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Title: Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead

Author: Sheryl Sandberg

Synopsis:  Facebook’s COO, Sheryl Sandberg, gives women career advice. She also discusses the problems women face in getting leadership roles and how to overcome them.

Why I Read It: Someone at a convention raved about the book during a talk.

Full Disclosure: My opinions may be biased by my dislike of her employer. I don’t do Facebook; the whole phenomenon seems at best a waste of mental resources, and at worst a dismaying invasion of privacy.  All that said, I read the book because Sandberg is an accomplished woman writing on a topic, women in leadership, which is interesting and relevant being that I’m a woman and all.

Highlights: It was a quick, easy, well-organized read. Every chapter is concentrated into its one sentence essence (so tidy!!), which made the content memorable. There were a couple of these that stood out:

  •  Don’t Leave before You Leave, in which she discusses the problem of being focused on some future event rather than on your present job, and
  •  It’s a Jungle Gym Not a Ladder, in which she discusses the trajectory of a career and how it’s ok to move laterally and all around instead of constantly climbing up, up, up.  I appreciate the playfulness of this metaphor.

Lowlights: I had a hard time relating to Sandberg. First off, I am drawn to work that is academic and not corporate. My fields are already dominated by women. I’ve been mentored by women, promoted by women.  Likewise, I teach women and promote them.  As a result, sometimes the issues she wrote about seemed remote.  Secondly, her writing style was safe and overly-processed….a little too polished.

Recommended to: 1.) Men – every last one of you should read it.  2.) Working women with children. 3.) Ambitious women just beginning their careers.


If You Liked This Book You Might Also Like: Leadership by Rudy Giuliani, which I reviewed (very briefly) here, and which I found equally as helpful and more compelling.

Best Quote:

“It’s not about biology, but about consciousness”

–Gloria Steinem

If you want to learn more here’s a Ted Talk she gave on the topic.

I made the mistake of reading the alumni publication from my alma mater this week. Does anyone else read these things? Well, if you’re in recovery from a type A personality, like me, then you probably shouldn’t.  It featured all these fabulous people making important and amazing contributions to the world.  Artists, writers, researchers, engineers – they were all beautiful with their hair and their families, smiling.  They were all busy doing stuff.

The whole thing sent me reeling into an existential crisis.

“What am I busy doing?”  I wondered.

Then I remembered…

chasing butterflies

chasing butterflies

 

 

playing peekaboo with clouds

playing peekaboo with clouds

 

8-6-13 044

stopping in the street to take pictures of goats in a rainstorm

Pioneers final

Elizabeth Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, & Lucretia Motts

Would you be willing to trade part of your anatomy for the priviledge of going to school?

For Kakenya Ntaiya, this was not a hypothetical question. It was her reality. She tells her astounding story in the Ted talk below.

 

Just the expressions written on the faces of those children, before and after, tell the story. I replayed that footage again and again. 

It made me deeply grateful for the myriad of choices available to me, for the brave women who laid the groundwork for such freedom, and for the presence of strong women in my life — my family, my friends, my professional mentors.

Yesterday was Labor Day. It was a day to reflect on the work we do in this world and the impact it has on others. It was an opportunity to consider how we are supported and sustained by the labor of others.

Today I am thankful to get back to the work.

9-3-13 004

Picture3

————————————————————————–

This post was my submissions for Kozo Hattori’s Monthly Peace Challenge for September: “Let’s inundate the internet with a peace collage of powerful words and images.”

b4peace

commute

Old Commute

What a difference a year makes.

Last year I began taking steps to turn my work life into my life’s work. This was a subtle, but powerful and life-changing shift in perspective that was inspired by a number of awesome books I’d been reading and by a yoga teacher training course that totally rocked my world.

 While I enjoyed my work – professoring – my work life itself had become a major ordeal. Just getting to work seemed an epic struggle fraught with peril.

commute2

Old Commute Detours

commute5

Old Commute Floods

Old Commute Snow

Old Commute Snow

No doubt that peril was made greater by the crazy woman behind the wheel weilding a camera.

Really not my brightest moments on display there, folks. 😀

On a good day it took 2.5 hours just to get to work.  As you can see, there were many not-so-good days.  That commute was quite a drain on the resources (time, money, fossil fuels, etc.).  When I look back at those pictures I wonder: What was I thinking??

I think my logic was something like, If I’m working hard and struggling, I must be doing something worthwhile, right?

Hm…not necessarily so, sayeth my gurus.

One tells me repeatedly: “Keep the pose. Relax the grip. Take the struggle out of it. Good, now go apply that off the mat.”

It all gets easier when you learn how to relax.

My commute to work looks a lot different these days….

july9 2013 013

New Commute Detours

It’s about a one minute walk.

New commute flooding

New Commute Floods

New Commute Snow

New Commute Snow

I can make the commute stretch to about 15 or 20 minutes on a good day.

We are very busy at work this morning doing urgent, important things!

What are you up to today?

Overlapping Seasons

It is spring again.  The earth is like a child that knows poems by heart. 

