I Act Too Much Like a Woman

I was catching up on an episode of The F Word with Gordon Ramsay. Chef Ramsay was on a tear to show people how fast they could cook up healthy, fresh food. He found a group of nurses who ate microwaved convenience meals for dinner every night because thought that’s all they had time for. He saw the sorry state of affairs and said to them, “You’re acting too much like women. You’re taking care of everybody else, but you’re not taking care of yourselves.”


And yet, I am so very good at taking care of everybody else and so very bad at taking care of myself. Continue reading

“Here I Am” Moments

One of my favorite radio personalities, Jad Abumrad, co-host of Radiolab, gave a keynote address at the Third Coast International Audio Festival titled These Are a Few of My Favorite Things, where he talked about his experiences working in radio and the things he loved most about it.

It was from listening to this talk that I learned about what I’ll call the “Here I am” moment – the moment where a reporter steps out from behind the story they’re telling to say, “Here I am. This is me. This is who I am.” These moments aren’t long, just a few seconds once or twice in a story. But they let listeners know exactly who is behind the story. Continue reading

How I Got Brave Enough to Speak at Conferences

In March of 2006, I attended my first tech conference. And while I came back invigorated, inspired and bubbling over with new ideas, I also realized that what I really wanted from a tech conference was to be on stage. Number one, there were not nearly enough women on stage. Or at the conference, for that matter. And number two, I was smart, dedicated, passionate, and I felt like I had something to contribute to the conversation.

But I didn’t even try to speak at conferences until the very end of 2011. Why? Continue reading

Leave the World Better Than You Found It

In America, we live in a culture of more, more, and more. We’re never happy with what we’ve got. We always want something else. Something newer, bigger, faster, better.

We forget that if we’ve got a roof over our heads, enough food to fill our bellies, and clean water to drink and bathe in that we’re doing better than:

Those numbers are so big. How to make a dent? How to make a difference?

Living in Los Angeles, sites like this one are common:

Homeless: Art for Sale

I didn’t take this photo, NoHoDamon did. But I recognize this woman. She stands in the median where Crescent Heights meets Wilshire Boulevard near Museum Row. Rather than just ask for handouts, she sells artwork – childish drawings done on cheap paper with crayons. I know that because I worked in the building behind where she’s standing for a year.

Like a lot of people, I’ve always been a little uncomfortable with the idea of handing out cash, and I don’t tend to carry much of it around with me anyway. But I always wanted to do something when I saw homeless people in the streets. So I gave it some thought and I came up with the idea of making up little kits that I could keep in my car and hand out as needed. Of course, I’m not the first person to come up with this idea, and you’ll find lots of websites giving ideas and recommendations on what to include. I call them homeless kits. No two kits are ever the same – it depends on what I was able to get hold of when I was putting them together and what time of year. But here are some of the things I have included:

  • Food – nonperishable items that can be opened without a can opener like beef jerky, pull-tab cans of fruit cocktail, crackers, granola bars, etc.
  • Plastic utensils and napkins
  • Plastic zipper bags in a couple different sizes
  • Bandages or small first-aid kits
  • Shampoo
  • Deodorant
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Razors
  • Soap
  • Socks
  • Flip flops
  • Phone cards
  • Paper, envelopes, and stamps
  • Tampons and pads
  • Pens or pencils
  • Small notebook
  • Gift certificates for grocery stores or fast food restaurants
  • Tissues
  • Toothbrush and toothpaste
  • Sunscreen
  • Lip balm
  • Gloves
  • Hat
  • Lighter
  • Flashlight
  • Lotion
  • Comb or brush
  • Deck of cards
  • Paperback book
  • Baby wipes
  • Nail clippers and nail files
  • Bottle or two of water
  • Sunglasses

Then I  pack up cheap bags – giant plastic zipper bags, cheap gift bags, or re-usable shopping bags – with these items and leave them in my car. There’s a big supply in the trunk and I put 1 or 2 in the backseat so I can easily reach them when needed.

It feels really good to be able to give back and make someone’s day a little brighter and easier.

Image credit: Pedro Ribeiro Simões


Everything is Amazing

I’m making a conscious effort not to get bogged down in negative thoughts and to notice all the good things. I’m starting to notice all the ways different people around me are making this effort too.

Humorously, comedian Louis CK tell Conan how much we take for granted:

The Weepies sing about being simply overwhelmed with Beauty:

My favorite lyrics:

“All this beauty;
You might have to close your eyes
And slowly open wide
All this beauty;
We traveled all night
We drank the ocean dry
And watched the sun rise.

