Tuesday, June 30, 2009

My Apartment, the Junk Yard

As I mentioned a few weeks ago, I'm moving into Manhattan this summer. Unfortunately, my travel schedule prevented me from getting anything done, so I've had to cram it in to this last week. I've been cleaning, packing, cleaning some more, moving everything, and then doing it all over again -- I'm utterly exhausted.

As it turns out, in addition to our love of books, another thing Pauline, Kekla and I have in common is our clutter. Looking around my apartment in the last week, I realized I have quite the junk problem. As I started to take things out of their nooks and crannies, piles began to form of things I don't need, don't want, or forgot I even owned. I had clothing which has never and will never fit, shoes that looked like they would fall apart if I walked more than five blocks, and trinkets I should have thrown out years ago.

After forming several of these piles, and filling up at least a dozen garbage bags, I had to ask: how did I end up with all of this? Why is it that we collect these things when it would be easier to get rid of them? My junk consisted mostly of souvenirs, free t-shirts, pamphlets from organizations I've never heard of, and wedding-related books and magazines.

So I started piles: things of value (sell/swap), things in good condition I've outgrown (donate), and things nobody on earth wants (trash). Of course, even after throwing out a lot, there's more I need to get rid of once the unpacking begins. I have a lot of clothing to recycle -- did you know you can recycle clothing? I'm organizing a clothing swap with friends to get rid of what doesn't fit me and replenish my now non-existent wardrobe. Sadly, I'll also have to go through the ten boxes I filled with books, because I can probably sell or donate most of those. (Anybody need a chemistry textbook? Social psychology perhaps?)

When was the last time you went through your junk? Is it time for a fresh start?

Monday, June 29, 2009

Overbooked and UnderBOOKed

I’m having the kind of week (month, year) when too much is going on that I’m interested in, and too much is going on that I’m required to do. Let alone the things I just think would be fun!

I’ve experienced stretches of time in the past where everything seems to fall into place. There’s time to work and play, time to attend meetings, time to cook and time to lie around. Well, now I’m sounding like that Byrds song... to everything there's a season... but you get the picture.

At this time, the many responsibilities that are calling my name have nothing to do with work. I’m an author, so my work schedule is up to me. I choose when I work and on what, which paying gigs I accept vs. the time I put toward future book projects that right now run on my own dime. But lately my problem is the opposite of the usual - too much LIFE getting in the way of my WORK. And it's not about self-discipline - I truly enjoy what I do.

I don’t like having to choose between things that often seem to be of equal importance, such as my work, my volunteer commitments, my family, my friends, myself. In a void, it’s easy to order these things, but in reality, nothing's so clear cut. Yes, economic realities have to be faced. So is work always first? No one can responsibly skip work on a regular basis to hang out with friends or take a desired vacation. Sure. But what about that old adage that says “No one on their deathbed ever wished they’d worked more?” There’s great value in building relationships and taking time for oneself, right?

We’ve all posted before about things like time management and prioritization, and finding ways to relax and make time for others. I suppose what I’m talking about involves all of those things. Certainly the stress I’m feeling today is not at all new, or unique.

So... has anyone hit upon the magic formula yet? How do I get myself un-booked and back to my books?

Friday, June 26, 2009

Friday Forum: Staying Connected

With everything going on over these past few weeks, from the elections in Iran to the deaths of Ed McMahon, Farah Fawcett and Michael Jackson, people have been looking for the best ways to stay connected, get information and share their feelings about what has happened. Social media in particular has been very active lately and is getting a lot of mainstream media attention.

Where do you all get your information from and where do you turn to reflect and share? Do you like to stay on top of the news that's out there, or do you step back from it all?

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Link Love for 6/25

It's been a while since we had a link love post, so let's read up on what's new around the blogosphere.

Girl w/Pen has an important piece about what the after-math of the election in Iran has meant for women, particularly addressing women's role in the protests.

Meanwhile, In Good Company provides some interesting news about the effect women are having on philanthropy (hint: it's good news).

Lindsey Pollak has a guest post up about how Gen Y can build up their resumes, with tips that can really be applied to anyone.

