Sunday, May 9, 2010

Google is so cool...

I love this Mother's Day search engine design...

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Finding My Voice (and Boosting Confidence Muscles)

When I was 23, and working as an executive assistant at a high profile consulting firm, I remember my boss used to chuckle over what he called my "phone voice." At the time, I had no idea that I was speaking any differently over the phone, but in retrospect, I was certainly putting on a show.

The funny part is, about half of the people with whom I spoke each day were hot-blooded Latino men, and I apparently put on this thin, sultry, phone voice... making some of them swoon over my, "Hablo Kelly... como puedo auydarle?" Now, it is so obvious why I felt I had to hide behind this persona... I was not yet comfortable in my skin and I felt I had to be somebody else... someone softer, more demure, and at the same time, bolder and savvier. Yet, that thin, high voice really only conveyed one thing: weakness.

Sometimes I still overhear women using what I now call "the phone voice." When a woman answers the phone and her voice suddenly goes up about three octaves, I get this sort of knee-jerk reaction. I want to take her by the shoulders, shake her, and say, "Deepen your voice! Don't be phony! Be yourself!"

Of course, it's not just about the intonation and sound of the voice that irks me. It's that sound of uncertainty, fear, and lack of confidence. And I only am bothered by it because I can relate to it... I have been there. And I often wonder, "Do men have a 'phone' voice? Do they feel they have to be someone they are not, and pander to the listener? Or is this something uniquely female. I just do not know...

I do know, however, that what has helped me find my "voice" is surrounding myself with confident, strong, inspiring women. My co-workers, friends, and the women in my family are some of the most self-assured, beautiful, and smart women I know. The more I surround myself with these women, the easier it is for me to speak my mind, to be myself, and to learn more about my dreams and ambitions.

As a result, I lost the thinness in my voice, and speak straight from the gut.... making a deeper, richer, more authentic sound and message. In doing so, I convey a much clearer picture of the woman I am, and the woman I am supposed to become.

Among the many women who have inspired me over the year is Ana Ottman, a DC entrepreneur who has formed a business around helping women find their voices. Ana left the world of lobbying to launch her own life coaching business, and has recently re-branded herself as "Red Dress Studios," a business that "helps women entrepreneurs build their confidence muscles."

Ana is launching her new brand tomorrow, and you should join her virtual launch party to learn from Ana, and possibly win one of the "door" prize giveaways. For more info, check out the Red Dress Launch Party registration.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Social Media Equals Opportunities for Women

Historically, women have always been the foundations of communities. While men have had the task of breadwinning, women have always been the crux of family life, the home, and their communities. Women rely on each other for support, advice, bonding, and even life happiness. (Did you know that the more time both men and women spend around women, the happier they are? Conversely, there is no gain in happiness for more time spend with men).

So, it is not surprising that social media presents vast opportunities for women to excel at what we do best: network, support each other, and build [online] communities. For a great synopsis of the social media opportunities for women, read "Why Social Media Means Big Opportunities for Women."

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Snowmantic Valentine's Day

Snowpocalypse has left a beautiful wintery scene in Washington, and we have taken total advantage of it.

We started our Valentine's weekend with a homemade heart-shaped pancake breakfast and French pressed coffee. Next we bundled up, laced up our snow boots, and ventured down to the Sculpture Garden, where Brandon ice skated for the first time ever!

Afterwards we stopped at the National Gallery where I snapped a shot of my favorite painting (the above Degas) and perused the latest exhibits. Next, we were off on a search for hot cocoa, but settled on tea and cappuccino at Hotel Monaco's Poste (worst service ever btw!).

Now we are stopping at the Portrait Gallery before heading to U Street for dinner at Coppi's, where we had our very
first date four years ago!

I just discovered the blogger app on iPhone a few moments ago, and am thrilled. This will help me meet my resolution to post four times a week... or so I hope!

A Happy Valentine's Day to you!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Location:Washington DC

Wednesday, January 6, 2010


Holy shit. I think this New York City lawyer-turned-writer has uncovered it! The MEANING of LIFE! Well, perhaps that is a bit lofty. But after reading just two chapters of Gretchen Rubin's book, "The Happiness Project," I am hooked. Her concept is simple: she picks eleven virtues she wants to work on for one full year, starting with energy, then marriage, and so on, and in the twelfth month she aims to attain growth in all eleven areas. (Sound familiar? Ben Franklin, anyone?).

You are in for a good read if you can get past the slight lawyerly, type-A, neuroticism (she starts the book by listing the countless thinkers and writers she relies on for research, citing the likes of Plato and Thoreau alongside contemporary writers like Elizabeth Gilbert and the woman who wrote the Julie/Julia blog/book and in the first chapter she actually tracks how many steps she takes each day... I mean, really?! Really?!).

Though, my favorite tidbit of wisdom is one she evokes from William Butler Yeats:

"Happiness is neither virtue nor pleasure nor this thing nor that, but simply growth. We are happy when we are growing."

Hmmm.... this gives me lots to ponder this week and as I set my goals for 2010...

Monday, December 14, 2009

Out With the Old....

I want to start this blog fresh. So, I have revamped the layout and have given it a new description. I found the old one, "Culture, Law, Politics, Insights," to be prohibitive and uninspiring. I want my blog to be a place where I feel creative and inspired, and the old format simply was not doing it for me.

