Tuesday, March 1, 2011

I Did the Thing I Thought I could Not Do!

Several months ago I began to notice that many of the women with whom I was lobbing emails back and forth had a clever quote below their signatures.  I thought this was pretty cool, so I figured out how to do it myself.  For the first several months I used Margaret Mead’s incredibly overused Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.
Then a couple of weeks ago, as I was updating my computer, I decided to update my signature and quote as well.  I landed on another vastly popular reference attributed to Eleanor Roosevelt, You Must Do The Thing You Think You Can Not Do.
I thought that would help gird me for some forseeable challenges and maybe encourage others too.  A few of the things that I didn’t think I could do include giving up wine for close to 2 weeks, pick up and dispose of a dead mouse, willingly sign up for a public speaking class, tell my parents my son is gay, stick to my recent household strike for the full 5 days, and confront a teacher over her inappropriate behavior.
Now I have done all of those things.  But the night before last I was faced with a never-imagined thing I didn’t think I could do.  As I went around the first floor turning off lights, I stopped to check on our two bunnies.  Having just changed their cages a day earlier, I was surprised by the stench.  When I proceeded to investigate, I found that Danny, a floppy-eared something or other recently inherited from my daughter’s friend, had a gigantic poop stuck halfway in and halfway out.
Forgive my graphic description, but to fully appreciate the situation, it’s necessary.  Okay, this was apparently a combination of some old and some new poop.  But it was all connected, and hard as a rock.  Are you getting the picture?  Now I’d never even touched a rabbit in person until last July when our babysitter bought one for my son. Then we inherited this other one.  I had been assured that bunnies were a breeze.   Well let’s just say I was praying for a breeze as I tried to pry the poop out of the bunny.
Most of us who have been moms, have at one time or another had the unforgettable experience of dealing with a constipated infant. That is a labor of love in itself.  But when I texted the sitter who’d bought us the first bunny to ask for advice and she told me to sit the bunny on a warm washcloth to soften the poop, I realized that I was about to be faced with something I didn’t think I could do.  For any of you who have handled bunnies, you probably have guessed that having them sit on a warm washcloth is easier said then done…especially when there is solidified feces as big as a toddler’s fist hanging out the back!  But being the latent animal lover that I am, I filled a bowl with warm water and held Danny’s butt in the bowl for a bout ten minutes while gently breaking off pieces.  That was followed by another ten or fifteen minutes of holding him under a stream of warm water in the kitchen sink while chipping away at the last of the problem.  Dried and dung-free, Danny was happy to curl up in my arms, while I patted myself on the back for coming up with such a great story for my blog.

What are the things you have done that you didn’t think you could do?

Monday, January 24, 2011

Lady Luck

Yesterday my husband was pacing around the house in his personalized SEEFRIED New York Jets jersey. " I can't decide where to watch the game"...he shared; "either here, or at a bar or at Ron's..." he pondered out loud. I asked what he was basing his decision on, figuring it was either access to game food (our house is in strict diet mode this month), a bigger and better flat screen, or the company of fellow fans.  But he looked at me incredulously, and replied "well, it's all about the luck!".

This made me guffaw out loud.  You see, Phil is the kind of guy who smiles to himself and slightly shakes his head when he hears me talk about birth signs, past lives, karma, or The Secret.  But here he was, completely convinced that his being in the right place at game time would ensure that the Jets players would all be in the right place at scoring time!

It was a sad camper who trudged through the door a few hours later.  But I have to give him credit.  Though he was bereft, he rallied and joined the rest of us on a last minute bowling excursion to commemorate our son's final night before leaving for a semester in Florence.

When we arrived at the bowling alley, we found out where everyone in Denver goes on Sunday nights in the winter!  Though Phil was hoping for two lanes together, it was too crowded. So he headed off to buy himself a condolence beer, while the gal behind the counter handed us our shoes and apologized. I replied "no worries, he's just depressed because the Jets lost, and he's in mourning".

Suddenly after assigning us to alley 21 (which already had a large group huddled around it's connecting alley 22), she moved us to a new location with two connecting alleys all to ourselves!  Before leaving us to admire each other shoes, she gently inquired if we were schooled in bowler courtesy. (Emily Post, here's new territory for you...)

Anyway she whispered that the people next to us were League Bowlers and that they were pretty picky about bowling etiquette.  So...we should be sure not to set foot up on the alley if someone in their alley was preparing to bowl.  Hmmm.  Seemed easy enough.  Then she put her hand on my shoulder, leaned in and said " I know that's the least of your worries today, but I just don't want them to cause any trouble for you at a time like this."

I was a little surprised by her pure empathy with Phil.  I mean, it IS too bad about the Jets, but I thought Phil and Rex Ryan were the only ones who actually thought it was the end of the world. But I thought to myself, "ah,  another sentimental New Yorker"...

Then her eyes welled up a little, and she continued, "I lost my own parents last year, and I know how hard it is..." and then I realized that this poor woman thought Phil was mourning a person!  The sound of pins being toppled must have muffled my reference to the Jets, and she had just heard "lost" and "mourning" We were getting the death in the family treatment under unintentionally false pretenses!

