Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Daily Rituals - What's Yours?

Mr. Rogers swam daily and kept his weight at 143 pounds, because those are the numbers that align with the words "I love you". Gertrude Stein would sit in her parked car everyday and write poetry. President Barack Obama, starts every day at 6:45 am with a workout and no matter how long his work day is, he always stops to have dinner with his family. Daily Rituals.

As a long-time work at home mother, I have been very much about daily rituals. I wake at 5:15 and practice Kundalini Yoga with the sunrise as my only light. I follow that with a 30 minute meditation, then have a three fruit, green smoothy while sitting with my husband for his breakfast before we both head off to our work. This is daily ritual helps me to stay focused and balanced and ready to begin my day.

As comfortable and reassuring as daily rituals are, sometimes they get a little shaken - like mine are now. As welcoming as growth and the changes that I have in my life are, I am having to re-think my day. Re-design the work portion of my daily ritual.

My balancing act is now a little different with only one child remaining at home - and he is only here part-time - so I can focus on me. What a concept! Now I can write! I can run my business, be a leader in our Women on the Verge Community and garden. Wow!

Here's where I need your help, my sisters in business and life. What are your rituals? If you're a writer, how do you incorporate writing into everyday? How do you incorporate your passion into your daily living? What times of the day are you most creative and alive? The age old question asked to women since the beginning of time.: How do you do it?

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Grasping at Straws

Yesterday I had a discussion with my husband about an article I read regarding eating right for hypothyroidism, which is something I have dealt with for about ten years.

The article titled, "Is Your Thyroid Making You Fat?" , contains a list of goitrogens, foods that hinder the absorption of thyroid medications.  This list includes: soy (which is in everything), strawberries, pears, peaches, broccoli and cauliflower, among a long list of others - all usual visitors in my weekly digestive tract.  I am supposed to avoid these otherwise healthy foods, because they apparently tax my already tired thyroid gland.

Come on!!  I already eat a vegetarian diet (have for years), practice yoga daily, use natural products on my skin, hair nails and teeth, floss daily, don't drink coffee, grow an organic garden, volunteer as a court advocate for a child, am a mother of five and run my own business.   Wah!!

This latest news of so many of my favorite foods being goitrogens has brought out my inner whiner and knocked me for a loop.  What the heck?  I try so hard.  Is this the reason that my weight stays the same, like it's embedded in concrete?  Is food so important to me that I obsess over these details?

Yesterday I was feeling rebellious and mostly sorry for myself, so I decided to eat the most delicious meal I could think of that is vegetarian (not vegan, which I mostly do).   Let me tell you, those chile relleno, salad, black beans and glass of cabernet never tasted so good.

Please feel free to join my pity party.  We'll be sure to have non-goitrogen veggies and dip - with plenty of wine.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Once Upon a Meatless Monday

About five years ago, our family started celebrating Meatless Monday. None of us were vegetarians, none of us had heard of the campaigns started by Paul McCartney or John Hopkins University.  We only wanted to improve our diets and health.

For the first two years we planned weekly for our one meatless day - breakfast lunch and dinner - may no flesh cross our lips.  We had roasted veggie lasagna, portobello mushroom burgers and asparagus tarts.  Best of all?  No one complained.  No one missed a beefy Monday.  The result was healthy weight, blood pressure and improved energy across the board.  And, less after-dinner bloat.

However, different from the rest of the family, this experience affecting me more strongly.  I increased my yoga practice from two-three days a week practice to daily Kundalini Yoga and meditation.  Around this time, I also read (and took the online classes) A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle.  I suddenly got very sick - and it lasted for two weeks.   I am not  a doctor, but my gut tells me that I was detoxing.  I couldn't possibly consider eating any flesh of any kind.  I completely lost all desire for it.

Since that two weeks of presumed detox, I have not partaken in consuming anything that had a face or a mother.  No fish, no fowl, no four-leggers cross my plate or palate.

