Friday, December 31, 2010

Friday Forum: New Beginnings

New Year's Eve is finally here! If you don't have those resolutions set, now's the time to do it.

What's your resolution for the new year? Looking back, how did you do with last year's resolution?

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Holiday Guests

We're finishing up our holiday here at CHICKS ROCK!, and it wouldn't be complete without having you check out the work of our excellent guest bloggers. Look back on their posts and be sure to submit a guest post of your own if you've got something to say.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Juicing and Detoxing My Way*

The following was originally posted on May 19, 2010. It is being re-posted as part of our CHICKS ROCK! Holiday series:

When I make big changes in my life, I want to make a fresh start. This requires considerable effort from me, and one of the things I have decided to do is to concentrate on my health. My days of going through drive-through windows may not be over, but I plan to make much healthier choices when it comes to the food I eat. One way I plan to do this is by starting a juice fast and avoiding two staples in my diet.

This isn’t the first time I have done a juice fast. A few years ago, my sister and I went through one together for a few days, and it was very enlightening. I found myself not craving solid foods at all during the process, because all of the vegetables I was consuming in one glass filled me up. My vision was sharper, and I felt an overall sense of positivity.

When Kristina suggested a juice fast at last week’s “Thursdays at Three” meeting, I knew I had to do it again. I took her suggestions into consideration and did my own research to create a plan that is right for me. I will do a juice fast this week using the knowledge of experts on the subject of “juicing” and overall health. Even after the fast in complete, I will use my juicer weekly to supplement one meal with a fully satisfying glass of vegetable and fruit juice.

I don’t believe in dieting, but I do believe in eating healthy and knowing which foods to minimize or avoid all together. I never drink soda, I hardly drink store-bought juice, but I do have dairy and wheat products often, and I will be giving both up for the next month as part of my detox program. Giving up wheat will be very difficult, since it is in everything! But I am determined to choose gluten-free alternatives and to read all labels.

Does anyone have any juicing and/or detox advice to share?

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Ditching the Plan*

The following was originally posted on July 20, 2010. It is being re-posted as part of our CHICKS ROCK! Holiday series.

I’m usually a very organized person, planning things well in advance. Even when I decide to do something last-minute, I still take a moment to think about a plan before getting started. This weekend took me out of my comfort zone, but I had a great time.

It started on Saturday, when I had a birthday party planned for my guy. I wanted to get up early to make sliders, chicken tenders, etc. before anybody started coming over. But it didn’t exactly turn out that way… Everyone got up late, so I couldn’t clean up or get started with cooking until quite late in the day. By the time we were getting food in the oven and on the stovetop grill, there were already several people in the apartment. My sister was surprised and said “Why didn’t you already have this done? This is not like you.” But instead of dwelling on it as I normally might, I had fun with it and focused on getting it done. I missed out on the beginning of the party, but the food was a hit.

I guess that attitude carried over to the next day. The only plan I had for the day was an early workout and then cleaning the apartment. After the workout, however, we decided to grab lunch at a cute spot nearby. Then my guy decided he wanted to get his tattoo and asked us if we were interested in going with him. My sister and I headed down, and we both ended up getting tattoos at the last minute. Then, despite being exhausted and planning to clean and sleep for the rest of the night, we thought it’d be fun to go to the movies instead.

After a weekend of ditching the plan and dabbling in spontaneity, I can definitely see the appeal. Sure, I’m beyond exhausted and the apartment is a mess, but I had a great time, I got the tattoo I’ve been wanting for a while, and spent quality time with my sister. I may be doing this more often.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Touching Things Past*

The following was originally posted on February 8, 2010. It is being re-posted as part of our CHICKS ROCK! Holiday series:

I'm a little bit of a history geek. I was a history major in college, and I really enjoy historical fiction, historical films and other things along those lines. I love to dive into some other time or place in the world and try to get a handle on what was going on then and there, what people might have thought and felt way back when about one another and their lives and their place in the world. There's something about knowing what has gone before that feels deeply important to me.

Thinking about it recently, I know that there are two sides to my interest in the past--one is intellectual and the other is more personal/emotional. I do have the desire to really know this world--in a sweeping, epic, global sense, where I begin to understand the cause-effect relationships that have led us toward the wonderful and vicious, beautiful and horrible experiences we collectively face day to day, now.

Within that massive base of knowledge, there are individuals. I think about my grandmothers, and the disparate lives they led that somehow, miraculously came together to create me. One of them lived through the majority of the 20th century in America, and while I knew her as a teenager, I never got to know her as an adult, when I could have really asked the questions I now want to, about her life and the things she personally witnessed within the history that I know so well in terms of dates, facts and situations. My other grandmother lived her whole life in West Africa, a place that I am connected to, but know less intimately. There's a wisdom there that is somewhat outside my grasp, but I long for a taste of it.

So, I read lots of books, and look at lots of pictures, and try to imagine what I can about these women, and the many like them whose lives and work set the stage for my own world. I feel that I'm still looking for the truth of those experiences, and I don't know if we today can ever really touch it, but it's nice to believe we might be able to come close.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Friday Forum: Rock 'til It Drops

New Year's Eve is only a week away, and everyone is trying to pin down their plans.

Have you made any plans for watching the ball drop -- dinner with family, a party with friends? How will you ring in the new year?

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Happy Holidays!

From everyone here at The Women's Mosaic and CHICKS ROCK!, we wish you a happy and safe holiday season. Enjoy the time with your friends and family!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The Power of Non-Verbal Communication*

The following was originally posted on February 24, 2010. It is being re-posted as part of our CHICKS ROCK! Holiday series:

I have known for some time now that understanding non-verbal communication is essential when it comes to human relationships. Many of my family members in India do not speak English very well (or at all) and I do not know much of my parents' native language, so it has been difficult to communicate with them. Regardless of the language barrier, I manage to keep my powers of perception as open as possible, because when speaking is difficult or impossible, simple actions like facial expressions or body language become very important when determining what another person is thinking or feeling at any particular moment.

Even when language is not a barrier, I still try to be perceptive in non-verbal communication. In many previous work and academic environments, I learned the hard way not to always believe what was promised or told to me at face value. I specifically remember a former employer trying to make conversation with me in a conference room before a meeting, and realizing for the first time that she did not like me at all. This became blatantly clear just before I left the position to attend graduate school full-time. I caught her in a lie about my job performance, and knew it was time to leave. I also remembered how she was on that day before the meeting, and other experiences that occurred afterward that really made everything clear.

Ever since this incident, I used my powers of perception to understand what people think. My observations are not always correct, but I have been more right than wrong when it comes to non-verbal communication.

Do you agree with my assessment? Why or why not?

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Dealing With Disappointment*

The following was originally posted on January 19, 2010. It is being re-posted as part of our CHICKS ROCK! Holiday series.

I’m not exactly an eternal optimist, but I try to stay positive as much as I can. Sometimes it’s harder to do that than usual, and lately I guess it’s been one of those times. It seems that lately, I work hard towards something and then it doesn’t go as expected. Suddenly, I’m wishing I could take back all the hours I spent focusing on that one task. I’m left wondering how I can now find extra hours to work on all the other things I have on my plate moving forward. If only there were more hours in the day so I could finish everything I have going on.

But… this isn’t a lesson in time management. Really, I focus on how I’m managing my time to distract me from what’s really going on here: disappointment.

The fact is that if these things had worked out, I would be proud about all the time I dedicated. Now that they haven’t, I am disappointed. I am constantly working on multiple projects at the same time, and more often than not, they all work out. When you’re a multi-tasking perfectionist, you don’t really have to deal with failure very often. This isn’t to sound cocky, it’s just true.

Normally, when something doesn’t go as expected, I regroup and think about what steps I can take to get things back on track. And normally, that works. But what happens when there’s no way to get it back on track? When there’s nothing you can do about it? I suppose the best thing to do is to forget about it: put it aside and focus on the other things I need to get done. Yet I can’t help but think that I’m not acknowledging my feelings in all of this.

That’s where I’m at now: figuring out how to deal with the actual feeling of disappointment when things are no longer in my control. Moving on to other tasks is easy for me; it’s what I’m good at. Dealing with the emotions involved, however, is unfamiliar territory.

How do you deal with disappointment?

Monday, December 20, 2010

As Resilient As Glass*

The following was originally posted on August 2, 2010. It is being re-posted as part of our CHICKS ROCK! Holiday series:

I visited a glassworks in Louisville, Kentucky, earlier this summer, where you could sit and peer through a huge picture window into the active glassblowing studio. I sat for over an hour and watched an artist and his assistants sweat over a single vase, thrusting the glob of red-hot, molten glass in and out of the flames, pinching and turning and shaping and blowing it just so with each extraction. Fascinating.