Well, I felt kind of bad, but not bad enough to clear up the confusion, or give up our new lanes!  So we went ahead with our game...and when she showed up again twenty minutes later, we all tried to look slightly dejected which was easier for the gutter ball throwers, and the Jets fan than for those of us rolling our best game ever.  Apparently the League bowlers had noticed our eleven year-old nearing the lane return machine when one of their players was preparing to bowl. Now this seemed kind of silly to all of us.  I mean, almost as silly as someone mourning over a football game...but seems that Lady Luck really had been smiling down on Phil, because after giving him a convenient scapegoat for his bad mood... he ended up bowling close to 200!  That showed those guys.  And we're thinking we may just start our own darn league...bowling anyone?

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Theresa Spahn For Mayor!

You never know who you'll meet.

The week before Christmas I reluctantly agreed to attend a networking event in Cherry Creek North. Networking is one of those things that entrepreneurs like me are supposed to do.  I'm not sure if we're supposed to like it, but we're definitely supposed to do it.

Between it being a fundraiser for Warren Village, an organization that embodies the very best in creating potential and possibilities for struggling low-income families, and the promise from my business coach, Kim Kirmsee Toth, that we could go together, I dug deep for my social courage and ventured over to Elways.  Once there, Kim and I sidled up to a couple of friendly-looking gals who were trying to flag down the guy with the tray.  We chatted and laughed and listened to pitches by the sponsoring organization, Cherry Creek Business Women's Network, as well as reps from Warren Village.  It was one of the few times that I've been grateful for name tags. I met Maggie Bolden of  Palace Construction, a unique community-minded construction company; then I turned to Theresa Spahn, the other member of our foursome.  Responding to the standard "What do you do?", she pulled a card out of her purse and laughingly replied, "actually, I'm running for Mayor."

Needless to say, I thought she was joshing. But as I looked from the card, back to her face, I saw she was for real, and over the course of the next 20 minutes, I learned about her incredible background and begin to think she might make an excellent Mayor.  Making a mental  note to follow up on her website,  the holidays descended upon me, and her card languished on my desk for the next couple of weeks.  When I received a call from her campaign manager just after the New Year, I couldn't help but be flattered that she had liked ME enough to want to follow up, too!

We met over coffee January 5th, and the more we talked, the more convinced I became that Theresa's  experience, expertise, and exceptional people skills give her the kind of credentials and credibility that the office of the Mayor demands.

She is passionate about the impact of small businesses, education, and core services, and is committed to addressing key issues including inefficiencies in government systems, kids on the margin, and law enforcement.  She believes in hiring the good, and firing the bad; taking things one step at a time, and talking facts first.  Theresa has a track record of being a strong leader who has forged good relationships on both sides...she has a rare ability to bring everyone's view to the table.

A third generation Denver native, she worked her way through Metro State, and D.U.'s Sturm College of Law, served as Deputy District Attorney in both Adams and Mesa Counties where she worked arm-in-arm with law enforcement to develop a community consortium as well as a specialized prosecution unit for crimes against children. As a Magistrate Judge, Theresa helped implement sweeping reforms to improve local Court services for children and families.
In 2001, Theresa was chosen to develop the Office of the Child's Representative (OCR) to address the insidious issue of abused and neglected children being betrayed and overlooked by the legal system that was supposed to help them.

Faced with the challenge of creating a system for protecting children and a sustainable agency in the midst of an economic downturn, Theresa did what she does best - she rolled up her sleeves and got to work. By using the same successful business strategies that for-profit companies use, Theresa developed a nationally recognized state agency model for providing representation to children, while managing the agency's $18.5 million budget efficiently and effectively.

The reputation for leadership that she developed over nine years of running OCR caught the eye of former Colorado Supreme Justice Rebecca Love Kourlis, founder of the Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System (IAALS) at the University of Denver. Recognizing her exceptional ability to develop innovative programs and bring people together, Kourlis selected Theresa to work hand-in-hand with former United States Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor to develop and launch the O'Connor Judicial Selection Initiative. Together they created a national policy reform initiative to promote fair and impartial courts and increase judicial independence and impartiality, bringing together people from business and labor organizations, Republicans and Democrats, and other diverse interest groups to effect positive policy changes in the administration of justice.

This most recent undertaking has proved again the magnitude of Theresa's leadership and management abilities.  What a wealth of experience and savvy she brings to the mayoral campaign. 

Beyond all of these amazing attributes, the things I like best about Theresa are her determination, her can-do attitude, and her willingness to think outside the box.  Theresa is a Denver native, a business professional, a tireless advocate and  champion for the people and the businesses that are Denver. 
In a few hours she will be formally announcing her candidacy over at Patsy's in her old Northwest Denver neighborhood.  I am excited to be going and urge you to join me!  I guarantee, you're going to like what you hear from this outstanding candidate.  

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Things that make me Flush.

There are few things that upset me more than those automatic public restroom commodes that decide for you when you should be finished your business. 

It's bad enough to encounter a wet seat, where some germophobe has generously deposited her own personal germs, but after the indignity of wet thighs, having the startle and splash effect of a know-it-all-toilet is over the top. Though there are times when any potty will do...

Airports seem to be big on these contraptions, along with the FREEZING cold water from the automatic spigots, which often spews its millisecond spray while your hand is still hovering to the right, optimistically hoping for a squirt of soap.