–Rainer Maria Rilke

It snowed this weekend…right atop the autumn leaves, budding roses, and daffodil blooms.

snow

Fall leaves, winter snow, spring daffodils

Fall leaves, winter snow, spring daffodils

The Duck Report

mallards

mallards

We lost one of our ducks, Baby Gold, to a raccoon who found a breach in El Diablo’s Duck Defense System (DDS).  The perp was apprehended and sentenced to exile.

The seven remaining domestic ducks have been joined by three mallards (two males and a female) who have taken up residence in the pond. Not to be outdone by P. Recious Rainbow, Kiki Duck is now nesting with a *crazy* number of eggs beneath her feathers.

Project Moon Pie

We’ve introduced another label (ball) and another action word (touch) to Moo Moo’s repertoire.  The ever-determined Moo Moo has taken to watching videos of her performance trials to improve her skills.

Moo Moo the Genius

Moo Moo the Genius

…and speaking of improving performance, here is:

Good News for Crazy Cat Ladies

Thanks to researchers in Japan (of course) we now have scientific evidence that looking at cute kitten and puppy pictures/videos facilitates performance in dexterity and focus tasks.  I am not making this up…click that link and you can read about it for yourself.

 This is exactly why you should read my blog. I post cute baby animal pictures regularly. I can help you at work. I bet you’ll even snag a raise.  Subscribe today!

Hello!  Welcome to part two of your virtual tour of the new office.  We have finally completed rennovations to another room of the practice, which by the way is officially up and running!kitchen

It took six months of cleaning, painting, tiling, shopping, moving, arranging, rearranging, nitpicking, and tweaking to get it just right.

Groovy light fixtures

Groovy light fixtures

As I mentioned in my first post on the topic, Space to Work: Office Design, the “Man Cave” had a lot of potential, but it was a mess.  The linoleum tiles in the ‘before’ picture were stuck directly to the concrete. There was a mysterious brown, sticky substance embedded in the spaces between them and they were stained, torn, and in some places missing. We pulled those grimey things up and the Angry Russian laid new porcelain tiles at a jaunty 45-degree angle.  He chose Navajo White grout to make the tiles “pop.”  He also hung a new smooth ceiling to get rid of the old one sporting nicotine-encrusted stalactites. We hung new fixtures for a finishing touch.

El Diablo painted the cabinets white and the hardware gold with an overcoat of clear gloss. The whole room was painted a softer, creamy shade of yellow.  We added a couple of new light fixtures. And Voila! The Man Cave disappeared and the “Princess Playhouse” (as El Diablo refers to it) emerged.

Skattur provided the plate beneath the cabinet (a find she scored at the Goodwill) to dress up the wall.  And see the little guy in the windowsill up there?  Another of Skattur’s Goodwill finds.  Here’s a close up:

owl with succulent ears

owl with succulent ears

How ridiculously cute is he? His name is Owlfred E. Jennings.

I decided to go for a 1940’s vibe with the decor. Several years ago I inherited a massive stereo console from my grandparents.

the stereo console

the stereo console

It’s a beautiful piece of furniture and though I have never had the space for it, it’s a relic I had to keep. It gives me warm, fuzzy memories of a childhood spent sneaking into the forbidden living room to bother the big kids while they listened to records…

sitting area

sitting area

There I would find them inclined on the orange corduroy speaker pillow (which I also still have) staring into the depths of an album cover as if it contained the answers to life’s mysteries.  Around the holidays, Elvis crooned Christmas songs from the speakers accompanied by the snaps and crackles of needle to vinyl.  In short, the console has good mojo. It served as the foundation piece for the room and inspired me to go retro with the furniture for the waiting area.

I got a great deal on two reupholstered vintage chairs from an antique mall. They are comfy and they have wheels! Then I paid too much (even with the 40% off coupon) for the table and lamp from Hobby Lobby.   Nanook gave me the picture above the lamp.  It belonged to my grandmother. The two sconces belonged to Skattur.  She donated them to the cause because they were scrolly and yellow. And because she’s awesome.  I picked up the rug from Target.

And finally, you might wonder what’s up with that little picture to the right that looks a bit out of place.  It  hangs right near the doorway to the therapy room and serves as a daily reminder to get my brain on straight before going to work:

note to self

note to self

I hope you enjoyed today’s virtual tour. There are two rooms  left – the bathroom and the therapy room.  I  will get pictures of those posted eventually.

Picture1

If I had the energy I would go take a picture of something beautiful outside to share with you.

