Oxygen magazine’s executive editor, Diane Hart, recently released  Pick It, Kick It, a book that weighs in on American eating habits. She told me that , “Eating right doesn’t have to be difficult or expensive – it is a simple matter of making the right choices and that comes from knowing what foods are better than others.” Sound simple, right? She was kind enough to offer a few tips for my Power of Slow readers on how to eat mindfully.
Fact: Since the 1970’s, portion sizes in restaurants have increased up to five times. And, with the USDA reporting a 22 percent increase of added fats and oils, Americans are getting more than they pay for.
Follow Diane Hart’s 10 tips to ‘know the skinny’ at any restaurant:

1.    Stick to restaurants known for their healthy food options
2.    To cut down on fat intake, order low-fat salad dressing on the side, and then dip your fork between bites to get the flavor without the extra fat
3.    To cut calories while keeping taste and nutrition, mix your OJ and other fruit juices with equal amount of mineral water, plain water or seltzer and give the other half to your dining partner
4.    Avoid bagels and muffins: Portion sizes have doubled in size and calories over the years, while muffins contain the bad stuff
5.    Swap artificial sweeteners for honey, a half-teaspoon worth is just the right sweetness
6.    Takes up to 20 minutes for food to digest: chew food thoroughly and slow down
7.    Don’t “save your calories” by skipping meals: Not only will you slow down your metabolism, but you will be famished by the meal and most likely overeat
8.    Anything “creamed,” “scalloped,” “au gratin,” “sautéed” or “breaded” is most likely loaded with fat: Go for “smoked,” “barbecued,” “roasted,” “grilled” or “broiled”
9.    Buffet-Style Dining: Avoid it but tips if you must-Do an initial walk around and find vegetables and other clean etc., next get the small plate and load up on the proteins and other clean foods. Watch out for sauces and fried foods, skip breads and pastas
10.    Portion control: Most people underestimate the calories in a meal by 150 to 400 calories; box off half of your meal for leftovers, less calories and two meals out of one saves money

Remember the power of slow principle: You are what, and how, you eat!

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Chocolate. It is happiness in a wrapper.

Have you ever wondered why chocolate is so delightful? For anyone who has delved into a bar and emerged with a grin, you will agree that the sweetness of this cocoa-based treat resembles the healing powers of Grandma’s homemade apple pie.

Chocolate. It’s chicken soup for the soul.

According to the European Heart Journal (as reported in The Guardian), chocolate can significantly lower your blood pressure and stave off other ugly cardiovascular illnesses. I know a little square of dark chocolate now and then prevents me from losing my top at the people in my house.

The crumbled wrapper on my desk reveals that four squares of my Milka chocolate bar remain. With hungry mouths that devour anything close to junk food in the kitchen, I swept away the remnants of the bar with impunity. We had a tense weekend with the kids, a blend of financial planning and misbehaving Wee Ones whose main goal was to see how far their limits could go while they thought we weren’t looking.

We were.

It was nothing a little chocolate couldn’t cure. My blood pressure has stabilized, thanks to the flavanols and the joy emitted by the brown candy sitting on my desk!

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WBUR aired a fantastic interview yesterday with the Wall Street Journal‘s Katherine Rosman, Naomi Baron, author of Always On, and Lee Rainie, Director of the Pew Internet and American Life Project. The topic? The changing nature of our communication.

The way we communicate with each other today has dramatically changed. Based on Katherine’s recent findings as reported in the Wall Street Journal, 13-17 years old send an average of 3339 text messages a month. Even in the 45-54 year old demographic, texting is up 75% (to an average of 300 per month).

At the outset of the interview, Katherine rightly points to the reasons behind people’s unwillingness to actually talk on the phone:

“People don’t want to be on the phone when, heaven forbid, they might actually get stuck in a conversation that goes beyond what they originally intended. They don’t want small talk. They just want to get and receive the data they need and go about their multitasking, distracted days.”

Wow. And so true.

For anyone who’s been face to face with a text-messaging pal, it can feel pretty isolating.

Naomi Baron, whom I interviewed a while ago here, addressed the loss of people’s attention today. Calling in from Copenhagen, she stated:

“We no longer notice that we’re not as engaged as we could be if we were just listening to the other person. Voice-to-voice on the phone. Voice-to-voice, face-to-face.”

Are we losing our ability to actually interact with other people on a personal level? I’m wondering if we are.

Lee Rainie summarized the conversation beautifully when he suggested how “we are rearranging the landscape of communication…we are reallocating our communications patterns.”

In response to a private conversation my PR colleagues and I were having about this topic (yes, via email!) , Herdon, VA-based PR professional Diane Johnson said, “We’re cultivating a culture of mushroom people who want to sit in front of their computer or on their PDAs and believe using their fingers (while keeping them off each other) counts as human interaction.”