In the time I watched, the artist drew the vase in and out of the fire once every minute or two, working it, studying it, and finally he held it up for a long inspection. I thought he was finished, he had paused so long, but then he shook his head and slammed it back in, allowing it to lose its shape entirely. He drew out the pulpy mass and started over, scrapping an hour's work, at least. Not angry, just matter-of-fact. You could see it in the set of his shoulders. Not bad, but I can do better.

The heat must have been unbearable. I felt pain for him, as he destroyed his work and started again, but his attitude about it gave me inspiration and hope. Because things don't always go as we plan, the first time. And if you don't give up, there are better things on the horizon. It's as true in life as it is in art, whether it be glassblowing or writing, which is my own stock-in-trade.

Attached to the studio there was a shop and museum of handblown glassware and glass art. I fell in love with about a dozen amazing works of art. In the end, I wasn't able to afford anything in the whole shop, apart from the trinkets at the checkout. I bought a small disk of pale blond-colored glass, swirled with strands of copper and gold, etched with the words SCRIBE DEEP.

It's small--about the size of a half dollar, only thicker, like a Nilla wafer--but it's quickly becoming a favorite touchstone for me in my writing life. A reminder that it isn't enough to go through the motions, but that I have to dig to find what's important. And, that it's okay sometimes to scrap a project and start it over, when I know I can do better. It's not the same as giving up, when the raw material (or, in my case, the idea) is still alive in the flames, ready to be drawn out and made into something beautiful.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Friday Forum: Winter Blues

Last week we asked what you loved the most about winter, but some of us don't love anything about it at all!

What are some of the things you hate about winter? Is it the mess, the temperature, or perhaps the chaotic holiday travel season?

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Holiday Break at CHICKS ROCK!

We're nearing the end of 2010, and just as many of you are getting ready for the time with your family and friends, we here at CHICKS ROCK! are doing the same. But, never fear, as we've done these past couple of years, we'll be reposting some of our favorite posts from the past year for the next couple of weeks.

Look back with us on some of the things we've experienced this year, and take a little time to reflect on your own ups and downs.

We hope you enjoy it! And in the meantime, you can keep on shopping through TWM's Holiday Bazaar.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Email Communication Vacation

This holiday season, I plan to take a nice long break from checking my work-related emails. This is harder than it sounds, especially since I do most of my work from my laptop anywhere I happen to be. My hours are often long, and can extend into the weekends. I am often on the road, off to meetings with clients and associates who need a great deal of information, so I must always be prepared. That is why I made a conscious decision to step away from my work email completely during my seventeen days out of the office.

In previous positions I have had, I was always tempted to check work email if I had access to it after a few days. Since I am fortunate enough to have more time off, I decided to disconnect from my work-related duties completely for a little more than two weeks to reflect on the year that has passed, plan a little for the year to come, and to reconnect with family and friends. Yes, I need more than just thinking of a few New Year’s Resolutions the day before the year end.

A part of me would like to avoid personal emails completely during this period, but that would not be possible for me due to familial and friendship obligations. I see myself just checking once a day, or once every other day, just to see if I can. Perhaps when I have another vacation in the future, I can retreat from my personal emails completely too, but it seems too radical a concept for me at this time.

We are all so connected to each other via the web, but not so much in person; the Internet is our substitute for most communications these days. When there is no Internet access, we often find ourselves lost if we do not turn on our computers, laptops and/or phones to see what is going on. I look forward to transforming any lost feelings I may have into those of freedom from “the machine.”

Would you ever take a break from email?

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

A Hairy Situation

As I mentioned last week, this year hasn't been the absolute best. I've always wondered what exactly motivates people to drastically change their look, and then I got the urge to do it myself. I suppose it's not completely drastic... I didn't, for example, tattoo and/or pierce my entire body or have plastic surgery or anything like that. But I did chop off my hair. Oh, and I got purple streaks put in it.

I haven't had hair this short since the 5th grade and I haven't had any color in it since high school, so it's definitely a change. A lot of my friends are shocked that it's so short (it's at about chin level) because I'm generally known for having my hair at least medium length, if not longer. I've gotten comments from strangers telling me how cool my purple hair looks and asking me how and where I got it done. The fun thing about the color is that depending on the lighting, it can be subtle and only look a shade different from my black hair, or it can look like my head's on fire with bright purple flames. At least it keeps people guessing.

It's interesting how changing something about your appearance helps you take on a new attitude. I feel ready for 2011 and whatever it throws my way. I'm not sure if I'll keep my hair this way once it starts to grow out, but it's been a lot of fun so far. If nothing else, it's been a great conversation piece when meeting people.

Have you ever changed your appearance to change your outlook?

Monday, December 13, 2010

Drinking Diaries, Holiday Style

I've got my tree. I've made my plans, but I'm not quite feeling the holiday spirit yet. However, I do find that the holiday spirits are flowing freely. It's that time of year--attending holiday parties, stocking up on wine for Christmas dinner, making New Year's Eve plans, chilling champagne. The time has nearly come to roll out the rum-laced egg nog and hide the car keys.

As far as my personal plans go, this is an exaggeration--my family are not big drinkers--but I find that the longer I live away from home, the more I've become aware of other people's holiday traditions--many of which center on imbibing festive beverages of all sorts. I admit I feel a certain romantic envy for that kind of holiday--boozing it up in front of a roaring fire, surrounded by people you love, eating and drinking until you can barely move for being so comfortable and sated.

I know that the rosy picture in my mind isn't always how things shape up. For all the lovely stories people tell, I've heard as many friends describe hurtful encounters involving tipsy slips of the tongue, inebriated arguments, or a feeling of needing to be three sheets to the wind to even get through all the wonderful family togetherness. Not very romantic.

There's a special holiday post series over at the blog Drinking Diaries, which I'm really enjoying, and would like to share with you. The basic premise of the site comes as no surprise: many women have a complicated relationship with alcohol, in our own lives as well as through our families and friends. Every Monday during this season, women post about their holiday drinking experiences:

Each of these pieces struck a chord with me, and I suspect that no matter where you fall on the spectrum (non-drinker, casual sipper, holiday lush), there's something there for you, too.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Friday Forum: Wonderful Winter

Even though some places are lucky enough to stay warm during this time of year, many of us are bundled up. But it's not all bad and, for some, it's their favorite time of year.

What do you love most about the winter? Is it the snow, the hot chocolate, or perhaps the twinkling lights?

Thursday, December 9, 2010

TWM Celebrates the Holiday

The Women's Mosaic is feeling the holiday spirit and getting you ready for all of your shopping needs with the TWM Holiday Bazaar.

This is TWM's second year highlighting women-owned and friendly businesses to help you find unique gifts for yourself and the ones you love. New vendors will be added in each of the next three email blasts, so shop around and if you want to be a vendor for the bazaar, be sure to get in touch ASAP by emailing

And while we're mentioning TWM, be sure to mark your calendars for the next Visioning Workshop. While the workshops are usually held in the fall and spring, due to popular demand, there will also be a winter one this time around. So clear your plans for Saturday, February 5, 2011.

Stay tuned for more details about the Visioning Workshop and for a shopping day here on CHICKS ROCK! highlighting the Holiday Bazaar.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Avoiding Holiday Excess

The Christmas holiday tends to mean busier stores, holiday decorations, more traffic, and general excess these days. The materialism of the holiday season makes many, including myself, very wary. When I started receiving and onslaught of mail about Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales, I began preparing myself for the inevitable. But just when I entered into one store in the mall two weeks before Thanksgiving and heard uninspired, recycled holiday music, I left sooner than I expected because it was too much. Before I did, one of the employees told me that he has had to hear the same soundtrack since the beginning of November, I couldn’t help but tell him I felt sorry for him; he accepted my pity with a tired laugh and a shrug.

It’s not a “bah humbug” feeling that I have about the holidays; I like giving and receiving cards and pretty decorations as much as the next person. It’s just during these difficult times when people are looking for work, or are working but can’t afford to keep up with their family, friends, and neighbors in their spending habits during the holiday season that makes me annoyed. At the same time, I know many of us have changed for the better after the lessons we have learned since the recession first hit in late 2008. Many people I know have limited their gift giving or changed what and the way they give to the people in their lives. I know it has more to do with being economical, but it also much more manageable to do it that way. I will be mailing out and hand delivering some holiday cards, sending online greetings to everyone else, and buying just a few, well thought out gifts for those closest to me. This is not because I feel like I must do so because all the commercials tell me I should; it is because I want to.

How do you combat the materialism of the holiday season?

