From The Publisher

From the Publisher

Holiday Cards

The mailboxes at my home and office are unusually full these days, thanks in no small measure to the stacks of holiday cards and letters I receive. Like so many others, I am blessed with an abundance of friends and family, as well as business associates and clients, who still send  holiday greetings via snail mail. If only they knew how much I appreciate getting them – and keeping them!
 
I was reminded of this small pleasure the other day when I received an unexpected Christmas card from Texas Governor Greg Abbott and his family. The card – a watercolor painting, depicting the parlor in the official residence – is lovely. Shown in the room are Oreo and Pancake, the adorable, four-legged members of Texas’ First Family.
 
Now, I am not sure how I got on the governor’s holiday mailing list, but I am grateful. So much so, I showed the card to my son, Matthew. He was duly impressed.
 
Admittedly, Matthew is a loyal conservative. So, it came as no surprise when he said, “Mom, you should keep this card!” 
 
And, of course, I will. And, who knows, maybe my six-year-old grandson will find it among my things — years from now — and confirm its worthiness as a special holiday keepsake too. And, just maybe, he will appreciate the other holiday cards I’ve opted to hold on to for him, as well. Like the one I got in December 2007.
 
The card was written by my mother, and it included an endearing message and prayer. My mother sent it during the last holiday season of her life. 
 
It still brings me joy to look again at that card, and at my mother’s handwriting. It’s pretty, even though it was penned by her left hand, the one she had to learn to write with after the stroke she suffered 20 years earlier. The beauty of the handwriting reminds me of my mother’s steadfast determination to do things right and well, no matter what! 
 
That card brings peace too. It reminds me of my mother’s love — for me and for the God she so believed in.
 
The card I got from my dad last year is the newest among my holiday treasures; it was the last I would receive from him. Now, I smile – and laugh — when I look at it. 
 
His handwriting was large and bold, designed to attract attention!  And, in some ways, it was playful — just like he was! 
 
When that card was written, my dad was 92 years old. Just  before sending it, he told me, “I’m getting old; I don’t need to send Christmas cards anymore.” 
 
But, a week later, he did send out cards! Lots of them!
 
Later, when I asked him what made him change his mind about the holiday cards, he said, in a hushed, almost reverent, tone, “Your mother always said sending cards to those you love and care about is very important. She said recipients really appreciate getting them. She said some people will even keep them. She said some cards live on long after we do!”
 
Then, with a smile and wink, he added, “I sent out cards again this year because, well, I want your mother to know I was listening!”
 
Then, he asked me, “Did you send out your holiday cards yet?” 
 
“Of course,” I said. “I was listening too!”
 
 

From the Publisher

Harvest Time

It was late summer, and I was enjoying a much-anticipated, carefree   Saturday afternoon. My only plan was to check out a few of my favorite haunts, seek out a treasure or two and come home refreshed by the experience.

Soon enough, I discovered the fall decorations had already popped up in most of the gift and novelty shops. Just inside their front doors, shoppers (like me) were coming face-to-face with lavish displays of plastic pumpkins and scarecrows. Painted wooden signs were scattered among the colorful mix. “Harvest Time” messages were bountiful.
 
But, it was 98 degrees outside (still summer, for sure), so I passed on the charming, rush-the-season embellishments.
 
My visit to a couple of department stores re-confirmed the obvious:  Retailers are much like scout leaders; they believe in being prepared. The clothing racks held nothing but wool skirts, dresses, jackets and coats. The table displays were heavy laden with knitted sweaters, gloves and caps. And, I kid you not, a couple of signs that read, “Harvest Time,” were scattered about.
 
Walking away, I couldn’t help but wonder, “What’s up with all these ‘Harvest Time’ signs in Houston?” 
 
At the grocery store, similar cool-weather scenes were present. Here, the emphasis was on the crops of the coming season. Again, pumpkins – of all shapes, sizes and textures – took center stage. And, now, as expected, there were “Harvest Time” signs for the taking. (Well, actually, for the buying.)
 
That night, while watching TV, I heard a news anchor mention the Harvest Moon. Influenced by all the “harvest” messages I had seen that day, I was curious about the Harvest Moon and why it was getting the star attention. Thanks to Google, I learned a lot.
 
• The Harvest Moon is the full moon that occurs closest to the autumn equinox. It appears early in the evening - just when the days are getting shorter. It is considered to be the brightest and biggest full moon of the year. 
• The Harvest Moon coincides with the fall harvest season in the Northern                Hemisphere, giving rise to traditional celebrations. A number of East and Southeast Asian cultures celebrate a festival around the harvest moon that is among their year’s most important holidays. Traditions include family reunions, moon gazing and sharing moon cakes, traditional round pastries with a variety of sweet fillings.  
• In Chinese culture, roundness symbolizes completeness and togetherness.                      A full moon symbolizes prosperity and reunion. 
 
“Wow,” I thought, “All good things to know!”
 
Then, I remembered Neil Young’s song, Harvest Moon, and felt compelled to listen to the tune right then. I did, and afterwards, I made a mental note to watch for the Harvest Moon to appear on September 27. Suddenly, I was more than a tiny bit eager to see its blood red color and celebrate - along with the rest of the world - its early rising.
 
Next day, I went shopping again. This time, I stocked up on all things “harvest.” I bought pumpkins and gourds and Indian corn. I bought a handsome-looking scarecrow and one of those familiar wooden signs extolling the approaching season! Then, for the first time ever, I bought a box of moon cakes - enough to feed a festive gathering of friends and family (should I decide to host a party). 
 
