Category Archives: LAW

No, Jimmy Carter does NOT endorse Trump!


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I opened Facebook this morning and saw about 6 claims from  right wingers, saying that Jimmy Carter now endorses Donald Trump.

It isn’t true.

Jimmy Carter was asked which he would vote for, Trump or Cruz, if he were FORCED to vote for one or the other. He said that under those circumstances, he would go with Trump, because Trump is the more malleable (easily influenced) (as opposed to Cruz being so rigid.)  This was not intended as a compliment toward Trump.   It was meant to infer that Trump is so wishy washy and wants so badly to give the appearance of “winning” (when he actually isn’t winning…) that he refuses to take a firm stand on any issue.   He does back and forth, depending on the demographic to whom he is addressing a given statement.

So NOW, the right wingers have taken those words, twisted them and are misrepresenting what Carter said as an ENDORSEMENT of Trump. Jimmy Carter does not endorse Trump, my friends. I am amazed by the stupidity of the many claims to the contrary that I am seeing across the Internet this morning.

Jeeze! Ain’t lack of education purty?!

Read the whole story HERE.

George Carlin says it best…


A Six Year Old Impersonates Sarah Palin


This is six year old, Ingrid.  She worked very hard on her impersonation of Sarah Palin.  I hope you enjoy it, and that you will share it if you do!


Thanks for watching!

Weed The People – Is Portland the Next Amsterdam?


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Simply put, no, Portland is not the next Amsterdam.   There is no “Red Light District” and I doubt prostitution will ever be legal here.  Still, with the legalization of pot in Oregon and adjoining Washington, I’m sure a lot of people wonder what the deal is and how things will change.  I am seeing changes everywhere.  A more cosmopolitan edge is starting to appear around what used to be a simple, home-grown city of artists and independent merchants.  We are getting more five star restaurants and nicer shopping areas.  There are more tourists than there used to be, and foot traffic has increased substantially.

Screen Shot 2015-10-09 at 5.29.28 AMThere has been no surge in crime.  There has not been an increase in traffic mishaps or people doing crazy things while stoned.   There have been medical marijuana outlets in the state for quite some time now, such as the one shown in the first picture above.  However, since the first of the month, anyone over the age of 21 can now walk into a medical marijuana facility and purchase cannabis at will.  Soon, the recreational stores will open.

An ounce can be carried in public, and one may legally keep eight ounces at home.  If that person lives at least 1000 feet away from a school, he or she can grow up to four plants, just as long as they are out of the public view.  The public is also now allowed to have up to a pound of edibles, such as pot cookies…72 ounces of cannabis extracts or concentrates.

None of these products may be consumed in public….not in parking lots, nor on park benches.  One cannot smoke at the beach, on buses, in alleyways, on sidewalks….All cannabis products must be consumed at home.  People cannot smoke anywhere that liquor is served.  They can only do it behind closed doors at home.

We are seeing pot dispensaries pop up all over the city.  Just as baristas are a huge deal among the coffee lovers here, the new “budtenders” have already risen to the top of the respect-worthy ranks….and I hear it is unacceptable to purchase pot without offering the budtender a hefty tip.

Since the new laws have gone into effect, I have heard of one incident in which a stoned driver hit a pedestrian with his car.  The pedestrian suffered minor injuries. However, I have heard of no other similar occurrences.  I have seen many cleverly-named dispensaries crop up all over the city.  We have Bridge City Collective, Calyxes, Cannabliss and Company, Cherry City Compassion, Farma and many others in virtually every part of the city.  However, I have not seen one stoner stumbling down the street.  I have not heard of one child gaining access to his or her parents’ legal pot and going to school high.

Portland is a very civilized city, and the people here seems to be embracing this whole pot thing.  I’ve noticed that people that don’t smoke pot simply don’t buy it, but I’ve not heard a lot of complaining, and I’ve not seen any protesting.  That’s one of the many things that I enjoy about living here, and that is one aspect of Portland that is, very much, like Amsterdam….the openness to change and the embracing of “alternative” anything.  Generally speaking, people do not become all that invested in the recreational activities of others, unless said activities cause someone else direct harm.  It is a “live and let live” existence….so in that respect, I guess Portland is similar to  Amsterdam…..but we have our own distinct style here….our own way of doing things.  The people in Portland, even with the new legalization of pot, seem more awake and alive…..ready to live.

Oh, and we do.  We really live here.  There is nothing “drag” about living in Portland.  It is fun.  It is exciting.   This is a place to embrace and enjoy life….and we do.  Pot.  No Pot.  It’s just one more option.