Although I have morphed into a somewhat more savvy social media and tech type over the past two years, I remain vehemently opposed to many "technology advances" that, in their mysterious overzealousness, merely complicate things that use to be simple. Kind of like writing a to-do list after everything has been done.

Take for instance, the new parking kiosks at Denver's airport ( I know, I know, stop complaining about the airport; I did, if you missed my rant and follow-up last fall). While I appreciate the sight of a real person to take my ticket when exiting the lot, what I don't get is why the real person is apparently just there to tell us to put the ticket in the slot (good luck finding the arrow indicating which part goes in first since you don't have your reading glasses on because you're driving...) and then to put the credit card in the slot(again, forcing us to carefully read the fine print next to the slots). After that's all said and done, in a moment of apparent benevolence, she/he grabs the receipt and hands it to me!  Huh?? The only action that would have been easy to do myself is the the one that's done for me!

This must be what they mean by government waste.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Highs & Lows

Today is a good day, and yesterday was too.  Monday, however, found me in the depths.  The house was trashed, the inbox full, the children needy, whiny, or rude, my husband seemingly omnipresent...plus the elliptical untouched, the weather freezing, and the laundry piled high.

Fact is, those things were all the same when I woke up yesterday morning.  So why was it that yesterday was a good day?  Is it really bio-rhythms?  I wish I understood how that "black cloud" works...at least I've learned (and try to remember) that it does go away!  

Do you get it too?  What are your strategies for slogging through a day or two or three of mood? Turning to chocolate, coffee, alcohol, bed, or such definitely doesn't help...but of course, it's hard not to.  Walking is always good for me-but when it's freezing, I can't budge.  Maybe the old breathing trick is the answer?  What you do when you're blue?

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Family Time

Last night I asked my husband to take the kids out to eat so that I could pull the gifts out, compare piles, and start wrapping.  Ended up that my oldest (because she was in sweatpants, and won't be seen out in public in sweatpants) stayed home with me to help with the massive task of converting our Christmas Card list to email format.  After receiving several texts from the diners assuring her that everyone in the restaurant was wearing sweats (my husband actually asked the man at the table next to theirs if he could take a picture of his sweats...), we enjoyed the relative peace and quiet of watching a crime show side by side while wrapping and swearing at the computer.

What came of the evening, besides a realization of how much I still had to do, was a report back from my spouse on our youngest's soul-bearing over dinner.  This kiddo (who we thought was just intent on getting to the unwrapping part of Christmas) shared his worry that our family was coming apart.  First triggered by his oldest sister's engagement last week, and learning that she planned to change her name, his sense that things were changing made him very sad.

Bemoaning the fact that I'm always on the computer, his dad's always at work, his brother doesn't want to hang out with us, and his other sibs are rarely home...he reminded his fellow diners that Christmas is about being together.  And then his dad came home and shared this story with me.  And now I'm sharing it with you, before I prepare to bake cookies, sing carols, and decorate the tree with my family. That sounds pretty good.

Out of the mouths of babes...

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Telling Amy's Story

Over the past several weeks, I've thought long and hard about what is most meaningful to me. The realization that sharing women's stories has always been my motivator has helped me refine MidChix, create MADHENS, and commit wholly to a redefined mission of helping women find their wings, and change the world, one woman at a time.

Watching Telling Amy's Story last night, I was humbled and heartened by, and most importantly, reminded of, the sheer power of a single woman's life.

I hope you will continue on this journey with me, and ask some friends along as well.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Rich & Skinny?

A couple of weeks ago, I took my 16 year-old daughter on a rare shopping spree. It was Nordstrom's Half-Yearly Sale, and I am a big fan of Nordstrom. The first time I ever stepped foot into one was in White Plains, New York over fifteen years ago. A new mall, The Westchester, had recently opened and was not only head and shoulders above the old Galleria Mall, in terms of cleanliness, decor, parking, and shops - but also had Nordstrom as its flagship.

It only took one visit to the children's shoe department for me to be hooked. It didn't take long to discover the women's shoe department as well, and that was a dangerous thing...

So when Nordstrom opened in Cherry Creek a few years ago, less than half a mile from my front door, I knew this could be trouble. And, in fact, I resisted setting foot in there for over a year. But one day, my shoe fetish got the best of me, and that was the end of that!

Last year, my friend Judi, a fellow chick on MidChix, introduced me to their personal shopping service, and the best personal shopper ever, Reinelle Apodaca. This was the icing on the cake. So when 16 year-old Nicki needed some new duds, and a new attitude about getting dressed and feeling good, I headed over to Nordstrom and Reinelle. All in all, the day was a great success.

Mornings suddenly weren't so bad, as Nic could find things in her closet that fit and felt good! Never doubt the importance of feeling good about how you look (especially when you're sixteen)!

So it was with dismay, while picking up laundry a week or so later, I spotted a crumpled pair of jeans on the bathroom floor with the tags still attached. Picking them up, I glanced at the price tag and was shocked to see these not only had not been part of the half-yearly sale, but had also been more expensive than any pair of jeans I've ever owned. Realizing that the fact they were crumpled on the floor indicated that Nicki had tried them and decided they didn't look right (or as she prefers to say) that she couldn't 'work' them, with relief, I smoothed them out and folded them to return. That's when I saw the label.