Clearly, retailers and Girl Scout leaders are right; it’s best to be prepared! 

From the Publisher

Restaurant Weak

Beverly DenverThe largest fundraiser for the largest food bank in the country — the Houston Food Bank — is a celebration of food and   charitable giving. Last year, it raised over $1.6 million to help feed the hungry and, since its beginning in 2003, it has raised more than $6 million. 

Cleverley Stone, host of a talk show on CBS Radio 650 about food, created Restaurant Week. Her idea was brilliantly simple, quite clever, actually: Local restaurants would donate a portion of their sales during a designated week to help feed the hungry, and Houstonians would be encouraged to dine out more often that week to support the cause. 

 

Since then, Restaurant Week has grown exponentially. It is now known as Restaurant Weeks, running this year from August 1 through September 7, and with more than 100 restaurants participating. The expansion says it all; the popular fundraiser has captured the hearts and minds (and stomachs) of many, including me!

 

Restaurant Weeks gives us more time to check out new restaurants or return to our favorites, more time to enjoy special menus created exclusively for this unique occasion and feel really good about supporting such a worthy cause.

 

There is, however, a downside – the expansion of this fundraiser has also led to the expansion of many waistlines,  including my own! It’s an august phenomenon that happens every year!

 

You see, folks like me love dining out in Houston, home of so many hip, award-winning restaurants offering a diversity of fare unmatched anywhere else on the globe.  

 

But, alas, during Restaurant Weeks, many of us fall prey to the temptations found on these local menus. They bring out the worst in us – the lack of control we experience when confronted with the options for a delicious three-course meal, the dimness of our resolve to forego appetizers and desserts to keep our pounds in check. 

 

But, then, we rationalize. It’s all for a worthy cause. Perhaps the most worthy of all! It’s okay; it feels really good to eat all this delicious food. To be among...the Restaurant Weak. 

 

From the Publisher

Marking Time

As we age, our birthdays seem to come around more and more quickly. And, with each passing year, we greet these special days with various forms of recognition. 

I’m keenly aware of this now, as I privately (and without ceremony) celebrate the 11th birthday of Houston Woman Magazine. 
 
Instead of hosting a party or popping  open a bottle of champagne, I am reflecting on the 4,000+ days I’ve spent on the work (and pleasures) of informing, inspiring and connecting successful women via this publication.
 
Top of mind are the women I’ve met and gotten to know well over the past 11 years. The number is staggering!
 
I am thinking about the amazing women who have been featured on the cover and among the pages of Houston Woman Magazine.
 
I am thinking about the financially supportive women who have signed up as subscribers and/or advertisers.
 
I am thinking about the ever-evolving women who have joined the Houston Woman Business Book Club.
 
I am thinking about the fun-loving women who have attended our networking events and/or workshops and classes. 
 
I am thinking about the women who have become the most fully engaged with what we do here and become a part of the Houston Woman Community!
 
Together, all these women make up a diverse group. Many are native-born Texans, the others got here, as they say, “as fast as they could.” Some grew up as Americans and in other states. Many, however, immigrated here from countries far and near. 
 
These women are smart and savvy. They are well educated,  energetic and enthusiastic. They are dreamers and achievers of great things – professionally, as well as in and for our                                    community.
 
Each of these women has a different story; yet, all have so much to share, so much to teach. In doing both, they inspire us all to do more - and better!
 
So, on this particular birthday, I am thinking about these women and celebrating — with grace and gratitude — their generous gifts of connection! 
 

From The Publisher

Beverly DenverQuestions and Answers
 
During the holiday season, I always find myself looking ahead to the next year and asking myself a lot of questions: What will the New Year hold? Will there be pleasant surprises? New challenges I can’t even imagine right now? Will new people come into my life? To learn from? To enjoy shared interests? Love?
 
Other questions come to the mind, as well. Are there things I’ve been wanting to do, but haven’t? Why is that? What should I do about it? Are there things I’m doing that no longer hold my interest or fascination? 
 
Why is that? What should I do about it? 
 
These are the same questions I asked myself at the end of last year. Mostly, the answers have revealed themselves. 
 
Today, I can look back and say, “It’s been a very good year — maybe the best one ever!”
 
I can say that because I’ve really thought about it — by asking myself more questions, seeking more answers.
  • What was the single best thing that happened this past year? Easy, Houston Woman Magazine turned 10 years old, and this 10-year breast cancer survivor is still hear to crow about it!
  • What was the single most challenging thing that happened this past year? That’s easy too: Finding time to do what I need to do for me (work out regularly, for example). 
  • What was an unexpected joy this past year? Another easy one, but I have two answers: Learning my son passed the CPA exam and finding out my daughter and her family will relocate from Chicago to Austin in 2015.
  • What was the best book I read this past year? Because I am a member of two books clubs, I read a lot of books in 2014. Picking the best one is too much like picking a favorite child. Just can’t do it. Suffice to say, I love them all — for different reasons! 
  • In what ways did I grow? Does growing out of a Size 8 count?
  • With whom are my most meaningful relationships? Family is a given, of course, but beyond relatives? 
Another easy one: It’s the relationships I have with women (and men) who encourage and inspire me to dream and envision, to serve this community in the ways I can and, most importantly, live my best and most authentic life ever. 
 
Answering questions may be the best exercise of all at this time of the year. Doing so gives me time to reflect and time to resolve: This year was great; next year will be even better. I just know it!

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