Monday, June 25, 2012

Leaning Too Hard on the Boys

Just a quick thought. I'm here trying to focus (sigh) and get some things done, this morning. But I just read an email in my inbox from Chris Guillebeau.

One of the last lines in the email is, "So... what are you working on?"

My first gut answer was, "I'm working on being more like you, Chris."

Chris is one of my mentors, of late. I have lots of others, mostly collected in the last year or so: Chris Brogan, Joshua Fields Millburn, Ryan Nicodemus, Julien Smith, Tyler Tervooren, Jonathan Fields, Jonathan Mead, Buster Benson, Dave Delaney and Michael Margolis. It's a collection of people who's ideas I like and who give out plenty of free reading material on how to live bigger and better.

I also admire others: Mark Horvath, Shaun King, Amos Mac, Philip Rosedale.

There's my tech and social media mentors, people like Jason Falls, Jeremiah Owyang, Robert Scoble, Brian Solis, Duleepa Wijayawardhana, Darin R. McClure, and Mack Collier.

The list could go on.

Do you spot the problem, yet?

Yeah. I noticed it the other day when I wrote a fictional letter addressed to these people. I started it out, "Hey guys." It's appropriate.

I seem to have a gender problem. Why the heck am I listening ONLY to men?

Ladies? Any thoughts?

So I'm starting a mental list. Where are my female mentors? Gini Dietrich comes to mind, and Liz Strauss. Lois Ardito is wonderful. Amy W. Higgins is pretty friggin awesome. I completely adore Jeri Ellsworth. I have a book by Carol Roth that I haven't even read, yet. I love Jane McGonigal's _Reality is Broken_.

Right. This is a thought to come back to, later!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Left of Pluto

The following is an excerpt from a comment that I wrote today on @Julien's post, Welcome Back. If he or anyone else comments, I will add it below later.
You talk about work worth dying for, worth suffering for. I know what mine is, but have long been at a loss as to why I’ve not been doing it. I seem to be everywhere but where my heart is. It’s reassuring to hear you say that avoidance is normal, but scary, too. Will I ever figure out how to break through that wall? Do you just do it?
You ask me where I am? Lost. Very lost. Somewhere left of Pluto. You ask, what am I trying to be? Light in the darkness. Can you help? I don’t think you can, or rather, I don’t think you will, though I wish you could and would.
It helps a little that you are who you are, that you this stuff you do. You already helped me once by putting me in the orbit of some of the right people. I read Trust Agents and I read this blog. I read The Flinch, and I think of things you said in it, from time to time, and have had conversations with some of the smartest people I know about things that you said. So you will help in that way, in that you help inspire me to keep going. You can help me by continuing to provide some of your best insights and inspiration for free, since I can no longer afford to pay for them.
I just wonder sometimes if I’m not ready to be helped. I feel kind of broken down.
But your questions touch me today, so I’ll answer you honestly and publicly. This is what I think calls to me. There was an earthquake in Haiti in 2010. I saw this picture in the news shortly after it happened:
The man in the photo has lost his child. The day I saw the photo, my daughter was nearly the same age as the baby in the photo. I looked at that man and I connected deeply and viscerally with his pain and loss. I made him a silent promise that I would never forget his pain.
This is what I feel deeply called to do: to lessen anguish and unnecessary suffering in the world. To have, and teach others to have, deep compassion. To see across borders and through race and culture and economics and outright pettiness to our common humanity, and to honor and appreciate it. To comfort those in pain, and to prevent their pain in the first place.
So please tell me why I spent the day doing anything BUT that?
I have been doing a little bit. I have been volunteering since April 19 for the site called HopeMob, It’s a start.
But how do I know you’re right? How do I know who to listen to? I’m trying to listen to my heart, but it tells me crazy talk things.
How can YOU do what YOU do and survive? Does it boil down to “You just do it?”

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Adult #ADHD, or "Look! A Snowflake!"

Alright. This post has been brewing at the back of my mind all day, probably actually for several days.

I have adult ADHD. This should surprise no one, and I probably have even mentioned it here in this blog before tonight. But tonight, I really want to talk about it a little bit.

Like many other people, I think I have known that I had ADHD deep down inside for a very long time, but even so, for many years I have struggled with it on my own. Midway through college I had crafted some coping strategies that have helped me to survive, finish school, and more or less hold myself together, without the help of medication.

For a variety of reasons, all of my coping strategies failed me during the course of a tumultuous 2011. I had finally reached the point where I was forced to admit I might need additional help. Therefore, early this year, I began what I like to think of as a series of pharmacological experiments. I went to my doctor, asked for, and began trials of stimulant medications intended to treat ADHD.

This has not been an easy road, but I can talk more about the various twists and turns later. After about four months of various experiments, my doctor and I have finally settled in on a medication and dosage that works for me. Voila. Magic.

It's hard to describe the effect. Really hard. Maybe a good analogy is this: it's as if I had gone around being a little bit farsighted my whole life, and had always struggled to see detail up close, or to read fine print. Meanwhile, everyone around me had normal vision, so they often teased me when I had trouble, or while I struggled to see clearly. They told me if I would just try a *little* harder, I would be able to see better. So I tried, and when that failed, I learned "coping strategies," like holding books a little farther away, squinting, etc.

