Self Expression Center

December 1, 2001 by  
Filed under Edit

Ground your Anxiety ? Just Be Yourself

by DJ Thomas

For anyone who has ever suffered anxiety over the thought of speaking before a group ? be it two or 200 people ? Sandra Zimmer has a simple solution: Get grounded, and be your authentic self.

When you’re grounded and authentic, it’s very easy to connect with others and win them over with your newfound charisma and magnetism, says Zimmer, founder of Houston?s Self-Expression Center.

Zimmer, whose background includes theater, voice coaching and psychology, admits that “grounding” and “authenticity” are just words, but she has put words into action and, over the past 25 years, created concrete results for thousands of people.

A former actress, Zimmer uses the terms “stage fright” and “performance anxiety” as they apply to the stage of life, not just the theater stage. As Zimmer sees it, most people develop performance anxiety whenever they become the center of attention. It can happen anytime all eyes are turned on you, whether you’re speaking at a big meeting or just talking one on one.

The root of anxiety, says Zimmer, is fear of being judged. In fact, we already have pre-judged ourselves against an impossible standard of perfection, and we have failed. Therefore, it’s no wonder we fear others also will judge us negatively. In the face of such overwhelming fear, most people experience an automatic reflex in which they temporarily float out of their bodies, leaving them feeling disconnected and disintegrated. If you’re not connected to your true self, how can you possibly connect to anyone else?

Zimmer teaches that the keys to overcoming performance anxiety are allowing yourself to be who you really are (authenticity) and getting back into your body (groundedness).

She defines authenticity as abandoning all fear of judgment and giving yourself permission to show other people your true self, instead of who you think you should be.

“By being authentic, you create a congruence between your inner and outer worlds,” she says. “You give yourself permission to show deeper parts of yourself, your inner thoughts and feelings.”

Being authentic means taking a risk, but the payoff can be tremendous. “Other people are drawn to authenticity, whether they can name it or not. Even difficult people will open up like flowers when you are being your true self,” she says.

Before you can be authentic, it’s essential to repair the anxiety-driven disconnect between mind and body. This is done best by getting grounded, or “coming home to your body,” as Zimmer describes it.

“Grounding is relaxing into your own skin, bringing spirit awareness into the body,” she says.
“Grounding clears your head, energizes your body and allows you to think clearly. Grounding not only makes connection possible but also comfortable.”

The wonderful feeling of being at home in your body may be new for most people, since we live in a culture that encourages us to think, not feel. We are also constantly rushing around, seeking to rev up our output, so even taking 10 minutes to get grounded can be a daunting challenge.

“We’re so used to operating out of our heads, most people don?t have a personal point of reference for being at home in their bodies,”  Zimmer says.

All grounding techniques have two things in common. One: They involve getting in touch with the physical body, whether through breath awareness, exercise, yoga or some other method. Two: You not only need to slow down, but come to a complete stop for five to 10 minutes.

Zimmer has developed a 10-minute grounding tape that has received glowing reviews from students at the Self-Expression Center and people around the world who have ordered it from the center’s Web site. The tape directs listeners to harness all of the frenetic energy swirling inside and around their heads and then to let that energy seep through every part of the body. At the end of the tape, listeners feel calm and in touch with their entire bodies, especially in the all-important solar plexus, a network of nerves located in the stomach.

Like most symptoms, anxiety is actually a signpost pointing to a hidden treasure, Zimmer says. “Those of us who feel anxiety believe there must be something wrong with us. The wonderful part is that there’s really something very right with us,”  she says. “That same anxiety is the sign of an incredible gift, which is sensitivity. We feel called to share our gift, and once we accept the task of feeling the anxiety and processing it, it transforms into passion and charisma.”

Zimmer said it’s crucial to provide a safe, nurturing and non-critical place where people can learn to express their authentic selves and tell their stories. Developing these skills in a group setting is also important, which is why Zimmer’s “Speaking from the Heart” workshops have been one of the Self-Expression Center’s most enduring offerings, along with classes such as “The Power of Your Speaking Voice” and “Communication Soft Skills.”

