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?

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