New Blog Host!

This past weekend pink-briefcase.com transferred to a new host.  There is absolutely no difference for you as a reader, and honestly I don’t think you should even see this page if everything moved over properly.  If you did end up here somehow, you’ll probably need to update your blog reader and/or type the blog address into your address bar:  http://www.pink-briefcase.com.

Long-term, I think this will be a huge win for this space and help us to have more flexibility and better quality pages and posts.  For a few weeks, however, there may be glitches here and there.  If you have any trouble, if photos are misplaced or links do not work, be sure to leave a comment or reach out by email, twitter message, facebook message, etc. so I can find and fix any bugs in the transfer.

Thanks for growing and changing with me.

Much love,

PB

 

 

 

Five [Awesome] Things I Read This Week, 5.3.2014

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This week’s five things all focus in some way on women.  Enjoy!

  1. This article from Salon.com discussing the problem with using the term “women problem” to describe a cultural failure of including, promoting, or appreciating women.

  2. This story from my new friend Diana, on being a woman in seminary.

  3. This feature story at The Atlantic (from last week) entitled The Confidence Gap.

  4. This New York Post article on the outstanding character and accomplishments of the woman George Clooney is lucky enough to be engaged to.

  5. This list written by my friend Hannah about five things she learned growing up in a fundamentalist household.  This post was so popular that it broke her blog, so that’s a good sign, right?  Right.

So, what awesome things did you read this week?

What I’m Into, April 2014

Wow, April.  I can’t believe it’s over and I can’t believe we survived.  After nearly seven months of winter isolation, I got out and about A LOT in April.  It was incredibly fun.

What I’ve been up to:

We spent a weekend in Washington, DC, with our very best friends.  It was so lovely to see them all and to celebrate birthdays and first-zoo-trips and drink coffee at my favorite coffee place ever.

DC

The following weekend I rented a car and drove to Grand Rapids, Michigan, for the Festival of Faith and Writing.  It was weird and awkward and wonderful.  I met some really lovely new friends!

ffw dinner group!

Kristin from halfwaytonormal.com // Brenna from brennadambrosio.com // Emily from emmillerwrites.com // Anne from modernmrsdarcy.com

I loved so many of the sessions, but I really started feeling my writerliness in a session with Peter Orner (a non-practicing lawyer who is an MFA professor in San Fran and is from my city!).  His novel Love and Shame and Love is set in Chicago and is waiting for me to finish up a few other things I’m reading.  I’m so excited to read it.

Love and Shame and Love, Peter Orner

Love and Shame and Love, Peter Orner

Sometime that week we also made it to our first Cubs game at Wrigley Field.  The next weekend was Easter Sunday, and we spent the holiday with my friend Brenna and her lovely family.  One of her three daughters sat in my lap all day (except for the parts where she was throwing up everywhere) and H and I both felt like we belonged.  Brenna set a lovely table as well:

Easter Meal

Because we spent so much time out of town this month, it’s been hard to do all of the things I really love to do — such as staying at home in my jammies and watching lots of television.  I’ve seen the season finale of Scandal but I’m still a little behind on all of my shows (which is probably good since the season finales leave me with nothing left to watch all summer!  I should probably try to spread them out a bit, but I’m pretty sure I won’t.)

Instead of a subject-by-subject breakdown of the month, here are a few random things I’ve loved this month:

  1. Dark Chocolate Chili Almond KIND bars.  Holy cow they are delicious and only 200 calories.
  2. Eating healthy(ish).  It’s a work in progress.

  3. Kappa Delta.  The Illinois-Wisconsin State Day was last weekend and it was so fun to attend!  I’d never been to a state day before and I didn’t know how adorable it would be to see my Kappa Delta sisters celebrate 50+ years of sorority membership.  They are a d o r a b l e.  And also, smart and kind and funny and stylish.  And even more – seriously, there’s more – they had Midwestern accents.  I nearly died of happiness.