Who cares?

On Being Politically Correct


Guns Are Created to Destroy….children…women…men.

 That’s what they are for.   They are made to kill human beings and other living creatures.  Far too often, those human beings are innocent children. STOP GUN VIOLENCE!  …and yeah, you redneck pansy mama’s boy…I know it’s your RIGHT to carry one.   That doesn’t mean you have to.  EVOLVE beyond your redneck mentality.
Obama hasn’t taken one single gun away from anyone, as your fear based existence has claimed.  He is only trying to stop the senseless violence like the murder of all those Sandy Hook children.
Target practice is fine.  Hunting is, too, although I don’t agree with it personally.  It is this endless, senseless killing that has to stop.  It just has to.
Coalition to Stop Gun Violence's photo.
Coalition to Stop Gun Violence's photo.
Coalition to Stop Gun Violence's photo.
Coalition to Stop Gun Violence's photo.

This is gun fetishist Evan Hernandez of Florida, who likes to dress his kids up as shooters and etch Biblical inscriptions into his gun gear. On Sunday he was playing cowboy in front of a mirror with a loaded gun and it went off, killing his 6 year-old daughter Izabella, a leukemia survivor. Please call Florida 14th Judicial Circuit State Attorney Glenn Hess at (850) 872-4473 or (850) 472-4461 and tell him you want charges brought against Hernandez immediately.

I’ve Got Sunshine…on a cloudy day…..

I’ve Got Sunshine…on a cloudy day…..






And THAT’S all I have to say about THAT.



Click HERE to learn how to offer relief effort to the victims of the earthquake in Nepal.

(Thank you, Karma Hallmark)  xoxo



Let’s make this one go viral, folks.  This is an important message. ANY message that makes females feel “less than” males is a bad message.  Any message that makes males feel “less than” females is a bad message, too.

Please re-blog, tweet and spread this message to the best of your ability.  It will do some good.  Thanks!


Solar Jobs For 50,000 Veterans -Climate Change Addressed

This man is a GREAT President!

President Obama Delivers Commencement Address At West Point
Over the past five years Republicans have opposed any and every attempt by President Obama to jump start the economy; particularly when it came to creating jobs. He also made, what Americans concerned about anthropogenic (manmade) climate change believed were, modest proposals to reduce carbon dioxide emissions; that is until he called for a thirty percent reduction in carbon emissions earlier this year. Republicans reacted to that news with their typical fossil fuel industry devotion by launching vicious attacks on the Environmental Protection Agency tasked with ensuring power-generating plants’ comply with the new requirements.

Yesterday, in one fell swoop, the President took decisive action to address both job creation for Veterans and reducing carbon dioxide emissions. The White House announced that beginning this fall the United States will launch a six-year job training program for America’s Veterans in the growing solar panel installation industry. Since Republicans have relentlessly obstructed jobs programs for America’s Veterans, the President took it upon himself to enact the program at American military bases and provide job training for at least 50,000 veterans. It is training for about 50,000 more Veterans than Republicans have provided despite several proposals and requests by the President to help America’s fighting men and women returning from war.

The Veterans’ job training program is just one of many initiatives the White House said will reduce carbon dioxide emissions contributing to climate change by more than 300-million tons, and save American homeowners and businesses billions upon billions of dollars in energy bills. To create even more jobs, as part of the President’s lone crusade to reduce the damaging effects of climate change, the Agriculture Department will spend nearly $70 million to fund 540 new solar and renewable energy projects that will target rural and farming areas. There is also a new Energy Department proposal for stricter efficiency standards for commercial air conditioners the energy department said will cut emissions more than any other efficiency standard it has issued to date, and help businesses cut their energy costs substantially.

It is true the President’s proposals to create jobs and reduce the effects of climate change are modest compared with his previous requests for Congress to act, but with Republicans opposing any action on jobs, especially for Veterans, or to address climate change, something is better than nothing.  This President has begged, cajoled, and attempted to shame Republicans in Congress to do their jobs for the American people and promote cost-saving clean energy, invest in job-creating infrastructure projects, and support carbon emission reductions to no avail, so Obama exercised his Presidential authority and addressed two issues at once.

It is certain the Koch brothers will direct Republicans to launch an opposition campaign against both the Veteran’s job program and clean energy proposals. Through ALEC and the Koch’s Americans for Prosperity, there has been a multi-faceted assault on any renewable or clean energy programs across the nation because the Koch’s will not tolerate any energy source that cuts into the oil industry’s profits. In fact, it was reported yesterday that in Texas, the state’s Republican comptroller said it is unfair that the wind energy industry received tax credits to grow the industry. Susan Combs singled out wind energy and said tax credits gave the industry “an unfair market advantage over the other power source.” Translation; the fossil fuel industry will not countenance competition despite its “unfair market advantage” amounting to billions-of-dollars in tax credits, billions in taxpayer-funded subsidies, and freedom to pollute.

