Sunday, April 20, 2014

What I Wish for Easter~

What I Wish for Easter~

Unlike Miss America contestants, I do not cavalierly wish for “world peace”, that elusive condition which would mean all men and women have reached nirvana and no longer have need of war.

My wishes for this Easter are not particularly religious or secular, but what from my view would make life in the USA right:

1)   Laws would not be required to ensure equality for all men and women of any race, creed, color, national origin or physical characteristic;
2)   People would laud teachers, philanthropists, police officers, fire fighters, and everyday heroes and understand that athletes, actors, and those in the media are ordinary people that are paid too much for what they do;
3)   Everybody in the USA would have health care available for basic needs without regard to income or what a private health insurer will pay; I am not a fan of national heath care but the system we have is so flawed and filled with corruption and inefficient that I know there has to be a better way. Preventive care is key to reducing the overall costs;
4)   Common sense would prevail in civil litigation; punitive damages would be eliminated except for the most egregious cases that involve a criminal conviction of the defendant; juries would only award damages based upon reasonable costs rather than a Cadillac option; and nobody would be held responsible for the actions of somebody else.
5)   If somebody is an adult at 18, they are an adult at 18 for everything; parents should not be held responsible if an 18-year-old drinks and drives; if one can go to war, vote, marry, hold a job – one can buy alcohol and drink it.
6)   Everybody would accept personal responsibility for his or her own actions; stop the blame game; if you trip and fall, you probably weren’t watching where you were walking; stop blaming the property owner; buy a Powerball ticket. Quit suing people!
7)   Be kind to people; practicing random acts of kindness fosters happiness in the person being kind;
8)   Spend time outside.
9)   Make your kids spend time outside;
10)                   Make your kids take responsibility for their actions;
11)                   Turn off the TV;
12)                   Plant flowers – even if it is a pot on our balcony;
13)                   Understand that nobody really wants to hear your children in a restaurant, theater or cultural institution; nobody wants you kid to be running around in a restaurant or bar; take your kid to Chuck-E-Cheese – keep them out of the adult world unless you want me to tell you they are brats;
14)                   whatever your religion or belief system, I am ok with it; but I don’t need to hear about it;
15)                  whatever your sexual preference, I am okay with it; but I don’t need to hear about it;
16)                   whatever your political views, I am okay with it; but I don’t need to hear about it;
17)                   the media really doesn’t have a right to know every facet of one’s life; if he or she wants to remain private, then let them be private; I, for one, do not care who is gay, who filed bankruptcy, who gained 50 pounds, or went to rehab; the people’s right to know should be limited to actions of government – not private citizens – even if they are celebrities;
18)                  people should be able to mourn loss in private;
19)                   in my world, no human would be judged on anything but what he or she brings to the table for whatever job is open;
20)                   no student would leave an institution of higher learning with a $100K debt;
21)                   airlines would not be able to charge outrageous fees for overweight luggage;
22)                  there would be no need to write articles about whether it is better for a women to stay at home with kids or work;

Okay – enough soapboxes for one sacred holiday! I just wish for my ideal world where every human is equal, earns what he/she should based solely on merit, where nobody judges another based on his/her own views, and where every American being has access to basic human services. I know, it is a fantasy, but it shouldn’t be.

Friday, April 18, 2014

The Fortune Hunter by Daisy Goodwin - A Book Review

The Fortune Hunter by Daisy Goodwin - A Book Review

As a member of, I'm occasionally afforded the opportunity to read and review galleys of books before the final edit and before publication. As a result of this privilege I've read some books that I otherwise would never have considered. However, when I applied to read The Fortune Hunter, it appeared to be right up my alley - a book about a young women who dabbled in photography in 1876, appeared to be more independent than most of that age, with a romantic triangle involving the Empress Elizabeth of Austria tossed in for good measure.

I love historical fiction and this book had so much potential to be engaging; but it was not what it could have been.

Many of the book's characters including Elizabeth of Austria and Bay Middleton actually did exist and after reading this novel was compelled to read a bit more of the Empress. However, in this book there was absolutely nothing redeeming about her self-centred personality. I felt no empathy or sympathy for the characters.

Also, as one who has a working knowledge and is a practitioner of 19th Century photographic processes, there were some misrepresentations of the work Charlotte Baird practiced. For example, a photographer did not use a flash outside. A photographic negative made outside in the sun would not have taken a minute during daylight hours and a horse would never remain still long enough for a 60 second exposure. In the 1870's a photographer would have had to transport the large box camera & tripod as well as the dry plates to the Grand National racetrack and probably would not have done that in the rain.

