Friday Five

1. At offices all across the U.S. for the past few weeks, parents have been stalking co-workers to buy a box of their daughters’ Girl Scout cookies. It’s a tradition handed down through the generations. My mom did it for me (back when Do-Si-Dos were $.75 a box) and each year I pay it forward by ordering a few boxes on the ubiquitous form tacked to the cork board above the water cooler.

Since yesterday was Women’s History Day and Monday is the 100th anniversary of the Girl Scouts, and since I just ate an entire sleeve of Thin Mints, I thought it appropriate to give a shout out to Juliette Gordon Low, the founder of the Girl Scouts. Her single troop of 18 girls meeting for the first time on March 12, 1912, grew into an organization with more than 50 million alumnae, including many well-known women like Hillary Clinton, Katie Couric, Gloria Steinem, Mary Tyler Moore and Lucille Ball. An interesting fact I learned from a biography published last month was that Juliette Gordon Low was almost completely deaf.
Here’s a shot I took of her birthplace home when I was in Savannah, Georgia, a few years ago.
Were you a Girl Scout, or the equivalent in your country? Do you have daughters who are Girl Scouts? 

Juliette Gordon Low's birthplace in Savannah, GA

2.  Years ago, I went on the worst first date ever. (Worse than the potential disaster of my upcoming “meet and seat” flight on KLM Airlines.) My date, a very nice, smart, but sadly out of touch sociology professor, asked if I’d like to go to the movies. Then he took me to see the movie Borat.  (If you didn’t see the movie, just know that it is not first date material on so many levels.) As awkward as it was, I felt bad for him. He’d only heard there was a lot of buzz about the movie, but never looked into what the buzz was about.

Too bad he didn’t have advice from marketing guru Seth Godin. In a post this week, he wrote that we often judge another person’s suitability as a mate, an employee, or a business partner by the wrong standards. In a job interview, for example, people are often judged by their ability to think on their feet in answering a battery of questions. He says, “Same with a first date. Marketing yourself to a new person often involves being charismatic, clever and quick–but most jobs and most relationships are about being consistent, persistent and brave, no?” Maybe my date thought he was being cool by taking me to that movie, but really he should have been consistent, persistent and brave.

3. If you’ve read Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers (and if you haven’t, it’s worth checking out), you likely remember his theory that the term ‘overnight sensation’ is a misnomer. Very successful people – be they athletes, musicians or computer programmers –  all pay their dues through hours and hours of practice. In fact, Gladwell clocks in the average amount of practice as 10,000 hours. This is also true of people in more creative fields. Painters, authors, designers all need to practice their craft. There’s a certain amount of natural skill or talent (what Ira Glass calls “good taste”) that predisposes a person to a particular field, but he says there is no substitute for logging the hours. People seem to want to skip this step. Is this due to our instant gratification culture? I don’t know, but every now and then, when those 10,000 hours seem long and I need a writerly pick-me-up, I watch this short clip from Ira Glass on storytelling.

4. I enjoy reading Gretchen Rubin’s blog because she always posts something that makes me rethink old beliefs or practices, or makes me think about something in a new way. A few weeks ago, she posted Eight Auspicious Symbols, a concept of Buddhism in which each of item has the power to bring blessings to people. Gretchen listed her symbols – things that are meaningful to her and remind her of something important when they appear in her life in some form:
 1. Bluebird (of course)
2. Ruby slippers (what I want is already within my grasp)
3. Dice (chance and fortune)
4. Blood. (hard to explain: diabetes, hepatitis C, St. Therese of Lisieux)
5. Gold star (my right actions are their own reward)
6. Holstein cow (my family, Kansas City)
7. Peacock feather
8. Birdhouse
So I gave some thought my auspicious symbols. I suppose these could change over time, but here’s what I came up with:
1. Poppies; To remind myself to invite happiness, from a Mary Oliver poem of the same name.
2. Walden Pond; To remind myself to live deliberately. I know this is a place, but I think places can be symbolic.
3. Whiskers on kittens; To remind myself of my favorite things and enjoy them.
4. Glow-worm; To remind myself I have special talents and skills, “We are all worms. But I do believe I am a glow-worm.” ~ Winston Churchill
5. Ring; To remind myself that when one door closes another one opens.
6. Wolf; To remind myself to accept help.
7. Hare; To remind myself to “believe 6 impossible things before breakfast,” from Alice in Wonderland.
8. Moonlight; To remind myself to trust my instinct.
Do you have any auspicious symbols? 

5. Reggie isn’t supposed to be on the sofa. 

Oh, you're home? I was just, um, warming up your spot for you.

Have a great weekend, everyone!