What is typically Republican about Combs remarks is the lie that cheaper energy costs and clean energy adversely affects Texas residents’ wallets. What Texas Republicans and the oil industry did not find unfair were tax exemptions covering the “high-cost natural gas drilling” that cut operators tax bills by more than $7 billion according to data from Republican Combs’ own comptroller office. Combs also failed to address the Texas state Legislative Budget Board’s recommendation to overhaul oil industry tax breaks and taxpayer-funded incentives that have “reduced many producers’ tax liabilities to zero.” Interestingly, a partner in an oil industry firm in Austin said that having a zero tax liability was being “misconstrued by the folks that would do harm to the oil and gas industry as a giveaway, but it’s really not.”

President Obama’s one-man action on climate change and a much-needed job training program for over 50,000 Veterans, although modest, is something the Koch-Republicans are not going to allow without a fierce battle.  It is noteworthy that the President’s action will not only help 50,000 Veterans, solar energy installed at military bases and installations will save the Defense Department untold billions of dollars in energy costs now and into the future that one would think budget conscious Republicans would celebrate. However, they have shown that where the fossil fuel industry is concerned, cost savings and budget restraint never enters into their austerity agenda.


Republicans have spent over five years demonstrating they are not the least bit interested in providing job training or jobs for any Americans, much less Veterans because they claim it is too costly. Subsidies, tax breaks, and incentives for the oil industry, on the other hand, are a necessary cost in Republicans’ minds. That’s why the President’s idea of a job training program specific to the renewable energy sector is brilliant; if for no other reason than to send Republicans a message that this President is serious about taking care of Veterans, creating jobs, and combatting climate change whether they like it or not.

The De-Flowering of Flower Mound


I cannot imagine, in my worst nightmare, subjecting a child to the kind of racism and general First World redneckery inherent in living in Flower Mound, Texas.


A Waltz on the Forensics Dance Floor



How many of you love television programs that have to do with crime solving?  Shows such as CSI, Dateline and others that entail looking inside the heads of criminals are quite interesting.  They tend to hook their audiences by providing clues that audience members can easily fit together to solve the crimes from home.  When I signed up for a Forensic Psychology class this term, I thought this was what I would be doing.  In reality, crime solving is only a tiny aspect of being a forensic psychologist.  The discipline is so much more than these highly publicized sensational aspects.  The rest involves a fusion of psychology and technical law that can easily confuse even the most astute student.


A lot of people equate forensic psychology with forensic science or law enforcement.  They tend to think that the forensic psychologist arrives at a crime scene, surveys the area and eventually identifies a number of psychological clues that can help catch the bad guy.  These things that you see on TV easily lead to a number of incorrect conclusions about what Forensic Psychology is. In fact, psychologists are rarely called upon to act in this capacity at all.


Simply stated, Forensic Psychology refers to any application of psychology to the legal system. Most often it is clinical psychology, but not always.   There are different ethical standards regarding confidentiality and other issues that apply in the forensics field, as opposed to therapeutic psychology work, and forensic psychologists take completely different approaches to their clients than therapeutic psychologists do.  Some might even argue that the intersection between psychology and the law is more like a collision than a fusion.

The work that I am currently conducting is a case analysis of a Muslim immigrant who was diagnosed as paranoid schizophrenic.  He lived on the streets and was arrested and jailed for trespassing.  While in jail, he was given anti-psychotic medication for his mental illness.  However, upon his release back into the streets, he discontinued taking the medication.  He began to suffer visual and audio hallucinations and to believe that Nazi youth were coming to assassinate  him.  One night, as he was asleep on a park bench, he was, indeed, attacked by a gang of hoodlums.  They beat him, kicked him and left him lying on the ground, but he was not seriously injured.  After they left, the man searched until he found a pipe which he stashed in the shadows for his own protection.

park bench

The next morning, the man saw two young teenaged boys approaching from the park’s pathway.  They were on their way to a music lesson.


Thinking they were the youths who had attacked him the night before, and believing they had returned to kill him, he sneaked up behind them and began to wield the pipe wildly.  He struck the elder boy in the head knocking him to the ground before he began to repeatedly beat the younger brother.  The elder brother was able to escape and seek assistance.  When the police arrived, the man had bludgeoned the younger brother to death and was continuing to beat his lifeless body as he lay on the ground.  The man went completely limp when he was apprehended by the police and did not resist arrest.

