Overcoming Fear


Threatening hurricanes like Joaquin churn up waves of speculation. When a doozy of a storm is eminent — dumping boatloads of rain and destruction — I fearfully follow a steady stream of hurricane alerts on social media. Normally, the wild weather choir would swallow me up — especially, since family members literally lost the house in Hurricane Sandy. But lately, my perspective has had a slight shift.

Still squarely aligned with the scientific community, I look to the experts who tell us carbon pollution is the main reason our planet is getting hotter, thus increasing our chances for severe weather.

Having recently spent time outside my little corner of the world at a series of conferences, I’m using a moral rudder to sail beyond fear. Mashable’s Social Good Summit, the Global Women’s Climate Justice Day of Action at the United Nations and the Omega Institute’s Women and Power conference focused heavily on women and climate change.

Gender and Climate Change

“It is terribly unjust that the people paying the most brutal price for climate impact are the ones least responsible.” Women’s Earth & Climate Action Network (WECAN)

Locally and globally, climate change is not gender neutral. This injustice takes aim at women because women encompass a disproportionately large share of the poor — in the U.S. and the rest of the world. Women are the caregivers for children, and those tiny lungs bear the brunt of pollution.

Yet, according to the World Economic Forum, women perceive climate change risks more than men. I was shocked to learn, women and children are 14 times more likely to die than men during natural disasters.”

The policies of extreme weather are governed mostly by men. This is our political reality. In fact, leading up to Hurricane Joaquin, my newsfeed in the New York metropolitan area focused solely on two decision-making governors tracking the hurricane — Andrew Cuomo and Chris Christie.

As Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love and Big Magic, noted in her keynote speech at Omega:

“I meet amazing women who want to do amazing things, but are not doing it. They are not because of fear.”

There was an overarching theme I heard over and over at these conferences to counteract the powerless fear women feel about climate change — we employ empathy, education and ethics.

Empathy, Education and Ethics

To overcome fear, we need to use these weapons and get active. When we started Moms Clean Air Force, we didn’t ask people to donate, we asked them to care – to care about air pollution, to care about how toxic chemicals affect their families, to care about the climate that will impact their children’s future. We discovered once people cared about the issues, they became empowered to activate in their community.

But as Madeleine Albright, the first female Secretary of State of the U.S., said at the Social Good Summit,

“America is a generous country but we aren’t doing enough…given the scale and our own capabilities.”

In the U.S. we call for strong environmental regulations and get pushback every step of the way from polluters who defend their right to pollute and the politicians that protect them. Compromised, we inch forward.

Storm Warning

Globally, the situation is even worse because nature doesn’t regulate. For instance, in the Maldives, the islands off the coast of India, “could become the first state in history to be completely erased by the sea.”

Thilmeeza Hussain, from the Maldives and founder of Voice of Women spoke at the WECAN event about a location that can’t wait for political cooperation:

“We are thinking about our survival, our existence. There’s nothing to negotiate when it comes to global warming.”

Living in a sacrifice zone is no way to live.

The scientific evidence is settled; global warming is real. Many of us care about our relationship to climate change — now we need to reach beyond and empower women across the globe move from fear to caring about solutions, as we weather the storm together.

It’s Only Rock and Roll


Had an interesting discussion last night with my brother about the packaging and personality of music — the lost art of album covers and lyric inserts.

My brother is in the music biz. Along with partner, Chuck Leavell — The Rolling Stone’s legendary keyboardist — he’s created irocku, a website that provides online rock music lessons.

We talked about how we’ve wholeheartedly embraced digital music, but cannot remember the words to current songs. Could it be age, or that we don’t watch music videos? We agreed that it was most likely because we read album covers and inserts.

We looked at music differently.

The covers of The Beatles White Album and James Taylor’s Sweet Baby James, are indelibly linked in my music memory. The late 1960’s and early ’70’s were chaotic, full of friction and heady introspection. All the coming of age stuff — that moment in time when life changes forever.

This excellent video critiques the intersection of culture, music, art — and its changes:

What’s your most memorable album cover?



“Oh look, there’s Meg Ryan.”

A curly topped slim blond woman in oversized jeans, striped tee, sunglasses and Dansko clogs stood in the lunch line with us.

Peeking out from under a floppy hat like the celebrity I am not, I whispered to my husband, “She looks sweet.”

Of course, I’m appraising this from the soft landings her movies emote — When Harry Met Sally, Sleepless in Seattle… I have no idea if she is sweet.

Since I wrote the article about cosmetic surgery, I’ve been thinking about what is real and what is not. What’s artificial beauty? Are cosmetic “enhancements” and hair dye unnatural? What about hair extensions?

Meg Ryan looked like Meg Ryan.

In my last post, a reader left this comment about the characters in one of my favorite Netflix series:

“Seeing Jane Fonda on Frankie & Grace and Meryl Streep makes me ill. They’ve aged sooooo well.”

Remembering the scene where Grace (Jane Fonda) takes off her makeup, hair extensions, and the little clips on her face that give her a surgery-free facelift, makes we wonder whether passing judgment on what is real and unreal has any merit at all, especially in the entertainment business, an industry so inflated, so distorted.

Maybe Meg Ryan had facework like the tabloids claim. Or maybe not. To me, Meg (apparently, we’re now on a first name basis since we stood in line together) looked like the other 50-something-year-old women waiting for sandwiches.

She looked sweet. She looked real.

Is it real when you feel comfortable in your skin?

A few extra notes:

Note #1 Eco-design followers: I haven’t forgotten you! Here’s Meg’s design philosophy:

“The whole idea is to keep things as simple as possible; I like everything pared down to its purest form.”

