Friday, September 29, 2006

Saving an Incredibly Important Tradition

One of the coolest things that my company has been doing to boost morale and to thank its employees for their good work has been to provide Krispy Kreme doughnuts on the last workday of the month. I loved it so much that I even wrote about it once here. I work in the mortgage industry for my day job, and as the housing market is s-l-o-w these days, the company has taken a hit. You can imagine my horror when an e-mail came across my computer last month bearing the following grievous news:

One of our best traditions at _________ is promoting healthy living for our employees. We were at the forefront of this trend in the early 1980s, when we opened our first on-site fitness center, and we continued the tradition in the 1990s, when we began to offer healthy alternatives to the standard fast food fare in our own cafeterias. However, another _________ tradition has been to offer free doughnuts at month-end to thank employees for their hard work.

You can see that this tradition is an extremely unhealthy temptation and doesn't contribute to a healthy lifestyle. The typical small glazed doughnut contains 200 calories, half of which are from fat. Doughnuts are high in sugar and carbohydrates. They are considered "empty calories" that don't make you feel full for very long. We're not alone in our concern about unhealthy foods - other companies, and especially schools, are taking similar steps to reduce or eliminate high-fat or unhealthy food alternatives.

While we believe in personal choice, we also feel we need to take responsibility for helping our employees lead healthy lifestyles....

Um, okay, whatever. Really, I understand that the mortgage industry is taking a hit, but please don't lie to me. Don't condescend. Just tell me you can't afford to buy us our beloved Krispy Kremes anymore. (Thanks for letting me get that out!)

Today, in honor of it being the last day of the month, my group is having a breakfast potluck. There is a veritable smorgasbord of food being laid out as I write this post. Can you guess what I brought?


Thursday, September 28, 2006

Thirteen What Ifs

What if...

-ice cream were good for you?
-money really did grow on trees?
-we didn't live in a fallen world?
-a kiss could make it all better?
-your wildest dream came true?
-your deep, dark secret were out in the open and it no longer held you by its chains?
-you said what is really on your mind?
-guilt went away?
-love was always there all along?
-you took a big risk?
-you said, "I love you"?
-fear weren't a factor?
-you were overflowing with hope?

Monday, September 25, 2006

Finding my Political Voice

Disclaimer: I'm not entirely comfortable posting this to my blog, but I've decided to put it up anyway--maybe just for a while. This is the post I wrote about here, when I was trying to decide if it would be wise to discuss my (admittedly only partially informed) political opinions on my blog for all to read. I tend to process my thoughts as I write, so please read this more as my political musings than my definitive opinion on George W. Bush and our government.


I just don't quite know what to make of our nation's current President. I voted for George Bush twice. (I know, many of you are probably going into cardiac arrest right now.) I don't hate him. I feel grateful to have a President that has strong convictions and isn't wishy-washy. The other side of that coin is that I find that I can't watch his addresses. I have to change the channel when he comes on - partly because I can't bear to watch or listen to his apparent lack of charisma, and partly because I sense an underlying defensiveness in his tone, and that disturbs me. People who are defensive on a regular basis make me uncomfortable.

As an American, I think I do feel safer now than I did five years ago because of all the homeland security measures that have been taken. On the other hand, I have never felt so hated by other nations. (I was living in Spain as the war on Iraq was starting, and the anti-American sentiment was impossible to miss.) I think America will always be hated in many parts of the world because we are a rich and powerful nation (never mind the fact that we are benevolent in terms of financially supporting many of them). We have power and resources, and we have the right to defend ourselves. However, I don't believe that our power and resources give us the right to do whatever we want in the world. I don't think we should act as a country in a way that seeks to gain the approval of other nations. Still, it would be nice to be looked upon as a hero nation (ie. post WW II) again, and not as a bully nation the way so much of the world views us now.

For me, this issue is really not a partisan thing. Some of my views are more conservative and some more liberal. I just would like to feel a greater sense of integrity at the heart of our government. The pessimist in me is sighing. The optimist believing that we will one day have that again. The realist in me honestly wondering what in the world we're coming to as a nation.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Underneath the Wrapping

I stumbled onto this very interesting blog post by Brant Hansen this morning, in which a father laments the fact that his young daughter is drop-dead gorgeous…and already knows it. He makes the point that outer-beauty can actually be a deterrent to developing inner-beauty. That is to say that because our culture is constantly awarding pretty people just for being pretty, the constant doting can act as a retardant to the growth of that person’s character.

