Wednesday, October 28, 2009

What's so great about Women?

Here are the top 3 "Great Things" about the women I know:

#1: Lung capacity:

My father says that men are not able to get "a word in edge-wise" around a chatty group of women (is that redundant - chatty and women?) because while a man is taking in a breathe between sentences (not even a very deep breathe, he claims), we are able to spew about 100 words - completely changing the subject 3 times before he can get out his first few opening paragraphs.

He attributes this to the greater "lung capacity" of women and conservative use of air - with our high pitched voices as a key asset.

I'm not sure about that - but whenever my father pauses - however momentarily - we usually cover an entire day's worth of riveting activities, a complete dissertation on the benefits of children who like hummus, and few mindless details on Very Annoying Things (aka the lady at the pumpkin patch who said in passing that Emme should stick in her tongue because “a bird could poop on it.” What?).

All that to say, lung capacity has long been underrated.

#2 Matchy Matchy

My husband is actually a pretty sharp dresser (when he wants to be). He can quite successfully mix and match a cornucopia of shoes, belts, jackets, shirts, ties – with little to no female consultation or subsequent color or texture infractions. He’s not even afraid to carry around a “man purse” (not sure how this relates – accept it goes to prove that he has some skills in the closet akin to women).

What is a complete enigma to me – is how he adamantly purports that he is in no way capable of matching our daughter’s clothes together – EVER. Jensen’s closet is a vast an array of pink – you can pretty much just “grab something.” Unfortunately for the unsuspecting masses, his “children’s clothing matching phobia” is well warranted.

When I am too rushed to “please lay out an outfit for Jensen” – the results are disastrous. I regrettably assume he’ll match some pink pants to any of the seemingly obvious array of pink compatible shirts.

Not so much.

When left to his own devices, Jensen usually looks like she dressed herself - in the dark - on laundry day - with a serious mission to impersonate a box of legos.

#3 Our complete disinterest in video games (there's way too much to get done in any given day), shoot 'em up movies (where are the cute outfits?) and Fantasy Football (how exactly does that work again and why is that fun?), and Taco Bell.

Need I say more? The benefits speak for themselves.

What's so great about women in the US?

As many of you know, around 5 years ago the company I worked for pioneered a new approach in the home building industry - called Woman-centric Matters.

The idea is that it just makes good business sense to tailor your business to women - from marketing, sales techniques and product offerings - because women make (or directly influence) over 90% of home-related buying decisions (check out or for details). We even researched and developed ideas on how to make your web site woman-centric (

I think most women (and their husbands) already know this.

What's so great about women everywhere?

So...when I attended Sheryl WuDunn's talk last week (former Times correspondent who co-wrote “Half the Sky: Turning Oppression Into Opportunity for Women Worldwide"), I realized it's not just women in the US - but women all over the world that hold the key to industry and economics in the palm of their hands.

Her ideas are referenced in this is a great article in The New York Times:

Here are the highlights from the Times article...

Disturbing facts

- 39,000 baby girls die annually in China because parents don't give them the same medical care and attention that boys received — and that was just in the first year of life.

- In India, a “bride burning” takes place approximately once every two hours, to punish a woman for an inadequate dowry or to eliminate her so a man can remarry.

- There are 107 million females are missing from the globe today (more than all the men killed on the battlefield in all the wars of the 20th century or slaughtered in all the genocides of the 20th century). Women live longer than men, and so there are more females than males in much of the world. Yet in places where girls have a deeply unequal status, they vanish. China has 107 males for every 100 females in its overall population (and an even greater disproportion among newborns), and India has 108. The implication of the sex ratios is that about 107 million females are missing from the globe today.

- Girls in India from 1 to 5 years of age are 50 percent more likely to die than boys their age (parents don't give them the same health care and food as boys). In addition, ultrasound machines have allowed a pregnant woman to find out the sex of her fetus — and then get an abortion if it is female.

- 12.3 million people engaged in forced labor of all kinds, including sexual servitude. Girls and women are locked in brothels and beaten if they resist, fed just enough to be kept alive and often sedated with drugs — to pacify them and often to cultivate addiction.

- Another huge burden for women in poor countries is maternal mortality, with one woman dying in childbirth around the world every minute. In the United States infant mortality is 1 in 4,800 - in Niger, a woman stands a 1 in 7 chance of dying in childbirth at some point in her life.

With all that's bad...what's so great about being a Woman?

The New York Times says...

There’s a growing recognition among everyone...that focusing on women and girls is the most effective way to fight global poverty and extremism. That’s why foreign aid is increasingly directed to women. The world is awakening to a powerful truth: Women and girls aren’t the problem; they’re the solution.