Check out how she puts this into practice in her Martha’s Vineyard beach house.

Note #2 In my summer travels, UNREAL candy — “reUNventing your favorite candy” — has been popping up — and into my mouth. Is candy with “real” ingredients and less sugar unjunk?


A Trend. A Pushback. A Change.


A Trend.

“Take any girl in her twenties and then check back in with her 20, 30 or 40 years later. I guarantee that you will see a stronger, smarter, better version of that woman later in her life.” ~ The Prime Book

Stronger, smarter, better…

Resonates, doesn’t it?

A Pushback.

Many of you know I decided to grow out my long, dark chemically-dyed hair. All transitioned now, it is a flowy silver mane. I love it. Yet, for decades I dyed my hair the color of coal. In fact, one of the main chemicals in my old hair dye, PPD, para-Phenylenediamine, is derived from coal tar!

The Green Divas invited me to write about the roots of our obsession here: 3 Questions About Hair Dye & 3 Reasons To Ditch It .

Now, my mother, my best friend and most of you color your hair. So believe me, I get it. The barrage of age-appropriate hair behaviors we ascribe to is a tough nut to crack, and no one wants to find themselves on a hairdresser’s hit list.

Speaking of hairdressers…

I chuckled reading about the flap on the other side of the pond between Sarah Harris, the feature fashion director at British Vogue, and Nicky Clark, “UK’s leading celebrity hairdresser.” Silver-haired Sarah responds with just the right fervor to Nicky’s urging the Duchess of Cambridge to cover her gray roots — or else — it will be a “disaster.”

Nicky: “Until you’re really old, you can’t be seen to have any gray hairs”

Sarah: “To cast such trite aspersions is like saying that women can’t have long hair the other side of 40, or that a 57-year-old man can’t have a blond, flowing, tinged (?), highlighted (?), backcombed (!) bouffant, whether they’re a celebrity hairdresser or otherwise.”

A Change.

As we get older, women can defy the notion that we need surgical procedures to disguise ourselves into looking youthful. But when roadblocks present a picture to younger women that they better do something quick or else the ravages of time will surely take their toll, I am reminded of this,

“Each person must live their life as a model for others.” ~Rosa Parks

And that is why I wrote a rapid response to the recent TIME cover article, Nip. Tuck. Or Else: Why You’ll be Getting Cosmetic Procedures Even If You Don’t Really Want To? Here’s my take on this trend:

Nip, Tuck…and What?

There’s a sea change in the way we see ourselves and are seen. While it may seem like we live in a culture that prizes youth above all, in the miles ahead we can renounce those who tell women to tuck up, cover up or shut up — and become living proof that with age we are stronger, smarter, better.

Taking Flight, Again


Last year, Phoebe, our winged resident, built her nest in one of two Arroyo Craftsman lights that frame the front door. Each year, I marvel at why she chooses the busiest location to tend to her nest, as she has a hissy fit — tail flicking, stressed alarm calls — each time the screen door opens and closes. Despite the coming and going disturbances, she keeps showing up each year to tend to her latest brood.

Peering around the corner from my summer office, the screened-in porch, I watched the building take shape. My front door, with its lopsided entrance, one light adorned with twigs and branches, the other naked, winked daringly to keep my distance.

It reminded me not to leave behind my work utensils on the commute from kitchen to porch.

Computer, check…glasses, check…phone and headphones, check…cloth napkin, check (have been known to spill while groping for the teacup in a computer trance)…

With loving care, Phoebe folded the natural bedding round and round until the little nest fit her perfectly. Then she sat, shimmying from side to side, watchful eyes aimed at the porch. One day, her peeping took on a fevered pitch and she was done sitting — hatched — five tiny, translucent bodies with open wide beaks peeking over the top of the nest.

Then came a soaking rainstorm. In the early morning hours, the summer sky opened to a deluge of windswept water. When the riot subsided, I tiptoed out to the porch, arms full of work paraphernalia, focused on not slipping on the slick deck. Stepping into the safety of the porch, I noticed the silence. No mother/child chorus. No movement above the light. Dead quiet.

Right about this time, my writing ebbed.

For months, writing had flowed out of me like nobody’s business. Notes filled notebooks and pages piled up. Then an insightful editor told me to put the breaks on the floodwaters and get cranking on publishing.

In the meantime, I continued along my work trail. Work thrived. Writing limped.

Even blog posts that used to spring out of nowhere, where nowhere in sight.


A few weeks ago, right on schedule, Phoebe came back and laid her eggs — one, two, three. All fluff and beaks, these minis flourished.

One morning, the birds stood up, peered around their nest, and like a toddler about to throw one chubby leg over a crib gate — they were ready. Thinking the birds would jump ship, I went around back to enter the porch. But they held tight.

The next day I was leaving for the BlogHer conference – 3 insanely hectic days in NYC. I dreamt about gardens and flight. The stark contrast of my lush home in the woods to the rush of city lights and throngs of people, couldn’t be harsher. But I enjoy the freedom of travel and look forward to the change of scene; always thankful I have a refuge, this haven, to return to. My nest.

Returning, I walked out to the porch this morning and the peeping started, reaching an all-time high. Then, in a blink of any eye, the babies flew over to the power line that connects us to the rest of the world. There they sat, tails flicking like mom’s. Once safely ensconced in my writing porch, I watched them fly into the woods, one by one.

Settling down to work, I click on my computer and instead of opening my Inbox, I stare at a blank white page. Maybe I could write something today? How do I know?

‘Cause just like that a post took flight.

Photo note: I tried hard not to disturb Pheobe and her babies. I didn’t dare take photos. This photo of sleeping newborns is from Shutterstock.