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Saying Goodbye to 2010

This year has been a very strange one for me and a few of my closest friends. There have been some great times, but also a lot of sadness, loss, and general discontent. We're all fairly happy that the year is coming to an end, and looking forward to what will hopefully be a better 2011.

At work, I'm sometimes thinking several weeks ahead, so I already had New Year's resolutions on my mind. I've been thinking about how often people forget about their resolutions or fail completely, and I am pleasantly surprised that mine worked out okay. As you might remember, I wanted to make a series of more short-term goals to make mini-resolutions that I could hold myself accountable for. My resolutions were: getting fit & being healthier, getting my finances in order, reconnecting with people I love, and traveling more.

Without even trying all that hard, I've traveled quite a bit this year, often with people I really love. I've gotten closer to my sisters, my mothers, and a few friends, not to mention that I've gotten back in touch with a couple of friends I hadn't spoken to in a while. Between hot yoga, a ballet workshop, and running, I'm much more fit now than I was at this time last year (plus, my legs look great, which was an added bonus). And while I haven't completely sorted out my finances, I have a much better grasp on them than I have in a very long time.

For 2011, I might try this approach again, but I've also been wondering if it'd be even better to share a resolution with a group of friends. If 3 or 4 of us all have the same resolution (or a set of mini-resolutions), then there's an instant support system for all of us to succeed. I'm going to think about it more and propose it soon to see if we can't make 2011 a rockin' year and forget all about 2010.

Did you start thinking about your 2011 resolutions yet? Have you ever shared a resolution with a group of friends?

Monday, December 6, 2010

Two Truths and a Lie

Let's see...I'm a published author. I'm bi-racial (white mother, black father). I've never traveled outside the United States.

Two of these statements are true about me, and one is a lie. If you read the blog regularly, you'll know right away which is the lie. But if you've never met me or read my posts, it might be harder to tell. (I'll save you the suspense--I went to Greece last year and Zambia the year before that.)

"Two Truths and A Lie" is a common icebreaker game, used to help people who are meeting for the first time to get to know one another. I'm thinking about icebreakers today because soon I'm going to be leading a group of new students through a few of these exercises. I personally enjoy icebreakers, but I know lots of people who utterly despise them.

I've observed that outgoing people often find icebreakers cheesy, forced and restrictive. But I spent years as the quiet wallflower type, who wanted to talk to new people, but didn't always know how to go about it. Icebreakers offered a space and permission to engage people and it made everything that came after much easier. I've since become much more comfortable in new, awkward social settings than I used to be. So for me, maybe the structure of icebreakers is no longer necessary. But I find myself wondering, what about those who are still helped by it?

The best icebreakers, for me, require people to talk to each other and to share personal--but not too personal--details with others. Favorite color, alma mater, number of siblings, and so on. These small talking points do open unexpected avenues of connection and conversation. Which is why I'm bothered that the first game that came to my mind is "Two Truths and a Lie," which is my least favorite icebreaker. Why? Because it seems contrary to the whole point of getting to know people if you're going to start off by having to sort through false information.

I'm open to suggestions for other, better icebreakers! Have you played these games? Do you love 'em or hate 'em?

Friday, December 3, 2010

Friday Forum: Holiday Cheer

With Thanksgiving behind us and Hanukkah already upon us, the holiday season is in full swing.

Do you celebrate any holidays between Thanksgiving and New Year's? If you don't, do you still feel the holiday cheer?

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Link Love for 12/2

As we gear up for December, some of the sites we love are busy churning away awesome posts. Take a look at what we've been reading online:

Awaken Your CAREERpreneur offers tips for getting people to reach their full potential in school or at work.

Girl w/Pen takes a look at the race & gender problems that still exist in the latest Disney princess movie, Tangled.

Meanwhile, Woodhull Institute's blog examines Disney's announcement that there'd be no more fairy tale movies (aka, movies for girls).

One Writeous Chick writes about the good and the bad that comes with curling up into a ball for a break from the world.

Savvy Ladies wants us to get through the holiday season with the 12 days of Christmas, personal finance edition.

What have you been reading and writing? Be sure to leave a link in the comments.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Great Travel Expectations

Americans should have more than two weeks (on average) of vacation time every year. I think most of us would agree with that statement! I could never be satisfied with such a limited time to travel; and I know many of us don’t even use our vacation time to travel to somewhere new or not new; “staycations” have become the norm because of shrinking budgets and lost jobs.

As a consultant making a little money, I can now make time to travel this winter, something I have been wanting to do again since my trip to India earlier this year. I am one of those people that need to go somewhere new, whether it be just an hour away or on the other side of the world. Some people envy others because of their relationship status, how much money they make, what car they drive…but me? I get a little envious of those who have seen places I have only dreamed and read about.

My upcoming travel plans include my sister’s destination wedding in Puerto Rico and a holiday getaway this month, an after wedding party in my new brother-in-law’s home state of Georgia in January, and Ireland for St. Patrick’s Day in March. It makes the winter less overbearing in my thoughts, because I have different trips to look forward to. This is definitely not the norm for me, but I want it to be! I can be equally excited about vacations that take place very close to home, such as day trips or weekend getaways that don’t require air travel. Bottom line, I believe that life should be enjoyed each day we have it. I don’t want to look back on my life (if I am lucky to live long enough) and have major regrets about not taking chances or traveling as much as I would have liked.

Where would you go if you had more vacation time?

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Airline Annoyance

Sally is traveling and held up on her way back from the holidays, but you can read her recent posts here until she gets situated again.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Give A Gift, Be An Ally

Time is flying quickly. Thanksgiving has passed and the end-of-year holidays will be here before we know it. Even though I'm personally trying not to "deal" with the holidays just yet, I'm reminded that this is a time of year when a lot of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people choose to come out to their family or friends for the first time. I want to use my few paragraphs here today to celebrate that fact, but also to offer a bit of advice and a few resources to those who may unexpectedly find themselves in the position of being an ally this holiday season.

Make no mistake: to be an ally and supporter to an "out" person is a valuable gift--one that no monetary purchase can ever hope to equal. I believe that the simple words "I love you" and "I support you" can go a long way toward making someone feel at ease to be themselves around you. Don't underestimate how important such a simple and FREE offering can be.

The news lately has been peppered with stories of young people who've fallen so far from a feeling of acceptance that they've resorted to taking their own lives because of bullying or fear related to being gay, bi or trans. Each and every one of these stories breaks my heart. I want to do my part to stop these tragedies from occurring, because I believe every person, regardless of his/her sexuality, is special and beautiful and has meaning in the world.

I've considered myself an ally for many years now, and I've struggled with sexuality in my own ways, and in the midst of that I've learned a few simple tricks allies can employ that might help people feel comfortable to "come out" to you:

  • Consider using gender-neutral language as much as possible when talking about romantic relationships (i.e. substitute "partner" for "boyfriend" or "girlfriend," even when you know the sex/gender of the person you're referring to)
  • Along the same lines, ask broadly-definable questions (i.e., "Are you seeing anyone?" as opposed to "Met any nice guys lately?" or "Do you have a girlfriend?"
  • When appropriate, make reference to your support of issues like same-sex marriage, ordination of gay clergy, anti-bullying, or your beliefs on equality, sexuality or human rights. Alternately, be open-minded and willing to engage different opinions even when expressing opposition to or questions about such issues.
  • Honesty is important: if you can speak about your own struggles, and express your own questions and doubts, other people will respond in kind.

Also, here are some organizations and quick-link resources for people who are or wish to become allies:

Do you know of other resources for allies? Have you had any experience being an ally, or drawing on the support of allies? What has been helpful for you?

Friday, November 26, 2010

Friday Forum: Get Your Shop On

Yesterday was Thanksgiving, and since we already covered what we're thankful for this year, why not have a bit of fun on Black Friday and talk about what we're buying this year.

Do you usually shop on Black Friday? If so, what sales were you looking forward to this year? If not, what makes you avoid this major shopping day?

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thank the Turkeys, Too!

CHICKS ROCK! is happy to have Kristina back as a guest blogger this week.

Kristina Leonardi is the founder of The Women’s Mosaic. She is a career/life path consultant, speaker, seminar leader and expert in the areas of women, diversity and personal growth.

Whenever the fourth Thursday in November rolls around, we are meant to reflect on all the blessings in our lives. Traditionally that would imply appreciating all that is good or positive and bring us joy and happiness or that we could not live without. While that is certainly warranted, why not also be grateful for the funky, not-so-positive, annoying and pain-in-the-you-know-where stuff as well: the people, things and situations that challenge us, push our buttons or make us feel uncomfortable.