But this is all I’ve got after:

35 undergradute students in an online course

544 e-mails in the course inbox

429 e-mails in the course outbox

44 pages of instruction composed by yours truly

1933 student messages read on the discussion board

238 messages composed on the discussion board

695 pages graded

500 (and something) preschoolers met

29 graduate students supervised

2 times being bedridden with the “preschool crud”

1 honors thesis advised to completion

1 dissertation prospectus advised to successful defense

We are nearly done with the renovations to the building that will house my new practice.  We set up the office last week and I moved in.  Hassan Osman’s fabulous blog, The Couch Manager, was highly influential in the design of the new office.  His blog introduced me to authors who inspired taking a zen-like approach to work, which ultimately led to my decision to quit my chaotic bi-state academic career and start my own business.  Thank you Hassan. 🙂

The building had a lot of potential, but in its original state, it screamed “man-cave.” The previous tenants were heavy smokers with pets, a combination resulting in an odor that defied a wide range of cleaning products and air fresheners. The popcorn ceiling was brown with an amalgamation of nicotine, dust, and pet dander hanging off in stalactite-like spikes. I was worried that one would fall and impale me with the vile concoction. The ceiling fans were an abomination with a layer of gunk atop the blades nearly an inch thick. There were linoleum tiles applied to concrete in three of the rooms and some strange sticky paper-like faux wood flooring in what is now my office.  It all had to go.

As you can see in the “before” picture below, a lot needed to be changed.

We set to work cleaning, vacuuming, mopping, sponging the nicotine off the walls, pulling up flooring, etc.  Then the Angry Russian, who is a lot less angry these days, set to work pulling down light fixtures, hanging a new ceiling, knocking out a wall for a window, laying tile, painting and hanging fixtures and pictures.

The Angry Russian Draws a Window on the Wall

We saved over $100 on the window by shopping at a discount building supply store (Building Materials on Jackson, Inc) that sells overstocked and used supplies instead of ordering it from a glass store or one of those DIY home improvement stores.

Voila a window!

The window provides an awesome view of the vegetable garden as you’ll see in a bit.

The paint color is Ferrel Calhoun’s Slate Stone, but the paint was Benjamin Moore.  The flooring is ceramic tile from Flooring Solutions. The picture above as well as the two below are by Albert Koetsier  and were a gift from a friend.

My desktop was a work of The Devil.  He salvaged the top of my former desk, wrapped the top in a groovy fabric, then painted and clear coated it to a glossy finish.  It sits atop two filing cabinets that I purchased for 60% off from a Big Lots store that was going out of business.

My desk – The Devil’s handiwork

As you  can see, it’s very reflective! Beneath that shine is a pretty lavender and white print.

Desktop Detail

And then we embellished with little details….

Framed postcards from the Berliner Dom

Please take a moment to appreciate those perfectly plumb, mathematically proportionate pictures that were hung by The Angry Russian, who is a perfectionist to the extreme.  When I hang a picture, I use a hammer and a nail. I would think that’s the way most normal humans would do it. The Angry Russian requires measurements, pencils, math, and a high-tech floor-to-ceiling laser machine. Watching his process was like watching an episode of Big Bang Theory.

How the Angry Russian Hangs a Picture

A few more finishing touches…

two cherished gifts

The picture of me and Nilla Bean was hand drawn by a former student and artist.  “Believe” was a gift from another friend.

A new light fixture…

…and to complete the ensemble…

This is the first time I’ve ever displayed my degrees on the wall.  They make me feel all official. 🙂

And kitty is just visiting.

So….that completes your virtual tour of the office.  Come back in a couple weeks I’ll show you the rest of the place.

Last month, in an unexpected twist of fate, I was offered the job of meeting 500 preschoolers in 45 days.  To the uninitiated and in the abstract, meeting 500 preschoolers may seem an unmenacing task. At least that’s how it seemed to me when I was offered this job.  Still, I would never have imagined myself working in this context. I accepted the position anyway thinking it would be a breeze.   Ha! In the days that followed I came to liken the task to being trampled by a herd of wildebeest. As it turns out 500 preschoolers is a lot.

The fact is preschoolers are creepy people. They come to school clean and groomed, shirts tucked, shoes tied, hair wound in neat braids. Kinda cute even. Within 10 minutes they start to unravel showing hints of their true nature.  Eventually they erupt into full-blown disarray with noodle-encrusted hair, milk-mustached upper lips, and booty fingers.  In this state, their teachers would bring them to me and attempt to reclaim order  by lining them up to sit in neat rows, and then telling them to behave and to wait quietly for their turns.  That structure worked for only a few moments. The short legs dangling over the edge of too-large chairs would start kicking idly at the empty air causing the laces of their sneakered feet to lose all restraint and start dancing wildly. A few moments later, the preschoolers would simultaneously begin practicing their unique talents. There were the prize fighters who liked to throw punches at each other, the stuntmen jumping out of chairs and running into things, and the gymnasts who did Cirque de Soliel routines using the chairs as props in strange balancing acts.

Preschoolers ooze fluids. I’ve been cried on, sneezed on, and spit on. The spitting was not malicious, but rather with great enthusiasm. On one occasion a great potty frenzy swept the room, which ended badly and predictably with an “accident.”  In the natural course of things, my third week on the job I caught the Preschool Crud, rendering me bed-ridden for 2 ½ days with a fever and sore throat.

The 45 days are over and phase one of the job is complete. This week I’ve jumped back into the fray for round two.

As a result of this whole weird experience, I’ve come to the conclusion that preschool teachers should be lauded with firemen and police officers as heroes in our nation’s workforce.  I’m not kidding. Having seen these women in action, I can honestly say they are nothing short of amazing given the occupational hazards and with their grace under fire.

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