THIS is #BurningMan2017

7 Sep

While the interwebs are filled with photos of glamorous, hot, sexy, booty-short-wearing women (and men) at #BurningMan… women with inexplicably clean hair, with boots they couldn’t walk more than 20 yards in (and never ride a bike in), and with outfits often looking like hundreds of dollars of designer-wear fashion went into their making, I offer what I think is one of the BEST photos I’ve seen from Burning Man this year.

It’s a photo of my friend Matthew Gordon (and a woman whose playa name is “Not Dead Yet”), and I’m sharing it with his permission.

For all you lovely sparkle ponies who think #BurningMan is a fashion festival, your beauty is wonderful AND we are a community event built on The 10 Principles. (Read the Survival Guide and get acculturated.) And most importantly, get dusty!

So much of what Burning Man is about is surviving and thriving amidst harsh circumstances and a desert that has no interest in supporting your survival.

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Fleeing Wilma

6 Sep

In 2005, I was married to an amazing man, Eran Eisen, and we were living in south Florida, right below West Palm Beach, when news of Hurricane Wilma came through. Wilma was a slow-moving (meaning it was going to stay around awhile and not just blow through) Category 4 hurricane, the size of Texas, headed for landfall a 20 minute drive from where we lived.

At first I had Weather Channel-like visions of being in a show or documentary and telling stories of how we survived the storm with the winds and rains howling. It sounded interesting…like an adventure.

Then I saw a description of the different categories of hurricanes and realized a Cat 4 was nothing I wanted to experience if I didn’t have to. I recall riding my bike through our neighborhood the days before the hurricane made landfall and suddenly looking at every single item as a projectile. That nice lawn furniture? A projectile. That stone garden sculpture? A projectile. That gazebo? A projectile.

After about 10 minutes of looking around and realizing that physical items large and small flying through the air at 140 mph was my clue that it was time to go. As soon as possible.

We did everything we could to baton down the hatches and prepare the house for the onslaught. Then we started packing to get out of town.

We were already hearing stories of people getting stranded on the road, people running out of gas, gas stations losing electricity and not being able to pump gas, hotels overflowing and people not having any place to stay. These were all realties, and we knew we had to get out. Plus, the roads were clogged with people exiting in a panic.

Our plan was to drive late at night and avoid as much traffic as possible. I remember stopping to get gas in our home town and having a vehicle pull right in front of us at the gas pump in a way that on any normal day would be socially unacceptable and bad manners. I took a deep breath and let that driver express fear and lack as he needed to.

We drove late at night, encountering little traffic. In the morning, we arrived in Jacksonville, pulled over into a mostly residential area and came across an adorable cafe. We went in and I started chatting with a gal in line about how we were evacuating from the hurricane and that all the hotels were booked. She said, “You can stay with me!” Then I watched her face as she quickly processed what she just said, having offered her home to some strangers. She seemed partly surprised and shocked, and somewhat excited, and 100% genuine.

We stayed with her and her boyfriend for a couple of days. She had a townhome and a spare bedroom. My then-husband being a great cook, he made some delicious meals for us to share; and he helped them with some computer issues, while I helped them with some business and marketing concerns.

We then headed to Columbia, Maryland, where I stayed with my mother and her sister, my aunt, and my husband soon after went on to Greece to look for some work there.

One of the experiences I remember upon arriving in Columbia was my mother’s extraordinary relief. An early wave GenXer, I grew up with a long rope and a fairly cavalier attitude from my parents about my personal choices, so expressed worry from my mother about my care and well-being is not something I’m used to. (Occasional nitpicking, yes, but this was different.) She was so relieved to see us. Truly relieved.

A little over three weeks later we returned to our home, which had, thankfully, suffered minimal damage, though the yard was fairly beat up. Our neighbors had been without electricity for over three weeks and had experienced–as people often do when things are tough–a great sense of community and people helping each other out in many ways.

It’s not my business to tell someone whether they should evacuate, and I understand that we had options and flexibility.

I’m forever grateful for the kindness of strangers, a place to run to and the grace of God that we didn’t suffer more damage or have our home destroyed.

>Sending love and light to all. Be safe, dear ones, be safe!

Living in my skin: Reflections on my transition into puberty and young adulthood

27 Mar

People have, I believe, areas of their body and health where they have greater strength and areas where they have and manifest weaknesses. For me, my skin was an area of weakness, excess and imbalance. Worse, it was something I tried to correct so that I could hide my imbalances and imperfections, yet I only made things the worse for the meddling.

I wrote this (rather long) piece when I started my business with an anti-aging company. Being in this field of skin care and anti-aging was so outside my realm of comfort, not just as a woman in her 50s, but in my lifelong experience of being in my skin.

One way I dealt with my discomfort was to write stories about my skin. I started writing a page at a time, a story per page. The stories aren’t particularly sequential or threaded together. They are what flowed when I thought of stories from my life and younger years.

Preparing for a long work-vacation coming up (that I’m now on), I had printed out these stories written two and a half years ago with the thought of editing them, but editing takes time and effort, and well, at this point, my choices feel like 1) never getting around to finishing these stories to a quality that is publishable or 2) simply publishing them as is, unedited.

I’m going for option #2.

So here, unedited, not proofed, as they spilled out of me, is a series of stories about me, my skin, my younger years, my life.

***********

Down this road again …

There are many experiences in my life that have come and gone, buried somewhere deep in my brain in files forgotten and hard to find. Not so with my first foray into the skin care and beauty industry. No, those files, those memories, are quite accessible. At least the highlights are.

See, I was just turning 20. I’d come off of a cross-country, out-and-back trip, with two California-living, let’s-be-hippies-and-call-it-fun gals whom I’d met in my exchange-student semester at San Diego State: Denise, an ever-diligent thief, and Lisa, one prone to bouts of I’m-lost-in-the-stars blank stares … either for attention, low blood-sugar or who knows? … maybe she was lost in the stars.

We’d packed to the hilt the little Ford Fiesta I’d bought a week or so prior, headed out on a wonderful adventure and by the time we came back, I was mostly depleted of my funds, having been the only one, turns out, who had any cash to spend for our trip.

What was next? I wanted to move to San Francisco because gay people lived there, and I’d deduced that I must be gay because I hadn’t been so happy with the boys I’d dated. Logical, right? So off to San Francisco it was. I stopped in San Jose first where I stayed a couple with a lesbian couple, Jody and Carol, I’d met prior. I had no plan, mind you. I was just going to move to SF and … and, well, I didn’t really know. I’d figure something out. (For you Millennials who might be freaking out, it was another era, and my parents figured I’d figure it out, and I expected no help or support from them. In anything.)

Jody was a Mary Kay representative and Carol was a semiconductor manufacturer worker and crack head. It was the eighties, after all. Crack was cheaper than cocaine. But both of them were sweet and kind, and they offered me a place to rest my head while I figured out what to do.

My first trip ever to San Francisco, my ultimate destination, was with Jody. She was selling some of her Mary Kay skin care products to some gay guys who hung out at an all-day AA place; a row house in the Castro off of one of the main streets. I accompanied her in. It was dark. But in that darkness, my mind started to hatch an idea: I was going to sell skin-care products to gay guys. Lord knows, there were enough of them in SF and the early eighties, 1983 to be exact, provided barely a product for men’s skin care, and men — gay or straight — spending money on skin care had yet to be widely recognized as a possible market.

I could feel it. This was going to be big. Huge! Massive! Men’s skin care was going to become a big market and I was going to be in the beginning, riding the wave. Except that’s not quite how it worked out.

***********

So, now that I had my utterly brilliant income plan set out, in my mind, now I needed to find a way to keep my expenses down. If I could just find a place that would let me live rent-free in exchange for some work, that’d be cool. I was the eldest sibling and one well-attuned to household chores, keeping the home relatively clean and, as an athletic 20-year-old, I certainly wasn’t averse to hard work and physical labor. I was sure I could find someone who had a spare bedroom in exchange for some housekeeping, or something.

It was latter, the “or something,” that I found.

Maybe it was in the newspaper that I found the “or something.” Maybe it was a notice on a community bulletin board; that detail I don’t remember. What I do remember is driving into a less-than-fabulous neighborhood (well, almost any neighborhood in SF is more fabulous than neighborhoods in other communities, if we’re talking architecture, but I’m talking vibe and feel here). So, I drive into this neighborhood, pull up to a relatively normal-looking house and get greeted at the door by a guy whose name eludes me and whose exact features I don’t remember. But he was as a middle-aged guy still stuck in the ‘70s, ‘fro pulled out, leather jacket with wide, large lapels. (It was 1983, after all … not too far from the ‘70s. I guess I should give him some slack.)

We talk for a bit and then he shows me the room where I’d be living. Dang, if it doesn’t have the exact same carpeting as the house in which I grew up: avocado carpeting with a swirly pattern in the weave. I spent countless hours being a bored kid tracing the swirly patterns with my fingers. Every house in my neighborhood — growing up in the sprouting new town of Columbia, Maryland — had this pattern of carpet in either avocado, mustard or burnt orange, or, for the upscale option, they had shag. But the decor didn’t stop there. The room was furnished with pink everything: pink bedspread, pink table lamp, pink curtains. Whodathunkit? I get and understand pink and green in matching hues, but pink and avocado. I was starting to get worried. This was not matching my vision of what I’d seen at all.

Then Mr. Pulled-Out-’Fro explained to me, quite calmly, what it was he needed me to do. I was to stay at home and be available for drug deals. I don’t recall if he articulated which drug in particular for which I’d be at home at certain times — mind you, this is a pre cellphone-era. Maybe it was one drug, let’s say, marijuana. Maybe it was cocaine. Maybe it was what was hot that week. I don’t recall.

He must have seen something in me change. Maybe it was my quicker and shallower breaths, or maybe he saw a shift in body language. Perhaps my eyebrows went up in surprise when he told me it was that I’d be doing. In any case, he assured me that there was nothing to worry about. If I got busted, his lawyers would have me out in no time at all. He had it all covered, all figured out. He just needed someone like me to be available when he decreed, and I’d just stay at home in my nice pink-and-avocado-decorated room, whiling away the time. Easy peasy.

Not.

***********

The free-room (complete with possible jail time) option now gone, I needed to look for a place to live. In a world sans-GPS machines for the masses and no cel phones, I did the best I could as one with very little capacity to navigate the world vis-a-vis flat maps: I retraced the steps my friend had driven to the all-day AA hangout space in The Castro. I think I even parked right in front of the same building. Then I walked the streets … looking.

A community bulletin board seemed a good place to start. It was covered with dozens of fliers, many of them with multiple phone numbers, cut and ready to be ripped off the flier. (You know what I’m talking about if you were a young adult or older prior to the nineties.) There I found a hand-written notice about a room for rent, a furnished room, no less, for $250 a month. I pulled one of the phone numbers off the flier, found a payphone and called.

Dean answered the phone, and after a short talk, he invited me over to see the place. It was a few blocks’ walk from where I was and, shortly, I was at the apartment: one floor up in a beautiful Victorian home at Noe and 14th. A gorgeous, tree-lined street just a couple blocks off of Market Street. Having arrived in San Francisco with little more than a car’s worth of stuff and not a lick of furniture, a furnished room in an apartment was perfect. It even came with bed sheets and pictures hung on my walls. Little did I know it also came with a fanatical redecorator.

Dean was pleasant enough, though not the smartest cookie in the jar. He was probably in his 40s, thin with sharp features, dark-haired, and he seemed to subsist on coffee, toast and cigarettes. I don’t think I ever saw him eat a real meal, or even an apple or banana for that matter. Toast, unbuttered, coffee, black, and cigarettes. Lots and lots of cigarettes. But it was 1983, and, well, I guess that was ok then. I smoked then, too. It was a thing.

Nicely settled in my new home, I would often come home to find, for example, the living room repainted and much of the furniture and art switched around. This happened often. And quickly. I kid you not. I’d leave for work (another story) and come back nine, ten hours later to a redecorated space.

One day I came home and my own bedroom had been repainted, new art was on the walls and even all the clothes in my drawers had been neatly folded. I probably mumbled some sort of “thanks,” though if I probe my memory better, I think all Dean and I ever talked about was his redecorating, and part of my unofficial rent agreement was to dote on his interior decorating skills.

Yes, he was gay. His friends were all gay. And, bless his soul, for he was gay in a world that was only just starting to accept people being out. I was in San Francisco in 1983 and 1984; 1984 being the year AIDS rose up and spoke loud and large. The city’s gay community was in turmoil; bath houses, called to shut down; public health cries rising up; the community’s needs being expressed with more ferocity, demand and passion. It was 1984. A major culture shift year.

Dean died a few years later. Of complications from AIDS.

***********

But this is a story about how I’ve come to find myself in the skincare industry a second time, right? So back to Mary Kay and my adventures there.

I signed up as a MK consultant, got two large pink plastic suitcase-y things filled to the brim with a range of foundations, make-up colors and skin care products. For many women, this may have been a moment of joy: make-up and skincare, wheee! Not for me.

