From The Publisher

From the Publisher

Crazy Eight

As a young girl I loved to play card games with my friends and family. I was a fierce competitor and, admittedly, beating other players was always the goal. One of my favorite games was Crazy Eights. 

I hadn’t thought about this childhood pastime in a very long time until recently — when I was talking to a new subscriber (and fellow business owner) about the launch of Houston Woman Magazine

I commented, “The magazine’s first issue came out in early 2004. Time has passed so quickly. It’s hard to believe the magazine is eight years old!”

She smiled (knowingly) and asked, “So, what’s it been like to watch your ‘baby’ grow?”

Without hesitation, I said, “Crazy! It’s been a crazy eight!”

Since that conversation, the words, Crazy Eight, have taken up permanent residence in my head, reminding me just how aptly the words  describe the past 96 adventure-filled months. When Houston Woman Magazine started, I had been a publishing entrepreneur for nearly 20 years. I knew launching a magazine would be tough and full of unexpected challenges. But, little did I know in 2004 how the scope of work would expand and evolve! 

The cliché, “You don’t know what you don’t know,” comes to mind.              

I thank God often for giving me the passion and skills to do my job but not a crystal ball to see too far into the future. Too much information could have been a bad thing; it might have smothered my ambition and kept me from taking bold steps in a new direction! 

I had expected to work hard – to attract advertisers who wanted to reach my niche market (successful Houston women) and to attract readers who wanted to stay informed, inspired and connected. What I didn’t expect were all the projects we would take on to broaden the scope of our mission.

The first of these projects was the creation of the Nominate HER Awards Program in 2006, designed to Honor Excellent Role Models in our community. Over the span of the past six years, we have presented 37 HER Awards and shared with you just as many inspiring stories of service to others. In May, we will present eight more HER Awards at the Sixth Annual HER Awards Luncheon and, again, we will tell you all about the recipients in an upcoming issue.

In 2008, we began recognizing Houston’s 50 Most Influential Women of the Year. We asked our subscribers to help us identify those who should be acknowledged, and they did. Now, five years later, being named to this list, featured in our special “50 Women” issue and honored at an exclusive Afternoon Tea at the St. Regis Hotel have become treasured experiences for many.  

In January 2009, we formed the Houston Woman Business Book Club to — once again — inform, inspire and connect successful women. That group has been meeting monthly ever since. And, to date, nearly 30 best-selling business books have been read and discussed. 

In April 2009, we launched the First Annual Houston Woman Business Directory to encourage women to do business with other women. The fourth annual edition of that directory is in the works now, with distribution planned for mid-June.

Somewhere along the line, we started hosting networking events, blogging, making friends on Facebook and posting updates and content on Twitter. 

As I told that new subscriber, ‘It’s been a crazy eight.”

I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.

From The Publisher

Making Merry

It’s that time of year again, and I am multitasking like crazy. Trying to keep up with all my responsibilities at work and the expectations of others at home is more challenging than ever. It is also, I might add, totally exhausting!

I’ve come to the confusion, though, that “making merry” is key. Even at places you’d rather not be!

For example, it’s difficult for me to leave the comforts of home during the holiday season to drive over to the office – just to get on the phone or on the computer. Often, I tell myself, “I can do both from home and accomplish just as much.” 

Then, I rationalize some more. “When I work from home I’m able to spend more time enjoying the Christmas tree in the living room or my collection of hand-carved nutcrackers in the kitchen. Simple pleasures, for sure, but special ones right now.”

So, to force myself to venture out in the mornings, I had to “make merry” at work too. I put a festive holiday wreath on the office door, a giant poinsettia plant in one corner and wrote “Happy Holidays” in bright red letters on the marker board. As holiday cards come in, I’ve put them out on window ledges to remind me how many friends I’ve made via the business. 

Then, as an added enticement, I loaded up the office’s mini-fridge with lots of holiday beverages and goodies to lure me in. Also, on my desk is a Santa-shaped bowl, filled with my favorite chocolates — all wrapped in shiny red and green and silver foil papers.

Often, when I am at home, I think of those chocolates and am motivated to drive on over to the office just to eat a few.
A friend of mine has a job that requires her to be in her mini van much of the day — driving to and from client appointments all around town. She admitted to me recently that she faces the same challenge I do.

She said, “I love the holidays. I just want to be home, listen to Christmas music, bake cookies and wrap presents. Being in my van so much made me feel like I was missing out on too much of the holiday fun. So, I decided to do something about it.”