As parents, we must teach our children etiquette and Net’iquette so our ability to communicate not just words, but their meaning, too, is not lost in our collective digital distraction.

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American families are undergoing a sea change as we rethink who works, who stays home to care for the kids and why we work. This power of slow reexamination of how we live comes at a time when women make up more than half of the people on American payrolls for the first time in our history, with moms the primary breadwinner in almost 40 percent of all families.

To understand how working moms see their shifting roles and how others see them, Working Mother magazine surveyed more than 4,600 people across the country, including working moms, stay-at-home moms, working dads and singles in the workplace. Among our findings: whether making $20,000 or $200,000, moms who view their jobs as a career—rather than just a paycheck—are more satisfied and feel more positive at work and at home. “What Moms Think: The Working Mother Report” offers surprising insights into the perceptions of both sexes.

“I meet women all the time who think of their jobs as careers, and it doesn’t matter if they’re answering phones in a call center or running a company,” said Carol Evans, President, Working Mother Media. “This research reveals that women who embrace the long-term commitment that a career implies feel more satisfied and positive about every marker that we measured, including being ‘in balance.’ These findings have huge implications for women and the companies who rely on them.”

Among the report’s top findings:

·         Moms who view their work as a career are happier in all aspects the survey measured—with their marriage, kids, friendships, salary, respect they command and choice to work—than women who work primarily for a paycheck;

·         Male managers are big supporters of working moms in the workplace (at least in the United States ~ Germany has a way to go on this aspect of working life);

·         Though moms value flex as a key benefit, men are more likely than women to have jobs that allow for flexibility;

·         Both men and women feel a deep ambivalence when wives out-earn their husbands (this substantiates the claim the Pew Research Center found in a January 2010 study about women outearning their husbands, as reported in the Washington Post).

What contributes to a woman labeling her work as a career versus a paycheck? It’s not her salary. What a power of slow idea! It has nothing, or less, to do with money.


Courtesy of Working Mother magazine and "What Moms Think: The Working Mother Report"


According to The Working Mother Report, women feel they have a career when they:

  • Have opportunities to develop skills and advance;
  • Feel supported and respected;
  • Believe their work fulfills a higher purpose than simply making money.

“The most exciting aspect of The Working Mother Report is how actionable this is,” Evans said. “Women can examine their attitudes and shift toward careerist thinking. Companies can support women in viewing their jobs as careers with training and advancement programs.”

The Working Mother Report coincides with the 25th anniversary of Working Mother 100 Best Companies. It was sponsored by three of the Working Mother 100 Best Companies—Ernst & Young, IBM and Procter & Gamble.

The Importance of a “Career”

Women who identify themselves as having a career are more likely than those who self-identify as working primarily for a paycheck to say that:

  • Their life is ‘in balance’; they are healthy and fulfilled;
  • They are supported in work responsibilities and respected at home;
  • Their spouses contribute more to caring for children and to at-home tasks;
  • Their work fulfills a higher or more meaningful purpose than ‘just making money.’

How Male Managers View Working Moms

The Working Mother Report reveals that male managers view working mothers highly favorably, seeing them in a better light than do working fathers and men without children. Male managers say that working moms are likely to:

  • Take on additional work;
  • Be committed to career advancement;
  • Travel for work;
  • Take stretch assignments;
  • Relocate.

“Male managers—regardless of whether they have kids themselves—are strong allies of working moms. They see how dedicated these women are to their careers,” said Suzanne Riss, Editor in Chief, Working Mother magazine. “Managers praise working moms for the quality of their work, their interest in advancing, and their willingness to take on extra work.”

Flexibility: Not Just for Working Moms Anymore

The moms surveyed said that a flexible schedule is trumped only by stability and security when they look for a new job. Yet The Working Mother Report revealed that men are more likely to have jobs that allow for flexibility, more likely to use flex without fear of retribution, and that they feel they can take time off when necessary.

Among those whose work does allow for flexibility, there is a large gap in the percentage of women (58%) and men (74%) who say flexibility has had a positive impact on their career advancement.  Working mothers are more likely than working fathers to say:

  • Part-time work is a viable option at their company (65% vs. 58% for fathers);
  • They would work part time if they could still have a meaningful career (70% vs. 63% for fathers);
  • Flexibility increases their commitment or loyalty to their organization (77% vs. 73% for fathers).

Mars vs. Venus

Women who earn more than their husbands are more likely to expect men to contribute to cooking, cleaning and caring for the kids (um, I kind of expect my husband to contribute no matter what his paycheck):

  • Women surveyed were significantly more likely than men to say that domestic chores should be split down the middle (92%). But fewer than half say their spouses do their fair share. Men, in contrast, reported that they feel they are doing their fair share (68%).

The Working Mother Report revealed a deep ambivalence among both men and women about women earning more.

