Friday, July 18, 2008

Chaos and Creation

Another super busy week. I've much to be grateful for, however, and I am delighted to find myself at home, blogging to my heart's content.

Last week I promised you book reviews and reviews you shall have, my friends. Today, I'm going to give you the lowdown on my friend Susan Schanerman's book Play or Pay: 77 Ways to Have Fun or Suffer the Consequences and End Up Paying the Price. But first, these messages... I do have a couple of exciting announcements. I am going to have two contests this week. Atlanta folk, get your babysitter ready. I'm giving away 2 tickets to Scott's show at Underneath next week, July 26th. More on that tomorrow.

And also, next week, I'm going to give away a copy of Anita Renfroe's new stand-up DVD. Again, more later.

Now, about Play or Pay: 77 Ways to Have Fun or Suffer the Consequences and End Up Paying the Price... If you're looking for a reminder that all work and no play makes you dull, dull, dull, in ways more than one, this is an excellent reminder.

Author Susan Schanerman survived polio as a child, but missed out on much of the fun and normal childhood activities of she saw other kids experiencing. As an adult, Susan came to see that much of the distress in her life, as well as the creative blocks in her own life and those of her clients, resulted from an inability to relax, play, and have fun. She points out in the introduction to her book that by adopting a more "play-full" attitude towards life, we can open our creative channels, and improve both our physical and mental health simply by playing and reducing our stress levels.

Play or Pay is short, fun book that you can read by opening it up to any page and finding a suggestion for a way to play. Having a bad day? Feeling stressed out? Pick up the book and open it up. You'll find suggestions like "Make a date with yourself. Take yourself to a favorite spot you haven't been to in ages." Or "Go to a Museum or art gallery. Spend enough time to allow yourself to feel completely inspired. Go home and experiment doing something creative."

It's a simple, but fun and inspiring book that reminds us all to slow down a little, take some time for ourselves, and have fun with this life because we only get this one and we might as well enjoy it.

I've been having fun just imagining myself doing some of the things in the book. I can only imagine the fun I'll have once I start doing some of the things in the book.

If you're curious, you can order your copy at Susan's web site. If you're a creative who's feeling blocked, you might also be interested in reading about her creative coaching services as well.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Rise Up with Fists!

I don't typically do this, but sometimes something feels important enough to share with as many people as possible, so I am republishing a message I received from MOMS Rising, the leading national advocacy organization for women, children, and families.

There are always many worthy issues being upheld by MOMS Rising, but this one in particular enrages me. To see huge corporations profiting at the expense of our children is, to me, one of the most heinous, offensive acts imaginable. Yet, it happens every single day. If that weren't the case, not only would toys, sippy cups, baby bottles, diapers, and the cars we drive not be filled with nasty, carcinogenic, and otherwise deadly toxins, they'd still be made in America. Even more egregious is that our government creates an environment of entitlement for these corporations and manipulates the rules to let them get away with what amounts to murder. Worse yet? Us. We let our government and the mega-corporations that actually run our country get away with it.

We do this, of course, not because we don't care about our health or the health of our children. But because we're tired and lazy. Because it's too hard to care when you're struggling just to survive and when the public relations arms and lobbyists for these companies are spewing disinformation designed to make you think their products are safe and that they're just poor business owners being maligned by the liberal media while they're just trying to make a living.

Yes, it's exhausting getting by day to day and paycheck to paycheck as most Americans live. We shouldn't be asked to take on fighting an uphill, never-ending battle against evil men (and women) who would profit on the health and safety of our families (and their own). But, if we don't fight it, who will? Who cares more about your own children than you do (Yes. God does, but that's not the discussion we're having today.)?

Anyway, here's the information I received from MOMS Rising:

As if the price of gas wasn't bad enough, now Exxon Mobil is aggressively lobbying to defeat our efforts to ban phthalates, a toxic chemical, from kids' toys.

Hundreds of independent, peer-reviewed scientific studies that have been generated since the 1970s link phthalate exposure to serious health effects including reduced testosterone levels, lowered sperm counts, early puberty in girls, and genital defects in baby boys.

Tell Congress not to prioritize Exxon Mobil's profits over our kids' health:

Why is Exxon Mobil using its deep pockets to fight the efforts of moms and dads to ban phthalates from kids' toys? It's simple. Exxon Mobil is one of the world's largest producers of DINP -- the primary plasticizer used to make soft plastic kids toys. Banning phthalates would be bad for Exxon Mobil's business. But I'm not too worried about their profit margin, last year they broke the record for profits earned by a U.S. corporation -- $40.6 billion.[1]

Last month, you sent over 19,000 letters to Congress which helped convince one key undecided member -- Rep. Diana DeGette -- to go on record in support of a ban on toxic phthalates in children's toys. Now we need only two more votes to win passage of this critical measure. Please send letters to the four members of the House Conference Committee who are still undecided.

Let's show Exxon Mobil that they are no match for the moms and dads of this country. Through the efforts of members and our aligned organizations, we are shaking the halls of Congress with our demands for swift action to protect our kids from toxic toys and other children's products. And our leaders are listening. We have achieved a critical moment where the will of people and political actions of our leaders are finally coalescing to create a strong response to toxic toys.

Right now, a House/Senate Conference Committee is meeting to finalize the Consumer Product Safety Commission Reform Act (CPSC) Act which will strengthen our nation's protections against toxic toys. We have a critical window in the next two weeks to add the Feinstein Amendment to the CPSC, restricting the use of six toxic phthalates in children's toys.

Please take a minute to forward this message to your friends and family. The more letters we send to Congress, the more impact we will have. Thanks again for your incredible work to move Congress to finally take action to prevent toxic toys from reaching our children!

Donna, Kristin, Joan, Roz, Katie, Mary, and the Team


P.S. For information about how to reduce your child's exposure to toxic chemicals see,

P.P.S. For more information about phthalates, click here,

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Happy Sunday

Last week was a busy one and I was left with little time to write. It involved car trouble, a show at Chastain Park, work, reading three books which I plan to review for you this week, and Scott's show at Kavarna last night.

Scott was fantastic and the crowd was great. Jim Combs, who is one of the organizers of the Atlanta Songwriter's Series, played first as Sensitive Chaos. Electronic or ambient music isn't something I know a lot about (make that anything), but I really enjoyed what he did. It was really nice and relaxing.

One of the acts dropped out because it was going to be too expensive for him to drive in from North Carolina, so Scott got to play a longer set than he had thought, so he invited our friend Mark Wenthe, from Athens band Dusty Lightswitch to play with him. Mark's an amazing guitarist and he played on the last few songs with Scott adding some nice flavor.

If you're interested, you can download and listen to the show here.

If you're a musician looking for a place to play in the Decatur area, I'd definitely say check out Kavarna. They're great people and the sound in the room is really fantastic. And if you're a fan, this was a great place to listen to live music. They serve up a really interesting variety too.

Eudora June who played after Scott was great. She had a little more of a bluesy feel and I really liked her voice.

So, another week down. A new one beginning. I hope this one proves more productive, lets me have more fun with the kids, and is less tiring. And lets me write more.