Writeous Chicks shares some insight on some great life lessons learned from a 4 1/2-year-old.

Savvy Ladies gives us some great information about money myths that hold us back, and how to really take back control.

What have you all been reading/writing lately? Leave a link in the comments!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Raves for TWM's First Book Club

On June 17, several women gathered together to discuss Indu Sundaresan’s The Twentieth Wife for the first ever TWM Sizzling Summer Book Club meeting. I was fortunate to be one of them, and I am not just saying this because I am affiliated with TWM. I was pleasantly surprised at the instant rapport my fellow book clubbers and I forged as we discussed women’s roles during the height of the Mughal Empire in the Indian subcontinent as we snacked on Italian sweets at Veniero's in New York City’s Lower East Side.

The historical novel is built around a real woman named Mehrunnissa (which means “Sun of Women”), her Persian family, and their lasting impact on the Mughal emperors Akbar and Jahangir. From the title of the book and from history, we all knew the main character would eventually become Nur Jahan, the wife of Jahangir. That fact didn’t take away from the enjoyment we all had from reading about Mehrunnissa’s journey, which Sundaresan created so vividly on the page. We discussed how women exerted their power and influence in the Mughal court, while still having to remain in the shadows as men publicly dominated the world. The discussion took an interesting turn when we discussed how women’s subjugation of one another in history is also alive and well today, which is an unfortunate and sobering reality we all have to deal with.

Even though I love books, I have never been a part of a book club before. I am glad I chose TWM’s as my first. While we definitely bonded over the book, I believe that the friendliness, openness and intelligence of my fellow book club members made it worthwhile. It is refreshing to meet people who love reading and self-discovery through the process. I also feel that my love for reading has been renewed because of the positive group interaction I experienced. I hope the other participants feel the same.

July’s theme is Women and Travel, so I am really looking forward to reading TWM’s book selection. Yes, I am a bibliophile, and proud of it!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Becoming Our Biggest Advocates

As I mentioned last week, I've been traveling a lot lately. I'm exhausted and backed up with work, but my awkwardly-timed flights and layovers gave me a chance to catch up on reading.

I recently finished the book Everything Changes: The Insider’s Guide to Cancer in Your 20s and 30s by Kairol Rosenthal, which highlights the lives of twenty- and thirty-somethings diagnosed with cancer and provides resources for them and their loved ones about everything from finding the right doctor to having sex as a cancer patient. I found myself becoming emotionally invested in these people who could very well be my friends, and I started to think about one of the major themes in the book: empowering young adults to take their health seriously.

We have a unique set of problems when it comes to health care. Part of it is that so many of us live with the attitude that nothing bad can happen -- we're young and have our whole lives ahead of us! There's also the issue of health insurance. I can attest to living through that awkward period when we're no longer covered by our parents' insurance, but haven't started a real job with benefits. But possibly the worst thing pointed out in Rosenthal's book is that once we get to a doctor, they might ignore the symptoms because you're "too young" to have cancer. Many patients she interviewed were not diagnosed until they were near death and admitted to the E.R.

Reading this made me very aware of the way my friends and I view our health. Most of us only do routine check-ups (if we have insurance), but don't go much deeper. We don't perform self-administered tests at home, keep track of moles or lumps, or question our doctors when they tell us something is stress-related.

It's time to read what's out there for people our age and start advocating for ourselves. If something feels wrong, we need to trust ourselves and make others take us seriously before it's too late.

Monday, June 22, 2009

A Night in Zimbabwe

Kekla is feeling under the weather, so no regular post from her today. But this is a great opportunity to remind you that tomorrow is TWM's Spotlight on Zimbabwe event!

If you're interested in helping women in Africa, learning more about the culture, exploring social entrepreneurship and sampling the rich flavors of Southern Africa's food and wine, we hope to see you tomorrow night. Rather than a standard lecture, this event will feature handmade African papercrafts, scrumptious mini-pumpkin fritters, and the stories of a former Peace Corps volunteer, a Zimbabwean actress, and the woman who started Eco Africa. All of this is for a great cause too because part of the proceeds go to support Eco Africa Social Ventures, which helps women in crisis support themselves.

