My 12 New Things

Saturday, April 2, 2011

How Embarassing

Has it really been nearly 3 months since I've posted anything? How embarassing! I'm pretty sure I've violated some sort of blogging law with this infraction. Please accept my sincerest apologies.

I have a few projects in the works and will share soon!

So, what's new with you? :)

Thursday, January 13, 2011

How Gwyneth Paltrow Keeps It All Together

Ella and I when she was 2 weeks old

I ran across a website today of some not-so-regular moms talking about regular things- trying to fit life into the 24 hours a day that we have. I know as parents we all have some similar issues in trying to balance real life with everything else that demands our time. I struggled substantially the first year of my daughter's life- every journal entry of mine that year started with, "I just don't know how people do this." I'm always looking for tips on how to fit in time to take care of myself and pursue my passions, in addition to being a mom, wife, employee, daughter, friend, sister, and so forth. 

Check out this website to see how Gwyneth Paltrow, Stella McCartney and venture capitalist Juliet de Baubigney keep it all together with surprisingly down to earth tips:

Ella- May 5, 2008

Friday, December 17, 2010

Obama, Sex Tape, Twitter, Oh My!

If you follow my blog or have ever met me or my family, you'll already know that we're not a scandalous group. I'm pretty conservative. My parents are uber conservative. We're all good Christian folk.

Yet, my dad suggested I make a sex tape with President Obama. Sort of.

Let me explain this sordid suggestion. One night on the phone with my dad (my trusted advisor and a key strategist in my life), I was lamenting that it's hard to keep up the day job, figure out who I want to be when I grow up, handle normal daily life like making sure we have groceries in the refrigerator and that my kid has clean socks, on top of trying to pursue writing projects. I have a dream of being a fancy writer someday, with actual published work.

While my dad empathized with my struggle he told me that sometimes you have to just make time for it all if it's something you really want to do. My parents are the hardest working people I know, usually juggling multiple ventures at the same time and burning the candle at both ends to get it all done. As a freelance author for several magazines, my dad went on to say, "You know, sometimes it doesn't hurt to make a name for yourself." 

My dad went on to reference a controversial post-WWII article he had read years ago in which the writer made a bold statement that the men were coming home from the war to ugly women and that these women should be more appreciative of what their men had just gone through by trying harder on their appearance(s). (I'm paraphrasing). This bold article caused quite a stir, but the writer went on to have a successful career as he'd created a following with his attention-grabbing (albeit incredibly rude) headline.

When it comes to my parents, I like a little shock value every now and then just for giggles. So, thinking of all the starlets that have become instant brands with the ability to peddle oodles of merchandise, I said, "Are you telling me I need to release a sex tape to gain some publicity for my writing, Dad?" I expected him to say something to the effect of that not being a very Christian thing to do and that I need to not be so crass.

"Well," my dad calmly assessed, "it would have to be with Obama or somebody of that level to really make headlines." After I picked my jaw off the floor, I laughed uncontrollably for a good two minutes.

This conversation happened weeks ago and I have told virtually every one of my friends this story who have all concurred that it was an ironically hysterical topic to have discussed at all, but I wavered back and forth as to whether I should post it on my blog. What if my boss or a potential employer someday stumbles across this and reads about my Christian devotional book in one post and discussion of an Obama sex tape in the next?

Surely that would come back to impact me negatively. At the very least I may come off as an imbalanced or confused individual. That, and obviously creating controversy just for attention is rather cheap and not something I would advocate for. I have my morals and all, you know.

Then, today I discovered something shocking and decided I'd just throw caution to the wind and put it all out there for fun.

President Obama follows me on Twitter. You read that right. Forty-Fourth President of the United States Barack Obama (or to be technical in Twitter-speak @BarackObama) follows ME on Twitter.

Granted, he is (or more likely his staff are) following 707,803 other people too. BUT... he has 6,117,797 followers, i.e. he's not following everybody. I think that might mean I'm cool. Cool enough to follow on Twitter. By the way, you should follow me on Twitter- @ShannahG....

