Thursday, February 28, 2013

The Simple Dollar: Never Eat Alone: Share Your Passions

Cover of "Never Eat Alone: And Other Secr...
Cover via Amazon
In 2009, Trent at The Simple Dollar wrote read-along of Never Eat Alone, and in September of that year, wrote a post on the eleventh and twelfth chapters of the book.

He, and Keith Ferrazzi, posit that one way to expand on your social circle, and thus network, is to focus on the things you're passionate about:

So what do you like to do? What do you identify with? From there, what sort of social structures are available along those lines? 
For me, my passions are reading, writing, my family, games, technology, and my faith. That means I look for writer’s circles, book clubs, other parents (and parenting groups), gaming groups, Tweetups, and other such meetings. I also look around for general community meetings that allow me to meet others in my community.

Do you do that?  I do, a bit. I'm in a book club and a writing workshop, and I try to go to a knitting meetup a couple times a month. The trivia league I participated in last year starts up again soon, and I might take part in a spelling bee the same bar[link] is hosting.  There's a few other things I'd love to try, as well, but there are only so many days in the week, and the laundry has to be done eventually!

So check out Trent's post, and let me know your thoughts.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

I can't make myself like clubbing

I love Gretchen Rubin's The Happiness Project.  I love the book, I love the blog, I keep trying to emulate her but failing in discipline... and according to her, that's OK! Accepting who you are and how you do things is part of the path to increased happiness.

One of her Secrets of Adulthood is,“You can choose what you do, but you can’t choose what you like to do.”

I like to dance. I took lessons as a kid, which was fun, but I stopped when it got too competitive. I took lessons for my wedding, which was fun, but the performance was a bit stressful.

I think that's why I hate clubs. Here's the thing: I don't own any clothes appropriate for clubbing, I look stupid in most clothes appropriate for clubbing, and I sure as heck don't want to put down a significant amount of money for an outfit on the off chance I might, someday, go clubbing.  As if, in that circumstance, the outfit would still be appropriate.  Dated and ill-fitting is more like it.

Then I get there, and every woman is better looking than me. I'm incredibly self-conscious. I could have a drink to relax, but drinks cost how much?!  Maybe just one. Why aren't any guys checking me out? I must be hideous. Why are the creepers checking me out? Why do the creepers always go for me?! My husband says it's because he's standing right here -- only creepers would hit on a girl who is clearly with a guy -- but it's not like he's reacting either.  He's given me steamier looks when I've been wearing the least flattering pajamas I own. You know what?  It's all because I'm so self-conscious.  Well, of course I'm self-conscious! I'm the most disgusting thing in here, and I say that having seen the bathroom!

I feel anxious and kind of ugly just typing all that.  I have no desire to experience it.

Problem is, I like to dance.

I like to dress pretty, have a glass of wine, belt out the lyrics to a cheesy, upbeat song, and move.  Proms were pretty good for this, believe it or not -- I went with guy friends to most of my formal-ish dances, so that worked. College formals had their ups and downs, but none of the downs had anything to do with the super-anxious rant above. And my husband's law school formals were great once I got to know his friends.

But since then, it's pretty much been weddings or nothing. And I do like weddings, but short of throwing a stupid cheesy fake prom myself (I don't even want to think of the expenses), I don't have any other opportunity to throw on a dress, stand in a clump of friends, and jump up and down yelling the lyrics to "I Gotta Feeling."

I can't choose to like clubs. But I didn't choose to like dancing, either. What's the solution?

Have you ever been in a situation like this?  How did you solve it?

Updated 10/22/13 to correct formatting.
Enhanced by Zemanta

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

What makes you happy? #3

I make a mean baked brie.

I found a couple recipes online, took the best parts of both, and over a few years of trial and error, came up with something people like.

It's my staple for family functions. People are excited when I bring it.  I get asked for the recipe frequently enough.

I like achieving things. And even though I'm not all about being domestic (that sound you hear is my husband laughing his ass off at the very idea), I like having a signature foody thing that always wins people over.

I have a less family-friendly party staple, too, but I'll discuss that another day.  Let's just say people like that one, too.

So, good food, praise from people that matter, and a sense of accomplishment?  Yeah, that makes me happy.
Enhanced by Zemanta

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Friday, er, Sunday Review #8

Number9dream (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Sorry I missed this on Friday, but here we go.

