The Little Things

November 18, 2009 1 comment

Every day, something annoying or frustrating can happen. We can forget something we really needed to remember, or we can continuously remember something we would love to forget. Either, way, challenges and obstacles are always in the way. It has been my experience throughout my twenties that the small, insignificant things are what make or break my day.

Today, for instance, I decided that in order to make my day slightly more bright (considering I am fighting a cold), I would bring in my laptop and use it instead. I am a beloved mac owner, and using my laptop is definitely easier for a lot of things. Plus the frustration doesn’t have to build – Office Space Style – while I wait for things to load.

Because of this little conciliation, I was forced to reroute my email, and can’t quite get the fundraising database to work on here (anyone out there good at this??), BUT it makes me smile more.

There is more fun noise when I type and I feel more like I am working and I am not just waiting for someone to give me something to do.

Either way, it got me thinking about those little things – and how much they can make or break us. Lately, as I read more and more blogs from really awesome people, capturing pieces of their lives, I wonder what makes them so special.  We like to read about other people cooking, cleaning, working, writing, dreaming.

All the while we are captivated – by the very same little things that matter to us, and reaching a common goal: to appreciate those things for what they are.

Today, my little thing was the mac. Tomorrow, maybe it will be my chai, or some other random Starbucks funny story – of which I have many. Maybe it will even be an amazing blog comment – hint, hint!

I hope all of the little things in your day are bringing you a smile too.

Categories: Uncategorized

Are You There God? It’s Me, Blog.

November 16, 2009 6 comments

Are we all alone? Blogging has been great for me. It has opened my eyes to new things to read online, new communities to join, and ultimately, new ideas that are growing inside my mind about lots of different things – and the dedication that it takes to share these things with the world.

The only problem I have found with blogging so far, is that I have the distinct feeling that I am sometimes (not always, thanks commentators!) talking to nobody. I am out in the abyss of blogging, where many float but few take root.

That may sound a little bit dramatic, but it is what makes blogging challenging. Everyone can have a blog (everyone with internet access and a little bit of time), but everyone doesn’t keep it up. In my career, the total number of blogs started has been five, including this one.

I had one just about Yoga, one about people who help the world, one about sustaining Africa, and one about how I didn’t really know how to use a blog. None of them lasted for longer than a month, tops.

I think this had a lot to do with the fact that I was only discussing them with my husband. As thrilling as that is, I was really interested in these so-called “other readers” that exist out there in cyberspace. There were supposed to be millions, right? I hadn’t attracted so much as three.

Now, with my relatively recent involvement in Brazen Careerist, I have discovered that many people blog without expecting much of an audience – and the reverse also happens. We blog not wanting an audience, and then sometimes get one. The internet is so funny this way.

Ultimately, what I have learned from Brazen is the fact that marketing is a huge part of blogging as a serious entity. If you blog about the adventures of cat, dog, and kids, maybe marketing doesn’t need to be in your plans. But if you are like me, and you want to hear other people’s view on a variety of topics – and hopefully succeed in helping people in the world, an audience is crucial.

I am thankful that for the most part, I feel content with whatever audience life brings me that day. Yes, there are those times when I look at the WordPress.com stats, and feel sad that no one really knew what I had to say on that afternoon, but I keep trying.

Learning about the process requires a lot of shouts into the dark, but the most can be learned, I think, when you study your own voice.

Categories: Uncategorized

Nursery University

November 13, 2009 1 comment

My oh my, and I thought New York City couldn’t get any more hilariously crazy. New York is my favorite place in the world. But it has some of the most incredible income stratification in the world.

In case you want to see exactly what I mean, check out the documentary Nursery University, where we are taken into the world of the elite of the elite in the quest for the perfect…nursery school. The movie chronicles the aspects of the search for schools that are the “feeder schools” for the elite intermediate and high schools. This can ultimately lead a child to….

THE IVY LEAGUE.

Well New York, you have pretty much made me nauseated. I usually have a fairly laid back approach to the wealth that exists among the poverty, because that is what makes the city interesting in some ways. But the idea behind the effects of competition, and those that are ultimately squeezed out of a 2-3 year old’s playtime at school, was a lot for me to take.

