My Kind of Princess

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princessleia1This week has been a strange one for me. Some of the news I’ll share with you later in another post. For now, I have to find the words to talk about Carrie Fisher. My princess. My hero. My inspiration. Someone I had always hoped to meet. Her death has shook me in a way I never expected.

I am just one of a generation of women who had their outlook on the universe, and what being a princess means, when a young woman (with a somewhat unfortunate choice in hairstyle) grabbed a gun of one of the guys there to rescue her and saved them instead. tumblr_n1430cie4d1r09qfio5_r1_250We saw a woman who was as tough as nails, who didn’t take crap from anyone, was snarky and amazing. She didn’t use her looks to get ahead. She was as smart, or smarter, than the men around her. And, maybe best of all, the men accepted her for who she was and what she brought to the table – no one questioned her ability to lead because she was female. Princess Leia was the very definition of a badass in the best possible ways.

Up until then all the princesses we knew were rescued by a prince in shinning armor. They were bright, but not as bright as the men around them. They were pretty and important for what they could bring to the world as a wife and mother. They weren’t warriors. They weren’t heroes. They didn’t do the rescuing and they weren’t they weren’t leaders.

Princess Leia instantly became my hero. I wanted to be her in the worst way possible. I insisted on a homemade Halloween costume of long white silk and a black wig. My brother and cousin decided to do our own version of Star Wars and took my role as the princess very seriously. Princess Leia was, and is, my example of one of the best female characters ever to grace the big screen.

But it wasn’t just Leia, it was the actress behind her that made all the difference. Many other actresses could have played the part, but none of them could have combined the snark, the layers and the strength that Carrie Fisher did.

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For me, the admiration for Carrie Fisher didn’t stop with one character. She was a brilliant writer, and I studied her writing in both novel and scripts to try to gain some understanding of what made her writing so honest. Her dialogue was always so real, so funny, and so perfect it made me wish she could be in my head and feeding me smart and witty things to say.

I admired the way she talked about all the things she’d been through. She was so honest, and usually brutally so, about her addiction and her mental health. She did so much to help normalize the discussion of mental health care and overcoming addiction that it’s hard to imagine what the world would be like if she didn’t go there.

Most of us can’t imagine what her life was like from the very start. She was the daughter of America’s Sweethearts. She was watched and photographed from the day she was born. When her father left her mother for Elizabeth Taylor it made international news. She was only three years old and she in the media spot-light beside her mother. Her mother didn’t have the best eye for men and Carrie was there to help her get the family back up on their feet more than once. They fought, they didn’t speak, but they never really stopped loving each other. The difference between their story and most families was that they did it with the world watching.

When I heard that she was rushed to the hospital, my stomach dropped. When I heard she had passed I was stunned. She was a huge part of the world that captured my imagination in Star Wars. She changed the way I looked at writing. She wasn’t fearless, but she refused to let fear control her. I admired her in so many ways and it was a shock to the system to realize that one of my heroes was gone. I still want to be like her when I grow up.

Carrie Fisher, just like Princess Leia, was strong, she was brave, she was intelligent, she was witty, she was talented. Ms Fisher was a storyteller that made a difference on and off the screen. Something most of us could only hope to do.

Update: Waiting on Pins & Needles

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I’m sure at least one of my tens of readers has been waiting since I wrote my Waiting on Pins & Needles post to find out if my daughter was accepted to her top choice college. It took a little longer for us to get the letter than we thought it would, but we got it…She was accepted!

Girl finding out she was accepted to her first choice college

ACCEPTED!

My daughter is excited to become a President next fall! It’s a beautiful campus, an incredible school, and their Sociology Department is top notch. She’ll have opportunities that her dad and I could only dream of, which I think is one of the goals for a parent.

I know for most parents this is a time of mixed emotions. I’m not much different. I know she’s going to do great things. I know she’s going to be amazing. I know I’m going to miss her like crazy.

For now, I’m going to focus on today and dreams coming true.

Recommending Recommended

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I told you about the website Recommended  a short time ago. In this time of shopping and searching for great service, I thought it was to talk about it again. This free site is a cross between LinkedIn and Facebook for businesses and freelancers. Like other sites, Recommended lets people set up a page with information about their business or services and then get recommended by their customers. But it goes a little deeper than that, they’re working to fill a gap between social media and business in a way that no one else is.getrecommended1graph

Full disclosure, I first learned about Recommended, and its founder Aaron Lee, when I did a little freelance user experience testing for them. I was very impressed with what I learned about the site during the testing, so much so that I joined the site and have been sharing it with friends and business contacts. Let me tell you why.

Websites like LinkedIn and Facebook are great and have their place in marketing, public relations, recruiting and brand awareness. LinkedIn is a great place to find contacts, that is what it was made to do, but it doesn’t do much to really give small business and freelancers to show off their skills. Facebook is a great way to market, but it doesn’t necessarily give people a full picture of the services someone offers, and how their clients feel about them. It’s these things that Recommended does best.