There is a saying that “There are no problems, only opportunities.” Our crises and difficulties are chances for us to test our mettle, see what we’re made of, and to become stronger and wiser for it. They are occasions for us to make course corrections, adjustments, tune-ups and put ourselves back in balance or on track, or perhaps a different, better track. If things went great all the time you wouldn’t have to dig deep, really look at yourself, search within for answers, find new creative ways of doing things. Innovation is problem solving at its most basic level (just watch those Dyson commercials), so where would we be without all the problems we’ve had?

Whether unemployed, having a health crisis or trouble in your personal or professional relationships, take a step back and see what is the Universe trying to show/teach you? Remember those carbon atoms wouldn’t become diamonds without extreme high pressure and heat.

So this year, be thankful not only for the bird that you are about to eat (or tofurkey if that is more your style) but for all those ‘turkeys’ in your life: those folks and circumstances that have given you stress and grief but allowed you to go through and overcome whatever you needed to in order to grow and become the person that you are today. And if you need a little help seeing how the cr*p in your life is really cool, give me a buzz and we’ll figure out what should be basted and tasted, and what is simply a little fat that needs to be trimmed. Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Saying No to Holiday Overeating

For most Thanksgiving-enthusiasts, turkey, stuffing, gravy, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, and all other the traditional fare associated with the day are eagerly anticipated. I myself like some of those dishes, but the turkey and gravy are definitely out; as a pesco-vegetarian since my teens, I have always looked for satisfying alternatives to feast on every year. I am also thankful that I won’t be going to anyone else’s home for Thanksgiving dinner, because I always feel a little bad when I have to explain that I don’t eat red meat, poultry or pork, and the majority of the meal is based on one, some or all of these proteins. Now I am even more health conscious, so portion control is essential for me. So no seconds or thirds of pumpkin, apple, and pecan pie for me!

I am grateful to live in a time when eating sensibly is encouraged, even on Thanksgiving. I remember as a kid being practically force fed extra servings of turkey and mashed potatoes and almost passing out from a “food coma” after the meal was finished. As an adult, I have the power to say no, nicely, and to eat what will suit me. This year, I will dine on salmon, brussel sprouts, mashed sweet potatoes, and perhaps some other vegetable dish and a little pie, AND I will be eating early that day so I can recover and work out later. I know this is a day of thanks, but overeating is not the way to celebrate that, in my view.

More power to all of you who are going all out for Thanksgiving! I personally find that eating well without overeating is the key to surviving the day. I also realize that I am lucky that I can say no, because many will be pressured into eating more than they should by well-meaning relatives and friends.

How will you be handling your dining situation this Thanksgiving?

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Dear Abby, I Mean Sally

Something I've always been generally good at is giving advice. I'm really good at listening to people, laying out their options as I see them, and letting them know what I would do in the situation without making it seem like I'm forcing them into that decision.

For a while, it seemed that people were fine getting along without me, but lately I've noticed that people are constantly coming to me with their problems. Even when they're not, what starts as a casual conversation sometimes turns into something heavier: they bare their souls and I reassure them that their feelings are valid and give them guidance about what to do.

Last night, for example, a friend and I were chatting to catch up and talk about holiday plans. It had only been a week since the last time we spoke, so it should've been a 10-minute conversation. Instead, we were on the phone for an hour talking about insecurities, jealousy, relationships, and other random things on his mind.

Now, it's not that I'm complaining, I just find it interesting that after all this time, people still come to me for advice -- even on things that I haven't lived through and even people who are much older than me. And I suppose the fact that so many people feel comfortable coming to me with any problem shows what a good friend I am.

But maybe I'll start thinking twice about the timing of my phone calls and friend dates, because they sure do take longer than I plan.

Do you have a friend that everyone goes to for advice, or are you that friend?

Monday, November 22, 2010

A Wednesday of Women's Work

We all wrote a bit about Thanksgiving last week, so when I sat down to write this post, I was thinking of shifting the topic to something else that's holiday related. But I've got to buy my turkey today, so the big bird's still on my mind. It occurs to me now, that it's probably on a lot of people's minds 2around the country--especially women.

My mom tells me that every year on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving (back when she made the meal, before I took over), as she hurried around making preparations for the big day, she felt a special kinship with the millions of other women who were no doubt scurrying around their own kitchens making similar preparations. It reminded her, she says, of the importance of women's work, and the grand scope of women's contribution. For me now, hearing her say this, it both puts me in awe of what women accomplish in our day-to-day lives, and how often the nature of that work falls out of sight behind-the-scenes.

In this day and age, there are surely a lot of men who prepare turkeys, too, for family and friends, but my mom and I would like to raise a glass (or a wing) to all the moms, step-moms, moms-in-law, grandmas, sisters, aunts, nieces, close friends, and other powerhouse ladies out there who are hard at work this week to create a special moment for their families. We're thankful for their time, energy and presence in these Thanksgiving celebrations!

Who are the women in your life who you're thankful for?

Friday, November 19, 2010

Friday Forum: Thanks for 2010

It's Thanksgiving next week, so it's about time for all of us to start thinking about what we're thankful for this year.

Aside from the usual things we're thankful for every year, what is something that happened in your life this year in particular that you're thankful for?

Perhaps you met somebody who has changed your life for the better, or something you've struggled with has taken a turn for the better. Let us know in the comments!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Link Love for 11/18

You know how much we like showing some link love to our favorite sites. See some of what we've been reading so far this month.

Awaken Your CAREERpreneur has some advice for the workplace that'll help you shine for your boss.

Girl w/Pen considers how science and education are made girly and just what effect that has on girls.

Global Sister posted an interesting paper on civil society participation that was presented to the Head of UN Women.

In Good Company shared an experience of having a business copycat that can also apply to many of us with a public persona.

NYWSE showcased a woman who is helping build communities through microfinance and volunteer partnerships.

One Writeous Chick reminds us to keep believing in ourselves when things aren't looking so good.

What have you been reading and writing on the web? Be sure to leave links in the comments.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

A Thanksgiving State of Mind

I really am grateful for my life. I know it sounds cliché to say this, but when I hear stories of young men and women attempting to commit suicide and even succeeding in doing so, I am reminded of how precious being alive is. While the Thanksgiving season is the time most people start thinking about being thankful and grateful for what they have, I am convinced that we should not pull out our gratitude just once or several times a year.

Why am I bringing this up? It seems that as the holidays come closer, I am confronted with more reports of suicides and other tragedies that don’t make always make the news. As the daughter of a medical professional, I often hear stories about people of all ages who try and sometimes succeed in bringing on death. I recently heard about a young man whose suicide attempt has left him comatose on a life support machine; I am moved when I hear about families finding their loved ones in such terrible situations and not being able to cope with the aftermath. Now that stories like these are so commonplace, we take for granted that despair claims victims all around us on a daily basis. Knowing this makes me even more grateful that I never felt driven to anything this drastic; no matter how troublesome life can be, it has never been that bad.

Tragedies like these also make me think about how death comes to everyone, no matter who they are. Some choose to make it happen, others go about their lives until they end suddenly, and then there those who know they are dying and have time to come to terms with it. However it happens for me, I will continue to smile at something or someone everyday, no matter how difficult life can get. Thanksgiving is a great holiday, but it does only come once a year; we should have a “Thanksgiving” moments on a daily basis to remind us how blessed we are to have one more day on this Earth.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

An Unconventional Thanksgiving

It’s funny that Kekla wrote about her holiday plans yesterday, because I just finalized my Thanksgiving plans and was thinking about how different my plans are this year.

Just like most people, I spent my holidays with my family. Once I had moved away from home for good, the struggle was deciding whether to spend each holiday with my family, my guy’s family, or somehow split the day to see both. As I wrote about before, this was always rather stressful but it did get me used to spending the holidays elsewhere.

This year, my guy and I are no longer together, so that wasn’t really an issue, but I realized that I didn’t want to spend Thanksgiving at home. I’m not exactly sure why, but I felt a pull to do something completely different, and to perhaps start thinking about forming my own traditions.

After a visit from a very good friend who I hadn’t seen in years, we got to talking about spending Thanksgiving together and I immediately loved the idea. We thought about renting a cabin and cooking dinner ourselves, but ultimately we decided we’d do something unexpected and fly on out to San Francisco. I’ve never been to San Francisco and I’ve wanted a change of scenery since breaking up with my guy. Combine that with the fact that I’d look for any excuse to spend some quality time with my friend, I was sold.