I knew hardly anything about make-up, how to apply it, what to do for different effects. I didn’t know much about art and sculpture, about shadows and lights. There were pink, green, yellow and maybe even blue and white tints that somehow I was supposed to sell people because it would help them contour and shape the look of their face into something … better? Talk about a fish out of water! That was me, flapping on the dock. Clueless. And not just in a pre-internet, pre-learn-it-on-YouTube era, but generally just clueless about beauty and feminine arts.

Then there was the whole skin care line: cleansers and toners and moisturizers, oh my. Masks and emollients and eye cream, oh my. I’m telling you: Fish>Out>Of>Water! I had grown up with Dial, Zest and Irish Spring soap (all disgusting), or worse, generic soap meant to imitate these brands.  One of my earlier memories of independence and consumer choice was riding my bike to the village center/shopping area two miles away and buying myself a bar of Neutrogena soap. It melted into practically nothing within a few weeks, the bar’s glycerin base and my keeping it in a soap dish with a smidge of water in the bottom wasn’t a good strategy for long-term use. But I was happy: I finally had my own soap and could use something other than these stinky, sticky bars of soap that always left me feeling slightly assaulted rather than clean.

It was another era in skin care in the ‘70s when I was a teen and rising into puberty. Noxzema was the other brand available. I just googled the ingredients, curious to know what I was putting on my face back then: Wikipedia tells me they are “camphor, menthol, phenol and eucalyptus, among other ingredients.” It was tingly all right. Effective, I don’t know, but tingly.

Then there was Clearasil. Clearasil cleaning pads (so expensive for my 13 year-old’s allowance) and the treatment cream to dry pimples … creams that also bleached the heck out of any clothes that came in contact with the product. (My teen years were filled with clothes with bleached collars and neck lines.)

That was my skincare understanding and regiment as a rising teen. My mother provided no direction and little support, I had no older siblings and none of my friends seemed to know much beyond what I knew: Neutrogena soap, Noxzema for “deep cleaning” and Clearasil to dry up my emerging pimples.

Oh, and then there was the if-only-I-could-turn-back-the-hands-of-time practice of picking at my skin. The products weren’t doing much: blackheads were emerging in frightening force and pimples seemed to pop up with no respect for the face upon which they were existing — mine!

***********

Not that you, or anyone, needs a blow-by-blow of the emergence of pimples or a quantitative analysis of the number of blackheads per square inch of my face. And, clearly, I wasn’t experiencing anything particularly abnormal with my first few years of puberty. Teens and pimples; teens and blackheads; they kind of go together. No big deal, right?

But as I look back on my life and understand more about my own journey with my skin, I can see now, the beginnings, the hints, of what was going to become an obsessive and significant part of my daily life for the past 35 years: an attempt to be pure and free of these marks and blemishes. Even as I type these words, I can witness my brain making connections and understanding things deep and present in my programming and world view. I’ll see where these pages and my fingers typing take me in how much I’ll see, share, reveal.

In those early teen years, I spent countless hours trying to remove and extract each blackhead, and never was a pimple was never left alone to simply dry and go away. I attacked each and all with a vengeance, with purpose. And in doing so, I probably caused more skin damage, exacerbated any pimple inflammation and, in having low-grade products at hand, caused more scarring and long-term skin damage than had I been (relatively) at peace with my skin and allowed it its course.

My mother was a nurse. It was drilled into our heads that we rarely needed medicine or intervention, and that our bodies not only would heal themselves but that it would be made stronger for the process of the battle against an infection. I understood this with scrapes and cuts. With colds and flus. And rare was the day we were tromped off to the doctors’ office to address a current malady or illness.

So rare were these trips, in fact, that when I stepped on and was stung by a bee on 7-7-77 — and my face soon after was covered in hives while babysitting some neighbors’ kids — my mother’s response to send my nine year-old sister as my replacement while she rushed me to the doctors’ had me convinced I might not make it to see 7-8-77, though clearly, I did. And I did have years of experimental, and effective, allergen treatment in which eventually I was receiving the equivalent of 10 bee and wasp stings every two weeks to cure me. Yeesh.

So while, intellectually and experientially, I knew that my body would cure these staphloccus infections (the pimples), I never — ever — had the patience or trust that it would happen quickly enough. And my intervention — the squeezing, picking, FOCUS on and of them — made them worse by factors many times over. Not just in the short term but the long term.

One small scar on a 14 year-old’s fresh skin is nothing. Ah, whatever. It’s life. You get some scars, right? But add that up week after week, month after month, year after year. The irony is that in trying to thwart something — the blackheads, the pimples, the imperfections — I gave them more power: power over my time, my focus, my sense of self and, in the long run, a lasting impact of numerous small scars, enlarged pores hacked repeatedly to remove the offending blackheads and make myself appear clean … and free of fault or blemish.

***********

I don’t know. I can wonder. I can speculate. But I don’t know.

I don’t know if the attempt to erase the show of puberty in the form of blackheads was to make the changes go away. For them not to be so. I can remember be curious, fascinated and mortified, at different times, regarding puberty and its arrival.

Was it an increasing awareness around beauty and the need for women/girls/ladies to be pretty to attract men/boys/gentlemen? I’d certainly not grown up with much orientation to beauty, finding more my comfort as a so-called tomboy in the company of the numerous, prevalent and popular boys in my neighborhood. I was so proud to play soccer on my neighborhood league team and wore with pride my SAC (Soccer Association of Columbia) navy blue team shirt, which indicated my team to be Thunder Hill. I wore said shirt each almost every single day in seventh grade. It was a clean shirt each day; I knew that. But it was the same shirt.

I remember I used to stare in fascination, with a curiosity my mind couldn’t sate, at a gal in my seventh grade French class. Her name was Annette, if I recall correctly. She was bigger than most of us — taller and heavier — and black with a very puffed out ‘fro which she kept pulled off her hair with a headband; she always sat in the front row, she was “the teacher’s pet” … and she wore a lot of pink. Pink dresses in particular. I could not comprehend why she did that. Seriously. What in the world would motivate anyone to wear a pink dress? I simply could not understand. And I would stare at her often, wondering, content with my outfit for the day: either jeans and my SAC navy blue shirt, or my tan corduroys and my SAC navy blue shirt.

It was another era. A Title IX era when girls were, by federal law, allowed to play sports in schools. Girls athletics, including mandated funding, were, in essence, a civil right that had been won just a few years prior. It was not the era of glitter-covered notebooks for girls, Girl Power pink T-shirts emblazoned with images of flowers and soccer ball, or sequined flip flops. It was the era of “girls can be like boys, too,” sorta. And while there were — Annette and others as testament — many a girl who had a proclivity, and probably parental support, to wear skirts and pink dresses, I did not.

This was 1975. Women were fighting for civil rights, the right for equal pay for equal work, the right to have a career beyond the prior choices of secretary, teacher or nurse, and the right to have choices defined of their own desires. I was 12, in seventh grade, playing soccer in the spring and fall, swimming in the summers, riding my bike wherever I needed to go, and playing “Smear the Queer” (a version of throw the ball, catch it and then tackle ruthlessly the catcher; rinse and repeat) with the neighborhood boys.

How could I have any sense of what was coming? What shifts were about to happen? How my life and life course, my identity and my understanding of myself, my body, my mind, my feelings … how could I comprehend that vastness of change that was right around the corner? Somehow, the pimples and the blackheads, the nascent body changes, my curiosity about Annette and her pink dress … all of these things portended great change.

***********

No surprises here. Like every other human being who lives to see these years, I went through the developmental stage of puberty and into young adulthood. My body changed, I tried to figure out how to make my hair mold into wings like Farrah Fawcett’s, and I even bought some blush and eye make-up, though I was expressly forbidden from wearing make-up until I was 16. As much as I complained and whined and shouted how about that wasn’t fair, I was actually grateful, between me and me, because I didn’t really know what to do and make-up was way too adult and sophisticated for the person I was inside.

I was also forbidden to shave my legs or date until I was 16.

But at 13, I started to take control of my wardrobe. Well, as much as I could. My mother and I had had a row over a shirt she bought me for my thirteenth birthday. I didn’t like it. She said she liked it a lot, to which I told her then she should wear it; to which she responded, “Fine, you can buy your own clothes from now on.” She gave me $200 for my year’s wardrobe and promised to always make sure I had a good winter coat and a good pair of shoes. Beyond that it was my budget, my choices and my responsibility.

I had no older sister, my mother was a nurse and had three types of outfits — nurse clothes, dancing clothes (she and my dad were seriously into international folk dancing) and gardening clothes; there was no internet to turn to for fashion advice, and TV programming was not designed with teens and young adults in mind at that time. It was the mid-’70s, an era in which the Silent Generation made it clear that the personal development and life path of adults was most important; children — the faster they grew up, the better — were served by exposure to life’s harsh realities, rather than being protected from them. Mind you, of course, other girls’ moms were shopping for and with them, buying them clothes and making sure they were primped and preened, but I got a very classic, iconic GenX childhood. And so be it, I’m an early-wave GenXer.

So as I transitioned from tomboy-hood to puberty, without any female guidance, with very little help and resources aimed at teens and with little personal knowledge of what to do, my understanding of skin care, make-up and fashion were rather hobbled by almost no information, save a few ads, and mother-to-daughter message that said, “these things aren’t important.” (My mother was 52 before she got her ears pierced and I once called my siblings living in another state to tell them something was up with our mom as I had spotted her wearing nail polish, a very light pink nail polish, sometime in her early 50s!)

I slogged through my high school years probably as depressed and confused as any other kid; maybe more so; maybe less so. Eventually a cheerleader, an honor student, a soccer player, an avid pot-smoker and whatever other combination of high-school-ness I had, I passed my teens and into my twenties, ready as ever for my pimples and blackheads to go away. They were just a symptom of the transition into puberty, a teen thing, right?

Yeah, right.

***********

I remember being rather shocked and somewhat confused when my skin didn’t clear up in my twenties. Not only did it not clear itself of these teenager pimples and blackheads, but they almost seemed to get worse. Why not get into the skincare business? Mary Kay was certainly a reputable name and company.

So, at the ripe age of 20, a new resident of one of the gayest cities in the world, with my Mary Kay pink party (and product) bags in hand, my new career as a hip skin care sales rep serving the vibrant gay community seemed a sure bet; my path was clear, my future success, a breeze.

Except, of course, that’s not at all how it played out.

There was this huge hurdle to jump which is that I knew nothing about sales, had no confidence about sales and was, frankly, mortified of doing sales. Twenty, young, inexperienced, my job history including filing receipts at a rental company, head cashier at a popular local pizza place, various dining hall jobs while in college, a research position and a slew of babysitting and house-sitting gigs in my early years, I had no firm ground upon which to stand. Well, that’s how it felt, at least. And it was another era. The self-help movement had yet to arrive en masse, the publishing era hadn’t met desktop publishing yet and the interwebs were, if anything, a playground of the uber-geeks and aspies.

My Mary Kay sponsor, Jody, tried to show me how to sell Mary Kay by taking me along to a party or two, but I just didn’t have it; I didn’t have the product comfort, the skincare knowledge and especially not the cajones to try to sell skin care and/or make-up. (Oh, yeah, the make-up part: I thought/figured/assumed that some gay men might be interested in some light foundation and cover up. Seemed a good enough idea.)

Along the way, in using the products, my own skin did not react well to the Mary Kay product line. I know millions of people are very happy with the products, and I trust they’ve made improvements over the years, but in 1983, at the age of 20, with my own skin producing oil and ripe conditions for acne and blackheads, the addition of the Mary Kate skin care and make-up was like pouring grease on a fire. My skin reacted so badly, flaring up with deep, painful pimples more intense, uncomfortable and difficult to treat than anything I’d encountered before. Any attempts to improve the condition with the products made my situation even worse.

I eventually went on antibiotics to try to clear my skin (a first, and the only time I’ve ever done so), and I used a topical antibiotic for over six months before my skin eventually returned to its normal level of pimples and blackheads (which was still a lot more than most other 20 year-olds’.)

Full of fear, armed with almost zero knowledge, having little to no support from the company and with my skin looking absolutely the worst it had ever been by a factor of many, I floundered in the business, I flailed, and I, eventually, folded in and failed in my first forray into the skincare business.

***********

The short version of my short history of a Mary Kay rep is, of course, that I failed. The more interesting way of saying this, I believe, is that me and my life took a different turn.

Who’s to say one path is better, more right, the best? We get the lives we get, and we make of them what we do. Our will, our destiny, our karma, our choices … some combination thereof in some formula that I’m sure all makes sense somewhere in the scheme of things is clicking along, allowing us all the opportunity for joy and happiness, much of which seems to come, at least on this planet, from overcoming adversity, facing challenges and wending our way through life on a path of development and progress that may not always be clean, clear and obvious to the outside observer … and most certainly to ourselves. That’s how my life has felt, at least.

My time in San Francisco, as a twenty-year-old in the city, was at a time of great cultural change. I’d learn later in life about generations and “turnings” and would come to understand that 1984 was a Third Wave Turning in which GenXers were rising into young adulthood, Boomers were moving into middle-age, the Silent Gen was moving into elderhood and a brand new generation — Millennials — was just emerging in the maternity wards across America. But that’s part of the beauty of generations and cycles; they don’t require conscious knowledge, belief or adherence. They happen. And while my own young adulthood and life started in San Francisco, a city roiling from the AIDS epidemic, springing with new technology emergence and the feeling of “something new” coming, the whole country was also beginning to feel the shift. It just happened to be more visible in a city, in a city in America, in a progressive city in America and a progressive, gay-friendly city in America.

