Archive for July, 2008

Celebrating girlfriends

Who knew that August 1st was National Girlfriend’s Day?  Seems like a great time to offer congratulations to Debba Haupert on Girlfriendology, an online community she created for women based on the inspiration, appreciation, and celebration of girlfriends.  Debba has been hard at work on the site and one of the things she has done is record 50 amazing podcasts with authors and other fascinating women.  I hope you’ll go check it out and discover great ways to celebrate your girlfriends today and everyday.

July 31, 2008 at 5:58 pm 2 comments

Girls on the Run champions girls

In Warren, a crowd of girls ages 8-13 runs a 5-kilometer course with race bibs proudly pinned to their lavender shirts. Every bib has the same number: 1.

In Dundee, girls line up at the start of a summer 5K in funny hats they decorated themselves, with prizes going to the largest, the smallest, the silliest.

In Holland, hundreds of girls in bubblegum-colored shirts pour into the Wondergirl 5K, creating a wave of pink that splashes across the starting line.

Across Michigan, young girls are discovering athletic talents they never thought they had — and learning a lot about how to handle schoolyard pressures along the way. They’re part of Girls on the Run…  More…

So begins an article by Heather Newman in the Detroit Free Press that I just came across about Girls on the Run and the impact it is having on girls in Michigan.  Girls on the Run is a non-profit prevention program that works with girls (from 8 to 13) to encourage them to build healthy lifestyles fueled with self-respect.  Participants come together twice a week for 75 minutes for 10 weeks to train for a 5k and to discuss issues like body image, self-esteem, relationships, and being in community.  It was founded by a fabulous woman, Molly Barker. 

When Hijas Americanas was released, it was important to me to use the opportunities I had to talk about body image, beauty perception, and ethnic identity to support an organization that was championing those ideals.  Girls on the Run was a natural fit and a dear friend came up with the design of the byoo-tee tee.  All of the proceeds go to benefit Girls on the Run. 

Across North America, Girls on the Run will start another semester of programming this fall, and I would love for them to start with all the funds possible from the sale of the byoo-tee tees.  The t-shirts cost $20 (this include shipping and handling) and are fair trade, sweat-shop free tees.  The fitted natural ones are made of organic cotton.  Three fits remain (while quanities last).  In the natural, fitted style, there are 4 small, 7 medium, 3 extra large tees available.  In the natural loose style, there is 1 xxxl tee remaining.  In the grey vneck, there are one medium, 9 large, and 9 extra large tees remaining.  Want to place an order?  Send me an e-mail letting me know which shirt and how many you want to hijasamericanas@gmail.com with BYOO-TEE ORDER in the subject line, and we’ll work out the details. 

I’ve given the tees for birthday and holiday gifts, and my friends have really loved them.  The fit is great.  The cotton is really soft.  And the message is spunky and positive.  A school teacher told me this past week that she and one of her best teaching friends wear their t-shirts on Fridays (dress down days) to send their students a message.  I loved that story!  Let’s get the message to redefine beauty out everywhere while helping a great effort that is doing exactly that!