Rich & Skinny

Oh man. Made in the USA. But, of course. What other country would have the audacity to name their company Rich and Skinny. How about Poor & Skinny? Or, a more authentic logo for American-made jeans, marketed to Americans might be Rich & Obese.

I'm glad she didn't like them. Not just because I'll get $150 credit back on my card, but because God forbid I ever support a company that makes its cash by covering ass with such a reprehensible logo.

I still love Nordstom, and Reinelle. But Rich & Skinny can go to hell.

Monday, November 22, 2010


That's the number of women that came to the Wardrobe Exchange benefiting Safehouse today. Actually, it was 9, but two came to be supportive-bless them- not to actually exchange.

It isn't that I'm not appreciative of the gals that came, or understanding of those who said they would, but didn't. It's just that I'm tired. Discouraged. Pensive. Flummoxed.

How can anybody possibly make an impact, make a difference, or even make a gesture, in a world so overrun with demands that 300 invitations result in 200 unopened? Even after eschewing Evite for the more costly, but ostensibly classier, Paperless Post.
Even when the event ran from 9AM to 9PM in an effort to accomodate all schedules. Even though we planned for the Monday before Thanksgiving rather than the Monday after (when holiday demands multiply).

Thank goodness for the kind souls who did show up.

I met two new friends, Astrid and Vicki, and that made it all worthwhile. It was also a powerful reminder of the lesson I learned from James Pond a few weeks ago. One girl at a time.

One woman at a time. One connection at a time. THAT is how I...you... we... will, can , must make a difference.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Matchmaker, Matchmaker Make Me a Match

Okay, I'm not going to say for who, but I just did a little snoopin' around on the infamous Match.com. It's a pretty cool site. Who would've guessed that 1 in 6 marriages are a result of meeting through an online dating service? But more and more often, when I ask couples how they met, online is often the answer. It appears to serve a pretty broad range of folks, though it does seem to be more directed to folks near my age than seniors (one profile question asks which comedian you're most likely to find funny, and the choices were pretty limited). I mean what if you find old Erma Bombeck columns funny? Or Bob Hope reruns? Thank God that Betty White is still going strong!

Okay, so maybe you've figured out who I was doing this nosing around for based on the clue that she is more apt to guffaw at Erma Bombeck than at Jon Stewart, Jim Carrey, or Ellen DeGeneres. Heck, this certain someone has no idea who any of those comedians are! But she does have a sense of humor. So, although I hope she doesn't figure out (i.e. read this post) that I was searching for a decent chap for her, I'm sure she would laugh right along with me at some of the winners I found.

Of the first thirteen men who popped up in my search of guys over 70, not a single one had a maximum age range that fell above the 60s, and most of them are trolling for gals anywhere from 7 to 20 years younger! My favorite is the 85 year-old fellow looking for romance with a much younger woman, 18-35 to be exact. He describes himself as athletic and toned. Oh yeah, and dark blonde. Now that is funny.

I can't pick on all of them though, as there's one open-minded 70 year-old who put his match's preferred age range as 60-110. Bless him. And you can't help admire the octogenarian who's headline simply reads "still kickin". Maybe a good match for Betty!

This obsession that so many men seem to have for younger women isn't news to me. My husband (one of a rapidly declining number of men I know who are still married to their first wife), determines the acceptability of his divorced friends' dates by employing the "half your age plus 7 rule". Hmm. This sounded like some of that "new math" to me after his first explanation, and so naturally, I googled it; lo and behold, this rule's even recognized by Wikipedia!

Guys. Come on. It's one thing when you're 20 and she's 17, or even 30 versus 22, but after 40 it actually starts to be kind of pathetic. With more than 20 million men over 60, and many looking for love with someone in their 30s or 40s, no wonder Viagra is over a billion dollar a year business...

Now I know that occasionally, a May-December relationship can be wonderful. One of my dearest friends is married to someone more than 20 years her senior. And a beautiful marriage it is. But listen up to all of you other Lotharios out there, your mid-life crisis should be over by now. You're swimmin' in that river we like to call denial. And you have the nerve to call women in their 30s and 40s 'cougars'. Get a life.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

New and Improved!

In two weeks, MidChix will migrate to a new and improved site and raison d'ĂȘtre as a social networking community for women who are curious and concerned about social responsibility.

Fourteen months ago, we launched as a boutique social-networking site for women over 40, with the knowledge that mid-life women have a firm grip on more than 85% of the consumer marketplace. During our evolution, we've come to realize that beyond just purchasing power, we make a significant philanthropic impact too. Reminding the 'powers-that-be' that politics is about people, women are making strides in the political arena as well.

A first wave of feminism, the 70-year battle for women's suffrage (1850-1920), was followed in the mid-1960s by a second wave precipitated by publication of Betty Friedan's The Feminine Mystique and President Kennedy's 1963 Report on the Status of Women, which documented women's economic inequalities. The growing recognition of a third wave taking shape, as described by Jean Shinoda Bolen, M.D. in her 2005 visionary call-to-action Urgent Message from Mother: Gather the Women, Save the World, is evidenced by the growing knowledge that women and girls aren't the problem, they're the solution.