For more information call the Self-Expression Center at (281) 293-7070, or visit the Web site at

Memorable Holiday Gifts

December 1, 2001 by  
Filed under Edit

What is the Most Memorable Gift you Have Ever Given or Received?

The most memorable gift I ever received was my 40th birthday gift from my wife. It was a surprise party. We were supposed to be meeting for dinner at a restaurant in Indianapolis. We started walking through the restaurant, and we ran into some people I knew and then a few more. We were new to Indianapolis and didn’t know that many people, so I thought it a little odd. Then we were sitting at the bar, and I was tapped on my shoulder. When I turned around, it was my two best friends from New York. They were in waiter costumes. I nearly fell out of my chair. We all went to a private room, and my friends gave me the ultimate toast. Then my wife gave me a trip to play golf in Pebble Beach (California). We met my same two best friends and their wives at Pebble Beach and had a wonderful time. It was the greatest.

D’ Artagnan Bebel
Vice president and general manager, Fox 26 KRIV

When I was 13, I received a Dooney & Bourke purse from my father. It was my first actual expensive handbag, and I had been waiting for it all year. I was the envy of all of my friends.

Marisa Rodriguez
Major account executive, Skytel

I was dating a girl who didn’t live in Houston. We didn?t think we were going to be able to see each other for the holidays. So I surprised her and sent an airline ticket to Houston.

Christopher Ware
Enron EES

Spirituality is a gift that I receive freely and attempt to give every day. Sharing my spirituality is the best gift I have ever been given. It is also the best gift I can give.

Greg Fodel
Chairman, Marine Lumber Company

This year, one of my prized puppies had to be put down. It was a sad time in my life. Then, about three days later, my good friends, John and Sue Kerridge, brought me a new puppy. They said, “Happy holidays, just a little early.” It was so touching. I named her Lady Kerry Lee in honor of the dog I put down and the people who gave me the gift.

Judy Nichols
President, Judy Nichols and Associates

Roger Gray

December 1, 2001 by  
Filed under Edit

In Your Face

by Roger Gray

Memo: Houston Chamber of Commerce

CC: Convention and Visitors? Bureau, Houston Proud (or Houston’s Hot or whatever our self-conscious city boosters are calling it these days)

Hey gang,

Just a thought here. Considering what’s going on in the world, don’t you think it might be time to adopt a lower profile? After all, no one comes to Houston on vacation. Can you honestly picture Joe and Jane Average sitting on the divan in Des Moines and saying, “Hey, how about Houston this summer?” Don’t be silly.

So, since your efforts are doomed to failure, let’s just stay what we’ve always been ­ a great, underappreciated city where people live successful lives and enjoy the benefits of an international metropolis. Most folks don?t know we are the fourth largest city with the second largest port in the country. Let’s keep it that way. With terrorism virtually an Olympic event these days, why draw attention to yourself? And speaking of that, we are not, I repeat, not going to get the Olympics, so stop making noise about it.

The Astros did their part by folding up like a cardboard suitcase against Atlanta. Hakeem left, so we won’t hear from the Rockets for a decade. And if we?re lucky, the Texans will continue that Oiler tradition of choking like Mama Cass. Some guy you never heard of is conducting the symphony, and the ballet board has formed a circular firing squad around Ben Stevenson. Hey, Houston, it?s the 2000s. Stay low. Take the long way home. Duck and cover.

Tweedledum and Tweedledummer?

So the main hurdles to a federal airport security force were our very own examples of the downside of self-government, Reps. Dick Armey and Tom DeLay, neither of whom will ever be mistaken for Jefferson. OK, maybe George Jefferson. Seems they saw a regulated, standardized federal force of security folks to ensure the safety of air travel, all the rest of which is federally regulated, as an example of big government. Well, when the Capitol Hill police, who came to DeLay?s rescue when a nut with a pistol shot his way in, are converted to $6 an hour rent-a-cops, then he can complain. When Brink?s replaces the Secret Service, then they’ve got a case. How embarrassed do we have to be here and in Dallas/Fort Worth to rethink our representation?

And on that note, “Well, yes, Mr. Boney, there is a dog called an Afghan, but it has nothing to do with?”

