Category Archives: beauty

Why Do People NOT Choose Feminism?

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Thank you for visiting my Arte California blog!

I form my opinions by listening to ALL sides of an argument.  I don’t just listen to people who agree with me.  I also listen carefully to those who do not agree with me, and I carefully consider all sides before I form my own opinions.  That’s what a good journalist does.

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I figure that with as many followers as I have,  there must be some of you who are not feminists. I am writing an article about why one might choose NOT to be a feminist. This discussion is open to feminists and non-feminists alike, but I would really like to hear from non-feminists who oppose feminism.  There will be no snarking. No name-calling. No meanness. No one is going to attack you for your opinion.

I want to hear your opinions and to learn why it is any woman (especially) but man, also, would choose NOT to be a feminist, because when I think about it, I can’t think of even one rational  reason why one would not be. Please begin by telling me what feminism even IS to you, in terms of your understanding of it. Your input will be very much appreciated.

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Looking forward to an adult discussion, so do comment generously, even if you have no personal opinion on this matter, but know of someone else who does.  I’m interested in what their rationale is.

If  this is a sensitive topic for you, and you would prefer to write to me privately, rather than post as a comment here, that will be fine, too.  I always like to hear both sides of things.

The Oregon Coast

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There are simply not sufficient words to describe the beauty of the Oregon coast!  Even “stunning” undermines its graceful beauty and breathtaking scenery.  John recently surprised me with an unexpected getaway, and I put together a little slide show to show what we’ve been up to over the last 48 hours with our dear friends, Peter and Toni, in Newport and Depoe Bay, Oregon.  Enjoy this slideshow, and my other Arte California posts!   Subscribe for regular updates.

Wake Up and Go to Sleep

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Just in time for holiday gift giving, my “Wake Up” and “Go to Sleep” blends of solid perfume, individually hand crafted with the world’s finest essential oils.

The Wake Up blend contains essential oils of Tangerine, Spearmint, Citrus Bliss, Lemon, Lemongrass and Grapefruit.

The Go to Sleep blend contains Lavender, Sandalwood, Patchouli, Bergamot, Cassia and Frankincense.

These are limited edition fragrances that really do wake you up or help you go to sleep when applied to pulse points.

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Making Your Own Cosmetics

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I am sort of on the fence about cosmetics.  Admittedly, I love them.  However, I don’t wear them much, other than lipstick , which my sweetie loves in red, he tells me, AND I won’t wear any cosmetic products that contain harmful ingredients or that are manufactured by companies that test on animals.

That said, I’d like to show you a quick and easy tutorial to make your own lipstick.  Mind you, please check first, before using your eye shadow, to make sure that it was not tested on animals, and try to use a lip balm made with soy, coconut, jojoba or other oils that are not carcinogenic.

As I mentioned previously, I went to the Portland Veg Fest last weekend, and while there, I purchased a book by Sunny Subramanian and Crystle Fiedler called, “The Compassionate Chick’s Guide to DIY Beauty.”  You can pick up a used copy for around $10, on Amazon by clicking  HERE.

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The book contains 125 recipes for vegan, gluten-free, cruelty-free makeup, skin and hair products. In this book, Sunny explains why animal testing is cruel,unnecessary and inaccurate, so there really is no need to buy products that have been tested on animals.  It is pointless, unless you get some perverse pleasure from harming innocent animals.  There are, after all, alternatives to animal testing that are far more accurate in their results.

Ingredients to Avoid

In her book, Sunny discloses some of the ingredients that should be avoided when purchasing cosmetics, and reminds us that by making our own DIY cosmetics, we can control what goes on oru skin and screen out any harmful ingredients such as :

  • BHA
  • BHT
  • Coal Tar Dyes
  • DEA
  • Triethanolamine
  • Dibutyl Phthalate
  • DMDM Hydantion
  • Formaldehyde
  • Hydroquione
  • Lead
  • Methylisothaizolinone
  • Nanoparticles that can penetrate the lungs
  • Propylene Glycol
  • Petroleum Products
  • Other Harmful Ingredients

I don’t often wear foundation.  Instead, I don’t smoke, and I drink a lot of water and my skin feels soft and is relatively wrinkle free, for my age.

