back to school

A few weeks ago, I attended a networking event for college students at MIT. My job for the evening was to represent the company I work for and talk to students about what it’s like to work where I do. I brushed up on the details of the internship program and considered myself more than prepared.

As I made my way across the city, it occurred to me that I was an undergraduate college student 25 years ago. Twenty five years. Here’s a little #tbt of college senior me.

Portrait of a future experience design and product manager, though I’d never heard of either of those jobs when I was a college senior back in 1992.

Portrait of a future experience design and product manager, though I’d never heard of either of those jobs when I was a college senior back in 1992.

I wore a lot of red lipstick back then. My roommate freshman year, an impossibly cool dancer from New York City, introduced me to the idea of everyday red lipstick - Carnation, a sheer, bright red in a bright blue tube, by Cover Girl. I splurged on that shade I’m wearing for my senior photos - Brick by Origins. (Those blonde highlights? Sun-In, baby.)

Right. Where was I?

Each student I met was accomplished, articulate, and deeply passionate about their studies. Not one lived up to the stereotypes, parodies and punch lines about millenials. Since the event was hosted by the Society of Women Engineers, most students I met were female. Despite the fact I believed them to be more together than I was at their age, many had exactly the same questions and worries I remember having 25 years ago.

How did you get your dream job?
Was your MBA worth it?
What’s your best career advice?

Since then I’ve thinking about these questions, who I looked up to when I was a twenty-something student, and what it means for me to be there for the next generation of women in engineering. I wanted to have more answers and thoughts for this post, but after a few weeks of it sitting in my Drafts folders, it’s high time to admit that they’re not yet ready.

election day 2018

Today was about karma yoga, the yoga of action: voting.

(I’ve been practicing yoga for 20 years and I’m one of those people that manages to squeeze yoga into nearly every conversation. I’m working on being less annoying about it.)

My sweetheart and I headed to the local polling place early so we could vote as soon as it opened at 7am. As we queued up outside with about 2 dozen other people on the sidewalk, we chatted about why we couldn’t just vote via mobile phone and skip the whole standing in line thing.

But here’s the thing: I love this part. I like walking to the polls, chatting with neighbors while standing in line, making small talk with the volunteers, and filling out the ballot. I like that the whole process is one I can’t rush, even if I tried.

*****

A few minutes before 7, a woman stepped outside and announced that the polls would open at 8. The crowd responded. “Wait, no. It’s at 7!” I might be reading into it, but the collective tone was a little tense - not angry, exactly. More like impatient. The moment passed pretty quickly when she realized her mistake and assured us that the polls would open at 7.

*****

the local polling place in my neighborhood.

the local polling place in my neighborhood.

Some people stop to smell the roses. In Boston, we stop to check out the fall leaves.

Some people stop to smell the roses. In Boston, we stop to check out the fall leaves.

Part of my walk to the polls follows Boston’s Freedom Trail.

Part of my walk to the polls follows Boston’s Freedom Trail.

october 2018 // my favorite photos

Lately, I catch myself rushing. Rushing to finish yoga so I can go home and walk the dog. Rushing to walk the dog so I can hightail it work. Rushing from meeting to meeting. Rushing to get off one plane to get on another. Scrolling through my news feeds to catch up with as many people as I can, as fast as I can.

Just me?

I like the idea of taking the time to stop and smell the roses. ( To take stock of the good moments, successes, and highlights. I did this a couple of times last year by sharing my favorite photos for the month. It seems like a good idea as any for a post, so here goes: some of my favorite moments from October.

october 31, 2018 :: sunrise over lake chelan. coffee does taste better with a view. pretty sure I posted a similar photo this time last year, too.

october 31, 2018 :: sunrise over lake chelan. coffee does taste better with a view. pretty sure I posted a similar photo this time last year, too.

october 7, 2018 :: rich and I often joke about living in an Airstream someday. For the longest time, we’d talk about  what it would be like, and eventually talk ourselves out of it. Then we met a couple who bought one….and then sold their house. It turns out we have a hard time finding reasons why Operation Airstream Livin’ is a bad idea.

october 7, 2018 :: rich and I often joke about living in an Airstream someday. For the longest time, we’d talk about what it would be like, and eventually talk ourselves out of it. Then we met a couple who bought one….and then sold their house. It turns out we have a hard time finding reasons why Operation Airstream Livin’ is a bad idea.

october 7, 2018 :: Met this fellow at the Smuttynose Brewing Outdoor Expo. I did not ask him how many licks it takes to get the center of a Tootsie Pop.

october 7, 2018 :: Met this fellow at the Smuttynose Brewing Outdoor Expo. I did not ask him how many licks it takes to get the center of a Tootsie Pop.

not a writer. writing anyway!

Should I go ahead and rename this blog something like All my Novembers? It has a soap opera cheesiness I kind of like. Maybe Groundhog Month? A quick scan of my posts reminds me that my Novembers are pretty routine, between holidays and my day job of the past eight (8!) years. There’s Thanksgiving and my birthday, a few token photos of Las Vegas, and some pretty foliage. All the same topics last year, and the one before that. I expect this year to be more of the same.