Then one day, I heard that there were these things called "reading glasses."

That's kind of what it's like, only totally different, of course. Because this isn't my eyes I am talking about. It's my brain.

There's a book out there for adults with ADHD called, "You mean I'm not lazy, stupid, or crazy?" Right. Guess what? I'm not lazy. I'm certainly not stupid. I might still be crazy.


(Kind of.)

Honestly, until recently, I wasn't actually sure ADHD really existed. I wasn't sure if I had it. Now, I'm sure. Really really sure. I'm even sure that I'm sure.

Recently, I have been seeing someone who also has adult ADHD. We had a quintessential ADHD moment not long after we began dating. We were walking down a sidewalk in San Francisco at night, arm in arm, and were engaged in conversation when suddenly, mid-sentence, I trailed off, losing my train of thought, which brought our discussion to a screeching halt. Why did it happen? Because we had passed under a pole decorated with a sparkly, flashing on-and-off snowflake made of christmas lights, and it caught my attention. When my date realized I had stopped talking, he looked at me, then followed my gaze to the flashing snowflake. He then proceeded to laugh his head off. He understood all too well what had happened: I quite literally had been distracted by a shiny object.

Of course, while the snowflake incident was funny, and I appreciated that it brought me closer with my ADHD-understanding partner, the truth is that it's not much fun at all to lack control over my own focus and attention.

With the help of this new tool, I can take back control of my own attention and energy. Do you have any idea what this means?

Trouble. With bells on.

Friday, April 20, 2012

And Then There Was Hope.

I recently started following more closely the work of Mark Horvath, @hardlynormal on twitter. We met up by chance in San Francisco, and I resolved to do what I could to help him in his battle against homelessness. Since I don't have much money, mainly what I do is listen and follow and try to spread the word about what he does, with @invisiblepeople.

I believe it was probably Mark who got me involved with a project called #HopeMob.

Yesterday, went live. I was immediately struck by the site; it's simple and beautiful, the stories are powerful, and the structure is carefully thought out. But then I saw that @careyfuller was the second story in line, and that got me really excited. Carey is a homeless mother from Seattle who I know from Twitter, and I have long wished I could do something to help her.

From there, when I saw that the founder of HopeMob would be speaking at Google at 12PM, I didn't even think twice. It was 11:30AM. I got in the car and headed straight to Google HQ, which was an hour away. I arrived to the event late, breathless with excitement, and expecting a huge crowd.

Instead I found a small, intimate group of people who nonetheless are clearly passionately committed to doing good in the world. I immediately was struck by Shaun King. I didn't know who he was or anything about him before yesterday, but I know when someone is doing good work.

I've already become a passionate advocate for HopeMob. I don't understand why this hashtag isn't the top trend on twitter today. There is nothing I would love better than for this to blow up, big.

Can you help me figure out how to make it happen?

Sunday, April 15, 2012

A Few Things on My Mind

I've had this post open for a couple of days. There's a lot on my mind, and I thought I would just do a bit of a "brain dump" here for a bit.

It does occur to me that I talk about myself a lot. I guess I am my favorite subject. But if you know me in real life or even online, you might have noticed before that I can be a bit erratic. I have quite the ADD brain, and I have had it posed to me this year that my online activity might be contributing to that scatteredness. It's a theory, and I think there's some truth to that.

So I'll start there: One topic that interests me is the question of how internet use (social media in particular) affects the brain. I've heard a few people reference that. I remember Jonathan Fields talked a bit about the brain in his closing keynote at World Domination Summit, last year.

That leads to another interest I haven't followed up on, which is meditation. Jonathan Fields is a big advocate for it. I'm pretty sure Philip Rosedale said something similar to me last summer, or at least we had a conversation about the brain and strategies for combating the kind of scatter-focus problem that I struggle with. It's been a while, but I bookmarked some threads from that conversation to come back to and explore. Meditation. I have a couple of excellent ebooks on the subject, but adding it to my life has proved problematic.

Another thread I have been thinking about is impostor syndrome. I follow a group called women 2.0 that is devoted to female entrepreneurship. I've long wanted to be a business owner, (don't laugh!) although I have recently shifted my interest to nonprofits, especially the strange new world of for-profit nonprofits (think Tom's shoes). Anyway, I want to be a female entrepreneur, but am suffused with self-doubt; I believe that impostor syndrome is a great description for how I felt when I was a college professor at the age of twenty-five. Insecurity is a tough cookie! So I'd like to learn more about it, and have bookmarked the link that women 2.0 posted:

I've also been thinking a whole lot about gender, especially gender roles, and feminism. I'd like to follow up and get involved again with contemporary feminism. I've been wanting to go look up and read some of the classics, people like Judith Butler. I'm pretty sure a trip to the library is in order for that...

Except that all of my library accounts are overdrawn with fines, and I've decided I'm not allowed to check out books from the library anymore. Right. Anyway it's not like I'm not halfway through three different books already at the moment, and hardly need to add more to the list.

