Sunday, July 29, 2012

Help Wanted


I responded to the ad for the blogger job of my dreams. Funny blogger needed for a new productNot a product description, just a regular post… You pick the topic, you decide the length; all it needed was a link. It was the perfect gig. The ad said it was for a fun drinking accessory. Even though I don’t drink, I eagerly applied.

We go to bars every night for trivia. Many of my posts are set in bars. Most of my friends drink, so they can fill me in on the necessary details. How cool is this? I thought.

The rep from the company tentatively said, “I’m not so sure that this is the right product for your blog.”  

My blog? Who said anything about MY blog. This was for their blog, I had thought. I guess I had overlooked that detail.

Not one to be dissuaded, I proceeded to explain to her, point by point, why it would indeed, be a perfect fit. By the end of the conversation, she was so excited, praising my ability to think “outside the box.”

I guess I hadn’t realized exactly what sort of box. I really should have made the connection when I realized the name of the product was Boobzie. But I was so excited about the prospect of the gig, it just didn’t resonate with me that it was for a boob-shaped beer koozie. 

Only after I had contacted her and agreed to do three posts did I realize exactly what they were selling. While the first thought after my initial shock was, no problem, I can do this. I thought it would be a huge laugh.

But I was kind of worried. What sort of response will I get from this? I’m not sure that my audience will appreciate it. I’m trying to be a serious blogger, what if, what if….

I berated myself for a good part of the afternoon. I called a friend who I thought would think it was funny, and would give me the necessary pep talk I needed to do it. He surprised me, saying, I really think you should back out of this.

While I understood his reasoning, I was so disappointed. I really thought it would be a riot, and I like a good challenge.

Now I was berating myself with new thoughts. But…but…I’m a problem solver; I can do this. I can’t back out now.

I was very tempted to tell the lady I was no longer interested, but first, I poured my heart out to my dreamy boyfriend, who I had purposely avoided consulting with because I thought he would talk me out of it. He made a face, but he surprised me by giving me suggestions on how I could make it work.

Of course he made fun of me the whole rest of the day about it.

So I finished the job. It was not without it’s struggles though. It seemed to be one misunderstanding after another.  I thought one of the “girls,” as they’re called, said 'GOT MILK?’ on her shirt Perfect for a post on breastfeeding, no? Upon it's arrival I found out that that’s not what it said after all. It said something that I would soon find out was actually a little obscene.

The worst part is that I had ordered two of them to give to the lactation nurse and the mother I interviewed. Leslie didn’t want hers, and I was too embarrassed to give the other to the nurse I had talked to.

My friend Lauri, another breastfeeding mother wanted one, though, and I was able to give the other one away.

Needless to say, I am glad I didn't bail. Boobzie is a fun company and great to work for.

c. 2012

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Got Milk?

Leslie with her Boobzie coozie
c. bsm

My friend Leslie, who is new mother to beautiful, Lorelei was sharing with me her adventures in breastfeeding. I had my own ignorant biases, which evolved after learning a little more about it.

It definitely has its share of stress. She  seems to have a really great attitude about it. She shared with me some really funny stories.

She said that she had no idea how her life would become so consumed with it. Breast milk waits for no one. When you are full, you’ve got to pump, no ifs, ands or buts. She no longer has to pump every two hours, but is able to do it a more convenient three times a day. She plans to do a triathlon in a few weeks, but she knows she’s going to have interrupt it to pump. 

You can’t run 8 miles with full boobs. you have to drain them. It’s just uncomfortable.

Not only is it a time adjustment, but it is also a space adjustment. You have to carry all of this paraphernalia with you; bustiers, blankets, bottles, pumps, etc. Missing even one of these things can thwart your routine dramatically.

Gone are the days of carefree quick stops when you can just carry a sassy clutch. You will now require lugging a playpen with you everywhere. And don’t think you can get away without a few of those things  here and there. I really don’t need all of this for my scholarship interview. Because your body is intuitive like that and will choose that particular time to let loose. 

She has a special bustier that she wears. It’s like a Madonna bra with milk jugs attached.

She wears this so she can do other stuff while pumping. So she cooks breakfast dressed like a femme-bot so she can pump at the same time.