One way I experienced this cultural change was in a newly emerging area of employment: temp workers. Not factory, shift, hourly workers, but professional, white-collar and pink-collar (it was the ‘80s) work. I did temp work in the highest of high level offices of AT&T-turned-PacBell. I floated around the city and across the bridge to East Bay. I rarely knew if I had work for the coming week, and even if I did, that was subject to change. Society might as well have put up big bulletin boards and run an ad campaign that said, “Welcome to Young Adulthood, GenXers. Go figure it out and count on us for nothing.” But I don’t think any of us expected otherwise; it’s our generation’s lot in life.

Seeing my inconsistency with work, my roommate Dean offered to connect with me some good-paying work. All I needed to do, he explained, was beat, abuse and dominate some men. A dominatrix would be my job, and he told me it paid well, required few hours and that training for the job was available.

The lure of the big money for few hours of work was appealing, but I knew, deeply and fully, that this choice was one of those forks in the road: the kind of fork that once taken would change many things in my life. While no one held a crystal ball, I knew this was not a choice to activate. I’ve come to know people who have made such choices and love them all for following their own paths; however, for me, this was not in the cards, as they say. I knew, felt it … and plodded along wearing suits and ’80s professional attire at my very off-an-on-again temp work in San Francisco’s financial district and beyond.

***********

I had tasted corporate life in a mega/behemoth/massive corporation — AT&T in the executive offices at the time of divestiture (when the courts mandated the company break up into regional and separate companies). I typed letters on carbon paper and one day cried bitterly at my desk when the senior secretary who supervised me refused to accept a memo I’d typed for one of the execs because I had corrected a letter with White-Out™. For those of you only alive in a post-computer world, said product was a gloopy, opaque liquid applied over an offending typo that, when dried, allowed the typist to place on the paper a different letter or word.  I tried typing the memo again. It wasn’t perfect again; she refused it again. And this went on for a few rounds.

I knew this couldn’t be right. There was something profoundly wrong with this situation. I don’t know if I could give it words, but it would have sounded something like” NOT THIS!” And yet it was 1983. The skies weren’t bright and open for young career women. Heck, I wasn’t even a “young career woman” (though that term was rather apropos to the ‘80s), I was a 20-year-old kid trying to make some money in a city where I had few connections, in an era when typing pools (envision lots of women, mostly, sitting in a room typing memos, papers and reports … all day long) still existed and were considered the norm, and in a cultural era where the Boomers were just starting to get into mid-management and weren’t about to budge or mentor their junior colleagues.

Eventually, I found my way to some temp work in the City of San Francisco, first in the typing pool, but within a week, in The Computer Room! This was a sealed-off, air-conditioned room with lots of not-particularly-handsome, mostly older men who were doing “computer work.” It was exciting, new and, even though I was still mostly typing and entering data, I was in heaven: it felt fresh, forward and exciting.

By this time, my Mary Kay pink bags had been given/sold/I don’t remember back to my sponsor. I had declared myself a Women’s Studies major in my first year of college at the age of 18, but there wasn’t a degree in said subject, per se. My next year as an exchange student at San Diego State University, I’d found an interesting research assistant job for a woman writing a book about women and technology (there wasn’t much to research, I can guarantee you that … ), and in my part-time-ness at San Francisco State University, I had “happened” to find and sign up for the first two culture and technology courses offered by the school, ever. I took them both. Working at the city in their “computer room,” taking classes about culture and technology with an eye to my intended degree, and living in a beautiful, world class city, things once again were feeling good.

Eventually I headed back to Maryland, presented my idea for a self-designed degree in Culture & Technology: How women and men are affected differently by technology, and proceeded along those lines to be aware and always watching a cultural change of mass proportions, both while it was happening in front of my eyes, and historically, back through time. A job in said field, with just an undergraduate degree was near impossible as the concept of culture and technology was not yet “a thing,”, but in the realm of energy and intention, I got such a job. It was in the heart of D.C. working for an emerging nonprofit. Oh, yeah, forgot to mention, it was an unpaid job. An internship. For a year.

***********

I was in my early 20s. It was the mid-’80s. Hair volume was not just a thing, but the thing. I used hair products to mold and form my hair, to give my already full-bodied hair even more volume. My skin, however, was not digging this. I’ve fidgeted a fair amount my many years, often touching my hair, touching my face, my hands, my arms. My hands so often felt sticky and gross. And my acne wasn’t any better despite having left my teen years behind. Somehow I’d assumed that blackheads and pimples were a teen thing and that they went away when one was no longer a teen. This was, alas, hardly the case for me.

One day my hairdresser suggested a new product: Molding Mud. It was a new product (read: more chemicals!) to create volume while still keeping one’s hair soft, vs the often hard and crunchy effect of other styling gels so popular in the ‘80s. I was keen to try it, so I did.

Within a week, the breakouts and deep, painful pimples on my face, especially around my jaw line, had emerged in full force. A light bulb of awareness went on in my head and I understood that what went on my hair, went on my hands, and what went on my hands, eventually was on my face. I stopped using the product right away and from then on watched carefully as I tried different hair products to see how they affected my face.

Over the years — and as the ‘80s hair volume craze subsided — I aimed to use more natural products, even trying at one point to use olive oil straight out of the bottle and coconut oil, too. I had mild success. Then I decided to use lotions, balms and emollients. Nivea skin cream, Honeybees cream and more. I figured if whatever I was going to put on my hair was eventually going to land on my skin and face — through hair touching, fidgeting and so on — that I might as well start with the end in mind. This worked best of all my approaches over the decades.

Until, that is, I made the leap and went no-poo, where I don’t use any shampoo on my hair. It can take a week or so–a challenging week–for your hair and scalp to balance out, as it did for me. The results, though, are amazing. My hair and scalp are naturally moisturized by my hair oil. I know, it can sound gross to the uninitiated, but it works. It’s God’s system; the natural way. My hair feels richer and silkier than ever before, I need no styling gels and anytime I touch my hair, the oils on my hands (that eventually get to my face and skin) are all natural. It works for me. And I love it.

More so, I love that I’m at peace with my hair. It’s there, my hair, every day, every time I look in the mirror. Sometimes it’s grand and glorious; sometimes it’s awkward and odd; sometimes it’s fine and ok … it’s like life. I can’t make it be what it doesn’t want to be. I can’t force it into some vision of what it should do at this exact moment in time. Yes, I get a good cut and color; I haven’t gone all granola and hippy; and, yes, I do pay for my dirty-blonde color. But the texture, the shape, the smell and the expression of my hair is real, and that is what feels good.

People (MEN) often tell me I should grow my hair long. I have grown my hair long. And short. And medium. I’ve permed it, died it, blow dried it, curled it. What haven’t I done to it? Now, I care for it … and then let it be. It’s glorious … inside and out.  

***********

I’m writing these pages in fits and bursts. One a day. Though not one each day. The stories told here aren’t particularly sequential. Today I am just back from Burning Man, my annual trip to Mecca, wherein I am cleansed, renewed, rebalanced. Burning Man is held in an ancient, dried sea bed, flat and vast, dry and devoid of any life that anyone would recognize with their eyes. There is no scrub, no brush, no trees, no cacti. Not a plant visible. Any bug found probably came in on a truck someone drove in.

The dust at Burning Man, an event which is held in the Black Rock Desert of Nevada, is for many a spiritual experience. There’s no comparison to it. No equivalent elsewhere. It’s not dirt of Earthen making. It’s not sand, as one might associate with a desert. It’s dust. Talc. Alkaline. Burning if left too long on sensitive skin such as lips. It gets everywhere. It coats everything. And it’s magical. There’s no escaping it. There’s no ability to be clean of it. We inhale it, smell it deep in our reptilian brains; we eat it as it gets in our food and we drink it as it gets in our cups. We sleep with it, play with it, make love in it. It’s everywhere.

My skin is coated in the dust. My hair, too. After two days at Burning Man and the playa, I can’t get a comb through my hair. I do, sometimes, give myself a thorough sponge bath and lotion-up afterward, and I’m lucky enough to be in a village (a super-organized group) that offers showers. But the feeling of being “clean” and dust-free is temporary; the dust settles back in right away, and I am, once again, dusty.

The texture of my skin changes with the dust. It’s an annual experience I have (one I relish!) in which my whole relationship to my body, skin and hair changes. Any modern/current/2014-ish definition of clean is jettisoned. The playa dust feels clean. It absorbs oils in the skin. And sweat. My hands feel clean, though covered in dust. My skin feels clean, though covered in dust. There’s a purity and a purification that comes from this dust.

I had visions of bringing my Nerium creams and treating half my body with the Nerium cream; the other half with “normal” cream and moisturizer to see how that would work. This didn’t happen. I’d forgotten how much more complex and time-consuming even the smallest of tasks can be on the playa.

On my final day there, packing down the last bits of the village infrastructure, doing a sweep on the ground for any bits of MOOP (matter out of place, i.e. trash), I ran my fingers through the soft alkaline dust. I wanted to roll in it and cover myself fully in the dust so that it’d be in every pore in my body. While 340-some odd days of the year, I aim to be clean, free of anything on me, these days on the playa, I relish the contact with this substance covering the land, this moon-like, alien, ever-so-comfortable dust.

I was graced later that afternoon by an epic dust storm which, in effect, covered me and everyone else in dust. My eyelashes, every single hair on my body and face, my whole body …  I was awash in dust. I bothered not to get my goggles or dust mask, instead taking a final bath for the year in the dust.

***********

As life goes on, we accumulate in our personal histories conversations. Thousands, tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands of conversations, short and long. Most probably long forgotten; some seemingly etched indelibly in our lives … moments when the information and the exchange caused something in our brains and lives to re-examine, to re-order and to re-imagine.

One such conversation for me was as I was leaving the country of Namibia. It was the early ‘90s, my brother and sister were both teachers in the nascent-to-independence country and my mother and I had joined them for an epic, weeks-long trip through the country. I was leaving earlier than my mother and needed a ride to the capital city and the airport. How to get there? No shuttle service or taxi. That’s for sure. No Lyft, Uber or Zip cars; it was another era and another realm of the world.

Somehow I got a ride with a middle-aged German man and we traveled together for a few hours en route to the capital city of Windhoek. I don’t recall 97 percent of the conversation, but I do recall that he spoke with relish about the opportunity to not bathe for several weeks, how his skin had the chance to get re-moisturized with his natural body oils and rebalanced with his natural bacteria.

I think my brain did a, “Halt! What! Replay. Rewind. What did this guy just say? Huh. He wants to not wash, to not cleanse, to not rinse away the dirt, grime, accumulation of body waste (sweat, pheromones, etc.)?” I didn’t understand — or appreciate — then that there is a massive difference in the feeling of cleanliness (even in the midst of being “dirty” and unwashed) that comes from city/suburb/pollution/chemicals/smog vs the kind of “dirty” that comes from being outside, in dirt, open air, away from the things of man. It would take me more camping trips, more cabin trips, more self-awareness and more curiosity to understand there are very different types of feelings of clean and dirty.

On that day, in this I-don’t-remember-his-name German man’s car, as he extolled the awesomeness of weeks without a shower, of his body oils having the time and opportunity to nourish and replenish his skin’s moisture levels and for his skin to have a break from the harshness of chemicals, soap and cleansers, I did find myself utterly aghast and concurrently fascinated.

In my late 20s at the time, my own body was pouring out oil (sebum), sweat, pheromones. I felt my skin and its eruptions — pimples and blackheads mostly — was a constant battleground of clean vs not-clean … I felt that somehow I could get ahead of it, or, if not, at least fight the battle and keep the enemy from advancing too far. My own ignorance of skin, internal chemistry, ecosystems, self-love, emotions and cycles was such a battlefield in its own right; how could I possibly have understood then that harmony and balance were possible?

On that day, in that car, a seed of a thought was planted in me. My body has more ability, more power and more self-knowledge than I had been giving it.  

***********

 

The Emboldenment Continues: A saga of small-scale terror in one of America’s most diverse suburbs

28 Jan
This is a second-hand story I heard from my mom this afternoon.
Earlier today, my mother was with her walking group of (mostly) seniors at the Columbia Mall. Afterward they went to Panera for coffee, or as my mom mistakenly called it, Pandora. (She still thinks McDonald’s has the best coffee. Some things in life are mysteries.)

Sitting with her fellow walkers, they were talking and, invariably, Trump’s activities of the last week came up. The bemoaning and groaning started. The incredulity of it all! Then one woman shared her personal story. Another did too. And another.

The first woman is about 80 years old and is from subcontinental India. She has lived in the U.S. since the late ’60s, had a formidable career here, raised a family in Columbia, paid her taxes, contributed to society, yada, yada.