Up 'til now, we've devoted an area of the site to featuring and fundraising for nonprofit organizations; now MidChix is re-launching as a niche social networking site specifically geared towards women curious about social change. We hope to educate and empower women by raising awareness about alternatives for allocating our individual resources, and the ability to affect change through activism.

The Mid in MidChix refers to Middle. In the middle of our lives, we have arrived at a place with a view very much like that from the center span of a bridge. We can see things from a unique perspective that makes us a little different from those gals closer to one end of the bridge or the other. We also serve as middle(wo)men in myriad relationships: between father and child, young and old, doctor and patient, teacher and student, conservative and liberal, gregarious and shy, rich and poor, producer and consumer...all often depend on our painstakingly-acquired skills of communication, cooperation, and collaboration.

Chix is our way of saying "hey, in case there's any doubt, we're cool". Plus, birds are pretty perfect representatives of women. With 10,000 living species, they have unique characteristics and universal charm ;)...

New and Improved. That's Me. And You. Okay, Us. After 40 years (give-or-take) becoming who we are, it's a rare bird who can't be called new and improved!

So MidChix, we welcome you. Please visit our wire, add your voice to our song, and celebrate because together we just may change the world!

(You can start today by reading about National Call-in Day -Wednesday November 17th)

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Write your book!

I'm jazzed about writing my book, and have finally started taking some steps. I call it my book in blogress. Hope you'll start reading and keep me writing!

Guest blogger Lisa Schultz published her first book, Speaking Your Truth, just a few months ago. Today, she and Andrea Costantine launch their guide to writing and self-publishing. From what I can see, they know what they're talking about!

Five Stellar Reasons to Write Your Book This Year

Are you a part of the 81% of the population who says they want to write a book? Then isn’t it time to forge ahead and move into the small minority who actually puts pen to paper and gets a book on the shelf?

Here are five stellar reasons to write your book this year.

There’s no better time than now. It seems it should go without saying that there’s no better time than right now to do anything that is on your list of goals and dreams. Yet, so many people put off their dreams until the time is “right.” There’s not right time to do anything. If you want something, you’ve got to make it the right time. If you don’t write your book this year, ten years from now you could find yourself in the exact place you are in right now. No book and wishing you had one.

Credibility. This is a fun one. It’s hard to explain the sheer bliss that comes with having a finished book in print and on the bookshelf, with your name on it. It is by far one of the biggest satisfactions in life and a goal that is tangible, that you can touch and feel. Not only does it boost your own confidence level, your credibility will also go through the roof. Having a book in print puts you at the top of the “credibility food-chain” –beefing up your list for potential clients, business partners, and even your family will think you are cooler than before.

Share your message with the world. Do you have a message that you are eager to share? Whether through fiction or non-fiction a book can touch and inspire others in a tremendous way. If the burning desire is there to reach others through the written word – write that book. You just never know who will be reading it on the other end, and how many lives you can change.

Create an extra income stream. An extra source of income never hurts. Having a book is a great way to create an alternative or extra income. Through your website, speaking engagements, bookstores, or online – do your marketing and sit back and enjoy the royalties.

Use it as a platform. A book is by far one of the easiest and fastest ways to build a platform. As a speaker, workshop leader, coach, or other service provider – your book will be the gateway for bigger and better opportunities to knock upon your door.

And if you are ready to take the leap and write your book this year, then check out Andrea Costantine and Lisa Shultz’s latest book… www.bringyourbooktolifethisyear.com– Grab your copy today and receive two months accountability and writing support in their monthly mentoring group and other bonuses valued at $150.

Friday, November 5, 2010

More of It Gets Better

My friend, Zach Page, posted this beautiful reflection on Facebook today. It's too important not to share...

It Gets Better

I want to first of all extend a thank you to all who were involved in my project. It means so much to me that we can gather enough people to start a movement. A force. Something bigger than bullying. Something that can bring change to the world.

To Jeremy Make, thank you SO much. Without you, this project would not have happened. If it wasn't for your absolute commitment, dedication, and passion for this issue, I wouldn't of had such a perfect glossy product. A million thank you's to you for everything.

To John Moore and Kirk Montgomery, thank you so much for helping me spread this word through the media. Without you, it wouldn't be getting half the attention it is getting.

And to my father, thank you for everything. Thank you for giving me life. For giving me smiles, laughs, frowns, cries, and anger. Thank you for teaching me that it's okay to have feelings and for teaching me to love who I am. This started with you. Without you, I could not have done this. Without you, I would not be who I am and I am eternally grateful to be blessed with an absolutely flawless father like you. I really love you.

This project, though it has only been in the making for three weeks, has been something I have felt needed to happen for a long time. Several people have asked me what my personal views on bullying are and what this video is about. I personally believe bullying is a direct result of neglect in the bullies life. People bully because it's easy and because they can't find somebody to love them in their own lives and they bring up these angers, pains, and scars to hurt others. This video is to prevent this from happening. To show that everyone is loved be them a bully, a bullied, an adult, a teenager, a child, a homosexual, a heterosexual, an African American, Asian, a woman, a man, Hispanic, Jewish, Catholic, Mormon, Caucasian, someone with glasses, braces, acne, anything. This video is to show them they are loved. Everyone is loved.