I asked her what her funniest pumping experiences were. She mentioned a few times when she had just gotten the timing off and had to pump on the spot. An unexpected moment at a Panthers' game found her running to the car to pump.

Most normal people would get in the back seat. Not me. I get all situated and realize I’m right next to the sidewalk, in full view of everyone going in to the game. I think, Oh, this is probably not the best of ideas. Most would move to the backseat at this point, but I just stayed in the front seat.

She walked through the Mummies of the World exhibit in a button down shirt and a cami. The shirt covered  Lorelei’s head.

 People would kind of notice and walk away.

Another time she had to pump in the Chuck E Cheeze parking lot. This time she had her dog with her. A thirteen-year-old girl, who just happened to be there, unwittingly asked to play with the dog. The next thing she knew the whole family there playing with her dog while she was breastfeeding.

One thing I didn’t know is that you can drink occasionally while breast-feeding. [This was confirmed to me by a nurse who teaches breast feeding]. Leslie enjoys her beer adorned with her Boobzie coozie.

c. 2012

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Following Your Dreams, an interview with writer, Daria DiGiovanni

Daria DiGiovanni

I’ve known Daria for about 5 years. We were both contributing writers to We were fast friends. She had just published her first novel, Watersigns, and I had just published Reptiles.... Her knowledge and passion for politics impressed me.

She was living the life of a typical “struggling writer,” when I met her,  working  several side jobs to make ends meet. Now she spends her days doing exactly what she wants, writing and marketing full-time.

She’s had a lot of successes, made a lot of mistakes, but counts everything as experience. She wouldn’t trade writing for a “normal” career any day.

What does a typical day look like for you?

Lately a typical day consists of planning and executing weekly twitter chats for The Peoples Vote, blogging about the upcoming launch and latest developments with the company (e.g. our upcoming meetings with reps in Washington D.C.),  then putting out the content on all TPV social media platforms (twitter, FB, LinkedIn, etc). I also spend a lot of time reaching out to radio hosts, bloggers and journalists, to book interviews and secure features about the company and its founder Chuck Kirkpatrick. 

I also maintain my own blog where I write about politics, current events, family happenings and other things like book and restaurant reviews. I'm also attempting to finish my sequel to Water Signs, Sea To Shining Sea, and am still stuck in Chapter 5! 

As you can imagine, I probably spend way too much time on the computer! 

But I do find time for Leslie Sansone's 4-mile Walk At Home workout, which keeps me in shape mentally and physically. 

You mention how sometimes you have to do things you don't enjoy to gain experience or exposure [like working for free, working unrelated jobs, etc.]. How do you keep sane when feelings of exhaustion, or under-appreciation creep in? 

Order Water Signs on Amazon
It's not easy but living in South Florida, one of my favorite ways to handle feelings of exhaustion and other negative work-related emotions is to take a drive down A1A and look at the ocean, or just go to the beach. Or the Deerfield Beach Fishing Pier. Even if I don't go swimming or walk directly on the beach, just staring at the ocean calms me down and make me realize that there's a much bigger picture -- a much bigger plan for my life. I am a praying person and looking at the sea always makes me feel closer to God. Swimming in a pool offers the same rejuvenation as I love being in water. Must be the Pisces in me! 

Other than that, daily journaling, praying, meditating and exercising also help. I love to bike ride and power walk, preferable outside but I also love Leslie Sansone's Walk At Home Power Walk DVDs. Her four-mile walk always helps get the adrenaline rushing, which in turn, helps to improve my mood. Plus, it tones muscle....what more could I want! LOL 

You actually picked up and moved from cold Pennsylvania to sunny Florida at a rather young age to make your dreams come true; something not a lot of people could do. Have you always been a risk taker?