And you know what?  My family did not join me.  They have been content in the weekly Meatless Monday celebration and living the life of an omnivore.  And that's okay.  They know that if I am cooking, chicken is NOT for dinner.  In lieu of having to cook for themselves, they typically end up eating the vegetarian dinner I prepare.  Since I always make enough for everyone, as sharing fresh fruits and veggies is a joy - that is cool with me, too.

We are living proof that herbivores and omnivores can co-exist peacefully.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Saving CeeCee Honeycutt, by Beth Hoffman - book review

CeeCee Honeycutt spent the first twelve years of her life taking care of her mentally-ill, has-been beauty queen mother, who spent her rollercoaster days in their small town, Ohio, streets adorned in goodwill prom dresses, red shoes and tiara with a face of smudged make-up.  Ostracized by her classmates because of her notorious mother, CeeCee found solace and friendship amongst her books and studies.

One fateful day, CeeCee's life made an abrupt change.  Her mother was knocked right out of her red shoes by an ice cream truck and killed.  Great-Aunt Tootie got wind of this tragic event and drove her vintage convertible from her lucious, historic home in Savannah, Georgia, taking CeeCee under her wing.

Thus begins CeeCee's journey to the healing warmth of a Savannah summer, surrounded by a gaggle of nurturing, wise, no-excuses women.  CeeCee's life soon becomes filled with the fragrance of lush floral gardens and hilariously real moments in what seemingly appears to be a town run by strong women. 

The author, Beth Hoffman, does such an excellent job with her character development, you can literally smell the wine on neighbor, Thelma Rae Goodpepper's breath, hear the cackle of Miz Hobb's nosey questions and feel the warmth and love of a big bosom hug from Oletta.

Southern hospitality reins in Saving CeeCee Honeycutt as you will feel welcome and charmed to enjoy every last morsel.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Believing in...

Some people might have wanted me to have my head examined when I started an online community with Women on the Verge (WOTV).  But, I HAD to do it.  It represented too many things that I believe in - Women, Community, the Internet and Free.

I believe in Women.:

I was raised and surrounded by strong, wise, out-spoken women.  My female friends have known me through decades - child birth, bad dates, marriages, divorces, bad hair styles, trials at work, and as travel companions -always there, making me laugh, crying with me, a glass of wine, an open hand, reaching out.  We support and uplift each other.  It is my belief that these characters represent the core beauty of women.

Women on the Verge, even though it is a very young community (less than six months old), seems to be attracting this very type of person - passionate, open-minded towards others viewpoints, yet unafraid to state our own and supportive.  The members never cease to amaze me with their ability to share, open their hearts and let all of us be the beneficiaries of their lessons.  They talk  to each other, they blog about very personal experiences and they become more beautiful to me every day.  Everyday of sharing, their light shines brighter.

I believe in Community.:

A a previously single mom (for fifteen years), I practiced and believed that old adage, "it takes a village to raise a child". Problems in our family were not secrets.  We talked about it - sometimes ad nausea - to coaches, teachers, friends and extended family.  Community helped me raise college graduates, solid adults and really good people that I am proud to call my children.

I believe in the Internet.: 

No one entity owns the Internet.  No one entity governs the Internet.  The Internet is global and infinite.  The Internet is information and in my opinion, our current day version of the Industrial Age.

I believe in Free.:

The first time I dialed into the Internet via a browser, in 1993, I was in awe.  Free?  I registered domains - free.  I got a site hosted - free.  I marketed websites - free.  Everything was free and I felt like I had found buried treasure.  Many of the Internet's treasures are still free - and I still get excited about it.

We're not alone.:

Currently, approximately 5000 followers and members combined share the WOTV community, still in it's infancy.  I would say that we are not alone in our thinking that community and sharing on the Internet is a wonderful place to be, grow and believe.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Set Your Super Power Free!

Recently a dear friend of mine posed the question, if you could choose a superhero power, what would it be?  This simple question got me thinking of all of the super powers I would love to have.

