March 13, 2013

That's Not My Name

Two pet peeves, both related to names: being called "kiddo" or someone addressing me in an email as "Hollie." 

My college counselor in high school used to make fun of me for the Hollie thing all the time, but he knew how to spell my name so I didn't mind. But every so often someone will write "Hollie" and it always baffles me. That is definitely the less popular way to spell almost all the associated rhyming names: Polly, Molly, Dolly... Why the "ie"? especially if you are emailing my Cornell account and my name literally pops up when you type my Net ID in! 

The "kiddo" things started at summer camp and just drives me nuts. I find it really demeaning and dismissive. It makes me feel like the person calling me kiddo thinks I'm incapable or inconsequential. Which I am not! It gets under my skin like nothing else. A woman I work with now called me by the wrong name for a long time and now frequently calls me kiddo which makes me glare at her as she walks away (oops, not very professional of me) and dread her coming to talk to me. 

Moral of the story: learn people's names and be careful with generic nicknames! 

Rant over ;)

March 7, 2013

Ode to My Mama

This is an ode to my mother. Today I was looking through old photos for the perfect “Throwback Thursday” choice and stumbled upon photos from Vail Velocity Volleyball (in itself lots of good memories, but that’s for another time). For some reason, this made me acutely aware of something about my mother that I had always known subconsciously but had never really realized in it’s entirety: My mom never allows herself to be a victim of circumstance. She doesn’t let her situation dictate her fate. She taught me to do something if I am unsatisfied. Vie for a leadership position, seek an ally, create a new situation, make a change. Some examples: can’t find a good figure skating dress shop nearby? No problem, we’ll start our own! Feel like something is being handled poorly at school? Talk to the middle school director! Have qualms with the choices in volleyball clubs in the area? I’ll order jerseys, find a coach, and register a brand new team!

My mama is my (and my sister’s) biggest advocate. And it’s not even in just in the big ways mentioned above. She taught us to carry ourselves with confidence, hold people and ourselves accountable, and ultimately, be useful. I learned that dreams need not have limits from her. Perhaps it has something to do with her craftiness (as in crafts, not mischievousness!) that she is able to configure a solution she is happy with, not just take a canned or obvious one.

She is selfless and loving and determined. Qualities that make her a kick-ass mom and a kick-ass person. And now she is taking on yet another thing: her challenges with her weight. Emily & I are off at school and what does my mom do? Join a club and a weight-loss challenge in which she is not only participating but is ranked FIRST in her club!

My mama taught me the true meaning of “You go girl” and I could not be more grateful. Love you!

March 6, 2013

Tabs on Tabs on Tabs on Tabs

My family continuously mocks me for having an endless number of tabs open on my computer at any given time. Once, feeling particularly playful (or malicious, depending on if you asked me or them), my sister and dad closed half of my tabs arbitrarily. I actually cried. When they asked me why I was so upset, I couldn't figure out how to word my emotions, but it felt so wrong.

Today, I had an epiphany about why I felt that way. Computers are entrenched in our lives, mostly enriching them and giving us new tools to do great things. When computers were first envisioned, they were just a screen with words. The concept of "Windows" with multiple views was a groundbreaking one, and no none of us can imagine any other way of doing it. What made the Windows concept so game-changing was that it made computers more understandable and accessible to the non-nerd. It virtualized the physical world (why do you think it's called 'windows' and 'desktop'?!). But, the virtualizaiton was not entirely complete. In some way the abstraction is good, because it allows us to think beyond the confines of physical space that prevent us from using the full capabilities of our digital devices. However, there are places where the virtualization falls short - like in the concept of tabs.

If you think about it, bookmarks on our browsers are about the closest we get to real-life post-it notes, book marks, and organized piles to control our resources and information. Pinterest is on the right track of what I think we need more of - a way to keep track of things outside without acting on them immediately. I cannot be the only one who uses my inbox as a to-do list, leaving messages unread until I can address them (side note: can't wait to get provisioned for the Mailbox app!). This is the same idea as saving tabs. Unless I "bookmark" or favorite every page I hope to return to later or need a reminder to act on, I lose it semi-permanently if I close it. I can't physically put the page on top of others as I would on a real-life desk. Let's be honest - once it's "bookmarked" it's likely just left in that folder to get dusty and remain unvisited. Some pages can be revived or rediscovered using Google - provided you did not have to go digging for it in the first place and know very important identifying key words. But lots of times, the tabs are personal and would not show up in a universal search engine result set. I use tabs as stars, highlights, and dog-ears to make sure that I don't lose track of the pertinent information in an age where we are saturated with information, references, and sensory overload.