So, I have decided to make the theme of this post about getting rid of old habits and ways of thinking, and welcoming a new frame of mind. To me, this seems appropriate and natural as 2009 comes to a close. I want to welcome 2010 with fresh thinking!

So what did I learn in 2009? Plenty. More than anyone would care to read on a blog, I am sure. But I want to share something that speaks to the new tag line of this blog, where I dub myself a "third wave feminist." To be honest, I didn't even know what the term meant until about one minute before I wrote it. I came across because it struck me that I have become somewhat of a post-feminist over this past year, and googled the term, only to discover on wikipedia (thank you!) that the term has evolved into third wave feminism.

What do I mean by a "third wave feminist"? Well, I think I mean that I have been afforded all the opportunities of the feminist movement... good public schooling, two working parents, an academic scholarship to Boston University, a collegiate high jump career (thanks Title IX), the chance to run a marathon without fear of infertility, the opportunity to earn my law degree... the list goes on and on. I graduated from law school almost two years ago and have a plethora of opportunities that my mother, a lifelong public school teacher, never had.

But what do I want to do with these options? Honestly, I have no idea. But I do know that I want a simple life, I want to be a good mother, I want to have time to come home and cook my family a meal, I want to enjoy my weekends, and I want to be a part of my community. I also know, after leaving law barely eight months at my first job, that I need to feel emotionally connected to my work. I know that, if someday I am going to be leaving my kids to spend my day at work, I better feel somewhat invested in it.

One year ago, I was an utter wreck. I went to sleep fearing work because it meant doing something about which I felt passionless. I woke up each morning feeling utterly inauthentic, and unable to get out of bed. (Leaving the comfort of my bed was hard to do because it meant living a life that was out of tune with my inner thoughts and my heart).

So I left law after less than a year, and found myself working full time at lululemon, and it was the best decision I ever made.

There, I found a community of bright, strong, confident, independent, fun, AMAZING women. With these women, my confidantes and co-workers, I share my inner thoughts, my everyday experiences, and my dreams and goals for the future. I feel supported, loved, and most of all... inspired. I know that I am not alone in this feeling of backlash against the paths that our mothers carved for us. I know that while we still define ourselves by a sense of obligation and duty to our parents, we are moving away from their dreams and finally uncovering our own. I have been on this journey for almost one year now, and have learned so much. I cannot wait to see what happens in 2010!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

America, The Myopic

Forgive me, I am about to rant. 


But first, a backward look. I spent two days during this past week perusing The American History Smithsonian, on the National Mall. Whenever I visit the story of America's founding, I am always in great awe of the many men who dedicated their lives to creating a future for our country. Of course, it can be argued that pride, ego, power, the want for scarce resources, and money were at the root of America's birth. But regardless of the characterization, it cannot be denied that this country was founded by men of great strength, aptitude, and foresight. To borrow an overused phrase, the country truly was founded by geniuses so it could be run by idiots. 


This is not to say that we are a perfect nation, or that our history is not tarnished by divide, namely racism and greed. Just take a trip to Baltimore to see evidence of racism, with slums and ghettos reminding us of the "white flight" that began to occur the 1950's. Or venture to 14th and U Streets in Washington DC to see the vestiges of the race riots of the 1960's. Open a history book and read about how glamorized greed for wealth toppled the economy and lead to the Great Depression. To experience déjà vu, pick up a copy of the New York Times to read about the 21st century greed of investors, bankers, mortgage brokers, and consumers that lead to our current economic crisis.  


But I am not as concerned about what has happened in our nation or how far astray our national landscape may have wandered from our founding father's original vision. Rather, what concerns me is how myopic and immature our leaders have become when engaging in political discourse and planning. Since when did Senators yell, 'You lie' during a congressional session? Or cheer when the President lost an economic opportunity for the nation in a time of despair, as the conservatives did when Obama lost the Olympic bid for Chicago 2012


In troubled times, our government desperately needs to focus on nation-building, and not bickering. The United States needs to create incentives for businesses to go green (as China, yes China is doing). Congress needs to pass a national health care plan so senior citizens can afford medication, and the average American can cover medical costs and save that money to purchase a home. The President needs to create FDR-like stimulus programs to lift America's workers out of joblessness and under-employment and back into the work force. 


But it seems that all we can do is bicker, pick sides, and name call. 


So my question is: since when did we become such a myopic, immature nation? When did we lose our vision of the future, in lieu of short term agendas and band-aid, quick fix solutions? Are we truly the "idiots" trying to run a country designed by geniuses? If our founding fathers could have a glimpse into 2009 and see what bickering idiots we have become, I bet they would want to jump on a boat and start all over again elsewhere. 


Again, given the current political landscape I am in complete awe of our nation's founding. It boggles my mind that the framers of the Constitution had the foresight to plan for centuries of future scenarios, when our Congress cannot even pass a plans that are past due, like climate change initiatives and health care. Instead, our elected leaders allow themselves to be bribed by the auto, health insurance, finance and construction lobbies. They selfishly plan for their re-elections and personal bank accounts rather than plan for the future and the good of the nation.


And it was not beyond the imaginations of the Framers that Congress would become a breed of selfish, short-sighted pigs. After all, The Federalist #51 designed the system for checks and balances, forewarning that, "If men were angels, no government would be necessary." So, we are not a perfect nation because humans are not perfect people. But America has the framework to move forward, if only our leaders could stop acting like petulant teenagers and come to some selfless, forward-thinking agreements.