Personal Growth and Relationships

Just last week I was thinking about the friendships I’ve made that are still growing strong and the ones that have fizzled out. I was looking at a few of my wedding pictures, and saw friends I’ve known for over 20 years, and some I’ve met more recently. But just as interesting and as telling were the people who were missing from my big day. Some of the people I met in college and assumed I’d be friends with forever didn’t even know I got married. Others found out after seeing pictures on Facebook. Big events like these force us to look back on our old relationships and contemplate what prompted changes.

It seemed that as I got older I became less patient with people who proved over and over again that they did not respect my time or my friendship. I became much less forgiving of those whose friendships were conditional based on arbitrary standards that were subject to change at their convenience. We are often taught to treat people the way we want to be treated, however that only works when this practice is reciprocal. I believe we need to find a balance between practicing the golden rule and treating people the way they treat us. That often does wonders in helping the less than genuine friends find their way out of your lives.

We should unlearn the concept of giving our love to those who give us none. We must reating ourselves to embrace the concept of quality over quantity with our relationships. We must learn to be selective with our finite resources, particularly our time and energy. We have to be able to distinguish between those who enjoy our company and those who benefit from our presence. As we begin to distinguish constructive feedback form criticism we’ll know who our friends are and who our “frienemies” are.

Life is a journey. Some people will be with us every step of the way. Some are mean to be temporary obstacles to strengthen us or teach us a valuable lesson. Many others are companions for part of the trip and will eventually find their own way. Under no circumstances should we attempt to force something that wasn’t meant to be, lest we want to run the risk of attracting misery to our lives. Is this a cavalier attitude toward friendship? Not at all. True friendships aren’t subject to those rules.

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Sunday Week End Review: Long Island, NY

Montauk Light House

Montauk Light House

As I talked about in my previous post, I took some time to relax in a new location. It was a fun weekend filled with friends, laughter and good food. We did some sight seeing and slept in and of of course, we took some great pictures. The Montauk Light House in, you guessed it, Montauk NY is a must see. The views are breathtaking and once you get past the frustration of the traffic, it is a beautiful scenic walk. Sure, everything in the Hamptons is overpriced, but if you can afford it, I highly recommend you take some time for a visit. Take a look at this weekend’s beauty.

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View from the top of the lighthouse

Friday Fail: The Confidence of Youth

I decided to start a Friday Fail series. The idea came to me because, I know that not only do people like a good embarrassing story, but also because I think talking about our major fails, and being able to laugh at ourselves truly empowers us. There’s just something refreshing about not taking yourself too seriously 100% of the time. Also, I’m confident that I have enough failures in my past, big and small, to keep this going for a while.

When I was in high school I got an internship at a major bank through a program for students interested in finance. It was awesome and it was a paid position. I was working 40 hours a week for the entire summer, making $2 above my state’s minimum wage, and I felt rich! I had never have access to so much money at once. What happened one morning could only be explained by saying that, all the disposable income must have gone straight to my head, making me feel like Hercules.

That day, I got to work around 8:30 like I normally did, and got settled at my desk. I checked my email to see if any of my friends, who also got summer jobs, made it to work before I did had sent me a few emails. After exploring Google for a while (it was in its infancy!), I got up to get a drink of water. Surfing the net is hard work and can dehydrate you! To my despair, the water cooler was empty and being the absolute princess that I am, no way I was drinking tap. I decided to change the gallon myself. I mean how hard could it be?

I put away the empty gallon and grabbed a new one. From the moment I pulled it out from the crate, I knew I was making a big mistake. I thought about putting it back, but my mouth was feeling like I had been chewing cotton for hours, and I really needed a drink. I guess I could have asked one of the guys who sat in close proximity to the break room, but I’m a strong independent woman with a job! I’m paving a path for a career in banking! I am no weakling! So I ripped the seal and took the cap off. Once I did that, there was no turning back.

So here I am, 16, no upper body strength, 5’2″, 110 pounds, faced with a simple task to be accomplished in the following sequence: 1) lifting a 5 gallon jug of water up to my chest 2) tipping it over the cooler without spilling anything 3) and lowering it slowly down to my waist level until it was in place. “What could go wrong”, you ask? Everything.

First, I lifted. But my arms shook. Then I tipped it, but my arms shook more. The trembling arms caused me to miss the hole and it all went downhill from there. I heard the splash before I saw it, so I over corrected by pulling the gallon towards me. The force of doing that, combined with the weight of the jug, threw me off balance and knocked me straight on my ass into a growing puddle. Finally, enough water had escaped the bottle in favor of the ground for me to be able to put the bottle upright.

As I sat on the vinyl floor wondering how long it would take for my underwear to dry, I didn’t give much thought to how much commotion I had caused until someone rushed it saying: “oh my! What happened?!?” I must have been quite the sight. But I guess there wasn’t much explanation needed, because he looked at me for about 15 seconds before saying: “you could have just asked me.”