Naturally, I asked, “What did you do? 

Instead of answering me, she walked me outside and pointed to her light brown van — now adorned with a bright red nose on top of its hood ornament and a pair of reindeer antlers sticking out of its front windows!

“Hey,” she said, “that’s not all I’ve done. I’ve turned the radio to a station that features uninterrupted holiday music all day long. So, wherever I go, I am able to enjoy this very special season. And, that alone, makes me merry. Very, very merry!”

From The Publisher

BeverlyDenver_thumbGhosts and Goblins

Even though the temperatures here in Houston are still measuring 90 degrees and above, and it doesn’t feel a bit like autumn, I can’t help but get a welcomed chill up my spine every time I walk into a shop and see its display shelves filled with all things Halloween. 

When I was a kid, I loved seeing all the orange and black decorations. I loved the candy corn. I loved the carved pumpkins (both real and unreal) and the straw-stuffed scarecrows. I loved all the witch hats and broomsticks. Nothing has changed; I still love those things, and having them around my house during the season is fun.

Like many others, I put a jack-o-lantern on my porch and a holiday decoration on my front door. I light pumpkin-scented candles and suspend a flying witch from the ceiling of my kitchen. I adorn tabletops in the living room with Halloween-inspired dolls and figurines. 

I place a black velvet pillow with rhinestones spelling out the word, “Spooky,” on a side chair and place a black and orange needlepoint pillow with the word, “Boo,” on it on the sofa. Clearly, in my house, a theme for the month has been declared and punctuated.

Mostly, I do all of this for me — because doing so is such a simple and delightful pleasure!

It’s also fun to wear a costume on Halloween night and surprise the neighborhood kids when they come to my house, ring the doorbell and shout, “Trick or Treat.” Wearing a costume, more than anything else, reminds me of some of the most enchanted nights of my childhood.

I was blessed with an indulgent mother who sewed well. No matter what I wanted “to be” for Halloween, she found the time to create the perfect costume. And, having a professional photographer as a father came in handy too. Every year, no matter how old I got, the way I looked in my new costume was immortalized on film — dare I ever try to forget how much effort was exerted on my behalf.

Back then, dressing up as a ghost or goblin was not for me — nor was wearing any costume that didn’t enhance my self-image. Dressing up in a pretty outfit —as a fairy princess or a prima ballerina — was deemed much, much better!

When my daughter, Nicole, was young I was the one sewing the costumes. I would come up with some unique ideas but, year after year, she wanted me to make her something “pretty.” Like her mother, she too wanted to be a fairy princess or a prima ballerina. Now, I am blessed with Alexandra, my four-year-old granddaughter. The other day I called her and asked about the approaching holiday. 

“Alexandra, do you know what you are going to be for Halloween?”

There was a pause, so I filled the gap. “Are you going to be a ghost or a goblin?”“No way,” she said with conviction.
“Well, are you going to be a doctor? A lawyer? An engineer?” I asked.

“Grandma, you are so silly,” she said. “No, I’m not going to be any of those people. I’m going to be a fairy princess. A very pretty fairy princess! I’m going to wear a long, pink dress and a diamond tiara!”

I couldn’t help but smile and think: Some things never change!

And, when it comes to little girls and Halloween, I guess that’s okay! There’s no better time to live and enjoy the fantasy!

From The Publisher

Beverly DenverDog Days of Summer

No longer am I keeping track of the number of days I have suffered through temperatures above 100 degrees. Instead, I am ignoring all the forecasts for more weeks of the same. I don’t need a Barbie- or Ken-like weatherperson to tell me precisely how hot it is in Houston. By taking just one step outside, I’m fully aware of the intensity of the heat (and humidity). 

The Dog Days of Summer are here and, like many others, I’ve just about had it. Staying in the house when it’s hot outside is okay for a while, but too much of it, and I’m like a Pit Bull in a crate. I feel cooped up, am easily irritated, and I snap at people. Not good! 

The other night I got to thinking about this and the term, Dog Days of Summer, and wondered exactly how they got their name. A quick search on Google taught me a lot.

“The Romans referred to the dog days as diēs caniculārēs and associated the hot weather with the star Sirius. They considered Sirius to be the Dog Star because it is the brightest star in the constellation Canis Major (large dog)…Originally, during the Dog Days, Sirius rose about the same time as the sun, so the Romans believed the star was the cause of the hot, sultry weather…Dog Days were considered an evil time, when the seas boiled, wine turned sour, dogs grew mad and all creatures became languid.” 