The man was evaluated, deemed incompetent to be tried and committed to a mental health care facility where he underwent pharmaceutical therapy for the paranoid schizophrenia.  After 6 months of treatment, he was reevaluated and deemed competent to stand trial.   He was tried and convicted of capital murder.  It is my job to determine whether or not he qualifies for and should get the death penalty.

This brings up countless ethical issues with me.  I am an avid opponent of the death penalty for many reasons.  First, it is unfair.  Ethnic minorities are more often convicted and sentenced to death for the same crimes when non-minorities receive lesser sentences.  It costs more to execute a prisoner than to give one life in prison.  Death of the criminal does not bring back the victim.  There are just too many reasons to say, in full, why I oppose it on legal and ethical grounds.  However, my personal opinions do not count in this instance.  Only my professional ones do.

I have to consider what the prisoner needs, in terms of his rights being observed.  I have to consider what the state needs, in terms of keeping the streets safe, and I have to consider what the court needs, in terms of arriving at a just solution.  It is a lot to think about, and there are so many laws and legal loopholes and psychological issues and ethical standards to consider that it really makes my head swim!

I do not believe I will pursue a career in Forensic Psychology…..but this is an interesting class, nonetheless.

When Someone You Love Succeeds

When Someone You Love Succeeds

I have to admit it.  Personal success feels great.  Each time I accomplish something that sets me one step closer to my goals, I feel elated.  However, that feeling pales in comparison to the emotions I experience when someone I love achieves success, be it a friend or a family member.  That’s right.  I take more joy in seeing someone I love succeed than I take in my own accomplishments.  For instance, yesterday, I received this email from my husband, John:


My Dearest Wife,

Early this morning,  I received the news that my “The Merchant of Pittsburgh: A Comedy” was selected to kick-off San Francisco Dramatists Guild’s  spring Footlights, staged-playreading series on March 2nd.

Attached is the invitation that will be sent out from New York in a few days.

Love to you,


SAN FRANCISCO FOOTLIGHTS – March 2, 2015 presentation.

Please join the Dramatists Guild for a staged-reading of John Freed’s


“The Merchant of Pittsburgh: A Comedy”


on Monday, March 2 at 7PM
Tides Theatre
533 Sutter Street
San Francisco, CA


Play Synopsis:

“The Merchant of Pittsburgh: A Comedy” is set in an Equity-based, regional theatre in the late eighties and concerns a fed-up Jewish board member who takes over as acting artistic director in order to stage a Shylock-friendly production of “The Merchant of Venice” while being forced to confront his own set of racial and ethnic prejudices.


                        “A brilliant mashup of Shakespeare and August Wilson.”   Arno Selco, Ithaca College



John Freed’s Brief Bio:
East Coast native by birth, the high point of his acting career occurred at age seventeen playing the lead in “Kiss me, Kate.” He received a standing ovation for his fireman’s carry off-stage of  his co-star after her slap nearly knocked him out at the close of Act One.
Fast forward to teaching dramatic literature, especially Shakespeare,  at Penn State as well as being the theater critic for the “Erie Daily Times” and film critic for New York’s “OneWorld Magazine.” He adapted Richard Wright’s novella “The Man Who Lived Underground” as a radio play produced by the local National Public Radio station and co-wrote “When Shakespeare Was a Woman” while functioning as pro bono drama consultant for the artistic director of the Pittsburgh Public Theatre.
His own writing evolved further from developing a series of creative writing and new media courses at the University of St. Thomas in Texas and at Brandman / Chapman University here in the Bay area.   During this time he wrote  “Love me, Fuseli: A Play about Mary Wollstonecraft and her Circle of Friends” and “Figaro’s Follies” – a new adaption of  Beaumarchais’ “Le Mariage de Figaro” which had staged-readings by the EastBay Players in the fall of 2014.


He is currently working on the book and lyrics for a musical entitled “All Hallows at Hearst Castle” with composer, Jeff Dunn.

John bi-locates to Portland, Oregon where his wife, Stacy Alexander, is a graduate student, a professional writer and a mixed media artist.  His playwright website is .