Out grocery shopping a few weeks ago, two white guys came up to her and started harassing her. They told her that she needed to leave the country. Scared, but fiery. She told them that she had lived in America since before they were born.They said they were white supremacists and that she needed to leave. She purchased her items and left the store.

They followed her home.

She wrote down their license plate number and contacted the police, but as no crime had been committed, there was nothing the police could do.

About a week later, she left her house one day to do an errand. She started her car but it was driving strangely. All her tires were flat. Slashed. Dismayed, she told her husband. And he said that he would drive her to her destination. Alas, he couldn’t as all four of his tires were also slashed.

Another woman at Panera this morning told a story of an incident that recently happened to her stepson, a man whose family is from El Salvador but who was born in America and, of course, speaks English fluently. He also speaks Spanish. Recently, he was out and about, talking with a friend in Spanish while on his cell phone when a white guy came by and told him to go back to his country. That he wasn’t welcome here anymore.

And then this clincher: Another woman in her 80s–and a small, petite one at that–was in one of the Howard County libraries recently. She works in the social justice movement, particularly around Palestinian and Jewish issues, and she’d gone to the library to do some research. She was in a quiet area with few people around and was reading some books on the subject when a white man came up to her, pushed all of her books off of the table and said, “If you care so much about this, you should go there and leave this country!”

To a little old lady?

In my hometown of Columbia, Maryland, and Howard County. The land of open arms for diversity.

To those who feel so emboldened as to trample on another’s basic rights and dignity because of some perceived otherness, I say this. I AM ALSO EMBOLDENED. And on my watch, I will do whatever I can to continue the true story of America and Americans: We are all–at the end of the day–of immigrant background. And our strength as a country is in our diversity. Always has been. Always will be.

immigrants-trump-terror

Uber Chronicles #14

14 Jan

I’m sharing here one of the chapters from my book, Uber Chronicles: Reflections from the Rearview Mirror.

If you’d like to get updates on future books (yes, book #3 is close to being finished and book #1 will be available as an actual print book), please sign up for my very infrequent updates. (I almost always offer my books as a free download when I publish a new book, so there’s a small incentive for you.) You can also like my FB page for updates.

***

It’s after 10 p.m. I’m coming back from a very pleasant and enjoyable first date at a nearby tavern-like, suburban hipster joint. The kind of place that leans toward seasonal, locally sourced food and a nice selection of craft beers. All is well. I feel content. I turn on the Uber app and drive toward home, open to a ride if one pops up in the next 12 minutes or so.

It doesn’t.

I’m in the house, reading; I’d almost forgotten I’d left the Uber app on. Beep! The rider is fairly close by, eight minutes away, in my hood, my home zone. I’m out the door.

But, Officer …

I drive into an apartment complex of high-rise buildings and garden townhomes, a maze of twists and turns and poorly lit buildings where I can’t see the building numbers with any ease.

Screen Shot 2017-01-14 at 8.14.33 PM.pngI text my passenger, Are you outside? Coming down now, meet me at the front of the high-rise, he responds. I find myself feeling annoyed. Dude, you called Uber. Uber told you how far away the driver was. I’ve been in your parking lot for three minutes, simply trying to find your building. You should be downstairs already.

Then I remind myself that the moon is full and emotions are amplified when it’s in its state of fullness, so I calm down. Two people approach the car. Both tall and skinny. She’s white, has white-blond hair and is rail thin. He’s Black, wiry in frame. They both look to be in their mid-20s. Where to?

Target. They both work at Target. He in logistics, having come from Walmart only in the last three months; she is in the stocking department and has been there three years.

About 40-50 people work overnight at the store, they tell me. I mention how a friend of mine worked in logistics at Target on the night shift but chose to give it up when his twins were about two years old. Too crazy of a schedule, he said.

Yeah, the guy says. It’s tough to connect up with people when you work on the night schedule. The girl says she likes it because she can’t sleep at night anyway, but she can sleep during the day.

I ask her if she likes to eat at night, if that’s her preference. It is. I tell them a bit about Human Design Systems and the Primary Health Systems (PHS) approach to digestion. That some people, per PHS, are night eaters, some day eaters, some one-eaters and so on for about a dozen primary types of eaters.

I’m a one-eater, people who do best eating one food at a time, and, no, I’ve not been tremendously successful in eating this way, though I have noticed my lifelong propensity to eat this way when no one else is around. I tell them that PHS speaks to how you best digest food, rather than focusing on the food you eat. It’s a theory, one of many, about food and health.

She says she thought she ate late at night because she was bipolar. I tell her I don’t know. I’m simply offering someone else’s theory.

He tells me he prefers the culture at Target. That Target is more team-oriented and people-oriented. That Walmart was all about the bottom line. That people at Walmart were more into power trips. He qualifies that statement: Well, at least at the store he just left, he says. We talk about these two stores—Target and Walmart—so close in proximity (not even a mile apart in our city), so similar in offerings, yet so different in their cultures of staff, customers and vibe.

I turn a corner. Almost there. Police car lights flash behind me. I genuinely have no idea of what I’ve done to warrant this. Ma’am, can I see your license? Yes, of course.

What did I do? I have no idea what I did wrong, I say as politely as I can. You didn’t use your turn signal, he tells me. I tell him that, indeed, I did use my turn signal to turn into the turn lane but that I’m an Uber driver for these passengers and the sound of the clicking turn signal while we waited at the stop light was jutting into our conversation; that it seemed loud and intrusive, so I turned it off.

He tells me that I still need to use my turn signal and that he is going to give me a warning, but then he hears me ask my passengers how much time they have before they need to get to work.

Where are you taking them? To Target, they work the night shift. He waves his hand. Well, go along. I thank him for the reminder to always use my turn signal. He leaves. We drive off.

I do that thing, that movement when one pulls one’s uplifted fist downward toward one’s body in a sign of triumph. Gotta try that one again, I say with gusto to my passengers. That was a good one! They laugh and we all feel lighter that this was a minor incident and they weren’t delayed.

I drop them off and head home, ready to receive another ride if one comes forth in the next 10 minutes. It doesn’t. I’m in my home. Settling in but not settled. Beep! goes my phone. The ride is close. I accept the ride, look at my phone and see that it’s 10:42 p.m. Oh, let them have but a short ride to their destination, I plead to the heavens.

Hand on the doorknob to leave the house, I see that the rider has canceled the ride. No cost to them, no profit for me, no worries.

Key experience: All is well.

Uncommon thoughts on bacon, cannibalism and religion

2 Jan

I closed out the year by doing a ceremony with the entheogenic grandmother medicine, known as ayauhausca, followed by another entheogen: frog medicine, or Kambo. Both have purgative qualities, the frog medicine much more so than the grandmother medicine.

When the opportunity arose to do these ceremonies, I couldn’t think of a more fitter way to end the year than with a powerful ceremony and purging: physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.

This was my fifth time doing ayauhausca, though my first time in 15 years. And it was my first time doing Kambo. Kambo is administered by first making a slight burn in the skin and then by applying the frog medicine. When it was my turn, and the person doing the administering started to burn my skin he said, “Meat eater?” To which I answered, “Yes, how can you tell?” Bacon, he told me. “You smell like bacon. Meat eaters do.”

This reminded me of a theory (perhaps more of a thought) that came to me a few years back when I was helping out a lot at friend’s farm where they raised pigs in a woodland setting. We talked a lot about pigs then. Pigs, sausage, bacon, curing. Pigs’ biology, how similar their bodies are to ours, how pigs and humans suffer from similar maladies, how pigs eyes and human eyes are the most similar.

It was in these few years of being around pigs so much that I thought there was probably a correlation to the religious prohibition against eating pork (something I could never understand–come on, pork has to be the tastiest of meats … and bacon! don’t even get me started on bacon!). In my earlier years, none of the explanations I’d heard of why certain religions prohibited the eating of pork had ever made a lick of sense to me.

So, this has always been a question in the back of my mind: Why would a religion deny people the right to eat pork? What’s the motivation?

Then, on the farm, talking so much of pigs, being around pigs, eating pig this and pig that is when this theory/thought/idea popped into my mind, and it’s this:

Humans probably taste like pork! And the religions didn’t want people having a taste for pork (for eating people) and thus banned pork. Yes, I know, it’s a bit of an out-there thought, but it seemed the only plausible explanation I could fathom.

Then, on the new year’s morning, as I prepared to receive my frog medicine, as I was asked if I was a meat eater based on my smell, this quirky (and possibly more true than might appear at first glance) thought came back to my memory.

For the sake of this blog post, I googled about the taste of human flesh and found that, yes, human-eaters of yore have often compared the taste and texture of human flesh to pork.

Stranger things have been true.

 

How you can help me. And how can I help you?

2 Nov

There’s this Polish guy I know. His name is Mike Turajczyk and he goes by the name Polish Mike; it’s an excellent brand, and he works it. I like Polish Mike. I find him smart, savvy, energized. Our lives intersect as he is, among other things, a marketing and management consultant for healthcare clinics and other businesses. And he loves to help people to live happier lives.

Over tea recently, Polish Mike said to me, “Put together a list of all the ways I can help you. Make it detailed. Add as many things as you want. I’m always networking, and I want to know how I can help you.”

What a fascinating idea.

Personally, I think one of the easiest, biggest-bang-for-the-buck things out there is to give a referral. Referrals take almost no time to give, they provide help to two parties (the seeker and the referred person), plus, when I make a referral, I get networking brownie points from not one, but two people. And the referral saves both parties so much. Trust cuts through about 40 percent of the clutter in relationships. (I got that number from a book I read, The Speed of Trust.)

Now, why would you want to help me?

Maybe you like me. Maybe you tolerate me. Maybe I’ve done a favor for you. Maybe you simply like to be of service. Or maybe you want to build your own cache of brownie points.

But I will tell you something that’s easier to say in person than to type. I’ve had a recent eye-opening experience about the physical health and financial conditions of an elderly family member. This person is not able to retire and stop working at this point for financial reasons, yet his health considerations are making things more difficult with each passing year.

Uber Chronicles - Field Notes - Trees.jpeg

My motivation

I’ve made a personal decision to help this person retire, to provide a reliable, steady stream of income to ease some of his worries in his later years. To do so, I need to get my own financial house in better order; otherwise, I’d be harming myself to help another … and I doubt that’s a good strategy, short term or long term. I’m particularly focused on the realm of streaming, passive and/or affiliate income.

And, with that, I present my list of how you can--if you wish to–help me.

I look forward to seeing your list–and your motivating “why”–as well!

Uber & Uber Chronicles

  • Encourage people to download and read my books.
  • Connect me to someone at  Uber’s HQ if you know anyone who works there. The higher up, the better.
  • Create backlinks through FB, twitter and blogs to my Amazon book store and/or my website. (These help me get better ratings with Amazon and help my book sale.)
  • Introduce me to anyone who does podcasts who might interview me.
  • Send my referral link to anyone who wants to drive for 1) Uber, or enter my referral code of w5p3q when you sign up on uber.com and/or Lyft or enter in  my code: JESSIE534662.

Atigro Digital Marketing

  • Introduce me to people who run marketing or IT departments at companies making $3-50 million in annual revenue.
  • Introduce me to people who run their own web design or marketing agencies.
  • Send leads my way for website, SEO, mobile app or database integration projects. The more technical, the better.

Nerium Anti-aging

  • Send people my link if they are concerned about anti-aging of their face, body or brain.
  • Introduce me to people who are interested in the business opportunity in this ever-green and fast -growing industry and company.
  • Keep your eyes out especially for people in Canada, Mexico, Korea, Japan, Hong Kong, Australia, the Philippines, Germany, Colombia and, of course, the U.S.

Amazon Purchases

For Howard County

OK, that’s what I can think of for now.

Working in Antarctica

I am going to get a seasonal job in Antarctica, as an admin support person or something better. I’ve thoroughly applied for such a job in 2016, though my suspicion, as the jobs are so few in number, is that some insider connections may help. If you have any connections with the Antarctic missions and can make an introduction or put in a good word for me, I’d be most grateful.

How can you help Mike?

Mike gives practical solutions to chronic problems and constantly innovates business models to increase sales and profitability. If you (or people you know) are dealing with a business problem that is now chronic, please feel free to contact him on Linkedin or by email. And definitely check out testimonials on YouTube.

What about you? How can I help you?

And, if you make your own list, please send it my way as well.

Uber Chronicles Books 1, 2 & 3! A gift, a favor.

31 Oct

ducks

Well, I’m now an experienced and published author. At least in the ebook world. 🙂

Getting book #1 of my Uber Chronicles series published was certainly a learning process. I spent many hours listening to YouTube videos of do’s and don’ts for ebook publishing; I managed more aspects of a book launch than I thought were even possible; and I figured out the rhythm for how I want to publish my future books.

My first book, while not yet an international bestseller, garnered 600+ book sales, over 40 reviews and fans from the US, UK, Canada, Mexico and Japan. If you were among these numbers, thank you!

Book #2, Uber Chronicles: Reflections from the Rearview Mirror, will be published October 30th and available free, as a gift to you, October 30 – November 1st. (Book #1 will also be free those same days.)