WHY DO MICROFINANCE organizations usually focus their assistance on women? And why does everyone benefit when women enter the work force and bring home regular pay checks?

One reason involves the dirty little secret of global poverty: some of the most wretched suffering is caused not just by low incomes but also by unwise spending by the poor — especially by men.

Surprisingly frequently, we’ve come across a mother mourning a child who has just died of malaria for want of a $5 mosquito bed net; the mother says that the family couldn’t afford a bed net and she means it, but then we find the father at a nearby bar. He goes three evenings a week to the bar, spending $5 each week.

If poor families spent only as much on educating their children as they do on beer and prostitutes, there would be a breakthrough in the prospects of poor countries.

A series of studies has found that when women hold assets or gain incomes, family money is more likely to be spent on nutrition, medicine and housing, and consequently children are healthier.

Economist Esther Duflo of M.I.T. found that when the men’s crops flourish, the household spends more money on alcohol and tobacco. When the women have a good crop, the households spend more money on food. “When women command greater power, child health and nutrition improves,” Duflo says.

Aid has often been most effective when aimed at women and girls; when policy wonks do the math, they often find that these investments have a net economic return. Only a small proportion of aid specifically targets women or girls, but increasingly donors are recognizing that that is where they often get the most bang for the buck.

Yet another reason to educate and empower women is that greater female involvement in society and the economy appears to undermine extremism and terrorism. Indeed, some scholars say they believe the reason Muslim countries have been disproportionately afflicted by terrorism is not Islamic teachings about infidels or violence but rather the low levels of female education and participation in the labor force.

How does it work?

In general, aid appears to work best when it is focused on health, education and microfinance.

Here is an example of one micro-finance model referenced in the article:

Kashf Foundation, a Pakistani microfinance organization that lends tiny amounts of money to poor women to start businesses. Kashf is typical of microfinance institutions, in that it lends almost exclusively to women, in groups of 25.

The women guarantee one another’s debts and meet every two weeks to make payments and discuss a social issue, like family planning or schooling for girls. A Pakistani woman is often forbidden to leave the house without her husband’s permission, but husbands tolerate these meetings because the women return with cash and investment ideas.

So one more time - what's so great about women?

We rock! Isn't the better questions - what's NOT so great?

When the power is in our favor...people are less poor, less violent, less miserable. How great is that?

I think it's pretty cool to sport some estrogen, and I can't wait to be involved with micro-financing in South Africa!

Footnote: The information in this blog was taken directly from The New York Times article "The Women's Crusade" - please visit this link for the full article:

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

3 Things that Disturb Me


There has been a long standing dispute in our household. Should you use warm water or cold water when running the disposal?

I don’t see how there can be any question. Of course it’s COLD WATER! Doesn’t everybody know this? Everybody accept my husband. Karl obstinately holds on to some flimsy theory presupposing that scraping dishes in warm water should lead to running the disposal in warm water. What? I’m disturbed.

Cold water in the disposal is not a suggestion for me – it’s one of my bedrock principles – a code by which I live.

A very credible source (our family plumber who looks like he’s been in the business for 125 years) passed this little domestic nugget on to my mother, who wove it into the very fabric of my upbringing.

I have been proudly and rather successfully running cold water in the disposal for four Presidential administrations. I cannot be persuaded otherwise. Something about the motor not overheating – need any explanation be necessary?

The triumph of my summer was when our apartment plumber backed my position – with what I thought to be a rock solid thesis on warm water making the grease slip down the drain easier.

So now…Karl always shouts (no matter what room I happen to be in when he’s running the disposal) “Cold Water!”

It gives me such deep satisfaction to know that no matter what may be wrong with the world – cold water is running in my disposal.

We were next in line for the ride at Fun Plex, when the people behind us realized that the rollercoaster car held 4 people. There were only two of us in my party, and I could hear the other family grumble, “Well, 2 of us are going to have to go with ‘those people’.”

Those people? THOSE PEOPLE? How could they be confused? I’m not “those people.” They are the THOSE PEOPLE.

The other day I’m standing in the check-line at Target. Jensen turns to the cashier and says “Does everybody have a bottom?”

I look at her – look at the “nice lady” – and say confidently, “Yes, everybody has a bottom.” Well, they do, I figure. No one can dispute that. Not even the cashier will fault me for admitting to this.

So then she says, not too quietly, “Did God make everybody’s bottom?” Now the cashier looks unsure…a bit bewildered. This is getting to be a lot of “bottom talk.”

“Yes, Jensen – God made everybody’s bottom.”