So if you'll be in New York City tomorrow night, you definitely won't regret going to this event! It's not exactly a night in Zimbabwe, but it's as close as you're going to get without straying far from home.

Here's all the general info:

TWM's SPOTLIGHT ON ZIMBABWE: Crisis, Cuisine & Crafts
Tuesday, June 23, 2009 6:30 - 9:00 pm

Learn about the culture and journey of this country in crisis - its past history, its current situation and hopes for the future. Enjoy traditional Southern African snacks over cocktails in the gorgeous Xai Xai South African Wine Bar as you listen to a variety of speakers, and purchase authentic crafts from Zimbabwean women all while connecting with TWM friends old and new.

LOCATION: Xai Xai South African Wine Bar 365 West 51st Street
COST: $35 in advance; $40 at the door
Cash bar; appetizers and ambiance included (NOTE: A portion of the proceeds from this event will go to Eco Africa Social Ventures to help women in crisis there continue to support themselves.)

You can RSVP any of the following ways:
If you're on Meetup, RSVP here. If you're on Facebook, RSVP here. Or simply send an email.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Friday Forum: Father's Day

Just as we celebrated Mother's Day, let's do the same with the fathers we have in our lives.

What life lessons have you learned from your father or father figure? If you are a mother and the child's father is present, what lessons do you hope he will pass down to your children?

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Traveling While Female

CHICKS ROCK! welcomes our latest guest blogger, Stephanie:

Stephanie Wilks currently lives in São Paulo, Brazil and works as a consultant for Satsanga Consulting. This fall she will be starting a Master's program in Conflict Transformation at the SIT Graduate Institute in Vermont.

For the last four months, I’ve been living in Rio de Janeiro with my boyfriend, Carlos. Driving back to Rio from a recent trip, as my boyfriend and I rounded a curve on a busy 4-lane highway, we spotted a man lying in the oncoming lane of traffic. Cars were narrowly avoiding him as they came around the bend, but no one stopped. Shocked at the sight, we debated what to do, and Carlos decided we had to go back to help.

We turned around and pulled up next to the man. He was drunk and disoriented, and kept changing his explanation of what had happened – he'd been robbed, or hit by a car, or broken his leg, none of which turned out to be true. Seeing our stopped car, two other motorists pulled over and helped Carlos guide the man to a less dangerous area on the side of the road. After several phone calls, an ambulance arrived, without us ever fully understanding how he had gotten himself into the situation.

I have been reflecting on the incident a lot, and am torn by conflicting emotions. As a woman, my first reaction when encountering a drunken man in the middle of nowhere in a foreign country was to get as far away as possible. Carlos, however, saw someone in need, and spent an hour helping a stranger who, among other things, threatened us by saying he was an armed criminal. I felt useless because my Portuguese is poor and I couldn't even assist in making phone calls, and I didn't feel comfortable physically helping the man to safety.

This was the first time when I felt such a glaring difference between being a woman versus being a man. I’ve read a lot of books on traveling, and always resent sections with titles like 'Warnings for Women Travelers,' though I know there are some things we just shouldn’t do – even when it involves an honest act of kindness. On the other hand, I wonder if my fear overtook me, and if I should have ignored it to help someone out.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Dealing With Minor Inconveniences

Sick days and snow days are the best when we are children. I remember sleeping in, watching television shows, and just wasting time in a variety of other leisurely ways. When I was sick, I enjoyed having my mother take care of me, and I usually felt good enough to go back to school after a day or two of her care. Snow days allowed my brother, sister, and me to play outside with our sleds, make snow angels, have snowball fights, and attempt to build snowmen. Yes, those were charmed days.