Upon realizing that all of my tweets are listed on the Presidential Twitter page, I instantly became giddy with my new political influence and began thinking of all of the fun things I could send my pal Barack ("President Obama" seems so formal now that I know we're Twitter friends) via Direct Message, a privilege reserved only for those who follow and are followed alike by someone on Twitter.

(For those of you that aren't familiar with Twitter, it can be one-way communication when you follow someone you don't know, such as celebrities and other public figures. For example, I follow Ashton Kutcher. I can see everything he posts, but what I post doesn't show up on his feed because he doesn't follow me. I also don't have access to send Ashton a Direct Message since he doesn't follow me. You follow?)

Shortly after making this monumental (and life changing, I'm sure) discovery, some coworkers took me to lunch for an early birthday celebration (the big 3-0 takes effect tomorrow. Eek). When they told me they were picking up the check, I feigned discomfort, explaining, "I feel bad letting you do that now that I have political influence." In the car on the way to the restaurant, a coworker's cell phone rang. I asked if the person on the phone had been informed yet of my political influence. In the bathroom right before lunch, I informed another coworker that I would need to start thinking of others more now that I have political influence.

I promise I won't mention my political influence for at least another few hours or so.

I called my dad a little while ago to ask if he would disown me if I link him to a blog posting with "Obama Sex Tape." He didn't answer the phone, so I guess it's consent by default.

If you're a future potential employer, please know that I'm not deranged. I don't secretly want to make a sex tape with President Obama and I am a perfectly intelligent and balanced individual.

Mrs. Obama, if you're manning the Twitter account tonight and see this, please forgive me. I have an unnamed disorder that makes me sometimes think I'm funny when I'm not. This is especially true if you don't think this is funny. If you do think this is funny, I take back the disorder claim and take full ownership.

*Note- Upon further investigation it doesn't seem as though there is actual criteria that must be met in order to make you eligible for @BarackObama to follow you on Twitter. 

Some user names and self proclaimed descriptions of the other 707,803: 
Tootie 1955 Mental retardation professional, happily married to the love of my life, lover, grandmother of 4 and mom to 1 min. wiener dog. 
Steve_Bebe Always bored
UnderOathAngel bipolar hippie
Zac420 likes to smoke

Sunday, December 5, 2010

New Thing #12- November 2010- Just Be

I am not bendy. I haven't won awards in the coordination and balance department. 

This month I decided I should take up yoga. I've not had too much experience with this, though I did try a DVD once at home several years ago and somehow managed to mess up my shoulder for a few days. Groupon had a great deal on yoga classes recently, so I thought it would be a good November New Thing. (Yes, I know it's December. Cut me some slack). If you're just tuning in, this year I have vowed to do one new thing a month to get me out of my comfort zone and remember to actually do interesting things with my life. Read the beginning of my story here- My 12 New Things. 

I hadn't put a lot of thought into my impending yoga experience and I didn't even consult Wikipedia on the topic before leaving my house this morning, which is what I usually do. My game plan was to sit in the back row and muddle my way through the Yoga 101 class and then decide later if I wanted to do more than one class. 

I absolutely loved it. But, not at first. 

I walked in slightly late and the studio was warm, dark and lit up with candles and low, relaxing music was playing. I could have sworn I was in the womb, it was so cozy.  I rolled out my mat and sat the way I saw others sitting. 

I instantly questioned my pants and underwear choice. The yoga studio's website suggested loose but not baggy pants. I thought I had made an appropriate choice- what I was wearing were called yoga pants after all. But as I sat and then followed the instructor into various poses, all I could think about was if my crack was showing. Then, as we moved from the child's pose to the downward dog I wondered if my thong was showing. Next I contemplated if it was better to show crack or thong. I was still pondering this when new thoughts interrupted my crack/ thong thoughts, "Holy crap.... this is kind of hard." 

I always wondered how yoga fit into a fitness routine, but now I see how the poses really strengthen your body and am still sore to prove it. My instructor was a beautiful brunette named Ruthanne who had the body and grace of a dancer. During one particularly difficult pose, she came over and showed me where to put my arms and legs, kindly saying, "You're in kind of a complicated game of Twister, aren't you?! Sorry!" She was apologizing to ME because I wasn't coordinated enough to figure out what it was she was telling me to do. Where was the humiliation I was expecting that had been so prominent during my skiing and ice skating experiences?! I instantly fell in love with Ruthanne the yoga instructor. 