To help even out my skin tone, I buy a natural Papaya mask (that smells like heaven) from a company on Amazon called, “Ladybug“.  This stuff is absolutely wonderful, despite its mixed reviews.  It smells good enough to eat, too.

If you want to make your own foundation, that is easy also, with just some jojoba oil, Vitamin E oil and some powder made from rice flour that Sunny’s book talks about.  Really folks, I do recommend this book.  However, if you’re looking for a visual aid to make your own all-natural, organic powder foundation, watch this:

I make an all-natural liquid foundation that works really well, if you don’t mind keeping it in the fridge, since it contains no preservatives.  The base of it contains:

To this, I add various colorants, such as beet powder, mica powder, cocoa powder  and other all-natural colorants, depending on what I’m trying to achieve. Mix everything well, then store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.  This is the type of thing you just have to experiment with until you get the color that you want.   It turns out really well….as good, in fact, as the MAC foundation that I used to pay $38 a pop for, but lighter and less greasy feeling.

As a hair conditioner, I simply put about a tablespoon of coconut oil in my hair before I go to bed at night.  This, too, smells wonderful, and I wash it out the following morning with a gentle Aveda all-natural shampoo.  If I get a case of the frizzies, a small dab of coconut oil or Argon oil does the trick.

Finally, if you want to create your own all-natural scent, give this 3-ingredient recipe a try.  I use DoTerra Essential Oils, but you can use any combination of any brand that you like.

The Internet is a wonderful source for finding recipes for making your own cosmetics.  Give it a try, if you don’t pick up a copy of Sunny’s book.  I think you’ll love what you discover.

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Dodging the Rain

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Nothing has changed.

John is in Pittsburgh, and I’ve been here enjoying the rain and the fine company of my family and friends.  However,   I find that I accomplish so much more when I’m by myself.  I have been slowly going through the boxes in the garage so I can move them into storage and set up my studio out there. I’m donating more than I’m keeping.  Just tired of having so much stuff. Our living room is now crowded with musical instruments…..five guitars, a complete drum kit, two big mic stands, mics, amps, cords everywhere.

I took a break from everything and decided to do a little photography today, so my new  camera came out of the box  for its first experimental shoot.  It is the most complex camera I have ever owned, (Canon EOX 5d Mark IV ) and it will take me months to learn how to use all of its features, but today, I did take a few shots and downloaded them to my computer. I’m on a learning curve, and also spoiled by the ease of use of my old camera.  This one does so much, but as of yet, I can only access limited features.  I figure I can teach myself a new one each day until I get the hang of it.

I played with lenses…telephoto, macro….and  filters.  I have my eye on an EF 70-200mm f/4L USM lens for coastal shots, but I have other, more important, priorities right now.   The Oregon coast is all kinds of beautiful, but I need that lens to really capture what I see.

It rained today, and I stood in my living room and took a few shots, and some more from my front porch. I loved the way the clouds filtered the light, and felt these were good shooting conditions, so here are some of my first efforts. These are unadulterated raw images and I’m not thrilled with how dark they are, but I’ll  learn..

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As a closing note, I love this little hummingbird who sits on the very end of one of my rose bush stems and guards the feeder.  See how his feathers around his head are warning everyone to stay away, even as he naps?  If you have the chance, watch, “Super Hummingbirds,” on PBS.  I watched it over the weekend with Ingrid, and we loved it.  Truly a fascinating documentary.

Until next time.  Hugs to all.

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In Addition to Oil Pulling…

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In the past, I have written about oil pulling, and how swishing a little oil around in the mouth for 20 minutes each morning can make the teeth sparkle.  Oil pulling  really works, and remarkably so.  Everyone knows that brushing, flossing, and regular dental checkups are also important aspects of maintaining a healthy smile. What is considered less often, however, is how one’s diet can affect his or her dental health.

