Loved in Spite of Ourselves

“The greatest happiness of life is the conviction that we are loved —
loved for ourselves, or rather, loved in spite of ourselves.”

― Victor Hugo


I just finished Life Drawing and that was the quote that opened the book. The book was good but NOT if you are looking for a nice little pick me up. You have been warned.

What the Heck is a Work, Life, Baby Balance?

work-life-babySheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook, is a successful working mom.
Her husband is a successful working father, CEO of Survey Monkey.
How the hell did they manage that?

Sheryl has a book coming out in March called Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead. I will be buying it, of course. As you can imagine, we are trying to figure out this whole work/life/baby balance ourselves and I can tell you this much… it is tough!

I read a lot of blogs, I follow along with what Marissa Mayer is up to, I Google a lot of things – oftentimes at 3am, when the baby has woken up for his midnight snack. I will buy Sheryl’s book and add to her fortune. I am interested in her perspective and who couldn’t use a little rah rah rah at 3am on a weeknight, when you have an 8am meeting the next day?!?

Just from following Sheryl in the past, I know she expresses the importance of:

  • Two engaged parents in childcare (50/50 split)
  • Fair grounds from employers for men and women
  • Flexible jobs for both parents
  • Woman pushing themselves

Before reading the book, I know a few things of my own too:

  • Don’t take too much advice from other people on what works for them, it has to work for you
  • Make your own rules and go after what is important to you and your family
  • Sheryl and Marissa have more money than I will ever have, so they have a few more options than I do

I don’t know what a work, life, baby, dog, exercise, social life balance is. I am working on it. As I work on it, I can only hope that I help make some changes for anyone else who comes behind me, I hope someone can learn from my mistakes and successes and I hope I can be honest with myself and the people around me about how it is going.

In the meantime, if you want to know more about working women and moms, you can read this Business Insider article, you can pre-order Sheryl’s book, you can read this piece by Anne-Marie Slaughter on why women can’t have it all or watch this interview from Sheryl on how she does ‘have it all’.

Me and Snooki

Me and SnookiAs you may know, I recently ‘came out’ that I was pregnant. Since then, everyone has been so sweet and supportive.

Today though, I had to take this host body and drag it up on a stage to present at the Agents of Change Conference. Eek!

To address the ‘issue’ I began my session with a slide called ‘Me and Snooki’.

It went something like this:

  • She has really let herself go!
  • Yes, I am 34 1/2 weeks pregnant (37 days to go)!
  • I feel fine
  • It’s a boy
  • No, we don’t have a name yet
  • Please don’t touch me
  • If something happens:
    • Someone get some hot water and clean towels
    • Please tweet my husband, @tweettweetone

Me and Snooki go to SXSW

That slide really helped me feel more comfortable with my news but there is actually more to the me and Snooki story. I found out I was pregnant right before heading to SXSW this Spring. SXSW is like nerd Spring Break. There are amazing companies, amazing sessions, and lots of sponsored and launch parties. I am not a huge partier but figuring out how I was going to mix and mingle at all these events and not have a drink was making me very anxious.

Fresh off the news that my whole life was going to change – I was packing my bags to leave the 5 people in this word that knew my news… to go to nerd Spring Break. To ease my nerves, I downloaded a few ‘How to Have a Baby’ books on my Kindle and planned to read them on the plane and when I was all alone in my hotel room while everyone else was toasting champagne and drinking margaritas.

The first book I read was awful. It was just not my thing.

As I am on the plane to Austin, this book tells me all about my pregnancy. In the book, it tells me that there will be a celebrity that announces that they are pregnant at the same time as me, that I will be obsessed with their pregnancy and I will completely feel like I connected with them. That week, hitting news stands was the BIG Us Weekly issue announcing that Snooki was pregnant.

So my celebrity pregnancy match was Snooki?!?
That was my first pregnancy/hormonal cry.

So THAT is the full story about me and Snooki! Nothing against her, but I really never felt uber connected to her but she was my first pregnancy cry. So I guess we will always have that.

Jim Loved Your Card So Much He Ate It

Maurice Sendak

“Once a little boy sent me a charming card with a little drawing on it. I loved it. I answer all my children’s letters — sometimes very hastily — but this one I lingered over. I sent him a card and I drew a picture of a Wild Thing on it. I wrote, “Dear Jim: I loved your card.” Then I got a letter back from his mother and she said, “Jim loved your card so much he ate it.” That to me was one of the highest compliments I’ve ever received.
He didn’t care that it was an original Maurice Sendak drawing or anything.
He saw it, he loved it, he ate it.”

“Fuck them is what I say. I hate those e-books. They cannot be the future.
They may well be. I will be dead. I won’t give a shit.”