Now that I am an adult, I see these same days as those that force me to cancel work and other plans. This past winter season on the East Coast made me almost hate the snow because of all the shoveling and the sometimes frightening road conditions I had to contend with when driving. Getting sick is also an inconvenience; I hate being stuck at home when I have work and other plans scheduled for the day. I recently spent the whole night suffering from a nasty case of food poisoning, so much so that I couldn’t do anything the next day. I was annoyed, but then I realized there was nothing I could to change what happened. As the saying goes, “life is what happens when you are making other plans,” and I remember this before I feel sorry for myself. I realize that my plans weren’t meant to happen, and I have to take care of myself so I can get back to my daily routine.

Do you still enjoy sick days and snow days, or do you see them as minor inconveniences like I do?

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Personal Connections at Professional Conferences

It's funny that Kekla wrote a bit about social networking yesterday, because right now I'm at a conference all about social media. I've spent this weekend at WITI's 20th Anniversary Summit, where women from all walks of life have come together to learn more about creating the life we want for ourselves, learning how to really listen to each other and ourselves, and, yes, how to use social media for our companies and our own personal branding and entrepreneurship.

The conference isn't even over yet, but I've already learned a lot. But what has really struck me is just how much we can get out of a conference geared at women. If you remember, a few months ago I went to the Women, Action & the Media (WAM!) conference, and in a few days, I'll be heading to Indianapolis for this year's NOW conference. All of these conferences are really very different when you take a look at the workshop offerings and the women who attend, but I'm finding that when you bring women together at these events, we really rise to the occasion.

I see women reach out to each other on common ground and start building relationships. I also see women who don't agree politically or stand apart on social issues, but are more than happy to give pivotal professional advice to one another. Women at a crossroads meet women flourishing in their careers and the connection they make is amazing.

I've also received advice from women at these conferences. They eagerly share with me where they think I should be heading in my career, what strengths they see in the short time we've interacted with each other, what job title I should fight for, how much my skills are worth, their tips for work/life balance. Sometimes their insight is right on, and sometimes their perceptions are a bit off, but I'm always more than happy to consider what they have to say. I appreciate their generosity and try to reciprocate as much as I can.

Have any of you had similar experiences? Can you remember any advice you've received or given?

Monday, June 15, 2009

Generation Gap

I've recently decided that, in this day and age of quickly-evolving technologies, the time span that determines a "generation" has gotten much shorter. Instead of twenty-five or thirty years, a nearly complete cultural turnover happens in just five or ten. Cell phones. Internet. Facebook. It's all happening so quickly.

These technological instruments of connection were barely around when I was growing up. I graduated from high school without an email address, and without internet in my home. I graduated from college having never held a cell phone. Online social networking didn't exist as such yet.

My brother, on the other hand, is just five years younger than me. When I hang out with him and his friends these days, I feel old. Like actually almost irrelevant, old. The lingo is different. The attitudes are different. The volume of "friends" they claim is radically different, and the substance of those friendships is different -- or at least it appears so from the outside looking in. But by all normal standards, we're part of the same generation.

Facebook is the best example. I see the site as fun, but it makes me uncomfortable at the same time, because this "Friend" business is a little overstated. To me it is entertainment, perhaps a marketing tool, but certainly something shallow, only the façade of actual connection. But my brother can argue with me for hours about why online sites represent a very real and meaningful way to connect.

I don't like the idea of social networking as a replacement for actual physical contact. I don't like the idea that having lots of contacts is celebrated over connecting deeply with a small group. But I guess, at my age, I'm right on the cusp of realizing this change, because so many of those who are coming up behind me don't see what the issue is.

Which "generation" do you belong to?

Friday, June 12, 2009

Friday Forum: Summer Flicks

Now that we've covered summer reads, what are some movies you're excited about this summer? We'll all have to take our noses out of the books at some point.

Are Harry Potter and Transformers your style, or are you looking forward to what comes out of the film festival circuit?

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Hungry for Change

CHICKS ROCK! welcomes our latest guest blogger, Sasha:

Sasha is a Cornell University alumna. She loves spending time with her sisters, listening to music, eating, and bettering the world in any way she can.