The foods that a person chooses to eat and drink–or NOT eat or drinks– can have a tremendous impact on his or her  dental health.  Consider the following foods to eat for shiny white, healthy teeth:

Strawberries

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Even though strawberries are bright red, they can help you have  brilliant white, healthy teeth. Despite their appearance, the small amounts of malic acid in strawberries actually helps remove tooth discoloration.  Be  forewarned that too  much malic acid can damage tooth enamel, so be sure to brush well after consuming strawberries.

Apples

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As saying goes,  “An apple a day keeps the doctor away.”…. But how about the dentist? The crispness of apples are absolutely great for the gums. Apples strengthening the gums as you chew. Eating apples also increases the production of saliva, which helps neutralize  bacteria colonies residing in the mouth, and reducing the risk for tooth decay.

Cheese, please

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Do your mouth a favor  and indulge in some cheese.  Cheese is chock full of calcium, which strengthens the teeth and gums.  You never have to worry about tooth discoloration resulting from the extra time you spent sampling from that cheese tray; since cheese is basically colorless, surface stains are a non-issue.  Even nut cheeses (as opposed to dairy cheeses) are high in calcium and good for the teeth.

Broccoli and other cruciferous veggies

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When it comes to health food, the cruciferous vegetables, such as cauliflower and  broccoli are all-stars.  Cruciferous veggies are  rich in vitamins and low in calories.  Oh, and raw broccoli’s tiny florets also serve as miniature toothbrushes!   When one chews, the florets go to work, gently scrubbing the surface of your teeth.  Same deal with cauliflower.

Oh, Nuts!

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Consider  choosing a snack  that will give your body a nutritional boost while also brightening your smile. Nuts, with their crunchy texture, help to remove plaque and stains from your teeth while you chew them.  Nuts are  loaded with protein and healthy fats, making them an excellent snack option for your body’s oral health and overall health.

For other teeth whitening tips, refer to my blog post on the Ayurvedic practice of OIL PULLING, Click Here:  Ever Hear of Oil Pulling?

Foods and drinks to avoid

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Now that you know the foods to stock up on to help maintain your healthy smile, are there any foods or drinks you should avoid? While most things are fine in moderation, let’s consider some foods and drinks that can be detrimental to your oral health:

Chewy candy.  Sticky, chewy candy  typically stick to your teeth for extended periods of time. In addition to feeling uncomfortable, the sticky, sugary residue left behind on your teeth provides a feast for the bacteria in your mouth. The result is the breakdown of your enamel and, ultimately, potential tooth decay.

Citrus fruit. You might be surprised to learn that citrus fruits– and particularly lemons and grapefruit– are not friends of your teeth. Although they’re loaded with Vitamin C that’s good for your body, they’re also extremely acidic. Over time, that acid can erode your tooth enamel.  Be sure to brush well as soon as possible after consuming citrus fruit.

Coffee & soda. Not surprisingly, coffees, teas, and sodas are not healthy choices for your teeth. Not only do they stain your pearly whites, the caffeine can dry out your mouth. Additionally, sugar– which is present in soda and often added to coffee and tea– is used by plaque bacteria to produce acid that ultimately attacks your enamel.

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Summer Breeze – Makes Me Feel Fine

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We hopped in the car yesterday for a spontaneous trip to the coast.  It was as close to perfection as a day can get. Ingrid just finished up French camp for the summer and is with us full time during the days for the next three weeks.  All of us needed some R&R, not that we really needed an excuse.

We went to Cannon Beach first.  Since it was such a sunny, beautiful day, we expected a lot more people than actually showed up there.  The beaches and the town were sparsely populated for this time of year.

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John wore the wrong shoes and wasn’t up for as much walking as Ingles and I were, so he sat in the shade and watched us as we played on the beach.  She was so happy to be there.  We buried her legs in the sand, chased one another, ran into the waves and out, and generally had fun.  In the following photo, she is running down a stretch of beach made famous by the film “The Goonies”. Remember that one?