When I read what is essentially an historical romance novel I expect the story to move along at a decent pace as well. With this book I had to put it down for a few days and then come back to it.
The Empress of Austria was, in life, a fascinating woman. But I didn't like her in this book. I did not like Charlotte's brother and fiancee; And Charlotte herself disappointed me.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Objectification of Women & The Exponential Increase in Bra Sizes Over the Last 20 Years

Objectification of Women & The Exponential Increase in Bra Sizes Over the Last 20 Years 

I’ve read several studies that have shown the average bra size of the American woman has increase from a size 34B in 1993 to 34DD in 2013. While some of the increase can most likely be attributed to burgeoning weights and hormones in the food supply, a significant reason for the increase is associated with breast enhancement surgery.

Why do young women subject themselves to invasive surgery for larger breasts? Is it to enhance self-esteem? To attract simple-minded men who do not value women for their minds? Do they have no idea that as time passes those excessively large breasts will plunge to their knees with age?  Young women graduating from high school often request breast surgery instead of a new car, a trip to Europe or a college education. And what about the parents who concede and agree to pay for the surgery as if it were a routine gift such as a pen & pencil set?

What happened to the concept of Feminism? Women of the 70s and 80s who paved the way for the young women of today by breaking barriers in the workplace and institutions of higher learning through sheer force of will, working harder and longer than men, keeping a sense of humor, learning to take sexism in stride, dressing for success with blue skirted suits and floppy bow ties, and yearning to be taken seriously for our abilities, our brains and our creativity instead of beauty or physical attributes cannot help but be stupefied by women who make themselves objects by aspiring to look like Barbie.

And from a practical consideration, those puppies can get in the way of a good tennis match or golf game. And the average size from 20 years ago does not droop at 54! If I had a tattoo it would not be malformed.

Friday, April 11, 2014

How to Respond When Opportunity Comes Knocking!

How to Respond When Opportunity Comes Knocking!

Just a few days after I wrote about listening to my Angels, reading the signs and believing that my prior career aspirations were perhaps not what the Universe plans for me, I received a call from my manager offering opportunities I had never anticipated.  

In additional to offering to recommend me to participate on a team that I’d never seriously considered as a career path, she also offered to write a recommendation letter for my application to participate in a coveted mentoring program.  My direct supervisor wasn’t certain I would be open to the opportunity; but I said an unequivocal YES.

Knowing that I have people that are confident in my abilities is golden. Responding to the opportunities offered is a way to honor that confidence. Being receptive to new challenges may afford me the chance to broaden my experience in a way that may help me to achieve my goals without undo stress and frustration.

It may have taken me several decades of life to appreciate that change is healthy, but once I accepted that concept, I’ve learned to embrace it. I do not want to find myself at the end of what I plan to be an extraordinarily long life feeling regret because I didn’t travel down the road of opportunity.

What a blessing that a team of extraordinary women for which I feel an enormous amount of gratitude supports me! I am blessed!

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Making the Right Choices – Self Care

Making the Right Choices – Self Care

One of the greatest gifts of reaching a certain age is the blessing of releasing the need to people please and embracing the joys of self-care. For so many of us we accept that self-care is selfish instead of a duty that we owe ourselves.

Signing off my work computer at 5:15pm, making the decision to drive into town and participate in yoga practice, and celebrating the me that shows up on the mat on any given day is approaching self-care with the right attitude.

I am fortunate in that my job allows me certain privileges that make life easier. I am able to telecommute. My management team appreciates that I am self-motivated, organized and adept beyond the core requirements of my job. But I’ve reached the point when career takes a backseat to quality of life. I’m at the point of deciding whether it would be healthier for me to celebrate achieving a certain degree of autonomy and enjoy indulging in the ability to exploit my expertise and experience so that I only receive the most complex, fascinating assignments, or to continue aspiring for greater responsibilities for a more prestigious title and stock options.

Sometimes the answers are simple. Sometimes they are not. For a long time I’ve felt compelled to move to the next level, continue to reach for a higher goal, more financial rewards, and greater recognition. But I’m not so sure that would serve me well at this point in my life.

Maybe my guardian angels were sending me a message when I was not selected for the most recent position for which I applied. Perhaps I should pay heed to that message. I do not want to live to work. I work so that I can afford to live my personal life to its fullest. I do not want additional stress. I want to be able to sign off in time to practice yoga, to meet friends for dinner, to work in the yard all day Saturday without my work phone ringing.  The right choice for me may well be realizing that I don’t need the title and stock options to validate me.  Appropriate self-care today means yoga, a glass of Petit Verdot, watching the sunset, and petting our cats. Yeah  - that’s the ticket!