Recommended allows users to market and make connections, but it’s more about what the business does. It also does recommendations better than I’ve seen anywhere else. As a consumer looking for a business or service, you get a user friendly website that allows you to dive past the hype and glitter of marketing and look more closely at what the business or freelancer does. You get the opportunity to read recommendations and leave them in a way that feels more honest and real than other sites. As a freelancer or business owner you get a site that looks clean and professional and lets you get your message out without the clutter and advertising that are all over other sites.homepage-illus-large-real_people

Since I first mentioned the site, they’ve added new functionality, and have even more in the works. One of the new additions to the site is “Work” – a portfolio like  option that allows the business or freelancer to showcase some of their best work. For example, a software developer could provide information for the kind of work they specialize in and pictures of what they’ve done. They haven’t finished perfecting the Work pages yes, they’ll be expanding it to accept different file types to allow someone (like a freelance writer) to add different kinds of examples. You can check out examples of Work at work

These are still early days for Recommended. They’re adding new functionality all the time. As I’ve told everyone I’ve discussed Recommended with, I think that this has the potential to be huge. It could be a real game changer for small businesses and freelancers by giving them more freedom and options than are currently available.

I recommend Recommended wholeheartedly. I encourage you to get in on the ground floor and be part of this effort before it explodes. Take a look around, I think you’ll be impressed.

Waiting on Pin and Needles

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As you, my dear ones of readers, know, I have a teenage daughter. We reached a new milestone this summer as we piled in the car to visit her top five colleges. My husband and I gave her advice on things to consider like the size of the student body, the community the school is located in, living on campus versus commuting and so on. She put a name to what she wanted to study, sociology, and we researched the best schools for it that met her other wants. The list narrowed further and she decided on the top two choices and applied.

Needless to say, things have been a little tense as we wait for the mail each day.

Teenager covers mouth in shock at being accepted to college.

1st college acceptance (from the 2nd choice).

She got a big envelope in the mail from her second choice a couple of weeks ago.She also received $11,500 in merit scholarship, which is really awesome considering it’s a private school and more expensive. She was so excited that she was accepted – she jumped up and down, she screamed, it was indescribable to watch.

Last weekend we took her back to her first choice for an interview, and then for an over night visit. We should know something in the next few days. We checked her admission portal page and there was a link to fill out the form saying she’ll be attending and to pay the non-refundable deposit. We’re kind of figuring they don’t usually put the link on the page for people they’re not accepting, but until we get that big envelope we’re being cautiously optimistic.

It’s nice to be on pins and needles for a good reason. In the last few months we’ve been anxious for a lot of reasons, and few of them could be considered good. My husband eventually got his long-term disability, and my unemployment resumed after a mix-up in paperwork…all good things we waited to hear about. But it’s not the same.

Getting a letter of acceptance in the next day or so will mean so much to all of us. It means that despite the crap show that our lives have been lately, something has gone right for us. It means that somehow my husband and I managed to raise a smart, amazing, beautiful kid even with all the setbacks we’ve had. It means that we’ve helped her dreams come true even with the odds against us.20161010_131814

Of course, there’s still the matter of paying for it. We’re working on that. Fortunately, there’s are a lot of options for a family struggling financially and trying send a child to a private school. That’s something for us to wait anxiously to hear about in the near future.

Today, we wait for the mail and a large envelope on pins and needles.

 

Never Came Sooner Than I Thought

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I’m not one for discussing politics on my blog – or anywhere else really. Not because I don’t have opinions or positions I can’t defend. It’s mostly because I’ve found many people I’ve tried to have mature discussion and debates with turn into toddlers with the fingers stuck in their ears screaming, “LA LA LA I CAN’T HEAR YOU!” within a few minutes. There are so many people who are unwilling to even listen to a different opinion that I save everyone the time, frustration (and sometimes embarrassment) and change the subject. That is till now.

Dot matrix picture of Hillary Clinton

Making history made me cry.

This post is less about politics and more about history actually. I’m not going to be telling you who I’m voting for, and why you should do the same. I’m going to talk about a moment in politics that impacted me more than I thought possible.

Not long ago I sat on my couch beside my daughter, just shy of her 18th birthday, and watched the first woman in US history accept the nomination for President by a major party. As I watched history unfold before my eyes, I cried.

I kept thinking back to when I was a little girl. I heard over and over and over  that a woman would never be President. That no woman would be smart enough or capable to even be nominated. I remember all the jokes, even from beloved family members, that women were too emotional and would start a nuclear war during “their time of the month.” I was told women were not strong enough to make tough calls and too dependent on men to make an important decision. I was confused and angry. On one hand I was being told I could be anything I wanted. On the other I was told over and over again that I could never be President. Not that I wanted to be, I just hated to be told I couldn’t.

As I grew-up I saw so many firsts for women. The first female astronaut. The first women becoming pilots in the military. The first female senior business executives, the first women senior officers, and high ranking government officials. The first female Supreme Court Justice. I remember how proud I was when Linda Weaver was appointed the Chief of Police in my hometown, making her the first female Police Chief in the state of Pennsylvania.

These are all amazing things and brought women closer to equality. But there has always been so far to go. Men still get paid more than women. Women in the workplace still have to work at least twice as hard as men. Every day is still a struggle with harassment and discrimination.

As I sat there and watched Hillary Clinton accept the Democratic Party’s nomination for President of the United States, all of these things played through in my head. I head the voices from through the years saying a woman could never be President. I cried because they were finally wrong. flag-1291945_1920

My daughters will never know the same struggles I did as a women (though I’m sure they will have their own). To them it’s common place to see women in the military, in the Chief Executive Officer’s chair at major corporations, and now as a Presidential Nominee who has an excellent chance of being the 45th President of the United States.

When my daughter asked why I was crying I could put it into words. All these weeks later I’m still not sure I can find the right words. I just looked at her and said, “She did it. We can finally be anything now.”