Think of these amazing powers:
- Everywhere I would walk, flowers would appear
- I would be able to repair our environment - patch the ozone hole with a swish of my hands
- I could grant every pet a home
- I would be able to heal people and animals just with my very presence

Then I thought... gosh, so many of us can pick a super power and act those powers out in our mortal, human way.  It would not be instantaneous, but it would be powerful, indeed.

For example, what if I chose my super power to be everywhere I walked, flowers would appear and I live out that power in my mortal way.  I could do the following things:

1. Plant a flower garden in my own yard
2. Hang flower baskets on my patios
3. Start flowers from seedlings and put in little pots
4. Bring those little pots of home-grown flowers with me to family and friends when visiting
5. Send home-grown flowers to school with the children to give to teachers and faculty
6. See if potted flowers can be taken to nursing homes, pediatric hospitals, etc.

You could live your super power in everything that you do and with every life you touch.

What would your super power be?  And how would you make it come to life in your human form?

Co-Op Web's New Site, New Tools for Your Business

Exciting News!!

Co-Op Web, Inc., an award-winning, Tucson based web design firm, was founded in 1998 by Ana Lewis, CEO, MPM, PME, a 15-year Internet veteran, certified Master Project Manager and Project Manager E-Business. Our primary focus is our business client’s needs – and how the Internet can meet those needs. Our long-time experience in the Internet industry ensures Co-Op Web remains focused on designing websites that meet our customer’s needs by analyzing current market trends, developing effective Internet strategies, and utilizing a simple skill – listening.

Listening is how we discovered that we needed to offer more information to our clients and followers, thus the inspiration for this new design for Co-Op Web.

New and Valuable information we are now offering:

1. Do-it-yourself - Yes you can! And we give you the tools in which to do so.

2. The most common question I get is, “How much will it cost?” – please check out our section to find out. This form must now be filled out by all new/potential clients.

3. Free matters - see how you can best utilize the Internet via free applications and software.

4. Community – The Internet is global and I believe the best way to be found is by participating in community. Please check out our newest community, Women on the Verge, to see how wonderful it truly is.

6. WordPress – While we have worked on WordPress for many of our clients, I decided to try it out for ourselves, too., with this site The software is offered on the servers that we host on and it’s free!

If you have any questions and topics that you would like for me to address, please feel free to email us at contact@co-opweb.com

Ana Lewis, CEO, MPM, PME

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Committed, by Elizabeth Gilbert - a book review

As a wife, mother and previous lover of anything Elizabeth Gilbert, I am sad to  say that I am having tremendous difficulty getting through Gilbert's latest bestseller, Committed.

I too, was very scared to enter my marriage, especially after having survived two previous divorces, so I thought I might gather some inspiration from Ms. Gilbert as she "makes peace with marriage" (as the sub-title proclaims.  After all, I found tremendous inspiration in Eat, Pray, Love.

Eat, Pray, Love is listed as one of my all-time favorite non-fiction  books.  There was courage, inspiration, tears, heartbreak, laughter, humility and love in those pages.  I read the book and carried it around for days, as I didn't want to lose the flavor.

Committed has not hit me the same.  I hear Ms. Gilbert whining and complaining about a very real situation many people are facing in our country.  Loving someone who can't enter the country because of Homeland Security.  Only problem is, most of them are unable to financial accommodate themselves with a year of traveling TOGETHER.  Ms. Gilbert loses scope of that very quickly and sinks into crybaby mode... briniging to mind, she spent many of the first pages in Eat, Pray, Love in the same vein.

I must declare, that not all was annoying about Committed.  I adored Gilbert's stories from some of the families and women in the villages she visited and interviewed about marriage in her travels with Felipe (her now husband).  The wisdom and clarity they shared in the most matter-of-fact and uncomplicated of terms, typically made me feel light from the beauty in their simplicity and wisdom.

I do wish she talked about Felipe more.  He seems hilarious and when she quoted him, I could almost see his attitude and twinkle - even though I have never met or seen him.  The tiny morsels she feeds us of him, made me hunger for more.  He has a totally different zest for life than she does.  While she's the gypsy, he's the comfortable bed you miss when you're away.

