Friday, July 26, 2013

Toughen Up & Control It, or It Will Control You...

"Like all technology, social media is neutral,
but is best put to work in the service
of building a better world."
~ Simon Mainwaring

When I first began Mangiabella, it was an eye opening experience to learn 
just how vast the ever expanding blogosphere was, 
and what was involved in leaving a footprint.
There was no shortage of information to learn in order to grow my readership,
create a design that expressed both my aim and purpose, 
while simultaneously showcasing my style and flavor. 
I began to discover the importance of figuring out 
how syndicated web feed formats worked, 
how to create links, buttons, understanding what monetizing was all about, 
how to use social media to enlarge my vision, 
and then there was the networking communities. Oy vei.

It was all a part of the process of giving birth to the blueprint of my vision, 
and in fact, it was really just the beginning.

It takes courage to step foot into unfamiliar territory, doesn't it?

One thing I can say, is the moment you begin to put yourself out there 
and take a step in the direction of your dreams,
the "Negative Nancys" will come out of the woodwork, 
so get ready to toughen your skin.
Guard your hearts and minds, and do not allow yourself 
to be persuaded by the opinions of others.
There are many who will question your motives when they see you 
begin to live with transparency and vulnerability, 
and more importantly, with determination and zeal, 
because it challenges their stagnancy & complacency.

The other thing I can say, is discipline yourself 
to take charge of the resources available to you, 
and make those resources work FOR you, rather than let them become a distraction.

While there's certainly a certain stigma associated with social media, 
I believe it's a great tool.
A tool that's meant to serve you, not the other way around.
Either you must control it, or it will control you.
Think about how to use that tool to serve your needs.
Ask yourself, what is it that I want to get out of this?

I know for myself personally, I use it to strengthen connections
 with my long distance family and friends.
Beneficially, I also get to remain connected 
with my nearby family & friends who I can't see as often as I'd like.
Professionally, it's an incredible outlet and platform 
to express my creative ideas, particularly my writing, that otherwise may not 
have an audience unless I were already published, 
as would have been the case years ago.

It's provided an opportunity to lay some groundwork, 
and begin the kind of public relations that's necessary for expanding my territory.
The theory of "Six Degrees of Separation" 
is unquestionably more tangible than ever before, 
as friends "share" content among their circle of friends, 
and those friends "share" content among their circle of friends...
it's astounding to see how quickly you can reach the masses, 
which in turn has the potential to bear much fruit.

I love that social media makes all of this possible from home, 
while I raise my children, and work my business.
I get such immense joy out of seeing the smiles of family and friends 
amidst the little moments that make life special.

Social media can be a springboard, or a vortex, 
depending on how you discipline yourself to use it.
You can waste time with it, or maximize your time with it. It's all up to you.

Some are convinced that social media 
is nothing more than a stage for vanity & validation. 
A "look at me" spectacle. 
And there will always be some people by which that is true.
But there are also those who will believe that about 
anyone who posts a photo of themselves smiling or out there enjoying life.
They're filled with assumptions and judgements, 
while forgetting the whole point of social media 
is sharing the every day moments 
and "doing life" with one another (on a personal level),
and marketing or networking with one another (on a professional level).

The majority of the people you stay connected with are FOR you,
 not against you, and genuinely want to enjoy life with you.
Give yourself permission to dismiss the rest, and any negativity for that matter, 
without trying to interpret the words or actions of those people.
Expect the sarcasm and jabs. 
Expect the cynics and pessimists and "Debbie Downers" to emerge, 
but whatever you do, don't let them be 
an obstacle in your path or the voice in your head.
Toughen that skin, and don't let anything stop you from 
shining that light and living your dreams.

Keep Shining Sweet Bellas!

Friday, July 19, 2013

If those pants could talk....the ultimate wardrobe malfunction.

There was the time when I was in the 7th grade. Now, the 7th grade is adequately torturous in and of itself, but I was naive enough to wear elastic waisted shorts to school that day to add to the torment. As I reached up for my combination lock (go figure, the shortest girl in the school was assigned a top locker), and without warning, blond haired mischievous blue eyed Tommy flies by at mach speed, grabbing both sides of my shorts, pulling my pants straight down to my ankles. It all seemed to happen in Matrix style slow motion, his haunting evil laughter echoing in the halls. 
I'd been de-pants-ed.

Then there was the time when I was walking through New York City on a hot sunny afternoon in late July with my sister in law. You could cut the muggy air with a knife. Surely a light sundress was in order on such a day as this, especially a vibrant green, black and white bohemian beauty with a black ribbon empire waist. Just as I meandered over one of those grated vents on the sidewalk, a wild gust of air shot up at precisely at the very moment I walked over it, shooting my dress straight up and around in a billowy cloud of dress flair, just like Marilyn Monroe, only I wasn't holding my dress in place...sigh. True story. You can ask the young store owner who walked out the front door to put a sign in the window at the exact moment my half nakedness was on display, him or any one of the other 2,000 eyewitnesses. Yep.

But the time that really stands out took place on a cool fall afternoon about 13 years ago. I was working the support desk for a popular retail catalogue call center. I had just purchased the most svelt techno-suede grayish/electric cornflower blue bootcut pants on the planet. These pants were rock star awesome. All the look and snazz of suede, but in a soft, breathable cotton blend that fit like a glove. The only way in and out of these pants was the side zipper, creatively hidden to look invisible. 
I loved these pants, we had a special connection. 