I always struggled with my weight, but it peaked during college when I was at a height of 5’6” and weight of 188lbs. Realizing the dangerous path I was on, I initiated change in my life almost a year ago and took the road less traveled by: weight loss the healthy way. I focused on improving my health and put into practice everything I knew about health, nutrition, and fitness. After three months, I lost 30lbs and 6% body fat. At 144lbs today, I am an advocate for losing weight the right way and living a healthy lifestyle. I strive to educate and inspire others by using my experiences to show nothing is impossible.

Staying informed is essential, so I read all the latest information about health and nutrition. Unfortunately, most of the information provided by so-called experts is false and feeds into society’s desire for a “quick fix” with “rapid results.” Because of this, when I attended the Health and Nutrition panel facilitated by TWM, I prepared myself for the worst. What I found, however, was a group of well-informed panelists who spoke only truths. It was an amazing event and despite my knowledge on the subject, I still learned a lot.

The event also changed my perception of the United States. The U.S. is known as a “land of opportunity,” but people rarely examine the price paid for these “opportunities.” I think that instead of buckling down to fight obesity, a now widespread epidemic, the U.S. has enabled it by increased production of processed food and developments such as liposuction and gastric bypass.

One of the most important things I learned at the event is that although we cannot necessarily control everything in our surroundings, we can control much of what goes on inside us. Don’t worry about your friends and family who eat McDonald’s every day, make the right choice for yourself! If more people join the health movement, the demand for natural food will increase and spread to become a global hunger for change that decreases incidents obesity and other health issues. For now, I can only dream...

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Thoughts About Obama's Muslim Speech

Like many others, I was looking forward to President Obama’s speech to Muslims last week. It is safe to say that the words were long overdue, at least according to the global community. When I finally heard the speech, I was surprised at how some of his personal experiences with Islam mirrored my own.

After the tragedies of September 11, 2001, I remember the mistrust and hatred towards Muslims and Sikhs that came forth, so much so that I was warned to be careful because of my Pakistani-sounding last name and dark skin. I would not allow myself to worry about it; I am the daughter of Roman Catholic parents from South India, and they descended from generations of Christians that date back several centuries. I knew that I had nothing to prove to anyone, especially those who are ignorant. I even told people who were concerned for me (and for themselves) that it was absolutely wrong to condemn all Muslims for the horrific acts committed by extremists. It was great to hear these similar sentiments expressed by President Barack Hussein Obama in his landmark speech given in Cairo, Egypt.

While I have heard criticisms from people who have their own strong opinions about the relationship between Islam and the West, I related to the personal experiences the President infused in his speech, especially when he mentioned his time in Indonesia, the most populous Muslim country in the world. I, too, heard “the call of the azaan” everyday. I also wore a jilbab when visiting my friend at a Muslim school in Jakarta during Lebaran, with no complaints. The friends I made were Christian and Muslim, and they respected me as much as I respected them, regardless of our different religious affiliations. While family and friends in America worried about me living in a predominantly Muslim country, I assured them that the only things I feared were Indonesia’s lackluster health care system, and its capital city’s terrible traffic and pollution.

What are your thoughts on President Obama’s speech to Muslims?

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

What's the Plan?

Every so often, I get into a groove at work that I become comfortable with. I'm on top of my daily tasks and all the surprises that pop up are hard to keep up with, but not impossible to handle.

It seems that right at those times, questions come up about the future. No matter who I talk to, they start asking about what's coming up next: How are your grad school plans coming along? Have you started pitching for a promotion or raise yet? Are you going to stay in that position forever -- shouldn't you start looking for something else? Somebody or other just took a year off to travel through Europe, wouldn't you love to do that?

It can be jarring when you're starting to settle down only to be plucked up again by your family, friends, and professional peers.

Don't get me wrong, I understand the importance of looking ahead. In fact, I used to obsess about it constantly. I had one-year, five-year, and ten-year plans for my personal, academic and professional life. I have had a life list for almost as long as I've been living. I was the student in college who counted down the days until next semester's schedule was up so that I could create my schedule (and two back-up schedules, of course) before finals even started.