Dramatists Guild’s San Francisco


My response to John:

To My Most Admirable Husband,
So, once again, a public acknowledgement and congratulations in the midst of many, my darling.   What an honor for your play to kick off the season!  There are insufficient words to convey how proud of you I am.  Each play you write is better than the one that came before it.   I enthusiastically encourage you to continue with your play writing, just as you have always encouraged me with my own creative endeavors.  It is with great happiness that I  look forward to seeing what you come up with next.  Oh….and “break a leg”  (figuratively…not literally)  🙂
Your loving wife,

An Odd, but Artful Tale


First, a little history….and talk of how things connect:

This is a picture of my dear friends, Kenny and Jeri.  We met in Texas back in the early 80’s. They now live in New York.  I love them.  They are fantastic people, and we always try to get together when I travel back east.

kenny and jeri

It was because of Kenny and Jeri that I came to know Scott and Ana.  The picture below  is of Kenny’s brother , Scott, and his wonderful wife, Anastasia.  They are both wonderfully creative and beautiful souls.  Anastasia is a fabulous watercolor artist and playwright. Scott is a famous television and film star.

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When Anastasia recently found the wasps nest (below), I told her that I had to make a sculpture of a bird from it.  I could just see it  in my mind’s eye… the next thing I knew, she had mailed it to me.  And this is where the story gets a little weird….

wasp 1

When I opened the box containing the wasps nest, I was taken by how beautiful and graceful it was. It was also very fragile, and had been broken in several places.  I picked it up very gently.  It had an odd odor…and frankly, felt a little creepy, but I was compelled to handle it.

It was so very delicate that, at one point, I think I even rubbed it against my cheek, just to experience the texture.  I flipped it over and got an idea of what I was going to do with it, and just as I was about to put it back into the box, I noticed that there were several live wasps inside the box that were left behind on a piece of the nest that had come dislodged from the main piece.  Shaken, I quickly tossed the piece I was holding back into the box and rushed the whole thing outside where it stayed overnight.  The whole experience freaked me out since I am violently allergic to stinging insects.

The next day, I carefully retrieved the nest, relieved that all of the wasps were gone.  However, no sooner did I go inside, than I noticed one on my window.   I immediately told Anastasia about it and she was very apologetic.  She couldn’t imagine any wasps having survived the subzero temperatures and snow that the nest had endured in upstate New York.  I guess they’re just resilient creatures.


I didn’t destroy the wasp.  Instead, I tried to think about everything it had gone through.  Subzero temperatures, a trip all the way from New York to the West Coast in a box.  No food.  No water, et al…and I just let it stay there.  I kept a respectful distance.  Two days later, the creature was still there, so I set an orange slice in the window and pulled down the bamboo shade.  It seemed very grateful as it fed on the orange for hours.  Ingrid and I could see it from the other side.  It was fun to watch it quench its thirst!

wasp behind shade

Two days later, both the wasp AND the orange slice were gone, but I felt like a Good Samaritan for, at least, being kind to it while it was still around.  I learned something from the experience.  I’m not sure what it was….but it was something.  When I think about the whole story, I am fascinated.

You can’t make this stuff up, right?

Anyway….so now, I’ve gone to work sculpting the nest into a bird.  I am now working on the head piece and am not sure how I will fashion a beak.  I am working on different things.  The nest is so fragile that it falls apart very, very easily.  Still, I am trying to be patient and he sculpture is coming along nicely.

bird sculpture

I still have a lot of work to do on it, and I must say.  This is the most unusual art project I have ever worked on!  My friend, Debbie, just informed me that I need to fumigate it, so I will be doing that this morning before I continue.  I am thinking of adding some sterling silver wire for the facial details, but we’ll see.  It is hard to top what Mother Nature has created already!  When I get it finished, I will come back and do an update here so all of you can see it.

Meanwhile, I urge all of you to catch Scott’s new series on ABC, one that he characterizes as “A spy thriller with heart.”  It is called “Allegiance” and is a real pot boiler…a complex array of characters in an enthralling situational drama.  Watch it!  It’s good!

On Feminism

On Feminism

I remember reading something online a couple of years ago.  It was written by a redneck nitwit about one of my friends, and it referred to the friend as a “self-admitted feminist,” in a way that implied that the redneck was somehow “above” my friend….that being a feminist was a bad thing.   I found myself wondering, “How could any woman logically NOT be a feminist and walk away with an ounce of self respect?” and I pondered this question for a long time before I concluded the answer in one word….ignorance.  The redneck is ignorant.  She doesn’t even understand what the term means.


Feminism is simply the belief that women are already, and should be treated as social and intellectual equals to men.  Many people do not realize it, but feminists can be either male or female.  For instance, my husband is a feminist.  He is very much a man, does guy things…..He just thinks that women and men are equal…and frankly, I like it that way.  It makes me work harder to please him…because he works so hard to please me.  See how that goes?  Feminism is not the same thing as “man hating”.  It isn’t anti-male at all.  People who believe that are fraught with ignorance.

feminist3The basic idea of Feminism revolves around the principle that just because human bodies are designed to perform certain procreative functions, biological elements need not dictate intellectual and social functions, capabilities, and rights.