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Soon the entire beach was inundated by tiny clear jellyfish, so we decided to leave a little sooner than expected.

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We left the beach and walked back to the village.  John and I stopped into a wine shop and bought some nice flatbread and cheese to go with the picnic we’d packed before we left home.  We sat in front of the Cannon Beach theater on their nice benches and had a good chat while we ate…and laughed…and generally enjoyed being where we were. John forgot his pocket knife and had to struggle with the cheese. 😉

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Ingrid was such a delightful girl…so polite and friendly.  John and I just can’t get enough of her.

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After our trip, we went to a local glass blowing studio.  Here are some of the delightful pieces we saw there.   (My sweet friend usually sends me glass hearts for my birthday, for Christmas and for other occasions, so my own heart went pitty pat when I saw this one.)

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And this one….

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This vase was my favorite.  Don’t you think this would look great in my house?  😉

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We left the studio and picked up our annual bag of the best salt water taffy ever.  This soft, gourmet variety is locally made, and comes in virtually every flavor imaginable.  I got so much that I had to put a lot of it in the freezer.  We don’t eat stuff like this often, but when we go to Cannon Beach, we make an exception.  I got some extra so I could send some to my friend.

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Next, we headed to Ecola Park.  This is a magical place….really beautiful. I had John let me off a few miles down the rode while he and Ingrid drove on ahead.  I met them there later, after my wonderful hike through the woods.

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When I got to the top of the cliff, I met up with John and Ingrid and the three of us walked to the lookout point.

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The view was impeccable.

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We met a couple who had their long haired chihuahua with them. They were nice and we hung with them for awhile.  We didn’t take the Beebs, because we felt she would be more comfy at home….but we missed her!   We spent the rest of the afternoon just hanging out in this beautiful spot.  Ingrid recited spontaneous poetry and danced for us.  It was nothing but pleasantries, one right after the other.  We had such a good time!

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If you ever find yourself in Oregon, I highly recommend the coast.  It is one of the most gorgeous coasts you will ever see.

Boutonniere Inspirations for a Wedding

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Long ago and far away, I worked as a freelance wedding planner.  My specialty was economical weddings in dramatic settings, such as beach weddings, foreign destination weddings and weddings in authentic Texas locations.  I once planned an elegant wedding in an old Austin Texas  barn, attended by some famous C&W musicians.   As they invited me to participate in the wedding celebration, we all had the times of our lives. The juxtaposition of elegant finery contrasted with the rustic elements provided by the barn was just perfect, and I was rewarded handsomely for my efforts.

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As part of my promo literature at the time, I gave tips about wedding attire, honeymoon accommodations and other useful things.  What follows is some advice I had for boutonniere inspirations.:

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Nothing can quite add the panache to a groom’s wedding attire  like the classic style embodied his boutonniere. This traditional symbol worn on the lapel of the groom’s jacket is a gesture brimming with meaning that reaches  far beyond the flower itself. Boutonnieres symbolize beauty. They symbolize the fragility of life, and love undefined all captured in a single blossom.

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Classic Wedding

A classic wedding calls for a classic symbol. A single red rose boutonniere with, perhaps, a tiny spray of baby’s breath embodies all of the characteristics any bride could wish for in a groom. The red rose symbolizes courage, sincere love, respect and a hearty congratulations to the happy couple. The baby’s breath symbolizes everlasting and undying love.

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Beach Wedding

Keeping things natural at a beach wedding is the way to go. Tiny white lily boutonnieres trimmed with raffia and miniature seashells can add a nice touch, or for something more ornate,  earthy boutonnieres with lavender, green blueberries, wax flowers and rosemary can add a subtle, yet beautiful touch the blends right in with a stunning ocean environment.

Western Style Wedding

A sunset wedding on the ranch, or at the beach, calls for shades of yellow with a boutonniere made from dusty miller, billy balls and handmade wooden button flowers tied with twine. This is a winning combination that can dress up any groom’s lapel without going over the top.