  4. Body shop bath products.  On a related note, I won a raffle for coconut-scented Bodyshop products and they. are. awesome.  I’ve never been one to spend a lot of money on fancy shower/bath stuff, but my showers have been quite lovely this past week!

  5. Pitch Perfect.  I mean, I think that movie is on TV every single day, but the thing is: it is hilarious every single time.

6.  FUMC at the Chicago Temple.  I have so many notes in my journal and things to write about how lovely it has been, but without getting into all of that, it’s just basically the greatest church I’ve ever gone to.  I can really focus on the sermons and enjoy the services because I’m not counting grammatical or historical or factual errors or constantly crossing and uncrossing my legs to distract myself from completely inappropriate comments about poverty, race, or gender.**  It’s really what I’ve been needing and I’m so glad we found it.

  1. Edward Gorey.  Do you guys know about Edward Gorey?  I totally didn’t, and then I went to this Goreyesque event and I fell totally and completely in love!  Apparently Goreyesque is a celebration of funny morbid creative things, like a short story written from the perspective of a recently deceased seventeen year old who makes fun of his sister’s vapid friend while watching his sister wrestle with the details of his suicide.  Which was sad and hilarious.

8.  Me.  Is that weird to say?  This month I’m totally into me.  I’m into goal setting, I’m into believing in myself, I’m into my writing and my blogging and my spiritual development.  I’m also into my brain: I went to a lawyer training event one afternoon and for a few hours remembered how fun it is to think about the law and how much I love doing that.  So that’s cool, right?  I’m kind of into me right now, and working hard to take care of my whole self (brain/heart/body).

Okay, that’s all I’ve got for you this month!  How are things in your world, and what have you been loving this month?  Leave me a note here or join the link-up over at Leigh Kramer’s blog.

What I'm Into Link-up LeighKramer.com

What I’m Into Link-up
LeighKramer.com

** I’m not blaming other churches for my inability to fit in, but I am excited to have found a congregation where I can be myself.  If you’d like to let me know that feeling these feelings or thinking these thoughts in church is my fault and not the church’s fault I’m happy to receive that feedback below.  Thanks in advance.  ;)

Incomplete. But not for long.

I mentioned last week that I’ve been working on my blog, putting in the time behind-the-scenes to make this space better.  I’ve been re-labeling categories and editing or deleting tags, which requires spending a lot of time in my old posts.  Lord have mercy, the graphics. Nothing humbles the spirit like the blog posts you wrote three years ago.

I have a lot of work to do before this first step is complete, but as I review and organize my old blog posts, I’ve noticed something.  Again and again I’ve told you about these great ideas I have, some new routine I want to adopt to improve some facet of my life or some new skill I want to develop — and then, nothing.  Nada.  Just a bunch of quiet, a mention of what I ate for breakfast or a quick photo of a fish I caught, until I’ve come up with some other new and different goal, skill, adventure to talk about.

I talk about things here as if I have everything under control and really believe in my success.  I write about a new idea or habit with the attitude that once I’ve written about it, it’s basically done.  But that isn’t how things work.  Writing down a goal or telling you I’d like to change my habits or patterns makes no difference in my actual habits or patterns.  Whether I post it on the internet or attempt to make some kind of related graphic does nothing to change that — I still have to do the actual work.

It’s easy to forget the work, isn’t it, when we’re so full of ideas?  It’s exciting at the beginning.  Those first few steps are pretty fun.  But now that I’ve re-categorized 50 blog posts and deleted the 100 tags, I am so over this whole blog-improvement effort.  I want to move on to the next step and start working on cool new content and moving my blog to a new host.  I’m tired of trudging through the muck of old blog posts that probably aren’t all that good anyway.

But if I really want to change anything, if I really want any of my ideas and adventures and attempts and habits to stick, to become part of my real life, I need to go deeper than the surface and really put the time in.  That’s true when I’m working to become a morning person, or plan our meals each week, or add a little sparkle to my daily life, just like it’s true when I want to make my blog work better for you.