If we start in our households, that will branch out into our community, which will branch out to our country, which will branch out to the world. One individual has the power to change the world into a place of tolerance, acceptance, equality, and hope. I encourage everyone who is reading this to volunteer with organizations, spread the word, share this video, help anyone in need, and ultimately, this world will change.

I am humbled I have the chance, at eighteen years of age, to be able to be a part of this. I am absolutely grateful that I have people supporting me in this endeavor because I know that I am not alone. I know I have a purpose and I know that together we can make a change. I may only be eighteen, but I already know it gets better. I know it gets better because I have family and friends who support and love me and that for me is satisfaction enough to live every day with pride.

We can do this together. We can all hold hands, spread positive energy, and do something for the better. One of the quotes I live every day of my life by was said by Mahatma Gandhi.

"Be the change you wish to see in the world."

It speaks for itself.

Now please, enjoy It Gets Better: a message from the Colorado theater community.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Radical and Reasonable

Last night I attended an incredibly moving event. James Pond, founder of Transitions Global was fulfilling a promise he had made to two girls, survivors of human trafficking, to give them the opportunity to tell their stories. Neth and Liya were in their early teens when they became victims of sex trafficking in Cambodia. Neth was sold to a brothel by her mother for $300. Liya was tricked into going to one by girls who were already victims and who were now being forced to recruit other girls.

The story of this horror doesn't come to an end when girls are rescued. There is so much to recover from, it seems nigh impossible that they could ever emerge whole. In fact the success rate for most aftercare programs for victims of sex trafficking hovers around 20%. This is not only because the girls don't learn skills that enable them to support themselves, but because they never have hope for a future of their own choosing. So, inevitably, most of them must return to prostitution in order to survive.

Transitions Global shifts the paradigm; in their words they deal "in the business of dream restoration". After establishing this center, James determined that he must do the same thing for the girls who came to Transitions Global, that he would do for his own daughters. He encourages them to dream, and then helps them achieve those dreams. Based on the belief that every girl is unique, and, working girl by girl (rather than in large numbers), TG's model is seeing unprecedented success in graduating strong, empowered, capable young women, many of whom are now working to help others who are emerging from the nightmare of trafficking.

Neth and Liya are two shining testaments to TG's work. Shy, giggly, sweet teenagers, they enjoy friends, shopping, books, and even boyfriends. They've also both completed over 800 hours of yoga instruction, and currently teach yoga to trafficking survivors and young children. These young women, once labeled throw-aways, have lives and futures. They are remarkable.

At the end of the evening Brad Riley spoke. President and Founder of iEmpathize, Brad has been a nonprofit innovator and leader for 20 years. It was easy to see why. He defined for us the difference between sympathy and empathy. The first is passive, the latter active. Which sounds better to you?

What about radical and reasonable? Ahh, here's the catch. It doesn't have to be radical versus reasonable, it can be radical + reasonable.

Radical describes the actions of the Pond family in 2005, selling their house, cars, furnishings, and moving their family to Cambodia to help young victims of human trafficking.

Reasonable, is the request that each of us become involved in some small way...organize a shoe drive, write an article, make a speech, send a check, volunteer with local groups fighting human trafficking, the list goes on...

What suddenly strikes me is how the efforts of these two men converge. One encouraging girls to find their unique gifts, the other urging us to support the first by using our unique gifts. By combining the radical commitments of rare people like the Ponds' with a multitude of reasonable contributions of people like us, it is possible to harness enough people power to actually make and sustain change.

My shoe drive begins today.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Times are Changing

I was so relieved a couple of years ago when they added a few weeks to Daylight Savings Time...even though most of my kids had passed out of the trick or treating stage, I'm still happy to keep daylight as late as possible. It's easy to understand why alcohol plays a big role in places where it's dark for much of the day! Just sayin'...

Time is a chameleon. When the kids were little, "the days are long, the years are short" summed up the excruciating pain and pleasure of parenting. Similarly, weeks can seem to vanish (unless you forgot to put out the recycling). Thus I love reminders that things actually happened, especially when I feel like I'm running in place. It's one of the reasons I keep writing the mass Christmas letter I said I'd never write but started writing back in '94 when four kids under six made individual cards a pipe dream.

I found some of these stats from the Back Story of NewsWeek's July 26th issue fascinating enough to share. First and foremost: blogs. Guess I'm not the only one who's jumped on the blogging bandwagon...ten years ago there were 12,000 active blogs, today there are 141 million (maybe 142, since that issue). How bout Google? In 2000, they had 100 million searches a day, in 2010, 2 BILLION! Whoa. Daily E-Mails went from 12 billion to 247 billion. Apple is sittin' pretty: from 0 to 10,000,000,000 in in a single decade.

Although it's now over a year old, one of my favorite demos of how much the world has changed is this incredible little video about the social media revolution .

Gina Shrek sums it up perfectly: "To people who say they don't do technology, I tell them that's like saying you don't do electricity." I say "If you can't beat em, join em!" MidChix will soon give all members the ability to have a blog hosted on the site! Ladies, stay tuned...