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Castle or Mansion Wedding

Any  groom can  look like a prince in a beautiful purple boutonniere made of royal ranunculus buds and rose hips that are wrapped with white or purple velvet ribbon.

High Desert Wedding

Ranunculus and rice flowers in soft desert pinks, corals and yellows are a perfect combination for a high desert wedding boutonniere. An alternative choice is silvery brunia and tiny, mint green succulents wrapped in a pale pastel ribbon.

Elegant Cocktail Lounge Wedding

Imagine the beauty of an elegant cocktail lounge wedding atop a skyscraper overlooking the glittering lights of the city. What better boutonniere could adorn the groom’s lapel than one inspired by the fresh ingredients and herbs found in the fine spirits that are served there. An aromatic boutonniere made from cinnamon sticks, Douglas fir, hops, bay laurel, grains, juniper and rosemary will be the highlight of the groom’s suit.

Hawaiian Wedding

Hawaii is one of the most popular destination wedding locations in the world. The groom will fit right in with a simple orchid boutonniere, or, for a little more flare, a boutonniere made of astrantias and jasmine blooms against a background of local foliage.

Remember, a successful wedding celebration is all about the details.  The marriage?  That’s all about the couple.

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Bitten by the Mosaic Bug…Again

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This year, I have again been asked to participate with a plethora of other international mosaic artists, in the 2017 Beyond Borders auction.  All proceeds go to benefit Doctors Without Borders , an organization that helps people in third world countries receive medical care to which they would not otherwise not have access.

For Doctors Without Borders, the ability to respond quickly to medical humanitarian emergencies is crucial to saving more lives. Unrestricted funds allows the organization to allocate their resources most efficiently and where the needs are greatest.  This is a good cause, my friends. I hope you will attend the virtual auction and find something you like, because the money really helps a lot of people.  Plus, there are some incredibly talented artists and many pieces from which to choose.

As I anticipate the design of this year’s piece, I am mindful of the fact that I have a whole lot on my plate right now with opening my retreat business and continuing my writing business…but I cannot function properly without art.  I have to have it, at some level, which is  why my sketchbook never leaves my side when I’m lounging in the evenings.   I miss working in mosaic, and am going to get back into it. It is hard work, but it is something that I truly love.  I love glass especially.  I love its properties.  I love the way it cuts, and how the light dances across its surfaces.

I have one project started already, which I can probably finish up fairly quickly.  I am building it on a wooden substrate and it is already extremely heavy.  After it is finished, it will probably weigh up to 12-13 pounds.

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Other than the round “globs” (as they are called…..those white, round pieces that you see on the tips of the wings…) each piece of glass was hand cut and placed by me.  I am now working on the body, and haven’t quite decided what approach I’m going to take with it.  I may end up painting part of it, because the surface is so uneven.  The underside is all gold  and blue tiles, and is very sparkly!  The grout will unify all of the sections and pull the piece together.

The wings are asymmetrical, so getting a balanced look was difficult to achieve.  The OCD in me hates the fact that the dark blue colors aren’t symmetrical, but after it’s all grouted, it will look better.

I really hate to grout, but after one applies the mud and begins to wipe it off, that is when the magic happens, and that is what transforms the piece into a work of art.  I am excitited bout this one.

I am getting ready to begin a couple of other pieces as well.  One celebrates a new life, and the other,  honors a life ended.  My cousin, Daina, is getting ready to become a grandmother on Juy 3rd, so I am making the new baby a small mosaic for his or her nursery.  I’m thinking about a white star….or a pastel colored heart.  Still considering what I will make.  It will be something simple, fast and easy.

The other piece will be for my friend, Sarah Beth, who left this world recently, in a tragic, tragic way.  Her loss is a tremendous one, and weighs heavily on my head and heart. She was my friend for more than 40 years.   I am, at this time, working on a design for a three dimensional encasement for her ashes.  She always wanted a home with children, so I might do a house-shaped piece. Not sure.  This is a tough call. I need to get past the point of crying every time I think of her death, before I can proceed, but I feel that working on this particular piece will help the healing process.   (That theory was the foundation of my thesis when I got my masters in Psychology.)

