", which I think happens to everyone.  But on the days that I could work past that to the "Is my painful story working?" and "Which options bring the most love into the world?"  I tried these questions in relationship to questions and situations both big and small that I faced this week and found that it totally changed not only my perspective, but also how I reacted to what I was facing.  Turns out truth really is all it is cracked up to be and it brings a sense of peace with it.

And I leave you with a quote:

"Victor Frankl, a Holocaust survivor of the Nazi death camps, said, "There are two ways to go to the gas chamber: free or not free."  It is the truth that offers us this freedom, the freedom to test what we are taught, to accept what we feel in our hearts, to believe what we know in our bones, and to love ourselves--including the worst aspects of ourselves--until we see through enough of our illusions to discover who we were really meant to be."~Martha Beck, The Joy Diet, p. 44

{Photo credit: emdot}

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Adios, September....Hola, October!

Fall is my favorite season and as the weather here in the D.C.-area starts getting crisp, I can't help but get excited for all the things the next few months will bring!

But first, a check in with my September goals:

-Stay on top of my reading for class. Program "study time" into my Planner Pad.   Fail, at least on planning study time.  But I did get everything done!

-Work out or do yoga at least 5 days a week.  YES!

-Eat healthy and hopefully lose between 5 and 10 lbs YES!  Lost 11.4 to be exact.

-After a procedure I am having done on my legs on September 18th where I can't work out for a week, still get on the treadmill and do some doctor-approved walking. I took two days off and then went right back to working out at full speed.  Probably not what the doctor wanted but at least I didn't just lay around, right?

-Do a lot of journaling, especially as it gets closer to Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, particularly around the topics of renewal and forgiveness. Got morning pages written at least three times a week but this one was a general fail.  I wish I had the time to write more often.

-Study up on advanced Spanish grammar so I can pass my oral exit exam for school.  Um, no.  Not even a little bit.  When I was writing out my September goals (before grad school started up again), I clearly thought I would have more free time than I actually do.  Asi es la vida.  

October goals!

-Lose 5 more pounds.
-Work out or do yoga 5 days a week.
-Continue to eat healthy.
-Really and truly stay in the moment and enjoy my trip to Maine and Cape Cod during Columbus Day weekend.
-Get an early start on all my papers so I have at least a bit of free time.
-Make a decision about whether or not to do yoga teacher training this Spring or wait until 2011.

Happy October, everyone!

{Photo credit: Muffet}