Committed is a very real and raw account of Gilbert's internal trials about getting married, I do think that there are a lot of people who will get a lot out of her imparted lessons and the journey she shares.


Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Heart Song

She was not afraid of Death
Talked about it like the weather
I want to die quickly and in my sleep,
She made her request
And she did

It was her heart that
killed her

Her generosity touched so many
Watched the news
With her checkbook in hand
Ready to help the family
In need
She was generous
With her time
Brother, dad and I
Were never told she was
Too busy –
to help with school projects
to take a class with us
to travel all over the world
to attend a game

She was passionate
about her music
Her piano was her dearest friend
She would visit her daily
Sometimes to cry
Sometimes to sing
Always with heart

She was passionate about family
Not even the Devil himself could get
between her and her family, she would say.
Her loyalty showcased
Her truth

Anger ran deep
Like a hidden tumor
She wanted to keep secret,
But couldn’t
Angry at a mother who was selfish
Angry at herself for eating through it
Angry at her children for taking her for granted
Anger was the Pac-Man that ate her
Magnificent heart

Drama was her middle name
Willing to perform
At any time or place
She dressed in colors
Played with her hair
Bought BIG toys
And laughed
Real loud

She’ll do anything
We thought
She’d ask the embarrassing question
Try new styles
Skinny dip with friends
Secretly go to the amusement park
while everyone was working

Her talent was vast
Numerous instruments
Were lured by her hands
Many sports her calling
She called herself a Jack of all trades
And she was

Laying carpet
hanging wallpaper
building shelves
Home was a museum
To her talents and constant activity
Quirky furniture with dioramas of western scenes
Clock that cracked a whip on the hour
And treasures given to her by famous and
Not so famous friends

She communicated her heart through
Her voice
Anytime in the brightest of day
In the darkest of night
I can hear her voice
Call me Sweetheart

With Love and Gratitude to my mother, Josie Gonzales, 1940 - 1988

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Does Your Website Speak Your Voice?

As a designer, I find it fun and inspirational to work on my clients' websites.  I get excited by the possibilities, sometimes to the point of scaring them into hiding their coffee pots and other things that might add to my already high energy level.

The Internet is  a  wonderful medium for a person  like me, who not  only appreciates the creative side, but also the business side.  The global opportunities - the ability to communicate and reach out to people all over - simply by being present.  The Internet is the great equalizer.  You can have a presence right next to business giants like Microsoft.com and  Adobe.com - and pay the same amount of money for your domain, have access to some of the same software and build and design to your  heart's content.

Currently, I am working on my own website for Co-OpWeb.com.  I try to do this about once every 18 months.  Everytime, the design is a showcase of the times we are living in - what new software can I test?  What new toys can I play with?  Everytime, I learn something new about myself and my business.

This time I am playing with some of the free softwares we offer on our servers.  Most of our sites are hard-coded and do not utilize free software, but times-are-a-changin'.  Our times are calling for everyone to be able to be more self-sufficient.  We still  want the same things, we just have to be more conscientious about how we get it and go about doing it.

We built Women on the Verge entirely on free software.  It was a little buggy, but the site is up, fun and growing and I am learning a lot on the way.  We utilized Dolphin, a community software, typically used for dating sites.  We customized it to meet our own needs, got some help from our own programming staff and are making it work, riding through the little bumps  along the way.

For the new Co-Op Web site, we are utilizing some of the same thoughts and energy.  Offer as much as we can for free, and show people some of the things that have taken us over a decade to learn.  It's a great feeling to share like that and I am enjoying this site more than I have any previous re-build. 

I think the most important lesson is this - Make your website speak for you.  Make sure your voice rings true in it's design, concept and capabilities. If you enjoy giving to your community - showcase that!  Let people know who you are and what you believe in, by your web presence.  You don't even have to bang people over the head with your ideas.  If you appreciate beauty - make your site beautiful. 