I was grateful he didn’t say anything else on the topic, at least not that I know of. But my gray slacks weren’t so discreet. Everyone could tell by the wide wet spots that I had an “accident”.

I don’t know how, but I did manage to get myself hired for one more summer before college.

Thursday (Money) Tip: Passive Income

Have you ever googled the words “passive income”? The search results can be overwhelming. It seems like everyone with a computer is an expert on the subject. Several people claim to be living large off doing very little, while others say that the entire concept is a myth. In a world where resources are finite and true financial stability may determine life or death, we spend a lot of time seeking out money and other material goods. With the rise of internet millionaires (youtubers) and billionaires (tech innovators) many people are attempting to get a slice of the pie. But the question that always gets asked is: Is there such a things as passive income?

I read up on the topic from both sides and I am tempted to agree with those who say there is no such thing. I am not going to completely agree but many of the things marketed as passive income aren’t really all that passive. Let me explain…

Wikipedia, the authority and source of all the world’s knowledge evidently (/snark), defines passive income as:

Passive income is an income received on a regular basis, with little effort required to maintain it. It is closely related to the concept of “unearned income”.

With that definition, I would say a true example of passive income could be a high dividend portfolio that generates a lot of money because the stocks have high dividends per share. It’s passive because once you buy the stock and hold it, you don’t do much else but fill out your tax information at the end of the year. But when I hear things like rental income being called a source of passive income, I have to wonder about the specifics. Do you have a property manager? Because otherwise, it is not passive at all. As someone who has rented out a room in my house and has seen some of my relatives deal with difficult tenants, I can tell you that there’s no “little effort” required to maintain your income.

I travel for work and I’ve gotten calls from my ex-roommate in the past about the most annoying things. Like wanting to be reimbursed for a $6 plunger she bought after SHE clogged the toilet while I was AWAY. I once came back from a work trip to find that she broke my washing machine and didn’t say anything. I had to go to and buy another one 2 days later. I had to constantly “remind” her not to park outside of the driveway in the winter so the plow truck could clean up. I had to threaten to withhold her security deposit so she would stop slamming my doors which were nearly coming off the hinges.

And I’ve had it easy. My aunt rented to a guy who stopped paying rent after 2 or 3 months. It took 4 months to get him evicted and she never got a dime back in addition to what she had to spend in court fees.

But what if you’re a writer with an e-book? Money just flows in right? Well you have to write the book, edit it and market it. That’s after you’ve thoroughly researched your subject to make sure you don’t sound like a total idiot.

A garage sale? Are you kidding me?

Multi level marketing? Lol stop.

With many of the examples you can give me, I can tell you that there’s nothing passive about a lot of it. True passive income sources are far and few in between. Rather, I believe that there are a lot of opportunities for earning location-independent and time-independent income. The idea is that you can earn the money from anywhere at anytime. You don’t have to rely on a business that’s open during particular hours. You don’t have to leave your house regularly.

By having a rental property, you’re not getting up every day to check on your tenants. You’re occasionally dealing with a leaky roof or someone who’s late on their rent but you can draft up your lease, coordinate repairs, set up electronic payments and receive money no matter where you are in the country.

If you’re an author, you can do a lot of your research remotely thanks to technology. Several libraries and publications have allowed access to their archives via the internet. You can also communicate with editors by email and you can conduct interviews on Skype or FaceTime.

You can work from anywhere, you can work at any time, but ultimately you’re still working. You might be working smarter and not harder by doing the bulk of the work upfront while the money is not tied to your subsequent activities, but you still need to invest time to maintain it. Remember there’s no such thing as getting something for nothing.

Technology Tuesday

Women in Silicon Valley 

It is not news that women are under represented in the STEM fields. Tech companies have this reputation for being bro clubs and this perception is not alleviated by the fact that there’s an age-old stereotype that “nerds” don’t know how to interact with women. As a result, the overwhelming white male appearance of senior leadership across STEM organizations has drawn significant criticism. As a result, many companies are adopting a quota system to fill those gaps.

I read an article this morning addressing this phenomenon. While I do not support people being appointed to positions they do not qualify for, I think authors of the piece is masquerading as a genuinely concerned individual, while in reality they’re saying: “Don’t be so focused on the numbers. So what if your organization doesn’t accurately represent the overall demographic of female and minority STEM degree holders?”

There are a lot of studies cited throughout their article, but none of them support exactly what the piece is saying. Perhaps they’re counting on the fact that no one will click on the link and take their word for it. Both the NPR and the Harvard Business Review pieces cited do not 100% support their negative view of a quota system.