Now picture this: I had just finished a killer workout at the gym,
 downing nearly a gallon of water. 
As I walked in the front door for my afternoon shift, 
I could feel that water had already made it's way through my system 
and was knock-knock-knockin on bladder's door. 
Alrighty, no big deal. Just drop my stuff down, swipe in, check the vectors, 
make a quick bee line for the bathroom. 

As fortune would have it, the bathroom wasn't packed. 
Easy in and out, and back to my station, I love it when that happens! 
Or so I thought. 

As I locked the bathroom door behind me, and reached for my invisible side zipper, 
my day took a turn for the worst. 
I began to gently tug downward, only to meet resistance. 
Hmmm. Okay, try pulling up and then downward again. 


Okay seriously, what could be the problem here. 
Twisting sideways, looking over my shoulder to the side, 
fiercely tugging up and down, 
side to side, 
trying to pull fabric apart, 
tug, pull, jerk, shake. 

Okay. Let's get a grip here, we can work this out...
I'll just have to solicit some help from one of the girls here, 
maybe the awkward angle of me turning to try to get this zipper unstuck is working against me, 
I murmured as feelings of panic started to rise. 

*nervously clearing my throat* 
"Hey ladies, um, hey can one of you help me out here for a second? 
I can't seem to lodge this zipper loose on the side of my pants." 
A few chuckles emerged, then a response from one of my colleagues 
who sweetly replied, "sure, let's check it out." 

I opened the door and offered a perplexed smile of gratitude, turned to the side, 
and proceeded to squeeze and hold a kegel muscle flex 
with the uttmost maximum concentration necessary to ensure success against 
any potential collateral damage that could occur when you consider all of the jarring. 

Surely one of these women could set me free from the prison of my dice. 

Each workmate carefully got into the zone, secured their footing in place, 
squinted their eyes and put all of their focus and determination into 
"operation free her" no avail. 

This operation has officially escalated to code red status. 

I could feel my bladder expanding like a balloon. 
The pain of urine backing up in the pipes...
This is it. This is how it ends for me, I thought. 
My urine backs up so far that I spontaneously combust. 
Death by spontaneous combustion. 
Just like that. 
Come on, think! 

Time to take this to the next level, off to security. 

As I approached one of the security guards
I could see his casual smile quickly fade into a wincing curiosity. 
Must've been the painfully frantic stricken look on my face. 
Either that or the tense uptight manner in which I was walking towards him. 

"What's wrong?" he said. 
I gave him the cliff's notes assessment of the circumstances at hand. 
With eyes widened and a nod of understanding, 
he awkwardly raised his walkie talkie to this mouth, 
and with head slightly turned, pushed the side button of his communication device. 

*static* "Ahem," *clearing his throat* "uh, we've got a 'situation' here. 
Report to the mechanical room, over." 

Damn straight we've got a situation here, I thought to myself, as I winced in pain. 
I could hear the mottled response through my delirium. 
"Roger that." *static* 

My concentration began to wane as I fought off the overwhelming desire to pass out
Looking down I could see my lower abdomen protruding. 
I swear, I looked 6 months pregnant. 

The security guard led me into an area that could possibly hold 
the keys to my freedom. 

He possessed the disposition of a man that delicately balanced 
complete empathy and concern as he weighed the seriousness of the event, 
while simultaneously resisting the urge to bust out laughing in disbelief. 
One thing's for sure, there had never been 
a "situation" quite like this on the job. I'll tell you that right now.

There I lay, on the "operating" table/mechanical room island. Pliers. Sigh. 
Nothing would budge this stubborn zipper. 
The only other option involved a pair of scissors with one problem. 
I had no back up clothes.

My supervisor had been brought up to speed, and with a sympathetic expression 
graciously offered to let me leave for the day to "address the situation." 
You don't have to tell me twice. 
I ran to the support desk to call my husband to warn him of my pending arrival 
(we didn't own cell phones back then). 
He compassionately said he'd be waiting for me, scissors in hand.

I raced through the parking lot to my car, fumbling with my keys. 
Every pound of the pavement sent an eruption of nausea throughout my body.
Why did I have to drink so much water before my shift????? 
I peeled out of my space, screeched around the corner, 
and jumped on the freeway as fast as I could. 
Please don't let me get pulled over by a cop for speeding. 
Please don't let me get pulled over by a cop for speeding. 
Wait, What's this, TRAFFIC??!! 
By this point, I was hallucinating. This was the longest. drive. home. ever. 
Near 30 minutes later, I thrust into my driveway, flung open the car door 
and bolted to the front door which my husband already had open. 
The desperation in my eyes said it all. 
He, too, tried the infamous zipper, only to meet the same rejection as the others. 

With scissors in hand, he cut me out of my pants. 

I was cut. out. of my pants. 

Yes, this was probably one of the most embarrassing moments of my life. 
Having to be cut out of my pants. 

I'm so glad that at the end of the day, 
I am not the sum of my "most embarrassing moments." 
Aren't you? 
I think if nothing else, those moments are great opportunities 
to learn how to recover gracefully,
 and that Sweet Bellas,
 is a highly desirable skill to have on the resume of life.


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