Sometimes it's easiest to brainstorm with a professional in how to best communicate who you are (that's my favorite part of my business) and sometimes you can best do  it on your own - just by listening to yourself. Regardless of how you get the message out, just make sure that you are staying true to who you are and what the business would like to communicate - beyond the business of business.

New and Valuable information we will be offering on the Co-Op  Web site. (please visit us when we're done!):

1. Do-it-Yourself section - Yes you can! And we give you the tools in which to do so.

2. The most common question I get is,"How much will it cost?" This will have a form that must now be filled out by all new/potential clients.

3. Free matters -  see how you can best utilize the Internet via free applications and software. We have a growing and monthly updated list.

4. Community – The Internet is global and I believe the best way to be found is by participating in community. Please check out our newest community, Women on the Verge, to see how wonderful it truly is
6. WordPress – While we have worked on WordPress for many of our clients, I decided to try it out for ourselves, too, with our own site  The software is offered on the servers that we host on and it’s free!

The new Co-Op Web site is nearly finished.  I will announce when it's ready for prime-time and ready for your feedback.

Thank you,
Ana Lewis
CEO of Co-Op Web, Inc.
Master Project Manager
Project Manager E-Business

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Things I Didn't Know About Being a Vegetarian Until I Became a Vegetarian

I just stopped.  That was it.  I had a mouthful of clam chowder in my mouth and I had to spit it out.  I had no desire to chew it, smell it, let alone swallow it.  So I didn't.  From that point on - no more flesh.  It was that easy and I have never turned back.  No thinking about it - I just did it.  I became a vegetarian.

When you just drop flesh cold-tofurkey like that, there are things that you learn after the fact.  I am here to share some of those things with you.:

1. Restaurants are really nice about accommodating their menus for vegetarians. I used to miss fish tacos at one of our old favorites, and I expressed that to the server.  He said, no problem, they would substitute zucchini for the fish and now I get my tacos - only way more delicious and less stinky!

2. If you need a quick, prepared meal, there's some great choices at your corner supermarket.  I am so hooked on Amy's Samosas (potato and peas) that I should start a 12-step program for them.  You don't have to go to a specialty grocer to get some great, quick, vegetarian fare.

3. I can do most of my shopping at the farmer's market.  I gather my recyclable bag, and walk around the market until I have so much stuff my shoulder is burning.  It's fun!  (Really)  And so very healthy to eat seasonally and locally.

4. I can grow so many of our favorite veggies and herbs myself.  I have become all about fresh herbs - the legal kind, of course. Artichokes, tomatoes, lettuce, basil, rosemary, chives and anything I can keep away from our Newfie, Cousteau, who also love veggies. (Chive thief!)

5. That I would never, ever crave flesh.  Ever... 

6. That I would not be bothered with other people's choices around me.  I don't ever try to impose my choices on my family - and they don't try to impose theirs on me.  My husband and kids are all omnivores.  However, they do know that if this herbivore cooks, that we are having a vegetarian meal.  They have yet to complain.

7. That I would have more energy than ever.  I get up every morning around 5am, do yoga and don't quit until 5pm. It's awesome to have so much energy.

8. Apparently my life insurance premiums will be cheaper.  I have read this in a number of places, but have yet to confirm it.  Sounds like something I need to address.

9. "Fake Meat" as my kids call it, tastes great in chili or spaghetti red sauce.  Fake cheese is still nasty to me.  I have tried them all and will keep on trying until this desire is fulfilled.  If you have found any fake cheese winners, please pass them on.

10. B-12 and iron need to be supplemented.  I have read several studies on this (some agree and some disagree)  and know what works best for me.  B-12 supplements I take daily, iron - only during a heavy menstrual cycle.

11.A dairy cow's life is nearly as miserable as a beef cows.  So very sad news, but I rarely now touch dairy as a result.

12. I am not only living, I am thriving on a plant-based diet.  This has made me think, this is how I was always meant to be.