  • When asked in theory about the idea of their spouse out-earning them, 73% of women and 59% of men said they were comfortable with the idea of their partner earning more.
  • When women actually are the breadwinners, the comfort level drops for men from 59% to 42%.

Read the full report, What Moms Think: The Working Mother Report.

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Imagine being made up of milliseconds like pixels in a picture. Every second counts and forms who we are.


Image from Smashing Magazine

Yet so many of us combat time as if it is something to beat. In truth, what we are doing is beating up ourselves.

„If only I had more time…“ is a common phrase among people in general. Our collective time starvation has us running at an unsustainable pace. As your information delivery systems get faster, so do we. The trouble is we can’t run any faster than we are.

The result is giving in to the temptation to multitask, something our brains literally cannot do. Oprah agrees. Think No Phone Zone and all.

‘Time’ and ‘being busy’ are a mindset. Time  is a construct into which we are born. We’ve made up the notion of time to structure our lives. But since we are defined by two time notations (our date of birth and the date of our passing), we live as if it is real. Since we act as if it exists, it might be a good idea to establish a more positive relationship with this thing called time so you have more of it. Because after all, don’t you want more of what you’re made of?

It’s not about creating more time. It’s about looking at the things you do within the time that you have.

Time abundance is having more than enough time to do what is required to fulfill your ultimate purpose. If you are so busy reacting to the things around you instead of putting yourself into proactive mode, you will always be at the beck and call of your surroundings.

Are you checking your emails twenty times a day? Are you subscribed to more newsletters than you can manage in a day? Do you really need to be copied on every single intra-office correspondence?

Tip #1:

Prioritize. The Eisenhower principle states there are urgent/non-urgent and important/non-important things.

There are also urgent/non-important things (the phone ringing ~anything that demands your immediate attention).

There are urgent/important things (that pending annual sales meeting).

There are non-urgent/important things (working toward your annual goals).

There are non-urgent/non-important things (surfing the Internet to ‘relax’. Like TV, it won’t relax you, but places you in a mild state of depression).

Tip #2:

Make your list of immediate to-dos. Most likely, there are four or five things on that list. Everything else can wait or be delegated.

Tip #3:

If you are overwhelmed, one of several things needs to happen:

1)    Delegate

2)    Say ‘no’ (or ‘here’s what I can do…’)

3)    Manage expectations

4)    Examine your habits

5)    Focus

6)    Avoid procrastination/last-minute rushes

7)    Take a time-out (a well-rested manager is a productive one)

8)    Stop multitasking. Who won the race, the tortoise or the hare?

9)    Take a vacation to rescucitate your ability ot handle stress.

10)  Re-examine your personal relationship with time. How often do you say you don’t have any?

If you do these things, I promise you won’t yearn for that extra hour because, in truth, time abundance will be yours.

The power of slow is about being the master of your own ship. It’s your life. What are you going to do with it?

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Animation of 3 ball cascade , also known as a ...
Image via Wikipedia

Managing family and work life offers up its own set of challenges as you split your attention, and sometimes your personality, to meet the needs of everyone else. Living in Germany while working virtually in others brings that level of schizophrenia to new heights.

Family life in Germany is great, if you want a particular kind of family life. Anyone who has ever had children in the German school system will tell you it takes some getting used to. From grades one through three your child comes home as early as 11:30 in the morning. Vacations are set every six weeks for one or two weeks off; and up until recently, they had what is fondly known as ‘hitzefrei’ or spur of the moment school closings as of 11:15 am when it’s too hot outside. (They just cancelled that policy this year). Needless to say, quality and quantity time with your children are distinctly possible here.

For a home-based freelancer like myself, I have designed a work life that fits around the children’s malleable schedules. It works well, in part, because the kids finally understand what ‘Mommy’s on the phone’ means. In years past they would holler at the top of their lungs, even if it meant my words, and theirs, would be recorded and heard by radio listeners worldwide. Once they got clear that interrupting me to ask if they can watch TV means the difference between our affording that vacation to Italy or not, they got mum quick. Nonetheless, interruption is a part of working from home and the home office juggle has a certain flavor not found in an office building setting.

Take garden tools. If I am chatting away with a London-based client outside, where the mobile phone reception is best, the neighbor inevitably decides to power up his leafblower. The juggle begins when said neighbor is relentless in his yard grooming, mastering the art of noise for everyone, including London, to hear.

Long before I understood what it meant to work from home, I glamorized the notion of bunny-slippering it to my desk in a java-induced morning shuffle. Not so. The age of video conferencing eradicates all kinds of personal appearance slip-ups. You brush your hair or die. Don’t be fooled. Those pixels that lend a slightly dreamy imagery on the other end don’t hide bed head. Nothing but a good brush out does.