“Live your Life. Live your Life. Live your Life.”

Maurice Sendak

There are plenty more quotes from Maurice Sendak on this post from Buzzfeed.

Believe in Magic

“And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.”

Roald Dahl

The Kisses That Never Happened To Remember

Get your mind out of the gutter! I am talking about a movie.

Last night I watched An Affair To Remember, with Cary Grant, for the first time. I have been rifling through some classic lately that I never saw.

I admit I started the movie as a pessimist. Watching a movie from 1957 now is almost silly. The boat they were on was a joke of a set, the backgrounds of the places they were travelling were laughable. As I began the movie I didn’t think I would be able to get into it at all.

Then as the story progressed and our lovers had their first ‘kiss’ I was floored that the kiss wasn’t even on screen – it was halfway up a flight of stairs! In a world now where sex scenes count as PG rated movies – this renowned romantic movie didn’t even show the kiss! How crazy is that? I knew at this point that I was too engrossed in the scenery and what wasn’t being shown that this movie was. not. going. to. get. to. me.

An hour and a half later, when I found myself bolting into the next room for tissues… I couldn’t believe this movie with the no kissing (they more smoosh their faces cheek to cheek) and the silly sets and fake New York backgrounds not only got to me but got to me more than most movies I have seen.

What the hell happened?

I have reduced it to this – what wasn’t shown, what sets couldn’t capture your imagination takes over. You imagine their sweet phone conversations or the kiss or the struggles they went through. You didn’t have to be shown. I read a lot and this movie engages you like a good book. It wasn’t passive like many movies today. You needed to do a little engaging on your end as the viewer and I think THAT is how this movie got me by surprise.

Stupid love and feelings.

The Future of My Library of Crappy Books

wall of booksI read books. I alternate one business book and then one ‘for me’ book. I dream of having a library, one of those ones where you need a ladder to reach all of the books in my collection. I want the library to cover all of the walls in the room. It will look very sophisticated – from afar.

When you get closer to my collection of books, you will notice that they are all very crappy books. You see, I love buying books, I love reading them but then if I LIKE it – I love to pass it along to a friend, family member or the woman next to me one a plane because I think they will enjoy it. I usually don’t get a lot of those back but I don’t mind. I hope that they in turn maybe lent it to someone else that they think will enjoy the book.

So as I giveaway all of the books I liked, what I am left with in my slowly growing library are all my crappy books that were just ok, that too many other people have, that I for some reason had multiple copies of etc.

In walks the Kindle

Now we add a new player to my crappy library dream – my Kindle. I love it. I can have dozens of books on me at all times. I can switch between them or read them in order. I can buy new books on the go. The books are cheaper. My carry-on luggage is so much lighter!

I dream of JeannieI just read two books that I wished I could share with someone. Last night, I finished The Help. I really enjoyed it and wanted to pass it along to a friend but I can’t because it lives inside my Kindle – like Jeannie in her bottle from I Dream of Jeannie.

I guess I could lend someone my Kindle, but that is weird and my next 4 books I want to read are already queued up in there. Other than that my options are to just tell people about it and delete it from my device. I have been able to handle that for the last 8 or 9 books I have read. Just today I started to worry about the larger implications of this – my crappy library!

How am I going to fill my crappy library if all my books (crappy and good) are stuck inside my Kindle like I Dream of Jeannie? Do I build the four walls of shelves that I would put my books in and instead just place my single Kindle and tell people – there were thousands of books read on that thing?

I am a nerd for a living but in this instance, the technology is interfering with a dream I have always had. A whole physical room or space is being threatened by a convenient, pretty, practical, little invention that I love dearly. What is a dreamer and reader to do?

Photo credit: Mr. T in DC

Conference Necessities

The product links in this post are affiliate links. That means, in short, if you click on them and buy something, I might make a fraction of a penny. I am telling you because I am legally bound too, not to urge you to buy anything. I love and use all of these products.

Bear Conference NecessitiesI am leaving for Washington DC tomorrow for a conference for work. I kinda forgot too. I go to my fair share of conferences each year. This one snuck up on me, but that is fine. Things have been busy and my mind has been on other things.

The thing about conferences is after 10 or so, you sort of have the routine down. I have a good idea of the things I have to pack and what I need. I thought I would share some of my conference necessities, no matter the conference, these are the things that help me get through a long week or so of networking and learning.