I can see you’re new, awake
Let me assure you, friend
Every day is ice cream and chocolate cake
And what you make of it
Let me just say
You get what you take
From it, so be amazed…”

And then, I keep stumbling across this concept of “First World Problems”. I’ve been noticing that all of my problems are first world problems, and somehow that makes them seem more manageable and less dire. Work doesn’t stress me out as much when I remember to be thankful that I have a job, that I have a paycheck, that I can pay my rent and buy groceries and pay my utilities, that I have a car at all, that I have internet access, that I’m surrounded by dear friends who are rarely more than a phone call, a text message, an IM, or a Facebook poke away.

So that’s my message for today – start looking around you at everything that is beautiful and amazing. Or else you might miss it.

The secret of the date bars

My grandmother was famous for her date bars. They had a yummy crust, sticky date filling and streusel topping. She brought them everywhere she was invited – to family reunions, Thanksgiving dinner, summer picnics, church get-togethers. They were delicious. People would even request them when they invited her. “We’re having a picnic at the lake on Sunday. Will you bring your date bars?”

She never gave anyone the recipe. It was her secret. No amount of begging, pleading or cajoling could get her to even hint at the ingredients or the temperature of the oven.

Sadly, several years ago, she passed away from cancer. She is sorely missed by everyone in my family.

While cleaning out my grandmother’s home, my mom opened a bottom corner cabinet, and hidden in the back were dozens of boxes of Betty Crocker date bar mix. My stepdad was in another room, cleaning. My mom said nothing, and packed the date bar mixes into a box, labeled it something else and took them home with her.

She waited until my stepdad was out to make a trial batch of date bars. As soon as they came out of the oven, she tasted one, and sure enough – these were my grandma’s famous date bars! She cut them up, arranged them on a plate, and left them out for my stepdad to find. He was so happy when he came home. “You found my mother’s recipe!”

He ate them all up. My mom would occasionally pull out one of the boxes and make it, but she never told my stepdad the real secret of the date bars.

Betty Crocker has since discontinued the date bar mix. I have no idea how my mom has explained that one.

The Mysteries of Interdependence

Some time ago, the wise Rob Brezsny wrote this in my horoscope:

For many Aries, independence is a virtue that flows in abundance — so much so that it’s sometimes on the verge of becoming excessive and turning into a vice. That’s why I’m thrilled to inform you that the mysteries of dependence could be especially
intriguing and useful to you in the coming days. They might also lead, paradoxically, to a form of interdependence that would in the long run nourish your independence. So how about it? Without compromising your free-wheeling spirit, can you blend yourself more thoroughly with trustworthy souls who care about you?

Can I?

I suppose that like all opposites in life, the ideal situation with independence and dependence is a careful balance – the middle line, some of both, each in moderation.

I am, in fact, abundantly independent, and probably well past the “verge of becoming” excessively so. I neither expect nor want anyone to do anything for me. And that’s fine  – for me – most of the time.

The problem is the people in my life who enjoy doing things for others – it gives them joy and satisfaction to know that they’ve made someone else’s day a little brighter or easier. I should know – ironically, I’m one of them. I know how it feels to have your gestures and efforts rejected, or to be told that they’re unnecessary.

It hurts.

So I am practicing being dependent without loosing my independence. I’m practicing relying on others and trusting others. It’s difficult and I make a lot of mistakes – everything about dependence goes against the grain, against a lifetime of lessons that taught me to be so fiercely and stubbornly independent. But slowly, I am learning to soften, to open, to let in the love.

So this is what happens to my pillows

I don’t mean for this to become a video blog, but here’s another amazing video I stumbled across. 3000 photos and it’s beautiful.

And it goes a long way toward explaining how my covers and pillows are all over the place when I wake up. I’ve always wondered, “what happens while I’m sleeping anyway?”

Don’t let anybody tell you you can’t

And don’t tell anybody else they can’t, either.

The Mindset Game

Isn’t it funny how you always seem to stumble on the right tools right when you’re ready to use them? Today I accidentally came across The Mindset Game:

Does watching shows like The Apprentice and The Amazing Race make you wish you could be on those shows, achieving the unimaginable? It seems that each contestant learns more about themselves in that short experience than they have in their entire lives. The MindSet Game will give you the same opportunity to learn about yourself and will challenge you to take the first step to achieve your dreams.

I love the idea and I’m excited to get started. There’s a weekly challenge or task for you to complete. Two have been posted so far, so it’s definitely not too late to get started and get caught up. Plus, how cute is it that there’s a downloadable score card?

I’ve been thinking about the first weeks’ challenge all day:

If you could only accomplish one thing professionally, what would it be? When would you want to achieve it?

And while there is a long list of things I want to accomplish, both personally and professionally, there is one that definitely stands out and makes me feel really excited. I haven’t even done the exercise and written it out yet, and I’ve already started making more concrete plans and taking steps to bring that particular goal to fruition.

Play along with me! It’s sure to be a great challenge.