Throughout the 90 minute class Ruthanne softly quoted mantras such as, "Just be" and "Whatever is causing you tension right now- acknowledge it and let it go." At the end of the class, she led us in a relaxation exercise. I swear it was like being tucked in for naptime at pre-school. We were laying on our backs, focusing on clearing our minds, palms up with lavender satchels over our eyes. Ruthanne even laid blankets over each of us. It was heavenly. 

I left my yoga class feeling like I could, in fact, "just be." I seem to always be focusing on accomplishing, achieving, doing, or charting out my plan for the future. When I'm not focusing on those things, I'm focusing on who I'm not, what I'm not good at and who I'd like to be. On the way to my yoga class this morning, I was even thinking of an alter ego of myself, what she would be like and how she could help give me inspiration. This was probably because of the movie I watched last night. The nerdy boy in Youth in Revolt had a flashy, irreverent bad-boy alter ego  named Francois who helped him be his inner bada$$.Granted, he landed in juvie for it, but nonetheless it helped him accomplish his goals. Even Beyonce has an alter ego named Sasha Fierce. (I think this is funny because some people probably fantasize their alter egos as Beyonce or maybe since what they're seeing is Beyonce's alter ego, their alter ego is actually her alter ego...). 

Back to me. 

My alter ego would be Chantel- the name I had chosen to go by in my high school French class. (We all had to choose names, I didn't just randomly insist on being called Chantel.). 

Chantel would be irreverent as all alter egos are. She would be naturally and effortlessly thin but with the discipline to be a marathon-running vegan. Chantel would be witty and intellectual with perfect poise and spend her weekends hang gliding, flying her helicopter, and feeding the homeless. All things in Chantel's house would be in perfect order and her child(ren) would always be well groomed, precocious and polite. Chantel would conscientiously buy the most thoughtful gifts and actually get them to the recipients well before the date of whatever celebration was in order. Her house would always be clean and without a single thing out of place. Chantel would have it all together, but she wouldn't concern herself with what others thought about her perfection. 

I thought through all of this on my drive to my yoga class, thinking that having some sort of fantasy avatar would help me focus on actually becoming that person. During my yoga class, though, I decided to give the idea of "Just be" a whirl. It is incredibly exhausting to continuously think about how I could be better, always be in control and fix all problems around me. I decided today that I don't have to. 

Earlier this week I read something that further affirms this for me. I was given a daily devotional book called Jesus Calling by Sarah Young. I found this to be very helpful because when I pray (sporadically, as you might guess, with an increased frequency when I'm struggling), I tend to pray in strategy and ask for step by step things to work out in a certain way by certain dates. You've probably already guessed that this isn't generally effective.

The Jesus Calling devotional for November 30 says:

Problems are a part of life. They are inescapable, woven into the very fabric of this fallen world. You tend to go into problem solving mode all too readily, acting as if you have the capacity to fix everything. This is a habitual response, so automatic that it bypasses your conscious thinking. Not only does this habit frustrate you, it also distances you from me.

Do not let fixing things be your top priority. You are ever so limited in your capacity to correct all that is wrong in the world around you. Don’t weigh yourself down with the responsibilities that are not your own. Instead, make your relationship with Me your primary concern. Talk with Me about whatever is on your mind, seeking My perspective on the situation. Rather than trying to fix everything that comes to your attention, ask Me to show you what is truly important. Remember that you are en route to heaven, and let your problems fade in the Light of eternity. 
Psalm 32:8, Luke 10:41-42, Philippians 3:20-21

Given that passage and my yoga experience, I am going to give myself permission to "just be." I'm learning that I can only do what is within my control and even some things within my control aren't going to go as planned. I need to be okay with that and I will be. 

I'm also looking forward to my next 5 yoga classes. My Groupon was for 5 classes and when I got there, the chick told me the first class is always free. Holla! 