Monday, October 25, 2010

Let's Make Sure All Kids Know It Gets Better

When I called the house on Friday night, to say I'd be home soon, my eleven year-old son sounded a little upset when he replied " I have some news for you".  Knowing his flair for the dramatic, I didn't panic.  "What's that?" I casually asked.  "Squirt isn't a boy." he replied.  Squirt is the rabbit that our animal-loving neighbor had bought Cameron for his birthday almost three months ago.  Squirt was just a tiny baby bunny when he-I mean she- first came to live with us.  Now he-I mean she- is bigger than the smallest breed of dog.  Apparently the reason the nearly invisible testicles were hard to see back in August is because they weren't actually there.  Squirt, now known as Trixie, was a girl all along.

This story resonated as we've had other experiences with gender issues. When our oldest son insisted that a Barbie was all he wanted for his third birthday, we got one for him, along with a fire engine and a kiddie basketball hoop. At age four, we struggled to find a boy's Halloween costume that he would wear.  When he was five and a half, and wished out loud that he were a girl, I found a therapist who specialized in "gender identity disorder".  I wouldn't have recognized the term reparative therapy back then, but I'm guessing that is what was really going on.

It wasn't easy to parent a gender non-conforming child, and I know damn well it wasn't easy to be one.  Now I believe the best therapy for kids like mine is therapy for those individuals who make their childhood hell.

When our fifth child, at the age of two, showed signs of taking after his brother, I was a lot better educated, but just as anxious as I'd been six years before.  That doesn't mean that I tried to change him, but his first therapist did.  No wonder he began to shut down.  Can you imagine getting the message that something is wrong with you not just at school, but from a doctor as well? We tried desperately to understand him, and to help him to understand himself. It's confusing to be a boy who thinks like a girl.  No wonder both my older and younger sons wished they were girls; girls don't get taunted for playing with dolls, loving princesses, or having long hair.

Three years ago our newer therapist gently broached the possibility of transgenderism.  The word is so rarely used, that my computer has underlined it, indicating that it doesn't exist.  Funny, the notion that a person's brain and body could possibly not match up in terms of gender identity is novel, and to many people, impossible.  Before I began educating myself on the topic, I was pretty ignorant, too.

The fact is,  the same way that other things can go wrong during fetal development, so can gender identity.  When some kids announce they were born in the wrong body, they're right.  What a terribly difficult thing to grapple with, especially in a society as sexually and psychologically stilted as ours.

After joining a listserv for parents of gender non-conforming children, I was horrified by some of the stories of I heard.  Children being threatened, pets being murdered, families being stalked.  No wonder my child was guarded and reticent to leave the house.  He already knew what the world thought of people who were different.

My oldest son told us he was gay at age 15.  Fortunately for him, and for so many other GLBT teens, he attended a high school where, for the most part, it was safe to be out.  It wasn't until recently I heard about some of the bullying he'd experienced in middle school.  But I guessed that bullying would be a problem for his younger brother at that same private school and pulled him out after second grade.  At his new school, he wasn't bullied, but he wasn't included either. What's worse: being left alone or being left alone?

When I talk to GLBT adults, I hear more childhood stories of isolation than I do of bullying.  Most of them survived those hard, lonely years and emerged into happy adulthoods where they have found welcoming gay-friendly communities. For gender non-conforming children and teens today, however, bullying seems to have trumped isolation as the biggest issue and because of it, more and more of them aren't ever making it to adulthood.  Whether driven to suicidal desperation or victims of homicidal homophobia, bullying is the common theme in a rash of  GLBT deaths over the past decade.

What can be done to stop this tragic trend?  Two things.  Address the bullies. We should insist that all  public schools provide a program such as Challenge Day to all students in 6th grade and up.  Read more about how this powerful program has changed lives in Denver.  Address the bullied. Let's follow the lead of writer Dan Savage, creator of the It Gets Better Project and make sure we tell desperate kids that the future is brighter.

Yesterday my daughter's best friend, Zach, came up with his own spin on the  It Gets Better Project. He filmed a public service announcement featuring nearly fifty members of the Denver theatre community to get the word out that gay is okay. I hope it gets lots of attention.  The more we can make the topic safe, the more people will talk about the topic.  The more that they talk, the more they will teach, and learn.

Many people have expressed shock and, occasionally admiration, when they hear that our oldest son felt safe enough to come out to us at 15.  Mostly, I think people are surprised that we talk about him so openly.  I hope and believe the thousands of videos that have been made for the It Gets Better Project will bring hope to LGBT or questioning teens; I also hope and believe that sharing my story will bring hope and education to their parents.

As he approaches puberty, it seems that our youngest son is more likely to be gay than transgender. But no matter what his adulthood turns out to be, having watched his brother, and witnessing our whole family's support of him and other members of the GLBT community, he now knows it does get better and that the rest of his life stretches out before him...with open arms. I pledge to try my best to make sure that other kids like him know this too. I hope you will join me.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Remember when ...

I said something wonderful is going to happen today? Well I said it again this morning, because the most wonderful thing is about to happen. The recycling truck is coming!  When we missed putting our bins out two weeks ago, my husband and I looked at each other and groaned.  With pick-up only occurring twice a month, and our family recycling everything from empty toilet paper rolls to any glass/plastic/metal container that passes over our threshold (except for- I CONFESS- peanut butter jars), we knew it was going to be a rough couple of weeks.