So….today is another day.  I am working this morning.  John and I are getting ready to go out for a long walk with our puppy.  Then, my friend, Baranna, is coming over for a few hours this afternoon.  Anticipating a good day….because, after all, life goes on…with us or without us.

 

 

 

 

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Protected: My Happy Campers

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Happy Birthday to Me

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We celebrated my birthday two days ago with a beautiful array of activities and interactions with friends and family.

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The day began with a beautiful 3 a.m. text  message greeting that made my heart sing, accompanied by a funny, musical phone message so garbled that I could barely hear it, because of the bad connection, but it still made me smile.   Things just kept getting better and better throughout the day. Phone calls….gifts….beautiful gestures made by various people.  I truly felt loved.

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John had arranged a beautiful brunch cruise along the Willamette River aboard a yacht.  The weather was cold and overcast, but the sun broke out from time to time, making the trip absolutely perfect.  The yacht was three stories tall, and we periodically strolled from deck to deck, enjoying live jazz and beautiful scenery.

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Here is a little video of the cruise:

Ingrid , shown below with her glass of sparkling apply juice, was the star of the show when she sang happy birthday to me.

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I cried from the sweetness of this gesture, which was something that she cooked up herself.  As you can see, the crowd was also touched by this.    I love how she bends that note at the beginning of the song.  So cute!

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John enjoyed the gorgeous scenery as much as I did.

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The food was exquisite, and we had delicious, fresh mimosas to go with.

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The whole trip lasted around 2.5 hours.  It was peaceful, beautiful, and much appreciated by this birthday girl….and by a little piggy (shown below).

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Afterward, we attended an awesome art show, which I found wholly inspiring.  Then, we went to my daughter’s house for a traditional dinner.  She baked the most delicious coconut cake for me, which Ingrid decorated with pretty gold candles.

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I felt truly blessed this year….truly loved and deeply happy, knowing that those who took the time out of their lives to acknowledge my birth really love me.  Sometimes, I feel like the luckiest woman alive.   This was one of those perfect birthdays that I will never forget.  Many thanks to my family and to my friends who made it all possible.

How to Talk to Your Daughter About Her Body

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This is so, so good….and I’m really proud of my daughter, Sarah, an excellent mother herself, and of my son-in-law, Nate, one of the best fathers ever,  for taking this approach with Ingrid….who is a strong, dynamic child. However, as a grandmother, I can’t help but tell this child that she is beautiful…frequently….because she is. Inside and out….but I do try to stress her intellect and personal strengths over her outward appearance.

Nothing wrong with feeling pretty, but when women are made to think that this gives them their primary  value in life, that is where the problems begin.

Read this and think about it carefully….

The Cosmic Dancer's photo.

How to talk to your daughter about her body, step one:

Don’t talk to your daughter about her body, except to teach her how it works.

Don’t say anything if she’s lost weight. Don’t say anything if she’s gained weight.

If you think your daughter’s body looks amazing, don’t say that. Here are some things you can say instead:

“You look so healthy!” is a great one.

Or how about, “You’re looking so strong.”

“I can see how happy you are — you’re glowing.”

Better yet, compliment her on something that has nothing to do with her body.

Don’t comment on other women’s bodies either. Nope. Not a single comment, not a nice one or a mean one.

Teach her about kindness towards others, but also kindness towards yourself.

Don’t you dare talk about how much you hate your body in front of your daughter, or talk about your new diet. In fact, don’t go on a diet in front of your daughter. Buy healthy food. Cook healthy meals. But don’t say, “I’m not eating carbs right now.” Your daughter should never think that carbs are evil, because shame over what you eat only leads to shame about yourself.

Encourage your daughter to run because it makes her feel less stressed. Encourage your daughter to climb mountains because there is nowhere better to explore your spirituality than the peak of the universe. Encourage your daughter to surf, or rock climb, or mountain bike because it scares her and that’s a good thing sometimes.