My experience was interesting. I don’t remember my entry to pre-school, but I do remember my interview for kindergarten. Yes, interview. My mother was working full-time and needed a full-time kindergarten, and my grandfather wanted me to go to Jewish private school. So I wound up at an interview at the top Jewish school in the country, reading the teacher “If You Give A Mouse A Cookie.”

I don’t think I realized my school was different until I started hanging out with the kids at home – and realized that they were meeting so many more different people than me. Today, I can’t really imagine being surrounded by people who are all the same. I am in an interfaith, international, intercultural relationship that gives me the opportunity to even more fully explore the differences in the world around me.

New York is one of those really funny places where the same things about it that make it awesome are the same thing that make it the symbol for corporate greed, a society out of touch with reality, and the ways in which the rest of the world lives.

I can’t really be surprised that there are families that pay $50,000/year for pre-school. I lived and worked among them, and I even babysat some of those kids to pay my rent.

Ultimately, these kids will either wind up completely jaded – or they won’t. The majority of the kids I went to school with for 13 years at my school have turned out accepting, active in making the world a better place, and trying to move beyond the walls that held them for so long with the same people.

Will I make these types of crazy decisions as a parent? Not the $50,000 ones. But if given that shot, would I take it?

New York never ceases to surprise me – and make me thoroughly confused.

Categories: Uncategorized

The Age of Stupid?

November 13, 2009 3 comments

The Age of StupidI don’t always consider myself the most prudent environmentalist. I sometimes throw things out and don’t recycle them – and I definitely still use anti-bacterial hand gel even though I know it is full of chemicals. Swine flu is serious, people!

The thing I do know is that every day I am conscious of our planet and the issues it faces. This has to do, yes, with the fact that I work at an environmental nonprofit. But it also has to do with the fact that I seek this information out. I want to know how bad things are, and how I can fix them.

In the spring, I took a course at NYU with my husband called The Global Natural Resource Crisis. An older man taught it – who had made a ton of money the bad way – the oil way. He reached retirement, and realize that he had been ignoring the perils of his work for a long time. He retrofitted his house in Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey to be “green” and has taught this class for the last 5 years.

In it, he taught us a lot about peak oil, and statistics and where to find them, but mostly he allowed us to fight with each other. There were always those 2 people that took the class in order to just argue with us climate change believers and see where they got. Usually they got nowhere. This was a liberal class in Greenwich Village, New York.

Since then, many books have gotten more and more popular on this issue, and a variety of shows, movies, and even entire channels have been devoted to sustainability. As we approach the December climate talks in Copenhagen, I have been thinking if these people are talking – or if they are just reality show actors.

Last night we watched a movie called The Age of Stupid. The Times review has a lot of interesting things to say about the film, which shows an archivist going through video footage in 2055 of our current life, and the things happening to the planet – and essentially, how we ignored them. He has thus dubbed this time an “Age of Stupid” because we saw so many things happening, and it took 40 more years of turmoil before the planet finally acknowledged the inherent risk.

I actually really liked the film, but the review brings up some interesting points. Mainly, it brings up the idea that if we are bombarded with depressing information (no clean water in Africa where Shell pumps oil, glaciers melting in the Alps, a commercial airline in India primed to spread even more fossil fuel across an exploding population) we may not do anything. We may be paralyzed by this depression, and feel it is too late.

I definitely feel that way sometimes. The world’s problems are too big and I am too small. But instead I actually found the movie one of the most effective films I have seen thus far about the issue. This is mainly because it was documentary – with a little bit of flair that movies can give a problem.

We can all decide to freak out, or we can do something – we can act.

Categories: Environment, World Issues

Lending A Hand.

November 12, 2009 1 comment

Today I read an article forwarded to me by my husband in The Washington Post. I am normally not a Post reader, but this article in particular was begging for me to discuss it. Essentially, the article states that the Catholic Church is threatening to take away its social service contracts if DC passes a law to prevent organizations from discriminating against gay men and women. This doesn’t mean, the article points out, that the religious organizations have to allow weddings to be held in their buildings, BUT it does mean that they cannot enforce discriminatory practices over charity work.

Now, I was in this discussion recently with many other readers of Matt Cheuvront’s blog Life Without Pants, when he posted about the recent passing of anti-gay marriage legislation in Maine. I am a full supporter of gay marriage, and I know that can be a controversial viewpoint. But really, I was utterly shocked at this piece of local news.