It raises an interesting question for us Americans who seem to be rather obsessed with external beauty. The movies we produce are often cast with good-looking, but rather untalented people. Honestly, I think that’s why I find British films so refreshing. They are cast with people that look like…well…normal people! And the actors are really talented! Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that every gorgeous American actor doesn’t possess talent. I am saying, though, that one of the reasons I liked Little Miss Sunshine so much was because the emphasis was much more on telling a story about everyday people I can relate to, and not so much about eye candy.

Reading Brant’s article made me think back to my elementary school years. Cliques formed and there was definitely an "in" crowd that I was not a part of. I remember coming home from school and talking through tears to my mom about how it hurt my feelings not to be accepted by that group. She used to tell me over and over that God loves me just the way that I am. I remember thinking that I wasn’t quite sure that God’s love had much to do with it. But I can see now how very much it did. He loves and accepts me for the Tracy that I am on the inside. He’s much more concerned with what’s inside the package than how pretty the wrapping paper is. Looking back, I am actually thankful for the struggle of not being "popular" way back then, because I grew into the me that God wanted me to be. As I got older and started high school, I still wasn’t in the "in" crowd, but I was friends with people in different groups. I was marching to a different beat, for sure, but I started to like it! I don’t know that I would have ever discovered the beauty of being unique without the struggle of not fitting in.

Outer beauty is fine, but it doesn’t last. What lasts is a beautiful heart. I’m thankful for a mother who pointed me toward God’s love and acceptance when I didn’t feel loved and accepted by my peers. And I’m thankful to my loving God, Who is much more concerned with the strength of my character than the length of my lashes.

You know there needs to be a little more mystery in your relationship when...

...your boyfriend tells you that "maybe you should buy some Metamucil...ya know...just to help you stay regular."

Yep. It's true. Bless my colon's achy breaky heart.

Note to readers: Don't get me wrong. eSuitor was just trying to be helpful. I was the one giving him a little T.M.I.

Note to self: Take your Gas-Ex and shut up already!

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Removing the Gigantic 2x4 From My Eye

"Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?" -Matthew 7:3

This morning, I was on a conference call in our board room when I looked up and saw that my coworker had a huge booger dangling from her left nostril. I thought to myself, "Bless her heart. She has no idea." Then I looked down so as not to stare at the booger. And I was greeted by my open fly, who suddenly looked me square in the face and said, "Bless your heart. You really had no idea."

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Talking Point

I'm thinking something over in my mind, chewing on it, wrestling with it, and still not sure what I think about it.

Blogging is an interesting form of self-expression because it's like a journal, but without the privacy. I love that it's a forum that is interactive and that allows people to respond. But I'm wondering: How do you other bloggers decide what is appropriate for you to post?

I recently wrote a post that I decided not to put on my blog called "Finding My Political Voice". So far, I haven't written anything about politics on this blog. Partly because I don't generally care for political debates. Partly because I tend to hold political views that don't typically sync with the circles I run in. Partly because I fear that by expressing my thoughts about politics, I might somehow offend my readers and lose any sphere of influence I might have otherwise had through this site.

I realize that it's a little paradoxical, considering that part of the reason I started this blog was to have a "place for me to openly express myself, free from the judgement of my inner critic." I still battle the critcal voice inside when I write, but what I'm thinking more about in this case is the judgement of my readers.

So I'm curious to know how you make such decisions on your blogs. Do you throw all caution to the wind and post whatever you want? Do you consider your readership? What factors do you take into consideration?

Friday, September 15, 2006

Butterfly in the Sky...

It's Friday, and I want to write about something fluffy and light. So I've decided to make this a Friday Five and write about...

Five Television Theme Songs that Make Me Want to Sing Along:

1.) Reading Rainbow - Did you guys ever watch this show? It is so cute. It has little kids giving reviews of their favorite books. And the theme song is well...a little inspiring. Check out these lyrics (slightly modified to not make it too long and repetitive):

Butterfly in the sky,
I can go twice as high!
Take a look,
It's in a book,
A Reading Rainbow!
I can go anywhere,
I can be anything,
Take a look,
It's in a book,
A Reading Rainbow!