It helps my Amazon rankings and sales to get as many downloads as possible, so even if you don’t think you’ll read my book any time soon, a click or two to download my books helps me. Would you kindly do this as a favor to me?

You can find the books on my author page. When you download the book, click “read for free;” however, if the free dates have passed, click “buy now with 1-click.” If you’re on a screen where Amazon is trying to get you to sign up for a monthly service, back out and start again. You don’t need a Kindle to read the books. Amazon offers a free Kindle app that allows you to read ebooks.

Book #3 — Needs a name and beta readers

Book #3 (currently in need of a name) is about to go into production. I’ll be looking for help in the form of beta readers who do anything from check for typos, to read for flow and consistency, to full on editing support. If you’d like to help out with book #3 — either by suggesting a name or by being a beta reader — let me know.

interview.jpg

Another favor (two, actually)

As you may know, I’m quite involved in the gig economy, and I do a number of things for active and residual income. I was recently interviewed on the Ever Better podcast. If you know anyone who runs a podcast and think they might be interested in interviewing me, I’d appreciate an introduction.

And, finally, with the business development work I do for Atigro Digital Marketing, I’m always looking to develop relationships with marketing directors of small and medium-size companies. Do you have any friends, associates or colleagues who manage the marketing, website and/or mobile app projects at their companies? If so, I’d love a referral.

Well, that’s it for now. If there is any way that I can help you, say so.

Thanks!

Links

PS — If you’re local to the DC Metro area and would like to get together for tea, a walk or a bike ride, let me know. I don’t know about you, but sometimes it seems that for as many people as I know, to actually reach out and say, “Hey, let’s get together; I’d like to stay in touch and catch up,” can sometimes seem a bit awkward. So, I’m putting it out there: tea, a walk or a bike ride.

Further away? I’m not afraid of the phone or skype. 1+443-794-7521 or jessie.newburn on skype.

thank-you

Flash floods and my dad is OK

10 Aug

As you probably have heard by now, Historic Ellicott City, a charming, quaint, vibrant, beloved town, some 244 years-old and counting, suffered a devastating flash flood on Saturday, July 30.

Restaurants, stores and businesses were demolished in the raging floods brought on by 5.9 inches of rain in two hours.

The normal river flow of 60 cubic feet of water per second escalated to 21,000 cubic feet per second … like that!

People tell stories of sitting in their apartments, enjoying a nice dinner at a restaurant, or serving customers in a retail shop on a rainy evening when suddenly paintings started falling off the walls, buildings started to shake and water rose quickly from the floorboards into their buildings.

And that was just the beginning.

Dozens of cars were carried down the street in the raging waters: 120 daring swift-water rescues were made (including one by my friend David Dempster whose human-chain car rescue of a stranded woman was videotaped and has now been seen over a million times).

Over 200 buildings have been structurally damaged. Some buildings are possibly beyond recovery. Two are likely to collapse.

Two people died.

I personally know–as in I’ve been to their house or they’ve been to mine–seven people who own stores and restaurants in the area, and I know as acquaintances and friends a handful of other store and restaurant owners.

A friend of my mother’s, someone she’s known for 25 years, is married to someone I know from my childhood. They were on vacation when the flash floods came. They live–nay, lived, past tense–above one of the buildings where collapse is now likely.

My father’s office is also in Historic Ellicott City. And while he often works late, the flash flood came on a Saturday night and thankfully he wasn’t at the office.

His office is higher up the hill and it suffered less damage than buildings lower. But flooding is flooding, and water damage is water damage.

The entire basement of this built-in-1835 building was flooded and the basement steps were covered in a thick, gray, sludge that was still wet ten days after the flood.

When allowed in by the county, we’ve gone in (me, my dad and a few amazing friends and helpers) to clear out the soggy, damp, water-damaged and muddy items.

The flooding, whether it came from the basement or from the street, penetrated his entire office. His business and operations–while significantly inconvenienced–are recoverable. Unlike so many of the stores and restaurants in the area, he has an office, a land development business, that is not dependent on foot traffic.

But Robin took a heavier blow

My dear friend Robin, who quit her job of 26 years as a nuclear engineer so that she could pursue her dream of having an art gallery, has been devastated by this flood. (That’s Robin on the right. The short redhead.)

She opened HorseSpirit Arts Gallery in Historic Ellicott City less than a year ago. She features and sells all and only work from local artists who live in the county.

I’ve hosted and attended parties at Robin’s gallery, been to her house, met her for coffee numerous times, and have had her and her husband over to my home.

She’s not just a business owner I sort of know. And she’s but one of a handful of owners for whom I could tell similar stories; people I know and care for.

She tried to hold the front door shut against the raging waters. Her customers at her gallery had fled to the second story and were begging–screaming–for her to abandon her post and come to higher ground.

She finally retreated when the waters reached her armpits and the door frame broke.

Not only has she experienced the trauma of witnessing her entire first floor being flooded, having her one-of-a-kind art inventory and store furnishings washed away, but now she has been told that while she had purchased flood insurance, she didn’t have flood insurance for an art gallery and so the insurance company isn’t going to pay anything …  even though they knew she owned an art gallery when they sold her the flood insurance.

!!! Seriously ???

A friend has set up a gofundme page for her. Someone else has gathered all the GoFundMe pages for individuals and businesses impacted by the flash flood. Here’s a radio interview where she describes her experience for those of you aurally oriented.

In a flash. In a flash! But how life can change in a flash.

 

My first Uber Chronicles book is publisheed

19 Jul

I’m so excited. And tickled pink! Last week, I published my ebook, Uber Chronicles: Field Notes from the Front Seat, on Amazon.

My book, if you haven’t heard, is about my experiences driving for Uber. I write about each and every passenger. Yes, each and every one. For this first book (and I’m already working on the next), I chronicle 10 times that I went out driving and the 56 passengers I picked up during those times.

I tell stories about what my passengers look like (and sometimes smell like), what we talk about, where they are going. And I tell stories about what’s happening in my head while I’m driving them: what I’m thinking, the stuff I don’t say out loud.

From my earlier fans and readers, the feedback (and encouragement to write this book) has been great. Beyond anything I expected when I sat down late one night to write about what was happening in my car as I drove for Uber. I think you’ll enjoy the stories, too!

Please download my book today!

The next few days are critical

From everything I’ve read about book publishing on Amazon, and from all the podcasts I’ve listened to and YouTube videos I’ve watched, it seems Amazon likes activity. And it especially likes a high volume of activity at the launch of a book.

What does “activity” look like to Amazon’s algorithm?

  • Downloads (free or paid)
  • Reviews (especially reviews by people who’ve downloaded the book)
  • Backlinks (blogs and social media posts that link exactly and specifically to the book)

 

How you can help

I need help with these book-launch activities. In order or priority, would you kindly —

  1. Download my book
  2. Write a review if you read the book. It’s a pretty quick read.
  3. Post on social media and include a link and graphic to my book in a blog post (links and graphics below).
  4. Share my book announcement that I’ll be posting on Facebook (personal or book page), Twitter and Linkedin. (To do this, you’ll need to go to my accounts and share the announcement from there.)

Phew! Yes, I know. It’s a lot. A lot more than I thought would be involved. Haha. I remember thinking how easy this would be to publish an ebook. I mean, really, I already had the content written. All I needed was a cover and someone to convert my manuscript to an ebook file. Right? Hah! But that’s another story for another day.

Thank you to each and all of you who encouraged me along the way, gave feedback, helped me edit and proofread the manuscript and provided your vote (and in some cases your strongly expressed opinion, too) regarding my book cover design.

And thank you for your support and help in launching my new book with good energy, community support and happy vibes.

Fondly,

 

Jessie Newburn

 

P.S. – Every bit helps. If you can do nothing else, and even if you don’t plan on reading the book, simply downloading the book from Amazon is super helpful to my short- and long-term goals with the books. Thank you!

 

Links

Uber Chronicles on Amazon

Website

Facebook page

Sign up for updates

 

Graphics to use on social media

 

Three graphics coming

One pill, 365 days later

12 Jun

I take a brain-health pill. A supplement. And I have taken said pill every day for 365 days.

This daily pill taking, in and of itself, is a miracle. See, even two decades or so ago, when I was taking birth control pills, I rarely remembered to take my pills consistently. The same has been true for me with other supplements. I’d take them for awhile. Then stop. Sometimes I’d get pumped up about supplements and set aside my pills in those little SMTWTFS pill-divider containers. Sometimes I’d forget about the supplements for months and months on end.

Don’t get me wrong: I like supplements. I like tinctures and tonics. I prefer pretty much any path, route or option that will keep me healthier and keep me out of a doctor’s office or hospital. I like the idea of being proactive, of giving my body more to work with. And, for the most part, I’ve taken supplements on faith. I know there is a difference between quality supplements and low-grade stuff, and I figured I’d always lean toward the high-quality stuff. (I once read about how some calcium supplements were mostly ground up oyster shells … not very digestible or bioavailable.) But even with these higher-quality supplements, I’ve never felt a change inside of me; rather, I hoped, trusted and assumed I was getting benefit.

Then along came this brain-health pill. And I knew this was for me. I knew and trusted its source. And, well, frankly, I’d gone from being interested in caring for my brain (having taken a variety of tinctures, pills and concoctions in years past that were purportedly good for my brain) to truly being concerned about my brain.

I’m 52. At 47, I went into menopause … earlier than I thought I would, and for all the literature out there, all the stories I probably heard (and ignored) and all the facts-data-science to be consumed, for some reason, I just never grokked the effects of reduced hormones on the brain: my brain, in particular. And, truth be told, I kinda figured that those effects would pass me over, affect someone else, and simply not be my worries.

But this wasn’t the case. I felt–with alarming concern–the slow but steady decline of my cognitive functioning. Most noticeable to me was my words. My beloved words. They would sit in my brain but they wouldn’t line up as easily. And they certainly didn’t pour out with the same rush of expression I’d felt in prior years. They felt stuck in me. Thick. Slowed.

If one is good, two is better

When I first got my brain-health pills, I decided I would take two per day, rather than the recommended one. I wanted to get back to “my normal “as soon as possible. A number of my friends were also taking the pill. (It’s called EHT, which may be easier to type throughout this post rather than brain-health pill.) We were among the first of the first people, beyond extensive testing, to try it out. We’d been told that some people have very quick results; others get results in a few weeks; and for others yet it might take a couple of months, but that, rest assured, we would all experience benefit; and that once we started using it, we’d never want to be without it. I trusted the person saying this, but I couldn’t imagine what he meant at the time. I do now.

Cognitive improvement in five days

I was one of those who experienced a quicker result. (I’d also add that I’m intensely analytical, always watching my brain and my reactions, and observant of microscopic details, so it was fairly easy for me to notice the change.)  Within five beautiful days, I could feel it. I could sense the decline abating. I could feel the return to what I’d had before in my brain’s cognitive function. People often ask me how I knew, how I could tell. The answer is that I could observe my thinking and speaking, and the speed and fluidity started coming back. I could find my words with greater ease. I could speak with more flow, with less halting and pausing. And even if my benefits were part placebo effect, I don’t care, because I got a real result that I love.

Sleeping better

Among my friends, when we’d get together and talk about who was experiencing what kind of benefits from EHT, many of them were claiming they were sleeping better. At first, I thought I had missed out, but then I realized that this change had come on more gradually for me. Since about the age of 40, I don’t think I’ve had a full night of sleep. In my earlier years, I used to climb into bed, put my head on my pillow and wake up eight or so hours later. Yes, I had some nights where my mind churned, but for the most part, solid sleep was an easy thing for me most of my life. But since turning 40, I’d had countless nights of not being able to fall asleep, of waking, of being restless in the middle of the night and of any other combination of sleep troubles. I eventually realized that I was OK, and that even if I hadn’t been sleeping straight through the night, I was waking up rested, and I came to peace with this.

With EHT, I started falling asleep more easily (more on this later), and I started sleeping more soundly. I still wake up sometimes, but it’s for shorter periods of time and I’m quickly back to sleep. In the last month or so, I also realized that I’ve often had this thought upon waking: Wow, that was a fun dream! Dreams are often/usually/by their very nature, wild, imaginative, beyond-the-everyday. But my dreams specifically started to become fun, a word that I don’t know if I would have used to describe my dreams prior.

A different experience with focus

When I first heard that EHT helped with focus, I imagined some sort of frenzied productivity where I’d enter a zone of action and activity, immune to outside influence. But my experience wasn’t that at all. Oh, how to explain one’s mind. Especially when my mind is different than your mind, and yours is different from the next person’s. I’ll say this: I have an ability to stay with, be with, focus on a thing, person, concept, project or idea more so than I ever have before. I think the reason is that, somehow, my brain doesn’t get pulled off into other directions as easily. Yes, I still go to Facebook looking for one piece of information and ten minutes later find myself laughing at funny cat videos… but when I want to be focused, I can stay with something longer, and it’s not a chore.

I heard many years ago that for women, diffused awareness was a natural state of being, and for men, a single-focused state of existence was natural. So, perhaps what I write has little meaning to men. I don’t know. I do know for me, that I find my thought process so much more enjoyable because I can stay with a subject or a project much more easily… and enjoyably.