It's funny but as a kid I was very outspoken and had no problem expressing myself, possibly because I was the youngest in my family. I used to try to boss my older brothers around, which they always found pretty amusing and dubbed me with the nickname "Mother", which eventually transformed into "Moth" and finally "Muzz" -- a name they still call me to this day! I was tough, unafraid and determined but as I matured and went though the awkward elementary/high school years I lost a lot of that self-confidence mainly due to a persistent weight issue. I was never obese, but had just enough extra poundage to be teased. My close friends and I were never part of the "cool crowd" either and often found ourselves on the receiving end of other kids' cruelty. I never even had a boyfriend in high school or attended my Senior Prom. Ditto for college. So even through college and beyond that lack of self-confidence remained though I eventually overcame it through work experience, self-improvement efforts and family support. 

Tell me a little about your career history. You always wanted to be a writer. What sorts of things, besides writing your book, were you doing before that?

Although I'd been a passionate reader/writer from a very young age, encouraged by my mother who was always buying me books and reading to me, due to the self-esteem issues I mentioned above it took me a long time to pursue it as a career. Throughout my schooling, I'd earned straight A's in all subjects relating to English and language, and have plenty of "Blue Book" exams and collegiate papers as proof of my writing ability. Many of my college professors also encouraged me to pursue writing, recognizing I had the talent but by the time I graduated I didn't believe in myself enough to do it. So I worked a lot of jobs unrelated to writing to pay my bills and get experience. For example, I worked for a large national bank out of college, opening accounts and providing customer service before becoming an outside sales rep for an employment agency. It was that sales position that helped me to overcome fears of dealing with other people and learning to communicate effectively. I got thrown out of a lot of buildings for "soliciting" but it certainly toughened me up!

Then in 1997 while working as a development director for a nonprofit, I began freelance writing for a local South Florida paper called The Happy Herald. Although it was a "volunteer" position, it gave me the invaluable opportunity to build a writing portfolio and hone my interviewing skills. Eventually that led to employment in my preferred creative field where I could not only employ my writing skills, but also marketing, communication and organizational abilities too. 

You are a fantastic writer and a passionate political activist. You are able to meld these two passions seamlessly. Which came first, or did one stem out of the other?

I grew up in a close, traditional family with a very strong moral/ethical foundation. My mom especially has always been a passionate political activist and a self-described constitutional conservative from the time she was a young girl, thanks to her pharmacist father. He'd emigrated to the USA at the age of eight and fully embraced the opportunities here, graduating from Temple Pharmacy School in 1919 -- an  almost unheard of accomplishment for an immigrant. He was an avid anti-communist, pro-constitution American who had a huge influence on my mother, who in turn influenced me. At a very young age I can remember sign-waving for various candidates at polling locations. At the dinner table, we always talked about politics and national events so it was a normal part of our daily routine. My parents instilled a good work ethic, love of country and respect for the US military in all of us. During the days of Ronald Reagan's presidency it was like watching a football game whenever he gave a speech -- we'd jump up and down at cheer at different things he'd say! 

Conservative Diva co-hosts, Daria and Ellen Snyder
So yes, I've always been grateful and proud to be an American. 

Have you ever tried to fit yourself into a job that just didn’t work because you weren’t passionate about it? Describe the difference for you?

Too many times! But remember, while you are pursuing your dreams there's also a little thing called reality which demands that you pay your bills and be a productive member of society. So I've always tried to pull something valuable out of every job experience whether it was learning a new skill or meeting new people. My biggest piece of advice learned the hard way? No matter how much you hate your job, DO NOT leave until you line something else up! As much as you despise the drudgery, you'll despise even more the monthly effort to reconcile your bills when there's not enough income. And while you're working your "pay the bills"job, be sure to cultivate plenty of enjoyable extracurricular activities to balance it all out. This will also keep you sane. :) 

Tell me about the Conservative Diva, and what you do for them.

The Conservative Diva started out as nickname, believe it or not! I dubbed my good friend and relentless activist Ellen Snyder with that name because she is such a warm, outgoing, passionate and influential person with a TON of good friends. From there, we got the idea to start a Facebook Page called The Conservative Diva where we bascially share information and post commentary about what's going on politically. We're also making an effort to reach what I call "low-information" voters -- those who aren't political junkies who are nevertheless open to hearing the truth and interested in making an informed decision. The hardcore 30% of the country that has bought into the progressive agenda will never be swayed; it's the people in the so-called middle we're trying to reach, along with conservatives. 