Top 12 Conference Items

  1. Hand sanitizer (health needs) – Conferences are for meeting people, hunderds or thousands of people. After a lot of conferences, everyone is sick. New people from all over the country have all kinds of nice germs that you can’t fight off because you are out of whack, overtired and constantly exposed. A small, pen sized hand sanitizer, like Purell Spray Pen should do the trick. Just a little spray here and there can help and you don’t feel like a weirdo lugging around a jug of Purell.
  2. Airborne (health needs) – Just like above, meeting people and flying when your system is weekend is dangerous. I don’t even know if Airborne works but it makes me think it works so I take it. It also has vitamins and healthy stuff in it, so it doesn’t hurt to take it.
  3. Filtered Water Bottle (health needs) – I recently purchased a Brita Bottle with Filter and I love it! You can fill it from water from any tap and it filters in the bottle. Ice cubes also fit in there perfectly. Being a Mainer, I am spoiled with delicious water. Now I can tuck this is my bag and fill it whenever, wherever! We all know water is so good for you and for keeping you healthy. Why chance it by hoping they have water in the sessions and make sure you have a back up plan.
  4. Running shoes (health needs) – One of the reasons I picked up running is that you don’t need a lot of equipment. When you are away at a conference is a GREAT time to squeeze in a run (or a walk). Like the previous two examples, your body is run down at a conference but just getting up and about and sweating out some bad juju can really help you fight things off, feel energized and get you on track. You are also away with less of the distractions of home. I also like exploring a new city or area on a run. Obviously you need to be safe and know where you are going, but some of my favorite SXSW experiences were running around Lady Bird Lake. I got to see more of Austin than almost all of the hundreds of thousands of attendees. So bring your sneaks, lace ’em up and get out there (safely).
  5. Sheer Band-aids (health needs) – No matter how comfy you think your shoes are, there are few that can stand up to the work load you put on them at a conference. Drop a few Sheer Band Aids in your carry on and cover up any soft spots or cuts before they get out of control.
  6. Ballet Flats (fashion needs) – Conferences mean a lot of standing and walking. Most of my day to day pretty shoes can’t handle the stress of a conference. Heels are suicide, flip flops are unprofessional and end up hurting your feet too and sneakers just look funny. A good, comfy pair of ballet flats may be your best friend at a conference. The Gap has rarely done me wrong with their ballet flats. They are pretty durable and don’t cost a fortune.
  7. Fitted suit style jacket (fashion needs) – Conferences mean leaving your hotel room at 7am and not sure if you will be back before midnight. You might have an impromptu meeting, client dinner, drinks with a friend, been added to a panel at the last minute – not to mention constantly going from warm to overly air conditioned rooms. Having a nice fitted jacket that you can easily take on and off and not look unprofessional is key.
  8. Kindle (entertainment needs) – I read a lot and I read even more when I am traveling. My carry-on usually has my laptop, running shoes, camera and 4-5 books – that gets pretty heavy. I just got a Kindle 3G for my birthday and I am SO EXCITED to bring it with me and drop about 10 pounds from my carry on. I usually have the book I am currently trying to finish, one business book and then two or three ‘for me’ books that I bring. Sometimes you want to read smart things and sometimes you want to read brain rotting things (like almost anything with a pink cover). Now I can take as many books as I want with me and it won’t ever weigh more than 8.7 ounces!
  9. Angry Birds (entertainment needs) – Find a few minutes of downtime? Have to stand in line to pick up your packet? Want to look busy so that the guy across from you won’t talk to you? Two words for you – Angry Birds. I will be very busy throwing birds at pigs in houses trying to get my eggs back. If I save the eggs on the regular version there is still Seasons and Rio to save too. They need me!
  10. Mini power strip (sessions needs) – Being a plugged in gal, I use a lot of power when I am on the move. Adam got me this great mini power strip that tucks right in a pocket in my bag. It has three spots to plug things in. I could even share with a friend, if I felt like it.
  11. Big girl camera (new places needs) – Adam got me an awesome big girl camera (Canon Digital Rebel) for my 30th birthday (it was a gift for ‘us’). I love going to new cities and if it takes a conference to get me there, I am going to find time to go exploring. When I go exploring I love having a nice camera that I can bring with me to capture the things as I see them.
  12. A good, positive attitude (all around need) – Traveling is tough, being on your feet and constantly ‘on’ is tough, being away from your family and your own bed is tough. If you don’t have a good attitude about it, you will suffer and your chances of getting sick seem to go through the roof (not a doctor, just an observation). You have to have a good, positive attitude or your time will really stink. Load up your iPod with happy songs, make yourself go home early and get enough sleep, have a good breakfast – keep yourself as normal as you can and be happy you have this opportunity!

Those are some of my top conference needs! Hope some of this helps someone else! If I forgot something just let me know and wish me and Jenika luck in DC.

Have I told you neither of us have been to DC before? This should be interesting!