How do we solve this problem? I don't know. I don't believe in the entire digitization of all physical things, but, as I mentioned above, Pinterest is on the right track. In real-life, I would rip out a magazine article I liked or keep everyone's phone numbers and addresses together in such a manner that I would know where to look. There has to be a happy medium between the elegant organization of physical spaces and the incredibly robust usefulness of a "Ctrl+F" search function.

Sounds like it's time for a brainstorm. I love this sort of problem!

March 1, 2013

Life, Friends, and God

It's no secret that the last few months have been stressful, which is painfully clear from my radio silence. I always have lots of thoughts but they tend to occur to me at inopportune times (i.e. walking) when writing is not feasible. But here I am. Not with anything groundbreaking, but rather with thoughts & tidbits that are floating about my mind at the present moment.

Today was a good day. And that is mildly shocking considering I haven't really had what I'd call a good day at all this semester. Nothing about today was revolutionary or exciting, but it was pleasant and productive and I spent it with people I love. I only attended one class and, in typical Cornellian fashion, skipped my other two in order to do homework. I spend most of the day sharing a table with Claire Volk at the Big Red Barn, sitting in mutually content silence as she did Spring break prep, shopping, and a little bit of reading, and I responded to emails, worked on a speech for tomorrow's White Rose ceremony, and tackled a little bit of my Networks II problem set. We took a break around noon to chat and eat. We always have wonderful conversations covering lots of things. I am blessed to have a friend like Claire that I can be open and honest and sincere with. I cherish our friendship probably even more than she knows. Today was a nice reminder of a little saying I found on Pinterest: "In the middle of my little mess, I forgot how big I am blessed." It now resides in my planner as a daily reminder. However seeing the words and being reminded with a feeling of calm and gratitude are different things.

Lots of things have been going on recently. But of course, that's nothing new. Between Kappa Delta and school, I'm a busy bee. KD takes up most of my time and is teaching me a lot about people and leadership and poise. It's a rough ride, but I'm doing my best. Initiation is this weekend which is always beautiful so that will be a nice & centering.
Having Emily here last weekend was such a blessing. I love my family so much and her presence meant the world. I wish we could have spent more time together. Having someone to talk to that understands me entirely was really refreshing, and the cuddling wasn't bad either!
I'm in countdown mode to Spring Break. I'm riding at a constant level of mild panic when it comes to getting everything done. There is always homework to be done and things to read. There are always emails to respond to and calls to return. It will be nice to totally disconnect and spend time in warm weather with one of my favorite people, Jackson.
Recently, I've been getting better about reading my Bible. It is a nice respite during the day, and rather than feeling like an obligation or expectation, I have really come to enjoy and look forward to my reading. Though it doesn't happen every day like I'd like it to, it has become more of a habit, and I am glad that God is working in me and drawing me closer. Lots of little things have shown up in my life that have made me feel closer to him and the effect is so powerful. It is a constant source of comfort in times of stress when I start to lose myself a little bit. Right now, I am memorizing a verse a week (based on this list I found on Pinterest, of course). This week's is Isaiah 40:28... "Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the Everlasting God, The Creator of the ends of the Earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom." It's a great reminder that God matters, and the rest of the stress is trivial. I have not totally overcome my worry-wart habits, nor do I think I will be able to be any time soon, but it is nice to be reminded that God is good and omnipotent and in control. That's what's important. I am grateful that He is working in me. And I hope to keep my heart open and willing to listen.
I'll leave you with one more link: The Lipstick Gospel. I found it through a posted link of a Facebook friend I haven't talked to in 5+ years and followed the link on a whim. I was engrossed by this woman's love for God and appetite for life. I have subscribed to the blog and am always excited to see a new post show up in my inbox. I feel a strong bond with this woman I have never met because she sees and recognizes God in the little things and sounds a lot like someone I'd like to have coffee with. It's just another blessing and source of encouragement that God has given me. Maybe it will ring true with you, too.
It's a strange feeling, to feel calm and content amidst stress and strain and a societally imposed definition of success. But I continue to find support and encouragement in my life, and I am blessed to know that God is lighting my path and acting as my navigator. The moments that I manage to let go of control feel so comforting - like the nights as a child when I would fall asleep in the backseat of the car on the way home and be carried inside my mom or dad. It is terribly hard to surrender control, but when I manage to, I always wonder why I don't do so more often (read: always). It's a work in progress, I suppose.
Here's to blessings and grace and the good Lord above. Life is good - and I know that, even if it gets buried sometimes when I let myself get carried away in the current of this life.