Less spin

Among my EHT-taking friends, we started asking, why are we sleeping better? What is it? Improved sleep is not listed as one of the claimable benefits. One woman said, “It’s because we have more focus, so our minds don’t spin as much.” And when she said this, I knew she was right. That was exactly what I was experiencing: my mind wasn’t spinning as much. I don’t know about you, but I’ve had countless experiences where I’m thinking about something, say, for example’s sake, I notice the buttercup flowers in my yard are blooming and beautiful; then I start thinking of butter, which connects to a conversation I had with someone about butter being good for you and no longer vilified, which reminds me of a conversaatin I had with someone about animal protein vs vegetarian protein, which reminds me of an article I read about a surplus of quinoa in Bolivia, which reminds to give some older issues of The Economist to my brother, who enjoys the magazine. And that all happens in about 2.7 seconds … if even.

I’m not claiming that this doesn’t happen anymore, only that it happens less. Much less.

Less obsessing

I don’t think I understood how much I obsessed on thoughts (usually not positive ones) until I obsessed on them less. Since taking EHT, my mind is so much more my own. I’m much less prone to attacks of obsessive thoughts that leak into my mind and take over. For this alone, I am intensely grateful. My mind is such better company, so much kinder a friend when my thoughts are softer and more peaceful.

Overall, calmer and more relaxed

I can only guess, but perhaps it’s the combination of the better sleep, less spinning and less obsessing, but I feel significantly calmer and more relaxed this past year. I feel less emotional, irritable and erratic. Who knows, this experience could also be because I’m more mature, in mid-life, less affected by hormonal spikes and simply more chill. I wouldn’t pin this effect totally on EHT, though I do believe EHT has contributed significantly. I certainly feel a before and an after inside of me.

More logical

Hah. Well, perhaps this is subjective. But I will tell one story. I was having a glass of wine with a long-time friend, someone I’ve known about a decade or so. We hadn’t seen each other in about six months. As we were talking, he suddenly said, “What’s different about you?” I responded: “I don’t know. What do you mean?” He told me that I was more logical, that he could follow my train of thought better. (That makes me pause and wonder how illogical I might have been prior, but I took it as one of those left-handed compliments.) I told him the only thing I’d done differently was to take EHT.

Greater energy

When I first read that EHT helped with the body’s natural energy stores, I thought, “what the heck does that mean?” Now I know. My energy level has completely improved; I’m already what some consider a fairly high-energy person. And I’d agree.

However, within a few months of taking EHT, I realized that I had hardly consumed a cup of caffeine at all. I hadn’t tried to stop. I just had. I had moved from drinking coffee to tea about four years ago (a move I highly recommend), consuming, instead–and with regularity–green tea, black tea, yerba matte, runa and a host of other caffeinated teas. I often drink herbal teas, too. And, without trying, without even being aware, I had pretty much stopped drinking caffeine, and had not even noticed! Now when I consume caffeine, I feel jacked up, and not in a good way.

Also, a long-time and avid nap taker, I noticed that I was hardly taking afternoon naps anymore. I love afternoon naps. Just love them! But I wasn’t needing them. Once, when I realized I wasn’t napping in the afternoons as much, I tried to nap and just couldn’t. I do nap sometimes, and these naps seems to come and go in phases, but I don’t need them the way I used to.

I also noticed an odd ability to handle foods better. One of the reasons I eat so darn well is because I’ve always been very responsive to food’s chemistry (though I didn’t discover this or acknowledge this about myself until I was in my early 30s). If I eat a sandwich or a lot of processed food, I’m likely to zonk out and go into state of brain fog and low energy fairly quickly. That has really shifted for me since taking EHT, which has its pluses and its minuses in that I appreciate that I feel less subject to the food’s chemistry, but I’ve also been more willing to take on food I might not normally eat. I actually had a burger, bun, fries and a beer for lunch a month or so back, and I was able to work and be productive all day!

Reduced cravings

I am an ex-smoker, but since quitting smoking, I have taken up popcorn like the best of them. Crunchy, easy to slam into my face, buttery and salty … I just love it. And I eat it fairly often. Big, big, big bowls of it. A few months ago, I realized that my popcorn consumption had dropped precipitously. I’ll still have a bowl here and there–trust me–but how much I eat, why I eat it (the real concern) and when I eat it, has all shifted. I even ate some popcorn a few weeks ago, almost in nostalgia for my past cravings, and it felt like a chore to get through the bowl of it.

I feel I need to eat less frequently too. Most of my life I’ve been racked by needing to eat every few hours. I’m not quite sure what experience I’m stating here because I’ve only noticed this recently, but I don’t think I’m eating as much or as often as I have in prior years. Again, this could be from maturity and where I am in life and simply not needing as many calories.

Easier meditation

I used to practice Buddhism for about 15 years: an active, chanting, out-loud-prayers kind of Buddhism. Yes, it took focus to sit there, but I didn’t really have to quiet my mind. Actually, we often focused on what we desired, and chanted/prayed for that. I much enjoyed it. But I’ve never been much of one to actually sit, meditate and think of nothing.

Not only have I incorporated some occasional meditating in my life, but I’ve had some intense and powerful experiences doing so since taking EHT. One particular experience I had was a day I found myself confused, bothered and not able to make a decision about what to do next regarding some travel logistics and meeting up with a roving group of friends in D.C. I sat in my car, closed my eyes and decided to focus on people for whom I was grateful. I was able to go back in my memories (something I’ve not been particularly good at) and remember person after person in this particular timeframe in my life. It was almost like a memory exercise I was doing. I was able to keep at bay pesky thoughts and memories that wanted to pull me in another direction. And I was able to go deeper into the memories, at will. All focused. All at will. I felt as though I was opening up file drawers in my life and examining the contents. It was amazing. Then I had a sudden rush of understanding: the common denominator of all the memories rose up, and an flood of energy coursed through me, taking me deep, deep, deeeeeep. I rose up, smiled, said to myself, “That was lovely!” Then got out of my car and headed onward with a sense of peace.

More eye contact

About a decade ago, I was videotaped for a spontaneous interview. Later, when I saw the video, I was shocked and fascinated by how much my eyes move while I talk. Up, down, left, right. All over the place. I was also aware that when other people spoke, I would dart my eyes around a lot, too. For me, this has been my normal.

One of the completely unexpected and sweet benefits of using EHT is that I can track longer on people when they speak. I can look at them longer, focus my visual (and other) attention on them longer. This may be the kind of thing no one else has noticed, but I like it. It feels good to me.

Improved memory

One of the main reasons people take EHT is to improve their memory, and, for sure, my memory has improved. But I’d rather speak about what it has meant to my life to have an improved memory. I feel a greater integrity, a greater trust and a greater sense of self in having improved memory. I feel that I can move through the world and that my word, what I say to people (and myself), has more meaning and more value. Because I remember more, I can say to someone, “I’ll follow up with you on that.” And while I’m still a fan of writing things down and I’m a practitioner of David Allen’s Getting Things Done system, the reality is that I usually don’t write things down when I’m out and about speaking with someone, but I do remember more of my day, my conversations, my experiences. And this makes me feel better about me.

No bruise?

I took a tumble awhile back while doing the Billygoat Trail at Great Falls Park in Virginia. My hair is too short to put in a pony tail, but it’s long enough that it sometimes blocks my vision, particularly when it whips around in the wind. And this is what happened while scrambling on some boulders. My peripheral vision was blocked by my hair in the wind. I fell and banged my shin something bad. My hiking buddy smiled at me and said kindly that I’d have a shiner to remember this hike by. And I figured I would. But while my skin was inflamed and a little tender, I never bruised. That could have been nothing, or it could have been (likely was) EHT in play. EHT was originally marketed to elite athletes for workout recovery.

Improved sensory ability

About six or seven months in to taking EHT, I was out for a walk one winter day. This is something I do here and there. No big deal. I walked a path I’ve walked a hundred times before. But this time I had a spark, a feeling, an awareness that I was picking up more information. Mostly with my eyes, though perhaps with my other senses. I’ve also noticed an enhanced sense of smell, though, of course, there were no baseline measurements taken before or after EHT, so this is my observation and not data that was tracked.

Better eye-hand coordination

I’ll tell a story here. This may be incredulous to some, but to me it was a big deal. I’ve never been very good at catching things thrown at me. Someone tosses me a set of keys, for example, I miss it, usually just letting them drop to the ground where I then pick them up. As a kid, I played sports and was athletic, but softball (even Wiffle ball), volleyball, frisbee or any sport that required having to catch an item flying in the air was a sport that didn’t appeal to me.

Then a couple months ago I was in a situation where I dropped something from a balcony of sorts. The person near my dropped item picked it up and indicated that they were going to toss it to me. I nodded. And then this thing happened: I watched the object (a pen) being tossed to me, and it was as though my vision-brain-hands mechanism went into some sort of slow motion where I was able to track the pen, reach out and grab it.

In the past when I’d catch something, it would feel like a fluke because usually my eyes were half closed as the item approached me through the air. This time I tracked it, and my hands knew what to do to catch the pen. It was, for me, an amazing experience.

I’ve also been typing with greater accuracy. Fewer corrections. More get-it-right-the-first-time typing. Mostly, that is.

Greater hope

Each to our own. Don’t judge. Or if you do, keep it to yourself. But I love talking to my brain and my body now in a way I never did before. I feel with my affirmations and gratitude that I have so much more appreciation for my body, so much more hope that my brain can do a great job taking care of anything I need taken care of, and so much more happiness to have as part of my daily experience, a supplement that helps my brain, my neurons, my body, function better.

A gentler life

Overall, I’m simply happier. My primary relationship in life is with myself. I am the person with whom I spend more time than any other person. And not only do I spend more time with myself than any other person, but I’m more aware of my mind, my brain, my thoughts, my body than anything or anyone else. With this brain-health supplement, my mind is calmer, my thoughts are gentler, my focus is better and my feelings are more peaceful. I trust myself more. The net effect of all of this is that I enjoy the time I spend with myself more than ever, and because my primary relationship in life is better, my life is better.

The product claims

The U.S. version of the product makes these claims:

  • Enhances memory
  • Enhances focus
  • Improves cognitive function
  • Enhances the body’s natural energy
  • Supports neuronal networking
  • Improves overall brain health
  • Enhances the body’s immune system

The Canadian version (same product, different regulations), makes these claims —

  • Enhances cognitive function in adults
  • Enhances memory in adults
  • Supports peripheral circulation
  • Metabolizes carbohydrates, fats and proteins

And I couldn’t find what the Mexican or Korean product boxes claim, though I assume they’re similar. Though here is a piece about EHT as a post workout-recovery supplement.

Now, some people, per the reviews I’ve read online, don’t do well with EHT. I’m much more metaphysical than my suburban exterior would let on, and I’d be most curious, if I could get into their minds and lives, to discover why EHT didn’t work for them. Oh, I’m sure they could say it did X, or made me feel Y. But, again, I’d ask, why? Why could they not receive the benefits of this near-miraculous supplement for brain health? I’m not their psychologist, but I’m always curious.

Is it a placebo? The power of suggestion?

I’m well aware that part of medicine and supplements’ efficiency is the placebo effect. And I know that I walked into this experience of taking EHT with a hope and a belief of its efficacy. And if those two things have contributed to my results, I am very OK with that, and I’ll take whatever percentage of those aspects are at play with joy. Add ’em up. Pile ’em on. I’ll take all the benefits of a healthier brain, enhanced energy, improved cognitive function and more.

After all, it’s my brain we’re talking about here. Why wouldn’t I want the absolute best for it?

How to get EHT

If you have a friend who sells Nerium, please contact them, and they can help you get the supplement. If you’d like to get it from me, you can do so here.

EHT is made by Signum Biosciences and is sold by Nerium International.

 

Uber Chronicles — The beginning

11 Feb

It’s cold out tonight. Really cold. I grab some reading material for those potential in-between spots of no activity; I open my Uber Driver app, and I click “go online.”

Nothing. For a while.

Then I move. I go downstairs in my house. A call comes in. (I’ve noticed being stationary often means no calls; moving, even slightly, will often trigger a call.) Three minutes away, the Food Lion. Easy enough. I’m out the door in a flash.

The Food Lion shopper

She has finished grocery shopping and has many bags to load. I decide to start the ride while she is loading her bags in the car as this time is truly part of her ride, then I get out to help her. She’s late 30s, I think; Black, a mom. I don’t know much more about her. She feels a bit shy to me. I gab and am friendly, hoping to put her at ease. She has a kid in high school–at the same school I attended decades back–and a kid in elementary school. Her home, where I’m taking her, is where my best friend lived for several years while she was caring for her mom whose dementia was creeping in. I’ve walked many, many, many summer nights in her neighborhood. We talk about how great the high school is, about going for walks at night, about her kids.

Key experience: It feels very sweet to help her load and unload her groceries. So simple. So civil, kind, helpful.

