My Love Affair with TED

I’m totally in love with TED.  It’s true . . .

So when I found out that TED was coming to town, the anticipation was nearly more than I could handle.  March 22 is the magic date for Richmond’s very first TEDx conference. I filled out my application to attend more than a month ago, and March seemed so very far away.  But now March is here, we’re  10 days in and in less than two weeks TED and I will finally meet face to face.

Here are just a few of the reasons I love TED:

Susan Cain – I’ve sung her praises before and I’m sure I will again.  Her book is phenomenal.  A must read for introverts and those that love them (so, you know . . . mostly everyone).

Neil Pasricha – I have shown this video many, many times in various classes that I teach.  I have never gotten tired of it and the message always catches me at just the right moment (which is . . . awesome!).

Amanda Palmer – Connection, respect and authenticity as the new commodity for promoting one’s art. Beautifully simple.  Perfectly conveyed.  There’s also a really nice breakdown of the theme of her talk as it relates to publishing over at Huffington Post Books.   (Amanda Palmer can sleep on my couch any time . . . seriously).

What about you?  What made you fall in love with TED.  Let me know in the comments below.

A Love Letter to 5 Guys & 3 Ladies

     It all started with a weekend getaway with my husband.  Heading to a mountain cabin after work one Friday night, we stopped off at a 5 Guys Burgers and Fries  to grab a quick dinner.  While the getaway was much-needed and relaxing,  the meal selections didn’t get much better over the next two days (trending towards fried and greasy and processed).  I have always prided myself on being a healthy eater and so despite the awesome scenery and even better company I wasn’t in a  great place physically or mentally.  That weekend was a tipping point: I was sick and tired of feeling sick and tired!
     As always in life, when the student is ready the teacher appears.  In this case the teacher was Hayley Hobson.  I  first encountered Hayley when she followed my blog (thank you!) and was intrigued by her three-day cleanse.  I had always been skeptical of the “cleanse”, imagining deprivation, starvation and all sorts of scary things.  But Hayley’s plan actually included eating food and I was ready.  I approached my husband about doing the cleanse and, feeling much like myself about the previous weekend,  he was enthusiastically on board.  At the end of the three days we both felt amazing and wanted to incorporate more plant-based meals into our diet.  It was through Hayley, that I discovered Kris Carr’s Crazy, Sexy Kitchen which I have been working my way through and enjoying all the plant-based goodness contained within (and to think it all started with a hamburger).
     I was a Crazy, Sexy convert and immediately signed up for Kris Carr’s weekly newsletter, which is where I first heard about Marie Forleo.  Marie’s passion for helping women succeed in business is infectious.  The free videos posted on her site really opened my eyes to the fact that my writing wasn’t just a hobby, but an actual business!  Even after all I went through to publish my book, Neverending Beginnings, I had never really considered myself a businesswoman.  She asked probing questions which made me reevaluate what I wanted from my writing and how to get it.  I know my second novel, and my approach to marketing my writing will be a better as a result of the insights I gained.
     Even though we have never met, I feel a connection with these women. They have helped me on my journey.   So on this lovely St. Valentine’s day I offer a heartfelt thanks to these ladies and a commitment to keep the goodness and connections going!  And to the 5 Guys that started it all . . . well, here’s to inspiration in the oddest of places.

Brooklyn, Brooklyn Take Me In

There are train tickets and a hotel confirmation on my kitchen counter. Date: early March. Destination: Brooklyn.

Last year, right around this time we travelled to New York with friends for a birthday celebration. It was an amazing experience. The “main” birthday event was a trip to Brooklyn Brewery, but we stayed in Manhattan and caught the train over for the day. This time we’ll reverse that pattern. Spending the majority of our trip diving deeper into the borough that peaked our curiosity in a matter of hours. The one that whet our (figurative and literal) appetite for more. The one that felt a bit like home, away.

Here’s what I’m already excited about:

  • a return visit to Brooklyn Bowl (which I think I have now shamelessly linked to about 5,000 times on this blog . . .)
  • visiting Brooklyn Brew Shop and finding someone to personally thank for the amazing spent grain recipes on The Mash (holy Barley & Peanut Butter Chocolate Bars, Batman)
  • Checking out some of the coffee shops and restaurants documented here
  • Checking out more of the amazing-ness in Trust Neely’s Guide (which served us so well the first time)

Also, I can’t stop singing this in my head.

And it’s just the beginning – I have a whole month to plan. If you’re from Brooklyn or have spent more time there than me (*easy, since I was there less than 8 hours) leave me a comment and let me know what it is essential that I add to my list!

Trending Up

In a class I am teaching this semester we are using selections from the book (and television series) Roadtrip Nation.  The series revolves around interviews conducted by a group recent college grads who set out on a cross-country trip interviewing folks about their career paths along the way.

One particular concept sticks out for me each time I watch the pilot episode (though I can never remember the name of the person who offers it).  The question that sparks the comment has something to do with job satisfaction and “right fit” within a chosen profession.  The executive being interviewed acknowledges that one isn’t always going to love every single task in their chosen vocation.  Every day isn’t going to be the best day.  Every project isn’t going to fall together like choirs of angels singing.  There will be undesirable tasks, unpleasant days and unorganized projects.  He stresses the importance of watching the trends and acknowledging the inevitable “dips” but determining if the overall arc is up or down. If it’s trending up, all is well. If the trend is sloped more downward, it’s probably time for a change.