This middle part — the part between starting out on a new journey and completing your goals — it’s kind of boring.  I’d like to skip right over this part and get to the good stuff, but I don’t have any good stuff right now.  Instead, I have long, steady, tedious work that continues.  So far, this work has created a new menu for you on my blog — a menu that isn’t quite finished.  Well, the menu itself is finished, and if you look up top you can see it right now(!!!).  It has drop-down menus to find content by category and sub-category.  The content isn’t fully aligned to the menu yet, so there might be a few surprises in there.  But I’m working, and I really want to finish this thing, to complete this task as well as others that will follow.  Only 350 blog posts and 800 categories to go.

Five [Awesome] Things I Read This Week, 4.25.2014

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Things I love?  Reasonable people saying reasonable things.  Freedom to Marry, Freedom to Dissent: Why we Must Have Both, is a statement signed by a number of respected, thinking people saying that they support gay marriage AND they support the right of others to disagree without being punished.    And here’s a statement from Dale Carpenter at Volokh explaining how he does and does not agree.

Esther Emery’s Why I Will Not Leave the Evangelical Church Today.  Another piece of nuanced, compassionate writing from my friend in Idaho.

A new series is starting up at Vulture.com and it looks FANTASTIC.  The first post is up:  Questlove on How Hip-Hop Failed Black America.  (h/t to Belle at CapHillStyle.)

Joy the Baker has a story/recipe combo post on her blog, making The Old-fashioned, which is (after a bit of trial and error) her cocktail.  It looks awesome and like it would bring a little extra credibility and sophistication to a night out.

Finally, we’ve got a Writing Lessons post from Emily Maloney that has stayed with me this week.  She writes about how she learned to put into practice the important writing mantra of showing up and getting it done.  Reminds me about what Anne Lamott said at the Festival of Faith and Writing, and a new effort to write words on pages at #6am led by my new friend Ed Cyzewski.

Three Real-Life Updates! 4/24/2014

Hi there.  It’s been a wonderful week in the real world, but I’ve been a little quieter than normal here on the internet.  Here’s three real-life updates for you!

  • I’m still having some tech troubles.  I bought a new laptop early last fall, and while it is quite good-looking, I’m finding Windows 8 to be incredibly frustrating when problem solving.  I’ve been running tons of diagnostics and we ended up buying a new wireless router, but I’m still not connecting at 100% and I have to re-enter my wireless network password every single time I turn on my computer and hope that I’ll connect.  It’s annoying, and I’m on the hunt for a solution.  (If you’ve experienced this error please comment here so I can benefit from your solution!)
  • I was really excited to watch Morning Joe’s coverage of the 100th Birthday of Wrigley Field yesterday — did you see it?  I went to my first cubs game earlier this month and even though I typically find baseball pretty boring, I had a wonderful time!  Wrigley Field was old-school in all the right ways.  [Sorry SS.  I know how much you love the Cardinals.]  Also, I’ve selected a new catch phrase for Chicago weather:  Ernie Banks’ weather assessment on a chilly, sunny morning:  “Let’s play two!”

wrigley field

  • As the days get sunnier, I’m loving Chicago more and more.  We had a few warmer days last weekend (Easter Sunday was the most beautiful day I can remember!) and now that it’s cooler again, my fellow Chicagoans have been mumbling in the elevators about how chilly it is.  But I don’t even care!  A cold sunny day is my favorite kind of day.

I’m doing some work behind-the-scenes to hopefully build an even better space for you here, but that work is slow and time consuming so don’t worry if it takes a few more weeks before you start to notice.  I’m still here, and posting regular updates to the blog’s facebook page, so be sure to stay in touch!

Five [Awesome] Things I Read This Week, 4.18.2014

Five 2

This Forbes Magazine article introducing a report by the coalition Americans For Tax Fairness that estimates the amount of government assistance awarded indirectly to Walmart.  Their theory is that Walmart is able to make high profits by keeping its employees’ incomes low, and that those employees are able to survive and continue working due to public benefits like food and housing assistance payments.  What makes this theory even weirder is that a huge portion of those food stamps benefits are then spent AT WALMART, thus forming somewhat of a double subsidy to the corporation.  Note: the math/methodology of this report isn’t a perfect science, but it is a quite interesting assessment.  Either way, definitely take a look.