Friday, December 3, 2010

Misfortune Cookies

It's been one of those days, so when I got home it seemed like a good idea to binge on fortune cookies leftover from the last time we ordered Chinese food.

Here are my fortunes, with my editorial comments in italics:

  • Your qualities overshadow your weaknesses. I had been worried about that. 
  • Your hard work is about to pay off. Bring it. 
  • You will make a change for the better within the year. By the end of THIS year? As in a few weeks from now? Holla!  
  • An unexpected visitor will bring you good blessings. Let me know when you're coming and I'll have refreshments ready. 
Because I wanted to know if there are ever negative sayings in fortune cookies, I googled it and came up with these "misfortunes:"
  • The words "watoo-owan-koha" will bring bad luck and premature death to all who read them. 
  • You regard free speech not as a right, but a never-ending obligation.
  • You have a big future in food service. 
  • Act natural. Don't turn around. 
  • If you live a long life, it will be a remarkable testament to your friends' and relatives' self control. 

Thursday, December 2, 2010

November New Thing Coming Up

I'm a little behind on my November New Thing. It will take place at 9:00am on Saturday morning and I'm hoping I don't hurt myself. That seems to be a common theme of mine...

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Who do you think you are?

A friend bought me the book, "The Truth About You" by Marcus Buckingham. It comes with a little notepad that you fill in things that you love doing and things that you loathe doing on a day-to-day basis. The idea is that you will become more aware of who you are, what your strengths and interests are and can become better at applying those things in your life if you're aware of them. 

Tonight my friend and I shared what we had in our memo pads. Just for giggles, here's some of what I had down... 

 I felt strong when: 
  • I put my thoughts together and connected a few ideas from my perspective on life for my blog. I love to write and see all my thoughts come together. 
  • I was involved in a meeting in which I was able to provide focus and direction for the conversation to end with follow up steps of who's doing what by when. 
  • I worked with a direct report on creating strategy and an action plan for an idea. We were able to work together to prioritize the action steps and move forward proactively at the end of the conversation. 
  • I led my department meeting and was able to offer solutions and/or give feedback on issues and relate it/ prioritize it back to overall organizational strategy. 
  • I negotiated terms of the publication of a book we commissioned- discussed the concept, the audience, the strategy in which to approach the project and determined next steps. 
General interests and tendencies: 
I like to be alone with my thoughts and thoroughly analyze whatever it is I'm thinking about. I like to come to a conclusion of whatever it is that I'm pondering and can get lost inside my own head for hours. I also like to be alone with a book. I enjoy being with people that I'm close to or really comfortable with. I don't like being around people all the time- I feel like I'm sacrificing something. I recharge myself with quiet time. 

I like to see (and make) things happen. I like forward movement at all times. If I don't have a focused goal on where I'm going in my life, I get into a deep funk. 

I like a finished project/ product or otherwise have a tangible sense of forward movement. I like accomplishment. 

I like to think about the big picture and strategize all angles involving the big picture. I don't like to get into granular details. I prefer others do that. 

I love to learn. I love to read, primarily nonfiction but enjoy some escapism in a novel (chick lit sometimes). I'm infatuated with libraries and anxiously want to read every book on the shelves. I want to just absorb all of the knowledge that the pages contain. I love the democracy of knowledge in this way. Regardless of how much money I do or don't have, I can become knowledgeable on any given subject. 

I like to travel and am exhilarated and in awe of the world. I love maps and studying them in the most minute detail, thinking about the things that happen on that dot on the map, who the people are and what they're like. I don't always get around to traveling, though as I tend to be a little reserved/ conservative and rarely actually get around to it. I think it mostly has to do with my frugal nature. I am pretty utilitarian in most aspects of my life.

I like to see a return on my investment of things that I put my time into. I think this is why I hate cleaning the house and preparing meals- I don't like cyclical tasks. 

Here are a few tools that I've found to be really helpful in determining my strengths and what/ how I should spend my time: 
The idea is that by spending most of your time in activities that make you feel strong, you'll excel even more in all aspects of your life. 

So, who are you? What do you like to spend your time doing? 

What are your strengths and how are you going to use them? 

Are you, today, the person you want to be?