Cannabis it is

Beep. Five minutes away. A young man is my next pick-up. White, 23, unsophisticated, a bit childish. He’s on his way to a friend’s home for the first time. It’s a gal. Is it a date?,  I ask. No. Just hanging out. We talk. He’s friendly. He works at Target. We talk about restaurants near his house, which leads to talking about bars in the neighborhood, which leads to conversation about drinking. I tell him I’d like to ask him a private question that he need not answer. I ask him whether, among his friends, if their preference is alcohol, cannabis or ecstasy/et cetera. Cannabis, he tells me, stating–somewhat proudly–that he uses it. He prefers it: you don’t get violent or stupid, and you’re more relaxed. I agree. We bond on that for a bit then we arrive at his destination. It’s a trailer home park right in the midst of, well, an expensive housing area. After I drop him off, I drive around, explore, observe. It seems kind of cute. Not quaint, but cute.

Key experience(s): Enjoying the honesty of this young man; exploring part of my home-zone area.

The security guy

Beep. Right away. Another ride. I get nervous that I’m going in the wrong direction to get to him, and I make an illegal U-turn at one of the police-hang-out-here spots. Ugh. Not good. Doesn’t feel good. I arrive at Best Buy. I tell the guy, by text and then a call, that I’m here. Nine minutes go by. He waves at me. I can see he is busy. I decided to start his trip while he is still inside. 10 cents a minute, minus Uber’s fee. It’s not about the money; it’s a statement, though I realize later that had I not cut on the U-turn, I might have been a few minutes later and things would be different. His friend wants a ride on the way home. No problem.

Finally, they’re in the car. No apologies to me for being 9 minutes late to arrive. He’s young. He’s Black, maybe mid-20s. I decide I’m going to tell him that I could have left after 5 minutes, and he’d be charged by Uber. I’m not sure if that’s 100% right, but I think it is. If the rider is a no-show or they cancel late into your ride, they get charged and I get $5. I explain to him that while we’re talking inconsequential money, it’s not fair that I wait for him to finish work that he gets paid for while I don’t get paid. He apologizes. Now, I need to flip the energy. My BFF has told me many times that my wisdom is often delivered like a laser–sharp and fast–and then I soothe things with a story flip. It’s time to do that.

He works in security and had to check employees out as they were leaving for the night. We talk about how significant internal theft can be. I offer that I know someone who was a military guy who does regional security for Best Buy: a white guy, ex-military, stocky. He knows him. (The small world-ness of Uber driving strikes again.) I tell him that I have a story to tell, some parts funny, but with a tragic end. I was a petty thief when I was in high school, a mall rat who stole jewelry and small items more from boredom and the thrill and adrenaline rush it created than anything else. I tell him of my friend with whom I stole, a couple times a week for a season of my life. I tell him how her mother caught her with some of her stolen items and how, by association, I was caught too; how I had to return the items and apologize; how the store manager told me I was lucky to have a mother who made me face the consequences of my actions. I tell him how I cried when she told me that because I knew she was right.

I tell him of my friend and how she didn’t stop stealing; how she got a professional job in college as a bookkeeper and embezzled $22,000 (or more) until she got caught; how I ran into her when we were in our late 20s and how she went on and on about her boyfriend in the Hamptons and all the parties and, well, you know, you can’t wear the same $500 dress to different parties … tra-la-la; and I tell him that I wondered who she had become. I didn’t understand her. I told him how later, in our mid-30s, we reconnected and had dinner. How she was stealing from her now-ex-husband and was laughing about making him pay for the car in cash, knowing she was leaving soon; how she lied about expenses and squirreled away money and how she got a great divorce settlement.

Then I told him about hearing that she had died. And how through a combination of events, I’d set about with another person to discover how it was that she died. I told him about how we found a newspaper story about police going to a house the night of her death; then another story about gunshots; and another story with more background about her life. How her second marriage to a man with a house on the beach in Florida, a private jet and a fancy job was failing; how her husband was over $250,000 in arrears to the IRS, how his business was failing; how she’d left him and was in another relationship. How he came to her new boyfriend’s home when they were in bed together; how he shot her boyfriend in the neck and killed him; how he did the same to her; how it was all caught and recorded on a 911 call and how the chilling conversation and events were transcribed in the newspaper.

And I told him: please do your job; it’s important. And if you ever catch someone stealing and need to tell a tale, tell them about the Uber Lady you met and how two petty thieves’ paths aligned … then diverged.

Key experience: Flipping the energy.

To the Shell Station we shall go

Next ride. 10 pm-ish. Big girl, white, maybe early 30s, sleepy. Her verb conjugation. Her language. Her dress. Everything about her says “not many open roads ahead.” She’s talking on her phone. Baby dramas. etc. She’ll call her friend back when she’s at work. Work? A few miles down the road. A Shell Station. The night shift. No conversation between us.

The Uber fee for her ride: $6.60. Wow, she’ll need to work at least an hour to pay for that ride. Wow. I hope she has a ride home. I hope she can walk in better weather. I hope she has friends who give her rides sometimes. She’s poor. She lives in a subsidized (though really, really nice and new) apartment complex. She has a kid. She works at a Shell Station. Maybe she has other jobs. She probably has various forms of aid (rent support, various support with her kid … maybe even help from a boyfriend). But, wow! $6.60 to get to a job that, I imagine, pays minimum wage or near to it.

Key experience: Up front and personal with the cost of being poor.

The DJ who almost made me cry

Next up: off to another big-box shopping center. Realizing how many people need rides to and from work, especially those in low-paying jobs. I pick up a young man, late 20s, Black, looks like a model. Works at Nordstrom Rack. He calls me miss. (I’m 52, but no worries.) He’s polite and pleasant. No convo. On his phone. Talking with a friend. DJ plans in New Jersey this weekend. His car needs repairs.

Key experience: While quiet and driving him, I’m filled with this almost tear-inspiring feeling of the sweetness in life to be able to be close to other people. I feel a tenderness for the moment of being in my car with this “stranger,” able to listen to his call with his friend, able to take him home. It’s an unexpected emotion. I revel in it.

Down time. No calls. I read for five minutes. Move my car 500 yards. Read. Move. Read. Move. This goes on for awhile. A call comes in; it’s 20 minutes away. No thanks. Then I think I shouldn’t judge calls just on distance but how do I feel, how do I respond to the call. The same call comes in two minutes later. I take it. 

Free beers

It’s a young couple. Maybe late 20s/early 30s. White. Coming out of dinner at a fancy place. We talk restaurant talk, and I mention the restaurant where — as things have it — they both work. Many laughs, many stories, much good news to share with each other as we have circles of shared friends and acquaintances. I mention how I helped (quite a bit) when their restaurant opened, long before their time there, with social media, giving tips to the awkward new owners. And I mention they never once even bought me a beer. (Not that I did what I did for compensation … I just always thought it odd that they were happy to receive but not to give.) They both offer to buy me a beer next time I come in. Sweet! Or should I say, Cheers!

Key experience: Watch the signs — the same call came in twice, for me. Take it.

It’s late. I’m about 30 minutes from home. I drive home, open to more Uber rides; grateful that none come in.

 

 

 

 

 

A cultural bias so present, few know it even exists

2 Feb

In response to this BloombergBusiness article: As Boomers Retire, Companies Prepare Millennials for Leadership Roles by Jeff Green.

***

Once again, the widespread cultural bias against recessive generations and toward dominant generations rears its predictable head.

In this article, the author goes on about the whoa-is-corporate-america problem of losing all the knowledge that Boomers have and needing to transfer it to the new Millennial leaders in their ranks.

http-::www.bloomberg.com:news:articles:2016-01-21:as-boomers-retire-companies-prepare-millennials-for-leadership-rolesAt one point, the author talks about how much money companies save in this brain-trust transfer and he writes, “The median tenure of workers age 25-34 is about three years, compared with 10.4 years for workers age 55-64, according to BLS data.”

Does anyone notice how he … just casually … neglects to include data about 35-54 year olds (which one might want to include when one is talking about companies and leadership). And one might want to include data about 35-54 year olds in an article about business because, well, those are kind of prime earning years for many.

But, most people will read this ridiculous article and say, “Yeah, that’s a problem with so many Boomers retiring; good thing those companies are preparing.” The author even concludes his article by saying, “The bottom line: Companies that don’t plan for generational management shifts risk falling behind and losing out to their competitors.”

Except how can we really trust what he writes when he curiously neglects to address the 35-54 year olds, which, if you happen to know anything about generations is well, almost the exact age of today’s GenXers in 2016 (35-55 years old).

Surprised? No, I’m not surprised. This cultural bias against the recessive generations — diminishing them, lessening their impact such as what this author does by neglecting to include BLS data on 34-54 year olds — happens so frequently that people don’t even understand their own bias, or the bias they swallow and thus participate in. And the reverse happens, the over-glorification, the selective choice of data to include about dominant generations is the other half of the story that supports the cultural bias.

I understand that GenXers’ strength lies much in being off the radar, being able to do what needs to be done without the light shining — and certainly without gold stars. And I respect the natural, archetypal cycles of generations: dominant, recessive, dominant, recessive and then back to the beginning for a repeat.

But, really, can we at least get some statistical acknowledgement? Some accuracy in journalism? Don’t do it for the GenXers, of course. Lord knows, we don’t need it. But Society needs the information. Policy planners need the correct perspective. And, for goodness’ sake, for the author’s conclusion to be truly helpful, i.e., “Companies that don’t plan for generational management shifts risk falling behind and losing out to their competitors,” businesses need accurate information.

****

DOMINANT & RECESSIVE GENS per Strauss & How
Dominant – prophets (boomers) and heroes (millennials and GI)
Recessive – nomads (genxers) and artists (silent gen and now homelanders)

 

To delete, or not delete, my blog

23 Dec

I came here tonight, to this virtual land known to me as “my blog” with thoughts of deleting it. This particular thought has been swirling around inside my head for awhile. I hardly blog, per se, any more: I’ve written five posts in the last year, down from my average of about a dozen per year for the last few years, and down from my average a couple-few hundred posts per year when I started almost ten years ago.

hmmEvery year, around this time of the Winter Solstice, I feel compelled to clean out old files and resort and organize content, databases, files … it’s one of the ways that I look back at the year. And tonight I deleted 58 blog posts. Really, after close to a decade of blogging, posts such as those claiming that Facebook will become a tool for community building seem quaint.

I’ve deleted hundreds of posts over the years, whittling my total conten down to a fraction of its earlier volume, but I wasn’t quite ready tonight to delete my blog wholesale. One of the reasons I still like having my blog around is that I often reference my own writing and send people links to posts I’ve written before. I imagine some day (maybe as the winter of 2017 arrives) that I’ll no longer need or want even that. But, for now, at least, the blog remains.

Personally, I find Facebook more fulfilling, as it’s much easier for me to write there and, frankly, Facebook is gobs more engaging than my blog has ever been terms of comments and likes. I’ve had some crazy success with my blog posts in earlier years, sometimes garnering  150k+ views on one post alone … on one of my Vitamix smoothie recipes, of all things! Well …

Happy Winter Solstice! May this coming season bring you much introspection, time for reflection and opportunity to prepare for all that’s new and wonderful in the new year ahead.

The Skin We’re In …

28 May

I learned recently that our skin and brains are the most closely related organs. Apparently, both the brain and skin start off as the same types of cells and then differentiate. Also, our skin (our largest organ) and the brain communicate in ways that provide a feedback loop for sensory awareness, registration of emotions and much more.

Learning this had me fascinated and curious, and I decided to explore what skin looked like close up, so I searched on “electron microscope photography” and “human skin.” I was blown away by the photos. So much detail. So much going on. Look here!

human skin under an electron microscope

I first thought of fish scales when I saw this image!

Screen Shot 2015-05-13 at 2.53.22 PM

And look at the detail in this image above.

human-skin-80012891-l

Another rather “scaly” looking close-up.

Well, people do talk sometimes of their skin feeling or looking scaly. It’s part of our lexicon when we speak of skin. Turns out we have about 35 billion skin cells, and as new cells emerge, they push out the older cells. We shed around 30,000 skin cells every minute, which results in the loss of roughly 43,200,000 each day. Word! 43 million shedded scaly skin cells a day. 43 million.

But then I found some information that really popped my brain and had me thinking. The epidermis, the outer layer of our skin (which includes the part of our skin we see every day) is comprised of more than just the skin’s surface. It consists of a number of levels, each with their own distinct role. As new cells are pushed upward through the other levels of the epidermis and toward the surface of our skin, they die along the way and eventually become filled with keratin, a very strong protein. “These dead, keratin-filled cells make up the outer parts of the epidermis and provide your body with the tough, protective overcoat it needs to survive. The dead cells on the outer parts of your skin are constantly shed and replaced by new ones. As a result, every 20-30 days, your body has an entirely new surface of skin.”

So I looked up keratin, and guess what? One type of keratin is found in the hair (including wool), horns, nails, claws and hooves of mammals. Another type of keratin is found in the nails, scales, claws, shells, feathers, beaks and quills of other animals.

In other words, the proteins in our outermost layer of skin are akin to the outer skin/hair/claws/scales of other animals. Now I can see when I first saw an electron microscope image of skin I thought of scales.

Fwiw, here are two close-up images of a human fingernail.

human fingernail, electron microscope

magnified fingernail

And here are two pics of human hair, the first damaged; the second, healthy.

microscope-human-hair-structure-damaged normal_hair_600x

Interesting stuff!

