nurturing thursdays: love among the ruins

Yesterday my daughter and I saw Meryl Streep’s latest film, August: Osage County. Other famous actors were cast, among them Julia Roberts.

We were prepared for some light-hearted fare, a comedy with a sprinkling of drama. Instead we were thoroughly surprised by the heavy drama about which there was very little to laugh.

The byline should have read…tragic mayhem in a fractured family. The film was reminiscent of  holiday dinners one hears about where family members spew venom across a table of delightful goodies.

If I had to describe the film in one word it would be…ugly. 

While both Streep and Roberts seem to be aging beautifully without the help of bottled potions, their depictions of the main characters  was anything but. I’m certain neither actress is really like the persons they portrayed, a bitch of a mother whose daughter followed suit.

I’ve always felt that parents play a big role in determining the outcome of their offspring. After all, we are their first role models, like it or not. Like the monkeys, our children imitate what they see us do. Understanding what it is they’re doing comes later, sometimes much later. Like when we’re adults unable to change who we’ve unwittingly become.

The silver lining to an otherwise tragic story is that we can break the pattern. We needn’t continue the legacy of bad parenting. It may take all that we have to cut the ties that bind us to an abusive past, but for the sake of future generations we must. Otherwise, endless lives continue to be heaped upon the landfill of lost souls.

August: Osage County is rife with lost souls…Streep’s husband who commits suicide because he can’t continue living with a venomous wife…Streep’s sister who ceaselessy hurls abuse at the son she fathered with Streep’s husband…Streep’s daughters, Roberts who has taken up the mantle of her mother’s razor-edge tongue, and her sisters of whom one can only find love with the brother whom she thought was a first cousin, and the other sister who is marrying a lech because he promises her an island honeymoon.

Perhaps the film’s characters are over-the-top, but I’m sure we all know someone who has suffered the effects of  abuse that made its way from one generation to the next.

Love is key to finding one’s way back from a life of purgatory on earth. Love of one’s self, nurtured by the supporting love of others.

…a big step forward is not being closed off to love…

………hugmamma.

...a loving mother of 12 who continues to serve as a great role model for future generations...

…a loving mother of 12 who continues to serve as a great role model for future generations…

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women…and the world…

Women have a way of softening the edges around acrimonious debate in which men often immerse themselves…and our world.

Would a woman…a daughter, wife, and mother…make a better President than her male counterpart? An intriguing question, which I hope will one day be answered.

Until that day…let’s continue to do what we do best…bring people together.

…couldn’t have said it…any better myself…

………hugmamma.

“same sky,” empowering women

Economically empower a woman—you change her, her family, her community, her country… and eventually, the social & economic fabric of the entire world.

On Inside Edition last night, not a program I usually sit and watch, more like I glance at the screen as I’m walking through the living room. When something is of interest though, I’ll sit on the edge of the closest chair. If it’s worth watching, I may settle in for a few minutes. Mention of “Same Sky,” an organization that helps empower the women of Rwanda caught my eye. So I gave my full attention to the broadcast.

In 1994, 800,000 Rwandans were massacred. During this genocide, women were enslaved as sex victims. As a result they were inflicted with the HIV virus. Bearing children, these new mothers were unable to care for their offspring because they suffered the effects of the disease. Filmmaker Francine Le Franc was moved to help these women help themselves, and their families. Le Franc began “Same Sky,” a cooperative wherein the women learned to crochet. With their newfound skill, they were able to make beaded jewelry. The necessary tools are shipped from the U.S., and the finished pieces shipped back for sale in retail stores, and at home parties, and trunk shows. 100%of the proceeds are put back into the business, thereby enabling more women the opportunity to participate.

Le Franc decided “Same Sky” was a befitting name for the business venture, because ALL women live under the same sky. “They see the same stars and the same moon. Every woman. One dream.” TV host Deborah Norville remarked, “And they’re sold for a profit. This is not a charity operation.” Le Franc added “It’s a trade initiative, not an aid initiative. It’s a hand up, not a hand out.”

Check out the SAME SKY website for further information, and see familiar faces, like those below, who have joined in supporting the cause. The jewelry may be a little pricey for most of us, but for an extra special gift, they might just work. Nonetheless, we can join in celebrating the self-liberating, empowerment of these women of Rwanda…hugmamma.

Halle Berry in Seafoam     

Goldie Hawn in Butterscotch and Jade Green

Ben Affleck in Men's Wrap

Katie Couric in Clear Sky

Ann Curry in Caviar

Chelsea Clinton in Seafoam

Fran Dresher in Fire Red

Meryl Streep in Starry Night

Queen Latifah in Chocolate Brownie

Jesse Jackson in Men's Wrap

Joan Collins in Fire Red and Starry Night

Geena Davis in Sky Blue

Donna Karen in Fire Red (photo by Joe Kohen/Getty Images)

good samaritan #11

Saw CBS hit show “Undercover Boss” last night, and realized I had to write about this particular segment when I saw that my husband was tearing up along with me, routine for me, not for him. For those of you who might be unfamiliar with the reality show, it follows a corporate CEO who shows up at company work sites to witness the day-to-day operations, first hand.

Kim Schaefer, CEO of Great Wolf Resorts, is the first female boss to do the show. Changing her appearance, with a new haircut and color, she, with camera crew in tow, pretended to be a stay-at-home mom being filmed for a reality TV show. Dressed down, that is, not in her usual suit and high-heels, Schaefer buddied up with an employee in each of the following areas: the day care center, the water park, the front desk and the restaurant. I’m pretty sure some, if not all, were at different locations, of which there are 10 throughout the country.