So this year I’m having a rather unconventional Thanksgiving, but I’m feeling really good about it. I’m not really any closer to figuring out how I’ll spend my holidays in the future, but if they all involve a trip to a new place and time with great friends, I’m up for it.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Holiday Habits

Last week's Friday Forum topic got me thinking about my plans for the upcoming holidays. My preference tends toward a simple, classic version of the year-end festivities. When I think about Christmas, in particular, I think about spending time with my family. It evokes images of traveling home and sleeping in my childhood bed, putting up a tree in the living room, getting to drive and ride in the car a lot (a relative rarity for an NYC-dweller), and cooking in my mom's enormous (again, relative to NYC) kitchen.

I've always known there would come a point when my holiday traditions would begin to evolve. They've already evolved somewhat. For several years in the past, instead of traveling home to the Midwest, I've hosted Thanksgiving in my own apartment, for family and friends. I managed this transition rather seamlessly. Sometimes it's nice not to travel and, for better or worse, I get the leftovers all to myself.

The prospect of changing Christmas plans, however, seems a bit more daunting. I count myself very lucky that no life events have disrupted my Yuletide traditions up until now. Every December for a decade I've wondered if this would be the year, but it turns out that it's going to be 2010 that finally breaks a lifelong tradition: I won't be going home for Christmas.

I tell myself that the element of being with family and friends is the most important thing, and I'm still going to get to do that. I'll buy a tree and decorations, heat hot chocolate, and savor the festive, wintry vibe of the city. Still, I can't help but wonder if it'll feel like the same holiday this year.

I'll let you know on the flip side!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Friday Forum: Traditions, Old & New

As the holiday season gets closer, some people know exactly what they're doing while others are trying to figure out if they should try something new this year.

What are some holiday traditions you carry out every year? What are some new traditions you're hoping to start, whether it's with a new family, your friends, etc.?

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Jungle Love

CHICKS ROCK! is happy to have Kristina back as a guest blogger this week.

Kristina Leonardi is the founder of The Women’s Mosaic. She is a career/life path consultant, speaker, seminar leader and expert in the areas of women, diversity and personal growth.

The latest casualties in celebrity breakups - Courtney Cox & David Arquette, Christina Aguilera & Jordan Bratman, Ben Harper & Laura Dern, to name a few - remind us that although things may look bright and shiny on the outside, there is trouble in paradise.

Whether you have the paparazzi spotlight on you or not, this is the area of life we are most often challenged in, even if we excel at everything else. Because when it comes to relationships, it's a jungle out there. Having realistic expectations of what we want and how to go about getting it is the key to navigating that often hostile and confusing environment.

The jungle image conjures up virgin territories, poisonous plants and camouflaged predators. But the reality is that it can also contain a myriad of medicinal cures and infinite beauty and diversity - a place of healing, discovery and wonder.

Just like the mighty forest of the Amazon, we each contain secrets and gems within us. It might first take wielding a machete to clear away the brush before getting to a place where you can see the light of day, and your partner in that light. It takes work - honest communication and emotional elbow grease - to get to that place where you are totally naked to just be, without the distractions, bells and whistles or ability to hide in the denseness of all that surrounds you. That is the place where relationships must exist; all the rest is gravy.

If and when you get to that stripped down place and can't embrace yourself, it will be much harder for your partner to. But if you have already unearthed all your hidden, not so nice parts, and love and accept them unconditionally while trying to improve them, then you can enter into a relationship truly whole and ready to give to another in the same way.

So whether you are traveling solo, have a 'plus one', or are not quite sure what your status is in this expedition called life, give me a buzz and I will help lead you out of the heart of darkness and into the bright city lights.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Whitewashing Dilemma

I never understand why people want to whitewash history. That was what I first thought when I heard about George W. Bush’s publicity tour to promote his new memoir. Since leaving office, he has lived quietly away from the spotlight until now. I remember how different things were before and now after his presidency, and I can honestly say that things were pretty grim during those long eight years.

At the same time, it is far too easy to cast all the blame on Bush entirely. He was the figure head of a large, crumbling administration, as well as the country as a whole. He had other branches of the government to contend with too, which is understandable. Still, people in the media want to either revere him as a powerful former President who helped spread democracy in the Muslim world, or demonize him for entering into war with Iraq. It is too easy to choose one side or the other, but it is wrong to do so.

When you see the world in purely “black and white,” you lose out on many truths. Still, I don’t believe that someone like Hitler should be sympathized with in this or any other way. I feel fortunate that I surround myself with people who are and have made time to present themselves for who they really are, warts and all.

I also don’t like it when people claim to be close with a deceased person, when they were not. Respect for someone who is passed is essential of course, but I feel uncomfortable seeing people mourning for those deceased persons they barely knew or spoke to. Whitewashing the memories of others can be detrimental to everyone concerned; trashing someone through and through is also a bothersome extreme. Therefore, taking the middle ground is always best, at least from my own view.

Do you agree that whitewashing anything or anyone (dead or alive) is a bad idea? Why or why not?

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Becoming an (e)Bookworm

For as long as there have been eReaders, everyone’s been asking me if and when I'm getting one. Everyone knows I'm a huge bookworm and that I love technology, you put the two together and I’m in heaven. It's true that I've been slightly obsessed with news about the eReader wars for over a year now, but I wasn't quick to jump on the bandwagon to go out and get one.

I've never been against eReaders, but I wanted everything to settle down first so I could pick the right one. For a while there, rumors constantly surfaced about a new eReader that did everything but the dishes. Amazon, Apple, Barnes & Noble, Sony, etc. were constantly talked about... and I listened closely to every word.

Now that the dust has settled and most of the big players have released their eReaders, I've been paying even more attention (if that's possible) to what each one has to offer and which one I want. Yes, after years of putting it off, I'm finally ready to commit. Admittedly, I've been reading eBooks ever since I got an iPhone, even though I didn't actually buy my first contemporary eBook until a few days ago when I realized I couldn't wait any longer to borrow my friend's copy of The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest. At any rate, having an actual eReader is a whole new world.

I won't stop buying regular books, regardless of what people seem to think having an eReader means. Some books are just better and easier to absorb when you can write on the margins, highlight to your heart's content, underline, circle, and make the book yours. Then there's the fact that not every book has an eBook version, and I'm fine with that too.

So which one do I want? I haven’t completely made up my mind yet, but when I do, I know it’ll be the best one for me.

Have any of you fellow bookworms out there made the switch to an eReader yet? Which do you have and what do you love about it?

Monday, November 8, 2010

Catch Up With Kekla

Unfortunately, Kekla's out today, so there won't be a new post. But this is actually a great chance for you to read back over some of her other posts. Happy reading!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Friday Forum: Getting Engaged

This week's elections had the entire country's attention and it seemed everywhere you went and every channel you turned to had some mention of it. It's always great to see citizens so engaged, and it got us thinking about our own civic engagement.

What are some things you do to stay active and engaged? Whether it's voting every year, keeping others informed, or playing a role in your community board, what do you do to stay involved?

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Share Your Journey

It's been a while since we've heard from you all and we think it's about time you send some more guest blogger posts our way.

Remember that you can write about an almost endless variety of things: a new job, an old relationship, a recent life lesson you learned, your culture, your mentor or mentee, and so much more. If it's from your personal experience and shares experiences of diversity, empowerment or personal growth, we want you to share your journey!

So check out our guest blogger guidelines, read previous guest posts if you need inspiration, and submit your post!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Shower Party Planning

Party planning doesn’t come naturally to me, but I have been learning to do my best when the duty falls in my lap. I am planning my sister’s shower with the help of two of her friends, which makes life a lot easier for me. I helped plan two for friends of mine in the past, but this one is very different; the others were traditional bridal shower affairs, but my sister’s party will be a co-ed couples’ shower. She and her fiance wanted it that way, and we gladly obliged.

Another aspect to this event that we all appreciate is that the shower is potluck; each of us will be bringing food and/or drinks to the venue, which happens to be a friend’s apartment in New York City. When funds are limited, especially during financially difficult times, it should be easy to comprehend why we are doing this. I am glad to be focusing on other aspects of the party, such as games and gifts for guests, instead of planning a menu for several dozen people.

Even with all this planning ahead, I know that things could go wrong: people cancel at the last minute, or guests can bring more people with them, even though each is allowed to bring just one other person, or everyone just brings drinks and no food. All I know that I can do is to go ahead with the planning and prepare to do damage control if needed. It is just a party, after all, and I want to have a little fun during this process.

Do you enjoy party planning, or is it something you let other people take care of?

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Election Day 2010 - Get Out & Vote

If you're eligible and registered to vote, be sure to get out there and vote today!

Voting is something that's always been very important to me -- it was the thing I looked forward to the most when I became a U.S. citizen. Because of that, I'm constantly reminding people to vote and encouraging them to educate themselves on the issues and who or what will be on their ballot come Election Day. And today, the day of the all-important midterm elections, I'm doing the same for all of you!