July 30, 2008 at 5:35 pm 1 comment

I believe they call this the zone

Hot damn.  You know how I have been on a bit of a sabbatical with my summer, trying to slowly proceed so that I can make sure that I am not just impulsively doing work just to do it (as opposed to doing what I do because I must, because to not do it is more painful than doing it).  Well, I made that declaration for the beginning of June.  And, finally, at the end of July, I am seeing the fruits of that effort.  It took a while because there were a couple unexpected trips that had to be made which meant that I had to work a wee bit more intensely then I had planned to during the time that I was home.  But, now, everything that I had committed to pre-sabbatical is in, and there is a lovely blank slate before me.  I realized that I was stepping into that clearing last week and so I thought about what I wanted to do with my days, what work I wanted to concentrate on and what work would be like my brain candy.  And then I had another little epiphany that is on par with my realization that I should never leave my house for anything in the morning unless I am prepared for the fact that I really won’t get any writing done that afternoon (other than my workout which will only get done if it’s done first thing.  Stay with me; I know I am quirky) , I realized that I should be working in blocks of time.  Before, I tried to do a little bit of all of my gigs everyday. I’d break things into 60 or 90 minute chunks and so I’d work on book stuff, article stuff, teaching stuff, non-profit stuff, and speaking engagement stuff all in the same day.  But this past Friday, I remembered this notion that I had when I decided to write full-time. I had thought that I could have designated days:  two days for magazine writing, 2 days for teaching writing and other workshops, and 1 day for volunteering- each week a routine.  But, instantly, as assignments started coming in, I let the idea of that go and everything just happened on any day.  And now, I am circling back around to that ide– wondering if I had something back then when I was thinking about compartmentalizing my days.  So, I decided to try it this week.  Monday was books/blogs day.  My to do list was filled with items that really only had to do with those two items.  And walla!– turns out I had enough time to complete two enormous book tasks that have been hanging over my head.  Item # 1:  getting a book proposal out to a publisher.  Done by 10 am.  Then # 2:  create notecards for all of my ideas for each chapter of said book then organize those notecards into a file box divided by chapter.  It took me until 4 in the afternoon (I did have a long lunch break to see a friend from college who was passing through town), but it’s a thing of beauty and it just felt so satisfying to get it done.  Tuesday was a little less productive because I had a dental cleaning in the morning (no cavities!)– clearly I scheduled that appointment 6 months ago before I made my rule of no morning meetings- but it was freelancing day, and I got a big assignment in pretty ahead of deadline and then worked on scheduling interviews and doing research for 3 other articles.  And, finally, I had the moment of extreme gratitude for moving more deliberately with my work when two offers came through in the afternoon to write essays for two different publications– a hip magazine that I love, love, love and a book project that is just so cool and in line with my values and priorities as a person (more on those when they are closer to being published, I’m sure).  I could say yes to both of them because I had made the room for them– unknowingly and yet hopefully- over the last two months.  Wednesday is a half and half day.  The morning is to be spent working on my freelance stuff and the afternoon will be spent on Circle de Luz stuff.  Thursday is a freelancing morning and a planning my body image class afternoon (ie: write lesson plans for at least 1 seminar, if not two).  Friday is back to book writing.  I plan to start work on a different book proposal and do a couple writing samples for it.  I am not certain, because it hasn’t been that long, but I sure do feel like I am entering the zone.

July 29, 2008 at 8:30 pm 4 comments

America the Beautiful, the documentary

I just came across a write-up on a new documentary, America the Beautiful, and it looks incredible.  When Darryl Roberts, a former entertainment reporter in Chicago, approached 200 women on the streets of Chicago and asked them if they felt attractive, only 2 of them said yes.   “It’s not all that complicated. I started doing the math, and if 198 women are saying ‘no,’ that means 99% of women feel unattractive. More than that, they blamed those feelings about themselves on all the magazines they read,” he says in S. James Snyder’s New York Sun artcile of the impetus to create the movie which he describes as an effort “to link pop culture to the way it makes kids and adults feel, and then draws a line between that and the resulting fallout.” 

Check out the trailer and article  by S. James Snyder in the New York Sun and then look for it at a theater near you.  Upcoming dates include New York City on August 1, Los Angeles on August 22, Portland on August 29 and Minneapolis, Denver, San Francisco, Philadelphia, Washington DC, Seattle, Atlanta, St. Louis, Miami, and Dallas.

July 29, 2008 at 7:53 pm Leave a comment

Body Warrior and The Beautiful Women Project

 

Nancy Bruno is an award winning documentary photographer who captures thirty-five women of all ages in a moment that shows what makes them beautiful in their present moment in Beautiful Women: Celebrating Beauty in Stories and Stills.   