I love this concept because it gives permission for the little dips.  Those not as great days when you feel a bit itchy in your own skin.  I love it because it acknowledges that movement in a positive direction isn’t always in a straight line, but it’s all good just the same.

So here’s hoping that things are trending up in your life today.  Not perfect, just in the direction of.

 

Some Days

Some days are just awesome.  Today was one of them.  Here’s why:

I unexpectedly got to attend the Grace Harris E. Leadership Institute Higher Ground Women’s Leadership Conference.  In addition to the obvious (super inspiring panels and keynotes) I also got to see Torski Dobson-Arnold in action (former high school Forensics club members unite).


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I also won an amazing pedicure package.  Umm . . .I never win anything, much less anything awesome and full of lavender and mint.

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And then there’s the snow.  Have I mentioned how I love snow in the city? So. Gorgeous.

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Hope your Friday was just as awesome!

Questions

In my senior year of college I reluctantly took over organizing several events for an organization I was part of.  It was my last year in college and just wanted to focus on classes and friends and soaking up what was the end of a really significant time in my life.  One that would be unlike any other.  Instead there I was, painting signs and making flyers and talking about budgets.

One particularly busy afternoon, I remember sitting in the organization’s office and thinking: I’m so tired of balancing all this with my class work and my life, but if I could do something like this as a job that could be pretty awesome.

Approximately seven years after that moment I decided to go to graduate school; seeking a degree that I would open the door to jobs in higher education.

Why did it take seven years?  There are countless reasons.  But one thing that I always come back to is the fact that I never thought to ask anyone who worked at the college how they got their job.  I had great relationships with several student affairs professionals, but it never crossed my mind to ask about their career paths.

I’m sure this just wasn’t on my 21-year-old mind at all.  I don’t blame myself, nor do I have regrets.  But I do find myself wanting to encourage others to ask the questions.

So if you’re sitting in a campus office or a coffee shop or a crowded hotel lobby tonight and you’re wondering how that person across the room or behind the bar or over there by the fireplace got where they are in this very moment – go ask them.  Who knows what you might learn about yourself through someone else’s story.

Tagine

tagine

We got a new cookbook recently.  I knew on my first flip through it that I wanted to make this one particular recipe.  I called it Tangine up until a few days ago.  I also really knew nothing about it, except that in it’s picture it looked like an awesome winter meal; all chickpeas and sweet potato and broth and warmth.

So even thought I didn’t know what it was (or what it was correctly called) I couldn’t have been more right about how amazingly delicious it was.

In case you’re curious, Tagine is of  North African origin and named for the pot it was traditionally cooked in.  I learned this and got the awesome recipe from Kris Carr’s, Crazy Sexy Kitchen – which we’ve been cooking our way through for the last couple weeks.  Nothing has disappointed.  Seriously, nothing.  Love that!

Listing

Mullys

‘Tis the season of year-end lists.  And boy do I love a good list. (I’m currently making my way through Blue Ridge Outdoors’ “Essential 2012 Albums from the South”).  I got super excited about making my own list . . . movies and books and albums and restaurants – oh, my!  Except  I couldn’t think of more than a handful of movies I had seen or books I had read.  Somehow The 5 Movies I Saw This Year just doesn’t have the same ring as The Year’s Most Fabulous Movies Ever.  I was momentarily discouraged, feeling the dream of year-end list making slipping through my fingers.  But then, in a flicker of inspiration I realized there didn’t need to be such a standard theme.  There are lots of people, (probably more expert than I) counting down the best of the words written, songs sung and dishes prepared; so instead I give you my 2012 superlatives (in no particular order):

Album Played on Repeat for the Most Consecutive Days: a tie between I and Love and You, The Avett Brothers; and  The Lumineers, self-titled. (And yes I know The Avett Brothers have a new album this year – but this was the one I couldn’t get enough of.  That’s the beauty of this being my very own list!)

Best Place to Pick up that Skirt/Dress/Shirt  that will Make You Smile Every Time You Wear It: Ashby

Best Concert of the Year: Aquanett (Talk about smiling!  If you don’t leave this  show hoarse from singing along – you probably weren’t alive in the 80’s).

Best Random Yelp Recommendation: – The Pony Bar 

Most Unusual Beer I Drank: Rocky Mountain Oyster Stout (just click the link, you know you want to know)

The Saddest Restaurant/Bar Closure: the deck at Mulligan’s (it’s the end of an era, folks)

Most Awesome Place to Celebrate a Birthday: Brooklyn Bowl (40 or 4, they’ve got you covered)

Coolest “Found” Object: my parent’s 1970 KLH turntable (now resting comfortably in our living room, so lovely)

The Best Way to Eat Your Veggies: Crazy, Sexy, Kitchen 

The Far-Away Bar I Wish was in My Neighborhood: Euclid Hall (and not just because of the awesome poutine) (*poutine defined*)

All the best to you in 2013, my friends!

Merry & Bright . . .

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I’m enjoying my quiet, decorated house for a few more days until the new year. I find myself hoping that this holiday season has been joyous for each of you; but at the same time acknowledging that this isn’t always the easiest time of the year.  Sometimes holes left in the fabric of family and friends seem wider, more gaping somehow.  Or distance further than ever.  Scars deeper.  If it’s not the merriest, brightest season for you, than my wish for you is a sense of  peace as the season settles.