Help your daughter love soccer or rowing or hockey because sports make her a better leader and a more confident woman. Explain that no matter how old you get, you’ll never stop needing good teamwork. Never make her play a sport she isn’t absolutely in love with.

Prove to your daughter that women don’t need men to move their furniture.

Teach your daughter how to cook kale.

Teach your daughter how to bake chocolate cake made with six sticks of butter.

Pass on your own mom’s recipe for Christmas morning coffee cake. Pass on your love of being outside.

Maybe you and your daughter both have thick thighs or wide ribcages. It’s easy to hate these non-size zero body parts. Don’t. Tell your daughter that with her legs she can run a marathon if she wants to, and her ribcage is nothing but a carrying case for strong lungs. She can scream and she can sing and she can lift up the world, if she wants.

Remind your daughter that the best thing she can do with her body is to use it to mobilize her beautiful soul.

Happy Birthday to our Darling Maya

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Screen Shot 2015-09-17 at 9.44.24 AMDearest Maya,

19 years ago today, I received an early morning phone call from your Auntie Sarah-Lynda who informed me that you had been safely born and that you and your mom were healthy and happy.  That was a life-changing moment for your G’pa and I, and it has been with sheer delight that we have watched you thrive and grow into one of the most beautiful souls we have ever encountered.  Thank you for being you.

I have so many wonderful memories of spending time with you.  Even as a tiny child, you had a very sophisticated and rich sense of humor that never failed to make us laugh.   Remember when we rented the beach house in Neskowin?  I made this video when you were only 3.5 years old.  What a cutie!

I cherish the memories of our shopping trips, the trips to the ocean and to the mountains.  I loved shopping with you in San Francisco, and was delighted to find this picture of that day.

Screen Shot 2015-09-17 at 9.48.28 AMI had so much fun when we stayed in Scotts Valley surrounded by all of that amazing art and those wild turkeys and the hammock that you and I managed to BREAK together! 🙂

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The best memory of that time, however, was when I taught you to drive.  As you can see,  I was all smiles.  That was so much fun!  Oh, and remember the time we let you and Maddie drive the Mini Cooper convertible?  Man!  You guys thought you were sooooo grown up.  🙂

Screen Shot 2015-09-17 at 9.47.38 AM I loved going to your graduation and meeting your awesome friends.  It was so much fun attending that talent show with you and hanging out with all of you.  Thank you for that, and for all of the wonderful memories that you have given us through the years.

Screen Shot 2015-09-17 at 9.46.16 AMYou are a beautiful, gorgeous person, inside and out.  We are so proud that you are a part of our family, and we are thrilled that you are living in the PNW again.  Seattle just wasn’t the same without you….and neither were we!

Thank you for the gift that is you.  The earth is a better place each time you wake up to a new day on it.    Always here for you, with love in my heart.  You’re the best, sweetie.  I love you.      ~ Gams

Empowering Women Everywhere

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Here is a little blurb from the new show, “Empowering Women Everywhere, ” which is hosted by my friend, Nann Gill.

Watch it on Channel 23 (TWC) at 7:30 ET, or on line at empoweringwomeneverywhere.tv.

Become part of the Empowering Women Everywhere Community!

Click HERE.

Membership is FREE!

Read more about the 2 Left Feet Blues Festival HERE.   <clickity click click click….

“Empowering Women Everywhere” is produced by the Academy of Film, Television and Stage Performing Arts, a 501c3 corporation.

The program reaches over a million households twice a week!

For a tax-deductible donation you can become a sponsor of the show.

Sponsorship packages are individually designed to best fit your giving criteria.

Please call 845-294-8444 to discuss your particular requirements.

Life is a Balance

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Life is a Balance

Life is a balance between holding on and letting go.

Things have changed.

I used to walk into a room and wonder if the people there would like me.  Now, when I walk into a room, I wonder if I will like them.     The need for external validation is not important to me, at this point in life, and I don’t have to actually like someone for them to have value in my life, nor to have value in theirs.  If there is a job to be done, I simply do it.   I have optimized, categorized and am moving full speed ahead.  I am letting go of the negative and embracing those positive relationships that are good.

