Dear Austin

From the first moment we met I was bewitched. You were the most beautiful thing I’d ever laid eyes on, and you became a fun, lively, open-minded companion. The longer we’ve been together the deeper my love grew. Strangers may have thought you were weird, but they didn’t know you as I did: delightfully accepting of everyone, easy-going, and a tad eccentric.

imageAlthough your outer beauty has not paled, you have changed. It began slowly, imperceptibly, then became increasingly obvious.

You’re always in a rush. You’ve got everyone tied up in knots. You’ve become aggressive and often outright hostile…acting as if you’re more important than everyone around you. Nowhere is it more obvious than on the road: speeding, tailgating, texting while you drive (you also eat, apply make-up, and work on your lap-top while you steer with your knees) and take dangerous and stupid risks. Why are you being so rude?

I wish I could say that these bad habits are outweighed by your cooking and the way you can shake-shake-shake a cocktail – after all, when I met you in 1978, you couldn’t even boil water. But, while your abilities are broader and more accomplished, you have become less accessible, less inclusive, and less humanist.  You are turning into a social-climbing conservative.

I will dream of the “old you” and be looking for that everywhere I travel.  While your beauty will always take my breath away,  you’ve gotten just a little too big for your britches, missy!

XO Donna


(Note – Today I read that the estimates of people moving to Austin (and metro areas) is now 100 people a day – that makes 3,000/month! We are the second fasted-growing city, right behind Dallas. Our population is estimated at 1.9 million+)



You Can Go Home

It’s the time of the year for one of my favorite Thanksgiving movies – “Home for the Holidays,” starring Robert Downey Jr, Holly Hunter, Dylan McDermott, Anne Bancroft, Charles Durning, and directed by Jodie Foster. I see elements of my own family in it, and it used to make me both laugh…and cry. Even though it’s nine years old, most of the elements are still (maybe even more) timely.

I’m going to let Roger Ebert’s November 3, 1995 review tell the story…

‘There is a point in Jodie Foster’s “Home for the Holidays” where a brother and his brother-in-law are fighting on the front lawn while their father tries to break it up by wetting them down with a garden hose. Looking across the street at the neighbors gawking, the father snarls, “Go back to your own goddamn holidays!”

The movie, which is about the Thanksgiving family reunion from hell, is not exactly a comedy but not a drama, either. Like many family reunions it has a little of both elements, and a strong sense that madness is being held just out of sight.

Have we not all, on our way to family gatherings, parked the car a block away, taken several  deep breaths, rubbed our eyes, massaged our temples, and driven on, gritting our teeth? That is not because we do not love our families, but because we know them so well.’

imageHere’s what I have learned about family this past week.

  • When we go into situations with expectations and assumptions,  we will probably get to be right.
  • When we go somewhere/do something because we choose to, as opposed to doing it out of obligation, everyone wins. So if you really believe you MUST do something…choose it. How you view it makes all of the difference.
  • Stay present. Forget what happened in the past. Be Here Now.
  • Strive to be part of a solution, or a process, that results in the best possible outcome for all involved.
  • Focus on everything you have to be grateful for.

You’ll be surprised how much fun you can have and how well you can all get along. All you need is love. And some bourbon and eggnog. And this great movie.

I wish you all a wonderful Thanksgiving next week!

XO Donna

Sacred Love

As I write this I am listening to Sting’s “Sacred Love.”  I am a jumble of emotions today; my heart’s on my sleeve and I’m both excited, and on the verge of tears. Joy and sadness. Memories and new beginnings. Life is happening.

Today is my mother Evelyn’s  birthday, she would have been 83.  Last night her first Great-Grandchild was born. My beautiful niece Roxy (whose name is a nod to both my Mom’s middle name – Roxanne, and to Brian Ferry’s Roxy Music) had a precious baby boy last night!

MAC newbornMeet Mario Alexander Carranza.  He’ll be called Alex for short. (I lobbied for MAC, but nobody took me seriously!) He weighs 7 lb. 3 oz. and is 20.5″ long.  We had all hoped that he’d be born today, on Mom’s birthday…but if she had anything to do with the turnings of the Universe, she made sure he’d have his very own day!

This now makes my youngest sister, Elizabeth, the first of us to be a Grandmother. Of course, we could all tease her about it, (there are 5 girls in my family) but I don’t thinkFairy Godmothers there’s going to be any teasing…I think we are all awestruck!

This is the closest I’ll get to being a grandmother…so, I will gladly play the role of Great-Aunt, or Fairy Godmother, whatever is needed. I keep picturing my sisters and myself standing at the end of the baby’s bassinet, staring like we’ve never seen a baby before. But, this is different, he’s OURS!

I know that my niece will be a wonderful mother. If she’s got any questions, my sister will be a doting Grandmother, and there will be four more Aunties waiting in the wings. Or maybe just three…and one Fairy Godmother!

MAC 18 ours oldHappy Birthday, Mom! And welcome to planet Earth, Mario Alexander Carranza! 

XO Donna

…a world without beauty

I read this today while having my morning coffee;  it was posted by a FB friend, Rick Wellman of Patrick Melville Salon in NYC.  He said, “With all the serious issues and tragedies in the news, sometimes I feel a little superficial posting hair stuff. Then, I close my eyes and imagine a world without beauty and hair color.”

We have art in order not to die of the truth.  Friedrich Nietzsche

His comment, so vulnerable, really touched me, because I too have wondered if my lifelong obsession with how things looked, and with fashion and home magazines was shallow.  Rick’s clients and friends responded by telling him how much they love his beautiful “before and after” photographs, and that his art is a welcomed relief and escape from all of theWinged Victory sadness in the news.

We all bring different gifts to the table, and I realize that for me, the world is about beauty, art, words…and making order out of disorder where, and how, I can.  I know terrible things are happening all over the world, but does it help the world for me to suffer too?  Why add to the suffering?  Be conscious of other’s circumstances, and be grateful that their reality is not your reality!

Bad things do happen; how I respond to them defines my character and the quality of my life.  I can choose to rise from the pain and treasure the most precious gift I have – life itself.  Walter Anderson

The most effective way to help the world is to work within your “sphere of influence.”  We all have a circle of friends and acquaintances, and business and social networks. Start there. While I am aware that I can’t feed all of the people who are starving on the other side of the world, I can donate to Meals on Wheels so that a person right here in my city will be fed. I can’t help all of the people in the refugee camps, but I can contribute to Habitat for Humanity locally so a person here can have a better home.  I can buy locally to help our farmers. And I can tell my family, friends and clients how much I love and value them.

All the world is full of suffering. It is also full of overcoming.  Helen Keller

I believe that by staying positive and constructive, we can add light and hope to the world. We can hold the image of a brighter and better future for everyone, and we can do our part to ease the burden through our love!

One word frees us of all the weight and pain of life; and that word is love.   Sophocles

XO Donna