I haven’t officially changed my New York license, but I am a DC resident, and to see this become such a divisive issue over homeless shelters and AIDS clinics has really made me ashamed. The article discusses Catholic Charities, whose $10 million dollars of funding for programs directly impacts over 70,000 people.

As a nonprofit fundraiser, I know the value of $10 million dollars in aid money. It is priceless. In this economy, charities are suffering because of a lack of funding.

Many may think I am completely wrong to pass judgment on these organizations – and you may be right. Charities, regardless of their religious affiliations, have their agendas. I know this first hand, and maybe even perpetuate it each day. It is part and parcel to competing with the companies that have the dollars and a great deal of the power. Are we as constituents and concerned citizens able to demand that our nonprofits and our charities be as ethical as our corporations?

To a certain extent, yes. We have the 501c3 tax status in the U.S. that gives nonprofits certain privileges as a result of doing good for the community. What if that good has somehow been lost because of a particular belief?

I am thoroughly interested in the discussion, and would love to hear more thoughts.

On a personal level, though, I urge the DC City Council to pass the anti-discrimination legislation.

Categories: Uncategorized

Laziness. The Devil’s Quality?

November 11, 2009 Leave a comment

Devil DepictionToday I woke up thinking about a few things. One, the fact that I believe I have a stress fracture in my foot from the half marathon (BUMMER 2009). Two, I thought about laziness. Mostly the fact that I find it almost nauseating when someone is lazy.

I’m not sure why this is – except for the fact that I come from a typical New York family. Go, Go, Go every second to accomplish the next thing. It is probably also not the healthy way to be. Luckily, I am trying to convert myself into a combination of the two.

One thing about laziness in personal life, is that it affects the precious few that are surrounding themselves with you by choice (or at least by family ties.) The thing about laziness in your work world is that it affects others. It mostly affects us that are closer to the bottom. We are used to picking up the slack for those up above that are busy with other things, but what happens when there really are no “other things” that these bosses are doing?
What happens when they are just choosing to not do their share?

This is always a problem, especially in companies where those at the top are confident in their staying power, and the ability of their staff to do the job for them. Is this good for our skills but bad for morale?

I have always been the type of person that strives to do my best for reasons that are not usually justified. No one is going to reward me all the time, but I just feel like my best is what has to be done. I think this is really a quality found a lot in Generation Y – we love to do our best.

There are probably complex societal reasons for all of this, but what matters most is that it exists. The need to do better is what will make the difference in a difficult economy, and ultimately, in the many various fields in which Gen Y finds itself.

Us perfectionists will get the job done.

Categories: Uncategorized

Patience is a Virtue. Even in the Workplace.

November 10, 2009 2 comments

In every job that we take on – both professionally and personally – there is a bit of a learning curve. There is a time where we struggle, where we feel awkward, and where we could really just give up entirely. Gradually, if we stick with it, we learn and it becomes more comfortable than it was before.

Usually, this requires the patience of others to wait while you learn. The boss has to give you some time to get adjusted. The friend has to understand if you need time for your new relationship.

Nowadays, we have all been faced with the unfortunate reality that the only real thing we can control is the stuff between our ears. Our brains. Our careers are not fixed, our degrees are not as well-counted, and our experience is constantly shifting. Our resumes are not determined by what we are doing in life, but by what we are questing for – if that is even a term.

The reason I thought of this is because of the amount of people I see who have such a burning desire to help in the nonprofit world, but who are relegated to administrative, nonsensical tasks for eternity. They lose that drive, and perhaps even turn to another sector because of this idea.

There is no one there telling them that they are worth the wait. It will take time for them to adjust in their duties with a higher degree of responsibility, but why shouldn’t someone give them a shot?

Doesn’t passion matter?

In today’s world, it is hard to hold on to what you believe, and even harder to find those with patience to hold onto it with you. That is why in my life, the people I value the most are those that allow me the time to make mistakes, to try things out, and to recognize my flaws – both at work and at home.

If there were one message I could deliver to the nonprofit sector “Gods”, whoever they may be, it would be this:

Don’t walk around with blinders. There are tons of inspired, visionary young people who are waiting for their chance to change the world. We would all be better off if you let them.

Categories: Career, Challenges