The relationships that remain are solid.

 I have learned to let go of the people and things that do not serve my best interests…the ones that hurt and deceive me ….and this has really helped me to stay focused and to do  good work.  This has freed up a tremendous amount of emotional and physical energy.   It can be difficult when one lets go of family members or of  people who were once close friends…..but as things turn out, letting go of those with whom your values, ethics, morals and beliefs do not align, can help propel you forward and free you to do what you are best suited to do in life.

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The people that *really* matter to me are functionally in my life, although I am forced to use that  term  (“functionally”)  loosely when referring to one significant person.  That is an unfortunate situation that I cannot talk about here.

The solution was simple.  I let go of the drama and embraced all of the many good things that I hold so close to my heart and things have never been better.  I now sing about my happiness to other audiences and I go to bed every night with a smile on my face, knowing that I am loved.                                   

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My husband has returned to Portland, full time, from the Bay Area and we have immersed ourselves into a plethora of creativity.  His health is much better than it was, even a year ago.  He attributes this to our being together so much of the time now.  I am watchful over is health, feed him good, home-cooked food and make sure he gets lots of exercise.  He seems so happy, and I’m glad he is home. He is writing plays and working with a partner on creating original musical scores for his plays.  I have the biggest art commission of my life,  am working on my novel every day.  I have successfully completed the composition of two country and western songs that will soon be ready to shop.  I  and am putting a new business together and am also spending lots of time with Ingrid in these last days before she is immersed into French school.  I am thoroughly enjoying the wonderful city where we live.  John and I are reorganizing our home and getting rid of possessions that we no longer need.  Everything is about moving ahead and being happy.

Everything that we are doing,  together and individually, can be either directly or indirectly attributed to making the best choices about letting go of the dead weight of the crazies.  I cannot believe I ever hesitated.

Life is so uncomplicated now.  Why didn’t I make these decisions years ago?

Ann Coulter, the Vile Spewer of Hatred, Gets Taken Down a Notch or Seven

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After Ann Coulter referred to President Obama as a “retard” in a tweet during Monday night’s presidential debate, Special Olympics athlete and global messenger John Franklin Stephens penned her this open letter:


Dear Ann Coulter,

Come on Ms. Coulter, you aren’t dumb and you aren’t shallow. So why are you continually using a word like the R-word as an insult? I’m a 30 year old man with Down syndrome who has struggled with the public’s perception that an intellectual disability means that I am dumb and shallow. I am not either of those things, but I do process information more slowly than the rest of you. In fact it has taken me all day to figure out how to respond to your use of the R-word last night. I thought first of asking whether you meant to describe the President as someone who was bullied as a child by people like you, but rose above it to find a way to succeed in life as many of my fellow Special Olympians have. Then I wondered if you meant to describe him as someone who has to struggle to be thoughtful about everything he says, as everyone else races from one snarkey sound bite to the next. Finally, I wondered if you meant to degrade him as someone who is likely to receive bad health care, live in low grade housing with very little income and still manages to see life as a wonderful gift. Because, Ms. Coulter, that is who we are – and much, much more. After I saw your tweet, I realized you just wanted to belittle the President by linking him to people like me. You assumed that people would understand and accept that being linked to someone like me is an insult and you assumed you could get away with it and still appear on TV. I have to wonder if you considered other hateful words but recoiled from the backlash. Well, Ms. Coulter, you, and society, need to learn that being compared to people like me should be considered a badge of honor. No one overcomes more than we do and still loves life so much. Come join us someday at Special Olympics. See if you can walk away with your heart unchanged.

A friend you haven’t made yet,
John Franklin Stephens
Global Messenger Special Olympics Virginia

The Sexiest Thing I Have Ever Seen in My Entire Life

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I kid you not.  I almost fainted when I watched this the first time.  It is divine….in every possible way.

On Being Politically Correct

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Day #28 – Looking In

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