This Festival of Faith and Writing wrap-up piece by my NEW FRIEND(!!!!!) Anne Bogel.  There were some other goods ones too!  Check out the hashtag #ffwGR to learn more about the festival.  I may post my own reflections here, but it’ll be next week which is a little un-timely so if you are interested now, the twitter hashtag is your friend.

This Inc. assessment of whether or not you genuinely love what you do.  I scored 13 out of 15, which means I am “deeply, madly in love with [my] work!”  That’s pretty cool, right?  What is your score?

Last week I read this article at the Harvard Business Review blog and I was like WHAT THE WHAT, if this ever happened to me I would probably quit my job. Basically, one of the CEOs of PepsiCo apparently calls the parents of her Millennial employees to tell those parents just how special and lovely their children are.  This week, my absolute favorite management blog was like WHAT THE HELL.  Thank goodness there are still reasonable people out there on the internet.  And please read the comments here, they are hilarious.  FYI: Your Millennial employees do not want you to call their parents to tell said parents that their children are special snowflakes.  Seriously, don’t.

And finally, for you guys who, like me, aren’t exactly sure what to do when everyone else starts clapping and/or crying in church this week, here’s a little something for you from Kristen Howerton at Rage Against the Minivan.

Okay, that’s five!  What awesome things did you read this week? 

 

On Powerful Words

chandelier photo

I connected with my law school mentor this week. It’s been a while since we were in touch. She shared some good news I wanted to hear, and I shared a link to the panel on creative writing projects by prisoners INCARCERATED PERSONS I attended last week.

It was just a few emails, sent back and forth while we were each doing our own regular work. Nothing important, really. I asked about her daughter’s first year away at college; she asked how my husband’s job was going and if we’d fallen in love with Chicago yet. [Quite well, and yes! a little more every day.] She asked about my current work, and I wrote back about my ongoing project and how I was surprisingly very happy even though I wasn’t currently practicing law. She replied,

Wow, [pink-briefcase] — that is amazing. Those are some incredible skills you are learning. What is the hardest part? Where do you see yourself after this?

We talked a little more, about law school rankings and the future of legal education and the flowers blooming there but not here, but those twenty-five words worked a powerful magic in my heart.

  .  .  .  .

I have a supervisor that isn’t my supervisor at work. He is kind of a mentor, kind of a boss, and kind of a friend. I’ve learned a lot working for/with him. Every now and then, when things get rough and I start to feel on edge, I read over an email he sent one day, which started off:

Your professionalism, persistence, patience, exemplary work ethic and positive attitude have been evident to all throughout this project.

On days when nothing goes right and all I can do is put down my pen and shake my head and pour the tea and start over again, this sentence waits for me. I look up and see it, hanging on my blue bulletin board right above the empty jar that once held black-raspberry jelly my husband’s grandmother made us for Christmas, which now holds pens and highlighters and a pair of scissors, and I read those words. I remind myself that one bad day cannot cancel out months of hard work.

  . . . .

I’m not sure that either of these mentor-friends knows how important their words were/are to me. I didn’t write back “HOLY COW THAT IS SO NICE I’M GOING TO PRINT OUT THIS EMAIL AND HANG IT ON MY BULLETIN BOARD AND LOOK AT IT EVERY DAY FOREVER.” I said thank you and continued on, slightly embarrassed about all of the fuss. No perfectionist really wants to be congratulated for doing a good job (don’t I always do a good job? I always try to do a good job! why is this time different? did I screw up something terribly last week?! . . . ). But as awkward as I may feel when I first receive these affirmations, I am completely changed by knowing that people I trust think these things. I am confident and brave and resilient because I trust their opinions of me to be true, even when my opinion of myself falls far short of their esteem.