The NPR article focused more on how social conditioning negatively influence women by lowering their confidence, thus impacting their performance. This doesn’t necessarily say that having a 15% woman or minority quota is a roadblock to success. By the time these women reach a level where they qualify to be appointed as a board member or promoted into a senior level management position, they’ve already dealt with decades of hearing that “boys are better at math than girls.” This psychological damage is not caused by the CEO of Twitter who’s showing enough confidence in them to hire them; it’s already present.

Their HBR reference is equally misleading. The article explicitly criticizing stereotyping women and minorities by now allowing them to blend in and integrate seamlessly in the organization.

they set them apart in jobs that relate specifically to their backgrounds, assigning them, for example, to areas that require them to interface with clients or customers of the same identity group. African American M.B.A.’s often find themselves marketing products to inner-city communities; Hispanics frequently market to Hispanics or work for Latin American subsidiaries.

The point is not to avoid quotas completely, but to implement a diversity management program that is equitable to all parties, including the majority of the employees. Don’t limit people’s potential by segregating them in stereotypical roles. Not only does it put a ceiling on their professional development, it also robs their colleagues of crucial interactions with possibly brilliant individuals.

For those who may dismiss my position because you think that quotas are unfair, I will simplify the concept for you to help you grasp it. Imagine you live in a house with 9 other people. 2 are of one gender (female 20% of the household), 8 are of another gender (male 80%). However, since there’s only one vehicle, only 5 of you can ever leave the house at a time. Do you think it’s fair that the only 5 people who get to leave are men? Shouldn’t 1 of the girls also be represented among the group of people leaving? Women don’t tend to study STEM at the same rate as men, but what sense does it make that organizations wouldn’t want to try and have their companies reflect the percentage of women and minority STEM degree holders as much as possible?

Like everything in life, execution is key. If you have a sprained ankle, you fix it and nurse it back to health. You don’t amputate it. The right approach is what Silicon Valley needs to deal with the under presentation of women and minorities. Not throwing their hands up and saying “tough luck”.

iOs 9 and Periods

I really wanted my first post on this blog to be something more wholesome, but I want to talk about how terribly disappointed I am in both the health app and how it was received. I was excited to see that a reproductive health was an added option. I believe that an app that helps women track their cycles is one of the most useful things we can have on our smartphones. Not only does it help track ovulation for women who want (or don’t want) to become pregnant, it may also help you establish a pattern of what is normal and what is not. One of the symptoms of Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) one of the multiple menstrual disorders that millions of women face in the U.S. is irregular periods. PCOS which can even result in infertility can often go diagnosed because women dismiss their symptoms as normal hormonal changes.

Being able to track periods really enables women to catch any irregularities early and present them to their doctors. Being able to track your period also allows you to know when the next one is coming. This is very important since women have a love-hate relationship with their periods. We don’t like getting it, but if it’s late we panic. In addition to the benefits users get out of the app, Apple was previously criticized for “ignoring women’s health”. But in some ways, I wished they would have continued to ignore it if they were going to half-ass it so bad.

I  appreciate the little definitions included in the app. As a society, we are not very open with matters of our body, especially not our reproductive health. The most natural things are considered taboo or unclean and we raise generations of women who don’t know themselves. However, the app still lacks in several other areas compared to what was already available. Personally, I use an app called My Days. I’ve used it for years and it will be the basis of my comparison since it’s the one I am most familiar with. My emphasis will be on the features that Apple does not have.

Password: To access the My Days app, you must use a password.  While most people have passwords on their phones, having a password on the app adds another layer of security. How many times have the recognizable white dot has allowed us to see someone’s password over their shoulder? Do you really want your sexual history and your menstrual patterns protected only by a 4 digit number?

Days Until (Next Period and Ovulation): This feature is probably one of my favorites. Not only does it tell you how many days you have until your next period, it will tell you how late you are (if you haven’t recorded the start of your period). Granted, this feature is very user dependent. It relies on you faithfully recording all of your cycle accurately. 

Note Feature: Because women are not all the same, sometimes, built-in app features may not cover everything we may be experiencing. My Days has a note feature where you can record open-ended notes about a specific day.

Photo: If you are pregnant, this can help you track your baby bump progress. You can include the picture for a specific day. So if you wanted to have a time-lapse of your growing belly, you can track all the dates accurately.

Mood: Need I say more?

Symptoms: There’s a list of over 20 different symptoms to choose from. And if that’s not enough, you can edit them to reflect something that actually applies to you.

Reminders: You can set daily reminders to take your pill or vitamins.

While the interface could be more aesthetically pleasing, I believe the features and functionality of My Days blows the Health app right out of the water. If the iOS is going to take up space on my phone, the features that it introduces should be useful enough for me to eliminate third-party apps. Until then, I’ll send their engineers back to the drawing board. Unless I am failing to use this to its full capacity. If there’s a point I’m ill-informed on, I’d love to hear it.