Feminism also, by its nature, embraces the belief that all people are entitled to freedom and liberty within reason–including equal civil rights–and that discrimination should not be made based on gender, sexual orientation, skin color, ethnicity, religion, culture, or lifestyle.

feminism2Feminists–and all persons interested in civil equality and intellectuality–are dedicated to fighting the ignorance that says people are controlled by and limited to their biology.

Feminism is the belief that all people are entitled to the same civil rights and liberties and can be intellectual equals regardless of gender. However, you should still hold the door for a feminist, man or woman; this is known as respect or politeness and need have nothing whatever to do with gender discrimination.
Get down with your own feminist selves, ya’ll.  It is time to embrace equality  for all people.  Deal with it, redneck.

Last Update of the Year

Last Update of the Year

I have been trying to make it over here to do an update before the end of the year, but this has been my first opportunity to do so.   First, let me thank my 590  wonderful subscribers and other readers for your continued support.  I appreciate each and every one of you and hope you have gained something from being a part of my life through this blog.   I wish each of you a happy and prosperous 2015.

As I approach the end of 2014, I have made some big changes in my life.  First, I have eliminated some unhealthy familial relationships that were dragging me down,  and have grown closer to other family members.  Both moves proved to be freeing and healing.

I have begun a regular meditation and yoga practice.  I am making art again.  I still have a four point in grad school and am slated to graduate this summer.   As for friendships….every single friendship that I had at the end of last year is still in place.  One, in particular, is stronger than ever, and I feel so blessed because of this. (4).

r     Rene Best musician

Life here has been a December whirlwind!  I took a couple of fun little trips…some that I can talk about, and some that I can’t.  However, my break from school proved to be no break at all.  I had a difficult midterm that took an entire day to complete, two discussion papers to write, a paper on women in leadership roles and a psychometric analysis of a psychological testing instrument used to determine levels of creativity.  Eeeee!  I still have two papers left to write before the fourth, but I’m fairly certain I will be able to complete them on time.  I have also been finishing up a lot of work projects that I had to finish by tonight.  Those are completed and sent to my editors, so I feel great about that.

The good news is that John is home, and we have been having the best time!  We took Ingrid Christmas shopping and to Peacock lane.


We spent a quiet Christmas together at home, then went to our daughter’s house for gift exchange and a delicious dinner.  My son in law, who makes THESE  gorgeous knifes and teaches black smithing,  hand forged an incredible cheese knife for me. I am so proud of it!  (I love handmade gifts best of all!)   For the handle, he used exotic wood that had some naturally-formed cracks in it.  He ground up turquoise, suspended it in resin and filled the cracks with it.  The picture does not do it justice.  This is a gorgeous knife! He also hand carved a beautiful wooden spoon for me and gave them both to me in a nice wooden holder.  So talented, he is! Thanks, Nate!


John wanted to do something extra special this year, so surprised me with a trip to Sun Mountain Lodge   up in the beautiful Cascades. What an incredible trip! It was cozy and romantic, stunningly beautiful and gave us the opportunity to get caught up after spending a long time apart.  We loved it there and want to go back in the spring.


Met some friends there, and were able to parlay the journey into a side trip Seattle where our granddaughter, Maya, is visiting from the East Coast.  We were absolutely thrilled to learn that she plans to return to the Pacific NW.  We have missed her in the 5 months she has been gone!

ingrid and maya

We stayed with our darling friends, Sheryl and Dylan and really enjoyed the company.  Sheryl is like family to us.  It was high quality, beautiful family time.  We visited and took Ings to the park.  We went out for dinner.  We went to an incredible display of Christmas lights.  It was so much fun.  I feel so happy just thinking about it.

ings and sheryl

Much, much more has happened, but I haven’t the time to write about it all.  Tonight, we are going to join our friends, Toni and Peter, as we did last year, for dinner, drinks and dancing.  We’ll start the evening off at a little wine bar known as “Arrivederci” and then meet other friends in another location to ring in the New Year together.  There won’t be any redneck bars and plastic cups in the mix for this year,  but as my friend pointed out, I’ve always been more of a crystal stemware type anyway, so it all works out. 🙂  I know I’m loved.  I’m happy.

I’m lucky….and I know it.


Be safe and have fun!

We Do Not Invest in Victims. We Invest in Survivors.