But I'm not done yet.

This morning Don Perkins added me to Goodreads, and I'm already hooked. So I have that site on my mind. That reminds me that I wanted to finish the board I made on Pinterest, people I have instagrammed this year. Which itself reminds me that I wanted to gather together my photos from ZURB events maybe, and possibly write about some of those experiences.

This morning I sent a message to Marc Pitman, and I want to get and read his book. On the note of nonprofits, I have just volunteered to help an organization in New York that found me via twitter. That is @watercollective. I need to do my due diligence on them before I commit to anything. This reminds me of someone on twitter that helped me out a while ago, Pat Rhodes, and I want to look up his email address and thank him.

I owe an email or three to Arvind Devalia, too. Yes, indeedy.

I want to continue to advocate for @bethematch bone marrow registry. I also am part of an endometriosis group on Facebook, and might want to get involved in that.

This week I also have become a volunteer for HireFriday chat. I have promised at least a couple of hours a week, and probably should commit to attending the chat on Fridays. They also need help with their website, and I meant to ask around to see if I could find someone for that, as well.

Right. So I need to finish my bio for that, start my project for the week, and set an a alarm to remind me of the chat. Yes.

While I'm on to-do items, let me give a little plug for Toodledo, which is an app and online to-do list service. I've been using it for a while now, and when my life gets this big and overwhelming, it helps hold me together.

Back to Goodreads. It reminded me of a whole bunch of good books that I've been wanting to look up and read. It also reminded me that Stan Phelps has a book coming out, as does my friend Ric Dragon, and others in my social media circle. I'm pretty sure Stan even sent me a free digital advance copy, although I can't remember via what channel... perhaps it was a DM on twitter?

I'll want to follow up on those things.

Then there's a few smaller random bits. I came across this story via Freedom From Religion foundation:

and I wanted to show my public support for the girl in question. This leads to a whole entirely different topic. I listen to Christian music but am an atheist; there's a group on facebook for Atheists & Christians that a good friend of mine is heavily involved in, and I've been meaning for over a month now to follow up on that and interact with the group. Probably more blog posts coming up for that!

This is just something cool I found while looking for a new facebook banner (which reminds me to find myself a new facebook banner- sigh!)

I'm not sure what exactly I want to do with it, other than say "Ooooooh! Shiny!"

Finally, I found Charity Navigator and my old list of favorite charities. I want to work on it.

Other new projects: I want to do a blog post about @jayteestar and my efforts to help him. I want to continue to follow the work of @hardlynormal Mark Horvath, and figure out something concrete I can do to help.

I am incidentally involved in a couple of biodiesel projects. I've started doing some work for @greenstations, and need to follow up to be sure they are showing up on the map properly in Campbell. I need to contact the owner and/or visit him in Santa Cruz. @slamorte wants to build a biodiesel motorcycle.

I'm supposed to learn to drive stickshift, maybe. And learn to parallel park. But I'm not sure I care to pursue either project, but they go on my list.

I also want to learn ballet, but I don't have a plan for that. And it's crazy. (Can we say priority:low?)

OK! I got all my tabs closed, and have a LOT of material here to feed my Toodledo with.

I'd like to continue my journey into minimalism and maybe write a guest essay down the road, or at least a blog post or two of my own.

I should probably start a branded wordpress blog of my own, except that I don't think I'm ready. I need to revive FrontRow Antics and finish the site and materials, not to mention editing the podcasts we did.

I have a lot of video footage in iMovie that I want to edit into usable things. I've been meaning to try video blogging, too, for ages.

There's a whole NAPKIN full of to-do items for Pegasus Family Farms, LLC. Right, I need to get on that... priority: HIGH.

I remember that Don Perkins wanted me to do a video interview, and I should probably call him back.

There are other people I need to contact. Jill Manty offered me some help a while back, and I haven't thanked her properly. I'm also thinking of Renee of RubyMarcom, and some other things I dropped the ball on, like the art gallery in Buffalo that I wanted to help.

Oh I should email the gal from the Altimeter group tweetup, and message the guy from Zurb.

Alrighty, more than enough for today. If you read this far, yes, this is how my brain works ALL THE TIME. You try being me for a day and see how far you get :)

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Happy Birthday to Me

Hello blog. Long time no talk.

I just want to say something simple, I think. Thank you. To everyone who showed up today to call me, email me, tweet me, leave me a facebook message, or give me a real life hug and some cake.

Thank you for caring about me. Thank you for being there.

I'm going through some tough times. I need every one of you.

Sometimes I lose faith in all of this social media. Sometimes I think it's all fake, that none of you are real, that none of you care. I get a terrible sense of going it alone.

Yet I keep coming back. I don't know why. I don't know why I love social media so much. But I do.

And today, as the happy birthday wishes started in the early morning, and continued and continued through the day, as the number of wishes continued to climb, I felt strangely comforted.

You matter. Look, I'm a mess. I know it. I don't know where I am going, or how I'm going to get there. But some of you love me anyway, and I love you back.

Maybe it's just that basic. I'm really glad you exist. I'm glad I exist.

I'm glad I was born.