But I think all of that mania has become too exhausting for me. I still have lists and lists of one-year, five-year, and ten-year plans. I still have a life list that grows exponentially throughout the year. I simply don't stress out about them as much as I used to and am rather enjoying this new approach. I'm just as ambitious as ever, but now with a better mood.

So what do I say to people who keep asking me about plans I haven't... well... planned? Any thoughts?

Monday, June 8, 2009

Rubbing Elbows

I don't know what it is about celebrities. Honestly, I don't. Why is it such a big deal to meet them? It totally is, though!!

Last week, I had the opportunity to sign a copy of my novel for Ms. Phylicia Rashad, a.k.a. Clare Huxtable on The Cosby Show and star of many a Broadway show. This is an actress who I've watched and loved basically my entire life, and here I found myself in her company. Not just in the same room, but face to face with her!!!

I. Totally. Freaked. Out.

At least in my head -- I think I came across okay in real time, but WOW. I freaked out. And why? In any given social setting, I probably have five or six different conversations about myself, my work. Easy. I know the ropes. I know me. I know how to talk about my stuff.

Ack! Why then do I trip over myself and get all tongue-tied when the chance comes to talk to a celebrity? I look pretty calm in the picture, but all I could do was second-guess every thought, word and motion, as if so much hung in the balance. When really, nothing was riding on the moment at all.

So, again I must wonder: what is it about celebrities? Is it real? Do we overthink it? Or is it just a small world thing -- like it's hard to believe someone can be in our TV one moment and shaking our hand the next? I mean, at the end of the day, they're just people, like the rest of us. Aren't they?

In the case of someone like Ms. Rashad, I'm tempted to think it's real. She's earned our admiration through her life's work -- something we all aspire to in our own ways. She was as graceful, eloquent, thoughtful and present in person as she is in her performances. She took the time to talk to me. Not everyone in her position would have.

What celebrities have you met? Did you manage to play it cool?

Friday, June 5, 2009

Friday Forum: Reading Lists

Sticking with the summer theme we've got going, and all things books, we want to know what's on your reading list this summer? Do you usually keep up with the various reading lists created by the book stores, newspapers, and magazines, or go with your own picks?

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Start Your Summer with TWM

With all this talk of the summer starting and all the fun things folks are planning, we wanted to remind you of a couple of TWM events coming up this month.

We already told you about the first book in TWM's summer book club, The Twentieth Wife, and the corresponding meet-up on June 17th. Hopefully you've kept up with the reading and will be able to make it!

What TWM has also got planned is an event exploring the people and culture of Zimbabwe on June 23rd. Here's the info:

TWM's SPOTLIGHT ON ZIMBABWE: Crisis, Cuisine & Crafts
Tuesday, June 23, 2009 6:30 - 9:00 pm

Learn about the culture and journey of this country in crisis - its past history, its current situation and hopes for the future. Enjoy traditional Southern African snacks over cocktails in the gorgeous Xai Xai South African Wine Bar as you listen to a variety of speakers, and purchase authentic crafts from Zimbabwean women all while connecting with TWM friends old and new.

LOCATION: Xai Xai South African Wine Bar 365 West 51st Street
COST: $35 in advance; $40 at the door
Cash bar; appetizers and ambiance included (NOTE: A portion of the proceeds from this event will go to Eco Africa Social Ventures to help women in crisis there continue to support themselves.)
You can RSVP any of the following ways:
If you're on Meetup, RSVP here. If you're on Facebook, RSVP here. Or simply send an email.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

The Joys of June

I am always happy when the month of June comes around. For me, it marks the beginning of summer, more gorgeous weather and sunshine, outdoor events and more travel opportunities, and an overall more optimistic time of the year. It also reminds me that half of the year is almost complete, so I have a tendency to think back on what the earlier months have been like for me, those close to me, and in the world in general. I make tentative plans for the rest of year, and work towards achieving some of my goals while attempting to enjoy the present at the same time. It is a tricky balance act I haven’t mastered yet, but which I hope to do someday, if possible. It may not seem particularly joyful to be in this transitional state, but I often find myself thrilled by the fact that I don’t know what will happen. Yes, June just might be might be my favorite month of the year.