I am now in week 3 of my term.  Yesterday, I discovered that my Testing and Measurement class involves the dreaded statistics that I’d hoped it wouldn’t….so that one is the challenge that is taking up the majority of my time these days….but I am taking good care of myself and pressing forward, telling myself I can do it.  Just studying hard, eating right, getting a lot of exercise, and learning to focus on what counts.  Incrementally, just like last term, I am starting to understand.

The course that owns my heart this term, however, is the Women in Leadership course,  Wow.  It is powerful and exactly what I need just before opening this business.  It is a wonderful thing and comes naturally to me.  One of the required resources this week was the following TED video.  I’ve posted the video, which I encourage you to watch….but I’ve also pasted in the transcript.  Well worth the watch!

We do not invest in victims, we invest in survivors. And in ways both big and small, the narrative of the victim shapes the way we see women. You can’t count what you don’t see. And we don’t invest in what’s invisible to us. But this is the face of resilience.

Six years ago, I started writing about women entrepreneurs during and after conflict. I set out to write a compelling economic story, one that had great characters, that no one else was telling, and one that I thought mattered. And that turned out to be women.

0:54 I had left ABC news and a career I loved at the age of 30 for business school, a path I knew almost nothing about. None of the women I had grown up with in Maryland had graduated from college, let alone considered business school. But they had hustled to feed their kids and pay their rent. And I saw from a young age that having a decent job and earning a good living made the biggest difference for families who were struggling.

 So if you’re going to talk about jobs, then you have to talk about entrepreneurs. And if you’re talking about entrepreneurs in conflict and post-conflict settings, then you must talk about women, because they are the population you have left. Rwanda in the immediate aftermath of the genocide was 77 percent female. I want to introduce you to some of those entrepreneurs I’ve met and share with you some of what they’ve taught me over the years.

 I went to Afghanistan in 2005 to work on a Financial Times piece, and there I met Kamila, a young women who told me she had just turned down a job with the international community that would have paid her nearly $2,000 a month — an astronomical sum in that context. And she had turned it down, she said, because she was going to start her next business, an entrepreneurship consultancy that would teach business skills to men and women all around Afghanistan. Business, she said, was critical to her country’s future. Because long after this round of internationals left, business would help keep her country peaceful and secure. And she said business was even more important for women because earning an income earned respect and money was power for women.

So I was amazed. I mean here was a girl who had never lived in peace time who somehow had come to sound like a candidate from “The Apprentice.” (Laughter) So I asked her, “How in the world do you know this much about business? Why are you so passionate?” She said, “Oh Gayle, this is actually my third business. My first business was a dressmaking business I started under the Taliban. And that was actually an excellent business, because we provided jobs for women all around our neighborhood. And that’s really how I became an entrepreneur.”

 Think about this: Here were girls who braved danger to become breadwinners during years in which they couldn’t even be on their streets. And at a time of economic collapse when people sold baby dolls and shoe laces and windows and doors just to survive, these girls made the difference between survival and starvation for so many. I couldn’t leave the story, and I couldn’t leave the topic either, because everywhere I went I met more of these women who no one seemed to know about, or even wish to.

 I went on to Bosnia, and early on in my interviews I met with an IMF official who said, “You know, Gayle, I don’t think we actually have women in business in Bosnia, but there is a lady selling cheese nearby on the side of the road. So maybe you could interview her.” So I went out reporting and within a day I met Narcisa Kavazovic who at that point was opening a new factory on the war’s former front lines in Sarajevo. She had started her business squatting in an abandoned garage, sewing sheets and pillow cases she would take to markets all around the city so that she could support the 12 or 13 family members who were counting on her for survival. By the time we met, she had 20 employees, most of them women, who were sending their boys and their girls to school. And she was just the start. I met women running essential oils businesses, wineries and even the country’s largest advertising agency.

So these stories together became the Herald Tribune business cover. And when this story posted, I ran to my computer to send it to the IMF official. And I said, “Just in case you’re looking for entrepreneurs to feature at your next investment conference, here are a couple of women.”

But think about this. The IMF official is hardly the only person to automatically file women under micro. The biases, whether intentional or otherwise, are pervasive, and so are the misleading mental images. If you see the word “microfinance,” what comes to mind? Most people say women. And if you see the word “entrepreneur,” most people think men. Why is that? Because we aim low and we think small when it comes to women.