Kofi Annan, U.N. secretary-general, Nobel Peace Prize winner and, interestingly enough, one of the General Foods International Kofis, came to Houston recently to discuss terrorism. The meeting was not open to the public, thus sparing us any embarrassing display of our city officials? lack of knowledge of the world east of Kingwood.

All Music, all the Time?

When the worst act of terrorism in history shocked America to its core, Houston radio listeners were kept abreast of the latest news, no matter what format they prefer unless they speak Spanish. While everyone from avant-garde rockers to classical broadcasters interspersed more news than ever into their formats, to the best of our knowledge, the only group to ignore the events of that day were those stations owned by Lieberman Broadcasting. This company, which bought a collection of stations from Clear Channel a while back, including KJOJ, KTJM and KQUE along with Channel 61, didn’t see fit to interrupt the music ­ and more importantly the commercials ­ to let Latino listeners know what was happening. One Lieberman station that did, KSEV, is leased by Dan Patrick and his gang of goose-steppers. But at least they had the good sense, or is decency the right word, to keep folks up to date (with spin of course), and damn the commercials. Another sad by-product of broadcast deregulation. The Lieberman crowd must figure the government doesn?t require news, so we won’t do any. Shameful.

Catherine Lanigan

December 1, 2001 by  
Filed under Uncategorized

Angels Among Us

by Fran Fawcett-Peterson

Catherine Lanigan has no fear  a trait exhibited by every heroine in each of her 26 romance novels. Perhaps an unfailing faith in the face of all circumstance marks the essence of the romance novel. It’s certainly the essence of this author’s books. Books that have been translated into 23 languages and produced fans the world over.

With the world at her fingertips, Lanigan chose Houston as her home, first arriving in the 1970s. “Houston has become my home. I just dug in and sank my roots,” she says. All the same, it took a little while for Lanigan to realize just how deeply her roots reached. The writer returned to her native Indiana for a few years to help take care of her ailing mother, and that’s when she discovered that, as much as she appreciated her home in suburban Chicago, she had fallen in love with Houston. “I mean, I missed the dirt,” she says. “My heart is here.” So, with her belongings packed in a U-haul truck, she set out for the Lone Star State, stopping only briefly at the state line to kiss the Texas earth.

Always a storyteller, Lanigan was the eldest of four children. She routinely made up stories to entertain her siblings because her mother was ill, and young Lanigan wanted to keep the household quiet. Her father didn’t believe in the so-called “idiot box,” so there was no television in the household, leaving the children instead with books and their imaginations. For years, Lanigan dreamed of becoming a writer.

Sometimes dreams are snagged in the nets of everyday life. For the true believer, however, they remain only temporarily tangled. Lanigan’s dream was “snagged” during her freshman year of college. She was enrolled in a creative writing class taught by a visiting professor from Harvard, a class typically reserved for upper classmen. After the first writing assignment, the professor called her into his office and threw her story across the desk at her. It landed unceremoniously in her lap. She was stunned to hear him say she had no talent and would never be a writer. She was crushed, and worse than that, she believed him.

Lanigan didn’t write again for 14 years. During that time, she married, had a son and became a businesswoman, owning a swimming pool company in Houston among other ventures. Then, in 1979, she met a journalist, Hugh Ainsworth, beside a swimming pool at a hotel in San Antonio as she played with her son.

“I always wanted to be a writer,” she told Ainsworth.

“If you wanted to write you’d be writing,”  he laughed.

“Oh, no, I have it on good authority I have absolutely no talent,” Lanigan said and proceeded to tell him about the professor and the abrupt termination of her dream. His answer to that would change the course of her life.

“I’m ashamed of you,” he said. “You haven’t even tried.”

The statement hit a nerve in the soon-to-be novelist. Lanigan’s mother had always said that, and Ainsworth’s words echoed in a part of Lanigan’s soul that would not stand still for it. The journalist gave her his card and told her he would read anything she produced. Lanigan did indeed write, and, true to his word, Ainsworth read it and even recommended her first story, a World War I historical novel, to his editor. Her very first effort, “Bound by Love,” was a success.