Last weekend, my husband and I went bowling with friends. I bowled 100 for the first time. Yeah, I know, not a great bowler, but I'm pleased with it.

Monday we went to the hockey game, which was more stressful than it should have been, but still fun.  Tuesday I went to a knitting MeetUp and got a huge chunk of my throw rug done.

You saw this week that I was asked to guest post on my boss's blog, but also this week I was officially bumped from Temp to Perm, which is exciting.

I'm almost done with number9dream by David Mitchell.  I also got a bit further in The Origin of Satan by Elaine Pagels.

Then, this weekend, my husband and I went to dinner and a burlesque show with some friends.  It was interesting, but not really my thing.

So how's your week been?
Enhanced by Zemanta

Thursday, February 21, 2013 Reinventing Diversity is a Good Thing

Before I get started, I just want to remind you that my views are not necessarily my employers', and vice versa.

It's important to note this, because this week my employer asked me to guest-post on his blog:

Everything from hometowns to hobbies makes us unique, and informs our opinions, values, and budgets. Where I spend the dollar in my pocket, where you spend yours, and where an unknown customer spends hers are likely to be different places – and that’s good.

But if you spend all day, every day surround by people who are a lot like you, you’re not very likely going to know about those different places, or the people spending their dollars there.

So, check it out, wander around the site, and maybe watch a few of his videos -- I'm in one of those, too, but I'm not telling you which one :)
Enhanced by Zemanta

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Socializing and conflicted feelings

As an introvert, it's not that I have a problem being outgoing, exactly.  I just don't necessarily realize when being outgoing is called for.

It probably wouldn't occur to you to ask me out for drinks, if we were coworkers. I'm engrossed in my work, or, if it's downtime, my reading, whether online or off. I enjoy a nice conversation, but if I'm itching to get back to work and meet a deadline, I'm not always the best at hiding it.

So while I might seem nice enough (I hope!), I probably don't seem fun enough.

And in some ways, that's a relief. I would go if you asked me, assuming I didn't already have plans.  In fact, I would go every time.

Even if it started to feel like an obligation, a lengthening of my workday.

You probably think it's great, a chance to blow off steam and be social.

I also think it's a chance to be social. But not necessarily to unwind.

I know all this, I accept it, and on good days I even embrace it.

But it sure would be nice to be included.

How about you?  Are you a steam-blower or a quiet unwinder?
Enhanced by Zemanta

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

What makes you happy #2

The flying P has been the Flyers' primary logo...
The flying P has been the Flyers' primary logo since the beginning. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
So, prepping for Monday posts over the preceding weekend doesn't seem to work for me so well... but then again, neither did the Internet Sabbath experiment, so we might as well collapse the two failures together and start posting on Tuesdays instead of Mondays.  We'll see how that works.

Yesterday, Chris and I went to the Islanders-Flyers game.  I grew up in Philadelphia, he grew up on Long Island, our loyalties are pretty much what you'd expect.  Our household rule of sports is that each of us will root for the other's team... unless they play each other.*  Which, yesterday, they most certainly did.

I will concede that it was a terrible game.  I'm thrilled that we won, but no hockey game should end with a score of 7-0 (Yeah, I'm gonna brag about it, but it's still kinda sad).

But there's real joy in going to an away game and finding your people.

Not far away from where we were sitting, there were at least two separate groups of Flyers fans.  They were too far away to exchange high-fives, but we raised our beers to one another and smiled.

I've had this happen occasionally before; sometimes we get lucky with seats at Mets-Phillies games, too.

I'm not a sports fan as a rule, but sometimes it's nice to belong.

*Exceptions can be made if, for example, the Islanders losing would substantially increase the Flyers' playoff odds.
Enhanced by Zemanta

Friday, February 15, 2013

Friday Review #7

Cover of "The Origin of Satan"
Cover of The Origin of Satan
Well, this has been quite a week.

The weekend was nice enough. We took it easy on Friday, and Saturday we had friends over to watch a hockey game on TV.  Sunday was my writing workshop.

But since Monday, the week has just been stressful.  Nothing huge, just lots of little things wearing on me.

Feel like examining more closely?