2.) Friends - Who in my generation doesn't know the lyrics of this song by heart? They just make ya feel good!

3.) Silver Spoons - This song is really nothing special in itself, but I associate it with my sixth grade crush on Ricky Schroeder. 'Nuff said!

4.) Good Times - Ain't we lucky we got 'em?

5.) The Animaniacs - This was one of the most brilliant cartoons, and the opening theme song was nothing short of genius! My college roommate and I memorized it and would sing along every afternoon.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Ode to Pop Tarts

It’s hard to explain my craving for you.
You look quite like cardboard and taste like it, too.
You’ve lots of preservatives and not much nutrition.
But, still, I must nibble in sweet, sweet submission.
Your sprinkles are ugly, your icing is hard.
You'll turn my caboose to into jiggling lard.
I’ve had my granola, and orange juice, too.
But deep in my heart, I’m still longing for you.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006


Life is beautiful.
Life is a gift.
Life has its moments of genuine bliss.
Life’s full of love, of heartache and pain.
Sometimes it hurts and there’s no one to blame.
Sometimes I laugh and sometimes I cry.
Sometimes I’m blah and I’ve no idea why.
See, life isn’t perfect,
And neither are we.
The road isn’t free from its bumps and debris.
We all need His grace,
That’s why He died.
No need to cover and no need to hide.
No need to pretend there aren’t bruises and scars.
God loves and accepts us the way that we are.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

September 11, 2001: A Reflection

The morning of September 11, 2001, I was up early getting ready to go to a funeral in San Antonio. One of my backyard neighbors who was sort of a surrogate grandparent during my growing up years had passed away. As my mom and I were getting ready, we had Good Morning America on, and breaking news informed us that one of the Twin Towers had been hit by an airplane. As we watched the first tower blazing with fire, we saw the second tower get hit by another airplane. A while later, we heard the news that yet another plane had hit the Pentagon and a fourth plane crashed in a field in Pennsylvania. I began to worry that we would spend the rest of the day hearing reports about major cities throughout our country being attacked. We went to the funeral that morning and spent the rest of the day with our eyes and ears glued to the television and radio, as did the majority of America.

I lived in New York City from 1996-1999. I have many wonderful memories of the World Trade Center. All of these memories involve dancing. The top floor of one of the towers had a bar and a dance floor where swing bands would play. The view of the Brooklyn Bridge was awesome. My friends and I went dancing there several times. Miriam and Marion, two German girls who became close friends of mine, had a farewell party there before they returned home--it was there that the three of us exchanged inexpensive, plastic bracelets and promised to wear them until we saw each other again (which we did four months later in Frankfurt).

I spent part of 9/11/01 going through a mental list of people I knew who worked at the WTC. I found out that my friend Linda, was working at her company's Jersey office that day. My college friend, Stephanie, had a doctor's appointment that morning, and didn't go in to work. I am so thankful that their lives were safe. I was resting easy. No one I knew was harmed. Then panic struck when I rememered my old boss, Joel. He had gone to work for a new company since I left New York, and his new office was in the World Financial Center, right across the street from the WTC. Was he okay? I called his office. No answer. I called his home and only got an answering machine. I called his cell, but there was no service. For days, I didn't hear any news from him. Finally, about five days later, he and his wife made their way from the city to their country home where I had left messages, and he called to tell me they were safe.