The first thing you need to do is figure out where to vote. Google has set up a function that allows you to look up your poll location and Facebook has a similar feature. You can also search for your Board of Elections and find a poll locator on their website, or at least a number you can call to find out where to go.

To find out what to expect when you get there, you can keep tabs on Election Protection's Twitter account and their #EP2010 hashtag where you can view or report problems at poll locations throughout the country.

Most importantly, to learn more about what will be on your ballot, one of your best resources will be the League of Women Voters' awesome site. You can use it to search for the elections in your area and to find out where some of the candidates stand on the major issues.

That's the scoop on the important things you need to know, so now you have no excuse to stay away from the polls. Voting is one of the best things you can do to take full advantage of your citizenship and your rights as an American. It's one major way to get your voice heard and to be clear about what direction you want the country to go in.

Do you vote on Election Day? If not, what are some of the things that hold you back?

Monday, November 1, 2010

The Curtain Calls

I love going to see live theater performances. But, I find that I don't often enough take the initiative to seek out new shows. Sometimes the cost is prohibitive, especially thinking about Broadway shows, but it doesn't have to be. There are discount ticket services all over the place, not to mention off-broadway and off-off-Broadway options that price themselves lower to begin with. I guess, for me, theater's one of those things that can easily fall out of sight and out of mind. When I'm out of practice, it seems like a big deal to jockey for cheap tickets.

In the past month, I've lucked into several theater-going opportunities at low- or no-cost, and each reminded me how much I appreciate a good show. I feel eager to find something else to see, and I wonder how long I can make the feeling last. It's so easy to get sucked back into work and life, and forget to seek time and space to experience art and allow myself to be surprised, excited, or moved by someone else's creative work.

I enjoy everything about the theater experience--the hushed dark, the little armrests, the sense of everyone staring, breathless, toward the lighted stage, waiting to see how the scene will unfold. For a writer, too, there is infinite value in witnessing storytelling in all the varying forms it can take. The recent reminder of this has inspired me in a lot of ways. I guess I've been bitten once again by the theater bug--I've no desire to perform on stage, but I desperately want to watch. The curtain calls!

Seen any good shows lately?

Friday, October 29, 2010

Friday Forum: Happy Halloween!

Halloween isn't necessarily a holiday that we think of as having traditions, but most people do have certain things they always do on or around Halloween.

What are some of your Halloween traditions? Do you go trick or treating with your family? Do you attend a Rocky Horror Picture Show screening or watch your favorite scary movies at home? Let us know in the comments.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Link Love for 10/28

We know, we know, we just had a link love post last week, but is it our fault that there's so much great content out there that it needs another post? Check out what we've been reading.

Awaken Your CAREERpreneur reminds us that not every "no" we hear is the same.

Girl w/Pen is taking a deeper look at Karen Owen's fake thesis scandal and calling out sexism.

Lindsey Pollak has a great piece about Millenial/Gen Y women and the positive outlook for their future.

NYWSE interviewed the founder of Rubina Design, which gives back to help women entrepreneurs around the world.

One Writeous Chick features a guest post about how giving up on goals can be a good thing.

Savvy Ladies has tips for balancing friendships with wealth differences, whether you've got the big money or little money.

What have you been reading and writing online? Be sure to leave a link in the comments.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Appreciating The Open Road

I may not be a great driver, but I am learning to appreciate the open road. I hate sitting in never ending traffic like any normal person, and when the weather is scary I would rather sit indoors and watch it pass by. There are wonderful moments after the seemingly endless minutes behind a slow-moving truck are over, or when a dense fog clears and I can actually see where I am going, that I get to enjoy driving. I am taking advantage of my time behind the wheel now, because I know these days of red, orange and gold leaves are coming to an end.

I prefer taking public transportation when it is convenient and not too expensive, especially when I went to Portland, Maine several years ago. I love scenic train rides, and I ogling at the scenery behind large windows. Still, I can almost never say no to a road trip because I get to choose where to stop if I see a farmers’ market, outdoor sculpture garden, and anything else that grabs my attention along the way. I also like being able to take as much or as little as I want in my car for my journeys; I am learning to pack lighter, but for a recent trip to Massachusetts, I brought along my brand new juicer because my accommodations had a kitchen, and I wanted to use it. My car made it possible for me to bring this convenience from home, without any fuss.

My current job requires me to travel periodically, which has been more pleasurable than I thought it would be. I am used to taking buses and subways to an enclosed office, but now I get to hit the open road and visit different places and meet various people. I hate rush hour traffic with a passion, so I am learning to avoid it by driving during off-peak hours. I used to be afraid driving to places previously unknown to me, but now I look forward to the opportunity.

Do you enjoy driving?

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Halloween Highs

I'm not generally big on holidays, but to the extent that I even pay attention or care about them, I guess Halloween has always been higher on the list than most. I'm not really even sure how this came to be, considering I wasn't allowed to trick or treat when I was younger, then I was too old to trick or treat but too young to go to parties, and even now, I don't always make plans for Halloween. But I guess there are just so many things to enjoy about it even without participating.

First, there's the candy. I love all things sweet, and Halloween gives me a great excuse to munch on bite-sized candy bars and licorice. Then there's the adorable little kids dressed up as bumble bees or their favorite action hero or whatever other cute thing you can think of. Even the ones with scary masks on look adorable!

Which brings me to the best part of Halloween: getting dressed up. Finding a costume can be stressful, so I admit that I've complained quite a bit about this in the past, but I do like seeing the creative costumes people come up with. Plus, it's a lot of fun when you have an idea and can just run with it. That's what happened this year with me when I got the idea to be Bellatrix Lestrange from Harry Potter. When inspiration struck, I pretty much started seeking out plans just so I could wear the costume. I'm still waiting for the year that I get a group of friends together to go as Pink Ladies from Grease.

Do you like Halloween? If so, what's your favorite part?

Monday, October 25, 2010

Taking the Time, Today

I recently attended a memorial service for an elderly acquaintance--one of those pleasant affairs where the focus is on celebrating someone's long, fruitful, achievement-packed life, rather than mourning the tragedy of what is lost. Far from being sad, the festivities (I think it's safe to call them such) filled those of us present with joy and thanksgiving for having known this particular gentleman. People who knew him much better than I did offered touching eulogies and affectionate tales of his many adventures in his 95 years on earth. Turns out, he really got around!

In the midst of all the happy and poignant conversation, it struck me that it would have been nice to be able to speak about this man as more than an acquaintance, but as a friend. Our paths crossed regularly in the past nine years or so that I'd known him, and we exchanged the sort of respectful pleasantries you would expect from dialogue between a twenty-something woman and a ninety-something man. There was always something about him that intrigued me, his gentle manner, his intelligent observation of the world around him, his warmth and kindness. Yet, I found him slightly intimidating at the same time, because of his age and his declining health. Maybe I simply felt afraid to "bother" him, in case he needed his rest, or didn't want to dwell on stories of his youth.

As a lover of history, it always fascinates me to talk with people who lived through events I've only read about. Born in 1915, this man lived through the better part of the 20th century, with a ground-level view of some of the great eras and events of his times. I wish now that I could have found the courage to approach him, to invite him into conversation with me, because I think he would have come along willingly, and maybe I wouldn't have had to work very hard at all. I must admit, I crave contact with that sort of wisdom, and so often it is hard to really imagine that it will be gone sooner rather than later.

Do you have any older adults in your life who you'd like to sit down and have a good chat with? Maybe today is the day to give it a try.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Friday Forum: All Dressed Up

It's a bit hard to believe, but Halloween is just next week. If you love Halloween or plan ahead, you're probably sitting pretty right now, but if you're not, this may be a moment of slight panic.

What are your ideas for getting all dressed up this Halloween? Witch, nurse, your favorite Harry Potter character?

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Link Love for 10/21

We can't get enough of our favorite blogs, so it's time for another link love round-up!

Awaken Your CAREERpreneur uses the "7 habits of" premise and runs with it... for healthy eating.

Girl w/Pen takes on what they call the tyranny of skinny fashion in an insightful post.

Global Sisters posted information about the petition to Make Women Count for Peace -- be sure to sign.

Lindsey Pollak has a very helpful post about finding careers you never knew existed.

NYWSE wrote about how women network, and how they "netweave."

One Writeous Chick is trying to learn the important lesson of how to be more selfish.

Woodhull Institute's blog highlighted the 15 minutes of fame education is currently getting.

That's it from us. What have you been reading and writing on the web?