I can only hope the flustered Target team member appreciates my willingness to clear this up and does not assume our family has some sort of bottom fetish.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Fear Itself - The Results: Part II

There are 31,536,000 seconds in year. Should you waste even 1 on worry?

Is it ever worth it to worry?

I surveyed about 30 women (as research for the women's retreat I spoke at) and asked 5 questions with interesting results...

Have you ever worried about something that later happened?
85% of you said YES

Clearly most of us at some point in our life had worried about something that then later happened. I was surprised this wasn't 100%.

If so, were you glad you worried about it in advance?
90% of you said NO

The overwhelming majority of us wish we had not spent even small amounts of our short and precious life worrying about it – even if it did happen.

A few people were glad they worried – they felt it help them “mentally prepare.”

Here was an interesting comment: One of the most serious things i worried about happened and i lived through it. Through the process of living and leaning on God I am learning His faithfulness, His love and His air tight covenant ways and how trustworthy He is.

Have you ever NOT worried about something bad that DID happen?
95% of you said NO

If so, do you wish you had spent time worrying about it?
100% of you said NO

Not one single person every regretted NOT worrying. I can say that if I had known that someday I would have a child with Down syndrome, I would have spent a whole lot of time worrying about it from every angle for 34 years. As it is, Emme is wonderful and with my 31,536,000 seconds in year, I was happy that I didn't waste even one tiny second on worry.

Is there a difference between worry, concern and fear?

What you said…

About 2/3 of you said there is a difference. Here are a few of those answers…

True fear can keep you from making unwise decisions...can keep you alive.
Concern gives you the chance to change the course or outcome.
Worry never changes the course or outcome.

Maybe just the intensity or magnitude...add up a few worries and you have a concern...add up a few concerns and you find yourself fearful.

Fear can be something that probably won't happen.
Concern is something you might think about and do something about it.
Worry is when you can't let go of it--over and over in you mind.

What the dictionary says…

1. a distressing emotion whether the threat is real or imagined; the feeling or condition of being afraid.
2. concern or anxiety; solicitude

Worry torment oneself with or suffer from disturbing thoughts; fret. torment with cares, anxieties, etc.; trouble; plague. seize, esp. by the throat, with the teeth and shake or mangle, as one animal does another. harass by repeated biting, snapping, etc.

1 .to trouble, worry, or disquiet
2. worry, solicitude, or anxiety:

Notice a pattern here? I'm not sure I see much of a significant difference.

So what’s the solution to all this needless worry?

Here are a few famous suggestions by four noteworthy men (all of which I found to be not the least bit helpful to us women):

#1 The Dalai Lama has been quoted as saying “If there is a solution to a problem, there is no need to worry. And if there is no solution, there is no need to worry.”

Ahh, very catchy. My problem with this is: We all know it’s true - most worries have nothing to do with solutions – and that knowledge gets us virtually nowhere. If they did, the lot of us with husbands who have been known to offer a solution or two, would have quit worrying years ago.

#2 Thomas S. Kepler, a respected biblical scholar and author, is credited with the statistic that only 8% of the things we worry about actually happen.

I think we all whole heartedly agree that worrying is not logical. Does this realization help us to worry less - even though we know 92% of it is pointless? Also – if 8% of the stuff I worried about could legitimately happen – that would still be quite a few awful things!

#3 Don't Sweat The Small Stuff by Dr Richard Carlson says you should just ask yourself - "Will This Matter a Year from Now?"

My thought? Yes!! Many things we all listed in our “every day worries” could actually matter a year from now (child getting hit by a car, not paying credit card bills on time, loosing income, etc.). Again, not so helpful.

#4 Dale Carnegie, in his book How to Stop Worrying and Start Living suggests asking the question, "What is the worst that can possibly happen?”

Umm…a lot of really BAD STUFF, Dale!

So what’s the ultimate answer to our piles of fear and worry?

I think the truth is that the Lord’s Prayer was made for women – women who worry, specifically. Here’s what I think the "Lord's Prayer" is really saying...

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name.
Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven

The key here is "Thy will be done, on earth AS IT IS IN HEAVEN."

How do we know if something we are worrying about is “His will?” - is it something "God wants?" A good question to ask is "would this type of thing happen in heaven?"

When you're tempted to worry - pray for His will.

Give us this day our daily bread.
Daily bread represents all of your needs (not wants). Most fears have to do with unmet needs.

If you're worrying about something you need - ask Him to give it to you (hey- this isn't my suggestion - it was Jesus' idea to ask for what we actually need).