Despite the fact I’m not a clever writer nor a consistent one, I still want to try.

It’s not unlike the idea of getting a pen pal. (Does anyone remember those? International Pen Friends is still a thing - how cool.) You sign up, get an address and start writing. My nana had a Japanese pen pal that she wrote to for nearly all of her adult life, I think. (Kind of amazing, when you think about it.)

I had a few pen pals growing up, but lost touch with them after only a couple of years. I corresponded with a girl in Bermuda when I was 10, and with teenagers in Switzerland and Greece when in middle school. I remember being surprised that girls in Europe listened to the same music that I liked, and like me, also worried about grades, boys and college. Seems like a pretty simple lesson, but I remember being really blown away by that at the time. It was fun getting to know people who were just sharing everyday stuff. We all have a lot more in common than we realize. That’s what I loved about pen pals and later, following my favorite bloggers back in the 2000s.

I’ve read a few posts lately by bloggers I’ve followed for years and years - more than a decade now, in fact. Many of them are talking about how it felt to write, and to connect with people that became lifelong friends.

“Blogging offers an almost-quaint alternative to the stream…a feed. There’s no missing something a friend posted because you skipped going online that day. No algorithm deciding which posts you see. What I write will be here waiting for you, whenever you feel like dropping by, even if that’s a month from now. There’s no rush, nothing to miss, nothing to respond to unless you feel like it. This is just a place we can hang out and talk about stuff.” -from What Feeds Us by Asha Dornfest, Parent Hacks

Checking my feed is like visiting with friends. To me it feels very different than scrolling through a news feed, posts, stories and snaps. Lately I’m finding it incredibly jarring to scroll through a feed that sandwiches some of life’s tragic news in the middle of silly memes, jokes, and advertisements.

Feeds provide an experience that’s slower…mindful, even. Maybe that’s what it’s about for me: wanting a mindful online life.

Instead of writing and posting daily just because it’s November, this year I’d like to make it about cultivating a mindful online life.

where I was today :: eastern Washington, driving to Spokane.

where I was today :: eastern Washington, driving to Spokane.





day 27 // sunday

Despite the fact it's beginning to look more like Christmas than Thanksgiving, it's still Thanksgiving weekend. My rule is that the Christmas decorations can't go up while there are turkey dinner leftovers still in the fridge. 

While mine has been a pretty quiet holiday, it has also been lovely. I didn't take too many pictures, though. Not sure why, as there was plenty of things to be thankful for and to capture. We had company, visited with nearby family, and ate all. the. food. Turkey dinner. Donut burgers. Cranberry crumb bars with mulling spices. To top it off, we had brunch made glorious by home fried sautéed in duck fat. If there was ever a weekend I was going to post photos of everything I ate, this should've been it. (I did post one of the crumb bars.)

This one I took earlier today, while out for a walk with Indie. I tried to get an angle or shot I've not yet tried, which is a pretty tall order since I walk by here pretty much every day. (Yes, I'm lucky to live in such a pretty neighborhood. No, I haven't tallied how many photos I've taken at this park but I'm guessing it's a lot.)  

I am toying around with a new camera lens to kickstart things around here. It's time, I think. 

sunday morning at the monument :: november 28, 2016

sunday morning at the monument :: november 28, 2016

days 13-18 // a week in las vegas

I wrapped up my business travel for the year with a trip to Las Vegas. I've been to Autodesk University before - 4 or 5 times, maybe.  I don't keep track. This was my first year attending as a product manager and it was a much different experience this time around - I was busier and my time was scheduled by others for a lot of things. It was fun, but there wasn't much opportunity to post. Instead of one photo for each day I was away, here are my six favorites from the week. 

As much as I wanted to bring the Nikon, I just couldn't fit it into my luggage. All shots taken with my iPhone 6+.  

sunrise in nevada :: tuesday, november 15, 2016

sunrise in nevada :: tuesday, november 15, 2016

The lighting in the Exhibit Hall was not exactly a photographer's dream (so fluorescent and so harsh), but I took photos anyway because all the fun was here.

The civil engineering area featured a mural. I had the chance to meet the artist, who was lovely. He does this sort of thing for all sorts of corporate events, like trade shows or internal meetings.  

the graffiti wall in the exhibit hall

the graffiti wall in the exhibit hall

nigel sussman, the artist behind the graffiti wall. follow his work on instagram at @nigelsussman

nigel sussman, the artist behind the graffiti wall. follow his work on instagram at @nigelsussman

There was also a sandbox - or, as well called it, the Augmented Reality Sandbox. This is a clever way to learn about topography and how to read contours on a map. What I wasn't expecting is how soothing it was to play in the sand. 