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The Nature of Bullying

One summer in my childhood, when my family and I were preparing to visit family in India, a priest who knew my mother called her to ask if she would give his family a cheese wheel from him when she was there. My mother agreed, not knowing it would be almost as large as one of our suitcases. When she saw the cheese wheel for herself, she politely refused to pack it for obvious reasons. The priest was furious with her, and never treated us kindly after that. The problem was that because my mother is so nice, he thought he could tell her what to do and she would oblige, no matter how inconvenient the request. He and many others taught me about the nature of bullying, and the lessons still resonate with me today.

It is generally believed that being nice is equal to weakness, even though most of us would not admit it openly. I was once seen as both too kind and easy to manipulate, and I admit that I was in the past. I realize now that true benevolence comes from strength, not weakness. I was afraid to stand up for myself when I was bullied as a child in school, because I thought I would make things worse if I did. I was awkward in my own skin, a minority in my mostly white Roman Catholic grammar school, and the teachers were also part of the problem.

Bullying has made national news again with the suicide of a college freshman and the actions that probably led to this devastating end. I think about the bullies in my life, and realize that they taught me how not to treat other people and to speak out against the behavior, even when others are not supportive. I’m not afraid to stand up for myself and others who are the targets of bullying, even if I am not seen as a nice person because of it. I know who I am now, and no one’s contradictions can change that.

What are your thoughts on bullying?

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Fall Focus & Fresh Start

Sally is feeling under the weather, so there's no post from her today, but this is a chance to promote for TWM founder & CHICKS ROCK! guest blogger Kristina. She will be speaking tonight, so check out the details below.

Spring Cleaning for the Soul: Fall Focus/Fresh Start
October 19th, 2010 | 6:30-8:00pm
Registration is closed. Please contact

Spring is a time for rebirth, renewal and reawakening. It’s a time when many people dust off their homes and open the windows to let the fresh air in and stale air out – come listen to Kristina Leonardi, founder of The Women’s Mosaic, as she talks about doing the same for your soul! The Fall is also a great time to review where you are at, make adjustments and revise goals, just like you did when the new school year started! Examine what no longer serves a purpose in your life, and what ideas, work, or relationships need to be let go of or revised. Take this time to stop and reflect on who and where you are at this moment and use the energy of the seasons of change to create your best and most fulfilled life now!

Location: Microsoft Corporation, 6th Floor, Room 6042 “Radio City,” 1290 6th Avenue New York City

Monday, October 18, 2010

The Flaw in Films

It's possible that many of you are already familiar with the Bechdel Test for women in films (I've also heard it called the Mo Movie Measure), but I found this video by The Feminist Frequency about a surprising phenomenon occurring in many popular feature films today:

If you watched the video, you might not need to read the rest of my post, but here it goes anyway. The Bechdel Test asks three questions of any movie to determine the true presence of women on the screen:

  1. Does the film have more than one woman in it (who has a name)?
  2. Do they talk to each other at some point?
  3. Do they talk about something other than a man?
The first time I heard of this, I felt sure I could immediately name plenty of movies that pass the test. Turned out, I could name some--not plenty--and they weren't always the movies I expected them to be. And it remains truly shocking to me how many of my favorites fail miserably.

How do your long-time favorites stack up? What about any new releases you've checked out lately? Any surprises?

Friday, October 15, 2010

Friday Forum: Go(al)-Getter

By now, most people have completely forgotten their 2010 New Year's resolution, and have not yet started thinking about their resolution for next year.

Think about what goals you set for yourself this year and let us know if you've been successful in meeting them. If you have been, what goals will you be focused on through the end of the year? If you haven't succeeded, what will you do to get back on track?

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Leap of Faith

CHICKS ROCK! is happy to have Kristina back as a guest blogger this week.

Kristina Leonardi is the founder of The Women’s Mosaic. She is a career/life path consultant, speaker, seminar leader and expert in the areas of women, diversity and personal growth. Join her at Spring Cleaning for the Soul: Fall Focus, Fresh Start on Tuesday, October 19.

In the year 1492 Columbus sailed the ocean blue... Whether or not you approve of the outcome of that fateful voyage, we can all learn from Columbus' extreme act of faith and belief in himself when he left to explore a New World despite all odds.

Albert Einstein believed in intuition and inspiration, saying"Imagination is more important than knowledge". The greatest discoveries in the world are often based on hunches, on people with a vision and certain knowingness, and then moving forward with courage, determination and perseverance, they set out to prove it.

People may think you're crazy, want to dissuade you, say your theories are wrong; even those closest to you who have the very best of intentions can only project their version of the truth and what they think is right. But they simply may not understand, and at the end of the day, we must be the captain of our own ship.

Once you embark on that journey, you will always encounter stormy skies, dis-ease, and potential mutiny along the way, whether from external sources and naysayers or internal voices of doubt and despair from your ego trying to take over what your heart and gut knows to be true, without the proof and evidence yet in existence. But we must remain steady as she blows!

We each have an internal compass, our own personal North Star which may very well lead us on a different path from everyone around us or society as a whole. We are unique beings, so only you know what's right for you and ultimately the direction you want to be going in. And if you're wrong or it doesn't work out the way you planned, at least you will have tried, and will learn and grow along the way. You may even find something better than what you originally envisioned...

So if you need a little adjustment of your internal GPS, an experienced cartographer, or just some help handling what Mother Nature throws your way, give me a buzz and I'll be the wind that gives lift to your sails, assists in navigating those uncharted waters and supports you in staying the course!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Each Bite Matters

Cooking from start to finish is something I can do well, if I have the instructions and ingredients handy. I am learning to be creative when it comes to substituting some items for others, such as agave nectar or stevia for sugar, applesauce for oil, and other healthier alternatives. As I experiment, the allure of going out for a meal has lessened considerably; I like knowing what I am putting into my body on a daily basis. Each bite matters more because I put the effort into preparing the food from scratch.

Shopping and food preparation takes time, something most of us don’t have in this fast-moving modern world we live in. When I am tempted to reach for the phone to make place an order for take out, I more often than not convince myself to stop and look into my refrigerator for items I can transform into healthy meals. I love fried foods, but should I be eating them everyday? Absolutely not. Frying is the easiest, tastiest, and least beneficial way to cook anything, so I make time to bake or steam if I can manage it. I am also all about eating raw vegetables with juicing and salads, so I try to choose organic produce whenever possible and prepare for consumption by washing thoroughly with a mixture of water, baking soda, and lemon juice. I learned this handy produce wash recipe from a great book about natural alternatives to store-bought cleaners and remedies, and I only paid five dollars for the knowledge.

I haven’t given up eating out completely. That would be impossible, especially know with a family wedding and other events coming up in the near future. All I do know is that making my own food at home is far less expensive and much healthier for me than relying on strangers who may or may not have their hearts in what they are doing. In addition to taking a few cooking classes at a local restaurant, I am looking forward to making time and challenging myself further in the kitchen. This commitment will pay off.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

My TV Fast

Remember when all I was doing was watching tv? I had recaps to write for a handful of shows and watching all that television was exhausting. Kekla's post yesterday about Dancing with the Stars made me realize that for the past month or so, I've been living without a tv and the change is a bit jarring. I feel like I've quit a drug cold turkey.

I welcomed the change at first because I was so wiped out from having to watch all of those shows. I had some newfound free time that I quickly filled in with work, reading, and spending time with my friends.

But then the fall season started and I really began to miss it. I kept hearing about the new shows like My Generation and found myself wanting to watch even awful shows I don't usually care much about like Desperate Housewives. (Don't judge me... I'm too busy judging myself.)

So I caved a bit and started watching a couple of shows online, and I’ve actually found the perfect balance. I no longer watch whatever random show is on just because it’s on, and I don’t have to miss my favorite shows. Plus, I’ve watched at least a couple of episodes of a lot of the new shows without feeling like I have to commit to them. Sadly, Dexter isn’t available online, but I’ll catch up eventually.

Now I have a tv again, but it doesn't have any cable or DVR. Because my schedule is all over the place, I haven't even been there to catch any shows when they're on, so I’ll probably stick to my new habit for a while.

Have you ever gone on a tv fast, either intentionally or unintentionally? Did you enjoy it?

Monday, October 11, 2010

Dancing with Dancing with the Stars

After years of resisting, this season I've finally broken down and started watching ABC's Dancing with the Stars. Friends who know that I'm a former ballroom dancer constantly tell me I've been missing out. ("You'd love this show. You have to watch.") Instead, I studiously avoided it. I couldn't make it through a single episode, because I quickly realized that there's nothing more annoying and painful than watching people do something I enjoy doing when I can't do it myself.

Beginning in college up through my first years living in NYC, I participated in ballroom dancing clubs and classes. I cut out this activity because, after my career transition, it was no longer in my budget. Ballroom dancing lessons are surprisingly expensive! But I haven't stopped thinking about how much I enjoyed a good tango or rumba back in the day. Seeing Dancing with the Stars simply made me sad about it.