Other successes followed. “The Promise,” set in Houston in the late 1800s, features a gutsy heroine who makes it on her own in the rough and tough world of the day, up to and including the devastating turn-of-the-century Galveston storm. “The Legend Makers,” set in the steamy jungles of the Amazon, offers the tale of a Texas geologist on a mission that will change her life forever. And then, there’s “Wings of Destiny: An Epic Saga of Self-discovery.” “This is the story,” according to the book jacket, “of every human being’s struggle to embrace the haunting secrets of their heritage and utilize them as catalysts to unearth the fortunes of their own soul.”

Notably, Lanigan’s most recent works are factually based. “The Evolving Woman’s subtitled, “Intimate Confessions of Surviving Mr. Wrong.”

“With this novel,” states Romantic Times, “Lanigan introduced “The Evolving Woman” heroine who, given a set of circumstances, makes choices that enrich who she is as well as the world around her.”

Then came “Angel Watch,” subtitled “Goosebumps, Dreams, Signs and Divine Nudges.” In it, Lanigan reveals a great deal of herself, including the fact that she believes that an angel appeared to her father before he died and told him to tell her to write this book. It contains stories from her own life and the lives of others in an illustration of divine intervention.

Lanigan says she believes God has put her on Earth for a very specific reason and that her guardian angels are helping with her mission. “You know, Ayn Rand said that literature must have “an underlying moral thematic structure,” and I have always tried to have that. But now I?m taking it a step further and saying literature must have an underlying moral and spiritual thematic structure.”

Lanigan currently is busy with a series of books for young adults, several screenplays and, not to disappoint her romance fans, she says she’ll continue to create in that vein as well. Thanks to faith, Lanigan is watching her dreams come true and taking us along for the literary ride.

Cindi Rose Arty Parties

December 1, 2001 by  
Filed under Edit

Arty Parties

by Cindi Harwood-Rose

You don’t need a magazine to tell you how to throw a party. But then again, how many non-creative barbecues, Mardi Gras celebrations, fiestas, luaus, 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s and millennium parties have you been to? These are fine for get-togethers, but if you want your party to be immortalized as the party, it must be creative.

It?s sometimes said ?the people make the party.? The truth is, everything makes the party ? the concept, the entertainment, the invitations, the party favors, the food, the creativity, the decorations and the guest list.

So here are five phenomenal party ideas for you to consider during the holiday season. There are so many great party ideas that it is hard to choose one, but all of these can be tailored to anyone from 8 to 80 years old.


Joan Lebow at Invitations by Joan, (713) 782-4141, can arrange the whole shindig, including the decorations, photographer, invitations, party favors, valet parking and imprinted napkins. She has a classy, Nicole Kidman look-alike who comes and sings and dances scenes from the movie ?Moulin Rouge,? including the well-known tune ?Diamonds are a Girls Best Friend.? Strings of pearls and plastic diamond rings can be used for decorations, and lush, rich, burgundy and red velvet can embellish the tables and drape the room. Invitations can be ordered for a few dollars to $25 a person. Lebow does computer calligraphy or can hire a calligrapher for you. Among her entourage are caricature artists, dancers, musicians, a silhouette artist, astrologers, handwriting specialists, jugglers, acrobatic midgets, mimes and party decorators. These entertainers range in price from $95 an hour to $300 per performance. If you want to look erotic and crazy for this festivity, call Johnathan Lucas at Tovas at (713) 439-1414. He can rouge any Moulin.


Pamela Reingold, (713) 661-7997, is a fine artist, mime and an angel-reader. You can hire her at your event for a minimum of $200. Reingold brings a chair that she actually built, which wears shoes and has mannequin hands and a hand-painted, life-size photo face. It can be Elvis, Einstein or Marilyn. It is a piece of art. Reingold wears a neon wig, mimes and writes everyone?s ?angel reading? on a flour tortilla that she has hardened and shaped in a heart. She really believes that your angel talks to her angel and tells you positive and helpful messages. Children and adults both delight at the angel readings. Guests take the tortilla home as a party favor. A personalized chair of you or your honoree can be created for $800 to $2,000, which is the price they sell for in art galleries around Houston. This can include neon and recorded voices. Your guests can sign this chair, and Reingold will shellac it and deliver it to you later as a lifetime souvenir, artwork and conversation piece. Reingold also conducts ?chair parties.? These are for people who purchased a chair. They are invited to their chair?s ?unveiling? and a seated dinner. Reingold can have their recorded voices talk from chair to chair with miniature dramas going on. To attend one of these unforgettable events, you merely have to order a personalized chair.