And forgive us our trespasses,
His forgiveness of our trespasses saves us from an eternity of our very worst fears constantly coming true (hell itself). This is the most important thing - whenever you feel guilty, chances are it's for a good reason - because you've done something wrong. Tell God just that "I've done something wrong", make it right with whoever you need to, and ask Him to forgive you.

Sometimes when we worry - we're really just feeling guilty. Take care of it.

as we forgive those who trespass against us.
Most fears about this life have a lot to do with bad things other people may do to us. Forgiveness, although it does not change the bad thing that happened, allows you to move past it so that the bad thing, although it polluted the moment it took place, does not have to pollute the rest of the moments after that.

If you're worrying about the wrongs people have done to you in the past - forgive.

And lead us not into temptation,
Temptation to do all the things we shouldn't.

If you're worrying about something tempting you - ask God to steer you very far away from temptation of every kind (the little tiny ones and the great big ones).

but deliver us from evil.
Evil sums up the root of our deepest fears.

Ask God to deliver you from all that is, by definition, "evil" (according to the dictionary - evil is anything...morally wrong or bad; immoral; wicked; evil deeds; an evil life; harmful; characterized or accompanied by misfortune or suffering; unfortunate; disastrous)

For thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory. for ever and ever. Amen
The Kingdom – when you experience it here – is the opposite of every fear.

The Message Bible's translation for this line is "You're in charge! You can do anything you want! You're ablaze in beauty! Yes. Yes. Yes."

Ask God to bring His Kingdom now.

I think the Lord's Prayer pretty much covers every type of worry!

Monday, October 5, 2009

3 Things I hate to admit


The other day I decided to iron some office clothes (keep in mind I don’t think I’ve done this for about 2 years).

I remembered that I had been suckered into a fancy new starch in the check-out line at the fabric store. “What was I doing at a fabric store?” you ask yourself. Buying a patch (I’ve never bought a patch before – but decided desperate times call for desperate measures). At any rate, I proudly ironed my economic-down-turn patch on to my favorite jeans that have a hole on “the back pocket area.” This patch proceeded to come off half way through a grocery store run unbeknownst to me – only to be discovered at home when everything felt a little “too breezy” back there.

Back to my point – the starch. I decided to starch a pair of linen pants for work. Everything was going quite nicely – till I discovered at the end that I had been using Scotch Guard instead of starch. The bottle of Scotch Guard my husband recently bought was obviously too much akin to the bottle of starch (or at least I’d like you to think the bottles were similar). What can I say? They both start with “S?”

So now I have a pair of weather-proof linen pants. That’s just great. The next time it rains in my office I’ll be covered.


Those who are close to me know that I have an embarrassing and well known habit of wearing my shirts inside out – or maybe backwards – and then going to public places. I’m usually in too much of a hurry to really pay attention to the placement of the tag (I know – you are wondering how a somewhat seemingly observant person could disregard the tag – but trust me, it’s easier to do than one may realize).

It’s all well and good if you have a roommate to catch you in time before you head out the door – or a husband who pays attention to these things. Unfortunately for me, I’m about 10 years past roommates and my husband was out of town. Also unfortunately for me, my 3 year old, though genius that she be, is not adept enough at abetting her mother of potential clothing faux pas (she still thinks wearing a popsicle swimming suit to preschool is a good idea).

So I’m at work – in a meeting with my 3 bosses (yes, I have 3), and I’m proudly wearing my new black shirt inside out (fortunately not backwards). The entire time I’m thinking – these people keep looking at me – I’m sure they’re wondering where I got such a great new black shirt. Afterwards my boss kindly mentioned to me that it might be possible my shirt was inside out – and then my other boss stops by to let me know. Thankfully, my third boss is a man and less likely to notice such unimportant details – or admit he notices them to me at least.

Should I cut all of tags off? Should I put “this is the front” post-its to all my cloths? Maybe I should just stop leaving my home?


Well, I suppose it was bound to happen eventually. I just didn’t think it would be last week. We were at CoCo Key and my darling three year old was at the top of one of the kiddie water slides, with her dear grandfather at the bottom – arms open wide, ready to catch her.

Suddenly she starts crying at the top of the slide and screaming “Poo-poo! Poo-poo!” while simultaneously ripping off her swimming suit. Her unsuspecting grandpa – not quite realizing what was happening, notices a brown stick-like object being pushed down the slide by the gushing water. With lightening quick reflexes, he grabs the poo in one hand, before the lifeguards (who really are like Big Brother at this place) realize their little kiddie pool has been infected by human feces. I’m not quite sure what he did with it – but this man is a saint. Sorry about that CoCo Key lovers!