I'm not sure what caused me to give the show a second chance this fall. I'm even less sure why I'm not still hating it. I can't quite say I enjoy watching, but something new is going on for me. Perhaps some inner strand of optimism has risen to the surface. Because I've discovered that rather than being something to pine over, the show can be a way to savor something. The memory of my dancing days, plus the hope that I can begin again sometime soon. Better than memory or hope, even, is the potential that the show itself will inspire me to seek new ways of satisfying my desire to dance. Maybe I can locate an inexpensive ballroom class or even find a place to cha-cha my little heart out for free. Because, after having loved and missed something so much for so long, maybe it's time to open the door to opportunities again.

Is there a hobby or activity you've given up that you'd like to bring back into your life?

Friday, October 8, 2010

Friday Forum: Autumn Abroad?

Summer is when we typically hear of people taking trips abroad, but a nice fall excursion to another country can be a great break from your routine.

Whether you couldn't take time off in the summer, didn't want to deal with tourist season, or find better bargains in the fall, are you traveling abroad this autumn? Where are you going and what are your plans?

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Link Love for our Guest Bloggers

We love guest bloggers here on CHICKS ROCK! even more than we love link love, so we want to do another link love round-up featuring our guest bloggers!

As part of TWM's World of Wellness, we featured a number of health- and wellness-themed posts including Faith's post about embracing natural beauty, Sasha's post on making the time to focus on health, and Robin's post about finding the foods that are best for you.

Recently, Vicki Salemi wrote about the great experiences she's had since manifesting them on her vision board.

Former TWM intern Bridget reflected on her time in New Orleans and the spirit of that community.

Lastly, Kristina urged all of us to tell our stories in our own words, no matter what.

Now that you've seen all of the variety we feature in our guest posts, be sure to take some time to reflect on your own story and then send us your guest posts. We can't wait to hear from you!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

A Day in the Palisades

After the rainy, stormy days in the New York Tri-State area, I was so pleased to do some hiking in Palisades Interstate Park which is less ten miles from where I live. My friend planned this outdoor adventure several weeks ago, and various people were invited, but I wasn’t surprised that the group shrunk to two determined people. After all, on weekends many people want to sleep in rather than wake up early and venture out into nature. I, on the other hand, was looking forward to it.

I have always loved the outdoors, and hiking in the woods and mountains is one of my favorite things to do. I feel regenerated when I go out and challenge myself on rocky paths or crossing through small streams over stones, and leaning against trees that are over one hundred years old. While on our hike, my friend and I met two other enthusiastic hikers who told us that it was the perfect time to go hiking; apparently the woods look best the day after a rain storm, and I agree. Even having lunch by the Hudson River looking into Westchester was soothing and just what I needed after being shut up indoors for several days.

I appreciate Palisades Interstate Park even more after learning how it was created. In 1900, the governors of New York and New Jersey partnered together to create a commission that built and managed the park, after the area was devastated by quarry operations. I was surprised to learn that even back then, there were those who realized how important preserving nature was, and how future generations would reap the benefits of their efforts. As I admired the waterfall we passed on our hike, and watched two hawks and an eagle circle over our heads as we looked out over the water after it was over, I felt thankful to those who passed away years ago who made it possible for me and everyone else present that day in the park to see it at its best. I will be a regular visitor from now on.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

A Delayed Homecoming

This coming weekend is Homecoming at my college and a good friend of mine has been trying her hardest to get a bunch of us to go. I'm still not completely sure I can make it, but I'm trying to sort through my schedule. I don't want to go so much for the event itself, but because I'd like to see everyone again. 

Deciding whether or not to attend Homecoming as an alum might seem like a normal thing to most, but I realized something a few weeks ago that makes all of this funny to me: in my four years as an undergrad, I never once went to Homecoming. 

I was active in college, first in the residence hall organizations and later in my sorority, so I helped make floats, costumes, etc. But as far as actually being part of the parades and other festivities, or even going as a spectator, it just never happened.

In retrospect, I don't even know how I managed to never attend Homecoming. Did I get in trouble for not going? Did I have legitimate reasons for sitting it out? I can't remember. 

But maybe this year, after all this time, I'll actually gather up some school spirit and have fun at Homecoming. It's never too late to celebrate, right?

Have you ever gone back to school for Homecoming? Did you participate as an undergrad, or rebel by missing it each year?

Monday, October 4, 2010

Chair Bliss

I bought a new desk chair this week. Hum-drum as that may sound, it was actually very exciting. I spend most of my days holed up at the computer, and recently realized that my choice of chair should be second only to my choice of laptop. When I’m eighty, my lower back will surely thank me for having switched to something ergonomic now.

As the picture shows, this meshy, contoured throne is a significant upgrade from the straight-bottomed, straight-backed dining room chair I’ve been using. (A photo of me in the chair rather obscures it, so London Bear is my model. He’s reading an advance copy of Camo Girl, my novel due out in January.)

I decided to buy a chair several months ago, but it took me a while to find one I was happy with. I resisted the impulse to just get it over with and buy online, based on price and features. No, it was important to try the chair before buying. I finally found a Staples storeroom in Manhattan and went there several times and sat in all the chairs, until I was sure which one I wanted. The long-awaited credit card swipe felt great!

The box was huge, and since the point of the purchase was to begin taking better care of my body, I smiled at the box boy and over-tipped my cabbie so they’d carry it for me as far as was appropriate. As soon as I got it home, I cranked up my iTunes, busted out the allen wrenches and whipped that sucker together. Then I sat in it for several hours just because I could. Yeah, baby.

So, to sum up what I’ve learned:
 Seemingly small changes can make a big difference.
 Shopping around until you find the perfect item is really worth the time and energy.
 No matter how much it makes other people roll their eyes, I still truly enjoy putting together furniture from a box.

Have you made any big or small changes lately?

Friday, October 1, 2010

Friday Forum: Self-Promotion

We're often asking you to submit your guest blog posts and leave links in the link love round-ups. But today, instead of sharing just one post of yours, why don't you share your whole blog?

If you have your own blog or write for a blog, leave a link with a short description of what you write about. We'd love to check it out!

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Link Love for 9/30

It's been over a month since our last round-up, and we've been reading a couple of new blogs since then, so let's get right to it.

Awaken Your CAREERpreneur talks about the different feelings that simple question "so, what do you do?" can bring up.

Girl w/Pen offers some ideas about balancing gender inequality, with a look at exactly who they help and hurt.

Global Sisters delves into innovative solutions for young women's empowerment, as discussed at the World Youth Conference.

In Good Company brings up the frustrations of needing the one thing you regularly give other people.

Lindsey Pollak wants to help overcome the image of entitlement that people seem to have of 20-somethings.

NYWSE highlights Prosperity Candle L3C in their series on market-based solutions for community development.

One Writeous Chick admits that, contrary to what everyone says, sometimes the goal in life isn't balance.

Savvy Ladies shares some tips on how to financially prepare for pregnancy and your postpartum life.

The Woodhull Blog discusses the societal expectation for women to be mothers in order to be considered completely successful.

Be sure to leave links in the comments to things you've been reading and writing online lately. Happy reading!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The Power of No Words

I was walking through crowds of slow-moving tourists in Manhattan this weekend and made eye contact with someone promoting double decker bus tours. I never did this before, but that day I was wondering if my two companions who were visiting from California would be interested in the tour. I walked right by the man, but he followed me a few steps to the corner and presented his brochure and made a fervent sales pitch, which I politely declined. I knew he would try to approach me from that brief moment we had.

It just reminds me how potent our non-verbal communication skills are, and to trust our instincts. I am always surprised at how much I reveal without saying a word, and how I can usually tell how someone feels or what they might say or do, even if I never speak to that person.

Other examples of this behavior dropped like anvils throughout the day. One incident occurred on the subway, when I was having a muted conversation with one of my companions. I noticed a woman sitting near us reacting to what we were saying without speaking. Her body language and facial expressions were subtle, but I could tell she disapproved. Instead of turning her head or moving to a seat further away from us, she kept looking in our direction. It amused me how I could tell how much she wanted to chime in but wouldn’t, and how her dislike of what we were saying grew with every word. Later that day, we wanted to find a subway station and I approached an angry looking traffic cop to ask for directions. My friends were put off by his disagreeable demeanor, which was evident when he turned his back to us as we walked towards him; I asked him for information, which he tersely gave. Somehow, I knew his standoffish behavior would not prevent him from giving us the right directions, and thankfully I was right.

How much do you rely on your ability to communicate or read others non-verbally?

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