I am looking forward to a myriad of events in New York City and beyond this summer, with June being the starting point. With my new and improved eyes, I am planning to see some of Europe (hopefully), explore more of the Big Apple on foot, brush up on my rusty French, and to write about my experiences as faithfully as possible. As a book lover, I am also looking forward to two summer book clubs this year, one of them being TWM’s Summer Book Club. Summer and new books have always been a good combination for me, so I am looking forward to reading and discussing themes with other interested bibliophiles this summer, starting this month.

What are your summer plans? Do they begin in June or later in the season?

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Political Junkie

In case anybody has forgotten, this past election season was very intense. So many people became engaged and attentive in a way I've never seen before. This was great for somebody like me who has always had an interest in keeping up with politics, but it also meant that I became the "go-to gal." It was great to be able to offer my knowledge and insight to help my friends out, but it also made is extra exhausting.

After the election was over and the dust started to settle, I began to wean myself off of my regular schedule of political news shows and email alerts. While those around me were experiencing election withdrawal, I was anxious to put my political brain into hibernation. I still followed most of the major stories -- the inauguration, the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, and so forth -- but I tried to stop my brain from going there.

That is, until a few weeks ago when some wheels started turning and my thoughts started cranking away again. In trying to focus more on myself lately, the last thing I need is for my addiction to politics to start up again, so I tried to fight my urge to seek out political news. Now there's been a flurry of activity -- President Obama nominated Judge Sotomayor for the Supreme Court, Prop 8 was upheld by the California Supreme Court, Dr. George Tiller was shot and killed this weekend, and all the other stories, big and small, that have been churning away.

Well, it's just too much to ignore, so I'm going to stop fighting it. I'm taking it as a sign that I need a little politics fix every so often to keep me going.

Have any of you changed your level of political engagement over the past year and since the election season? Any other political junkies out there who feel my pain?

Monday, June 1, 2009

Meeting OLIVIA!

I met one of my literary heroes this weekend. This may sound silly...but it's true. I got my picture taken with Olivia, from the picture book OLIVIA, by Ian Falconer. Olivia actually stars in a whole series of books. Among her many attributes are boldness, independence, determination and creativity.

I could go on and on about the wonders of Olivia, but first, let me backtrack a moment. This weekend was Book Expo America, one of the biggest annual conferences in the book publishing industry. The Expo filled the Jacob Javits Center (NYC) with several football fields worth of books and book-related merchandise. Bibliophile heaven. And a minefield of contact-building opportunities for a newly-published author (yours truly) to take advantage of.

My encounter with Miss Olivia occurred quite by chance, smack dab in the middle of a weekend of heavy networking, shameless self-promotion (not to mention a little shameful self-promotion...), book-talking, walking and fighting through crowds. For three solid days, I'd boldly and repeatedly approached teachers, librarians, fellow authors, editors, publishers, booksellers and everyone else you can imagine, promoting my novel.

By Saturday afternoon, I was exhausted, dragging a giant bag of books and flyers, and generally feeling ready to be done with the whole mess. I'd begun to feel socially awkward, pushy, inarticulate, ineffective and downright ridiculous (in varying degrees of severity). I was proud of myself for networking so hard, but at the same time, I felt small and rather defeated by the throng.

When I rounded a corner and came face to face with Olivia, instantly, my spirits lifted. I practically accosted her, poor thing, because I was so happy to see her. In my sea of stress, Olivia was a beacon of humor and possibility. A reminder that all this networking won't do me in, because I, too, can be bold, independent, determined, creative.

Long story short, I was beyond thrilled to have my picture taken with this little pig. It was a perfect and serendipitous moment that I very much needed just then.

Disclaimer: Blog entries express the opinions of the respective Bloggers/Contributors/Authors/Commenters solely, and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Women's Mosaic. As host and manager of CHICKS ROCK!, TWM acts solely as a provider of access to the internet and not as publisher of the content contained in bloggers' posts and cannot confirm the accuracy or reliability of individual entries. Each participant is solely responsible for the information, analysis and/or recommendations contained in her blog posts.
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