Knowing other “creatures” have been discomforted by the Dog Days of Summer for centuries is comforting. So too is the fact that nowadays there are a myriad of ways to ease the hardship and pain of triple-digit temps — many more than were available for all those Romans. So, I’ve decided to focus on them, venture out and count my blessings. 

  • Blessing One: I can leave my house in my air-conditioned car. 
  • Blessing Two: I can spend hours in air-conditioned shops and/or restaurants. 
  • Blessing Three: I can find an icy cold Mocha Frappuccino or frozen Margarita (with salt) on every street corner in Houston. 
  • Blessing Four: I can go see a film or play in a number of beautiful, air-conditioned theaters.
  • Blessing Five: I can jump in my girlfriend’s swimming pool “as often as I want.” Oh my goodness, the blessings go on and on.  

I look over at my favorite four-legged pal, Winston, to ask if he’d like to “go for a ride in my air-conditioned car.” But, knowing it’s always best to let sleeping dogs lie, I merely smile, and leave him alone. Suddenly, I realize: The heat is keeping Winston inside more than usual too, but he doesn’t seem to be bothered by that at all. He doesn’t act out or fuss. He doesn’t bark or growl. During these challenging Dog Days of Summer, this darling little Schnoodle merely crawls in his bed and sleeps and sleeps and sleeps. When he does wake up, it seems he’s more energetic and sweeter than ever.  

Once again, I smile, but this time with new awareness. 

Seems I can learn a lot from Winston — especially when it comes to dealing with the Dog Days of Summer. Clearly, he has learned (and mastered) the trick!

From The Publisher

BeverlyDenver_thumbSummer Reading

The other day, in the grocery store, I overheard a young child telling her mother she had already finished two of the books on her Summer Reading List. Both of the books she mentioned were Classics — books I should have read myself long ago but, for some reason or other, never did. That got me thinking. 

Why hadn’t I read those two books? I’ve certainly lived through a whole lot more summers than that little girl. And, I spent most of them perched under a shade tree or on a beach blanket with a book in my hand, didn’t I? Why hadn’t I made good use of all those idle days of summer and read all of The Classics by now? What had I been reading instead?

The answer, of course, is “books that seemed, well, more relevant.”

When I was in school, “relevant” meant keeping up with the interests of my girlfriends. So, I read dozens (and dozens) of fashion magazines and quick-and-easy-to-read romance novels. It wasn’t a total waste of time. I did learn how to dress trendy and wear makeup. I also learned exactly how my knight in shining armor ought to be treating me. 

A few years later, when I was a young wife and mother, my “relevant” reading changed. Becoming a Super Mom was my top priority, so I read stacks of books and magazines about decorating, landscaping, cooking, entertaining and, of course, raising extraordinary kids. I did this for years — until I finally realized being a Super Mom made focusing on the really important things in life just too difficult.

When I was ready to re-enter the workforce, my “relevant” reading was all about work — getting a job, keeping a job, negotiating a raise, quitting a job, starting my own business. What I didn’t know was overwhelming, so reading this type of material — day and night — seemed like the right thing to do!

I’ve been working for myself for over 20 years now, and I continue to be somewhat obsessive in my efforts to read “relevant” material. I can’t even tell you how many articles, blogs and books I’ve read in the past two decades about advertising, marketing, PR and sales, leadership and management. And, now there’s social media. Seems I will never, ever know enough about these “relevant” subjects to find time to read anything else — like The Classics!

After all my “thinking,” I turned to the mother and her daughter and said, “I would really love to read those two books myself. But, sadly, I never have. I’m a writer, and not reading more of The Classics is something I truly regret.”

The little girl spoke up, “My mommy says ‘it’s never too late to do the things you want to do.’ And, my daddy says, ‘You should never have regrets in your life.’ Maybe you should start reading the old books now? They really are good!”

Before I could respond, the little girl continued, “I get a gold star every time I finish reading a new book on my Summer Reading List. I got six stars last summer.” 

Then she added, “If you start now, you should be able to get a lot of stars — I mean books read — before school starts. Then, you wouldn’t have as many regrets.”

I couldn’t help but smile at her and think, “Of course, she’s right! Having fewer regrets would be a good thing.”

That night I downloaded the first book on my new Summer Reading List on my Kindle. I would tell you its name but doing so would be just embarrassing! I’d prefer you just assume I read that particular Classic a long, long time ago.

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