Canine Cocktail Party

DeAnne Doane, (713) 451-9983, held a precious pet parade for her ?fuzzy,? who she said was ?bone to party.? This party animal invited all her friends to dress their pets in costumes to celebrate her dog, Inga Marie?s, birthday. Inga wore a leopard print sarong and sunglasses. Mary Kay Freeman?s barker, Angel, dressed as an angel with a halo. All the animals ?put on the dog? and came in tuxes, Chanel-style suits, beads, vests, bows and bow ties. The Three Dog Bakery in River Oaks made an edible cake for the canines, and Doane served Frosty Paws ice cream to the pets, which she says Randalls carries. Pets were served milk bones from silver trays, and the adults were given cocktails and people chow. There was not one dogfight, even though 17 dogs and 22 people attended. Blue ribbons should be given to every single pet. So successful was this that Doane now has a line of Canine Haute Couture for your pet including costumes, leashes, hats, houses and collars. It is sold throughout the country and at Tootsies in Houston or by appointment. Sharon and Mike Brier had a Bark Mitzvah for their dog and a Meow Mitzvah for their cat. After all, any excuse is a good excuse for a party. Make no bones about it.


This is a paint-your-own-pottery studio with two locations, Memorial at Voss, (713) 278-7300, and River Oaks, (713) 807-8900. Both locations accommodate parties up to 50, have ample parking and are suitable for children. The River Oaks location sells beer and wine. Food can be catered in or picked up from any of the many restaurants in the area. This is an unrivaled place to throw an easy, inventive gathering. Parties start at about $18 a person, which includes 90 minutes of painting and a choice of a simple piece of pottery such as a small vase, mug, canister or box. Large platters and teapots can cost $30 or more. There are more than 50 colors to choose from, as well as stencils, sponges, stamps, brushes and idea books to spur the right side of the brain into the imagination mode. The Mad Potter boasts the largest selection and inventory of pottery in Houston. Brides have come in and registered for all their dishes, and their guests have painted them at the bridal shower and given them as their shower gifts. These are then kiln-fired and picked up five days later. All pieces after firing are food-safe, dishwasher-safe, and microwaveable. Men really seem to enjoy this place, and the conversations are boundless. Everyone leaves feeling proud, and the hostess can give each of them their masterpieces in less than a week.


Lucky guests can be sent invitations from Tanglewood Pharmacy and Stationery, which is a posh pharmacy, stationery shop, gift store and mini-museum. There is a post office on hand, and the friendly personnel can design, address and send your invitations for a couple of dollars per person to as much as $75 for a masterpiece. They monogram and engrave an assortment of sterling silver, linens and baby gifts.

The party part is a “Tanglewood Tea” for eight privileged friends and costs $25 per person. Guests will arrive and be served sandwiches, tea and cookies on 19th and 20th century china and sterling. Owner, Marjorie Maxfield, an award-winning advertising guru, will let the guests choose color and type style for their own box of Crane?s note cards and envelopes, which they will receive imprinted with their name on it when the 2-4 p.m. afternoon festivities conclude. Next, she will pass out pad and pen so serious notes can be taken. There is a stationery etiquette quiz game, and the winner receives a silver compact mirror. Exclusive gift-wrapping demos are performed, and afterwards, Maxfield discusses invitation manners such as the appropriate stationery trousseau and whether to send a letter or card. She also discusses what to say when someone dies, graduates, gets a raise, etc. She leads a discussion on You are what you write on and  The 10 deadly stationery sins. This soireé takes place in the Crane’s wedding room where there are hundreds of invitations from the formal to the Kate Spade new-fashion styles.