We talk a lot online about how words have consequences, but we often really mean that words have negative consequences. We criticize and condemn each other too freely, with too little concern for the way another might feel to read a scathing review, a bullying comment, a snide remark. We forget too quickly that it could easily be the negative comments they are printing out and hanging up on the blue bulletin boards of their hearts. Negative words do have an undeniably strong hold on us, but I’m becoming more aware of the immense power positive words hold as well.

Five [Awesome] Things I Read This Week, 4.11.2014

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  1. The Culture of Shut Up, by Jon Lovett for The Atlantic.

  2. What Abandoning Evangelicalism Does and Does Not Look Like, by Zack Hunt for The American Jesus.

  3. Am I Overstepping When I Try To Be Emotionally Intelligent?, by Alison Green at Ask A Manager.

  4. The recovery puzzle: A new factory in Ohio struggles to match jobs to job-seekers, by Monica Hesse at the Washington Post.

  5. Why I’m Done With Letting Critics Tell Me Who I Am, by Esther Emery. >

DC Weekend Play-By-Play

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It’s weird, how they say you can’t go home again and yet — you can.  You just purchase a plane ticket and pack a bag and there you are.  This weekend we traveled back to Washington, D.C. (our home for the previous five years) and spent a few days in our favorite city, visiting with our favorite people and eating at our favorite places.  This isn’t a recipe for a perfect tourist weekend, but here’s a DC resident’s perfect weekend in our Nation’s Capitol.

FRIDAY NIGHT:  land in city and sleep in the guest room of your bestie’s house.

SATURDAY MORNING:  eat Bethesda Bagels.  Recommendation:  bacon, egg, and American cheese on an everything bagel.  Grab coffee at Quartermaine next door.  If you go with a friend one of you should order coffees while the other stands in line for bagels because, unless it’s snowing or raining the bagel line will be out the door.

SATURDAY ERRANDS:  close your old bank account.  Or, you know, whatever.

SATURDAY MORNING HANG-OUT: meet your best law school buddy for coffee at Politics and Prose Bookstore‘s Modern Times Coffeehouse, the place where you studied for all of those finals before they instituted completely unacceptable laptop policies that ruined everything forever.  Recommendation: London Fog.

SATURDAY LUNCH-ISH: brunch/lunch at Open City in Woodley Park.  We learned that the music makes babies dance.  The service can be a little slow so make sure to tell the waiter exactly what you want the first time.  Recommendation: Greek Pizza, BLT, iced mocha.

SATURDAY AFTERNOON HANG-OUT:  Smithsonian’s National Zoo.  Avoid boring pandas but be sure to see the Lions.  They are awesome.  Best part of America are the Smithsonian’s river otters.

SATURDAY DINNER: Coal Fire Pizza in Gaithersburg. Recommendation:  Dark and Stormy, Ring of Fire Pizza (Italian sausage, banana peppers, and spicy marinara).

SATURDAY POST-DINNER:  Celebrate your friend’s birthday back at her house with carrot cake and red wine.  They are a perfect pairing.

SUNDAY MORNING:  Grab a coffee and cheer for your husband and friends as they run a ten mile race around the National Mall.  Take in the monuments for a bit while it is sunny and relatively warm, but head toward brunch by 10:30.  It’s definitely time to eat.

SUNDAY BRUNCH:  Ted’s Bulletin on Barracks Row is a bit of a wait, but totally worth waiting for.  Recommendation: homemade poptarts (strawberry is the best), sausage biscuits and gravy.  If you’re lucky you’ll see the cadets marching around with their giant guns.

SUNDAY AFTERNOON: After a shower for the runners, head down to H Street to hang on the back patio of the German Biergarten.  Recommendation: the hefe-weizen that is “very carbonated,” pretzel buns with mustard.  The mustard is the best part.

SUNDAY EVENING: Return the rental car and grab your last dinner at The Silver Dinner, airport edition.

We landed in Chicago late Sunday night and it was technically early Monday morning before we were back in our Condo in the South Loop.  We both worked today and we are exhausted, but our wonderful weekend was worth every minute.

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