 

What I love about myself: I love that after so many years of not being proud of myself because I was not proud of my body, that I recognize that what matters most is that when I look in the mirror I see someone that I am proud to be.  My biggest challenge in accepting my body and beauty:  That my body is perfect for me.  It is an honor, and a responsibility to love it, nourish it, and treat it with kindness and respect because it does so many wonderful things for me every moment of every day:  take in breath, walk down the hallway, taste wonderful food, see beautiful things, run, dial the telephone so I can talk to a friend, hear something funny so I can laugh…everything. 
 

 

 

My biggest support in learning to appreciate myself: my husband and sons.Beauty is:  The sum of your life experiences.
 Why I am strong:  The opportunities that have been placed in my path, especially the opportunities that at the time seemed to be difficult or unpleasant experiences.  I now recognize these were indeed opportunities to be myself and speak my truth.  In fact, they were equally as wonderful as any chance, break, or prospect that in life we normally associate with that term. 

Why I am beautiful:  To be honest, there are so many things that make me beautiful.  The easiest way for me to summarize by beauty is:   My Life + My Experiences = My Beauty. 
 
What women must know:   That your physical body is such a small part of your overall beauty and what defines you as a woman.  Beauty shines from within – it is how you meet your challenges and carry your life experiences that make you beautiful.   
 

 

July 28, 2008 at 8:24 pm Leave a comment

Circle de Luz, an antidote to depression

This opening sentence to a new report grabbed my attention this weekend- 

Adolescent girls who had a serious school failure by the 12th grade — being expelled, suspended or dropping out — were significantly more likely to have suffered a serious bout of depression at the age of 21 than girls who did not have these problems.

-and reminded me how important the effort is that we are making with Circle de Luz.  By rewarding girls in the seventh grade because of the promise we see in them and letting them know that our belief in them comes with emotional and resource support and a minimum of a $5000 scholarship when they graduate from high school and pursue further education, we believe that we can positively affect their futures.  We can help them avoid poverty, increase their likelihood for job stability, and, as this study indicates, decrease their likelihood of depression (33% of girls who drop out experience depression as compared to 19% of girls who do not drop out). 

As of today, 42 women have committed $29,540 to support the Class of 2014’s scholarship recipients.  The 42 female donors, called M’ijas, commit to donate at least $90 a year (their contributions are due in two equally divided payments each year– one on September 15 and one on March 15) for six years to go towards the scholarship funds.  The contributions of all donors for an individual class are combined to create the scholarship fund.  For every $5000 contributed, we select one scholarship recipient.  Over the six years of the program, the funds sit in interest baring accounts until they are divided among the scholarship recipeints upon their high school graduation and enrollment into the next educational program of their choice.  We are just 1 donor away from selecting 6 scholarship recipients this fall that we will then work with until their high school graduation.  Want to be a part of the movement?  Visit the Circle de Luz how to join page to learn more.

July 27, 2008 at 9:01 pm Leave a comment

Bikini is a State of Mind

The Bikini Team is a group of women in my town, who are now over 50, who have been friends for decades and meet throughout the summer at the local swimming hole (which is really the town pool) to visit, tan, and champion each other.  They wrote Bikini is a State of Mind a few years ago and the concept is now being considered for a television sitcom.  Check out their story.   

July 24, 2008 at 11:24 pm 3 comments

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In a Bookstore Near You

What does it mean to be beautiful in America? For years, pop culture has insisted that beautiful women are tall, thin, and blonde. So what do you do if your mirror reflects olive skin, raven hair, and a short build? Hijas Americanas: Beauty, Body Image, and Growing Up Latina offers a provocative account of the struggles and triumphs of Latina forced to reconcile these conflicting realities. Rosie Molinary combines her own experience with the voices of hundreds of Latinas who grew up in the US navigating issues of gender, image, and sexuality. This empathetic ethnography exemplifies the ways in which our experiences are both profoundly individualistic and comfortingly universal.
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