As a result of her findings, Schaefer reported back to her management team that  no drastic changes needed to be made, but there were things that needed tweaking. Front desk registration took too long, sometimes up to 15 minutes, causing long lines to form. The sweltering heat in the water park was great for guests, but unbearable for employees. Schaefer asked managers responsible for these departments to look into making the necessary modifications. She went on to say the company should look for ways to acknowledge its appreciation to its employees, for their dedication and great service. Credits at the conclusion of “Undercover Boss” noted that Great Wolf Resorts is now rewarding all its employees by allowing them free access to any of its locations for family vacations.

Schaefer acknowledged that while her motivation to go undercover was prompted by her position as CEO, her on-the-job experience as working stiff reverberated with her as that of a working mom. “My expectations were that I was going to come in as a CEO and look at it through the eyes of the CEO…It ended up being about the people and me as a working mom.”

At the show’s start, Schaefer was shown with her family, her husband who enjoys being a stay-at-home dad to 2 teenage children, a son and a daughter. Schaefer acknowledges that she is passionate about working, that she couldn’t imagine not dedicating herself to a job outside the home. In observing the family dynamics, it’s obvious she is a loving mom and appreciative spouse. She looks and behaves nothing like the domineering, sharp-tongued, controlling Miranda Priestly in the movie “The Devil Wears Prada.”

Unlike Meryl Streep’s character, Kim Schaeffer seems perfectly capable of being a top-notch CEO while maintaining the warmth of a normal, human being who loves her husband, children, and yes, even her employees. In the “great reveal,” Schaeffer invites to corporate headquarters, the 4 Great Wolf Resorts employees whom she shadowed during filming. Each arrives separately for a meeting with the CEO, unsuspecting that they’ve already met, albeit under very different circumstances.

I couldn’t help but think, as I’ve thought before, that moms would make the best bosses, the best leaders. That’s not always true, as in Sarah Palin’s case, in my opinion. But Kim Schaefer was as warm and unassuming in her CEO attire, as she had been in a camp counselor’s get-up, aquatic assistant’s shorts, waitress’ uniform, and receptionist’s drab garb. Schaefer spoke from the heart, reaching across her desk to hold the employee’s hands in hers. Her appreciation for their service was genuine, as were her tears. Her words weren’t “office speak.” They were the language of compassion, of empathy, for the plight of the working man and woman. 

To each of the four, Schaefer made a personal gift in addition to promotions and pay raises. For the mom who supervised kids in day care, her daughter was given a full scholarship to college. The young man who oversaw aquatic operations would realize his dream of becoming a pilot, with fully paid flying lessons. The receptionist who suffered with knee problems because of a bad fall would not only have surgery, but would be guaranteed the day shift so that she could better parent her children as a single mom, and some extended time off to be with them.

The most heart-wrenching to watch were the tears shed between Schaefer and the waitress, who’d lost a 9-year-old daughter years earlier in a car accident. Of all her employees, this woman resonated the most with her boss who realized how precious her own daughter, and son, were to her. The waitress’ positive attitude about life, “I live each day as if it were my last,” and “I do my job, regardless of the size of my tips,” was an amazing testament to her character. The fact that she worked double shifts to support her family, including a baby, moved Schaeffer to cut her employee’s work hours without reducing her pay, by making her a floor supervisor. In this capacity she would impart valuable customer service experience to others.  And she was also given extended vacation leave to enjoy her family.

As I said before both my husband and I wiped a few tears from our eyes, watching CEO Kim Schaefer interact with her employees. I even said to him, he should keep his eyes and ears open if he ever heard that someone was looking to hire an amazing person to run their operation.

from my lips to bill gates ears…hugmamma.

Following are the 10 Great Wolf Lodges and their locations:

  • Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada
  • Poconos PA, Scrotun, PA
  • Grapevine TX
  • Charlotte, Grand Mound WA
  • Mason OH
  • Williamsburg VA
  • Kansas City KS
  • Traverse City MI
  • Wisconsin Dells
  • Sandusky OH     

made my day, “footloose”

We all have one of those days now and then, maybe even more now, than then. I went to exercise class bright and early this a.m.; would’ve preferred remaining warm under the covers. As I age, Hawaii, its warmth and sunshine, beckons ever more. Like sirens of old, it calls to me, “Come lay your weary head upon my white sands, and let the warm waters of the Pacific wash away your concerns.” If I could only bottle the sun, releasing its warmth and light, as needed.

Of course exercise class always gets my endorphins moving, and my heart rate up. When I returned home, I spoke with my daughter, who agreed, that Kristina, the instructor, gives one fierce workout. Only time, and body, will tell how long I can keep pace with the younger women, those in their 40’s and 50’s. While I can always “take it down a notch,” as my daughter reminded me, I never see that as an alternative. I always challenge myself to do everything 110%, or at least 100%. I don’t usually drag myself around after working out, but I could barely register enough energy to get up out of the chair to fix a bite. But I did. Then I ran a couple of errands, returned home and plopped myself back down in the same chair, the one in front of my computer. That’s when my day took a turn, for the better.

A good friend must’ve read my mind, and knew I needed a boost. Dancing and rythmic music levitates my spirit like nothing else, well…almost. Watching my daughter dance gives me a tremendous “high,” that lasts and lasts. But I smiled nonstop during the following video which my girlfriend emailed, moving my head from side to side. The movie “Footloose” was great, but this version combining pieces of 40 movies or so, should be awarded a prize of some sort. Congrats to its creator, whoever he or she might be. Of course, I’m thrilled that an excerpt of Michael Jackson’s “Smooth Criminal” was included. That was like “icing on the cake.”

So I share my friend’s gift to me, as an early holiday gift to you.

huge holiday hugs…hugmamma.