Throughout the store is the exhibit, “You are what you write on.” It is a collection of memorabilia signed by 80 famous Houstonians. Denton Cooley signed a surgical mask, George Foreman signed boxing gloves, ZZ Top signed an album cover, Mary Lou Retton signed her shoes, Mama Ninfa signed her first menu, Drayton McLane a baseball, and Marvin Zindler signed the door of an ice machine that is, that?s right, slime-free. The celebrity customers read like a “who?s who” of the world: former and current presidents, movie and rock stars, senators, gold medallists, astronauts and the movers and shakers of Houston. Says Maxfield, “Invitations set the tone of the party.” They should reflect your taste, personality and insignia. To book an event, call (713) 266-1234.

Q: What?s the Difference Between Houston and Hell?

December 1, 2001 by  
Filed under Blogs, Hot Button / Lynn Ashby

Q: What?s the Difference Between Houston
and Hell?

A: Hell has Better Radio.

THE RADIO: Hi, there, faithful listeners. It?s time once again to Call Paul and speak to Houston?s favorite radio talk show host. But let?s not have any more boring blah-blah-blah about that idiot Bill Clinton. I?m sick and tired of him. OK, first caller, Billy Bob in Baytown.

Hi, Paul, I wanted to talk about the weather. We?ve had some pretty smoggy days lately and I?

But it?s clearing up, isn?t it?

That?s only because we?ve ignored your advice to do nothing.

Bob, I don?t want some tree hugger in Washington telling me I can?t belch black smoke out the tailpipe of my Humvee. I blame Clinton. Next, let?s go to Katy in Katy.

That last caller was right, Paul. You are so ignorant that?

Katy, you?re wrong. It was Clinton?s fault, and don?t get me started on Monica. I?m tired of callers bringing it up all the time.

Next caller, Seymour in Cyberspace.

Paul, I want to complain about your language. I am driving along with my three kids listening to your show, and you have the vocabulary of a sewer rat.

Then don?t listen.

But why should I have to police what a radio station broadcasts over the public airwaves to make sure my children don?t hear foul language?

I don?t use foul language, Seymour. You?re full of crap, you stupid SOB.

Next caller. Tony in Consequential.

Paul, I think Rush Limbaugh is a hypocrite.

Why? He stands for family values.

Then what does Rush Limbaugh have that Bill Clinton doesn?t?

I give up. What?

Three marriages and two ex-wives.

Another hate-filled liberal. Go ahead, Woody in Tanglewood.

Paul, we don?t need those pointy-headed bureaucrats in Washington. Wait a minute, I think that?s the mailman at the door. He?d better have my Medicare check and my Social Security payment. But …

Shut up while I explain what it is you?re trying to say, Woody. It?s all Clinton?s fault. I think every federal worker should be fired. We should bulldoze every government building and do away with every federal program. OK, Melrose in Montrose.

Paul, back last summer, weren?t you flooded out? Didn?t you get money from FEMA? Help with your bills? Repairs to your house, and didn?t a Coast Guard helicopter pluck you from a rooftop?

Next caller. Bert on a cell phone from his car.

Paul, you?re great. Now what really bothers me are people who are driving while trying to aggggghhhh!

Let?s go to West in University Place.

I have this problem with the IRS.

IRS? How do you spell that?

Paul, every afternoon you put out hatred mixed with stupidity. The other day you told a caller that God was a Christian and that NATO was one of the Marx brothers. Then you referred to the sixth grade as ?my senior year.? You are a pompous…

And you?re an imbecile, Mr. Beans for Brains. Next caller.

Hi, Paul. I was listening to Dan Patrick the other day lecture us on phony people and not being upfront and all about Houston?s problems.

A wonderful Houstonian, he is.

But his name isn?t Dan Patrick, and he doesn?t live in Houston or even Harris County.

It?s a Clinton plot, but don?t get me started?

Paul, look it up. His name is Dannie Scott Goeb, and he lives in Montgomery County.

That?s not suppose to get out.

He can?t vote in our elections, serve on our juries, doesn?t pay Houston or Harris County property taxes. So how can he lecture us?

Shut up, you dirt bag. Let?s go to Time in Memorial.

Paul, I was just driving on the tollway, and one of your major fans was on his cell phone talking to you when he slammed into the back of a Peterbilt.

How did you know he was talking to me?

The wreck splattered his tobacco juice all over his bib.

It?s Clinton?s fault. ih