I was surprised in the days following 9/11 that part of me really wanted to be back in NYC. My beloved Manhattan had been injured, and I wanted to be part of the healing process, or at least to be there to grieve with New Yorkers. I didn't make it back to the city for two more years. I happened to be there on the two year anniversary of 9/11. I didn't know what to expect when I went to ground zero that day. it was just a big, leveled construction zone. Buildings around ground zero, proudly displayed American flags. A cross made of scrap metal left from one the buildings stood as a humble reminder of the lives lost that day. People were reading biographies of those who died to honor and remember them. At night, two tall spot lights shone high up into the dark sky in a somber recreation of the skyline I loved. I soberly took it all in. I walked to the nearest payphone to call my old boss and got his voicemail. I intended to leave a simple message saying that I was at ground zero and I was remembering how concerned I was for him two years before. I ended up bursting into uncontrollable sobs as I tried to leave a coherent message. I hung up, feeling embarrassed. Joel called me back a few weeks later and said that he saved my message because it meant so much to him. Suddenly, I didn't feel so embarrassed anymore. It was just delayed grief, and he understood. He recounted to me the horror of that day. How his building shook when the planes hit. How awful it was to see such terror. How he couldn't look at the burning buildings anymore. He just had to turn around and walk home.

I call Joel every year on 9/11 just to tell him that he is part of my memory of that day. And to tell him that he is my friend, and I'm glad he is alive.

Friday, September 08, 2006

It's in the Air!

Last night, as I was walking to my car after dinner, I noticed a chill in the air. Fog was rolling in, and I wished I had a jacket. My teeth started chattering as I said good-bye to my friend.

This morning, I drove to work with overcast skies, and there was still a chilly crispness to the air. Could it be that summer is over? I got on when I sat down to my desk, and it informed me that the high today is only going to be 75 degrees, and that for the next week, the temperature is not to rise over 80.

Autumn has long been my favorite season of the year. I love turtlenecks and blue jeans, colorful leaves, and taking long walks outside without breaking a sweat.

Part of the reason I wanted to move to southern California was for the temperate climate. As much as I love Texas, the 5-6 months of the year spent in 90+ degree weather just doesn't agree with me. So naturally, my first summer in LA has been one of the hottest summers LA has seen in over a decade.

But things are looking up today! Fall is in the air! I can feel it, and it makes my heart feel tranquilo.

Other notable people who love autumn:

My Dad - When I graduated from acting school, I got my first professional job doing a musical called How the West was Won at a gorgeous amphitheatre in Utah. Dad came out to see me perform. It meant so much that he made the trip out to see me. I remember taking a day trip to Zion National Park. It was a crisp autumn day and the leaves were turning. We both enjoyed taking in the beauty of nature. And I remember both of us remarking that autumn is our favorite season. Just a simple moment that is fond to me.

My blog buddy, Autumn's Mom...she loves autumn so much, she named her daughter after this fabulous season!

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Labor Day Weekend In Pictures

eSuitor's mom came to visit this weekend. She is such a fun and kind woman. We all had so much fun being tourists in LA. We spent Saturday morning at the Huntington Gardens in Pasadena.

It was fun to go back to Huntington Gardens with eSuitor. He took me there in the spring on one of our first dates. :)

On Sunday morning, we went to Laguna Beach to have brunch and to walk along the boardwalk. It is such a pretty beach and town.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Crying in my Cheesecake

On Saturday, I went to see Little Miss Sunshine with eSuitor and his mom, who was in town for the weekend. SUCH a great movie! I haven't seen a movie that was so touching in quite a long time. We had just had lunch at The Cheesecake Factory and needed to sit somewhere for a couple hours to let our food digest. So we ordered a piece of banana cream cheesecake to go and split it between the three of us in the theater.

The movie (don't worry...I won't give anything away) is the story of a dysfunctional family's journey together in a VW Bus to take the youngest family member to California to compete in a children's beauty pageant. Along their journey, prepare yourself to become endeared to them and to laugh and cry...a lot.

I tend to be a very "involved" movie watcher. I'm a pretty empathetic person by nature, so I really feel for characters in movies. And it is not hard at all to feel for the characters in this particular movie because there is at least one person in the crazy cast of characters that you can relate to. They are all vulnerable in their own way, which makes them all the more endearing.

I'm thankful that the audience I was watching with on Saturday was a vocal one, so they could drown me out--I was pretty much a basket case. The movie would layer comic moments on top of heart-wrenching ones, so that I was blubbering like a baby and howling with laughter all at once. I did the "ugly cry" where tears were streaming down my face as I made indeciferable sounds. Is she laughing? Is she crying? Is she communicating with jungle creatures? Very hard to tell.

All three of us enjoyed the film. It is a wonderfully redemptive story of an imperfect yet lovable family. And who of us can't relate to that?