You can build your own, if you want. The good people at the University of California - Davis came up with idea and posted instructions for building your own, which you can read about here.

the augmented reality sandbox in the exhibit hall

the augmented reality sandbox in the exhibit hall

I didn't get outside much during the week, but did take in the view from my room any chance I could. 

twilight :: early thursday evening, november 17, 2016

twilight :: early thursday evening, november 17, 2016

view from my room at night :: late thursday, november 18, 2016

view from my room at night :: late thursday, november 18, 2016

day 9 // light

(written on November 9, 2016)

Namaste. 

Over the years I've heard a few different interpretations of what "namaste" means. My favorite is this one: The light in me honors the light in you. 

On Tuesday night, I didn't stay up late to watch the election returns. On Wednesday morning, I woke up, checked the news and promptly turned it off after seeing what I needed to know about the election. I didn't want to be worked up or upset. I was going to let someone else upset me. Most importantly, I didn't want to make anyone else feel that way, either. 

I decided to lay low. No Instagram. No Facebook. No TV. Instead I wanted quiet and space to think about how I wanted to conduct myself that day. As corny as it sounds, I kept thinking, "Today I want to be someone else's light. For people that cross my path today, I want to be the person that lights them up, lessens their fear or anxiety. Even if the effect is only temporarily, it's still a good thing to do." 

That's all I'm thinking today: Be light. Honor light. Namaste.

I've practiced yoga regularly for the past 9 or so years. During that time, I've probably said "namaste" quite a bit and always felt silly about it. I mean, come on. Am I really honoring your light? 

But...

I wonder if simply being in the habit of saying "the light in me honors the light in you," was practice for today, when I actually needed to follow through on that intention, honoring the light in myself, and others, to get through a stressful time for this country. 

I don't have a beautiful photo of light breaking through darkness, or something else symbolic. This old snapshot reminds me of hope and hard work and overcoming difficult things. It's a favorite of mine, so it's my post for Day 9.  

yoga teacher training graduation day :: december 2011

yoga teacher training graduation day :: december 2011

day 4 // vote

Today I waited in line for 2 hours to vote. For me, a two-hour delay cost nothing. I didn't go without pay, or miss the next train home, or have to cover a small fortune in extra childcare simply to take the time to vote.

I hope the wait times will not be as long on Election Day. Here's what I wished I'd done before heading out:  

  • Dress warmly. It can be chilly in the shade of a building. 
  • Bring a snack. Don't vote hangry. 
  • Bring an extra phone battery.
  • Bring earbuds in case you need to drown out a Yappy McYapperson.  While I'm all for respecting people's free speech, the freedom to tune them out with a podcast or a good song is equally important. 
  • Someone in front of you or behind you might need to hit up a bathroom or get a snack. Be kind. Offer to hold they're spot before they have to ask.
  • Stop looking at your phone every now and then and chat with your line mates. I chatted with the young woman in front of me, and she told me that sense of community, seeing your neighbors at the polls, is one of the things she loves most about election day. Eventually we might be able to vote from our computers in our living rooms. I suspect I'll look back on this day and always remembers the other women I chatted with. I like that about the voting process, even it means waiting longer than I'd like. 
waiting in line to vote, on the last day of early voting :: november 4, 2016

waiting in line to vote, on the last day of early voting :: november 4, 2016

The local TV news stations covered the long lines on the last day of early voting

The local TV news stations covered the long lines on the last day of early voting

day 2 // grand coulee

On the drive from Spokane to Chelan, we made a stop at the Grand Coulee Dam. Now this might not seem like a fun thing to, but I majored in civil engineering and have spent my career working in that particular industry. Dams impress the hell out of me. 

Making time for a "fun thing" on any trip, even work trips, is now a high priority for me. Life's short, and it's important to make time to smell the roses, even during business travel.

an exhibit at the Grand Coulee Dam Visitors' Center :: Grand Coulee, Washington

an exhibit at the Grand Coulee Dam Visitors' Center :: Grand Coulee, Washington

Where: the Grand Coulee Dam!

When: October 31, 2016

Why: In a sense, I was in the neighborhood and passing through, and that's reason enough.

What: This exhibit in the visitors' center cracked me up. When the dam was done there was a ceremony where a little bit of water from every state in the US was poured into the reservoir to symbolize that the entire country was invested in the success of this particular project. 

 

1 // lake chelan

My view for a couple of days this week is pretty spectacular. 

view of lake chelan :: chelan, washington

view of lake chelan :: chelan, washington

 What: The view from my room at Campbell's Resort.


Where: Chelan (pronounced ShayLAHN), which is about halfway between Spokane and Seattle.

When: Just after 8am on Tuesday morning

Why: I took a few snapshots from my deck while I was waiting for my presentation to finish saving and uploading. I'm here for a work conference. 

So I learned a few things about Washington. It's pronounced SpoCAN, not SpoCANE. As for Gonzaga, think zigzag - it's not Gon-zaaah-ga" or "Gon-zay-ga." Also, the Grand Coulee Dam is big.