Daria is one of the handful of people I know who is truly living their dream. She incorporates her values, her talents and her passions, which makes every day rewarding. Working for yourself can be challenging and tough at times, but anything but boring.

c. 2012

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Getting there is half the fun


I have been really enjoying walking lately. There is nothing like the open air, being alone with your thoughts, finding peace with nature, oh, and getting somewhere, albeit tired, dehydrated and sweaty.  I embarked on my longest, most daring walking journey, yet, this weekend.  I walked to work. That meant that time was of the essence.

For the most part, I really enjoyed it. But I’m not going to lie, I did allow some anxious thoughts to creep in to my otherwise zen experience. I’m not going to make it on time, I thought I was much farther than this, I am going to be really sweaty, no one’s going to want to be around me.

I go through a really nice, older neighborhood on my way. Walking enabled me to experience and enjoy my journey in a lot more detail than when I normally zoom past in my car. I was noticing a lot of things I don’t usually notice, how you can smell the fresh foliage from the trees that line the street; interesting signposts with street names I ordinarily overlook, the craggy rocks in the sidewalk, the curve of the road, how there’s only a sidewalk on ONE side. I was literally able to stop and smell the flowers.

I was really able to get lost in my thoughts. In fact, I was so deep in my musings that I almost got run over by a bicyclist. I was so startled that I tripped off the sidewalk.

I got to thinking that the walk was so much like any journey to a goal. There are peaceful times, there are anxious times, there are times when you are unsure, times when you are in danger, in safety.

During my daily life, I tend to get anxious when I focus on the destination or outcome. Not that it doesn’t need to be considered. But it can’t be your ultimate focus. Otherwise when it doesn’t always go the way you planned for it to [and it won’t], you will get frazzled.

When I am in the moment, experiencing all that there is to experience; the noise, the smells, the warmth of the sun  on my skin, I am in a much better position to navigate the way to my goal.

c. 2012

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Reptiles on the internet

Lately I’ve been thinking about criticism. I know I don’t like it, even when it’s warranted. While sometimes criticism is necessary, personal attacks are indefensible.  

There is no shortage of hate speech on the internet. Anything and everything is fair game for criticism. It is a common defense mechanism to attack when we feel threatened.

I tend to run in Conservative circles. I happened to see a discussion that was “dissing” Obama and "libs." I forget what exactly the issue at hand was, but it was basically an “Obama Sucks” high-five session, with nothing more than reprehensible personal attacks on he and Michelle.

There were no issues discussed, just disparaging remarks. I made a comment to the extent of, “I find it interesting that you guys have nothing better to do than stoop to personal attacks when there is so much more at stake here.”

One of the key ringleaders, who I didn’t know, accused me of being a liberal troll, which is kind of laughable for anyone who knows me.

Much later, I was surfing around on Facebook, when I noticed a friend had commented on a picture posted on a humanist site. Curious, I clicked on it. It was a picture of a former Kansas Senator, with an offensive quote about women voters. My first thought was, this woman is crazy, how in the world did she herself get into office? I certainly didn’t agree with her sentiments. I really don’t think the majority of voters did either.

But apparently, the first thoughts of the people on the site were a lot more vitriolic. You would have thought that Senator O’Conner was advocating taking their personal rights to vote away, or a fate much worse, with the hate they spewed.

The people commenting weren’t from Kansas; they were saying vile things about the state, as well. This lady’s beliefs don’t concern them, don’t affect them, don’t even represent the majority of America, why are they so defensive, why so hateful?

Clearly her IDEAS are a threat to everything they hold dear, but they chose to attack HER instead. Apparently the mere utterance of them posed a threat, to which they apparently had no choice but to employ the fight part of the fight or flight stress response.

They have the right to free speech just like anyone else. But keep in mind these are the same people who were up in arms about Rush Limbaugh’s slandering of Sandra Fluke.

This was on a blog, so it could be considered fairly impersonal, but really. You kiss your mama with that mouth?

BOTH SIDES are guilty of this, unfortunately. So often with politics and religion, people on both sides allow their primitive brains to take over, and decorum is thrown out the window.