I've been a bit better about going to the gym this week, but not much.  In addition, my husband and I agree to give up fried foods for Lent.  This will be harder for him than for me, I think, but it's still a good idea.

I finished the project for the swap I was doing, and went back to work on a throw rug I started.  I used to be part of "7 WiPs in 7 Days," but now that I'm employed, that doesn't really work for me anymore.

I finished both Quiet by Susan Cain and Un Lun Dun by China Mieville.  I started number9dream by David Mitchell for book club, as well as The Origin of Satan by Elaine Pagels, which was lent to me by one of my favorite bartenders. I know, right?

And I'm pissed at myself because one of the things wearing on me this week is that I spilled something on our couch, and in trying to remove the mark, just made the stain worse.  Even so, it's not that noticeable, but it's still wearing on me.  Sigh.

Things took a nicer turn on Thursday. I was planning to come home and make a nice dinner for my husband for Valentine's day -- only to find out he'd beaten me to it.  So nice.

So that's been my week.  How's yours?
Enhanced by Zemanta

Thursday, February 14, 2013

ProBlogger: Find Yourself … and Find Your Niche

Ricky Gervais at the 2007 BAFTAs
Ricky Gervais at the 2007 BAFTAs (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
In November of 2012, ProBlogger featured a guest post by Kid In The Front Row, about finding your niche.

The Kid started with an anecdote:
I once watched an interview with Ricky Gervais, where he talked about how a lot of people don’t like his stand up comedy. He said he didn’t care. All he needs is 5,000 people in each town to fill a theater, and then he’s set. Whether the rest of the population like him or not is irrelevant.
It’s the same with your blog.
The best way to find your niche in blogging, s/he reasons, is to write.  You'll find what you're passionate about as you do, and then become an expert in whatever that passion happens to be.

I like this approach.  The gradual, meandering, guess-and-check method might not be super-efficient, but it's low pressure and has the potential to be a lot of fun.

Check it out, and keep it in mind.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Being a Connector

Sometimes, I think it would be nice to be a Connector.

I would be the person who knows everyone, who would hear a problem or concern from one person and know exactly who to direct them to. Who would throw random parties and see completely different people get along.

I think I might be married to one.

I say this because we've thrown exactly one party. Who came? Some of his friends from high school. Some of his friends from law school. A handful of his work friends.  And the members of our book club, which I joined first but he fit into nicely.

People got along great. But, not unlike at our wedding, believe it or not, it was almost like you could have eliminated me from the equation and had an almost identical event.

(You think I'm kidding?  According to our friends, the most memorable parts of our wedding were the band, the food, and the other guests. The band was his doing, the food was his priority, and literally 95% of the guests were from his side.)

But yeah, people got along great, and in some unexpected combinations. We were both really pleased with the results.  Connection happened... just maybe not because of me, so much.

There's  the reality of introversion: I may know two people who could contact each other and benefit from it... but first I have to cold call them and convince them. And that's just... ugh. I can do it.  I should do it. But I really don't want to do it.

I think being a Connector isn't really for me. But being close to one, or to a few, well, that's something I can work with.

Who are your Connectors? Are you one?  Is being extroverted necessary, or have you mastered the art of Introverted Connecting?

Updated 10/8/13 to fix typos.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Friday, February 8, 2013

Friday Review #6

Sushi (Photo credit: Plonq)
Ugh, it's nasty out there.

Yeah, I know, snow is just part of winter in New York.  The price of living in a warmer climate would be earthquakes, or tornadoes, or hurricanes...

Yeah, for a half a second there, I was thinking, "We've gotten all of those in the last couple years, so why am I putting up with snow, too?" But we don't get those things regularly, and with the exception of Hurricane Sandy, we don't get them as badly as everyone else.  There's always trade-offs.

So let's look at the past week.

Last weekend was pretty low-key. We ran some errands and had lunch with my in-laws, and attended a Super Bowl party, which was fun.  I made cosmopolitan jelly shots, and dyed half of them bright red for the 49ers, the other half purple for the Ravens. Unsurprisingly, people were surprised that they were not, in fact, "cherry" and "grape".

Yeah.  I don't do fake cherry and fake grape.

Some interesting stuff happened at work, but I don't want to discuss it until it's more set in stone, so expect a followup on that next week.

I've been terrible about going to the gym this week, and the snow does not make me feel optimistic about catching up on the weekend.