It was my friend Jill, once upon a time, our cleaning gal, who turned me into a rabid recycler.  We went from five overflowing trash bins every week, to two.  I even tried composting for a few months...it wasn't so bad-until a mouse emerged from our rodent-proof Garden Gourmet one morning.  Now that the City of Denver is providing weekly compost collection, maybe I'll try again...

The last time we went a month between recycling pick-ups, was the year of the holiday blizzards.  Maybe you can imagine the remains after we hosted the office holiday party, celebrated my husbands 12/20 birthday, cleaned up from Christmas morning and prepared the huge holiday dinner, threw a New Year's Eve party, and added that all to the assortment of empty wine bottles, compliments of a dedicated chardonnay connessieur.

Towards the end of every December, I can be found stalking our alley watching for the sainted souls who pick up our trash every week and our recycling every other.  I pass out twenties to whoever I can intercept.  Those guys earn every penny of it.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

"I'll Vote for The First Person Who Stops Calling Me."

This was Kirsten's line, but I liked it so much, I borrowed it...with her blessing. 

I don't answer the phone much anymore, but occasionally do indulge in cheap entertainment by checking caller ID.  Some campaigning politicians have taken to using the same trick I've tried (to get more clicks on the MidChix newsletter).  They disguise themselves.

Yesterday, I was about to hop on the elliptical to work up a little sweat, when the phone rang; I glanced at the caller ID, and it read: "Laurie Romer".  For a second, I hesitated, as I have a new friend named Laurie, and I thought "oh, maybe Romer is her maiden name", and almost picked up the receiver.  Luckily my new resolution to exercise daily 'NO MATTER WHAT' prevailed. When I listened to the message a little later, all I heard was the pre-recorded "This is Senator Chris Romer", before I hit 7 to erase.

Of course, then I thought I'd better listen to all the other recent messages that have been left on voice mail since I stopped picking up the phone.  The next one was from Barack Obama...apparently dialing for Michael Bennett.  Now don't get me wrong, because I happen to be one of the dwindling number of former Barack fans who still is a Barack fan.  And I'll take Michael Bennett over Ken Buck any day of the week!  But that doesn't mean I want any of them calling me.  Especially when it really isn't them that's calling.  As my family will testify, I am not a phone person. And I'm especially not a pre-recorded phone message phone person. If you want to talk to the live me, then you had better be the live you, no matter which party you belong to!

While working out, I usually zone out watching the telly.  But these days, every commercial break is filled with ads of one candidate slandering another.  Or worse yet, a carefully crafted message from one of the many self-appointed groups who are apparently charged with saving Colorado from imminent disaster.  Imminent disaster is the only possible result if the wrong guy or gal is elected, right?  Believe me, I understand that the consequences of certain legislation are dire. (I even forwarded an educational email about 60,61, and 101 to my husband in an attempt to better educate him). I also get that the election of certain individuals would make such legislation more likely.  What I don't get is how fiction and non-fiction in political advertising have become so irritatingly intertwined.  As Sgt. Joe Friday used to say, "we just want the facts, ma'am"

I'm a Democrat.  My husband is a Republican.  Often friends ask how we manage that.  Well, we manage that by respecting each other enough to be cordial and open-minded.  We also acknowledge that our differences lie in our philosophies about the role of government.  Does that make him selfish or me stupid.  No.  It makes us human.  And by the way, that's not just what he and I have in common, it's what we all have in common.

Fancy a society where the only people vilified were the real villains...those folks that dreamed up calling tree autodialers and the answering system hell that replaced our good old-fashioned receptionists!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Community is the Heart of Pomegranate Place

Thank you to all who wrote to the city or stopped by Pomegranate Place to show support.  The city is reviewing the situation and we are hopeful that Pom Place will prevail!  Please hold off on letters for now, until we have heard from them.  Many thanks to you all!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Plan B

I spent all weekend mulling over my out of control MidChix to-do list.  Email has been kicking my ass. As somebody said, it's like drinking from a fire hose.  But after stepping back to gain perspective and some advice from my better half, this morning I was rubbing my hands together in eager anticipation of wrestling back control. Then two minutes after the door had closed behind my kids as they headed to school, it opened again.  "Mom, I have a flat tire."  Deep breaths.

Although it's been less than four weeks since Nicki got her license, and I got freedom, the old hand-me-down car has now twice challenged me to a duel.

Out to my car and off to school.  That was forty-five minutes shot.  Doesn't seem like much, but funny how the domino effect arrives, invited or not. When I was supposed to be working out, I was walking the dog.  When I was supposed to be talking with a gal from a non-profit I want to highlight, I was squatted on the ground trying to use a bike pump to inflate the tie enough to drive down the street. (I was afraid Triple A would blackball us if I called them one more time).  When I was supposed to go to pilates, I was picking up the kids.  When I was supposed to be at The White House Project  event, I was driving to the airport to pick up my older daughter since my younger daughter had no car.

Plan B is pretty much my middle name.  In fact it explains my last 21 years so perfectly, I decided to write a book about it.  Labors of Love...21 Years of Plan B.  A chapter at a time via blogger-more on this soon!

In the meantime, Plan B means this is posting two days after it was supposed to.  When a Type A person lives a Plan B life, mental and emotional stability can be a bit iffy.

Tell me about your Plan B days.  Misery loves company.