Microfinance is an incredibly powerful tool that leads to self-sufficiency and self-respect, but we must move beyond micro-hopes and micro-ambitions for women, because they have so much greater hopes for themselves. They want to move from micro to medium and beyond. And in many places, they’re there. In the U.S., women-owned businesses will create five and a half million new jobs by 2018. In South Korea and Indonesia, women own nearly half a million firms. China, women run 20 percent of all small businesses. And in the developing world overall, That figure is 40 to 50 percent.

 Nearly everywhere I go, I meet incredibly interesting entrepreneurs who are seeking access to finance, access to markets and established business networks. They are often ignored because they’re harder to help. It is much riskier to give a 50,000 dollar loan than it is to give a 500 dollar loan. And as the World Bank recently noted, women are stuck in a productivity trap. Those in small businesses can’t get the capital they need to expand and those in microbusiness can’t grow out of them.

Recently I was at the State Department in Washington and I met an incredibly passionate entrepreneur from Ghana. She sells chocolates. And she had come to Washington, not seeking a handout and not seeking a microloan. She had come seeking serious investment dollars so that she could build the factory and buy the equipment she needs to export her chocolates to Africa, Europe, the Middle East and far beyond — capital that would help her to employ more than the 20 people that she already has working for her, and capital that would fuel her own country’s economic climb.

The great news is we already know what works. Theory and empirical evidence Have already taught us. We don’t need to invent solutions because we have them — cash flow loans based in income rather than assets, loans that use secure contracts rather than collateral, because women often don’t own land. And, the microlender, is actually now experimenting with crowdsourcing small and medium sized loans. And that’s just to start.

Recently it has become very much in fashion to call women “the emerging market of the emerging market.” I think that is terrific. You know why? Because — and I say this as somebody who worked in finance — 500 billion dollars at least has gone into the emerging markets in the past decade. Because investors saw the potential for return at a time of slowing economic growth, and so they created financial products and financial innovation tailored to the emerging markets.

How wonderful would it be if we were prepared to replace all of our lofty words with our wallets and invest 500 billion dollars unleashing women’s economic potential? Just think of the benefits when it comes to jobs, productivity, employment, child nutrition, maternal mortality, literacy and much, much more. Because, as the World Economic Forum noted, smaller gender gaps are directly correlated with increased economic competitiveness. And not one country in all the world has eliminated its economic participation gap — not one.

 So the great news is this is an incredible opportunity. We have so much room to grow. So you see, this is not about doing good, this is about global growth and global employment. It is about how we invest and it’s about how we see women. And women can no longer be both half the population and a special interest group.

Oftentimes I get into very interesting discussions with reporters who say to me, “Gayle, these are great stories, but you’re really writing about the exceptions.” Now that makes me pause for just a couple reasons. First of all, for exceptions, there are a lot of them and they’re important. Secondly, when we talk about men who are succeeding, we rightly consider them icons or pioneers or innovators to be emulated. And when we talk about women, they are either exceptions to be dismissed or aberrations to be ignored. And finally, there is no society anywhere in all the world that is not changed except by its most exceptional. So why wouldn’t we celebrate and elevate these change makers and job creators rather than overlook them?

This topic of resilience is very personal to me and in many ways has shaped my life. My mom was a single mom who worked at the phone company during the day and sold Tupperware at night so that I could have every opportunity possible. We shopped double coupons and layaway and consignment stores, and when she got sick with stage four breast cancer and could no longer work, we even applied for food stamps. And when I would feel sorry for myself as nine or 10 year-old girls do, she would say to me, “My dear, on a scale of major world tragedies, yours is not a three.”

 And when I was applying to business school and felt certain I couldn’t do it and nobody I knew had done it, I went to my aunt who survived years of beatings at the hand of her husband and escaped a marriage of abuse with only her dignity intact. And she told me, “Never import other people’s limitations.”

And when I complained to my grandmother, a World War II veteran who worked in film for 50 years and who supported me from the age of 13, that I was terrified that if I turned down a plum assignment at ABC for a fellowship overseas, I would never ever, ever find another job, she said, “Kiddo, I’m going to tell you two things. First of all, no one turns down a Fulbright, and secondly, McDonald’s is always hiring.” (Laughter) “You will find a job. Take the leap.”

The women in my family are not exceptions. The women in this room and watching in L.A. and all around the world are not exceptions. We are not a special interest group. We are the majority. And for far too long, we have underestimated ourselves and been undervalued by others. It is time for us to aim higher when it comes to women, to invest more and to deploy our dollars to benefit women all around the world.

 We can make a difference, and make a difference, not just for women, but for a global economy that desperately needs their contributions. Together we can make certain that the so-called exceptions begin to rule. When we change the way we see ourselves, others will follow. And it is time for all of us to think bigger.