The knitting project I'm working on for my swap on ravelry is almost done; I hope to have it ready to ship by Monday.

In the absence of my copy of John Adams, I read Quiet by Susan Cain.  I'm done that except for the end-notes (yes, I read the end-notes), and I've started Un Lun Dun by China Mieville.

Even though I have a few months to go, I have been pondering -- at the request of my husband and parents, as well as in commiseration with several friends of roughly the same age -- what I'm going to do about my birthday.  It's the kind of thing I overthink (shocker!). If I say "Let's get sushi for my birthday!" I don't know if your reaction is "Yay! Laura!" or "Yay! Sushi!"

Unless you hate sushi.  But I don't have a ton of friends who fall under that category.

I think that's about it for this week. What have you been up to?

Enhanced by Zemanta

Thursday, February 7, 2013

The Simple Dollar: Figuring Out What’s Really Important (As a Foundation for Your Decisions)

Old Maid card game
Old Maid card game (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
And this week has been another great reminder about why it's so important to get ahead of myself on posts! Sorry about the quiet period.

So, in February of 2012, Trent at The Simple Dollar talks about the importance of figuring out what is most important to you, and then dedicating your time, effort, and money to that, letting go of the unimportant things. One example he gives is his love of board games, noting:
Yet, when I dig deep into it, it’s not really about the games. I do enjoy them, don’t get me wrong, but what I love about them is that it gets people I care about around a table engaging in a shared experience. 

If you asked me what my favorite memories of board gaming are, they revolve around people. I think of playing Old Maid with my children. I think of playing Risk Legacy with my wife and three of my closest friends in the world. I think of sitting in my friend John’s living room, playing Descent with him and another of my closest friends.
While he doesn't get into it here, elsewhere in the blog he notes that he's trying to cut back on buying new games, and instead focus on maximizing the enjoyment he gets from the games he has -- by playing them with the people he loves.

It's tough to figure out exactly what is more important in life. I could give a rough estimate, but an actual hierarchy?  I'd need to do a lot of soul-searching.  And it sounds like I should.

What's most important in your life? How does your lifestyle reflect that?

Enhanced by Zemanta

Monday, February 4, 2013

What makes you happy? #1

New Jersey Turnpike, southbound, near Exit 9.
New Jersey Turnpike, southbound, near Exit 9. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
So it seems like whether or not I can get the Monday read-alongs posted in a timely manner has a lot to do with how busy I am the weekend before.  So I decided to start a new feature that can fill in on weeks when I just can't sit down with the book in time to discuss it the way it deserves.

So it seems that part of finding your passion and your place in the world is knowing what makes you happy.  And really, it's just a nice exercise, like counting your blessings.

When my husband and I went away for the weekend[link to Friday #5], we had a long drive in the snow ahead of us.  Fortunately, between the New York market, the Philadelphia market, and just general New Jersey stations, we virtually never lost radio reception.  And as we rode down the Jersey Turnpike, we happened upon a station that plays ten songs in a row with no commercials.  We came in near the beginning of one of these ten-song sets, and every song we heard was really good.  I couldn't tell you what station it was, and while I know we found it again on the way home, the selection wasn't as good.

But for the better part of an hour, we were able to belt along with a mix of songs we hadn't heard in ages. And it just made me happy.

What makes you happy? Tell me a story in the comments.
Enhanced by Zemanta

Friday, February 1, 2013

Friday Review #5

English: Cape May, New Jersey Library
English: Cape May, New Jersey Library (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
So let's look at the week that was.

My husband and I went to Cape May last weekend to celebrate the tenth anniversary of when we started dating.  It was cold, but really fun.

Wednesday we had dinner with end my husband's "work husband." (He insists the guy is his "work wife"; I point out that it's 2013 in New York, so having a same-sex "work marriage" is totally legitimate)

Sunday I had my writing workshop.  The piece I submitted needs a lot of work, but considering it's last year's NaNoWriMo attempt, that's not really a surprise.

I finished To Your Scattered Bodies Go, our book club pick, and made a lot of headway on John Adams... right up until I left the book on the train this morning.

Wow, it really has been a quiet week, hasn't it.  Well, there's a lot to be said for that.

How was your week?

Enhanced by Zemanta