The greatest challenge to juggling work and family life has to be the odd hours that I keep. Juggling clients from California to Sweden, I could literally work 24/7 if I wanted. The trouble is mental burn-out is inevitable if you make yourself available at any hour. So conference calls happen until a reasonable hour; emails don’t get answered after dinner; and I place a great deal of importance on mealtime with the kids. Growing up in a household that ate together only on special occasions, I emphasize dinner talk as the relaxing part of the day for connection and parental correction.

So much of our lives is placed in a bed of urgency. Our globalized world demands so much more of our attention than the olden unplugged days of 9-to-5. Having the juggle without the struggle means inserting slow moments of delight, rumination and frolic into our day.  In my case that typically means a soccer match with my son or a board game with my daughter ~and that mid-week. Life is full of trade-offs. I’ve reached the conclusion that juggling is a life skill we all would do well to master. It’s the struggle part that we can choose to embrace or leave behind.

In which ways can you reduce your workload to feel more joy in your juggle?

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In my travels I have had the pleasure of interviewing some amazing people about their relationship with time. From Bikram Choudhury to Deepak Chopra to Rosanne Cash, I’ve asked them all the same questions.

Now it’s your turn! Take this thirty-second survey to find out how you relate to time. I’ll be revealing the results in a little while so please participate. Your voice counts!

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The Power of Fast Rescue

October 14, 2010

All thirty-three trapped Chilean miners were rescued faster than authorities thought possible yesterday. Their feat of endurance and the rescuers’ act of perseverance demonstrate how incredible human beings truly are.

In a strife-torn region (Bolivia has some beef with Chile),  the miners’ story brought together not just the nation itself, but the entire world edged a little closer as we followed the story live. The term algeriá (Spanish for ‘joy’) could be found all over Twitter yesterday. U.S. President Obama, German Chancellor Merkel and even the Pope were rooting for the rescue workers and their charges.

This crisis moved me on another level, too. Families were staked out for almost 70 days as they followed the rescue efforts minute by minute. Anyone who has loved ones working in seriously dangerous jobs (miners, oil rig workers, police and firemen and women come to mind) knows the fear that accompanies it. One learns to live with that gnawing notion in the back of one’s head, but it never really goes away.

I may not be from Chile, but somehow, after watching those people agonize for that many days, we’ve all become a part of something much greater than ourselves.

I bow deeply to those who risk their lives every day for me. Thank you for your courage.

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In a post last July I wrote about the importance of space clearing. Like the leaves we rake to reveal the grass once again, the things that surround us carry energy. They are made up of particles just as we are. And they resonate deeply like the taut skin of a bongo drum.

Every now and then it’s important to awaken that space by cleaning it out.

After six years, I finally decided to let go of my mommy blog. It wasn’t an easy decision because apart from my Web site, it was the longest-running online documentation of my journey in cyberspace. It held a large presence in my heart, but then the fire began to dwindle. The blog fell into neglect, abandoned like a cabin on the frontier. Every time I posted something,  I could almost hear the rust growing on its hinges. It had been a loyal friend, standing by me during times when I needed so desperately to express the challenges of early motherhood.

But as my children grow, I can feel the departing need to lend those feelings expression. As I learn to give my kids more room to grow, bit by bit, I must also let go of that part of myself that yearned for a glimmer of understanding from someone, anyone. For the course of those years, that blog served its purpose well, unfailingly offering me a spine when I felt I had none.

Space clearing can be painful as you lift your roots to reach richer soils. But it can also be liberating as you awaken the spaces you never thought you’d reach. It requires trust and an inner knowing that we are capable of immeasurable expansion.

What things might you let go to free up energy for yourself?

My acting coach gave me a great word of advice.

“Stay in the body.” You see, ever since I was a kid, I’ve had this ability to leave my body pretty much whenever I felt like it. It has to do with growing up in Nature on a farm with no cable. Escape wasn’t easy so I did it with my mind.

I like to say that the South grew my imagination as large as the squash and corn you see on roadside farm stands there. My creative mind that dallies off to faraway places at the drop of a hat has served me well. But acting is a craft that requires the utmost presence.

So when I play a role, I have to reside behind my eyes at all time. She gave me a great exercise that I’d like to pass along to you. Because really, the power of slow is about being present as it is in acting.

The next time you get out of the shower, apply body lotion to every part of yourself. Start with really looking at your toes. Wiggle them and thank them for keeping you balanced. Move up to your ankels, calves and thighs and so on, honoring each part of you for helping you out.

Thanking your body is a novel idea. Aren’t we taught to disengage from that part of ourselves that we’ve learned to hate so much? The body today is seen as something disappointing, dirty or worse, worthless. So as you walk around today, hold your head up a little higher and say a prayer of gratitude that your very noggin carries your imagination with you wherever you go. And remember to stay in your body. It may feel heavier than the escape our minds afford, but it will serve you well as you learn to savor the ever present moment of now.