Beware, though, if you start googling electron microscope photography images. It might be a while until you emerge. It was for me. 🙂

How I created a whiteboard video on Fiverr for $15

27 Mar

As a wrap up to 2014, I decided to send out a “video card” of sorts in lieu of a holiday card, which I usually send out. To tell my year-end story, I decided to do what is called a whiteboard video.

After sending out the video, quite a few people asked me how I’d made it, so I thought, “Hmm, maybe I’ll do another whiteboard video to share how I did the first one.” The service I used, Fiverr, is one I recommend for an exploration of possibilities of what can be done in the world now for a mere $5. It’s worth a poke for the knowledge of what people will do for $5, and who knows, you might end up hiring someone for some gigs.

Here is my “How I created a whiteboard video on Fiverr” video; this one cost me $15.75 to produce.

 

And here is my 2014 wrap-up video. The cost of this was $45 (because it was longer).

 

And here’s what started my exploration into whiteboards, a one-minute video introduction to a new community calendar website I created: TotallyHoCo.com. The cost of this video was $15.75.

 

Surving (thriving in) Frostburn 2015

17 Feb

I have always considered myself someone who doesn’t like the cold. And so it was with trepidation, fear and excitement, that I decided to accompany a handful of friends to the mountains of West Virginia for an outdoor, cold-weather camping trip to a regional Burning Man event called Frostburn. My friends, all experienced burners, were all Frostburn virgins as well.

I’d been hoping for unseasonably warm weather for the weekend trip, but that quickly became a fantasy as the weather predictions called for increasingly cold (record-breaking from 1905 type of cold) weather and severe winds. Yet I continued to pack and prepare. I was even going in early to volunteer at the gate and greet people as they arrived. (This I did for four hours, outside, in the winds and cold … and I loved it.)

My experience at Frostburn was so unexepectedly satisfying, soulful, expansive, wonderful and fun … or just EPIC! as I’ve been saying to those who asked, but this post isn’t about my experience. It’s about my packing and prep, and my notes to myself (and others) for when I return again next year and beyond.

Listed below is what I *wore*! I had many extras of every category of clothing. And I’ve included some notes about other items I packed. I definitely lean toward overpacking, and I didn’t disappoint here, though I have to say, in terms of warmth and layers, it’s almost impossible to overpack. Once I put something on, though, it stayed on and I didn’t switch out my layers.

From the bottom up, on my feet I wore —

  • Smartwool tights
  • Smartwool thin socks
  • Smartwool thick socks
  • Alpaca thick socks
  • An alpaca foot pad/warmer
  • Bogs boots
  • Crocs, for inside the tent when my boots were off

On my legs, I wore, in order —

  • Smartwool tights (as noted above)
  • Merino wool stretch leggings (thick)
  • A merino wool (thick) full-length skirt
  • A vintage 1970s very thick wool, full-length skirt

On my torso, I wore —

  • A light bra; no underwire, shape or metal (something I could sleep in and move in)
  • An athletic Tee for wicking any moisture away
  • A medium-weight merino sweater
  • A thick cashmere turtleneck
  • A thick lambwool + acrylic sweater
  • A full-length comfy soft material jacket (more light a bathrobe)
  • An oversized vintage thick wool calf-length coat with a full collar and more of fur

On my hands, I had —

  • Upcycled merino wool wrist warmers / fingerless gloves
  • Mittens with pop-off tops for finger access (not very useful without an available thumb)
  • Two Zippo handwarmers in my coat pockets (more on this later)

Note:

I did not win when it came to my hands, keeping them warm or being dexterous in the cold (and one does need to be dexterous quite often). Finding a miracle glove that provides a layer of some wind protection and warmth while being an underlayer for an even warmer pair of gloves or mittens over top would be fantastic!

On my neck and head, I wore —

  • The turtleneck (as referenced above)
  • Two gators/duff masks that I could pull up or down on my face.
  • A scarf (which I lost … anyone have word on a lovely light mint green wool scarf?)
  • A loose-knit wool cowl (great for hanging things on, such as my mug on a retractable string)
  • A small wool afghan blanket worn as a shawl and safety-pinned closed
  • Two hats at most times, layered

Personal Care

  • Tea tree oil toothpicks (in lieu of brushing my teeth as much as I might do so regularly)
  • Toothbrush, floss, toothpaste (my toothpaste didn’t freeze, thank goodness)
  • Lip balm
  • Eye drops (Similisan)
  • Nose spray
  • TP (Always bring and carry on oneself extra TP)

Notes:

I didn’t wash my face and my skin oils naturally protected my skin; the area where I could have used some TLC was my chin: the moisture from my breath and the gators/neck warmth rubbing against my chin caused some chafing. I used a disposable cup when brushing my teeth (anything to avoid dishes to wash). Should have trimmed my toenails — wearing four pairs of socks plus a thick padding inside my boots made for a tight fit and the ends of my toes were a bit sore by the final day. I pre-treated my whole body several times in the week prior to the burn with Nerium Night Treatment.

Food & Cooking — This is what I ate & drank

  • Beef bone broth (home-made … YES!)
  • Ham stew (home-made; brought a lot)
  • A bag of potato chips
  • A handful of almonds
  • Bratwurst (cooked over the fire)
  • Sour chewy candies
  • Water – it all froze
  • Alcohol – little bits here and there; not much
Notes:

I ate very, very little, and I ate infrequently. I drank very little quantity of liquids,  though I had some nice servings of warm bone broth. I had visions of always having hot tea in a thermos: totally didn’t happen. Definitely put the kitchen area inside a shelter/tent. Only bring teflon/nonstick pans for easy cleaning. Clean immediately after use with a paper towel. Tea (never made any … and I drink tea daily; the hassle of heating up water and exposing my fingers … not worth it) Bring nothing that requires prep or creates extra dishes. There is little not-frozen water and who wants to do dishes! (No one!) Paper plates, disposable insulated cups and silverware. Put everything you hope won’t freeze in a good-quality cooler. (It will probably still freeze … just not solidly.) Propane and fuel gets cold. Lighters (even high-powered propane lighters) won’t work well in the cold. Keep JetBoil inside yurt to keep fuel from freezing / getting too cold. Keep water inside yurt.

Shelter & Sleeping

  • Wolf brought his amazing velcro-binding yurt which was sturdy, beautiful and easy to set up.
  • Propane heater for inside.
  • Cot to elevate off the cold (and wet) ground.
  • Sleeping pad, plus two sleeping bags.
  • Many wool blankets.
  • My memory foam pillow froze(!) though it warmed where I laid my head.
Notes:

My campmates brought the structures, heat, lights, generator, fire pit and many, many other items I didn’t have. I brought my REI Kingdom 6 tent, which was used as the kitchen tent. I’ve been to the playa and Burning Man five times with this tent, but I don’t think it was ever buffeted around as much as it was at this event. I slept in all my clothes minus my coat, the overskirt and my boots. I added another layer of socks while sleeping and wore soft mittens, too … and always a hat.

Zippo Handwarmers: My thoughts

They’re great when they work. They’re seemingly temperamental and certainly inconsistent. Definitely “season” your warmers ahead of time and use them prior to an event where you need them. Light/start them an hour or two before you think you’ll need them. Share them with friends, for a few moments. Keep them in your coat pocket and help dry out/keep warm wet mittens or gloves. Do not put them directly against your skin.

Notes for next year

Get a small propane lighter I can wear around my neck and keep warm with my body heat. “Season” my Zippo hand warmers before going to the event. Get more fuel for the handwarmers; always keep them going, even while sleeping so that they are warm when I wake up. Definitely make more bone broth and stew. Figure something out with my fingers and keeping them warm. Bring plenty of windproof matches. Lots of ultra large safety pins are good for keeping on my clothing to use when needed, e.g. when going into a dance space and/or bar and wanting to take off some layers; it’s super helpful to be able to be able to clip my items together.

It’s calendars, dear ones.

11 Dec

Yes, yes, I know. There is this thing, this phenomenon. I don’t believe this thing is called “the curse of knowledge,” though it’s something similar. (Anyone know?) It’s the thing that happens when something becomes so — it becomes true — and everyone assumes, “Well, of course, that’s how things would have developed. Anyone could have seen it coming.” Except, of course, that that’s not the least bit true when the thing is not yet fully formed.

An example, we drive cars versus — for a wild example — learning how to teleport. Or LGBT rights moved so rapidly from a fringe movement to what it is today, politically and culturally. Or that we drink water out of plastic bottles by the billions (vs, for example, keeping ourselves more healthfully hyrdated by consuming good quality salt and more water-rich produce and foods). See, once something becomes “so,” it seems a natural trajectory that it couldn’t have been any other way.

There are a zillion things I’ve never seen coming, but in some areas of my life, I’ve had “a sense.”

  • In 1982, I was telling my college professors that I envisioned a world where CEOs would actually have their own computers and typing pools would die away. They laughed.
  • In 1991, I was telling graphic designers that they were going to need computers to do their designs vs typesetting and manual layout. They laughed.
  • In 2007, I was telling friends and businesses that they were all going to need Facebook profiles and that FB pages and social media marketing was going to come up and happen so fast the entire world was going to change. They laughed.
  • In 2008, I was part of an invited panel for the US military’s strategic communications training and was told, “maybe in five years or so the US military will start to use social media.” I told them they didn’t have five years. They laughed. (The miiltary moves slowly, they told me. I laughed.)

Now, my spidey sense say: it’s CALENDARS. Folks, it’s time to start getting your calendars in order.

I’ve yet to decide whether it’s insane or brilliant to take this project — TotallyHoCo.com — on, but whether you’re local or not, I encourage you to start putting attention on your personal, biz, org calendars and how they publish, synch, look and communicate! If it’s not your job at your company to make this happen, bring the tool/possibility to the attention of those whose job it is.

Me? I’m going with Time.ly. And while you may scoff, or laugh, you’re going to be joining this movement and shift eventually, so you might as well get on board sooner than later.

TIP: For most organizations and businesses, Time.ly’s free or $9/month service will give you all you need and more than you could have thought to ask for.

Turnips to die for … and some magical ingredients

27 Nov

Many things happen in cycles of seven: human development and consciousness being the biggest one. There’s the seven-year itch and relationships going through cycles of seven. Hair growth supposedly changes in cycles of seven; and tastebuds change in cycles of seven. Ever notice how you can hate/loathe/not like at all some food in younger years (onions, garlic, brussel sprouts, organ meats, for example) and then all of sudden, one day you wake up realize that you not only no longer loathe said offensive food item but actually like it ?

roasted turnips with white balsamic vinegar from secolari'sWell, apparently, when I wasn’t paying attention, turnips crept up on me and went from the No, Thanks! to the Yes, Please! category in my book. Here’s my favorite way to make turnips, and I think I could convert a turnip-hater into a turnip fan with this recipe. My magical ingredients are marked by the asterisks.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Then get a nice oven-safe dish out — one where your volume of turnips won’t be more than about two inches high. Place the ingredients directly in this dish.

Peel and dice a couple/few fresh* turnips

Drizzle good quality* olive oil on them; enough to coat them

Liberally add fresh or dried thyme

Drizzle some White Balsamic Vinegar** from Secolari’s

Add some super-good quality salt** (Piran Sel Gris or Meadow Flake from The Meadow)

Toss the ingredients together, coating everything well; I use my hands. Bake/roast the turnips until they transform, change from a thick opaque flesh to a lighter, clearer color, and carmelize. Try not to eat them all before you serve them.

Image from Kalyn’s Kitchen.

Letter to the Editor, Columbia Flier / HoCo Times

18 Oct

Here is the Letter to the Editor that was published in the October 16, 2014, Columbia Flier and Howard County Times. Thanks to these pubs for publishing my letter.

Local website offers resources for voters

I quite like the new banners about town: the ones proclaiming the many accolades earned and “best of” lists made by Columbia, Ellicott City and Howard County. Seein the many banners I was reminded that I live in one of  “the most technological counties” in America. And I can imagine the kind of stats that put us there: the number of houses with high-speed internet, the percentage of tech jobs and tech companies in the area, the number of mobile phones per the population base, and so on.

Yet there is a metric that is hard to see and certainly challenging to measure: it’s how much Howard County rocks as a social media ecosystem. With hundreds of active bloggers; untold Facebook, twitter and Instagram accounts for businesses, organizations and individuals; a robust list of local #HoCoHashtags (http://goo.gl/WdvB86) and much more, we are, indeed, a “most technological county.”

As the elections get closer, I’d like to share yet another digital resource that I believe contributes to our acclaimed status. It’s a website listing the social accounts (blogs, Facebook and twitter) from Howard County political candidates. The various social streams provide an interesting perspective on the candidates … a perspective above and beyond their marketing materials, crafted speeches and three-minute answers at public forums. The social streams provide insight into what catches these politicians’ attention on a daily basis, how they see situations and what they consider important. Take a look! http://hocoblogs.com/elections2014.php

And get to know your local candidates even better!

Jessie Newburn

Oakland Mills


Jessie Newburn is a co-founder of HoCoBlogs.com and the #HoCoElections site.

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