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!

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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