Please check out this very valuable resource book titled, "Yoga and Vegetarianism", by Sharon Gannon.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Push - a book review

Push, by Sapphire
Made into the movie, Precious

"I big, I talk, I eats, I cooks, I laugh, watch TV, do what my muver say. But I can see when the picture comes back I don't exist."  This is the voice of Precious, a 16 year old girl from Harlem, who's illiterate, sexually and physically abused by both of her parents and a mother of two.  Both children were fathered by her own father.

Her statement goes on to say she feels invisible to society - just like when you take a photo of a vampire.  They are there, but when the picture is developed, the truth is, they don't actually exist.

Precious longs to learn.  To be heard. "I wanna say I am somebody.  I wanna say it on the subway, TV, movie, LOUD."   And through her pen and paper - she does.

During Precious' second pregnancy, at 16 (first one at 12 years old), She is sent to an alternative school where it is discovered she is illiterate.  She finds comfort and strength through her teacher, Ms. Rain, and through the small class of only girls - all with horrific life stories and all illiterate.

They start from scratch - learning their ABC's, and doing their best to write in their journals.  The pen gives Precious the strength to remove herself from her mother's home and get herself and her infant to a half-way house.

Some may say that Precious' story is depressing, but I found it inspiring.  If you can remove the layers of pain and unjust from her and see HER, I think that you will also see Somebody special.

Here's a piece of Precious to take with you today:

everi mornin
by Precious j.

everi mornin
i write
a poem
before i go to
marY Had a little lamb
but I got a kid
an HIV
that folow me
to school
one day.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Small Step, Big Benefits

Last Year, I learned about an organization via Twitter called, Meatfree Monday.  Paul McCartney started it and his family and friends have done a wonderful job promoting it.  As a follower of both Stella McCartney and Yoko Ono, the message was received regularly and gladly.

I then researched the movement and found the Amercian version, Meatless Monday.  Same message, but started by John Hopkins University.  (follow at @meatlessmonday)

The message from both organizations is simple: Give up meat one day every week. Improve your personal health, reduce your carbon footprint and help the planet.

Going meatless once a week may reduce your risk of chronic preventable conditions like cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and obesity. It can also help reduce your carbon footprint and save precious resources like fresh water and fossil fuel.

Health Benefits

  • REDUCE RISK OF HEART DISEASE. Beans, peas, lentils, nuts and seeds contain little to no saturated fats. Reducing your intake of saturated fats can help keep your cholesterol low and reduce your risk of heart disease.
  • MAINTAIN HEALTHY WEIGHT. A plant-based diet is a great source of fiber, which is absent in animal products. Foods rich in fiber make you feel full with fewer calories, resulting in lower calorie intake and less overeating. On average, Americans get less than half the recommended daily quantity of fiber.
  • IMPROVE OVERALL QUALITY OF DIET. Consuming dry beans or peas results in higher intakes of fiber, protein, folate, zinc, iron and magnesium with lower intakes of saturated fat and total fat.

Environmental Benefits

  • REDUCE YOUR CARBON FOOTPRINT. The United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization estimates the meat industry generates nearly one-fifth of the man-made greenhouse gas emissions that are accelerating climate change worldwide . . . far more than transportation. And annual worldwide demand for meat continues to grow. Reining in meat consumption once a week can help slow this trend.
  • MINIMIZE WATER USAGE. The water needs of livestock are tremendous, far above those of vegetables or grains. An estimated 1,800 to 2,500 gallons of water go into a single pound of beef.Soy tofu produced in California requires 220 gallons of water per pound.
  • HELP REDUCE FOSSIL FUEL DEPENDENCE. On average, about 40 calories of fossil fuel energy go into every calorie of feed lot beef in the U.S.Compare this to the 2.2 calories of fossil fuel energy needed to produce one calorie of plant-based protein.Moderating meat consumption is a great way to cut fossil fuel demand.
It's a small step with big benefits.  Do it for yourself in 2010.

One set of books that have helped me make these changes, is the Skinny Bitch series.  You'll have a great time, while addressing some big changes in your health and diet.